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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. Paul Kibbey

    Paul Kibbey Well-Known Member

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    Red on the buses but NOT on a GWR Pannier !
     
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  2. Wenlock

    Wenlock Well-Known Member Friend

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    Red on an ex GWR pannier in LT service is contemporary with the BR black era, beloved of many.
     
  3. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Resident of Nat Pres

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    I have done no such thing. I merely suggested it would be better to stop throwing rocks.

    A shame that suggestion brought forth a further rock.

    Robin
     
  4. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    The situation as some people perceive it is that the management's present strategies are more likely to harm the WSR than to save it. Whether that is a valid perception is hard for outsiders to know, but (as I have commented before) Andy Norman's arguments seem to make sense and there is a resounding silence as to why he might be wrong and the management right.
     
  5. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    The problem is that you are unwilling, or unable, to admit that there IS a problem under the new leadership. The actions of long term well respected volunteers being forced out, wholesale, badly planned, wholesale change are just the tip of the iceberg. Sadly similar to the dark days of the EX6+1 at the WSRA. You were a prime mover in resolving that. IMHO and of others a similar disaster faces the WSR PLC.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  6. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Member

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    Thanks for your comments. Ultimately whether we talk about good governance, behaviour, leadership, accountability and strategy or not, they are just detail to the underlying issue, what anybody says here in this niche forum isn’t going to make any difference. The problems discussed here recently have been in the public domain for years so nothing much is new other than some recent happenings and new behaviours.

    The only thing that will change things is the plan. The roles of individuals and the financial picture have been known for a long time by all close to West Somerset, so no more excuses please Leaders of the WSR: Where is the plan that will provide 1. £500,000 by this winter and then another £500,000 pa ongoing minimum, 2. An effectively structured and run operating company and charity (how ever structured) which allows funders to fund, operators to operate and volunteers to volunteer. 3. To provide and welcome the many new volunteers needed (as important as the money) and the many existing volunteers who would like to spend more time doing something structured. And 4. Some other known needs.

    If the WSR has an achievable plan which we can read, and all say, yes that delivers an answer where everybody is aligned and engaged and the money which we know can be got is got, then we can all relax. If there isn’t a sustainable plan that all agree to, the outcome is a mathematical (financial) certainty and comments on here will be totally irrelevant.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  7. Beckford

    Beckford Member

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    Y/M

    I have no dog in this fight but, like many, I wish the WSR well.

    At the last AGM of the plc, the then Chair stated in the clearest terms the potential problems ahead. These have been borne out and tough decisions have had to be taken. It seems to me that the last thing the Railway now needs, whilst these are worked through, is acrimony and dispute and any fundamental change in direction might be unwise (order/counter-order/disorder).

    There have been many posts about leadership which of course is not immune from criticism but in times of danger, I think people don't always remember the need for, and virtues of, "followership".

    BK
     
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  8. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I agree that personal matters should not be aired on this Forum. However, one person, in particular, has opted to do that and express his side of a story. It would be folly to then prohibit/censor further discussion which, in all probability, will give another side to the story.
    Comment has also been made about the present management of the railway and that it is dictatorial. That may well be the case but one thing is indisputable; the Railway was in a mess and that, to me, says it was being badly managed. Something had to change and that change inevitably had to involve personalities.
     
  9. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Well-Known Member

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    The last time my brother in law mentioned "fellowship" which I might add was nothing to do with railways I nearly strangled him. :mad:
     
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  10. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Well-Known Member

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    Umbrella time.
     
  11. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    Few people, certainly not I, doubt the need for urgent change. The problem is theway that is being carried out. A dictatorial and hasty way is not IMHO the way to do it. The leader needs to lead not drive. Driving out long established, successful, volunteers and staff creates resentment and does not help retain or recruit volunteers.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  12. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    One man's hasty is another man's swiftly in the nick of time...

    Very worrying testimony from 2 well respected now ex-volunteers though.
     
  13. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    You have an opinion, which you have every right to have. That doesn't necessarily make it right. The same applies to my opinion(s). You can only lead where others are willing to be led, otherwise you have to drive them. Alternatively, you can cast them aside and form a team that is willing to be led in the direction you want which, to others, is being a dictator.
     
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  14. aldfort

    aldfort Well-Known Member

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    I will make the point here that WSRA members and non-members alike have access to WSRA minutes. Indeed a synopsis is normally posted a few days after each trustee meeting.
    Members are welcome to contact me at any time for more information. I would welcome the questions before they simply sound off in this thread as I may be able to present then with more facts that we publish.
    I'll give an example, I have been deeply involved recently with sorting out the Volunteer Recruitment Situation on the Railway. I have not done this alone and indeed there are others (who are too modest for me to name) who have done a mass of work on the question. (We really are trying to be one-railway and trying to do things that support the WSR plc, support is not always about a direct donation, but of course these are very welcome.)
    Here are some facts:
    The WSRA will lead on volunteer recruitment for the WSR.
    The project to sort everything out will be funded by and led by the WSRA.
    The project will be all encompassing and look at everything from finding volunteers to finding then a suitable job and ensuring there is a proper departmental structure into which they can be received and welcomed. This will include having mentors designated in each department.
    Feed back from new and existing volunteers will be encouraged in this system and problems and concerns of volunteers will be similarly be addressed.

