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Billw

Falkirk Wheel Closing to Boats?

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I'm not saying it isn't true, but I would say that it's highly unlikely Narrowboatworld would be able to scoop such a story.  I'd expect a seriously annoyed hire boat operator to raise hell in the local press first 

Edited to add: as a parody of the situation at Foxton it may have mileage though.  

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10 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

I'm not saying it isn't true, but I would say that it's highly unlikely Narrowboatworld would be able to scoop such a story.  I'd expect a seriously annoyed hire boat operator to raise hell in the local press first 

Edited to add: as a parody of the situation at Foxton it may have mileage though.  

One of the local boat operators is actually quitting due to high charges. Falkirk Herald

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They could always have a pontoon that could be moved in and out so that boats could use the wheel on certain days, or mornings for boats and afternoons for pedestrians.  

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4 minutes ago, Keeping Up said:

No doubt if it works well they'll copy the principle to the Anderton Lift as well.

On Monday we were the only private boat to use the lift but the trip boat was going up and down with 30 or so people at £4-50 each

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I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was true.  I can't say with authority, but I'm guessing that even with the Falkirk Wheel, this canal isn't exactly buzzing with boat activity.  You can't blame Scottish Canals for trying to find a way to make the thing pay, even if it turns the wheel into a weird parody of itself.  I agree it's a crying shame but isn't this where the inland waterways are heading?  As there are fewer and fewer moving boats on the canals the future looks bleak for the infrastructure as a whole, not just the stellar attractions. 

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Cant fault a walk on pontoon boat being tried, but not if it prevents other boats using the lift, or even puts hire bases out of business.

 

Daniel

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I blame the fishwife and her stock of caviar.

Roll on Joxit - a sign of things to come when the money dries up.  Serves y'all bl**dy right.

 

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The Narrowboatworld article is up to their usual standard of reporting :) 

The two issues are separate.

While I do not know the commercial arrangements between Capercaillie (who operate all the hire boat fleets) and S.C., I have heard that S.C. were demanding a 500% increase in payment as part of their commercial agreement. In any event, it is increased charges by S.C. , combined with a lack of service and other restrictions that prompted Capercaillie to take the decision to cease operating at the end of this year. They issued a press release last week. 

I'm sure how CaRT operate in regard to canal businesses, but S.C. want a proportion of turnover as part of a commercial agreement, which, to me, is highly unethical.

The "Rotate" concept at the wheel has been known about unofficially for a few months, and was announced at last Saturday' s User Meeting. The basic idea is to moor a covered pontoon in one of the two caissons (not replace a caisson, as NBW seems to think). The idea is that the "pod" will provide a different wheel experience to that provided by the trip boats, and will also serve as a venue for weddings, parties, etc, etc.

S.C. appear to have given little thought as to how this will work in practice. One canal user modelled the operation, and concluded that the presence of the "pod" reduced the Wheel availability by 75%. While not having thought in as much detail, I see it as reducing "narrow" availability by 50% before "extra turns" * are taken into account. For "wide", it's worse. At present, they need an "extra turn", which can usually be fitted in, although there is often a delay of an hour or so. A "wide" passage will now need two "extra turns", which may not be possible for much of the day.

I can see the "pod" being of some use, particularly in the evenings, but I don't think S.C. have given enough (or even any!) thought to operation.

* "extra turn" : rotation through 180 degrees, without a trip boat in at least one caisson.

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13 hours ago, Billw said:

One of the local boat operators is actually quitting due to high charges. Falkirk Herald

Actually the only hire boat operator on the Lowland Canals. As well as running their own boats they are the agents for ABC and Black Prince: a total of 21 hire boats in all.

Some responses from Scottish boaters include:

"Put that together with SC's vision of the canals as "linear parks"  and the future for navigation and boaters isn't looking safe in their hands".

