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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. Blackdown Boy

    Blackdown Boy New Member

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    Perhaps trying to move the railway forward is the core of the problem.
     
  2. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    How many lengths of rail will this fund? Remembering 2 rails for 1 length.
    Not forgetting the replacement of fishplates and fastenings if staying as is.
    Or cost of getting the track up to spec for CWR and provision of Adjustment switches and cost of welding and stressing.
     
  3. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    Home-printable visiting cards come like that; an A4 sheet of card with micro-perforations. Edmondson-type tickets would need thicker card, and someone would have to separate them, but many organisations have people who seem happy to spend time tearing up strips of raffle tickets. And old-fashioned gadgets to stamp the date are still available https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stamp-Rubber-Office-Stamper-Adjustable/dp/B00NBXIHPS
     
  4. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    Whatever form the tickets take, card, paper or electronic on a phone, you still have to take payments both by card and by cash and have a mechanism (preferably automatic) for adding up the money. Is it so much more difficult to combine EPOS and/or an electronic cash register with Edmondson tickets than with paper ones?
     
  5. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    It is so much easier for train drivers and guards to use modern, fixed formation trains than those pesky steam engines. No lighting up hours beforehand and time to dispose after the last train, automatic door locks, nice buzzers so no need for flags and whistles, shunting, coupling locos, rounds etc.

    Preserved railways recreate the past as a visitor experience, albeit in a sanitised form. Behind the scenes stuff can be modernised, like cashing up using a spreadsheet or having a discrete calculator or aid addition during the day, but the 'experience' should aim to be 'a taste of the past'. Sorry if that is too much like hard work for some - there are plenty for whom it isn't!

    Steven
     
  6. Another Yorkshireman

    Another Yorkshireman Member Friend

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    The new ticket machines do all the maths for you. All of it. As long as cash taken and Credit Card Sales match ticket sales, job done. This saves a good ten minutes at the start of a shift [checking yesterday's clerk had written the correct ticket numbers for 'start of day' on the returns sheet] and about 20 minutes at the end of the day calculating values for each type of ticket sold and then adding them all together, then filling in the returns sheet for the next day.
    With the card ticket system you then found that you had a discrepancy which might have been down to some tickets having been out of numerical sequence. [Customer asks for four returns, you take the tickets out, stamp them, they then enquire if there are senior fares available so they go back and senior tickets are taken out. But if the unsold tickets go back in the rack in the wrong order it can muck up things later.] In ten years of running a booking office one day a week I reckon I had a discrepancy on around 40% of shifts. With the new system its down to almost zero. Getting booking office clerks does not get any easier, and making the admin tasks involved considerably less daunting must help recruitment for anyone happy to use a touch-screen. We still have stocks of old card tickets which are available and can be offered if time permits or if a passenger comments.
     
  7. Another Yorkshireman

    Another Yorkshireman Member Friend

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    I am sorry, but there are not plenty for whom it isn't. There are days when WSR booking offices are not manned. With eight manned stations and two stations needing two clerks for at least part of the day, and with the majority probably doing one shift a week, then not allowing for summer holidays and sickness this railway needs at least 70 booking office clerks. Bean Counter [not a volunteer] has made lots of very good and constructive points on this site but the implication that people are queuing up to have the privilege of running a booking office - and this is an area with a high proportion of retired people - is well wide of the mark.
    Same applies to [I imagine] most departments on most heritage railways.
     
  8. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Better than the alternative!

    Robin
     
  9. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    Fine - so does that mean the remainder of my points about the logical conclusions of making life easier for guards and footplate crews, and then extending to other rules such as signalmen (so much easier with a single signalling centre and no tokens to mess about with, just axles counters or track circuit block) etc. will come to pass too?

    I may no longer volunteer in the preserved railway sector (I consider 'Yes I volunteer' would be pushing accuracy as my volunteering isn't directly in the heritage sector any longer) but I happen to have earned a 35 year service badge in the sector including plenty of Booking Office turns. During those years, I saw increasingly, from a (vocal) minority, an expectation that the needs of the Railway should bend to suit the wishes of the volunteer and not that the roles required be seen as 'what we signed up for'.

    I would add that volunteers of both short and long service were far from pleased with having 'their life made easier' by having to learn new EPOS machines and the Wes Somerset seems unique in their introduction being universally welcomed (well, from a sample of 2 out of 70 booking clerks, anyway!)

    Incidentally, I don't think there has been any answer as to how the cash strapped West Somerset Railway has afforded what has now been confirmed as 8 EPOS terminals!

    Steven
     
  10. Blackdown Boy

    Blackdown Boy New Member

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    Depends on where you are watching from!
     
