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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    It might be a good start if information was presented clearly, and without repeated suggestions that relatively basic parts of that information required supplementary contact. Even better would be if the public facing information (which I agree will always be a simplified version) didn’t seem so at odds with other sources.

    I guess it’s about feeling that I’m being told what I need to know, rather than what someone else feels is good for me to know.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  2. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    It is about being transparent. It was a simple enough question about how things were progressing after the ORR visit.

    If there are concerns what are those concerns?
    Why are those concerns concerns?
    What are the implications for the running of the railway?

    I like to donate to organisations that are open, transparent and honest about problems. For example, I was very impressed by the efforts of the new board at Llangollen in their communication today. For a line that has problems and that are likely to be ongoing, this was a welcome breath of fresh air.

    So in short, what did the ORR say in their letter?
     
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  3. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    I think Covid became a very useful get out of jail card to avoid some very awkward questions . Rather like a lockdown extension into December may become given the ORR letter content
     
  4. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Quoting my own post, I'll draw a contrast with the also deeply troubled Llangollen Railway. Their new board has issued a statement which, though brutal, has a clarity of thought and communication that has been lacking from West Somerset for some time, going before the 2018 "closure" announcement. It conveys a sense of sharing and drawing in, not exclusivity.
     
  5. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    So when will the gangways be reattached for maximum authenticity?

    I guess that is a question to Ian (C)
     
  6. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    I guess as well it should be noted a lot of restoration work was done at Crewe under a contract
     
  7. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Maybe a bit of honesty and integrity wouldnt go amiss?
     
  8. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    The comparison that sprung to my mind was Denmark and China where Covid is concerned. I will leave you to decide which one you think is acting like China.
     
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  9. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    I gather one thing was "WSR must progress the review of its safety management system, which includes its component procedures and processes". I wonder if that last was a reference to the still-suspended employee (and perhaps volunteers too, IIRC there were differing opinions on whether they were covered thereby) grievance/protection procedures, which I seem to recall being part of the SMS?

    Noel
     
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  10. FrankC

    FrankC Well-Known Member

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    No, it's not my story Andy - I am the editor of the Newsletter, but it would be for the Board to decide if it were sensible to publish the full letter. But I would advise them not to do so. It would be nice if we could publish information like this where it could be received in a constructive, helpful fashion. But we have to be realistic and if we were to publish the ORR letter on Nat Pres we all know what would happen. There would be a further several pages critique of every word of the document, many trying to use it to justify particular spin. We are getting close to the situation where I could write the responses to this post myself!
     
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  11. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    This seems perverse, you are trying to justify a particular spin by saying it shouldn't be published where there might be critical comment, instead you want to ensure that the kind of comments made are the ones you want to hear.

    Again, if you want people to help the railway then you need to be open and honest with them. If you won't admit to what the problems are then how can anyone help you?

    You seem so paranoid and defensive about admitting that 'we have these problems, ORR have ID'd them for us and we need to do this before we re-open'. Surely they can't be so bad, or such a categorical failure of management that they are too embarrassing to admit to in public?

    Look at Llangollen today and then look at yourself today. Day and night when it comes to communication and engagement about the problems the railway faces.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  12. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    It is your choice what you recommend, and the board's choice as to how it responds. However, I think it an opportunity missed, as those communication opportunities have been repeatedly missed for at least the last couple of years. Instead, there has been rigid message control, snippets released, attempts to block use of social media and so on - and yet the doubts and questions still remain. I commend the Llangollen approach to you.

    Meanwhile, what I've heard about the letter suggests explicit reference to reviewing the currency and appropriateness of infrastructure standards, an audit of structure examinations including in respect of the need for further examinations before trains run, and a risk assessment of the recovery plan which will include assessment of the findings of the structure assessments. That sounds like quite a lot for a railway that's basically ready to run at the end of November.

    Then there is Seaward Way crossing. If what I've understood from your newsletter and about the ORR letter is correct, the railway has decided that it cannot be used except under exceptional circumstances, but that the WSR haven't even got to the starting gate for the legal processes to replace it. Given the excellent news emerging out of Pfizer today, and suggestions that the world may be coming back to normal by spring, I'm rather curious as to how that normality will be able to include passenger trains running between Dunster and Minehead. While the installation may be quick, bitter experience suggests that regulatory approvals and consultation processes can't be hurried.

