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WCRC Licence Suspended

Discussion in 'What's Going On' started by 5944, Apr 2, 2015.

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  1. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I don't think it's a question of "unauthorised people" on the footplate but more likely IMHO about better communication between driver and fireman on a steam locomotive. For those with footplate experience on the main line it is appreciated that the footplate is both a noisy environment and one demanding concentration by both driver and fireman working as a team with minimum "communication" as each knows what is required of them. However in the MDTR that concentration is possibly influenced by the need to monitor AWS; TPWS and OTMR and - I suspect that it is this area of communication (i.e. how to add the monitoring of modern technology whilst concentrating on the normal steam locomotive footplate duties) that is of concern. I also suspect that this area of concern will need a re-write of the Job Procedure Manual for Footplate Crews; it may also require a 3rd party (supervisor) on the footplate to assist with monitoring duties as well as assist the footplate crew with sighting of signals and possible fireman's duties.

    But this is simple speculation that does no good as the actual events; problems identified and solutions required will need to await the outcome of the RAIB report that will be conducted by experts in the relative field(s). Suffice to say that NR has acted quickly once a potential risk has been identified and therefore cannot be blamed for so doing; WCRC has had advance notice of the suspension (if advised in advance before publication of the letter) and now has 6 weeks to meet the conditions set out by NR - and should be above criticism until then when its ability / willingness to meet those conditions will be evident.

    Whilst investigations are going on, however, it might be worth bearing in mind the variety of tour programmes that WCRC has operated over the years and the effort the company has made to provide for a large market with varying demands; in such an environment it is extremely difficult to "please all the people all the time" and therefore I would hope that critics should refrain from being too critical until the relevant facts enter the public domain.

    WCRC may be a company but its staff are people - like posters on this thread - simply trying to do their job to the best of their ability.
     
  2. mrKnowwun

    mrKnowwun Part of the furniture

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    Well lets hope WCR gets back on track (clever that huh!) soon, otherwise I am going to be forced to start considering filming on the toy railways, possibly even - god forbid - somewhere where the track has shrunk in the wash and is not 4' 8 1/2"
     
  3. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Further to the above and my #154, this is just to say that a number of posts have been removed as they were distracting and I apologise for the distraction as it was me who triggered it.

    On the main issue, reflection and then appropriate action is always an important period of time. Having re-read the letter from Network Rail to WCRC, as an outsider one has, of course, to take what the letter says as an accurate and fair statement of the reality of the situation. That said, it appears that immediately following the March 7th incident there were several weeks up to the March 30th meeting when NR seems to be satisfied, (once again), that things that should have happened within WCRC, didn't happen to their expectations. If this is true, then that is really worrying.

    There's a lot at stake here. It's probably time for the armchair pundits to just hold their breath if they care about the future of main line steam. That's what I'm doing.
     
  4. 26D_M

    26D_M Part of the furniture

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    Many will recall the statement WCR issued last summer in response to the previous suspension. Network Rail undoubtedly did and decided to make public the full grounds for the latest suspension as a preemptory measure for the avoidance of doubt.
    The impression remains that WCR is still struggling to come to terms with the transition from enthusiastic amateurs to professional train operating company. Its been said before but WCR has undergone a dramatic growth in the scale of its activity. Have the organisational aspects reached the level of maturity to match the growth in operational demands?
     
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  5. spindizzy

    spindizzy Member

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    Whilst not wishing to comment on the causes of WCRC Suspension from the National Network, I do feel that Vintage Trains should be applauded for their prompt notification to current and future customers via both email and their web site. Unfortunately it is still possible to book effected tours on both Steam Dreams and RTC websites. Yes I know it's the Easter Weekend but if Vintage Trains can communicate to future customers then so could the others. I find it very disappointing and is just another example of why I am finding it harder and harder to book tours these days.
     
