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35028 Clan Line to Canterbury Saturday 23rd May

Discussion in 'What's Going On' started by alastair, May 18, 2015.

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  1. 26D_M

    26D_M Part of the furniture

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    Spot on Tom. This is why I said ORR would take a dim view of enforcing changes in an otherwise planned operation. Contingencies have to be in place to deal with failures and the like but out of course events such as the one unfolding here cannot be legislated for because they simply shouldn't occur. Late changes inevitably increase the pressure on those required to implement the new method, adding to the associated risks.
    That's why it would be more than exasperating to be subject to the whim of an individual in this case. It indicates a lack of professionalism and good management judgement.
     
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  2. 2J66

    2J66 Well-Known Member

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    And operating under the serving of an Improvement Notice issued less than a week ago. Perhaps, just perhaps, WCRC audited some of the paperwork or systems of other agencies involved in this tour and found some error or omission. I don't know the answer to that and,with respect, neither does anyone else including DBS staff that have been quoted on this and other forums. In the circumstances, where WCRC are expected to be squeaky clean, and be seen to be so, would anyone seriously expect them to be other than ultra cautious. Perhaps we should just give it a couple of days and wait for some facts to emerge.
     
  3. spicer21

    spicer21 Guest

    I suspect what's changed is that in his latest post, Wayne has been somewhat critical of an organisation / individual for which / whom criticism is a "no go" area for certain members here!
     
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  4. spicer21

    spicer21 Guest

    You could very well be right, and it would always be my first instinct to give the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately though, as with other recent WCR threads, the "facts" we need to clear up these doubts tend not to emerge, and those involved / implicated in contentious issues refuse to comment. In such circumstances, anecdote, rumour and "I know stuff, but can't comment" type posts emerge in threads such as these.

    My own feeling is that Smith has behaved very unprofessionally in this affair, and if there were reasonable circumstances that led to such an unprecedented decision, why on earth would they not be shared? We know already that Smith was accused of running WCR like his own train set, which sort of points to a tendency to the irrational and unconventional. I never cease to be amazed how some on here continue to defend this man like he was a member of their own family, no matter what. As for the comment that we should be "grateful" to WCR for what they do etc, do we seriously believe they're doing it out of some kind of charitable instinct? Of course not, so why all this fawning, bowing and scraping? All very undignified IMO. By the way, the superb performances by WCR loco crews is a completely irrelevant, and shouldn't exempt the organisation for whom they work from criticism. If anything their very obvious talents makes it even more unfortunate they are led by who they are IMO!
     
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  5. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Whilst not knowing all the facts, it now seems that Mr Smith has become the parent who can neither accept that his "child" has matured into adulthood the can stand on their own 2 feet or understand that his "parental' guidance is no longer required.

    WCRC has become a valued organisation and has both created a market and provides a service that is commercially successful. As such now is surely the time for Mr Smith to stand back and let those more familiar with the rules and regulations of today's rule-bound railway carry the business forward while he can bask in the success of what he created from scratch. Given his advancing years (no disrespect intended) surely now is the time to hand over control whilst he is in a position to do so rather than a handover take place when he is no longer around to guide future progress.
     
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  6. 26D_M

    26D_M Part of the furniture

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    Examining the hypothesis that a procedural problem discovered by WCRC led to them having to prohibit use of 35028.
    The position seems to be that this was a subcontracted job to DBS, albeit involving use of some WCRC stock. Thus the only aspect that WCRC retained influence in was from the coaching aspect so if there was a technical issue changing the traction would be unlikely to solve much.
    The inference is that for some reason 35028 was not allowed to take the train that ran, if we understand no changes in the consist occurred. We have MNLPS on record as stating their loco was fit and ready, a member of steam crew reporting all was OK on that front so really what does that leave?
    That the coaches belonging to WCRC would be made unavailable if 35028 was rostered?
    If there was a legitimate problem from the WCRC position surely they would say so? They have social and other media presence to do so. Silence is bound to cause speculation and there is no shortage of folk ready to find fault with Mr Smith because of his perceived style. Ultimately everyone has to draw their own conclusions based on the various accounts, theories and events.
     
