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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. alastair

    alastair Member

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    The West Somerset Railway is reviewing the number and nature of staff posts. The purpose of this is to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the railway in the long term. This staff whose posts are under review are being consulted about the potential future arrangements, bearing in mind the need to reduce costs.

    At this stage, it can be confirmed that three posts at Head of Department level, namely, the Heads of Commercial, Human Resources and Operations have been removed and the current post holders have been notified that, with regret, they are leaving the service of the Railway. Chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt said:

    This is a very challenging time for the Railway and we recognise that these decisions have a very significant impact on all our staff, but particularly those directly affected. We are saddened indeed when we have to lose any of our highly committed staff team but we must act in the best interests of the future of the Railway as a whole. All the staff who have recently left and those who may, following consultation, be leaving in the near future, shall go with our very best wishes for the future.

    Statement

    Whilst obviously confirming the gravity of the company's financial crisis, it seems odd that more details, however brief, of how the company is going to operate in the future are missing. Without a Head of Commercial, and Operations, who will be responsible for these rather fundamental things when the railway resumes operation at end March? Or is this all work in progress?

    Having worked for a company myself that was in dire financial straits,thoughts must be with PLC employees. There are few things more de-motivating than waiting for the axe to fall.
     
  2. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    You are quite right as the manor class is an ideal locomotive for the line. However I am not aware of one ever venturing on the line in BR days. The staple locomotives were panniers for freight pick up and short passenger and large prairies or moguls for bigger trains. I have heard of a Hall venturing but never been able to substantiate it. There was a turntable at Minehead for turning short tender locos. Also seen regularly were 22xx (baby castles and Billdogs, Chaffinch in particular. I think Mike (Maunsel) will be much better informed.
    As far as water is concerned there is no longer the ability to take water at Williton and tenders carry about twice the water as a large prairie hence the liking for manors and 9351. Just in case you have never noticed the very small cast in letters of GWR on a numberplate are replaced with WSR on 9351. It is a true design from Swindon that was never actually built. If we ever have the time our good friend Aberdare would build an Aberdare which would also be a cracker for the line. It would be great to see a 2-6-0 with outside frames and cranks again.
    Ken
     
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  3. GWR Man.

    GWR Man. Well-Known Member

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    Take a class 56XX scrap the frames, tanks, cab, bunker etc and build new frames, cab, extended axles and outside cranks for the drivers and new wheels and truck for the truck and new coupling rods and job done and, you would have an engine the same power as the 56XX but about 1 1/2 tones less on each driving wheel so will be blue against red route availability and will be power wise between a 5101 and the 78XX so very useful size for the railway.
     
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  4. Greenway

    Greenway Well-Known Member

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    There is already a 56XX at the WSR, so you are half-way there! :D
     
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  5. stephenvane

    stephenvane Member

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    As is often the way when a company needs to make savings, those higher up the tree are targeted. They are the ones on higher salaries, so this is where the biggest savings can be made.

    Remaining staff will probably now see their workload and responsibilities change to fill the gaps. I’m sure a new structure will be announced at some point.
     
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  6. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    I am sure we would upset the owners if we took possession of 6695 and built an Aberdare!
     
  7. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    I understand there are one or two Swindon number 2 boilers around so not an impossible job but the desire to lower the axle load is well made as the 56xxs are red route locos.
     
  8. nick813

    nick813 Well-Known Member Loco Owner

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    Redundancies: wasn't there some concern a few months ago about this....and the displacement of the then Chair?



    Regret, sadness etc.......Having been had posts I have for filled in the past, 5 , and have been made redundant, I always understood that there is no sentiment in business.

    To those:


    Many thanks.......they know who they are.
     
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  9. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Member

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    There is a sense of either panic or "new-broomitis", or both, in all this activity. Long serving officers dumped, assets being fire-saled, senior staff positions disestablished , with a consequent loss of knowledge and apparently without a proper review. (The Chairman's statement says "This (the?) staff whose posts are under review are being consulted" but then advises that these three Managers have already been fired ! Some consultation !) All this within a few weeks of the new Chairman and Board taking office and still without any real explanation of the problem, except vague references to cash flow.
    If cash-flow and profitability (in its broad sense) are the problem then turning the organisation on its ear without careful analysis of the situation and possible answers, which takes a good deal longer than a few weeks, particularly with a volunteer work-force, is seriously counter-productive. We can see from this thread alone that there is a good deal of misunderstanding and resentment building up and this will not help the situation.