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  6. Enterprise

    Enterprise Part of the furniture

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    More than once I have been involved at a senior management level in similar shenanigans, although not with a railway context and not with the potential for such serious consequences. The fundamental problem was always a complacent management culture that allowed required systems, both internal and those needed to comply with external regulation, to be ignored, varied or subverted to meet short term exigencies. The solution was always the same; the removal of the existing senior management team.
     
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  7. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Even better, go and volunteer on one. It will be good for your soul. :)
     
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  8. Desert Songster

    Desert Songster New Member

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    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2015
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  9. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Indeed. If the SPAD in itself were the reason for the suspension, NR would surely have issued their letter very soon after the preliminary RAIB report appeared, if not before. The two bullet points near the bottom of the first page of their letter both point the finger at the senior management.
     
  10. BillyReopening

    BillyReopening Member

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    Procedure and checklists and monitoring are things that managers forget to do very quickly. I am a manager for a large department and consistency and checking are fundental to keeping things working the way they should, and a review framework for staff and practise every 6 months is something that should happen.

    Sometimes it can be difficult for managers who have a passion about the area of business to see past the niceties and make difficult changes and enforce them. To get the balance right between maintaining the enthusiastic nature of the steam locomotive business and running a modern and safe operating company must be very difficult indeed.

    That said, it seems WCRC could do with some outside help, to manage that side of the operation..
     
  11. Steve1015

    Steve1015 Member

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    Well as insults go thats a pretty big one..... in fact I would go as far to say that sometimes they act in a better way than some who work on the "big railway".
     
  12. green five

    green five Resident of Nat Pres

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    This story is now being reported on BBC radio news bulletins. It was mentioned that WCRC operate steam services over the S&C. I wonder if this story is in the papers today?
     
  13. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Well-Known Member

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    If it's on the BBC site then it's surely only a matter of time before the 'meeja' get hold of it...
     
  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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  15. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    In a nutshell, the SPAD boils down to who was on the footplate (no inspector I assume), who said what to whom (inc any phone calls), who did what, and what were the flaws in WRC's Safe System of Work that allowed this to happen? There has clearly been a problem with WRC's management of safety for some time now, and IMHO they need to grasp this opportunity to put their house in order once and for all. This may necessitate bringing in someone from outside, who has no baggage and is not imbued in the WRC culture.
     
  16. bakabung

    bakabung Well-Known Member

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    It's also on teletext (or whatever it's called these days)
     
  17. Victor

    Victor Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    Just my opinion,
    there will have to be big changes at Carnforth or this could be the beginning of the end. NR are well brassed off with them. A slap dash attitude to safety is now way to run a business.
     
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  18. Steve1015

    Steve1015 Member

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    Unfortunatly yes...just means for a time being alot less kettle and diesel railtours.
    Also remember this include L/E moves as well
     
  19. Steamage

    Steamage Part of the furniture

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    BBC News report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-32167724
    RAIL Magazine report: http://www.railmagazine.com/news/network/2015/04/02/west-coast-railways-operating-licence-suspended
    Herald Scotland report, focusing on effects for The Jacobite: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/...-banned-after-serious-safety-breach.122356433

    The Scotsman mentions Abellio's plans for steam on ScotRail, which involve WCRC, of course. http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/scotrail-steam-train-operator-has-permit-suspended-1-3737193. Abellio took over ScotRail services on Wednesday.

    The Scotsman also winkled this statement out of a WCR spokesman:
    “We are working hard to reverse the current suspension imposed by Network Rail by fully satisfying their concerns. Passengers booked to travel with WCR and on their associated trips should not be concerned. If necessary, WCR will charter the service of another licensed operator using the same traditional carriages, and trips will be unaffected. But WCR hope this won’t be necessary and trust any issues will be resolved to the satisfaction of Network Rail.”​
    Isn't that the same wording as the Facebook posting? The others all include some variation of "No one from West Coast Railways was available for comment"

    Minster FM, the York local radio station, has a piece on it's website, too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2015
  20. mrKnowwun

    mrKnowwun Part of the furniture

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    Pftttt Not even close to being a big one.
     
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