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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Every thread needs a comedian or two.

    Robin
     
  2. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure that "sorting out" the existing company is an option. Realistically, there is only one possible direction of travel for it and that's the one chosen by its chairman. We just have to wait and see if that works out. No harm in a bit of worst-case thinking meanwhile.
     
  3. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    MOD has banned the use of Zoom. Several bad recent reports in the IT press and on online reviews about the lack of security and incomplete encryption. Also reports of hackers breaking into meetings simply by hitting random numbers to access meetings. Treat with extreme caution.

    Sorry about the drift, just thought you ought to know if you are considering it...
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
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  4. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    I see no "attempted character assassination". Nearly all the points criticising JJP are calling him out on his words and actions that are facts in the public domain. No-one is ignoring "the fact that if Jon had not led various of the actions over the last twelve months, the railway simply wouldn't be here by now". The point is that there is a very real chance that in another year the railway will be gone anyway. However the difference is that, had the Railway folded a year ago, there would be a lot more sympathy amongst the railway community for the plight of the railway, the community from which the funds come to keep the railway going and the community from which the funds and will have to come if it is not to close for ever.

    "having myself seen the detailed accounts last January,"
    It's pretty common knowledge, at least amongst the investing tribes, that by and large, accounts can be made to paint the picture you want them to paint. A new board or management team that produces, in a year, a miraculous change for the better in a company's fortunes is one of the things you learn about in investing 101, as our US cousins would say.
     
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  5. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    How about the direction chosen by the Board? the whole Board? & nothing but The Board?
     
  6. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    Ah, such decisions are outside my remit. My own company uses Teams because Office 365 customers get it for free, it works at scale and it's Good Enough (we've asked IT if we can use Slack instead but they refuse to pay). From a heritage railway point of view - to drag this topic marginally closer to the topic - it's worth mentioning that all charities can get Office 365 for free if they ask.
     
  7. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Slack can also raise security issues. Teams is what we use at work, and is a significant improvement on Skype.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  8. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    The WSRA press release is good, but this did jump out at me as a little odd; " We have asked the WSR plc for their plans and look forward to working together to implement them." That is of course good news, but I can't help but think it illustrates how separate the Plc and WSRA are compared to other bodies on the same railway I'm familiar with. It just seems a bizarre notion that the WSRA is somehow unaware of what the Plc is doing, particularly right now.
    Just a few days after the GWSR announced it was closed we had a joint statement from chairmen of our Trust and Plc along with press releases, articles and features in local and regional news, with one appeal, one bank account (the Trust's) with a variety of ways of sending money clearly outlined, (none of which were JustGiving by the way). We have raised over £120,000 to date. Whereas on the WSR we have two organisations running parallel appeals, with the WSRA actually promoting 4 separate appeals for money! I can see the sentiment being all the messages regarding working together is true and honest and it's obviously a work in progress after so many years, but it just doesn't feel very joined up. It's hard not to look at the reported £30,000 figure raised so far and compare it unfavourably.

    Indeed, and I can totally understand why you'd not want to further demolish the WSR's tatty reputation for infighting by going public if you feel you have other avenues open to you. However, I would gently suggest (to folk generally) that endeavours to resolve problems behind the scenes so as not to cause a fuss would look a bit more earnest a reason to keep quiet publicly if arguments from 4 years ago weren't being replayed here instead. Whilst it's interesting to those of us who followed the saga back then in much the same way some follow the soaps, it doesn't look great, especially right now. I do hope the quiet way is bearing some fruit though, it's been a month and a half now and, as has been noted, the clock is still ticking despite the current situation.
     
  9. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree, FS. It is deeply disappointing to see the people who led the effort to revive the WRSA and fend off threats to the railway now all playing the "blame" game against each other. I'll not name names, they know who they are and most have appeared on this thread in the last few weeks. I can only repeat what I said a few days ago :" Your railway is in danger and it is time you buried the hatchet and combined to devise a rescue plan." You've done it before and, with a little goodwill, you can do it again.
     
  10. City of truro fan

    City of truro fan New Member

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    I think a gala would be good to raise money when it reopens but one where people can pay what they like to get in so people would give bigger donations. They could also include their enemy’s like letting the s and d run their goods train on the line to show that they can work together. There could also be driver for £10 in spare platforms and rises in goods vans which are attached to these so they make even more money.
     
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  11. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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  12. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    As you say, good news, but.....IMHO the statement gives no indication whatsoever as to whether (a) the WSR plc actually have any plans and (b) have they, or will they, tell the WSRA what they are?

    If there is even a modest amount of substance in much of what has been said here in recent days, then sadly it would not surprise me at all if the WSRA was not aware to any great extent of what the Plc is doing.
     
