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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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    Tom, as usual, is entirely correct.

    In the case of the Swanage and the K&ESR, I have arrangements to stay locally when I am volunteering there.

    I am also asked regularly to assist with Board meetings, internal enquiries and the like elsewhere. I am very conscious of rest periods, just as I am when conducting court cases in far-flung parts of the UK. The snap below was taken an hour ago.

    Robin

    8E132AC2-22E2-4C47-BBE8-118304C08156.jpeg
     
  2. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Well-Known Member

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    If a person were looking at a railway to volunteer at why should they choose the WSR? The list of reasons and positive benefits seems to be somewhere between very short and nonexistent.

    ESR to the east, L & B to the west, SDR to the south-West, GWSR to the north-east plenty of alternatives depending on your location. I am struggling to think of a single reason why any sane person would want to be involved with the WSR.
     
  3. Another Yorkshireman

    Another Yorkshireman Member Friend

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    I live in Minehead. I have volunteered for over ten years. I have enjoyed every minute. I have been well treated by everyone I have come across. I feel I am providing a useful service to the railway and to the community. Its fun. Thats why. Oh, and no-one has doubted my sanity so far as I know.
     
  4. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    The scenery, the countryside, the views, the people, its a proper railway complete and uncropped, the wonderful volunteers, the amazing stations, structures, history and signal boxes, the gradients that give the locos a chance to show off, the public going for a trip, the opportun ities for future development...

    I like visiting the others you mention but none have what the WSR has.:)

    And such a wonderful entertaining thread on Nat Pres populated by folk who love the throw rocks at the WSR (usually from a distance) and hide behind aliases....Oh, hang on....:(


    Robin
     
  5. Glenmutchkin

    Glenmutchkin New Member

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    If you look right up into the top left of the photo and squeeze your eyes v hard you will see the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway.
     
  6. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    And on the right, just offshore near Carlingnose Point is a little blob which is a surviving chunk of an old pier, and which still has narrow-gauge track on it - I think it was once connected to the nearby quarry in Jamestown, but it could have had some sort of military purpose instead. To the right of that, you can see the piers at the mouth of Inverkeithing Harbour which were the southern terminus of the Halbeath Railway, opened 1783.
     
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  7. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Well-Known Member

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    Or another way of looking at it is that there are potential local volunteers 'hiding behind aliases' who could make valuable contributions to a railway but are put off by the attitude and behaviour of those already involved with the railway. Oh hang on...
     
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  8. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    I don't see any problem with volunteering on the WSR. I would certainly consider it if I hadn't long ago sold my soul to other railways. What I struggle to come to terms with is that there are so called supporters who seem intent on pursuing their own agenda. The railway has problems enough without these people stirring the pot.
     
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  9. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    QED

    Robin
     
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  10. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Well-Known Member

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    Which is my point, the WSR has many selling points but suffers from what to this outsider is a toxic culture. If I am volunteering, I am doing so as a hobby and to do something that is useful but above all that I enjoy and to be happy when I am doing it. Why would I want to spend my free time in a toxic environment?

    You're not really selling the WSR as a place to volunteer.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
  11. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Mark 4:5

    Robin
     
  12. 46229

    46229 New Member

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    Fortunately, the ‘toxic environment’ exists on the internet and not, in my experience, in the real world out on what is wonderful and friendly railway. Several people on our railway also volunteer in safety critical roles on the WSR and rate it highly.
     
  13. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, still not really helping. Try again.

    This may well be true but first impressions count to potential volunteers.

    Here's the thing, and I say this in sorrow more than anger, the typical response here sees that the outsider is the one at fault for being wary, accusations of rock throwing etc, there is rarely if ever, any self-reflection that the way people act on here is alienating potential volunteers.

    In the end it is the WSR's loss, not the potential volunteer's. If those involved don't care then so be it.

    As the saying goes - you make your bed and that's the one you have to lie in.
     
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  14. Paul Kibbey

    Paul Kibbey Well-Known Member

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    Very understandable reasons for the substitute but another reason why 9351 is so desperately need back in steam .
     
  15. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    You commenced this particular thread with a statement that you ‘couldn’t see a single reason to volunteer on the WSR’. That is an unpleasant, and not very sensible statement.

    There MANY opportunities to improve the WSR (as with other Railways including, to my direct knowledge, some of those you then name as alternatives.) And there are plenty of us working away to solve those difficulties and enhance the positives (here and elsewhere). YOU really have a choice. Roll your sleeves up and help (somewhere). Or sit on the sidelines and snipe.

    My choice will be clear. The same one I have made for my 40 years of heritage railway volunteering. I’ll be doing 6 hours today and 10 tomorrow, and have two letters and a Press Release to draft.

    What YOU do is up to YOU.

    Robin
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
  16. Colin Allcars

    Colin Allcars Member

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    If I lived close and had free time I would definitely volunteer. But then I would be happy to leave politics to others with bigger egos and just get on with enjoying the railway.
     
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  17. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    Well said. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
     
  18. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    You may be struggling and there seems with some to be an obsession on here to look for the negatives whilst ignoring the very substantial positives. It might surprise you to learn that folk come from points as far away as Scotland, the South East and Cornwall to work as volunteers on the WSR to give just 3 examples. Some, myself included, live fairly close to one of the railways mentioned but prefer to travel considerably further to the WSR as quite frankly we prefer it to the easier alternative. Quite a few WSR volunteers have come to the railway having gained experience elsewhere and now seek to further broaden their experience on the WSR. Its geographical position clearly offers travel challenges when compared to say Midlands located railways but folk see it as worth the extra distance.

