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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    My reaction to the letter, given that one aspect focusses on an area in which I have some minor professional experience, was to e-mail one of the relevant Directors to offer my help.

    If we don’t hang together, the only alternative is to hang separately.

    Robin
     
  2. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Given that if the WSR were a school it would be in special measures, your response is exactly the right one in my view.
     
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  3. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I rather like that provision of a summary - at least, I assume there's a lot of detail in the background - which goes to all involved.
     
  4. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    one of the things that amuses me is how Trumpism has escaped into the mainstream and even the heritage movement, even the darkest corners of Somerset . Spin the story enough times and it becomes true . Where news is concerned especially the less good variety the WSR is remarkably porous . may be worth asking Boris for advice on stopping leaks . The ORR letter is now in wide circulation and I suspect many members of the forum could post a copy for everyone to read . On the other hand the WSR could publish it itself in the interests of transparency . Thinking back over probably 750 pages someone remarked on the impact of not running in 2020 and how much harder it becomes to restart operations each day that passes . Certainly something that feels as though it is coming home to roost

    The forum highlights two railways who put it mildly are in a bit of a predicament . One board decide with some third party wisdom to stand down on mass to allow a new team to take the helm and one railway that steadfastly ploughs on . I know which line I would support
     
  5. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    At Coltishall with the Tigers (74 Sqd) it was always Arkers, I never heard it called Ukers in 6 years in the mob. It was simply Ludo except you could go in any direction and was fiendishly difficult to win. But it was a great time filler if you were dressed in 1 piece undies, a G suit, an Immersion Suit and a Fying Suit. of course your helmet was in the Landrover.
     
  6. Piggy

    Piggy Member

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    I challenge you on that ..... in the Joint Service Trials Unit at Boscombe Down 1964/65 it was definitely Uckers, burned in my memory by the winning player's triumphant call ......."Uckers you F*****s !"
     
  7. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    Frank, you and the Board are starting to sound like Trump: "infamy infamy, they've all got it in for me". Why do you repeat this nonsense that the posters on here are hostile. Most of the regulars on this thread have experience of railway operations or other businesses and have a genuine interest in seeing the WSR thrive but you continue to treat us as if we were a group of recalcitrant fourth-formers without knowledge or expertise. Publish your "information like this" and it will "be received in a constructive, helpful fashion" by the majority of members. That one or two have their own axes to grind is inevitable and has to be accepted, but most will offer support, constructive advice and sensible discussion.
    It is neither sensible nor helpful for the Board to take this Bunker-mentality stance. Others have spelt out their objections and reasoning to that stance so I'll only re-iterate two points I have made before :
    1. You need to understand the value of good PR in gaining support, both in money and manpower.
    2. Openness, honesty, and integrity are the key (see the Llangollen example) . This earns confidence and reduces speculation whereas obscuring the truth and offering, if not mis-information then, certainly, dis-information, only loses you sympathy and support.
    If the WSR is to survive it will need all the help it can get, the small group that make up the Board and its friends cannot do it on their own and need to reach out to the rest of us.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2020
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  8. GW 5972

    GW 5972 New Member

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    Llandudno?
     
  9. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    Frank C,

    The ORR letter is now pretty much widely circulated.

    You do the WSR PLC board no favours in your stance, and the WSR PLC board does themselves no favours in seeking to mask what is blindingly obvious. You and the WSR PLC board risk losing the plot over all this, if the plot has not already been 'lost'.

    The current WSR PLC board has due to a multitude of horrendous cock ups this year lost all credibility and to my way of thinking has yet to win over the ORR as a capable board to safely run a preserved railway for it's potential passengers if trains ever run again.

    We can add to this the employees - those who are left - and the volunteers; neither who have in place the basic HR procedure to deal with a SPAD or a shunting accident, or a carriage door opening on leaving a station, and therefore a faulty SMS.
     
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  10. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    Oops ! Llangollen , of course. I have corrected the original. :oops:
     
  11. pgbffest

    pgbffest Member

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    Not necessarily. They can accept proof via documentation that things have been implemented. They may return to do a spot check to see that all is running as per the documentation you have sent - that doesn't meant there is more to do. ORR do turn up unannounced from time and it shouldn't be regarded as a thing of fear as they are there to help.
     
  12. Forestpines

    Forestpines Part of the furniture

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    If you have an ops role on a heritage railway, you soon learn that the inspectors within your department will pop up from time to time to see you, see how you're doing, and have a cup of tea and a chat.

    There seems to be a bit of a cultural thing that this is something to be scared of, when really it's not - not helped by old main line customs such as passing messages when an inspector is approaching.

    The ORR inspectors are in many ways the same thing, just a level up. So it's not surprising that there are a similar range of opinions, and that some see an ORR visit as the entire railway being sent to the Head's office.
     
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  13. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    If I remember correctly the ORR is obliged to send an overview letter to all staff. Ken
     
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  14. stimpy

    stimpy New Member

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    Farewell Humphrey. Whenever I received the footplate roster and saw that you were my driver, I knew that we would have a grand day out. You taught me so much and will always be in my thoughts.
     
