If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. pgbffest

    pgbffest New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2018
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    135
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Somewhere with a lot of letters!
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Surely, it does not matter if the letter is published or not. It is probably about time that people started to believe that the WSR (whether it be company or society) are in the process of sorting it. No doubt, publishing a letter will result in a load of people telling them how they can do it better rather (from the comfort of their own armchair) than thinking that those in the seat are there because they are trusted to do the job!
     
  2. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    6,593
    Likes Received:
    7,508
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Indeed, but does that really mean much? On my railway at least, most directors are appointed by co-option because they applied for a specific portfolio like a job, and at the next AGM they're simply waved through. I'm quite comfortable with this, on the basis that I feel the directors are more accountable to the volunteers on the ground who actually know what's going on, than the shareholders, many of whom are on the other side of the country, or even the world.

    Personally, from a board disseminating information perspective, I'd prioritise as follows; volunteers and staff first via internal communications. Shareholders and members come joint second (where on any normal railway you are a shareholder of the railway, or a member of the railway) and members of the public third. But for practical purposes, members and shareholders are considered members of the public, and once it's out there, everyone will find out one way or another. So might as well say it to everyone.
     
  3. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    6,593
    Likes Received:
    7,508
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Fair point! Was not expressing an opinion one way or another, just going on what has already been said.
     
  4. gwilialan

    gwilialan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,091
    Likes Received:
    2,397
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Instrumentation, Control & Automation Engineer
    Location:
    East Sussex
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    "...I must stress that the extended period will not be a holiday for us, anything but that! It will be a very focussed and busy, short period that we will have to get our ship into proper order, and which will fly by in reality. There will be a restructure of all departments taking place early in 2019 in readiness for the coming season."

    Hummm. " ...All departments..."? Looks to me like someone has either knocked a few heads together or people have been told to "Do it or else we will go down the 'formal' route." Perhaps this is just what has been needed to shake up the "...Always done it this way..." or "...We are in charge so we know best..." attitudes that have seemed to prevail for some while.

    My only concern is the timing. A complete (i.e. railway wide) restructure to be put in place and probably new systems and practices to be established with everyone singing from the new song sheets in a couple of months? I would guess there will be a lot of volunteers who won't be around the railway at the right time for the briefings or instruction or whatever so it'll have to be an ongoing process for a while. It'll need some serious oversight to prevent clashes where some might mix the old with the new processes.
     
    johnofwessex likes this.
  5. jnc

    jnc Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    Messages:
    838
    Likes Received:
    919
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Western Atlantic
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Point taken about the cost of a physical letter, but why don't they try and accumulate email addresses for all shareholders, and use it to keep them updated as to what's going on? Yes, many holders are likely older, and elderly people are less likely to have email (my wife's mother doesn't - but my older brother, who's 80, does), but some is still better than none.

    That would be good for several reasons: not only the board elections point, but also they're a pool of supporters who could be tapped for funds - and are more likely to do so if they don't feel they are being 'mushroomed'.

    Noel
     
  6. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    580
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    St. Austell and Blue Anchor.
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I sent an email to WSR on 7th November asking why I never receive any communications from them despite being a shareholder and giving them authority to send such information to me by email.

    I have had no reply or acknowledgment.

    I think it's very poor that, having given a sizeable chunk of my pension savings to the Railway, the only information I receive is from visiting Steve Edge's website and this forum.

    Stef.
     
    Triumph 2500S, jnc, j&mkeynes and 2 others like this.
  7. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    6,593
    Likes Received:
    7,508
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
  8. AnthonyTrains2017

    AnthonyTrains2017 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2014
    Messages:
    2,143
    Likes Received:
    838
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Their choice of locos in picture is amusing
     
    granmaree and flying scotsman123 like this.
  9. AnthonyTrains2017

    AnthonyTrains2017 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2014
    Messages:
    2,143
    Likes Received:
    838
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Hoping 7828 is out at winter festival
     
  10. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Messages:
    14,237
    Likes Received:
    10,859
    Location:
    1016
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Good news for all close to the WSR that some official information has now emerged. It seems that the Railway has been provided with some helpful advice by the ORR. Having read what is a tome of a letter running to 2000+ words I finally found the salient text:

    "Whilst the ORR letter to us runs to eight pages, there are actually only some five key points which they've raised with us for action following the inspection, many of which we had already recognised as weaknesses and changes were already underway, such as improvements in safety and infrastructure, tightening up procedures, record keeping and compliance, and staff and director appointments."

    These may only be "some five key points" but given this is a well established railway that is now over forty years old with, one would think, a well established and embedded set of systems, they don't strike me as minor. I hope therefore that everyone gives the Board sufficient space to address these issues and address them comprehensively. I wish them well.
     
  11. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2014
    Messages:
    4,486
    Likes Received:
    5,039
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Comfy chair occupant!
    Location:
    No moaners please!
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Even without seeing the ORR letter the very fact that this situation has occurred raises serious doubts. IMHO the only way that can have happened is by systemic poor management over a period of years. The tone of the Chairman’s statement seems to play down the.seriousness of the matter. It simply will not do. Only by publishing the letter and the plan to address the problems can staff and shareholders be sure of the facts. Given that there has been a serious failure of management we need reassurance that those management will change their ways. Are any of the management going to be subject to disciplinary action?
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
    jnc likes this.
  12. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,531
    Likes Received:
    1,721
    Hang on. It is a big leap to go from the ORR raising items of concern to disciplinary action against members of staff. My knowledge of how heritage railways work would suggest that the majority of shortcomings have their roots in the relative lack of resources (talented leaders, people in general, money). Most often the staff operate as well as they can within the context that they find themselves. Notwithstanding my earlier comment about wilful blindness and the tendency to think that "we're good chaps, therefore what we are doing is good" it is the case in my opinion that for the most part deficiencies are about the lack of leadership at board level, the lack of available resources, and the lack of management time to do anything other than focus on earning money, keeping costs controlled and the railway operating on a day to day basis.