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  13. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    But the current mess isn't a new problem, but a new front in a decade-plus problem within the WSR, where it's clear that certain influential individuals within the railway - some with, some without official positions - are fundamentally at odds personally and in respect of what is required to run a successful WSR. I'm not sure burying hatchets is the right metaphor, because it seems from what's posted on here that the differences are not just personal but also more fundamentally about vision of what is required to sustain the WSR as a successful railway into the future.

    I see this tension elsewhere - notably around the NYMR about the impact of Whitby operations - but not publicly with the same toxicity and vituperative nature. And my fear is that, unless those at the centre of these debates can step back from public facing positions, these tensions and wounds will remain open until one "side" definitively wins or loses.
     
  14. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    In my humble opinion you are correct in what you say. I know it’s a bit of a personal drum I keep banging but I think the only problem the WSR has is its culture, fix that and the rest can follow, it needs good governance, accountability, freedom of speech, inclusion, etc. first and then the people and their money can follow once they feel safe in doing so, after all the WSR is only there for people to enjoy being there. As you describe people think and have thought for a long time its ok to act more or less as they wish, because they are in charge and all must do as they say. When people don’t, instead of justifying their actions it’s just one personal attack after another until the people go away, which many have.

    However it gets worse, a few pages back a new poster called michale.petersons (not his real name of course) launched an attack here on various people. He is actually one of the younger footplate crew on the WSR and although I don’t know him well he is a nice guy by all accounts, he is also one of the future of the WSR and somebody who should have a voice along with all other volunteers and feel ownership of his railway. From what others have told me in the last week he was ‘wound up’ by a certain somebody and set loose to have a go. This is I’m afraid something that the Management of the WSR thinks is a perfecting acceptable ‘management tool’ in order to get its own way. The older generation who do regularly and have recently done the same thing should frankly know better, but please this young poster clearly has energy and passion for the WSR, shouldn’t we all be using that in a positive way? Let’s not demonstrate to the next generation that this is ok, surely we are affecting our own ‘kids’ here?

    I’m not just picking on the current PLC Board, frankly they are all as bad as each other, all have become drawn in this stagnant battle and all think its ok to act as they do, it’s entrenched and normalised now. This has happened over the last number of years and has only come to the fore and into the public gaze recently because it’s being done so openly and blatantly now.

    Its normal now for those who value their ID Cards more than holding people accountable to be allowed to stay if they remain quiet and those who think holding people accountable for their actions is more important than their hobby go, either because they slip away quietly thinking ‘what a bunch of idiots, I want no part of that’ or they speak out and get ‘taken out’ with aggression and undermining. The cost of an ID Card is high on the WSR but it should be a right to hold, freely available to anybody who wants it, it’s not and the cost of ownership continues upward and perpetuates this downward spiral.

    We all understand that people are passionate about their hobby and people will always disagree, any heritage railway must be a broad church of opinion with an equal voice and that’s a tough thing to pull off if you are on the management team. But if you can’t work toward that whist managing a multi-million pound business at the same time then you should not have taken the job.

    I’m not trying to be-little anybody here as its all fed by passion, some people are so entrenched and invested in their railway they will do anything to stay in the camp at all costs (the “I’m difficult to kill” syndrome), these are in the minority as the hard-core of enthusiasts and they come in many forms. The overwhelming majority of people who want to volunteer are just people who want to come and have a nice enjoyable time on a lovely railway. Any management must see that both need to be accommodated because both are important, the culture needs to allow both to be used to their strengths for the common good and not allow the hard core passion to get out of control. The 'majority' people are the ones who will just melt away with their money when they see the management hard-core stalwarts knocking lumps out of each other all the time because it’s not enjoyable.

    The numbers speak for themselves I believe, @flyingscotsman123 above raises a good point about current funds through this Covid-19 crisis and I agree with him. However just to clarify one point if I may. The £30k raised is not £30k, it’s just under £16k when you read the detail. It’s made up £15,990 plus £11k station donations, £3.5k of new shares and a £100 cheque. The stations have been closed so couldn’t have raised much fresh money, so I assume the PLC has done another round of raiding piggy banks from internal family members so this looks like internal ‘wooden dollars’. The PLC sells about this many shares annually in any case (it may have increased slightly of course). Then add to this the last time I looked at the WSRA’s appeal a few days back it was about £1,600, so not much there either.

    In my opinion this time the game is nearly at an end because the money seems to be nearly out, it looks like people are not supporting the WSR, the various other internal piggy banks must be bare now and still there is no plan after all this time. Something will happen sometime soon because it has to if the money is gone, and that’s not the fault of Covid-19. It’s a trend over the last 5 years which has accelerated in the last 12 months, the status-quo is not sustainable now surely?

