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Lynton and Barnstaple - Operations and Development

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by 50044 Exeter, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    How long have you got?

    Seriously, you are approaching this the wrong way round. I've met plenty of people who've sworn by XYZ project management method, and this or that project planning tool. I've also met plenty of successful project managers. Interestingly, the overlap between the two groups is very slight, as those focusing on methods and tools have a tendency to lose sight of what they're doing.

    There's a more fundamental issue here. All of your questions are being asked as a distant member (albeit with historically very high involvement), who is concerned to know how things are going. That's fine, but the detailed reporting I'd expect from any project manager is to their project board or steering committee. Those are managerial bodies whose job is keeping a check on the delivery of the project, and which can give instructions to the project. They are not for the general membership to try to direct the project.

    There may be an issue over the quality of engagement with members about the extension project, or indeed other matters. But those are - as @Jamessquared has eloquently explained - are things that lie in culture, rather than trying to implement specific governance methods.
     
  2. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    There are a great many - each one suited to different circumstances. It's up to the project manager to select one which fits the project

    You mentioned PRINCE2 so I assume you have had some exposure to this methodology. So perhaps you would like to explain just how you see this could be used in the context of the L and B. Since you suggested it because you are dissatisfied with the situation we are in could you please explain how use of this methodology might have prevented this.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2023
  3. SpudUk

    SpudUk Well-Known Member

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    I'd be tempted to think less about tools and more about ability and experience. As an external observer with local interest it feels very much like PR and community engagement was an afterthought that ultimately brought down the whole project, so consideration really needs to be given to a specific, experienced project team for the extension, with a strong project manager and quality comms/PR input, so that the trustees and other railway management roles can focus on operating and managing the existing railway and Trust.
     
  4. lynbarn

    lynbarn Well-Known Member

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    But why should it be just down to me don't you have anything to suggest that would help?
     
  5. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Two observations. First, you are the one who has suggested specific methods, so that suggests specific knowledge and experience that would help explain their value to those of us who've encountered them and are obviously missing something. Like others, I work in a project environment, and have seen projects go well and badly; trust me, the major causes of success or failure have always been outside the realm of method.

    Second (and see also some of the conversation about OSHI), this is a general discussion forum rather than an L&B specific brainstorming session.

    I'm not @H Cloutt, but my observations remain that some time is required to adjust to the news and understand what it means, then come up with alternative plans that respect the reality of where the L&B now is, then consider what might need to change in how the L&B works to deliver that. The first thing is to diagnose the problem accurately and precisely; after that, there will be then time to work through the cure.

    The process suggested in the newsletter covers that for me; it now needs to be delivered on.
     
  6. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    You're right - there need to be a way of getting more of the community engaged with the project.
     
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  7. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    Yes, although I'd be tempted to say that while what @SpudUk says absolutely didn't help, could/should have been better, and may well have made things worse, I'm less sure it 'ultimately brought down the whole project.' That one, almost certainly (and it would be the case I think whether we had God's gift to trustees or the worst trustees in the world) goes straight through the Grampian conditions and the 2018 planning decision.

    Which, in a funny sort of way, probably makes the future a bit more hopeful actually.
     
  8. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    My experience with 'project planning' is (or these days, was) that it is NOT a case of 'one size fits all', more of 'horses for courses'. In part at least it depended, not so much on the size and/or complexity of the project, but how it was being designed and delivered. A very large project, done almost entirely 'in house' by people who could be assigned specific tasks and responsibilities and be trusted to deliver them efficiently and on time could be managed far more easily and informally than one which (even if smaller) involved numerous different groups, each of whom had their own priorities that would out-rank our own. In the L&BR context then, let's say for example, it might be critical for the railway to achieve certification to start work within 28 days, yet the relevant external body who had to provide such certification might regard us a 'minor group' for whom a 6-month timescale was the best they could offer.

    Sticking to rigid methodologies and check-lists does not always work. In my last project we had regular monthly 'checkpoint meetings' with all the stakeholders, all the requirements and priorities etc etc were discussed and checked and agreed, and on paper it all looked fine. Only about 6 months after implementation (after a gestation period of several years) was it discovered that, despite ticks in all the right boxes, the equipment actually installed was of inferior specification to that which we had specified and thought that we were paying for :-( We had supplied the correct specification, the supplier had 'ticked' to say that the equipment met 'the specification' (but had used the wrong version), and the customer 'ticked' to say that the equipment met 'the specification' (but used what the supplier said that they had provided rather than the one agreed with us was to be supplied). At the root of the problem lay the fact that previously we had done the end-process checks ourselves - in which case the error would have been spotted - but as we were short of resources on this occasion the 'bean counters' decided that, rather than giving us more resources, they would out-source the task to contractors. Yet the 'project management system' had ticks in all the boxes..... Fortunately I'd retired by the time that the problem came to light.....:)
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2023
  9. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    This reminds me of a story about a major project which used a computerised PERT system - one of the management reports listed tasks which had 'negative float' in other words were late. A senior Manager asked 'why am I getting this report?' - 'because it shows that we are behind schedule' - the manager then said 'I don't care how you do it but get rid of the negative float' - so staff started marking task as completed when they hadn't been completed. As a consequence the project was badly delayed.
     
