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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. baldbof

    baldbof Part of the furniture Friend

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    The atmosphere was probably a lot warmer up there as well.
     
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  2. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    I recently read a diatribe by a girt dog of Somersetshire, I think you may be alluding to it. In it, the girt dog belittles the contribution of two railway volunteers during girt dog's special day. All I could think was "OOF! What a way to thank those who give up even a couple of hours of their time". Those I have seen succeed in people motivating and team building are those who (even if it is just a good act) seem to value people's contribution, and give credit and thanks. Of course, the leaders who really do value workers find it easier to roster staff to duties which play to people's strengths, or at the least, share out the crap jobs fairly.
    When I see a supposed leader, several years later trying to claim as much credit for themselves and show what a tremendously fat controller they were/are, I am appalled. Any special event on a railway requires the efforts of dozens of people for many hours of work, before, during and after, and for one person to apparently be saying "it was all down to me-and you were insignificant" seems ....
     
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  3. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    What news of David please Brian? - haven't heard anything since he was taken ill on the train!
     
  4. Andy Moody

    Andy Moody New Member

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    I am not a WSR volunteer or Member but I have been and still am very concerned that the WSR have not been able to run any sort of service this year, I see from the above quote that the Seaward Way Automatic Half barrier crossing is "life expired" and has to be replaced. Elsewhere on this thread, I have read that it has been deemed unsafe to have hand signalmen protecting the crossing, So on that basis, if the Somerset County Council are responsible for the Seaward way AHB, are they in effect causing the suspension of WSR services and are they compensating the Railway or am I barking up the wrong tree.
    My last ride on the West Somerset was in July 2018, I remember there was a quite long IIRC 10mph TSR between Dunster and MH, I subsequently see from photographs way back on this thread that what appears to be continuous welded rail have been installed on this section, I noted that running the loco (6960) round the train involved going over the AHB, Is it possible to perhaps construct a short spur siding short of the level crossing like the one at Norden on the Swanage railway.
    Now, I am going to hazard a calculated guess that in fact there are a lot of volunteers behind the scene are quietly getting on with the job whilst the various keyboard warriors many of the main contributors who apparently "Do not currently volunteer" keep the wibble machine on full throttle. This thread is on page 1641? Last post was 32801 compared with Robins post from Page 1595 Post 31889 which was just eleven days ago on September 20th!
    I have and still do volunteered since 1975 as a signalman in the South of england. One of which went through the same "Nonsense" for want of a better word as is currently happening in West Somerset, All of this went completely over my head, I was not the slightest bit concerned, and eventually it all went away as happens.
    Of course, there was no such thing as unsocial media or sites such as Nat Pres.

    What is urgently required in W Somerset is everybody singing from the same song sheet, I suspect that the WSR will at some point (if this has not already taken place) be visited by the Office of Rail and Road, I think some form of governance might be required.
     
  5. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    Responding to this week-old post (I can't keep up!).
    I understand there was some sort of report issued soon after the rail-grinding. My understanding is that this was made available in some fashion but I'm not sure to whom.
    I'm heavily involved with a rail Museum in the USA where we were potentially facing some similar issues. I'm also a long-time WSR supporter, shareholder & member of several of the associated groups. On my annual visit to the WSR I asked, at the office at MD, if I could be sent a copy & left contact details. No response.
    If anyone knows of, or has a copy of, this report, from a purely technical viewpoint, I'd still be interested to see it .
     
  6. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    I appear to have got my wires crossed and owe David a rather fine lunch. He may tell me that I am expected to play in the second half of that football game and make my own way to and from the pitch :rolleyes:
     
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  7. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mike, I think you'll be lucky to track down an official copy now. However there were extensive reports in the WSR journal at the time and the chairman's annual report covered it too.
    Ian
     
  8. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    An engine can run-round trains in the main platform without needing to pass over the crossing (actually a rare example of an AHBL) provided that the engine does not pass the strike-in point for activating the crossing in the Up direction. Physically it is possible for an engine to do similar in the bay platform road, or to move between the two platform roads, but in doing so it passes the strike-in point which is why the engine then has to pass over the crossing, wait for the crossing to clear, and then restart the sequence to return.
    Creating a Norden-like situation would not be necessary (and very expensive) as you are only dealing with shunt moves, not running moves approaching from the next signal-box in rear, and could be managed on a short-term basis with a variation of the current arrangement that has a temporary STOP board on the MD side of the crossing. But IMHO it is not an ideal situation to contemplate as any sort of medium-term solution.
     
  9. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Sarcasm alert!

    That last post looks suspiciously like a very informative and helpful operating matter. Has something gone wrong on this thread? :)
     
  10. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    My view is that organisations who need volunteers have things that need doing, and Volunteers who want to volunteer want to do things. So if you have a positive Culture in the spirit of collaboration you can generate a nice environment where Volunteers can come when they want to and do what they want because they want to (within all the confines of regulation/requirements etc. of course) it works well for everybody.

    The better the relationship the two parties have in mutually supporting each other’s needs the more Volunteers engage, the more things get done and the happier everybody is. The happier people are the more people engage, more often because everybody wants to be happy, it becomes a 'force multiplier' when done well.

    Whilst I think for the purposes of HR Policies you treat Volunteers and Staff in the same way because you value and support each equally as people I don’t think Volunteers are Staff in the area of engaging and encouraging them to be involved because as an organisation you have a different relationship with them. You can direct staff to a degree when and where a lot more because you offer them a job and tell them what the hours/jobs/pay is in advance and they will either say yes or no to the offer.

