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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

    Agreed. And in some corners hidden (to most) behind a veneer of goodness.

    Steve
     
  1. Bill Drewett

    Bill Drewett Member

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    Three or four pages ago some people were pointing out how negative, critical and unhelpful to a railway social media like this forum can be. They were right, it can. I think the last couple of pages have demonstrated the counter-argument - how valuable it can be when used well, when thoughtful, knowledgeable people choose to engage.

    The answer is not to disengage or censor. Just use it well.
     
  2. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    And the veneer has worn away somewhat as the recent shenanigans on the PLC and WSRA boards show.

    As much as I dislike some on both the boards this is not the time to desert the ship. What is needed is for everyone to support the existing boards and get the operational problems sorted out.

    In the mean time I think it is in the best interests of the railway if we all shut up and totally refrain from posting about any matter here. Let the PLC get this mess sorted out without looking behind its back to see the poison posted here.

    Finally I would like to point out that in matters relating to safety there is a moral, if not legal, duty to report problems, or whistleblow, and there is legalisation on the matter. It is wrong to publicly criticise these actions and there can be consequences.
     
  3. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    In my experience at work, whenever there has been a disciplinary, whatever the original allegation, the individual was more often than not disciplined over their flexi time recording as that was by far the easiest issue to 'prove'
     
  4. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member

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    As I said in an earlier post the national rule book contains much which is not relevant to a 25MPH railway. Equally the national rule book does not cover a lot of issues relevant to running a heritage railway. What is required of a heritage rule book is that their reflects the common core between the two rulebooks but adds back in those heritage issues no longer found on the national network. The heritage issues need however to be written to today's H&S rather than simply pasted in from the BR black book

    There is one area which it is vital to have comonality and that is hand signals in shunting. Many lines have ex and current national network staff. When the shunter gives a hand signal it must be the same as the driver would see on the national network
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2018
  5. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    We have had discussions in this forum of the challenge of attracting enough volunteers to do all the work. That challenge could be expected to be greater on the WSR than on most other railways, because of its greater length if nothing else.

    When you're striving to attract enough volunteers, inevitably they won't all be equally understanding of the importance of the various constraints, rules and procedures that apply to the work. Of course you give them appropriate training, and refreshers at appropriate intervals, but you also have the challenge of monitoring what everyone is doing in practice, and whether anyone is starting to bend rules or think of "better" ideas than those coming down from the management.

    It doesn't help that organisations in Britain in general are notorious for managements that really don't understand what the work on the shop floor involves, so volunteers may arrive with an assumption that the managers are idiots.
     
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  6. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres

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    Emphasizing yet again that many in the Heritage industry fail to understand the change of culture that is required during the metamorphosis from "boys playing trains" to the commercial world that many heritage lines are now part of. In the commercial world the reality of life is dictated by finance which comes with legal requirements that cannot be simply shrugged off or left to another day - and a world in which the presence (or not) of willing volunteers haas a marked affect on performance. Agreed that much of this is outside the gaze of the customer / travelling public but it it is an important reality that must be at the heart of the heritage line(s) operations.

    As noted in a previous post ORR takes it's duties seriously and they will act to ensure that heritage lines take their duties and responsibilities equally seriously. Given that, I hope that the WSR is able to meet with the ORR requirements and that 2019 will see it take the first steps to a more secure future. That said I also hope that other (large) heritage lines take note of the ORR involvement and look at keeping their own house in order before commenting on the WSR situation.
     
  7. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    firstly a question ?

    I don't recall WCRC in their dealings with ORR being under a veil of secrecy am I right ?

    Therefore and coming back to an earlier posters point . The WSR are potentially missing a trick

    by making public the findings , and then what is needed to put them right , there is the opportunity to appeal for volunteers , funds etc to help achieve the objective . There is only 4-5 months to deliver a lot of progress and actions potentially so out of something so bad could come something good and these are situations when preservation really can excel

    The secrecy sadly seems that a form of control is being exerted instead of honesty . Suppressing discussion is never helpful . What next WSR staff and members being disciplined or banned for using social media ?
     
  8. Wenlock

    Wenlock Well-Known Member Friend

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    Perhaps therefore, wise railway management will arrange the necessary "bureaucracy" in such a way that the average "working volunteer" sees as little as possible.

    A well managed administration system should be transparent "at the coal face". As long as the necessary paperwork is looked after then the worker on the ground needs only know that they hold the appropriate grade card, and let the administrator administer..

    As a signalman personally I only need to know that my grade card says I am up to date on rules , medical and track safety, and that it covers the 'box where I am working. I don't need to keep records myself of the tests/examinations and the dates thereof. The operations department's administrator does that for me, managers should be backed up by efficient and conscientious administrators.

    This of course requires all levels of management and supervision to take their responsibilities seriously, from board level down to gang foremen or supervisors. If a particular middle manager has difficulty with keeping the appropriate paper trail up to date, then they should seek assistance in doing so.
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    But there's the rub - it's been noted numerous times on this thread that in general Directors / Trustees on heritage railways are volunteers, but so are many in other management and administration type roles. The operating departments (loco, guards, signalmen etc) will have Inspectors, there to set and maintain standards, assess and certify those in training, maintain the records and so on - that's a lot of work and administration. Quite possibly a point of reflection about the now distant balmy summer days on the footplate when you are sitting late one dreary winter's evening in a committee meeting discussing whether Rule 57 needs reworking in the light of some operating quirk recently discovered...