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  11. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Hmm, very much 2 different mindsets at work here! Personally, I'm closer to Steven's point of view. When I'm on the railway, I'm not just doing the bare minimum of the facade of heritage, I like to do a little more. I taught myself sign-writing for instance as it seemed more appropriate for the setting than modern transfers. Now that I'm guard training, yes I'm purchasing a bardic, but I'm determined to find a GWR paraffin lamp for hand signals even though it's a bit more of a faff. Most guards use the converted electric tail lamp but there are a few who prefer the paraffin. I suspect if I was in the booking office I'd probably enjoy doing it the traditional way.

    But, that said, I'm well aware that there are plenty of folk who think I'm mad! I still get people questioning why I don't just use a vinyl tape to line out coaches. Given that we cannot afford to be fussy over volunteers as they're hardly queuing out of the door, if some compromises need to be made to make life easier for volunteers, that may lead to existing volunteers being willing to do more turns and/or better volunteer retention/easier recruitment.

    So, as with all things, there needs to be a balance. As I said, if I was in the booking office I'd probably revel in the novelty of traditional bookkeeping using the original Edmondson system. But the only thing the passenger really sees is the ticket itself, and perhaps the date stamping. To me, the obvious balance then is to issue Edmondson tickets but use a modern accounting system. The only people that could possibly upset are the heritage purists who actually work in the booking office!

    I think this is the closest I'll ever get to disagreeing with you Steven! I really get where you're coming from, but I don't think it's fair to compare it to things like flags and whistles which is obviously a much more public thing, and also something more volunteers probably enjoy more than archaic bookkeeping. If making life easier in the ticket office is the difference between unmanned booking offices or not, then I'm cautiously in favour of behind the scenes stuff. I presume that whoever made this decision has good reason to believe this is the case, and for what it's worth, the testimony from the WSR BOCs posted here aligns with those I've spoken to on the GWSR where we have also recently introduced EPOS. As I say we can't afford to be too picky about volunteers, and if you've got good people, not necessarily "proper" enthusiasts in many cases, it seems foolish to turn them away just because they don't get the point of preserving practices such as these. This doesn't remove my objection to loo roll paper tickets though, and on the GWSR we have that happy compromise I mentioned, with everyone still receiving cardboard tickets with the date stamped so I can punch a hole in them. :)
     
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  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    The other thing of course is that the 'bit of till roll' is much easier to lose by mistake compared with for example a Swanage style ticket
     
  13. Ian Monkton

    Ian Monkton Member

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    As another WSR station volunteer, I will add that Crowcombe booking office now opens more days per week since the new system has been introduced because we find it much less daunting to use. Also, to answer Steve 'Beancounter', I understand that the new machines have not been bought but are leased.
     
  14. The Man of Kent

    The Man of Kent Member

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    Forgive me if this has already been covered somewhere in the 1,070 pages above, but when we are talking of authenticity why is the WSR running 1960s diesels at a flagship 1940s event? (let's not get hung up on the Mk1s)
     
  15. Jim O'Brien

    Jim O'Brien New Member

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    Colin, wasn't it in March 2018 on the Sunday morning of the SSG, when the Safari Park animals were dancing in the unfamiliar snow?

    I recall the delays at Bewdley that day when the points there were frozen, in true heritage fashion. Not sure the weather was as cruel for the ASG.
     
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  16. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    Personally I have to say I disagree with this - because "Swanage-style" tickets don't fit in my wallet, unlike either roll tickets or Edmonsons!
     
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  17. Captain Fantastic

    Captain Fantastic New Member

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    I'm pretty sure you can lose any type of ticket regardless of type TBH
     
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  18. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

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    I really like how much of a debate the ticket system is having.

    The system of taking payments and accounting how many and what fares have been sold works well for the railway with these new machines and that is great, but why something else other than a receipt - because that what it is basically - can't be given I don't know. Many other places do. For this reason I cannot say the WSR issue tickets anymore, they issue receipts that prove a fare has been paid.

    The Dean Forest use a similar new electronic system and issue card tickets. If they went the same route as the WSR, as a member of the DFR Soc. I'd be sending a letter in.

    What happens if one person pays two or more fares? Do they get printed on the same receipt? What happens then if a party wants to spilt up for part of the day?

    It doesn't need to be a Edmonson type ticket, but something like the size of a national rail ticket with an attractive design (like the SDR 50th anniversary tickets or SVR Gala tickets).

    People like collecting tickets for memories, whether it's in a box or stuck on bedroom/kitchen walls. Can't see many people sticking a receipt to a wall, which means they won't be reminded of their WSR day out and they won't return. A ticket can go far further than just the day of use.

    First impressions count and I was disappointed really when the guy gave me a receipt. It's nothing special which a visit to a heritage railway is for most people.

    It's very short sighted of the WSR to issue receipts.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
  19. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

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    Easier to lose a white piece of paper that looks like it has your tesco quick shop break down on than a distinctive design.
     
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  20. Ian Monkton

    Ian Monkton Member

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    A separate 'receipt' as you put it is issued for each passenger, the same as with Edmondson tickets, except for a family ticket where one ticket covers all members of the party, again no change from the previous system.
     
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