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Recommissioning after Coronavirus

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by johnofwessex, Mar 24, 2020.

  1. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    All indoor and outdoor leisure facilities are required to close. For any railway not performing a public transport function, they would have to shut. Even if they did perform such a function, shops, cafes and museums attached to them would have to close.

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  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I guess the distinction @Steve is making (if I understand correctly) is that you can't carry passengers, but that doesn't automatically mean the railway has to shut. So you could, for example, carry on with engineering maintenance, including running any trains in connection with such work. Historically, November has been a month in which many lines carry out track repairs, between the end of the main running season (which often ends at the Autumn school half term in late October) and the Santa season in December (*).

    (*) I accept that this year has been weird and may not fit that pattern, with at least some lines having planned to run passenger services through November.

    Tom
     
  3. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    That is fair comment. I had interpreted his comment to mean that railways could open to the public, but noone could travel to them, but I may have been wrong in that. They definitely cannot open to the public unless operating as public transport. Essential work that needs to be done at this time and cannot be done from home could continue, which might well include essenti engineering work.

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  4. The Green Howards

    The Green Howards Resident of Nat Pres

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    I certainly got the impression at the NVR yesterday that at the very least the café would be closing and I suspect, so will the railway proper. I just hope that these railways can survive this second 'lockdown'*, because I don't see any "Santas" anywhere this year.


    * Wretched Somerset Railway excluded. Anything that puts that out of the heritage movement's collective misery is a boon IMO.
     
  5. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    I would imagine that could be massively misused - effectively the govt would be paying for something that was shut down but still being done, unless it was very carefully done.

    If professional A "volunteered" (under duress potentially) for professional B's role and vice versa whilst both collecting the furlough pay, it's funding the work of the charity (which isn't the purpose of the furlough)
     
  6. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Agreed. I suspect at the time the scenario hadn't really been thought through, but given the increasing concern about loopholes in the system facilitating fraud*, I very much doubt that HMRC are going to be willing to vary the scheme now.

    * - probably something for a things that annoy me thread. The government get something really right by implementing, quickly and effectively, a furlough scheme that got money where it needed to be to stop firms collapsing, and now in classic British fashion, they're being blamed for not plugging the loopholes in advance.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Actually, I wasn't suggesting what Tom said, although I was being pedantic. Ministers may generalise and use the term 'leisure industry' but that is not what the law said. The premises which were required to close were listed in Schedule 2 of the regulations, as follows:
    PART 1
    1. Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs.
    2.—(1) Cafes, including workplace canteens (subject to sub-paragraph (2)), but not including—
    (a)cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school;
    (b)canteens at a prison or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence;
    (c)services providing food or drink to the homeless.
    (2) Workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food.
    3. Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs.
    4. Public houses.

    PART 2
    5. Cinemas.
    6. Theatres.
    7. Nightclubs.
    8. Bingo halls.
    9. Concert halls.
    10. Museums and galleries.
    11. Casinos.
    12. Betting shops.
    13. Spas.
    14. Nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers.
    15. Massage parlours.
    16. Tattoo and piercing parlours.
    17. Skating rinks.
    18. Indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, amusement arcades or soft play areas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities.
    19. Funfairs (whether outdoors or indoors).
    20. Playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
    21. Outdoor markets (except for stalls selling food).
    22. Car showrooms.
    23. Auction Houses.

    From that list I would be interested to know where you place heritage railways.

    There are further restrictions in clause 5 of the regulations but, again, heritage railways do not fall into any of the categories in terms of operating trains. However, as I have said, it is being pedantic and the fact that you could run trains but no one could use them makes the ceasing of operations a foregone conclusion. What remains unclear is the status of the volunteer continuing to attend during the lockdown. As an example, let's say the Bluebell had planned to relay 1/4 mile of track during November using largely volunteer labour and it was considered to be essential for the ongoing viability of future operations. They could do this using paid labour but could they do this using volunteers? I am of the opinion that essential volunteering can continue but I know many railways completely banned volunteers attending site last time.
     
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  8. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    #10
    Especially given all the charitable statements etc.
     
  9. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I know of quite a few people employed on heritage railways who were furloughed and could not work on their own railway but were able and willing to work on other railways.
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    How many railways are museums, though? Yes, I know that there are some.
     
  11. Platform 3

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    I am working off the guidance as published over the weekend. The legislation is not out yet and I think we will have to wait to see exactly what it says. It would be poor work by the drafters if they could not manage to include everything referenced in the guidance in the legislation.

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  12. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Thinking back to the spring, one of the major issues for preserved railways was that while you could argue that they weren't covered by the restrictions, a trip to travel on them would have been illegal for those visiting - even taking an expansive interpretation of the legislation, that trip out would never have qualified as "essential".
     
  13. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    I'd say there's a case for them all being museums. What else are they? they aren't transportation industries. If they aren't museums are they theme parks? The point is that the railway bit is secondary to the fact they are there for leisure activities, and the leisure activity location where you look at old stuff is generally considered a museum
     
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  14. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    I think the problem here is the issue of anti-avoidance.

    If the volunteers are doing something that a paid member of staff is furloughed from doing, the government is again picking up the tab for wages - the whole point of furlough payment is to support workers who are not working, not to support the work being done (or not done). Then you'd get into arguments about what is and isn't part of one person's job etc etc.
     
  15. toplight

    toplight Well-Known Member

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    Whether volunteers can continue to volunteer to work at railways is very much driven by the railways management. If they say you can't, then you can't and everything gets locked up.

    I am expecting that we won't be able to, so have brought bits home to work on and I suggest others do the same. If I can go I will though.

    The government will probably extend it all winter so will be next year before trains can run.
     
  16. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I pretty much agree with that and that's exactly what I've done, luckily my "homework" is somewhat less bulky than it was last time!
     
  17. Nimbus

    Nimbus New Member

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    I got an email this evening stating that, following a Board meeting at the railway where I volunteer, the infrastructure gangs (pway etc.) were not required until further notice. However half an hour later came an update confirming that the Vegetation Control Gangs (one of which I am a member of) would continue if individuals were happy to do so. So my regular weekly outdoor exercise will continue!
     
  18. biggles200

    biggles200 Member

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    Except for training - like DMU's on Swanage
     
  19. biggles200

    biggles200 Member

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    Is it allowed for Railways to enter the second furlough scheme having made some of their staff redundant at the end of the first scheme?
     
  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    That depends on the rules of the scheme, and employment law. There were ways that the newly redundant could be kept on furlough by their old employers back in the spring, and I suspect similar exceptions may work.
     

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