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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    Could we please change the thread title to a more accurate "West Somerset Railway Rumours and Hearsay"? ;)

    Steve
     
  2. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Although they worked to WT as an emergency last year, for a long-term solution the need to top&tail as a result of no run-round facilities at WT will add to the expense.
     
  3. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

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    Considering they were going to open the whole line by now and run a gala in April, have relaid half the line and painted loads of coaches and locos over the winter, they aren't giving the impression of being short on volunteers.
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Where was it reported that they were going to “relay half the line” - that would probably represent a capital investment of £5m or more?

    Tom
     
  5. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Indeed, if the WSR have truly had their volunteer numbers reduced by 40% then I seriously doubt they'd be able to carry on running the same service. I know we couldn't if we experienced the same reduction. Perhaps the 40% is turnover, i.e. in the last x years, 40% of volunteers have left to be replaced with new? I know in our guards and TTIs department we've lost probably getting on for 30 members of staff out of a total of just under 80 in the last 5 years or so, yet our department number has remained broadly stable for most of that time.
     
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  6. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

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    It was a figure of speech. They have done numerous linework as shown on wsr dot org.

    I was more making a point, Tom, of the railway seems to have prepared just as you'd expect for a 20/23 mile operation to resume.

    People on here who know nothing suggesting the line could terminate at Watchet for everybody to pile on a bus is just laughable when that clearly wasn't the case at least two weeks ago (money situation now with covid, but nothing to do with manpower).
     
  7. Another Yorkshireman

    Another Yorkshireman Member Friend

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    I know of a public school bursar who had no idea how many pupils there would be at the start of a new school year [some always dropped out at the last minute] until the housemasters counted the number of occupied beds on the first day of term.
    Nobody could possibly know how many volunteers are going off in a huff until the railway starts running again. So nobody could possibly support or refute the 40% 'guestimate',. I know a lot of volunteers who will be turning up again when they are allowed to do so, including some who have been uneasy about some recent developments.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
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  8. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    What will however happen I suggest is that many volunteers will drop out over The Coronavirus crisis.

    If as I suspect this goes on longer than intended many older ones may well not come back to do their 'last season'

    Working age ones may well have their livelihoods and families disrupted, or business's that either collapse or need revitalizing

    To say nothing of course of deaths of volunteers or their families
     
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  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    You should be more precise with language then.

    On the one hand you are pulling people up on the fact that a 40% decrease in volunteers has no basis in reality, but are quite happy to say a 50% line renewal is just a figure of speech! What’s sauce for the goose etc etc.

    Tom
     
  10. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    ...or in one case I knew, the housemaster found himself with more pupils than beds! Someone had had the the 'bright idea' of increasing the capacity of his boarding house by replacing single beds by double bunk beds in some of the smaller dormitories. Problem was, the pupils arrived for the start of term before the new bunks had.....
     
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  11. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    I personally know one driver and two firemen who were booted out after a kangaroo court. Another attempt to discipline a signalman failed through the plc being totally inept. The former WSRA chairman may no longer be a signalman although I do not know for certain (he is in fine spirits I hear). The S&D eviction is having a serious effect on morale as the core volunteers appreciate what has been delivered at Washford. The S&D opened their doors to the wagon restoration group who inevitably were amongst the most highly motivated volunteers so the effect of collateral damage seems to have evaded the thought processes.

    As the old saying goes, a fish rots from the head.
     
  12. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I'm not disputing any of that, I'm quite prepared to believe it, sad as it is. I'm merely remarking that if the WSR has truly had a 40% reduction in total number of volunteers, with no replacement of those kicked out at all, I find it hard to believe the WSR could sustain it's current service levels. The 60% of remaining volunteers would have to significantly step up their commitment in terms of number of days per month they're prepared to work if that wasn't to be the case, and I find that unlikely.
     
  13. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Tom, Thanks for your comment.

    Just for accuracy it was me who first mentioned a 40% volunteer drop (at least I don't recall anybody mentioning it prior to me) I also stated clearly that I could not confirm the figure and it was just what I had heard. This figure was passed to me by 'an insider' who's comments are usually accurate and informed. This insider has also made the same comment to others as well. It was explained to me as a figure calculated formally by the drop in WSR active ID Cards (plus sign-on data) over the last circa 15 months. I can only add that other evidence also leads to a large drop in Volunteers from the 1,000+ often quoted by the WSR but that is based only on ongoing anecdotal feedback which can't be quantified into a figure.