    Clearly those roles will give satisfaction to some, since otherwise there would be few volunteers. But we mustn't forget that "management" on a heritage railway extends far below the directors, and well past the paid managers as well. Much of what goes on is invisible to the general public (quite rightly so); non-working members / shareholders are probably only dimly aware, though would have a legitimate interest in knowing that "it should be done" (without probably being quite certain what "it" is); even working members are likely to only get to appreciate the scale and complexity within their own department over time.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  10. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    The question of rule books cropped up at the recent HRA seminar and it was again stated that the big railway rulebook is not relevant to heritage railways and should not be used. Likewise, the old BR 1950 rulesbook is not relevant in many respects. Each railway should have its own rulebook , relevant and proportionate to what it does. It may be based on other rulebooks but should not incorporate irrelevent or inappropriate rules. There was comment on commonality of such safety critical things as handsignals where volunteers work on different railways with different rules and there is likely to be an agreed standard in such matters but it is a while away, yet.
     
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  11. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    I felt most of your post was very good, but disagree with this particular section. Discussion is going to happen, better it be out in the open, where any excess can be checked by community push-back.

    And as for the "poison", the people involved in the railway need to know what people outside are thinking, even if it's not pleasant to read. And you'll notice many critics say something of the form 'x is a problem, but I hope the GWR can overcome it' - hardly something people without good-will toward the GWR would say.

    Noel
     
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  12. Wenlock

    Wenlock Well-Known Member Friend

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    Quite. Which leads to either the paid managers spending most of their time on paperwork resulting from volunteer efforts, or paying admin staff to back up the managers. K&ESR has an Operating Manager and both he and his assistant (designated Service Delivery Manager) spend much of their time office bound with paperwork, they are backed up by a part-time (one day per week) operating administrator, who sorts and files the records, arranges medical dates, issues renewed grade cards etc. The Footplate, Guards and Signalmen's inspectors are all volunteers. Locomotive and C&W engineering have paid managers and a few paid staff, but S&TE and P/Way departments are wholly volunteer run.
     
  13. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    No moaners please!
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    Please don’t attack me for reporting the actions of others. It was not me that released the news nor was I responsible for the poor management that got the railway into this mess. You need to ask the paid management and those who appointed them. They are the ones who need to change their ways. They had plenty of private warnings but took no notice. If they had done their jobs properly, and not ignored them, there would have been no need to involve the ORR. A tragedy for all concerned.
     
  14. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    But, thinking of the number of RAIB reports on incidents on the “big railway” where confusion over paperwork is a material factor, the point @Wenlock makes about administration being seamless to those at the coal face is really important - especially in a volunteer workforce.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  15. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    Some of the tensions on heritage/tourist type lines stem from the fact that many have large numbers of volunteers, many of who have fond memories of the railway as it was for the first three quarters of the twentieth century and how many prefer to remember it. Much of the infrastructure on these lines reflect that. However, there are, it appears, many viewpoints about how it should look and operate, but those do not always coincide with what is required of the management in order to fulfil their responsibilities for the line.
    It seems that the WSR has tried to implement certain features necessary to the 21st. century and the present day legal requirements. Those who have followed this and other WSR threads may recall some resistance to new style modern introductions along the line. The balance between maintaining the 'heritage' look of a line and its functioning in the 21st. century is a very hard act. But it has to be achieved as present day legislation demands it.
     
  16. j&mkeynes

    j&mkeynes Guest

    I work in higher education where there are often complaints that senior administrators are overpaid relative to their role. Which is rubbish. With greater oversight comes greater responsibility. Which must be administered. Which often isn`t - or at least as well as it should be because too few capable people choose to work in administrative roles. I suspect similar problems are happening here. I wonder how many enthusiastic and capable volunteers choose to work as administrators? I have seen many appeals for volunteers from many heritage lines over the years. But very few specific requests for volunteers to work in compliance or related areas. The current WSR appeal for volunteers - link below -is a case in point. I wonder just how many of the roles described correlate with the areas the ORR have required to be improved? Very few I suspect. In which case, a new strategy seems to present itself...

    https://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/volunteer
     
  17. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    This thread is (at last) touching on an important aspect of all heritage lines and that is the role of the volunteer.

    All heritage lines should welcome volunteers for the obvious reason. However all volunteers need to understand that they are not 'doing their line a favour' by volunteering unless they also comply with all the requirements of the job they are asked to undertake, especially if there is a safety/competence element. The days of simply lending a hand in some areas of railway operation are long gone. Even a steward on a train has a responsibility. I recall at the last gala, someone monitoring quite carefully where people wandered off to at NF Junction as the loco turned on the triangle. Some might think that this was a 'jobsworth' in action. Definitely not.

    We still have no idea what the scale of the problem with the ORR visit actually was. It can't just be paperwork as that arguably could be dealt with without necessarily closing down the line. That said, Tornado is currently off the main line because everything is apparently not perfect even though it seems to have been 'fixed'. As said up thread, the WSR could take a PR lead on this one if they were minded to.
     
  18. greenslade

    greenslade Member

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    ref beancounter don't ignore his well meaning advice since for many years he was heavily involved with helping to run one of the largest preserved railways in this country.
     
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  19. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    Very kind of you to say so - one hopes that it can be possible to learn from what doesn't go as you planned as well as (more than?) what does, which may also be a suitable sentiment for the West Somerset Railway at this time!

    Steven
     

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