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Is there any paid operations staff on heritage lines?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Christoph, May 9, 2009.

  1. Christoph

    Christoph New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    following a recent discussion (in person, not online) I would like to ask the following question:

    Which, if any, of the preserved/heritage/tourist railways in the UK employ paid operations staff? I know about the Paignton & Dartmouth but which others are there? In the discussion we were talking about guards or conductors, roving ticket inspectors, firemen, drivers, station masters and signalmen, i.e. all functions typical for a railway. We excluded ticket office clerks and catering staff from the list, as those are functions which have equivalents at other tourist attractions and are normally carried out by paid staff there.

    Over here in my native Germany we have very few paid staff and I can not think of any preserved railway which has paid staff on the railway operations side and most railways are entirely volunteer-run. But then we do not have a single heritage railway run a y preservation society with daily operation.

    Thank you very much for your kind answers.

    Kind regards

    Christoph
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    I would suggest that most of the larger railways have paid operating staff in one oway or another. as far as I know, the largest line to still rely 100% on volunteers is the Gloucester-Warwickshire but I could be miles from the fact.
     
  3. Fireline

    Fireline Member

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    We have paid staff in our Ops Department. We simply couldn't run without them.
     
  4. Ann Clark

    Ann Clark New Member

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    No footplate staff are paid. I know that we have had the odd paid guard during the height of the season and the same for signalmen. However we do have a full time ops manager and he has one paid member of staff.
     
  5. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    On the NYMR we have paid Guards and Signalmen, we always have had the minimum number of Signalmen needed to open the whole line on the staff, although now we have both regulars and reliefs, and at least seasonal guards.

    We do not now employ anybody as a driver (but have had at least one for most of the 35 years of public operation), but a number of MPD staff are qualified as driver or fireman and last year they worked over 200 turns between them. This is about the equivalent of 1 1/3 paid posts, but the turns covered are that "even" and there will have been some days when 3 members of MPD are out driving, many when there are none. The MPD Shop Manager is the first call driver on the staff and isn't included in these figures.

    We pay booking clerks at the main stations (but also have volunteers) but have no paid TTIs or Station Masters. Occasionally, paid staff will act as Station Foreman but only on very rare occasions.

    Many of the staff who are passed at operation grades work as volunteers as well as undertaking paid turns.

    To take today as an example, I think we had one day shift and 1 night shift signalmen who were paid, a couple of booking clerks and the Duty Controller and Manager but everyone else was volunteer.

    We operate for over 270 days per year with a daily service from (this year) 28th March to 1st November. To achieve the level of volunteer cover we do is amazing and a credit to the surprisingly small number of volunteers we have in total (under 300 for the principle operating roles) and the even smaller number of roster clerks (2 I think for operating grades!)
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    To add a bit more perspective to the NYMR requirements, if you take the number of steam drivers (paid and unpaid) and the number of required turns to cover, excluding specials, it averages out at about 40 turns/person/year for 2009. Bearing in mind that some volunteers will achieve nowhere near this figure, some volunteers are doing 100-150 turns/year. It's a similar numberr for firemen. No idea of the figures for guards and signalmen.
     
  7. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Member

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    I find the original comment about German lines having almost no paid staff interesting... presumably this is so at the more traditionally 'preserved' railways in the old West Germany (Bruchhausen-Vilsen springs to mind - superb NG line, reminds me of the Talyllyn), but I'm fairly sure it isn't true of the NG lines in the former East Germany, like the Harz and the lines around Dresden. Don't you class those as 'preserved'?

    In the UK, am I right in thinking that both the Snowdon Mountain and Llanberis Lake railways are entirely run by paid staff, or do they have some volunteers?

    On the GCR all signalmen are volunteers, even midweek. We have paid staff in other roles who can drive and guard when required, though I'm not sure how often they are called upon to do so. Most of the paid staff we have are in management, the booking office, engineering (principally loco, carriage and p.way), and catering.

    Phil
     
  8. Ben Fisher

    Ben Fisher New Member

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    Pretty sure you're right that those lines are entirely staffed by paid people. Indeed the Lake Railway had local employment (following the Dinorwig Quarry closure) as one of its original aims.
     
  9. Axe

    Axe New Member

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    For operations the Bluebell Railway is normally staffed entirely by volunteers. On the rare occasion that a volunteer guard or signalman cannot be found to cover a duty, then a suitably qualified member of paid staff will be deployed to cover the turn. Fortunately there is no shortage of volunteers for staffing stations, etc.