    I volunteer on the WSR most weeks. I find fellow volunteers to be welcoming, friendly, helpful and part of an extended family. The volunteering is both satisfying and rewarding. The line is an interesting one to work, has an attractive route, lovely stations and a seaside destination. Some see its length as a handicap whilst volunteers see it as adding interest and making it a "proper railway".

    A fair proportion of the posts on here are from voyeurs who are unconnected with the railway. Others air issues on here similar to those which crop up on other railways but which remain where they should do with the management of the respective railway.

    It really is time to stop the campaign of knocking the WSR!!
     
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  19. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Michael

    I had intended to stop posting but given your comments here regarding the ex-FD Richard I feel I have to defend his position. The WSR’s finances as we all know has been debated previously on here, at AGM’s and in other places many times, it has been sliding backward for years.

    However let’s keep it in perspective, it’s never been as bad as it’s been recently made out in my opinion as one who has been closely involved and has seen the figures with his own eyes. The WSR has been using an overdraft facility in the fallow winter months for a number of years (public knowledge and well known), the bank was happy with that as the summer income brings it back to surplus and have supported that for years. The 18/19 facility was in place to the level needed to take the WSR through to the 2019 operating session, Richard arranged that (I know I had it confirmed as a part of my work on the HPC grant as per my last post and they looked in detail at the accounts).

    Therefore Richard’s comment you reference was correct, it was ok to go into 2019. However, the new broom sweeps Richard and his two colleagues away and suddenly we are all told it’s a major problem and the WSR is going to be insolvent in the next few days. I questioned “what about the already in place overdraft facility” I was told in no uncertain terms that that had been cancelled and the bank would not lend any money now. My reply was ‘hang on’ the WSR has no major debts, no debt collectors banging on the door, it has tangible assets to borrow against, a known unequal annual income stream, an ongoing track record with the bank/overdraft being repaid and a credit rating which firstly is ‘green’ good (I’ve checked having access to credit reference agencies) and secondly credit limits set by those agencies as above the amount of the overdraft. So why will nobody anywhere suddenly overnight lend the WSR money? After that I don’t know because I was removed and excluded a few days later.

    We will all agree that the downward trend needed to be turned around again it’s been talked about for years, no action has been taken by current management or previous Boards and it needed to be controlled as it couldn’t continue rising, that’s well known, hence my comment nothing was unexpected. And maybe the new broom also felt it was worse than he thought when he entered, but the facts are still the facts, the recovery was in place, set by Richard despite others on the Board not seeing the issues.

    The reality of course has played out, the bank did lend the money and perhaps always were going to so you thanking the current PLC Board as you have is perhaps a little mis-guided .

    In the meantime the selling off of 4110 and the other items of family silver was not the only route to ‘fill the gap’ in my opinion, however the volunteers on the railway were going to both buy 4110 and keep it for the railway’s future but were told no (don’t start me on the reasons, it’s another can or worms you don’t want me to open). Other assets being sold such as the reconditioned GWR Tender Chassis which was destined for Odney (Odney having 9351’s currently) which if what I have been told is true has gone for an undisclosed sum to a certain loco owner very close to the WSR, was also in my opinion not necessary.

    After the selloff however suddenly the overdraft is back in place and the railway didn’t close. In my opinion the person who did more for the recovery plan than anybody is the previous FD Richard, he spent much time in 2018 defining costs, identifying cost drains, mapping the true cost of running rolling stock, setting a recovery route for a turn round and many, many other things which should have been in place for years but weren’t. He also was a great advocate of fundraising and supported me and the WSRA in gaining the HPC grant, he saw fundraising as part of the solution, Fundraising for the track, infrastructure and capital projects and the fare box for running the WSR daily. To me it is clear now having worked closely with him why the WSR slipped to where it is.

    Michael, you can continue to tell me I’m wrong, the simple question is: If it was that bad would HPC having viewed all the accounts and discussed it in detail have awarded the WSR £96k for a high profile two year project to start one month after the current Chairman said that the WSR was insolvent and about to close if there was the remotest possibility that that would happen?

    The biggest loss I see is that three very able, professional forward thinking and capable Heads of Department are now gone, they all saw what I did and were turning it around, however the old guard around them didn’t co-operate and suddenly a new broom shouts ‘catastrophe’ and here we are. Whilst I take his point and I was going to support him in what needed to be done it was never that bad in my opinion and there were other, better ways to keep the wheels turning.

    The WSR can recover, it has a chance for a clean slate, whilst years of neglect needs addressing and its short on cash, it’s also not overburdened with debt so can come through this. We both agree it is full of great people and most volunteers can come and enjoy a great, wonderful railway without getting involved with any of this if they stay out of the politics, but an expression I have heard many times around the WSR recently is “Lions lead by Donkeys”. The WSR deserves better.

    Lastly (sorry long post, but you started it) you seem to think I’m both insulting the people of the WSR and also “extolling how good your fellow volunteers are” at the same time. Sorry to be confusing, the people volunteering on the ground are great, it’s a wonderful place to be, it’s the people running the WSR I take issue with.
     
  20. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    Are we restricted then, in what we are allowed to comment on?

    Isn't that censorship?

    Are you afraid of the way that others see you?
     
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