    Now, if what I've been told is incorrect, or I have the right information but the wrong interpretation, I'll be delighted to be persuaded to the contrary. But at the moment, I'm left feeling like the public view of the railway having been closed by Covid is nothing like the whole story. And on that basis, I'm left wondering what I can trust from official sources about the state of the railway, and when it can reopen. I'm sure you'll agree with me that support is much easier to build from a position of trust.
     
  13. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Given that it now seems de rigeuer for such documents to be leaked out to a motley collection of people found on this forum, it would probably be wise to be more upfront about these things in public. It might even stop the leaking in the first place if you were to do so.
     
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  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I can see both sides of this.

    Certainly from the point of the specific ORR letter, I can well understand not publishing its contents, for the reasons @FrankC highlights. The correct audience for that is the management of the railway, with further internal communication in as much as it affects the staff (paid and volunteer) in their roles. The ORR visit many heritage railways each year, no doubt in many cases they make specific advice and recommendations, and no doubt in some cases requirements, and I cannot think of many examples where their letters would then be put into the public domain verbatim.

    The flip side, though, is in the more general communication to heritage railway supporters. As a body, they can be very generous, but also in my experience slow to take on board messages about the true state of a railway. Sudden revelation of issues tends to result first in bafflement, and then a degree of anger before eventually turning to thinking about support. (For example: "We're short of locos?" followed by "How have we got to a position where we are short of locos?" and only eventually "How do we help improve the loco situation?"). So communication of deep-seated issues with the intention of canvassing support does not happen overnight: you have to build a picture over time both of the issue to be addressed, and how it can be addressed.

    My experience is that enthusiasts can be very generous when called upon, but the one thing that doesn't work is hidden surprises; for that candour is required. If you look at lines that have successfully raised significant money for infrastructure issues - I'm thinking of the NYMR bridges appeal; or the SVR and Falling Sands viaduct; or the Bluebell and major carriage storage - it has always been a long process of building a picture of the issue to be tackled first, followed by engagement about how to raise the funds to tackle it. The one thing that really goes down badly is to spring major issues as a surprise, because you lose control of the message, and with it the trust from your supporters that it can be fixed. Sadly the WSR's recent communication has tended of late to be "everything in the garden is rosy" right up to the point when it is revealed not to be.

    Tom
     
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  15. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I imagine that the ORR will say some quite unsurprising things, eg Staff need refamiliarisation, competencies checked etc.

    I think that some points eg about long term infrastructure maintenance would be unsurprising.

    Presumably those who have seen it might know what the real surprises are?

    And Seaward Way??
     
  16. Hampshire Unit

    Hampshire Unit Well-Known Member Friend

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    Very clear statement with an outline of the approach to resolve the problems. Acknowledgement of what went wrong, stateent of intent for the future. I agree with your comments
     
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  17. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Platform (No 4) just described what happens on a visit - i.e. the process. No outcomes. The clue would be whether ORR is coming back and if so, when. Not returning = all ok. Future visit = more to do.

    That's the way inspectors work.
     
  18. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I received a copy of the ORR letter from the Plc.

    It was addressed to "Employees and Staff of the West Somerset Railway PLC" - reminded me of the days of the "Officers and Servants of the ......railway" :) Nothing in it, or the forwarding message, to say that it was confidential in any way, but regardless of that I'm not going to post it here.

    I have to say that I was surprised to receive such a letter from the ORR, I wonder why they decided to do it - after all, we never got any after earlier visits?
     
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  19. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    I think others have replied better than I can. I can only add that I find it ironical that you blame not talking about the issues on other people because you are concerned they will put a spin on the facts, and you do that in defence of the PLC Newsletter which puts a spin on the facts?

    The ORR have given us a list of things to do, so let’s be honest about the things that need to be done and work through them, it’s all do-able if people focus on the job at hand and it should be all hands to the pumps currently not: ‘it’s all OK, nothing to see here, we are doing a great job alone without anybody’s help’.

    Lastly thank you for keeping posting on here, its good to talk.
     
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  20. malcolm imps

    malcolm imps Member

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    Yes it has..........
     

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