  7. Sean Emmett

    Sean Emmett Member

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  8. 26D_M

    26D_M Part of the furniture

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    Ultimately Fred it depends on how much of a stake Mr Smith has in the future success of the business. He may be the type of personality that only wants success on his terms and at his direction. It may be hard to cede control and yet see the business continue to flourish from a position of diminished input. Suppose the question really is what acts as continuing motivation in a dramatically changed environment? Pride in achievement to date or handing over a positive legacy for others to build on?
     
  9. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    And yet a few weeks ago 70000, crewed by DBS staff and hauling WCRC stock, worked two days of GBVIII. All very bizarre.
     
  10. Sean Emmett

    Sean Emmett Member

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    Having difficulty with this website this morning, error message re safety certificate expired..
    I tried to post response I have received from Statesman Rail and my reply on my computer. I don't want to quote Statesman Rail out of context so will try again later.
     
  11. 26D_M

    26D_M Part of the furniture

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    But that was before they got the licence back and for RTC which was wholly committed to use WCRC, as Statesman have done in the past. DBS and MNLPS may be collateral damage from a decision aimed at Statesman if it has incurred the displeasure of Mr Smith in some way, perhaps by not remaining exclusively with WCRC?
     
  12. the-gog

    the-gog Member

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    This site's SSL cert expired at 09:40 BST today.
     
  13. Sean Emmett

    Sean Emmett Member

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    Dear Peter
    Thank you for your reply.
    I sent my email having seen a thread on the National preservation website which included a post on the MNLPS website mid-afternoon on Friday 22 May 2015.
    Kindly confirm at what time Statesman Rail became aware that Clan Line would not be permitted to haul the tour, and why you did not inform passengers, at least those who could be contacted by email?
    Please also provide more details of the circumstances for the 'late notice change of motive power for this tour which is entirely outside our control and was inflicted upon us by a third party'.
    I did travel yesterday, and enjoyed the company of my fellow passengers, but it was far far removed from the trip I had hoped and booked for. I have travelled on many steam hauled tours over the years and take the rough with the smooth. But to lose out in the apparent circumstances of yesterday's trip is quite unacceptable.
    I trust that, at the very least, passengers on yesterday's trip will receive a substantial refund of at least 50%, and not just a voucher against a future tour, and those who chose to not travel at all will a full refund. If Statesman Rail is as entirely blamelesss as you say you should recover the funds from the third party at fault
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Sean Emmett
    Bristol
    ___________
    Dear Mr Emmett
    Thank you for your email which was received at 21.13 well after our office had closed for the evening. I am sorry to advise you that we were notified late in the afternoon of Friday 22 May that the ‘Golden Arrow Statesman’ would now be diesel hauled throughout and on behalf of ‘Statesman Rail’, ‘DB Schenker’ and the ‘MNLPS Group’ I offer a sincere apology for the late notice change of motive power for this tour which is entirely outside our control and was inflicted upon us by a third party. We do hope you still enjoy the journey to historic Canterbury and the scenic tour around the Kent Coast and I personally thank you for taking the time and trouble to write and again offer a sincere apology which was due to circumstances outside the control or influence of ‘Statesman Rail Ltd’.
    Yours sincerely
    Peter Watkinson
    Operations Director
     
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  14. Victor

    Victor Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    There could be a very valid explanation for this latest debacle, we just don't know, if we'll ever know is just a hope at this stage but on the face of it and looking from the outside, after the last few months, WC's credibility is shot to hell.
    There needs to be a whole new approach from WC or I fear they will be in demise.
    We keep hoping for a bit more openness from Carnforth, on past evidence I can't see it happening.................It's a mistake Mr Smith.