    As has been said above people need to step back from public facing positions because most have become a part of the problem and frankly those people have had around 5 years now and it hasn’t worked so something needs to be different. Even people like me who stood up to get shot down should also consider if we should do the same for the greater good.

    Maybe the WSR staggers on, maybe not, if not I can only hope whatever and whoever comes next, internal or external ‘the management’ up their game and deal with the real problems, I hope they change the way they act and most of all I hope they see themselves as the servants of the WSR and its people not their masters because that will be one big step toward a new culture.

    Sorry long post (again) I keep promising myself not to do this but I have a 100% failure rate so far!!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
  15. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Thanks for the clarification, I was aware the £30k figure was "up for interpretation" but that was the highest number I'd seen, so used to to not detract from my point. However, if we wish to compare figures including internal "wooden dollars", and that's not bad thing, then the comparison is even more stark - the GWR Trust has also donated £250,000 from its own general pot of money, accrued from membership subs and bequests.
     
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  16. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    I'll defend the chap who goes by the name of Michale Petersons in that he had the good grace to cock up his own name. He has youth and naivety as a defence and I suspect he was under some pressure to repeat whatever total nonsense he was fed.

    What is unforgivable is the rather crass tactic of approaching the younger element in an attempt to gather some useful idiots to do their bidding. There's one lad who I know was approached but he's a smart cookie.

    I have seen some fairly serious corporate wrongdoing at very close quarters over the years. It was one heck of an education. I was made some rather lucrative offers at a time when I had a huge mortgage and expensive hobbies but I wasn't prepared to be bought. It all fell apart and I went through some deeply searching interviews before plod decided that I played no role. Unbelievably, it was kept out of the papers. What I did learn was how rogue individuals operate. They all make mistakes without ever realising it. They may think they are clever but they are not clever enough to realise they are not clever enough.

    The chap at the centre of it all tried setting up businesses in various bolt-holes around the world however some enterprising individuals were forever on his case, talking to his new business partners, suppliers and customers. Whenever each new venture was nipped in the bud, he tried again in another continent. It would make a rather exciting book as you can run but never hide for long.
     
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  17. rodders154

    rodders154 Member

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    Please remember it was these 2 comedians that were instrumental in the getting rid of the ex6 . The ex6 made the mistake of inviting Frank onto the board of the WSRA and then making him Chairman without which EGM2 would not have happened. In Fact Frank called the meeting as Chairman with input from the HRA having had legal treats from the solicitors of the ex6 and that is how they were voted off by the membership. For my Part I applied for a freedom of information request that lead to the council deciding not to sell the railway to the Association and because of the contents of the freedom of information request a senior councillor being disciplined. The FOI showed that the council were less than 1 week away from selling the freehold to the Association.

    Nobody found it funny at the time

    Rodders
     
  18. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    I'm nearly fifty now, still fit and able bodied. Finally solvent and debt free, my business is steady and stable enough. My children are now old enough that they mostly don't need constant supervision, and I no longer have livestock as a tie.
    So, now I can consider volunteering on one of the steam railways that have given me so much joy through my life.
    I live near Bath, so what would my options be. WSR, ESR, L&B,.... The ESR and L&B seem to have plenty of footplate crew, and I'm not suited to a chatting with the public role.
    Can anyone suggest why I might want to enter the apparent lion's den at the WSR? I've been self employed for about 16 years, and I'm used to holding my own opinions. As far as I can make out, I'd be quickly labelled a bad apple at Minehead, if I didn't cheerfully agree with management decisions. But some of those decisions are downright immoral.
     
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  19. Downline

    Downline New Member

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    Whatever decisions are made by any business, your going to have those who agree and those who disagree. But the way the WSR Plc have gone about them since the current new board have been at the helm have been quite frankly appalling and have done them no favours whatsoever. Getting into public arguments with journalists, newspapers and a local MP, why? The PLC desperately need a PR machine, that would sort out a lot of there current problems.

    Whilst the current situation and the previous WSRA saga cant be compared, the Plc's chairman's other businesses and the current situation can be compared, especially how he runs these businesses, and how he doesn't appear to learn from his mistakes when he is caught out for doing wrong. From what is in the public domain and discussed on here, it does make me very uneasy seeing him sat in the top seat on the railway. A link from Route One was shared on the S&D thread recently, I really hope events on those articles are not replayed out on the WSR.
     
  20. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Member

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    Avon valley line is nearest, nice, no problems well none that are aired publicly, lot of ex WSR volunteers there as well. :)
     
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