  10. Old Kent Biker

    Old Kent Biker Member

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    I don't know about Colin, but I was a Certified PRINCE2 Project Manager for a number of years - and I've still got the manuals to prove it!

    Is PRINCE 2 an appropriate tool for the L&B? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Plus, by the time all the required stakeholders are suitably trained and conversant with the reporting structure, stages and so on, that is another year and buckets full of money dealt with.

    More widely,

    Much has been said here and elsewhere on t'internet over the past few days and weeks regarding the planning issues, and lack of obvious progress. Whilst I can see some useful points on both (all) sides of the debate, I have no doubt that the Trustees (or more precisely, "Exmoor Enterprise" (see this item in the L&B archive: https://www.lynton-rail.org.uk/stor...resentation-parracombe-parish-council-meeting ) which includes Trustees and non-trustees on the project team, never intended for things to work out the way they have, and that this is due at least in part to external factors not within their control.

    We are where we are now though, and until a new Plan A is developed, (and perhaps a Plan B - just in case?) we need to continue with other aspects of what I call 'The Greater L&B Project' - promoting, maintaining and operating the excellent facilities we have at Woody Bay and other locations, fundraising, profile raising, trackbed buying, positive community engagement, etc. etc.

    There are issues, of that there is no doubt, and the biggest of those is probably - to use a PRINCE2 theme - "stakeholder engagement" (basically, communication, but a bit more), but if all the energy and passion we have for this railway can be harnessed, then we as a whole, can see it to fruition.

    (This is MSP, not PRINCE2, but the principle is similar:) )
    dia11.jpg
     
  11. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    and then there's rule by gantt chart - 'where are we vs the gantt chart?' - never mind what's being bent out of shape to stick to it, just stick to it... like Everest, because it's there... some people see completing the gantt chart as the overarching goal, not successfully delivering the project.
     
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  12. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Am I the only one whose brain hurts reading through this?
    It's enough to kill anyone's passion for a project:(
     
  13. Thomas Woods

    Thomas Woods New Member

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    What any of it has to do with the L&B is beyond me. As other people have said the whole conversation was ignited by unfounded nonsense.
     
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  14. sycamore

    sycamore Member

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    NO, mine too!!!

    Not volunteering but this thread could do with splitting as it's hard to decypher news from speculation and suggestions. I'd love the project to succeed but without proper statements from 'the top', it's hard for me to engage with the project as it stands.

    I'm no fan of speculation, but there's only one way to quash it, and censorship (as per the FaceAche group) isn't it...

    Will
     
  15. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    That reminds me of one IT project on which I worked where the Director decided that he need to save £x off the total cost. Rather than say "we need to save this amount somehow", he simply looked for an entry of roughly that amount and crossed it out. Problem was, that left us with a project that would install £Y amount of computer equipment in various places, but no network to interconnect it all! But no one wanted to be the one who had to challenge him on this.....
     
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  16. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    According to the newsletter there will be a statement from the Trustees soon to hopefully that will end the speculation.
     
  17. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    But how soon is soon, and how will they issue that statement? Certainly it will be welcome, but I hope we don't have to wait until the posting of all the AGM paperwork.
     
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  18. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    In contrast to the ongoing sturm und drang, it is worth reporting a piece of genuine, solid good news- the latest edition of Trackbed Trails has announced EA's completion on 2 further sections of Trackbed, totalling 614 metres. These are section 19 at Loxhore, including the quarry which was used in the construction of the line, and section 21 (Summerland Farm), up to the boundary with Chumhill.
    Considering that Mike has been in negotiations with the fully cooperative landowner for a decade now, shows just how complex the legal process can be, particularly where no deeds exist.
    He deserves a heartfelt vote of thanks for all his efforts and perseverance.
     
  19. Meatman

    Meatman Member

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    Section 21 has bridge 25 on it where the only fatalities happened on the railway with the runaway wagon derailing and killing 2 of the 4 PW workers who were riding in it, there is also news that the Yeo Valley Trust has been given full charity status at last
     
  20. brmp201

    brmp201 Member

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    That's incredible news!
    Here's a link to the EA website showing all the sections - New EA Maps – Exmoor Associates (exmoor-associates.co.uk) - By my reckoning, that's almost 4km of continuous route ownership (aside from the 23m of garden at Chelfham).
     

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