"This will be 'Parks" as in somewhere to park a boat I take it? The idea that someone would actually want to untie a couple of mooring ropes and cruise to a different location is clearly anathema to SC and would require dredging, maintenance, a healthy level of staff and all the associated infrastructure, when exactly the same level of income is available if boats remain static. This appears to be a simple piece of mathematics that has come to underpin SC's current philosophy and, for instance, will enable a gondola on the Wheel to be permanently taken over by a pod unmolested by those pesky hire boats that queued up for passage on a weekend".

"This is an absolute disaster for Scottish Canals and for Scottish canals".

"So this puts SC well on the way to achieving their aim of becoming a regeneration agency rather than a navigation authority: a role that many delegates left last year's World Canals Conference in Inverness feeling was SC's primary objective. This is, therefore, a very sad day for the Lowland Canals indeed and there are people within SC Property Department that should be hanging their heads in shame".

Edited by Up-Side-Down

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Closed to Navigation: Repurposing one caisson wont make any meaningful difference to the operation of a facility that is used at a fraction of it's capacity. This surely a non-story!

 

 

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Just now, WJM said:

Closed to Navigation: Repurposing one caisson wont make any meaningful difference to the operation of a facility that is used at a fraction of it's capacity. This surely a non-story!

 

 

That is just not true 

Although narrow boats can use a caisson along with a trip boat wide beam boats can't and there are several of these, mainly Seagull Trust boats, which use the wheel on an almost daily basis 

A user has done some modelling and this illustrates just what the impact will be..Scottish Canals have done no such workings 

Haggis 

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Just now, haggis said:

That is just not true 

Although narrow boats can use a caisson along with a trip boat wide beam boats can't and there are several of these, mainly Seagull Trust boats, which use the wheel on an almost daily basis 

A user has done some modelling and this illustrates just what the impact will be..Scottish Canals have done no such workings 

Haggis 

How many times CAN the wheel be rotated per day? And how many times IS IT rotated per day? Divide one by the other and you will get the actual usage of the facility - and I bet it isn't even close to 10%

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13 hours ago, Iain_S said:

One canal user modelled the operation, and concluded that the presence of the "pod" reduced the Wheel availability by 75%. While not having thought in as much detail, I see it as reducing "narrow" availability by 50% before "extra turns" * are taken into account. For "wide", it's worse. At present, they need an "extra turn", which can usually be fitted in, although there is often a delay of an hour or so. A "wide" passage will now need two "extra turns", which may not be possible for much of the day.

 

* "extra turn" : rotation through 180 degrees, without a trip boat in at least one caisson.

How does removing 50% of the boat capacity reduce 'availability' by 75%?  (This is a balanced system where both caissons move - one up, one down)

 

If they are going to be rotating the device much more (to carry the foot passengers in the dry caisson) then a greater supply of wet caisson movements will be automatically created - boat capacity goes up?

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I'm not sure but I think that the movements of the wheel are to fit in with the trip boat needs. When the trip boat goes up a narrowbeam can go with it and two narrowbeams or a widebeam can come down. If one caisson is used for other than boats the capacity is therefore reduced by a significant amount, especially for wide beam boats.

The policy of pre booking lock and bridge operation has already meant little movement on these canals, this will probably turn them into linear parks with some housing.

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4 minutes per half rotation - lets say 10 minutes either side for unloading/loading, 24 minutes for the complete cycle (generous?). There is therefor the potential for 20 rotations per basic eight-hour day. 

I cant find any actual usage figures but I bet is is significantly less than 20 lifts per day.

https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/falkirk-wheel/about-the-wheel/how-it-works/

 

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Looking at this rationally, the changes are an attempt to make more money from the lift (which needs an operational subsidy) whilst accommodating the fairly limited demand for through traffic. Last time I checked, which is a few years ago, the through traffic was a couple of hundred boats a year, almost entirely narrow boats from the local hire fleet. At face value there is some logic in this, and if it's a floating pontoon carrying foot traffic it is readily reversible. The policy is arguably short sighted, as it might be a better idea to try and promote more boat traffic.