    Personal note if he reads any of this..............do you remember Walton Colliery Wakefield in 1960 Mr Smith? I do.
     
  15. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't know what's going on here and so I'm sorry to speculate as I don't really think that speculation does much other than irritate some folk. But I don't like to see a decent loco owner messed around as I know the time and effort that goes into mustering support crews and turning an engine around for a second trip 24 hours after the last one. The MNLPS has standards - mechanical and professional - so no doubt they will have been active in preparing the loco at the time that the change of plans came through.

    I think that Clan Line is not an 'approved' locomotive as far as West Coast is concerned. So my guess is that this lies behind the late withdrawal of the loco even though it was a DBS operation for which Clan Line is approved. Yes, in my view, it was an unprofessional and inconvenient action by DS, if he was the person who made the decision. I feel sorry for the MNLPS, not to mention DBS who I guess had to shuffle things at the last minute. WCRC really does deserve to be given a bad time over this. I look forward to when they next need help. (And I don't care how important the company thinks it is. I would have thought that despite the open competition that exists out there, the steam charter business also needs friends. This incident means that WCRC probably now has none).
     
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  16. Miff

    Miff Part of the furniture Friend

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    To some extent they might be. I doubt any steam loco owner makes a profit on their main line activities once overhaul costs are taken into account. Nor does there seem to be a queue of alternative TOCs waiting to qualify for steam operations. I wish someone would but guess there is little or no money to be made for the effort involved. So it may well be that WCRC's steam operations are subsidised either by their other activites or by the owner.

    Is there a picture of David Smith on the web anywhere? If not I have no wish to compromise his privacy but, if there is something already in the public domain, I have an irrational curiosity to see what this man looks like.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
  17. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    So why speculate and guess?
     
  18. 26D_M

    26D_M Part of the furniture

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    The most important question ORR will want answered is to to what extent the unpredictable behaviour of senior management has the ability to detrimentally affect safety critical activities. If they get a whiff of proper procedure being deviated from because somebody at the top gets the hump, can't see it playing out all that well. DBS for one might be minded to complain and if they have already responded unfavourably in the consultation another example to illustrate concern will be potentially damaging.
     
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  19. Steamage

    Steamage Part of the furniture

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    I'm afraid that @Wayne, @rule55 and @geekfindergeneral have got it right. (Certainly, their accounts match what I heard on Friday.) There was nothing wrong with the operating arrangements for Sat 23rd. WCRC employees, DBS and MNLPS had everything covered and were all ready to run. Talk of last-minute checks of paperwork and the like are just clutching at straws.

    For as long as I can remember, there have been stories of, shall we say, "unprofessional" decisions by David Smith, often late in the day. In the past, there has been insufficient information in the public domain to know how much credence to give to any individual story, and those closest to the facts tend not to say anything for fear of getting friends into trouble, or with an eye on future operations that may involve WCRC. However, many such stories have emerged over the years. The difference this time is that it has happened when WCRC is in the spotlight, and the people who've been put out don't need to keep Smith sweet. In fact they've gone to some trouble to help his company out in the present difficulties.

    WCRC has been a success. It makes money (or so it appears), it allows many heritage rail tours to happen, whether promoted by WCRC themsleves or by third parties, and it allows us to enjoy far more mainline steam than we might otherwise do. From my distant view-point, it seems that it has grown so successfully because David Smith is the sort of person that he is. I don't know whether he would or could step back far enough to allow the new management team to run it their way. I fear that he won't do what many people can see he ought to. Does the great success of WCRC also contain the seeds of its destruction? And if so, how long will it take for something else to rise and take it's place, if at all?

    ORR has other regulator roles, besides saftey. It oversees the commercial marketplace and the web of contracts between all the parties. Friday's events will attract the attention of these other regulatory teams.
     
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  20. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    The fact that the actions of one TOC - i.e. WCRC - have made it very difficult for another TOC - i.e. DBS - to fulfil its contractual obligations is a point well made, Mark.
     
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