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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. jnc

    jnc Member

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    I suspect it's precisely your willingness to be an ordinary yard hand on some days that shows the other volunteers, whom you have to on occasion manage, that you do understand and respect their position. Plus to which, your willingness to obey the day's RF is the best possible way to instruct other volunteers in how they need to act; leading by example.

    All of which you probably understand already, just thought it worthwhile to say it.

    Noel
     
  2. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    Like Tom, I can't agree with this - for operational, safety and indeed financial discipline, there must be a hierarchy. Railways are often so short of volunteers (or convince themselves that they are), so they do try to pander to those who want to make the job exactly fit them but, if you offer to be part of something which involves transporting other people (and hence where their well being depends on your actions), you have to accept that you need to serve that organisation, not change it to serve you!

    Likewise, even small businesses where the boss is the one whose money is at risk will soon lose good people who aren't treated well. Discipline doesn't mean shouting at people. Hierarchies should always work on a good approach and respect, in both directions, and that it where railways (and often both paid and voluntary) fall down.

    Steven
     
  3. 46229

    46229 New Member

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    ROGS is very clear on what is required. When it became law in 2006, the ORR took a considered view on implementation recognising that it would take time for heritage railways to be brought up to the standards required by the legislation. However, 12 years on, they now expect all heritage lines 15" gauge and above to be fully compliant with what is, with a few exceptions, the mainline standard. That includes risk assessment, managing safety critical work and safety management systems. IMO that has not fully sunk in with many across the heritage railway community, at all levels. I have no doubt it will inevitably affect numbers of volunteers as some have alluded to. The SDR incident, followed by this ELR report, and not forgetting previous GCR and NYMR incidents, are several 'tips of the Iceberg'.
     
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  4. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    I wanted to keep out of this but there's three points I would like to make or reinforce.

    Firstly. A job title is just a title and no more. The work they do is actually in their job description. Two people with the same job title in different organisations could do two entirely different things.

    Secondly. This point was made earlier. The person with overall responsibility for safely should be a board member for the reason stated so that his safety related instructions cannot be easily countermanded by someone not in the safety chain of commend. The board is ultimately responsible for safety no matter how they structure their safety organisation anyway. The PLC is a small company and it's not an overburden to have a director responsible for safety sitting on their board

    Finally. I think the board should appoint a couple of non-executive directors taken from the boards of other tourist railways or the HRA. I suspect a suitable person from the Shackerstone Railway might be a good start.
     
  5. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    That seems to be the crucial point. Safety is too important for it simply to be an advisory post. They need to be able to take executive action immediately, on occasions, and not have to get it approved.
     
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  6. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    You really don't understand this do you?

    Safety is a line management function responsibility for which cannot be devolved away from the line of management. You cannot have a safety department who simply cut across the chain of management at will or chaos ensues.

    If a safety advisor has concerns these should be expressed and if not acted upon by line management then the route has to be via the Department manager, the GM or ultimately the board.

    If a safety advisor had to consider taking immediate executive action without approval there would be have to be something very wrong with the whole culture of the organisation in question.

    But this is thread drift away from the topic in question and my comments are not directed at the WSR.
     
  7. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    I suspect that ORR may well be looking for an appointment, part or full time, of a post to ensure that there is a suitable Safety Management system in place and it is being adhered to. That adherence will involve all relevant heads of departments and their staff, and be overseen by the GM (who is most probably Duty Holder - my apologies that O had forgotten the exact title in an earlier post until reminded by another post) but I have known them 'strongly advise' the creation of such a post elsewhere in the past.

    Steven
     
  8. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    It is not thread drift. I understand it very well. What I am saying is that on, hopefully, rare occasions, immediate acrion may be needed. I totally understand what you are saying but the current WSR problems did not suddenly occur but almost certainly built up over a long period of time. That suggests that there has been a systemic failure of management at various levels. If this is not the case then why the need to shut the railway for three months? I sincerely hope Steve Edge is correct about a more helpful statement being issued. As I have said before there is a wealth of goodwill waiting to be tapped but unless and until we are told th full facts effective action will not happen.
     
  9. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    My experience of safety advisors was that they were outside a line management structure and were merely advisors whose recommendations could be ignored and frequently were. I found that my role as a union H&S representative gave me more clout and a significant proportion of my work came through them. I also had the advantage of certain legal powers.

    But again it depends on their job description and their ability to influence those responsible for H&S.

    A volunteer H&S advisor could work well on the WSR as they could usefully act as a conduit between the board director responsible for H&S and volunteers and ease tensions which do arise.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
  10. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    I used to work in an environment where there were dedicated “quality managers”. The impact of this as a stand-alone role was to split quality from delivery, and undermine the culture of quality in the organisation.

    This happened in two ways. Firstly, the owners of “quality” were separate from those whose quality they were intended to buttress. Second, as a stand-alone function, their reactions were consistently to look at process controls - quality control - rather than building a culture of doing things properly.