But therein is one of the problems - the easiest way to promote traffic on a restored canal is to have it attached to an already popular route, The Droitwich being a particularly good example. Staring from zero with a canal that has no baseline traffic is both very difficult to acheive and indeed very difficult to forecast just how much traffic will develop - "build it and they will come" doesn't actually work. 

Scottish Waterway's train set mentality doesn't help - I can't think of any other major leisure waterway where the locks MUST be worked by canal staff other than perhaps the Shannon*, where there are 5 locks in about 120 miles so the locks aren't exactly a restriction. 

*I realise the Caledonian works like this too, but again there are huge lengths where one can cruise without needing staff in attendance

I don't know enough about Capercaillie Cruisers to comment on the business model, but the market for canal holidays in the Scottish lowlands needs a a lot of promotion and development, the market needs to be created not just tapped into, you can't just tag it on to the English tourism offer. 

 

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Just now, WJM said:

How many times CAN the wheel be rotated per day? And how many times IS IT rotated per day? Divide one by the other and you will get the actual usage of the facility - and I bet it isn't even close to 10%

I don't know the number of rotations per day but they are geared to the timings of the SC trip boats. Everyone else waits till they are told they can be fitted in. Any time I have been there the wheel has been operating to capacity 

It is not just the time the wheel takes to turn but there is getting boats in and secured (at the top on a windy day this can take a while), then there is the raising of the waterproof barrier then the equalising of the levels before the wheel moves 

All this is reversed at the other end. It all takes time and governs how often the wheel actually moves 

Haggis 

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Just now, magpie patrick said:

Looking at this rationally, the changes are an attempt to make more money from the lift (which needs an operational subsidy) whilst accommodating the fairly limited demand for through traffic. Last time I checked, which is a few years ago, the through traffic was a couple of hundred boats a year, almost entirely narrow boats from the local hire fleet. At face value there is some logic in this, and if it's a floating pontoon carrying foot traffic it is readily reversible. The policy is arguably short sighted, as it might be a better idea to try and promote more boat traffic.

But therein is one of the problems - the easiest way to promote traffic on a restored canal is to have it attached to an already popular route, The Droitwich being a particularly good example. Staring from zero with a canal that has no baseline traffic is both very difficult to acheive and indeed very difficult to forecast just how much traffic will develop - "build it and they will come" doesn't actually work. 

Scottish Waterway's train set mentality doesn't help - I can't think of any other major leisure waterway where the locks MUST be worked by canal staff other than perhaps the Shannon*, where there are 5 locks in about 120 miles so the locks aren't exactly a restriction. 

*I realise the Caledonian works like this too, but again there are huge lengths where one can cruise without needing staff in attendance

I don't know enough about Capercaillie Cruisers to comment on the business model, but the market for canal holidays in the Scottish lowlands needs a a lot of promotion and development, the market needs to be created not just tapped into, you can't just tag it on to the English tourism offer. 

 

The hire fleet is always almost fully booked up at the start of the year so marketing is not a problem 

I think the most popular hire is for a week and I reckon almost all the boats go up and down the wheel in that week 

That alone must account for several hundred wheel boat trips in a season 

The reason for the hire fleet saying they will discontinue operating at the end of this year is because of the financial return SC wants 

Haggis 

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Scottish Canals don't exactly go out of their way to encourage visiting boat owners to their waterways.

The cost of our visitors licence for 7 days on the Caledonian this year is going to be £140.70!

Hardly cheap for a 23ft boat and way more expensive then other areas we have visited. The EA charged us £14 when we had a week on the Fens and the Broads Authority was £31 when we visited last year.

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Just now, magpie patrick said:

 Last time I checked, which is a few years ago, the through traffic was a couple of hundred boats a year, almost entirely narrow boats from the local hire fleet.

Averaging half a boat per day, I feel confident that they will be able to maintain throughput at current levels if the capacity is slashed from the current maximum of 80 boats per day to a mere 40!

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