Thanks to Ralph Pope (from the mid-week gang) we now have a smart new storage cupboard in the booking hall. Its good to be able to walk around the booking office without constantly tripping over heavy boxes of leaflets. On the subject of leaflets, we are now on the distribution lists of all the train companies serving the Bristol area and carry a full range of their pocket timetables. If you know an organisation who would like to display their brochures at Bitton then we can usually arrange a leaflet exchange.
You may have read about changes to the concessionary fares scheme for standard annual members. In case theres any confusion, you will continue to receive three free tickets per year, which you may use yourself or pass on to friends and family. The difference is that, instead of the extra ten concessionary fares previously offered by annual membership, your membership card now entitles you to unlimited half-price tickets for your own use when produced at the booking office. As before, this doesnt apply during Thomas or Santa Special events. Premier Gold members are not affected by this change and as before, regular working members are not expected to pay the privilege fare to travel.
The current peace is due to be shattered soon with the opening of Avon Riverside. There will not be any major changes to our ticket issuing system at Bitton as the new stock, which was ordered at the beginning of last year, was designed with the opening of Riverside in mind. Because the journey (and inflation!) has grown, train fares will increase slightly for the start of the 2004 season, although our Day Rover tickets will still represent excellent value for money. However an area where we will need to make significant changes is that of on-train ticket sales. We expect to see a large increase in our passenger numbers and, if they are boarding at Avon Riverside, this will mean that travelling ticket inspectors (TTI's) will need to issue more tickets to passengers on board the trains than at present. We are investigating a range of options for ticketing, which include using a mechanical ticket machine (as carried by some TTI's last year) or possibly the purchase of electronic equipment if we can find any at a reasonable price. To an extent we are in a suck-it-and-see situation, and the first few weeks of this years operation promise to be interesting (!), especially given that TTI's will now only have about ten minutes to get through a (hopefully) full train.
As I write this we are approaching the end of a successful summer season: my thanks to the small group of members who have helped out in the station department over the last few months. Our weekday services in August have once again proved popular, even to the point that a few trains started to run low on seats. We are now coming up to our autumn Day Out with Thomas event, just over a month away, and of course then to the Santa Specials, of which more later!
During August the Railway purchased a new platform-to-train wheelchair ramp, as supplied to Railtrack. This is far easier to handle than our previous ramp, as well as being more gently sloped, and has been well used on almost every operating day since its acquisition.
With the opening of Avon Riverside planned for next year, we will need to overhaul our fare structure in readiness for next season's operation. We are planning to introduce single and return tickets between all stations, and also a 'go-as-you-please' day rover ticket which will offer unlimited travel over the whole line for a day, as per the current arrangement with Bitton - Oldland returns. Hopefully this combined with a new timetable leaflet will make things clearer for our passengers, who often don't realize that trains run in both directions out of Bitton, or that their 'return' ticket is in fact valid for travel all day. I am currently in the process of designing and ordering a completely new set of Edmondson-style tickets in readiness for next year.
Unfortunately at the beginning of the summer we lost two of our stalwart volunteers, Christine and John Brady, when they moved house: many thanks for your help over the last few years. This has left us very short on staff, and although we have scraped through the summer season more members are desperately required to assist. Remember that a Santa Special day requires three or four times as many station staff as are needed during the summer. Please, please consider giving up some of your time, be it as a booking clerk, ticket inspector, helping on the platform or in the car park. If you think you might be able to assist then please get in touch with either Geoff Clark or myself: a warm welcome is assured!
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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 27/3/2004.