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Selkent

Would you ever work on a real full size steam railway

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Reading through this, I get the impression that the heritage railway industry has developed to the point where it needs to become a major employer.

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3 hours ago, ColinW said:

As I currently work as a signaller with Network Rail, I can understand that any railway would like me to do a similar position, but sometimes you need to do something different from a day job when on rest days. I might be more interested in the restoration side of the railway, rather than being a 'public face' to a railway.

 

Colin

 

You could always work 'on the other side of the fence so to speak

 

I volunteer as a Signalman on the Bluebell but work on the S&T for NR. In other words I 'play' with the signalling at the Bluebell, I 'fix' the signalling on NR.

 

I have been quite open that the Bluebell S&T won't get me till I retire from NR.

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I was more or less the opposite,  although I did drive I was more involved with maintaining diesels .

There was an odd crossover in loadhaul days ,, the route learning bubblecar and the 117 at sheringham had some pooled spares an arrangement that worked well for all parties until EWS came along 

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1 hour ago, russ p said:

 

I would actually like to buy a 37 but can imagine all kinds of politics on preserved railways with one especially those who know it all and drive like idiots with no mechanical sympathy whatsoever

Reminds me of visiting a heritage railway in the early days. Waiting on the platform for an Austerity tank to come in the column of steam, smoke and cinders could be seen long before the loco. One of the volunteers said '*** must be driving today. Only knows one way - regulator up to the roof' 

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Getting back to the topic, I was asked many years ago to get involved in a preservation project. I didn't have much time but did them some plans for signalling the layout to run public passenger trains. The show was being run by some know all who had no knowledge of working a railway, and was all 'we don't need to do this or that' so I stopped helping. One of my workmates had a loco there and asked me to join him but I found the politics so bad I declined.

A working life involved in 24/7 projects didn't really leave time to commit on a regular basis. At my age I wouldn't want to start footplate or PWay but would possibly park my modelling kit in a signal box for a few shifts if there was something within reasonable travelling. 

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Through my Dad, we got involved with the East Midlands Group of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society when I was a kid. This involved taking trade stands to shows and also area group working party visits to Tywyn.

 

When old enough, I joined the Loco department working my way up to driver. I have been a guard at one time also, but no longer. However I’m also a Blockman (our term for Signalman) and take part in engineering working parties in the winter when I can, mainly on carriage maintenance.

 

I spent five years editing our volunteers newsletter, had stints on the Society Council and have put together the Railway’s Guide Book. Though a 7 1/2 month old daughter has reduced the time that can be spent currently on some of these extra duties.

 

Through my Talyllyn connections, I got an interview and then a clerical job with Virgin Trains shortly after I left University. Two years after that, I got a driver’s job with the CrossCountry arm of the business and been driving Voyagers and HSTs out of Derby since.

 

The TR has many volunteers who are also modellers, and several who hold down jobs on the big railway too.

 

Plus, like several others, I found my wife through volunteering on the Talyllyn.

 

We spent the first two weeks of July in Tywyn swapping 125mph tin rockets for 15mph antique kettles. Here’s a nice shot of me bringing No 3 across Dolgoch viaduct.

 

Dolgoch Viaduct

 

Hope that answers your questions.

Andrew

Edited by Andrew Young
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Maybe that's the answer - enforced marriage of like-minded enthusiasts? Seems to work for politicians these days?

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If I had the time to able to give a real commitment, which currently I don't, then I might well consider it.

 

I have been a member of a loco preservation organisation, the Class 20 Locomotive Society, and when I had the time then (30+ years ago) was involved. Although probably not nearly as much as I could have been.

 

These days I can just about make enough time for my modelling activities.

 

steve 

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I do one day a week, excluding holidays, babysitting etc on the Mid Hants in the shed at Ropley. I could do more, I could put down to be a cleaner, progressing to fireman. I choose not to as I have other activities I am involved with. This is fine with the MHR, as any help is better than none. 

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11 hours ago, Mike Storey said:

Maybe that's the answer - enforced marriage of like-minded enthusiasts? Seems to work for politicians these days?

 

Shoukd clarify that these aren’t enforced marriages...

 

The Talyllyn has been a very effective dating service now over several generations. Aided by having plenty of younger volunteers.

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47 minutes ago, Andrew Young said:

Aided by having plenty of younger volunteers.

Produced by the aforementioned breeding program?

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It’s a personal choice for me, I like to keep work and hobbies separate from one another and if I did volunteer on the one of my local lines then it would become work for me and the enjoyment would be greatly reduced

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18 hours ago, PhilH said:

The downsides....anything to do with steam engines is heavy, dirty, usually wet and carried out in Dickensian conditions. You have to learn to do as you are told on the footplate, realise that it isn't a democracy and the driver is in charge (some people don't get that bit)  In any loco department you have to have or develop a thick skin, the 'banter' can be merciless. You have to take responsibility for your actions (some see that as a downside) and be accountable for mistakes especially when in a safety critical role. 

 

 Stuck in an office all day that doesn't necessarily read as a downside (remember I said earlier that I was digging through a fall in an old mine on odd weekends once - that involved crawling through a concrete pipe that had been put in as the entrance once we got in in the first place, then sliding down the muck into the tunnel proper - which was knee-deep in cold water until the pump had been running for a bit). Might not be much fun every day but I think it does us all good to be a bit more hands on from time to time.

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I've tried to answer the points raised.

 

How come you don't volunteer or want to volunteer on them?

I volunteer at a car museum, I don’t have time to do any other volunteering.

 

Is your passion, model railways and recreating an era or actual steam & modern locos?

