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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Ouch
     
  2. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Member

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    Very well put. What a ridiculous structure!

    It is surprising that it has lasted as long as it has.
     
  3. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
  4. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    "The vast majority of people who use the trains don’t care in the least about the type of signals installed: they simply want to ride on the railway – and in most cases get to Minehead."

    This will come as a surprise to WSR purists........
    This
     
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  5. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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    The Day tripper will look at the official website ( or advertising board outside Minehead station) and could decide that the delights of the S&D museum at Washford are worth getting off for, or even Williton and do the 20 minute walk each way to see the Bakelite Museum. Probably going to be pretty disgruntled if they do either or both and find they haven't existed for quite some time.
    https://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/railway/stations
     
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  6. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Administrator Moderator Friend

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    That’s quite ironic when you consider that the one thing they do advertise outside the station that is still open is the pub down the road, a competitor to their catering operations and possibly the one thing I wouldn’t be shouting about while offering your own option. That’s a bit like Tesco advertising suggesting shopping in Aldi :rolleyes:
     
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  7. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Or could it be, as Frankie Boyle memorably put it "Yes, we do have a vegetarian option ....... you can #### off.!"
     
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  8. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    Many thanks for the detailed information.
     
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  9. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road Member

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    May I just add a note about the plc shareholdings. (From 2018, but things can't have changed that much.)
    WSRA held 9%;
    WSRHT held 8.4%;
    SCC held 2.2%;
    DEPG held 0.8%. Collectively 20.5%.
    In fact the 14 largest shareholdings (those listed above being 1 - 4) amounted to 44.9% of the shares. Which any other part of the Kingdom would imply a definite relationship between the plc and the support bodies, but in Somerset, who knows?
    Pat
     
  10. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    The WSR had been operating for quite a few decades when Seaward Way was constructed.
    From the newspaper article:
    "Other reasons for the delays include: Stage one of the project involves many WSR volunteers - all of whom have been stuck at home for long periods due to the various Covid-19 lockdowns."
    If SCC are responsible for the crossing, why is volunteer labour being used? Surely they should have funded the works such that all works could be carried out by paid staff or contractors, or were the WSR management hoping to do the work with volunteers and still charge SCC for doing it?
     
  11. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Do they still? I have this vague memory from just after the Ex-6 ouster that the PLC was to take that over?
    I'm pretty sure that at one point during the PLC/WSRA 'war' the PLC set up their own 'tame' organization of supporters (whose name I can no longer recall); I very vaguely recall it perhaps being wound up after the war died down (with the Ex-6 ouster). Did the rise of the WSSRT have anything to do with that? (I think their PLC share-holding probably caught some people's attention, too).

    Too many organizations, especially for a line which seems prone to in-fighting. It'd be hard to come up with a worse organization if you tried. :-(

    Noel
     
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  12. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Ooh, pass! :) I think they at least still own the carriages if not the operation.

    Ah yes, the FoWSR. It was indeed wound up when the Ex-6 were ousted, as the WSRA could once again be the support organisation of the WSR, there was no need for the FoWSR. Pretty certain the WSSRT had been revived long before that (the heritage carriages project they're responsible for has been running since at least 2007 when BCK 6705 was repatriated from the USA), I think at the time they were a totally innocent and unconnected party to all the shenanigans.
     
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  13. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    FoWSR.

    There are also the station friends groups which AFAICS are separately-constituted non-charitable organisations (with all the cost overhead that implies) rather than being, saying, informal groupings within the wider supporters’ organisation with access to a ring-fenced fund for each station held within the overall charitable umbrella.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
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  14. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Administrator Moderator Friend

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    That is correct, PLC run the operation with the catering outsourced to a 3rd party. WSRA still own the carriages.
     
  15. simon

    simon Part of the furniture

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    So 10 other shareholders own 24.4%. Do they all hold less than 3% each or is there anyone who holds significantly more than that?
     
  16. Keith Sims

    Keith Sims Member

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    Asked a question of WSR( by email) yesterday but have had no reply! Can anyone from WSR on NP provide the answer? Can I use a shareholder silver pass on an "excursion" as no ordinary timetabled trains are running. Sorry to change subject on the thread but I would like find out.
     
