2019: General Discussion

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TheBolt

TS Member
Its well known that AT planning restrictions include staying beneath tree height
As all the big trees die of old ages / firework related injuries, will they need to take out existing rides that are taller than the last tree standing? Presumably the planning permission is based on what was there when built, otherwide Octonauts could be the highest ride there next season :)

Does AT have a tree succession plan? They do remove the odd mature tree, and it takes several decades to get trees of those heights. I always think they should transplant in (ignoring the arboriculture issues) some huge fir trees so they can have a 200ft coaster; obv. its unlikely to work back in the real world.
 

AT86

TS Member
For me the 2019 season feels like the best season at Alton Towers for quite a few years, at least post 2015 anyway.

It certainly wasn’t perfect and the park still has a way to go, but step by step there seem to be improvements.
  • Ride availability and operations improved drastically
  • Staggered openings pretty much gone
  • Return of single rider on The Smiler
  • Re-opening of a couple more closed food outlets
  • Re-opening of Tree Top Quest for the summer period
  • Extended the season and Scarefest by three days and the return of Friday night Fireworks
  • Mini event for Nemesis birthday with later opening and JW meet and greet
  • Whilst opening times are still pretty poor there have been a good number of ride close extensions, crucially the extensions were mostly due to high guest numbers, and not because of poor ride availability which has often been the cause of later closing in previous seasons. There were even a couple of 7pm closings in there, first time since about 2014 I think?

For 2020 I really hope these improvements are here to stay, and it’s not a case of one step forward, two steps back. For me they still need to make big improvements on the presentation of the park, the monorail, Dark Forest, X-Sector and FV all need attention.

The return of single rider lines to Oblivion and Spinball would also be welcome and wouldn’t require any extra staff (as far as I know).

Edit: oh and more entertainment, a park this size without a family show is crazy.

Here’s hoping for a good 40th season.
 
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Tibble

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
Whilst I think the season has seen positive signs of change and the best post 2015. The 'Power of the Towers' event was average at best. I think they could have done a lot more with it.

Was nice to see some actors about the park as well.

For the 40th celebrations I hope they are able to put some really good events on
 

Ethan

TS Member
Do you think single rider will return to other rides next season? I hope so. I know oblivion and spinball have been mentioned above, but I'd like to see it on th13teen and wicker man aswell
 

AT86

TS Member
Do you think single rider will return to other rides next season? I hope so. I know oblivion and spinball have been mentioned above, but I'd like to see it on th13teen and wicker man aswell

I would be surprised if single rider appeared on those two, as it would require extra staff and/or infrastructure changes to be able to implement them.
 

Tibble

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
Seems a bit weird to be offering the 2019 season pass on the homepage still - I assume they have put the wrong one up
 
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karl.stubbs

TS Member
Be great if Alton Towers had a park and ride or get the Churnett Valley Railway line to extend to a station there? It was a nightmare getting off the car park during scarefest even though I left early due to cars being abandoned everywhere.

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Luke Foley

TS Member
Be great if Alton Towers had a park and ride or get the Churnett Valley Railway line to extend to a station there? It was a nightmare getting off the car park during scarefest even though I left early due to cars being abandoned everywhere.

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Oh it's a nightmare by public transport, literally such a minimum number of services a day that don't even get you there for opening, it's really frustrating!
 

karl.stubbs

TS Member
It used to have its own railway station! And now we can barely get one bus a day to run there.

Dr Beeching and all involved in closing the railways either never thought about non-drivers or just didn't care.
I have seen one of the headlines on one of the front page of one of the papers that the tories are going to reverse Beeching changes.

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speedy

TS Member
I have seen one of the headlines on one of the front page of one of the papers that the tories are going to reverse Beeching changes.

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I'll believe it when I see it, though good on them if they do it.

I don't think any party has firm plans for reopening old routes. They've all made vague statements but nothing concrete. We need a rolling program of electrification and reopenings.

Tbh though I doubt anyone would rush to reopen Alton Towers station. The old route was from Leek to Uttoxeter, however Leek now has no rail service at all (thanks Beeching!). You could redirect it to head through Cheadle (a town of 12,000) then into Stoke. Then possibly a Stoke to Derby service via Cheadle. If we're getting more ambitious, maybe a new railway from Derby to Ashbourne (7,000 people) then south to Alton Towers and on to Stoke.

It'll never happen. Maybe one day bus users will be able to get a service that arrives before park opening and within half an hour of park close.
 

Cheese

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Helix, Liseberg
It should be remembered that railway route closures started before the Beeching act, and that while the loss of the services was often highly regrettable, British Railways was losing money hand over fist. Closing routes like the Churnet Valley line which were downright unprofitable seemed like a good way of tightening the purse strings (let's not go into the conflict of interest with that Marples bloke, generally thought to be the actual villian of the story).

Trains from Stoke to Alton might conceivably enhance the tourist appeal of the area, but aren't ever likely to be a viable means of getting to the park. The Churnet Valley Railway (and Moorland and City Railways if they still exist - I forget the exact situation) currently have track in place from not too far south of Leek at Leekbrook Junction to Oakamoor, as well as potential to reinstate the disused line from Leekbrook towards Stoke. Their priority at the moment is to build a station at the south end of Leek, which they're fundraising for now.