    For that reason, I’m very wary of drawing “safety” out into a separate portfolio.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  11. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    Why don't we wait to see what the Enforcement Notice says and what the PLC have to say for themselves before speculating?
     
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  12. nick813

    nick813 Well-Known Member Loco Owner

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    There was a H&S saftey advisor. From what I understand, informed the powers what was required. He resigned, I think mainly due to the information given was ignored. I think he might be informing the powers again. I think he has a large dog of some flavour.
     
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  13. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    Is that for personal protection?
     
  14. AnthonyTrains2017

    AnthonyTrains2017 Member

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    First gala of year will be diesel gala?
     
  15. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    A lot of recent posts have been along the lines that a heritage railway (or the WSR specifically) ought to be organised like THIS. Followed by posts disagreeing and saying it should be like THAT. You can and must tell volunteers what to do, or you can't tell volunteers what to do. The safety function must be independent, or it must be integral in each department.

    35N commented on the parallel situation with quality. It used to be (maybe still is?) a truism in manufacturing that the quality manager must be independent of the production manager. The latter is focussed on turning out the required quantity of widgets from the production line. The former has to be able to stop production if the widgets aren't right. Things moved on from the old approach of inspecting the widgets to setting up a system which can be expected to built them right, but I don't think that removed the separation of responsibilities.

    How about waiting to hear (a) which areas the ORR has deemed to need improvement and (b) how the WSR Board plans to achieve the improvements?
     
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  16. Greenway

    Greenway Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I note he is keeping a discerning watch here. :D
     
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  17. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    Indeed - and whether there is an Improvement Notice or will be an Enforcement Notice is itself speculation. I may even be mistaken that there isn't such a role at the moment, but nothing I have seen here or elsewhere suggests that there is on the West Somerset, I know there is elsewhere and I understand in at least one case this was a strong HMRI 'recommendation' after an investigation into an incident. Hence, I did allow myself a little, informed, supposition - or, if you prefer, speculation! ;)

    Steven
     
  18. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    The ORR do publish their formal notices, so if they have made a statement that they have nothing to say publically, it may indicate that no formal notice has been issued.
     
  19. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    The big dog is well but getting a bit old now, thanks Nick, for those interested she is an 8 year old German Shepherd who knows railways inside out.
    I have read the last few pages with much enjoyment and the odd chuckle. We even managed to get back to QMS (Quality Management Systems). I headed up a large BT unit that was one of the first to apply under ISO 9001 and obtain the British Kitemark. This is where it all started and much of what is now in the SMS effectively reads directly from the ethos of 9001. Can anyone remember the words of the very early H&S training. "You have now been trained and the responsibility for your department's safety passes to you". The ongoing debate about who is responsible for safety (line v. safety department) misses one essential point. ROGS requires continuous improvement in safety as indeed did 9001. Therefore all heritage railways must collect data, analyse the data, identify the trends and advise the line accordingly often with advice on how to implement. This is known as a virtuous circle and ensures that all heritage entities continue to improve like most other companies. This is why a vital part of many jobs now contains a requirement for CPD (continued professional development). The line is responsible for safety and to my mind there is no exceptions but the safety department is responsible for audits and data collection, the analysis of trends and the responsibility of advising the Duty Holder (the board) of the need for improvement. If the board excepts the advice, and they would be unwise to ignore it if it was right and proper, the board should then instruct the overall manager to implement. During the virtuous circle a selection of staff should form the implementation team who manage the introduction, proving and reliability (these were known as Quality Circles). Safety Representatives are people who are voted by the staff to speak on their behalf on safety issues. If they have a role in Heritage railways (I have never discovered one) it would act as part of the implementation team. It is a legal title and comes with legislation to ensure that the workforce has a say. As said earlier it is mainly a union or staff association sponsored job.
    This is my humble effort to help clarify some issues. I am not aware if any of the above is WSR policy as I am simply the team leader for wagon restoration.
    Woof, woof
     
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  20. j&mkeynes

    j&mkeynes New Member

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    This is interesting! I had not encountered this model before, but of course it does require an appropriate revenue stream to sustain it. Wherein lies the rub. Unless the investment in more paid labour can be self-sustaining, operators will quickly find their cost burden becoming unbearable. WSR`s need for more volunteers is well known - in many respects it is a national malaise. While the potential volunteer labour pool is actually growing as the incidence of retirement increases amongst the UK population, despite increases in retirement age, there appears to be fewer volunteers coming forward. One problem may be the need for many retired to continue to work part-time because pension pots are not generating the income needed. Recruiting more paid part-time volunteers may well be appealing to many with the requisite skills who might otherwise not be available. This need not be expensive, but again there is always the challenge of meeting the cost. But the Isle of Wight railway deserve credit for this contribution to the current labour shortage on some heritage railways.
     

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