    However even then staff can walk away, when we in my recruitment business are arranging offers in the technical skills such as Engineering, Vehicle Technicians, etc. where Candidates are in short supply and trained in high demand disciplines in offers made by Employers to Candidates around 70% decline the job because they don’t feel the hours/pay/people/terms suit them. Additionally every day I deal with Candidates quietly coming to us saying they want a new job before resigning their existing one.

    These people looking to change jobs in around 90% of cases want to change because of the way they are being treated not because they don’t like doing what they are doing. In some cases when multiple people come to us from the same employer at the same time (independent of each other and not knowing their colleagues are doing the same thing because we keep all confidences) we can see exactly why a business is beginning to fail, lose staff and struggle before the business themselves do. It’s nearly always because of people upsetting other people, mostly unknowingly because generally people don’t like direct conflict and other people are poor managers who just don’t see the impact of what they do on others.

    Perhaps I’m influenced in my dealing with HR Issues every day of the week, perhaps it’s me that’s out of kilter with the rest of the employment/volunteering world in 2020 but I’m sorry people being ‘conscripts’ doesn’t exist today in my experience. You only have people, if you don’t satisfy their needs within the confines of your own constraints as a Manager they will leave. Some go quickly and noisily and some go slowly and quietly, but all can and do leave ultimately voting with their feet.
     
  11. toplight

    toplight Member

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    I haven't see any report but the gist of it as reported in the railway magazines at the time, was that a company with rail grinding equipment offered to grind the tops of the rails with a special machine for free, doing it as a training exercise presumably for their own staff. The railway agreed to it, and it was done, but then once the WSR started running again it quickly became apparent that the tyres of locos in particular were being damaged.

    The rails had been left with sharp rough corners on the insides where the top had been ground away and this was then damaging the tyres and flanges of the train wheels. They then had to stop running whilst the inside edges were rounded off. No idea if the railway did that themselves or got the original company back to do it.

    Bit of example really of something where a test piece should have been done first to try it out before committing to do more. I think sometimes a situation happens on preserved lines where contractors are brought in to do something but then there isn't sufficient supervision of what they are doing to check if they are doing it to the right standard. It only becomes more obvious later. Part of this is reliance on volunteers who may not even be there mid week when the work is being done.
     
  12. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Member

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    I've posted on here before about HR, which is seen by certain people as some left-wing idea from the same mould as over intrusive 'elf n safety', and in small organisations like steam railways where there is never enough management time to go round it gets put to the back. But when you consider the vast majority of complaints aired on this board are to do with either promotion / progression being unfair, or a issue between individuals that is badly handled, perhaps we should be taking HR more seriously.

    I think the Snell quote is interesting in that yes, the volunteer has to fit with the organisation, but the flip side is that the organisation has to adapt to using volunteers, whether that is by providing physical facilities like decent messrooms or overnight accommodation, or by treating people fairly and transparently. A lot of emotional capital is invested in our movement, and if carefully looked after will produce splendid results.
     
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  13. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    No, I just happen to know a little bit about such things, had some time to spare, and it was easier than trying to find an apt Biblical quotation :)

    A theoretical prize to anyone who can identify the relevance of this image to the topic :)

    red.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2020
  14. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    So true. Take all the volunteers who work as support crew on any main line loco. For them it is often the HR and H&S policies that govern what they do and at times prevent them from doing things they may be comfortable with but the policy does not allow.
     
  15. Lplus

    Lplus Member

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    Indeed, the use of the word conscript suggests that Mr Snell had a touch of the ex services about him.
     
  16. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Member

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    It is probably a generational thing - he was born in the 1930s
     
  17. Bionic_Woman

    Bionic_Woman New Member

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    It should be "gurt". I know that to be a fact as I went to Langport once.
     
  18. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    I would fully agree, but having worked for a privatised company that had been a nationalised company in the past we had an HR Manual so thick that you could probably have used it to replace a small ladder for lineside photography. However it does not mean it was followed either in detail or even spirit, especially in areas where senior management were recruited from outside the company post the privatisation. I witnessed examples of colleagues loosing out due to bias in the annual appraisal & reward system. Personally I suffered as well, being a global company we had a mammoth section on overseas postings. I was lucky to get 3 months in Sydney, and signed a temporary posting contract, specifying what the company would provide, expenses I could claim and how long I would be overseas before my wife was entitled to a visit paid for by the company (which as an airline cost zero of course). On my return I submitted my claim and was told in no uncertain terms that there was no way my GM would forward a claim to the Director to sign off for that much. I was told I was in the right, not claiming for anything in error, and I could take it further but they would "get it back" through the annual pay award and bonus. The pay award working to the final salary for my pension of course was more important long term. So I wrote off over £1000 putting it down to a nice months holiday in Sydney for the wife and me getting to do some birding in Australia, ride the Zig Zag and see 3801 arrive at Sydney Station.
    Even if the WSR or any other line has HR policies, it needs the will to follow them.
     
  19. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Speaking from my experience about 20 odd years ago at the SVR, when certain members of the station I was involved with started whispering behind myself a friends back about us spending a Saturday behind Deltic 22 down to Ramsgate one summer when ‘they should be spending their time here’
    What did we do? Decide to to stick 2 fingers up and spend time elsewhere.
    If you treat people like crap (volunteers, paid staff, customers, potential doners ) don’t be surprised when they walk away, don’t return or refuse to give any cash. Treat people how you want to be treated, it’s never a bad mantra to have.
     
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  20. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Dunster West or Sea Lane? Theoretically...

    Robin
     

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