I'm not going to spend time backing this up with research at this time of night, but my understanding is that to run trains from Stoke to Alton would at a bare minimum require the following work at vast expense:
  • Reopening the line from Stoke to Leekbrook to passenger carrying standards.
  • Reconnecting said line to either Stoke station or a separate platform/station.
  • Upgrading the track already in place south of Kingsley and Froghall (the CVR's southern terminus for passenger operations at present) to Oakamoor to allow operation of passenger trains over it.
  • Reinstating track from Oakamoor to Alton - I seem to recall there being a tunnel involved at Oakamoor, the restoration of which could in itself consume a substantial chunk of cash.
It would likely also be necessary or at least prudent to:
  • Reinstate the passing loop at Cheddleton station (the railway's HQ) and resignal much of the line to increase the number of trains that can operate simultaneously.
  • Clear the carriages etc. currently stored at Oakamoor to an alternative location on the line, likely requiring new sidings or a shed.
  • Devise some means of getting people up the hill from Alton station to the 'resort', particularly as the park entrance and hotels are on the opposite side to the end I believe daytrippers on the numerous excursion trains would once have come in through.
Assuming all of this can be done, your train departs Stoke and heads to Leekbrook, or more likely Leek, then reverses and takes the Churnet Valley line to Alton. That's a less than direct route compared to driving. Things get worse when you take into account that as it stands, a good deal of it (potentially the whole lot) could also be subject to a 25mph speed restriction too, thanks to the CVR operating under a light railway order like most heritage railways, and that obviously further increases your journey time. I'd guess at an hour or more in each direction.

Ultimately, while railway preservation has a habit of proving the word 'never' to be a bit strong, in this case I concur with Speedy that it'll never happen.
 

speedy

TS Member
It should be remembered that railway route closures started before the Beeching act, and that while the loss of the services was often highly regrettable, British Railways was losing money hand over fist. Closing routes like the Churnet Valley line which were downright unprofitable seemed like a good way of tightening the purse strings (let's not go into the conflict of interest with that Marples bloke, generally thought to be the actual villian of the story).

Trains from Stoke to Alton might conceivably enhance the tourist appeal of the area, but aren't ever likely to be a viable means of getting to the park. The Churnet Valley Railway (and Moorland and City Railways if they still exist - I forget the exact situation) currently have track in place from not too far south of Leek at Leekbrook Junction to Oakamoor, as well as potential to reinstate the disused line from Leekbrook towards Stoke. Their priority at the moment is to build a station at the south end of Leek, which they're fundraising for now.

I'm not going to spend time backing this up with research at this time of night, but my understanding is that to run trains from Stoke to Alton would at a bare minimum require the following work at vast expense:
  • Reopening the line from Stoke to Leekbrook to passenger carrying standards.
  • Reconnecting said line to either Stoke station or a separate platform/station.
  • Upgrading the track already in place south of Kingsley and Froghall (the CVR's southern terminus for passenger operations at present) to Oakamoor to allow operation of passenger trains over it.
  • Reinstating track from Oakamoor to Alton - I seem to recall there being a tunnel involved at Oakamoor, the restoration of which could in itself consume a substantial chunk of cash.
It would likely also be necessary or at least prudent to:
  • Reinstate the passing loop at Cheddleton station (the railway's HQ) and resignal much of the line to increase the number of trains that can operate simultaneously.
  • Clear the carriages etc. currently stored at Oakamoor to an alternative location on the line, likely requiring new sidings or a shed.
  • Devise some means of getting people up the hill from Alton station to the 'resort', particularly as the park entrance and hotels are on the opposite side to the end I believe daytrippers on the numerous excursion trains would once have come in through.
Assuming all of this can be done, your train departs Stoke and heads to Leekbrook, or more likely Leek, then reverses and takes the Churnet Valley line to Alton. That's a less than direct route compared to driving. Things get worse when you take into account that as it stands, a good deal of it (potentially the whole lot) could also be subject to a 25mph speed restriction too, thanks to the CVR operating under a light railway order like most heritage railways, and that obviously further increases your journey time. I'd guess at an hour or more in each direction.

Ultimately, while railway preservation has a habit of proving the word 'never' to be a bit strong, in this case I concur with Speedy that it'll never happen.
If someone funded it it could be a good service. When we took a taxi from Stoke it was 45 minutes, I imagine the bus takes longer than that anyway, so a slow journey isn't too bad. I imagine Merlin want to keep as many driving to the park as possible so they can make money on the parking.

There's definitely more important places to connect first, close to me Fraserburgh and Peterhead have no railway station, reinstating the lines here would connect 40,000 people to the network.
 

John

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
Parking charges only apply on the main car parks, not the fields/gravel, so at busy times having more people use public transport makes no difference to parking revenue. Over scarefest/fireworks the park capacity was effectively limited by the amount of car parking space available as the fields were too wet to be fully utilised, so there are clear gains to the park in having more people use public transport.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Parking charges only apply on the main car parks, not the fields/gravel, so at busy times having more people use public transport makes no difference to parking revenue. Over scarefest/fireworks the park capacity was effectively limited by the amount of car parking space available as the fields were too wet to be fully utilised, so there are clear gains to the park in having more people use public transport.

Given that Scarefest is becoming one of the most popular times of year for the park I do think they need to explore either paving some of the overflow car parks (or using gravel or plastic grip stuff) or adding a single deck multi-storey on some of the existing car park.
 

speedy

TS Member
Given that Scarefest is becoming one of the most popular times of year for the park I do think they need to explore either paving some of the overflow car parks (or using gravel or plastic grip stuff) or adding a single deck multi-storey on some of the existing car park.
That would be a very expensive solution for the occasional busy day. I imagine they would raise parking charges as well to cover maintenance of the structure
 
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