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Demographic timebomb?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Woodster21, Feb 6, 2016.

  1. Woodster21

    Woodster21 Member

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    Article in the New Statesman - Demographic timebomb: discuss

    http://www.citymetric.com/transport...s-are-booming-demographic-timebomb-looms-1801
     
  2. THE MELTER

    THE MELTER Member

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    you should have better things to do than read the new statesman.
    in my humble opinion of course,

    the melter
     
  3. Woodster21

    Woodster21 Member

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    I don't if I can help - it appeared on other social media
     
  4. 99Z

    99Z Guest

    This will be like de-ja vue in the UK.

    Many once grand stately homes have been demolished, abandoned, converted or ended up in state ownership.
    This is the likely outcome for much of the UK's rail heritage.

    Only so much can be saved and outcome will likely be the commercially viable lines will survive with commercially viable fleets of locos/coaches.
    The rest.. some will goto museums, but a substantial amount of "preserved" stuff, much of it which is unrestored today or stuff abandoned for a long period following use will end up in the smelter. Sadly that could mean the same for some of our glamorous well restored locos of today.. which if unviable, suddenly requires a substantial repair beyond the available skill set at the right price could end up meeting its maker.

    Enjoy it whilst its here to enjoy, the hobby has a unique way of damaging itself faster than it rebuilds, so the end is unpredictable.
    If i were to predict... lines in picturesque places, close to major conurbations or in tourist areas will probably do well. Locos that suit these lines will do well.
    But lines that look like the "old boer war social club" with lines of scrap.. and larger locomotives in classes with several preserved, that have needed subsidies to end up on the mainline and / or variable repair work over the years may find themselves the wrong side of the fence in 20 years.. even if they are running today.

    At some point the "old boys network" is going to have to get off it's ass and realistically engage with an age group that it is largely disaffected from, some what unwelcoming to today. In order to survive the hobby needs to become commercial, an age group lead by retirees "who've been there did it, retired, can't be bothered to do it again and just wants to have a bit of fun" is not the group to be leading this... to be fair they have earned their rest.. but they do need to let someone else have a go.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2016
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  5. sleepermonster

    sleepermonster Member

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    Some heritage railways recruit the younger generation, some don't. A while ago I was privileged to work with the Mountsorrell Railway, which fielded a working party of 75 adults and children in addition to the track gang. Other railways seem to depend very largely on OAPs. Plugging into the local community can lead to huge benefits: recent grants to Mountsorrell were £635k.

    Tim
     
  6. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member

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    The only historic properties in state ownership are those which are vested in English Heritage, mostly castles. Properties owned by the National Trust are in the private sector as NT is a privately funded charity
     
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  7. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    So that means 99Z is 99% correct then! I think he/she is.

    PH
     
  8. WB2624

    WB2624 New Member

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    99z's gloomy outlook does not tally at all with the 2 railways I volunteer on in the South East. Younger members are actively encouraged to take on projects and pass out for various operating roles. Some go on to work for the National railway companies and also in engineering. Most though, do not appear in management roles but at their ages you wouldn't expect them in those positions in their full time employment.

    I am more concerned at the future of preserved steam ships - they are not nearly as well set up as railways and most have no income streams such as fares or admission fees.
     
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  9. Rosedale

    Rosedale Member

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    Much of that was down to inheritance tax though, so it's not on all fours with the demographic threats to railway heritage (and other movements which are largely dependent upon pensioners, meaning everything from bus preservation to crown green bowling). We have an ageing population and we should therefore have an increasing volunteer pool, so it's more a question of enthusing new generations of OAPs who don't have that nostalgic link to steam. One thing I can be certain of is that as the present generation of volunteers and owners falls away we're going to be seeing a lot less BR black about the place, because the new intake are going to want to make their own mark on the movement.
     
  10. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    That article seems rather long on gloom and short on actual statistics to test the hypothesis.

    To take one example I am familiar with: I'm in my mid 40s. I took a look at the fireman's roster (so a role that would require several years of solid volunteering to attain) and I reckon about half of the firemen on the roster are younger than I am, some of them considerably younger. I wouldn't want to be complacent, but that is not quite the picture painted in the article.

    What you do tend to notice is that the typical workforce (anecdotally, not based on hard numbers) tends to be a bit older mid week, and a bit younger at weekends. That is hardly surprising, since the midweek duties are more easily covered by retired volunteers than those who have full time jobs. It may well be that leisure pursuits reliant, in whole or in part, on a volunteer workforce, become harder to sustain away from weekends as the retirement age goes up. That, incidentally, applies to far more than just heritage railways.