  15. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    Last night and this morning was a catch up as I have been very unwell. Sadly it is the same old same old. Many of you talk about a myriad of ORR Inspectors turning up unannounced to undertake checks. There are only 3 for the whole heritage sector, 1 Chief Inspector and 2 Inspectors. When I was Safety Audit Director for the PLC there was only 1 Inspector. As you can image most inspectors are mainline Inspectors. Now we have all this guff about issuing documents to the public. Please tell me when you last saw a letter to a heritage railway's staff and employees for another railway made public? For almost 3 years I was a member of the National Heritage Safety Group and I saw a few but they are , in my opinion, hardly ever published beyond the Company. Would you expect ICI to publish its safety documentation for making nitric acid and what to do if the plant was bombed public knowledge. You talk about SPADs and other matters not being documented because the HR procedures have been withdrawn. You need to understand SMS's before making comments like that. These documents, including the necessary sanctions, are in place and I wrote many of them. The SMS is not a great pile of documents it is a SYSTEM. It is ORR first port of call and they demand, yes they really do, and get 24/7 access to it. What the ORR letter does, and Frank C is actually spot on when he says it should not be published, is points to areas of the SMS that do not dovetail properly with other documentation. The WSR SMS is a complex system and if the ORR letter was published you probably would hit a stone wall because none of the under pinning documents are available for publication. For instance does the SMS tell you how tightly the nuts on the cylinder heads of a 49XX class loco should be done up? Yes it does because the SMS will point to the documentation on Standards documents of the locomotive type. You would need to look at the SMS which would take you to the Overall and Maintenance document that would point to class specification documents (these will probably be GWR documents). This process continues until you find the figure.
    So come on chaps the ORR has pointed out the obvious, Drivers, firemen, signalmen and guards (the safety critical) who have not worked a train for 6 months or more and are therefore automatically out of ticket must be retrained. Now most of this retraining is done in house by suitably qualified people but they too are out of ticket so this task itself is mind blowing. I was the qualified trainer for splitting and joining steam locos and their tenders (approved by ORR) but I have done nothing on this for over a year so either someone else has or someone needs to be trained. Not too bad a problem except the training requires the trainee to undertake so many splits and rejoins under supervision. Ahhh difficult. Under normal circumstances this sort of problem makes its way up to the Heritage Safety Group where one Railway says, 'We can train a couple of your men'. Thank you problem solved but most heritage railways are in the same boat so this is 1 of hundreds of problems to be solved.
    Whilst all this work is going on you guys on here expect the Board to do this, that and any number of what is really, to any Board, a minor problem..............get real. Lets get a little proactive and instead of bemoaning the WSR lets give them some help to get going or at the very least shut up and give them some space to work, they don't need to be worrying about you at this time. Ken, old, tired and worn out like a lot of heritage parts.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2020
  16. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    And the stuff about Seaward crossing and the infrastructure?

    If there is nothing to hide then demonstrate that and that will help build confidence. If you look like you are hiding something then people will think you are hiding something.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2020
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  17. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    Hi Piggy, were you at Coltishall 1962/63? If you were and it was called Uckers then my memory was wrong and I apologise. If you weren't then the word 'challenge' is totally inappropriate because it is my recollection. Ken
     
  18. Geoff May

    Geoff May Member

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    But though your structure may be causing difficulties your mind is still as sharp as ever Ken. Well said sir, and best wishes to you.
     
  19. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Hi Ken

    With respect the conversation started more on a point of communication, the PLC through Frank C stated that the ORR visit was a clean bill of health and the WSR could run in November.

    The summary report does not say that, it sets out a number things that need doing before the trains can run again and a number of things that need to be done soon. To me none of those things were new and none of those things are tough to complete but I was surprised that many of them were not already done because they have been on the radar screen for a long time.

    The report highlights more than just updating competences which we would all expect for anybody, it runs deeper than that and the only Department it mentions as OK is Loco/Stock (big tick in the box for @Aberdare who came out of retirement recently, stepped back into his old role as CME and got all the necessary things together for the ORR in only a few weeks).

    Seaward Way Crossing is an example, it now appears it’s not out of the design stage yet and not signed off by the ORR, but has been ‘being done’ for the last two winters at least, this will be the third. It’s clear that if Covid hadn’t stopped this years running the WSR would not have been using Minehead as a station in 2020 which can only reflect badly on WSR Management seeing it was planned to happen with funding in place directly from SCC before their tenure but nothing seems to have progressed (and in fact it seems to have gone backward to the design stage) during their time.

    You make a valid point about the SMS pointing to other documents, it does, but if there are no HR Policies and the SMS points to them, what then?

    The point people here are making is why, yet again is the PLC saying it’s all OK and there is nothing amiss when there is. There is no shame in saying “there is a list we all need to focus to get the job done” that call to arms would have resulted in people coming forward to assist.

    However due to the way the PLC Board treats its own people it’s not. Again as I’ve said many times I feel it’s about Culture and the need for an inclusive and positive one not a negative, aggressive blame culture where when something goes wrong its all the fault of: Nat Pres/Troublemakers/The local MP/Cuckoos in the Nest/Local Headteacher/Volunteers staging takeover bids/Trojan Horses/The Local Press/The National Press/Dark forces looking to bring the WSR down (delete as appropriate).

    I agree that the PLC should be allowed to get on with it, they can ask for help if they wish or if they have it under control they can just crack on and complete the task at hand. Either way I don’t see how a few people posting on Nat Pres needs to slow them down, unless of course they need a scapegoat.

    I also agree with you that’s it’s not the end of the world and that the ORR Inspectors are there to help and guide not just report and wield a big stick. This should be an open and easy, ongoing process with all parties working together because all want the same thing: A railway that runs. If the WSR Management can’t make that happen then it will become a confidence issue.

    Lastly it’s great to see you posting again and pitching in with your views, I always enjoy debating all things WSR with you as you well know and I hope you can keep challenging and contributing, Best Always, Andy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2020
  20. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    'runs safely'.
    Indeed.

    Noel
     

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