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Will there be enough volunteers for preserved railways in a few decades time ?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by toplight, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Absolutely. When you see tripadvisor comments of "well they are volunteers" to me that's just as bad as complaining about the service outright, you shouldn't expect a lower standard of service just because it was a volunteer, it ought to be higher as they want to be there much more than an equivalent employee on a low wage who has to be there.
     
  2. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    Just wondering why you consider that paid staff are lacking in enthusiasm and/or knowledge. In my experience it does not matter volunteer or paid all can show considerable enthusiasm and knowledge. I have never encountered a paid member of staff that was lacking in either in my 45+ years in the heritage railway field.
     
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  3. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    The recent posts by 35B and Herald remind me of when I was a firefighter. As many will know there are principally whole-time firefighters and retained firefighters - they are the ones who respond to pagers when there is a fire in the locality.
    One Chief Officer was quite keen to get the best out of everyone and often made a comment to the effect that when people are in trouble, fire or accident or whatever, they do not consider the status of the firefighters attending: they expect them to get on with the job professionally and efficiently.
    I believe for progressive preserved lines that is also the case.
     
  4. JayDee

    JayDee Member

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    I would say both of you are perfectly right. Going back to the "Railwayman's fantasy" means many of us should be adopting that sort of attitude when we're on duty. Indeed it seems to me more often than not to be the norm these days on the lines I tend to visit. Bad customer experience can and is a death knell for any place that deals with people en masse. You could make the greatest bacon sandwiches in the world, but if you talk to every customer like they're an inconvenience (or worse) you won't have any customers!

    Some of the best service I think I've ever had was on the Lynton and Barnstaple where the Station Master was the one chatting with people between his duties and was clearly a man in love with the railway and extremely pleased to see it back, even if only in a small form for now.

    It's the little things that can make people smile or remember.
     
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  5. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    The alternative, however, lies somewhere on the line between Buggleskelly and Titfield. :D
     
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  6. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I have equally encountered staff, I've neither known nor cared whether paid or volunteer, who have failed to demonstrate those qualities.
     
  7. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    I have unfortunately encountered over the years some rather nasty and frankly evil individuals, some in the heritage railway side of things but even more in real life outside of our cocooned presavation world.
     
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  8. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    May I suggest that as well as leadership there is also the need for 'followship' so that whatever your interest is, whatever your skills are, if something needs doing, then you need to do it..............
     
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  9. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Something I have to remind new members of staff at work off 'You have 2 eyes, 2 ears, a pair of hands and a brain if you can see something needs doing do it, if your not sure, don't be scared to ask for help, don't just stand there and do nothing!'
     
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  10. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    How about just standing there and drinking tea? ;)

    I sometimes thing heritage railways are like political coalitions. You will have different blocs, who won't necessarily be driven by exactly the same ideals or aspirations. Nonetheless, they can be successful if the differing aspirations result in all pulling towards a shared objective. An obvious example is the split between "restorers" and "operators" - two different objectives, but both groups need each other (no restorations = no trains to operate; but on the other hand, no operations = no revenue to restore things). So the leadership role is to create that shared purpose, and accept that not everyone will buy into every single objective, but hopefully everyone sees a shared identification with the "soul" of what the railway is trying to achieve.

    Of course, that is a difficult management task, just as political coalitions sometimes fall apart: reading threads on here, it often seems that the places that struggle are where it is hard to identify what the shared common purpose is (lots of individual projects but no cohesive picture of how they gel to a single shared objective), or where significant blocs within the coalition don't buy into that shared purpose.

    Tom
     
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  11. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    May I suggest that the simpler the structure of the organisation is, then the easier it is to achieve a common purpose. This reduces the possible effects of a less than perfect coalition. Also an official statement as to the aims and aspirations of the said organisation.

    Plenty of tea does help lubricate the wheels
     
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  12. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    You've also got less people in charge, so less requirement for difficult to fill posts.
     
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  13. JayDee

    JayDee Member

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    How's the GWSR structured? Reading the threads they seem to have teams upon teams, but a clear vision of what needs to be done.
     
  14. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Plc board runs the show supported by a charitable trust which supplies the volunteers and grants money to the Plc for various projects that fulfil its objectives. There are always 2 or 3 cross-board directors and the fact that most directors are ordinary volunteers working in various departments helps too; our Plc chairman is a member of C+W and used to be a guard, trust chairman is catering, DMU driver and formerly P'way, commercial director is catering, volunteer resources is guard and most directors of both boards are often to be found "about" (buffet car's a good place to look first!) and always approachable.

    All the heads of departments report to their relevant Plc directors (which may in some cases be themselves) so I know I've got plenty of options of raising any concerns I've got at any level.
     
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  15. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Someone will be telling you that it is over complex ;)

    As a “member”, what organisation do you join? Presumably the GWR Charitable Trust? How do the members assert control over the PLC, since presumably the Trust can’t itself be a significant shareholder in the Plc?

    Tom
     
  16. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    All members are members of the trust, all volunteers have to be members. You can also be a shareholder in the Plc, and many volunteers are (although I am not, minimum investment is £100, a bit too much for me). The GWRT also "consider that the investment in the GWSR Plc is an appropriate investment to enable the company [the GWRT] to achieve its objectives." The GWRT have about £350,000 worth of shares last I looked, making it the largest single shareholder. I think it would be enough to call an EGM but it's certainly not a majority shareholding, I can't find the relevant numbers at the moment, if you want to trawl through companies house I'm sure it'll be there.
     
  17. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Looking at the ESR thread it shows how railways can have ebbs and flows. Railways that many people can think of as stagnating can become revived as new people come in, some railways that people think of as flourish can stagnate over a period of years.

    It does seem that having viable projects that contribute to the overall vision of the railway is vital.

    With regard to people not being followers. I've noticed a recent change (in the last few years) in my profession. These days everything is about retention - so your priority is not losing people, this means doing all you can to support your weakest or people most likely to quit.

    You have to give people the self-confidence to act before telling them 'you have two eyes etc'. If you are asking someone to do something they have never done before they are not necessarily going to be completely confident. Building that confidence is every bit as important any other skills you are giving them, and of course the flip-side is managing those who are over-confident.

    People skills are as vital as any technical knowledge and people skills is perhaps the area railways are least able to invest in. (Both in public facing but also in working with other volunteers).
     

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