    From personal experience as a volunteer and (briefly) an employee it is fair to say that the overwhelming majority of enthusiasts and even volunteers have only the most shallow understanding of what it takes to keep the wheels turning. Any given railway is likely to have no more than perhaps 1% of its volunteers with an overall view of the depth of what is going on.

    My comment before was that our railways are under managed (I do not single out the WSR), meaning that we generally have too few managers, and too little structure. It is this, rather than the individual performance of managers which is more likely to be the culprit in this instance I feel, and that means that actually the deficiency really lies with successive boards.
     
  13. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2014
    Messages:
    4,486
    Likes Received:
    5,039
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Comfy chair occupant!
    Location:
    No moaners please!
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Just to clarify in this context I don’t distinguish between the paid management and the board. Either or both may be culpable, or not, as the case may be. The ORR would not be involved if the failings were trivial. Nor would the board have closed the railway if matters were not serious. That is why it worries me that the Chairman has not been more forthcoming. In my experience if things go wrong the best course is to own up, apologise and give as much detailed information as possible without delay. Most reasonable people will find that acceptable and be sympathetic to the remedial steps being taken. Not being completelycandid has the opposite effect.
     
    Sunnieboy and jnc like this.
  14. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Messages:
    1,923
    Likes Received:
    487
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    34040
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Maybe it was the chairman who called in the ORR, just a thought. :rolleyes:
     
  15. pgbffest

    pgbffest New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2018
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    135
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Somewhere with a lot of letters!
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Or how about "only by publishing the letter can other railways within the HRA field can learn about the experience of the WSR".

    Having an old school attitude of disciplinary action will not get anybody anywhere. Why not try education - how can everybody learn from the experience. Having a modern attitude will push the railway forward which is what it requires.
     
    baldbazza, Wenlock, jnc and 2 others like this.
  16. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Messages:
    14,237
    Likes Received:
    10,859
    Location:
    1016
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    The above may be true but my comment about "giving the Board space" was to gently suggest that perhaps the use of words like "culpable" and "disciplinary" in your post was exactly what the railway community could probably do without right now.

    It seems as though some real change is needed and there is someone new at the helm to steer that through. That said, and to use an analogy with events in the Solent in 1545, some serious manoeuvring is needed but not in such a way that the whole enterprise sinks. That letter could easily have been a quarter of its length and cover the ground just as well - better even. But this seems to me like the WSR attempting to talk to the world in a meaningful way and demonstrate that it is now 'on the case'. I'm therefore surprised that this business is still generating steam in Somerset as I'm sure the Board knows that it'll only get one shot at this one. Hence, give them some space.
     
  17. SouthWestMainline

    SouthWestMainline New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    71
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Winchester
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I am under the view that most if not all preserved railways have at sometime had an "improvement" request from the ORR/HMRI. Said railway then quietly gets on with the request and xx months later work is done and the ORR/HMRI are shown what said railway has done to improve. It just so happens in this instance its been put in the public domain and has spread like wildfire (see BBC website). It is my humble opinion that a lot of the fuel has come from here which makes it some ways even worse as we should be supporting ALL railways no matter what shape or size and not bringing them down.
    If the ORR thought the WSR was running an unsafe railway they would have closed it NOW. As they haven't then that says the railway is operated in a safe manner in the eyes of the ORR.

    Now let the WSR get what they have to get done and let's see some positive support for them.

    I have no ties, membership etc of the WSR I am just a volunteer at another railway who is saddened by all the negativity that this site has generated for the WSR.
    Some on here should hold their heads in shame with some of the incorrect speculation / misreporting stuff on here.
     
  18. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Messages:
    6,287
    Likes Received:
    2,964
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance photo - journalist
    Location:
    Southport
    I hesitate to add my thoughts - but it seems to me that the current situation is one that occurs in most heritage lines whereby a set of processes are formulated for a specific time period. As the line develops both in size and activities little thought is given to updating processes and procedures hence the reason the ORR found "key" processes need to be updated.
    I am much reminded of a phrase from my working days - when trying to avoid being eaten by a crocodile it is difficult to appreciate that the reason for your presence was to drain the swamp !
    Rather than comment on the WSR's current situation I now wonder how many heritage lines have taken note and are now assessing their own processes, procedures and administration before either the ORR "comes calling" or the RAIB needs to make a visit.
     
    jnc, johnofwessex, horace and 2 others like this.
  19. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    4,346
    Likes Received:
    2,036
    Considering the recent frequent musical chairs on the WSR PLC Board, how far, if at all, the Board has been falling short in its responsibilities over the last few years is of minimal relevance to what happens now to sort things out. The Board has new members, including a new Chairman, and is looking to recruit a few more.
     
    The Dainton Banker and jnc like this.
  20. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,153
    Likes Received:
    1,214
    Occupation:
    Solicitor
    Location:
    South Wales
    A three-month closures sounds dramatic but I understand the reality is a loss of 15 or so running days. Seems to me to be a pragmatic decision and I don’t think that too much can be read into regarding “severity”.

    The important point is that come re-opening the issues are dealt with.

    Regards

    Matt
     

Share This Page