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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    When was that published? Is it still supposed to be current?
     
  2. Mike Birch

    Mike Birch New Member

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  3. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    That’s a fair point and something that does need to be thought through by any company taking on Trainees/Apprentices, however ‘Profit’ can be defined in a number of ways potentially.

    The BESTT Trainees worked on 7828 & 9351 during their overhauls in 2018 in the same way as I did as a volunteer. I turned up and I worked with an experienced person, the BESTT Trainees turned up and they worked with an experienced person. I would say my hours were worth the same as a BESTT Trainees hours in terms of a financial input on the plus side of a profit & loss column (it saved paying somebody instead).

    When the PLC couldn’t make the BESTT scheme work (a management failure not a money one). I stepped back in (as I was asked to do by the PLC) and in the end I moved the Trainees to WSRA Williton to work under the WSRA (with their kind cooperation). Shortly afterwards the PLC ran out of money and they couldn’t complete 9351’s overhaul.

    The WSRA stepped in and took the engine to Williton. The WSRA used £30k of their money on materials to complete it AND they used the 3 BESTT Trainees managed by the WSRA Workshop Manager as the labour force to complete the engine and get it back into traffic (with of course others in the small WSRA paid team who came off other jobs to help with 9351).

    I think it’s fair to say that without the BESTT Trainees 9351 would not have returned to traffic anywhere near as quickly as it did, or it would have cost more in paid or sub-contracted staff hours given the short time scale the WSRA were given and the lack of suitable volunteers available.

    The PLC in 2019 enjoyed a dramatic reduction in loco hire costs from a very, very high loco hired in cost in 2018 which was around £250k (roughly) over the expectation due to a number of factors not all within the control of the PLC to be fair. Thanks to both 7828 & 9351 as owned engines plus 53808 all being in traffic in 2019 that was much nearer to zero (I don’t know what the pannier cost in 2019). Plus, given that none of these 3 engines have had their ‘maintenance pots’ added to in 2019 by a broke PLC, they have in effect been ‘free’ for 2019.

    This means that ‘the WSR recovery’ of 2019 and turn around from a reported loss to the reported profit was aided by this to a sum well into 6 figures in this one area alone.

    Now many can and should question how Trainees/Apprentices schemes work and its not one size fits all but many, many companies have been doing it forever, so why not in railway heritage circles? It does need different thinking from the traditional ‘volunteer turns up and does some work’, way of operating but everybody’s volunteer hours are reducing fast now as many pass to the workshop in the sky, and this applies for all heritage railways not just the WSR.

    The 3 Trainees concerned here did in my opinion add to the positive side of the accounts result which allowed the PLC Chairman to report a £600k profit in 2019 going into the closed session in a real and tangible way, and by coincidence they did it exactly when the WSR needed it most.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  4. Downline

    Downline Member

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  5. Mike Birch

    Mike Birch New Member

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  6. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    IIRC were not some GWR auto-coaches named after birds, or am I thinking of something else? Whatever, that certainly doesn't look a 'cuckoo' to me :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  7. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Fair enough

    But its not an either / or - there is no conflict between a good supply of volunteers and an apprentice or two.

    We have to remember that the heritage railway model is to sell voluntary labour to the public.

    In the operations department review that I wrote a few years back, was thanked for by the then Board who first adopted it and then failed to implement it, there was a traffic apprentice specifically written into the scheme. So passing on the skills is very important.

    Robin
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
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  8. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    As a point of information, auto coach trips have been so popular at Galas that they have had to be limited to early morning or late afternoon, or short trips at the ends of the line.

    Robin
     
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  9. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    What about a 'pre booked, suplementary fare' auto service with 169 on = say an off peak Sunday?
     
  10. K14

    K14 Member

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    W220 & W221 were named "Thrush" and "Wren" respectively.

    There exists a list of nine more names that were never applied:—

    Starling
    Skylark
    Lapwing
    Kingfisher
    Jackdaw
    Goldfinch
    Chaffinch
    Bullfinch
    Blackbird

    If they had been applied in listed order, the SDR would have W225 Kingfisher and W228 Chaffinch.

    Pete S.
     
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  11. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    There are also long term advantages. I believe that the current works manager at Boston Lodge began as YTS trainee in the 1990s. The point being that it is not necessarily train and then they leave, but in some cases you can get key members of your work force who could be with you for the next 50 years.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
  12. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    People who will still be there, long after JJP and others like him will be long gone and forgotten about , its those people who have given years to the WSR who I feel most sorry for, first it was the WSRA getting hijacked by people who thought they could run the railway better than the PLC, Now you have on the face of it a PLC chairman who only wants those loyal to him on the line, and seemingly thinks he can run it better than anyone else on his own, at a time when people need to come together , hes pulling them apart, and this must be a great worry to all the other groups, because, if he gets his own way, they might be next, once the line is upgraded to take engines he owns, whats to stop him deciding his own engines will get the bulk of the turns ?
     