    Mike
     
  10. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Member

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    That's one way to do it but is usually both ineffective and costly. You lose the expertise / corporate knowledge of the people you fire, pay them out redundancy, and, within a short time have to re-establish their positions (perhaps under a different name :rolleyes: ) or hire in consultants, at much the same salary level, at the same time carrying extra costs from the learning processes of their replacements.
     
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  11. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    What is a better way to reduce the salary bill? Starting at the bottom means more redundancies to achieve the same savings, and you may end up with too many managers and not enough bods. Last in/first out is too random and you can end up losing someone very good for no good reason. However you do it, it will be painful. The point should be, as the plc statement makes clear, not just to save costs but to change and improve the running of the business.
     
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  12. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    What was announced yesterday feels more like the first stages of a re-structuring than a cost saving round of redundancies.

    The three posts made redundant seem to all be key people for a Railway with financial and regulatory problems - ORR are responsible for all areas of railway operation (i.e. including engineering) but their initial focus is usually operating and the suggestions are that there are issues with systems and documentation in this area. Generating additional Profit is clearly a commercial matter, and also involves finance. I have not heard of a replacement for the Finance Director (who left a short while back). Along with Mechanical Engineering and Infrastructure, these 3 posts and the finance one are all key any railway business.

    Being an 'outsider', I don't know if all these posts were full time. If the HR post was, then that may be unusual for arguably very enlightened, and this post would seem to have a major role in any wider staffing review.

    It is all too easy and populist a cry on preserved railways of 'there are too many managers' and 'the structure is top heavy' however, never forget the workforce is not just the paid headcount, but all the volunteers too, and they have competence management, record keeping and rostering needs equal not to the number of full time roles they cover but to the actual number of volunteers 'on the books'.

    I am sure we know the tip of a very large ice-berg but this looks like very much an initial stage of the recovery plan only.

    Steven
     
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  13. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    They say that you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs and this feels to me like part of an overdue process. I say that with absolutely no knowledge of the detail except that as this heritage line creates about as much debate, argument and friction as a whole clutch of its comparable set ups there must be a problem that needs sorting out.

    It's highly likely that in this process, there will continue to be loud voices who will make a fuss; it's happened before on the WSR. But that's not to say that what is going on is a bad thing. Stop talking about it, let it happen, support the process but monitor what is going on and review it in 12 months.
     
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  14. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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  15. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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  16. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    At the 2018 plc AGM I was told during the meeting that the Company had 50 Employees

    I had no idea there were so MANY as I understand the Gloucester Warwicks only employed 6 at that time some of whom were part time!

    Plenty of room for manoeuvre I suggest, however unpleasant for those affected. At least it was not done before Christmas, although the delay would have cost!
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2019
  17. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    Possibly room for manoeuvre, but worth also asking what those roles are, how they contribute, and what the cost of not employing people to do them might be. Raw numbers rarely tell the whole story.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  18. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    I cannot claim to know the three heads of department whose services have been dispensed with.

    I have, however, had many dealings with Mark Hill, the (former) Head of Commercial. He always struck me as a
    pleasant, very knowledgable and conscientious member of staff, and I think his departure will result in a vacuum.

    These actions by the board are akin to Lord Kitchener sacking his Generals as he goes into battle, in my opinion.

    Stef.
     
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  19. Greenway

    Greenway Well-Known Member

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    The appeal for 9351 now makes four (some might say five) current appeals for locomotives on the WSR. There is still the original 4110, 4561 and 7821.
    The recent, more prominent, WSRA involvement suggests they realize they now have to support the PLC to a larger degree - failure of the PLC would have adverse effects for the line.
     
  20. Ian Milne

    Ian Milne New Member

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    What a wonderful thread this is. Almost every day there is an eclectic mix of rumour, speculation, informed and uninformed comment, the odd bit of backbiting, the occasional bit of bile and some truly sound advice for an audience that may or may not give a Rhett Butler!! Truly a guilty pleasure.
     
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