  17. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road Member

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    As the others are individuals I will not go any further in public. However, the list of shareholders is on Companies House.
    https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/01010188/filing-history?page=3 (first entry on page 3)
    It is noteworthy that the other 55% of the shares are divided amongst 8,000 plus shareholders. What was the percentage response claimed by the plc to its Bailey consultation?
    Pat
     
  18. Another Lancastrian

    Another Lancastrian New Member

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    I think you will find that you can - but you will have to ring to book 01643 704996
     
  19. Signals

    Signals New Member

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  20. Signals

    Signals New Member

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    10-06-21

    RESPONSE TO NAT PRES re Robin Moira White and other postings ref WSR Seaward Way Crossing


    Having reviewed the file notes, I wish to respond to the Statements made by Robin Moira White on National Preservation site West Somerset Railway General Discussion ref 37462 dated 28-05-21.

    Robin is aware of the need for evidence - based statements, hence my reason to respond as I do not believe those made accord with the evidence records held within the WSR Plc during the period that I was party to/responsible for various communications, to or from myself/WSR Plc Board, its specialist consultants, SCC and the specific communications with the ORR in respect of the Seaward Way Level Crossing.

    I hold no evidence that Robin was involved in the Seaward Way Project but maybe Robin can inform. if she was and to what extent.

    In a desire for openness can I ask Robin to provide details of the evidence backup to the statements she made, to ensure if any changes to either party records are established, they can be corrected.

    I have forwarded this and the associated comments to Joy Boswell WSR Plc Director as an informative and requested she seeks clarity.

    For openness I am the “chairman’s father” who is referred to in various inappropriate statements by individual’s unknown to me, who appear to hold little knowledge on the subject or of myself that they purport to raise comment on.

    So, who am I.

    My name is Chris Pratt and I have been involved in the Study & Implementation of matters/research on Railway Signalling (predominately GWR/BRWR) since the age of 15.

    I have published articles, engaged in many Heritage projects, I am Chairman of the Heritage Railways Signalling Inspectors Group - formed by myself to promote Safety & Compliance standards, issues around ROGS, etc and to share in increasing knowledge within the movement in the promotion of the Signalling skill base.

    I have attempted to promote a “Learning Culture” on both Signalling Matters and the range of Guidance & Compliance requirements within the HSWA, ORR, Rule Book Compliance matters, etc.

    This Learning Culture along with retention of Heritage for future generations is both acknowledged and supported by many within the movement but is more difficult to achieve given the loss of the knowledge/skill base/interest individuals hold as generations move forward.

    I also assisted in the recovery of Signalling Equipment over an extended period for Heritage Railways, including the WSR.

    I also procured for the WSR the additional Token Instruments of GWR/BRWR pattern, this together with their refurbishment in conjunction with the WSR Signal Engineer, provided the WSR with a full line Token availability during the period 2005/6. This included the Norton Fitzwarren National Network interface,

    I also procured in 2017 the illuminated frame for Williton Signal Box and produced the hand drawn diagram as currently residing in the signal box, plus various other matters.

    I appear what some say is a knowledge of Western Signalling Principles, Rule Book, compliance, audit and Incident reporting knowledge.

    I have, and continue to do so, consult with the ORR officers who have assisted in attending meetings that I organised, as well as providing support in the understanding of their compliance standards. This has also included supportive consultation with officers of the HSE and RAIB.

    (During my full-time career employment, I dealt with the HSE, Construction legislation along with many aspects of Statutory Instruments and legal agreements).

    I was surprised, ref Robin`s concern, as on the 15 October 2019 I presented to the Institute of Railway Operators, in her Bristol Chambers and at her request, the subject being Competency Management & Regulatory Compliance in the Heritage Railway Section.

    I also was able with the cooperation of British Railways fortunate enough to assess and record much of the Bristol Area MAS scheme from Stage 1 to completion.

    Ref the Minehead Branch, my authority, issued by then British Railways enabled me to attend the Branch, still in their care and record details. Subsequent I assisted the WSR from circa 1985, became a Signalman in 1993 moving through Training Courses presentation, Assistant Signalling Inspector to Signalling Inspector. At each stage promoting the Regulatory standards that were increasing year on year, along with “learning” and informative details relating to historic signalling matters.

    Due to one of the many “difficult periods” of the WSR over Safety & Compliance concerns, individuals who became overzealous, etc I resigned as the WSR Signalling Inspector, sighting such as my reason in March 2017.

    In September 2018 I was asked by the new WSR Plc Board (another one of the difficult periods as they had become aware of ORR correspondence) if I could assist due to the pending ORR Inspection on 18/19 October 2018 and if I could prepare some overview Audits of issues.