    Tom
     
  11. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    the very demographic claimed to threaten preserved railway lines is in fact it's saviour. More retirees with good pensions and lots of leisure time provides both passengers and volunteers.

    Frankly there is a lot in our movement which could go to the wall now and not leave us any worse off.
     
  12. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    This was true a little while ago, is possibly true now but is less likely to be so in the future. Retirement age is going up.

    PH
     
  13. huochemi

    huochemi Part of the furniture

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    Ironically, the Mountsorrell branch probably fits into PH's "wouldn't it be nice" theme. It seems to be difficult to actually monetise for the GCR's benefit, and probably brings more admin to an already overburdened management team. In terms of volunteers, one could argue that it may have been a bit like the Ffestiniog deviation and attracted persons who would not normally be interested in the daily routine of operating a railway, but this is speculation on my part.

    As in many things in the movement, the Talyllyn seems to be in the vanguard of changing times, and one can see there that having had the benefit of youthful retirees for some years, which source is now drying up (plus perhaps Tywyn is losing such attractions as it had as a retirement area, the Welsh NHS seems to be particularly stretched), the new "paradigm", to use business speak, has shifted to take advantage of the availability of legacies, hence it is possible to outsource/pay for overhauls and labour-saving aids etc which might previously have been done in-house / manually. If one assumes that heritage railways make an effort to use volunteers rather than paid staff, then an examination of how various railways are set up would perhaps show that we are probably in the post-volunteer era anyway on a number of railways in several areas e.g. workshop, sales/events, catering, retail, with operational staff the last bastion made-up largely of volunteers. For instance, as of the last annual reports, the SVR had 178 paid staff and the GCR 74, although one has to use such figures with care when comparing railways, as if one outsourced catering or overhauls for instance, then the numbers would not show up as staff.
     
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  14. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    And this is the real problem, not getting young folk interested. Yes by all means encourage the younger generation, but at a management level there's little point hoping for much in the way of youngsters, we simply don't have the time to commit. I can manage a maximum of one day a week during normal time, and until I can pass my driving test my mobilty is limited even if I am free. In a couple of years I'll be off to university anyway and who knows what Ill be able to manage then, a few times a year at best? Rostering will certainly be impossible. It's new, or better still, early retirees who you want to be attracting by the bucket load. They've got money and time, two things I and my generation don't have at the moment.

    Tom as ever speaks sense. Weekends aren't too difficult, its midweek and roles with responsibility that need devotion of a lot of time that will be struggled to be filled in the future.
     
  15. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    Whilst a worry, I am certainly heartened by what I see at Swanage.
    The Signets (yoof section) are now bearing fruit with them coming up through the ranks and gaining positions of responsibility.

    Its great to see these nippers enjoying the railway and their compatriates company.

    It amazes me that when I started down at Swanage the operations manager and commercial manager werent even born!

    What was it a famous football pundit said about Alex Furgesons young Man Utd side. 'You win nothing with kids'
     
  16. nanstallon

    nanstallon Part of the furniture

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    You've cheered me up again!

    John
     
  17. michaelh

    michaelh Part of the furniture

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    Many railways have attracted young colunteers from the age of about 16 - they are involved for about 10-15 years until the demands of families and careers curtail their activities. Some of them return 25 or so years later when they start to have more time.

    I took my former boss for her first ever ride on a heritage railway on the SVR last year. She commented that all the volunteers appeared to be <30 or >50. Perhaps this is the way of things.
     
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  18. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed on much of the first paragraph, my contribution on the SVR might be rather reduced if I do get the PhD I'm currently applying for.
    The week vs midweek is an interesting one. You quite often find different sorts of people doing them, retired and shift workers for mid-weeks and then regular 9-5 (etc) workers and students in addition at the weekends.
    And then in some sections you find the balance of cover is one sided. The TTI section on the SVR has a very high proportion of retired folk and interestingly it is weekends where it is more likely for vacancies on the roster to occur. Whilst this might because more trains are run on a weekend (Saturdays particularly), it is also quite likely that it is due to the poorer public transport available on a Sunday making it harder for those without easily accessible private transport to come.
     
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  19. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    state pension age that is. Policy currently in the UK is to push for personal pensions and you can retire pretty much when it suits you.
    not only that but people are living longer even if they did retire later. People in their late 70s are pretty fit nowadays and that gives 10 years to get involved even if you don't retire until 67. My daughter tells me that babies born today have a great chance of living to 100
     
  20. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Not so sure about one or two of your assumptions. Additionally there is a growing competition for volunteers from all sorts of organisations.

    PH
     

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