    Let me say one other thing, the WSR will seek to be inclusive in volunteer recruitment, that also means that team-working will be at forefront of volunteer engagement to make the jobs fun and to spread the load as much as possible. Rules and Standards will be paramount for all safety critical grades and indeed all grades involved with the operation of the railway in any capacity. That does not mean there won't be space for people who want to do less demanding roles, far from it, all will be welcome and we'll find a job for them that both suits the individual and helps the railway.

    Volunteers on a heritage railway like the WSR are not "nice to have" they are essential to the preservation of the railway and it's heritage.
     
  15. staffordian

    staffordian Member

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    It strikes me, as an outsider who has no involvement with the WSR but who doesn't want any preserved line to fail, that the focus here is on the wrong thing.

    Personalities and leadership styles are secondary.

    What, IMHO is key, is what strategies the wider WSR family have to ensure resources (financial and human) are in place now and especially going forward to finance the huge backlogs of maintenance and ensure long term stability.

    The one person who seems to emphasise this point is no longer associated with the railway.

    I just hope the current management(s) have a suitably robust business plan, and if so, I wonder why it has not been distributed to relevant stakeholders.

    Publication of such a plan would surely put many minds at rest, even though it might decimate discussion on here :)
     
  16. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    Do we know exactly what terms and conditions volunteers will operate under? AIUI if they are working for the railway them they MUST be given all the rights paid workers get except pay.
     
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  17. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    And where does that little snippet of information come from? That is a serious question, not just for the WSR but for all heritage railways.
     
  18. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Member

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    The WSR has always had the policy (I believe for more than 10yrs but somebody can correct me) of Volunteers being ‘Members of Staff’ and having all HR Policies apply to them both as discipline and protection in the same way as paid staff. It was enshrined within the HR Policies which specifically stated this.

    This in my opinion was a good thing for two reasons 1: It means that all are treated the same and volunteers feel as much valued as paid staff. It also means that the necessary training for safety critical roles is the same for both (#Aldfort mentions this in his post). And 2. It means that the safety case can operate safely as the person say driving an engine whether paid or volunteer operates to the same standard and can be trained, developed or if needed disciplined in the same way.

    In my view this worked well and was inclusive, I also think other members of staff felt the same way. The previous HR Policies were in my humble opinion fit for purpose (I do recruitment and employment as a day job), well written and very good in both discipline and protection. So if you are asking regarding any other railway who doesn’t do this it would be worth them looking at it, I feel it worked well.

    However maybe #Yorkshiremans comment was due to the PLC removing all Volunteers from all HR Policies when I complained about being bullied in January. The PLC put in writing that they had removed Volunteers from all HR Policies and then removed the Policies from the web-based system all staff have access too, meaning that volunteers were excluded from all aspects. Putting aside what was happening to me at the time this was a very large backward step in my view and effected both volunteer morale and the safety case.

    It’s good to see a change in direction and the WSRA officially taking over Volunteer management it’s been a long time coming but I welcome #Aldfort’s post it’s a positive step in the right direction. I would hope that the Policies are re-introduced and re-include the status of Volunteers as staff, no-doubt the WSRA will confirm their views on this. I also welcome his comments about the whole ‘volunteer journey’, inclusion and a recognition about Volunteers importance, it’s a subject he and I discussed many times last year so we know each other’s views on the subject.

    If this is the WSRA beginning to effect change then I welcome it, the funding solution to enable large scale funding is the next large nettle that the three Boards have to grasp so let’s hope for some more good news soon.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  19. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Andy, this is not the same as posted by Yorkshireman who said that they have all the rights of paid workers. In law, workers have lots of rights. As far as I know, volunteers have no legal rights enshrined in law. Treating volunteers and paid staff alike in WSR policy is commendable and done by most railways but is an entirely different thing. They are certainly not rights.
     
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  20. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    Worth checking out the HRA guidance on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures which does make a distinction clear between paid staff and volunteers. Not sure if the link works but will post it anyway. It is guidance of course.

    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59f1c5ec51a58457c01eaed0/t/5bf54d078a922d9582724807/1542802696142/HGR-M0200-Is01+-+Grievance+&+Disciplinary+Procedures.pdf

    Regards

    Matt
     
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