    This and subsequent detailed involvement in submissions/interface with the ORR continued in my capacity as WSR Plc Signalling Inspector until September 2020.

    I now refer in detail to the various Statements made in respect of Seward Way Xing and the corrections if consider necessary.

    Robin states, “The then Board under the newly-appointed Chairman called a halt to the works in the autumn of 2018 to reconsider the LC design at the behest of the then WSR Signalling Inspector”. I consider this INCORRECT.

    No WSR Signalling Inspector appointment existed at that time in fact non had existed since my leaving in March 2017 and this was one of the ORR concerns.

    I was not appointed Acting Signal Inspector by the WSR Plc Board until March 2019 – (see later).

    Robin states, “At that point all the design work had been done” I consider this INCORRECT - or maybe it was only INCORRECT as far as the ORR were concerned as the scheme design information necessary to install the equipment was incomplete and lacking in detail for the required Level Crossing Order (see later).

    Notes also indicate the funding and final approval of the scheme had not been signed off by the WSR Plc Board hence the Chairman’s request to review later than the date indicated.

    It also needs stating I had stood down from the Audit work for the WSR in November 2018.

    My active re-engagement in WSR matters and the Seaward Way Crossing was a request by the WSR Plc Board on 24-04-19 triggered by an SCC e mail dated 25-04-19 confirming funding availability.

    It should be noted previous Records on many matters including the Xing were either not as complete as they should have been or unknown to exist. The trigger to review the Crossing was due to the then current WSR Plc Boards requirement on its due diligence audit and to clearly understand what it was agreeing to.

    I now comment with specific reference to Seaward Way Xing - this is a very much an overview based on the document base held with a lot more in-depth info behind.

    NOTE ref to SCC matters should be directed to them via their officers and not by speculation.

    It should be noted during the review that a Xing Condition Report dated 11-02-2018 Advised Action Needed “…to maintain Integrity for 12 months from March 2019” became known - see later.

    As an informative in 2015 the then WSR Plc Board were looking at future Planning of the railway and requested input form Staff. In December 2015 I prepared a document, in conjunction with others headed “Options on long term planning in respect of the Minehead layout and Signalling”.

    This was submitted to Steve Williams of the WSR Plc Board following his request. No engagement was received. In addition, I circulated this to individuals and departments, together with several viability/principal reports. I am sure Robin will be able to confirm this as my notes indicate such.

    Moving forward.

    I was asked by the WSR Plc Board in April 2019 – see previous note (my first formal involvement) if I had the full information on the new crossing details as they appeared not to have. I did not, so a meeting was held with the WSR Signal Engineer followed by a WSR Plc Board presentation attended by the Signal Engineer, which I also attended, on 26-07-19 (if my diary is correct) which triggered the requirement by the WSR Plc Board for a review audit as soon as the current detail were available.

    It should be noted a vast amount of concern (another “difficult period”) was present during this period over the condition of the WSR both in its financial position, operation management, structure, lacking in records, loss of computer files, etc all of which is well documented and presented.

    On 09 October 2019, a Detailed Review with the ORR took place at Minehead including a Site walked Inspection with myself and the Inspector when all options and requirements to progress were reviewed together with the Options of Semaphore Signals/Layout changes/etc.

    During the review period and in discussion with the ORR it was established that there was much additional detail required to enable the Level Crossing Order to be submitted, this intern prevented the construction of the replacement crossing to commence.

    The WSR Plc Board wished to understand more clearly, and further instructions were issued with the assistance of the guidance given by the ORR Inspector by appointing a qualified respected external consultant to advise.

    This considered several issues that arose but in principle the barrier design remained as designed at that stage.

    The WSR Plc Directors wished to review to include the Level Crossing Order obligations and submission details in addition to the Timing/Budget/Delivery programme the following.

    (a) A review of design line speed.

    (b) A review of the design of the Lightweight LED Signal options proposed.

    (c) An opportunity to reflect the Heritage of the railway by retention of existing Semaphore signal plus a new Semaphore bracket signal replacement.

    (d) Enhancement of the surroundings by introduction of traditional paling fencing.

    (e) The introduction of cladding to the REB unit to reflect a more rail style metal sheeting form building.

    Note The Board considered

    (f) The replacement of the colour lights by Semaphore would provide a visual statement from the Seaward Way roadway and promote the Heritage Railway steam line rather than the current view the public make of a “Modern Railway”.

    (g) Consideration (subject to sighting) the introduction of WSR Poster Boards.

