Posts Tagged ‘Llanberis Lake Railway’

The Great Little Trains of Wales…

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A thumbnail of the home page of The Great Little Trains of Wales website. ┬ęBruce Yarborough

(Click on the thumbnail to go to the TGLTW website.)

Regular readers of BTWT may be wondering what new calamity prompted yesterday’s sad soliloquy and whether today’s post was really intended for Tunnel Vision. Rest assured, no new narrow gauge railway has collapsed overnight and there are no new plans, apart from those that we have already written about, to muck around with Wolsztyn. Instead of a single calamity, a series of unfortunate events culminated in a conference about how Polish regions could gain competitive advantage. The conference organisers not only invited me to speak, but actually paid me to do so, so you may be wondering why this attack of depression. Read on gentle reader, read on.

It seems that the secret ingredient that this province is focussing on is tourism, and I was asked to speak about railway tourism. Professor after professor got up and spoke about really important matters such as the proper definition of tourism and what the word product really meant. During the morning panel discussion a distinguished professor got up to ask why the Poles were using words derived from English like: mapowanie (mapping), walidowanie (validation) and klaster (cluster). After spending 5 minutes outlining the reason for his question, he spent another 5 minutes hypothesizing on the answers that he expected the panel members would give, and then 5 more minutes commenting on the hypothetical answers that he never received. Learned professors like him regularly act as paid advisers on EU projects.

By the time the second session started we were already running late. The chairman not only had to claw back some of the lost time, but also to make room for a member of the Polish Senate who just wanted to add his threeha’pence worth to the proceedings. I was booked to speak for 20 minutes and 15 minutes through my presentation, just as I reached the climax on how the Great Little Trains of Wales had created their own klaster in 1970, the chairman started making frantic signs for me to wind up.

The whole junket was paid for from EU funds and I am sure left most of the participants even more puzzled than they were before they came. And if you would like a little more information about The Great Little Trains of Wales then click on the thumbnail above or on the links below.

Dr Colin Parsons – Great Little Trains of Wales

Talyllyn Railway

Llanberis Lake Railway

Festiniog and Welsh Highland Railways

Welsh Highland Heritage Railway (Portmadoc)

Welshpool & Llanfair Railway

Vale of Rheidol Railway

Brecon Mountain Railway

Bala Lake Railway

Snowdon Mountain Railway

Welsh narrow gauge railways scored

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The jury – ignore mum and the kids at your peril

(click on picture to see photo in original location, on Ryd Ddu blog)

One of the problems of running a heritage railway is that while many railway enthusiasts can be enormously passionate about what colour their engines and carriages should be painted, but this enthusiasm becomes somewhat lukewarm when it comes to properly looking after their customers. One of our best experiences on a British heritage railway was on the Chosley and Walingford Railway simply because of the quality of conversation with which the volunteer station staff regailed their customers. Another memorable occasion occured during a visit to see that beautiful model of railways and 1930s rural England at Pendon Museum. Normally Pendon runs like a Swiss watch, but this time, due to an extended opening, the engines were beginning to run a little less sweetly because dirt had built up on the tracks. A model GWR 28xx 2-8-0 freight locomotive derailed its tender and became separated from its train. A member of our party managed to sound the alarm just before the locomotive pulled its off the rails tender through some complex and very delicate pointwork, with potentially catastrophic results. We were rewarded for our efforts by a most comprehensive detailed explanation of what went on ‘behind the scenes’ at Pendon with none of our questions left unanswered. We all had a wonderful time.

But we don’t all visit railway locations just for the quality of the conversation. Mr and Mrs Colin Lea devised an 18 point scoring system in order to rate the North Wales narrow gauge railways that they visited on their holiday.

Marks out of 5 for the following

  • Loco variety
  • Parking
  • Cafe
  • Shop
  • Carriage comfort
  • Staff friendliness/helpfulness
  • Days open in the year
  • Publicity
  • Walks
  • Revisit potential
  • On board service
  • Attractions along the line
  • Facilities for kids
  • Photography opportunities
  • Engines in use at peak
  • and up to 5 extra for special things such as being offered a footplate ride

plus marks out of 10 for the following:

  • Views
  • Interest along the length of the railway

I wonder what criteria you would use to score your own heritage railway experiences. Anyway, here are the results of the Lea review. (Click on railway to see their detailed comments and photos.)

  1. Ffestiniog Railway
  2. Talyllyn Railway
  3. Welsh Highland Railway (Caernarfon)
  4. Bala Lake Railway
  5. Llanberis Lake Railway
  6. Fairbourne Railway
  7. Welsh Highland Railway (Porthmadog)
  8. Great Orme Tramway
  9. Llechwedd
  10. Corris Railway

It was interesting that using the Lea points system the Corris Railway came last. Yet they reported, Both staff and cafe scored very highly – very friendly people, a relaxed atmosphere and the best cup of tea we had all holiday. We do wonder how the Leas would score the heritage railway sites in Poland.