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  13. Forestpines

    Forestpines Part of the furniture

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    Not putting aside money for maintenance could be seen as running the loco for free, but effectively the railway is building up debt for the future by doing that. The sums which will need to be spent on overhaul in the future still accrue regardless of whether or not money is set aside for them.

    A number of railways already do run successful training and apprenticeship schemes - @Monkey Magic has mentioned the FfR and there is at least one other I can think of.

    Personally, I think the whole idea that trainees or apprentices are a cost, and that the time taken by staff in training them is also a cost and nothing more, is a ridiculous one. In my day job I work for a medium size business with a successful graduate training scheme, and one of the reasons it is successful is that we realise that doing so is an investment, in both the future of our company and our industry as a whole.
     
  14. Mike Birch

    Mike Birch New Member

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    A number of railways already do run successful training and apprenticeship schemes - @Monkey Magic has mentioned the FfR and there is at least one other I can think of.

    Personally, I think the whole idea that trainees or apprentices are a cost, and that the time taken by staff in training them is also a cost and nothing more, is a ridiculous one. In my day job I work for a medium size business with a successful graduate training scheme, and one of the reasons it is successful is that we realise that doing so is an investment, in both the future of our company and our industry as a whole.[/QUOTE]

    I note that Ffestiniog Railway Holdings Limited and the West Somerset Railway share a common director so I can only hope that the success of such schemes on one railway can be reflected on the other.
     
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  15. 60044

    60044 Member

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    Any heritage railway wanting a future needs apprentices as they are the conduit for the current generation of full time employees passing their knowledge and skills - many of which are obsolescent in the outside world- to a new generation. On the NYMR, for example, the Traction & Rolling Stock Manager (Piglet to his adoring fans!) and most, if not all, of his departmental managers are former NYMR apprentices.

    Not putting aside money for maintenance could be seen as running the loco for free, but effectively the railway is building up debt for the future by doing that. The sums which will need to be spent on overhaul in the future still accrue regardless of whether or not money is set aside for them.

    Not necessarily if you are JJP - hasn't he already indicated to the S&DRMT that after free use of 53809 he now wants them to pay for a new tender tank and also its next overhaul?
     
  16. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    As a number of people have said here and on the other thread that the S&DRT and PLC should be talking about a solution rather than continuing toward legal action regarding the eviction notice, I have been asked to make clear that the S&DRT agree and have tried to reach out and take that route.

    However, the response to date has shall we say been forthright and blunt, to be polite. The S&DRT does live in hope that the current direction can be avoided as it wishes to continue to be a part of and support the WSR family going forward if at all possible.
     
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  17. Fish Plate

    Fish Plate Member

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    If you want to see how an apprenticeship programme should be run, take a look at the FfWHR's Heritage Skills Programme:

    http://www.ffwhrheritageskills.co.uk/about.html

    Funded by a £440k grant from the Heritage Lottery Foundation, this scheme is in its second year of training 10 apprentices per year; following last year's programme, nearly all of the participants have gone on to full time work, some on the FfWHR itself and others on other railways. It has been a spectacular success and shows what can be done when the will is there.
     
  18. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Which will undoubtedly lead to another legal tussle as it would be a clear breach of the running agreement.

    Keith

    PS I'm sure you meant to type 53808 ;)
     
  19. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    Hi Michael,

    I note your support for the SDRT at Washford which is welcomed, and it behoves others to follow your example who have or currently hold the positions you once held within the WSR at board and trustee level, and have not made a public statement as to their own position regarding the 'Notice to Quit'.

    You do not appear to understand the niceties of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, and that if a s.25 'Notice to Quit' is served, as upon the SDRT for Washford, then legal proceedings are inevitable due to the rather archaic consequences under the 1954 Act.

    The WSR PLC board ought to have been properly advised on all this at the time of the s.25 'Notice to Quit' served on 10th February, and the legal costs consequences, and a 'security for costs' application, plus the yard at Washford will be left potentially empty - no track, no covered accommodation - nothing.

    Cheers,

    Julian
     
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  20. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The Bluebell is another railway with an apprentice scheme, normally having a couple every year. Several of the past apprentices are now employed on the railway. It is funded by the Bluebell Railway Trust, and there is I believe £90k in a ring fenced fund to continue the scheme for the next couple of years.

    Skills training is a simple cost of business. If you don’t do it, where do you expect to find people with the necessary skills? That is particularly the case in running a heritage business where both the operational and engineering skills are no longer mainstream. How many people are likely to walk in off the street with a detailed knowledge of how to set the valves of a locomotive, or diagnose the problem with an injector that won’t pick up? It applies equally to volunteers: I’m sure many of us have coaxed a green cleaner (or in our time been that green cleaner) through a firing trip alternately short of steam or blowing off, wasting coal and costing money both ways, but how else do you learn? Training is an investment in the future sustainability of the business.

    Tom
     
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