    (h) Views of Locomotive dept and others were sort.

    (i) Could a temp local crossing keeper be provided -discounted due to staffing need.

    (j) Consideration to improve the environs around the Xing intern to “advertise the railway”.

    Additional opportunity to future plan.

    (k) Options at this time included some “future proofing” due to the long-term condition issues of MD Signal Box, layout restrictions, etc.

    (l) These included a Staged implementation of any new Signal Box adjacent to the Crossing (Funding options were being explored), an extended loop for Charter Train storage towards Dunster. Due to limited siding space within the existing layout, various track improvement but importantly the retention of the complete Crossing arrangement and single rail line road layout. This protected the long-term SCC funding of the maintenance of the crossing.

    NOTE Bob Meanley Director WSR Plc provided much input information into the options together with obtaining external advice and direction.

    The Semaphore Signal was in principle, together with the option of relocation of a signal box was discussed with the ORR at the site visit together with the external input that informed that the options could be progressed with appropriate documentation but remained subject to detail. A view that the introduction of an all Semaphore signalled layout was considered an improvement following resistance to mixed signal style indications and an overview was that a relocation of a signal box adjacent to the road crossing would be positive.

    NOTE Semaphore signals on the Dunster side of the Xing were not proposed to be wire or motor operated. The alternative principles were to NR standards.

    The proposed bracket Signal was as the sketch below (one of the sketch options), with all materials available for erecting over the winter period be it with assistance, as agreed, from the WSR Engineering team.

    NOTE ref is made to cost. The budget cost and preliminary sourcing of material were obtained. (Note - until the Scheme design was instructed and design completed this could not be finalised).

    An “offsite supply and fabrication of the Signal was available but in the event alternative supplies were sourced at virtually NIL cost, although “in house” facilities would have been required for some metalwork and the erecting. This followed the procedures on earlier signalling schemes such at Crowcombe, Bishops Lydeard and Williton.

    These were again “difficult periods” during which many changes, imported views of individuals together with complex internal matters and concerning financial difficulties.

    Difficulties in skill base appointments frustrated the progress of many areas.

    A strategy presented to the ORR at their meeting on 11 December 2019 was progressed with them issuing a helpful list of outstanding Level Crossing document requirements on 13 February 2020.

    Whilst Covid concerns at this time were increasing I was provided in March 2020, by the WSR Plc Boards appointed consultant a detailed schedule of process requirements. This was circulated to the Board and awaited the WSR Plc Board instructions.

    All are aware the country was now in the Covid period.

    More changes occurred more “difficult periods” followed. Frank Courtney contacting me asking for details of the Seaward Way Crossing Project. This I provided with a number of documents on 17/19 May 2020.

    What happened after I do not know as although FC contacted the WSR Plc consultant, I had no further questions asked of me or any further updates provided.

    This continued until August 2020 when Andrew Castledine was appointed WSR Plc Director who I contacted and forwarded him information relating to the Compliance & Safety matters and Seaward Way Xing on 05 August 2020.

    No further requests for input occurred with myself to discuss matters and it was apparent this along with other matters made me rethink my position. I resigned taking effect on end September 2020 extended to the end of October 2020 in case required.

    I remain in consultation with the ORR and HSE on matters relating to my interests and those of Heritage Railways.

    I am happy to engage with anyone on a personnel level but not though social media.

    Hopefully the above will remove the need for the speculation on my involvement in the West Somerset Railway Plc and provides some clarity on the Seaward Way Crossing project as well as dispelling many of the incorrect statements made.

    On addition item - On reviewing some of the other posts I note the question but did find the answer re …..”did Robin inform if her ID was removed”?….if it was WHY!!

    Finally, a lot of views/opinions/concerns are constantly being raised by individuals who may only have limited knowledge on the subject so why not, study the tech manuals and .gov documents, (such as ROGS and their Guidance Information which is an easy read) buy some WSR Plc Shares, get involved and raise your concerns at the Company AGM, at the update meetings or directly to the Directors? You can then engage in an informative way.

    It’s all about changing to a “Learning Culture “ understand your skill and understanding base, doing research rather than non-evidence based ill-informed statements.

    Having been involved at the sharp end I suggest it is a lot harder to run a railway than you can possibly imagine. Times they are a changing, costs increasing and fewer skill-based individuals available. Heritage Railways are not operated by the Internet it is just loads of hard graft.

    End of.

    Chris Pratt



    [​IMG]
     
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