    @Another Yorkshireman stated above "the 40% 'guestimate', which may have originated from someone who wanted it to be true". Its not often I bite back at people and I normally thank people for their comments even if I don't agree with them, but if that was directed at me I'm disappointed that anybody would think I would want the WSR to fail. I've spent the last 14 months trying to avoid what is currently happening, I was in the unfortunate position of seeing the direction of travel over a year ago because I was at the core of things within the WSR until being 'removed' instantly for expressing a view the new management didn't like. I can however say I have failed totally in trying to help effect a change, its a 100% failure on my part which makes me very sad not glad.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  14. Piggy

    Piggy New Member

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    Look on the bright side, there is no failure in attempting to seek a resolution even when the result is not as you would wish.
     
  15. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

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    If you can show me where I stated I was pulling people up on stating 40% then be my guest. I made no reference to any figure nor made a suggestion of using anybody's figure. I simply suggested they had enough manpower to maintain the operation we have been accustomed to over recent years, and had carried out line work in the winter period.

    Even if a 40% decrease of the total headcount has taken place, there's more to it than that.

    For example if the railway had 1000 volunteers to begin with, but 25% only volunteered 2 weeks of the year, them not returning wouldn't have a significant impact when compared to 250 who volunteer 14 days a month suddenly giving up.

    I don't wish to speculate as I know nothing of the WSR plc direction or the mindset of the railway, but sometimes challenging a culture of any organisation is a good thing, however some people won't like it.

    The length of the WSR, the amount of stations and departments it has, together with it's age (44 years now) mean it is a complex organisation and trying to change a culture would be incredibly difficult.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  16. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

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    See my post #24135.

    You are assuming everybody does the same amount of volunteer hours and each department has seen a 40% drop.
     
  17. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    You are right to question what is 40%. As it came to me it was a sweeping statement, but as you point out its much more complex. I did a piece of work as a part of the HPC Bid in 2018 on this, everybody knows that the hours overall put in by volunteers are dropping, they are for most railways as the age profile increases. And for most railways the volunteering hours in the next 5-10 years is going to drop dramatically if you don't attract new, younger people quickly and in quantity. Anybody attending a WSR PLC AGM only needs to look at the average age in the room.

    The reason I did that work was to justify the HPC grant amount. The HPC Bid was designed to attract many new people to the WSR for an experience or volunteering, primary school kids (long term volunteers), students through the 30 'apprenticeships' T level 315+ hours per year each (immediate volunteers: 30 x 315 hours pa) & 21yrs + people (immediate volunteers once they were welcomed in). This was gauged across 20 activity types, some volunteering and some as an experience. In the project the volunteers are pure volunteer hours and the experiences results in some of those people 'sticking' and becoming volunteers. The overall number of new people coming to the WSR worked out within the HPC Project if it had hit its KPI's was 68,400, therefore if you only gained 1% as volunteers that's 680 people who if they only did 26 days average a year that's circa 176,000 extra volunteer hours a year. The £96k grant money was just the 'enabler' giving the WSR the resource to do this without sucking up existing volunteer hours. However the new PLC management just brushed all of that away and just wanted the money, so the project was moved 'off railway' and nobody comes and nobody stays as volunteers.

    Personally I think that the WSR has lost around 40% of volunteer hours in the last 15-18 months or so but it doesn't matter much even if its 20%. That drop is not only through running people like me 'out of town' because that most likely effects around 10-20 people only. Many more have quietly slipped away because they don't believe anymore and don't enjoy being there and many would have just got old and tired or worse (probably the largest percentage). This is only going to increase at a faster rate given that the WSR is not proactively doing things such as the HPC bid and working hard to replace an ageing population at a faster rate, in fact its doing all it can to tell people to go away (S&DRT are only one example). But even if was a positive place and just sat back waiting for new people to come, when you have a monster like the WSR to feed it just doesn't cut it any longer, the monster will die sooner or later or at best you have to make the monster much smaller.

    To counter this i don't think the WSR is going to run short of volunteers in the short term as its also scaling back its running days, train numbers, general activities, etc. so that will help to hide the trend and many will think there isn't a problem. However the numbers speak for themselves and to be honest its not only the WSR who face this and running any heritage railway going forward is going to need a whole new set of skills from the management.

    The other side effect this has is the donations these volunteers make so they can continue to enjoy their hobby which they want to continue doing but only if they are happy and motivated, I've had a message this evening from another frightened to speak Volunteer who is as concerned as me about the current WSR direction. Its about various heritage railway Covid-19 emergency appeals as they currently stand. I can't verify its accuracy but its saying currently: NYMR = £500k, GSWR = £200k, WSR = £15k. Again the figures speak for themselves.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
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  18. Michale.Petersons

    Michale.Petersons New Member

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    Why don't you try other activities Andy? One might think you're sad the amount of time you spend wittering away on here. Others might say obsessive...
     
  19. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Fair comment I've asked myself the same question, but perhaps some might think its because I care and think the WSR is worth it !!!
     
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  20. Michale.Petersons

    Michale.Petersons New Member

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    So why are you trying to close it?
     
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