    I'm not certain as to the situation within the loco department.

    Chris
     
  10. Christoph

    Christoph New Member

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    Hi Phil,

    When I used the term "preserved" railway I meant railways which had closed or were to be closed and have been saved by an enthusiast's society. This leaves all NG lines in the East (Rügen, the "Molli" at Bad Doberan, Harz and the Saxonian lines) out of the equasion. They always were and still are public services with paid staff and little volunteer input.

    And by the way, thanks for all the replies so far. I found some remarks very interesting and might comment later.

    Kind regards

    Christoph
     
  11. Achar2001

    Achar2001 New Member

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    We have four paid members of staff on the Welshpool & Llanfair, the General Manager, Deputy General Manager, another who spends a lot of time on general admin matters (as well as track duties, undergrowth battling etc) and one who is effectively an engineering apprentice, who is currently also on the trainee fireman roster. On operating days train-crew, guards, signalmen, blockmen, workshop staff etc are all volunteers.
     
  12. davycrocket

    davycrocket New Member

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    And of course you could run a train service without station staff!

    As Axe says, there are some full time managers who are able to cover signalling and guarding duties. Loco works staff may be called upon to cover turns if no volunteer is available and have staff at Cleaner, Fireman and Driver grade.

    In the past 12 months the Ops Manager has only had to do one or two guards turns - out of about 500 turns!
     
  13. Scorpian04111986

    Scorpian04111986 New Member

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    As far as I'm aware but I may be wrong the South Devon Railway is run entirely by volunteers, apart from about 4 or 5 staff in the office, I think.

    The workshop also has paid staff but that is because it runs as a business restoring all sorts of different engines. I do believe though that if the rostered volunteer doesn't turn up then they get a member of the paid staff from the workshop to run the service instead though, but this only happens on very rare occasions.
     
  14. aldfort

    aldfort Part of the furniture

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    As far as I know all guards, signelmen, drivers and firemen on the West Somerset are unpaid as are all the station staff with one or two exceptions.
    There is a paid management team and some paid staff in the loco department (duty fitters etc) plus there are paid staff in the comercial and catering departments but most of the client facing catering staff are unpaid.
    Paid staff represent about 4% of the workforce as far as I know. Many staff (not just train crew) travel several miles to complete their rostered duties and some unpaid staff seem to spend more hours per week on the railway than the paid staff.
     
  15. stallis

    stallis New Member

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    The LH&R have paid Ops staff to cover footplate and guard / signalman duties, as well as catering / shop etc. I'm not sure what the current position is with the FRT been given notice leave the site, but I would imagine as a result the number of duties the paid staff have to cover will have increased. When I last volunteered up there (a few years ago now), some weeks all operations roles were filled with volunteers, with the paid staff doing other things, other weeks most roles were taken by the paid staff.
     
  16. gwr4090

    gwr4090 Member

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    Just to clarify, a few of the paid staff (including the General Manager) are also qualified drivers, guards or signalmen in addition to their other duties. We also have the General Managers of two other railways who are volunteer drivers on the WSR. Also we have some volunteer staff who travel from abroad to complete their rostered duties !

    David
     
  17. aldfort

    aldfort Part of the furniture

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    It's been a while since I've seen the GM driving an engine. :-$

     
  18. Scorpian04111986

    Scorpian04111986 New Member

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    Am I correct in thinking one of those General Managers was firing on the footplate of 6435 during most of the SDR's Anniversary Wknd.
     
  19. Axe

    Axe New Member

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    That is not unique, several other heritage railways can also make that claim.

    Chris
     
  20. Christoph

    Christoph New Member

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    Hello,

    thanks again for all the replies. I am quite surprised that even what I consider to be the "big players" manage to get enough volunteers to cover what must be the enourmous staffing needs of a major tourist attraction which is open daily from August until the end of September or October. I am equally surprised by the high number of turns individual volunteers do. Certainly over a hundred volunteer duties a year can only be achieved if you are not or no longer in full-time employment.

    On the other hand, the post about the K&ESR made me wonder what happened there. There are less operating days than at other railways with daily running confined to August any yet paid staff is needed to run the service. 8-[

    Kind regards

    Christoph
     

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