I’m interested in engineering, transport and history.  Locomotives are interesting but so is rolling stock, infrastructure, signalling, etc.

 

I found this in flying as a pilot, lots of plane spotters love aircraft but never thought about having a go flying one. If you as model railway fans, had the chance to work on real engines, track, signals and infrastructure as a hobby, would you?  and could you?

Should I fancy a change then I would consider joining a heritage railway.  I’m relatively young, fit and strong so I’d have no problem doing heavy jobs; but I’m not that keen on getting cold, wet and dirty.

 

Also how many of you have ever actually driven a steam or diesel locomotive, and if not why not and do you have the desire to do so.

I’ve had a brief go in a couple of diesel locos (Cl 37 and Cl 50) where railways have offered short taster experiences.  I’d have a go at a driving day but the cost puts me off and the desire isn’t so strong that I’d consider joining a railway or preservation group just to get a driving “fix”.

 

Would any of you ever consider a working holiday on a heritage railway where a new skill can be taught or a skill you have could be used?

Probably not.

 

Of course every steam railway has its steam buffs and photographers, but again many of these don't actually want to get their hands dirty or be part of the actual operation of a railway.  Could it be a age thing, ie lots of jobs particular to engineering and line infrastructure do require a bit of agility and fitness?

When I visit heritage railways there always seems to be plenty of young people working on the footplate.  I also know someone who is about my age (I’m early 40s) who is a volunteer on a railway.  But the majority of volunteers in “my” museum are retired, because they’re the people who have most time to give, but there isn’t as much heavy lifting (there is some, because there are volunteers who work on vehicle restoration, but it’s not the scale of heavy engineering that you’d see on a railway).

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On 18/07/2019 at 18:53, Selkent said:

 I am going to present a report to a Steam Heritage line and would love the following input from railway modelers, of which I am one. 

 

The question is how come you don't volunteer or want to volunteer on them.  Is your passion, model railways and recreating an era or actual steam & modern locos.  

I have been a railway (real and model) enthusiast from the age of about 8, and from 1978 to 2016 worked for the big railway, almost all shift/weekend work, overtime etc. However since retiring I have had no desire (possibly due to the nature and demands of my career) to return to the railway other than as a passenger; This might change. however transport would be an issue as I do not have constant access to a car, and where I live no preserved railway can easily be accessed without one.  

 

Also how many of you have ever actually driven a steam or diesel locomotive, and if not why not and do you have the desire to do so.

I have never driven a train of any kind, and have no desire to do so; I don't know why, it has simply never appealed to me. My work was behind the scenes managing railway operations, and that was what I enjoyed.

 

Would any of you ever consider a working holiday on a heritage railway where a new skill can be taught or a skill you have could be used.

I might consider it, however my particular railway experience (Operations Control) could not I think easily be utilised, not as a novice volunteer anyway !

 

 

I hope the above goes some way to answer your questions Selkent.

 

In conclusion, while I thoroughly enjoy visiting preserved railways (and have just returned from two very different operations, the Dartmouth and South Devon Railways), and greatly appreciate the time and effort put in by all those who work on them, I have never been motivated to get involved (yet, anyway).

 

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Interesting what a high proportion of responses is from real-railway “lifers” (i’m one too).

 

can you drum-up responses from people who haven’t spent 40+ years earning their crust to the real thing, and might, therefore, have a grain of romance left in them?

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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I've been a passed driver on two preserved lines, and therefore driven whatever happened to be rostered. I thoroughly enjoyed the years I was involved, but I lived quite a way from the lines, and that made for very long days - travelling, lighting up - a days work and then disposing, followed by another couple of hours drive home ......

I then built a 10 1/4 live steamer, and a group of us built  a railway to run a our locos on, and the building of the railway was great fun - the running of it, less so.

 

I confess that when things stop being fun (that are supposed to be fun) I tend to move away from them, rather than have miserable time doing it.

 

I loved working the full sizes stuff, I learned loads, I'm really glad I did it - but I don't miss it, and I can't see that I would ever go back to it. Politics is rife and absolutely inevitable with any group of people, and that can sometimes get in the way. 

There is something wonderful about opening the regulator on a loco, but there is also something wonderful in completing a model you've just been slaving over!

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Bottom line is I don't volunteer because I can't afford to. I'd happily take a paid position, but I don't have enough time to give away for the profit of others. 

 

Sounds very cynical when you boil it down to just that, but in the end that's what it is, there are more important things that have to be put before trains.

 

 I have worked on the FR during my day release from Engineering college, and I have driven steam locos there on various occasions and lines. I have even applied for and been turned down for a job in the P.W. Section of the FR. 

 

I was a few months ago seriously considering taking a massive pay cut and applying to join their Heritage Engineering scheme, however I just can't afford it, especially with no guarantees of finding a job in the sector at the end of it. 

 

I am 33, and have bills ahead of trains sadly. 

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4 hours ago, Quarryscapes said:

Bottom line is I don't volunteer because I can't afford to. I'd happily take a paid position, but I don't have enough time to give away for the profit of others. 

 

Sounds very cynical when you boil it down to just that, but in the end that's what it is, there are more important things that have to be put before trains.

 

 I have worked on the FR during my day release from Engineering college, and I have driven steam locos there on various occasions and lines. I have even applied for and been turned down for a job in the P.W. Section of the FR. 

 

I was a few months ago seriously considering taking a massive pay cut and applying to join their Heritage Engineering scheme, however I just can't afford it, especially with no guarantees of finding a job in the sector at the end of it. 

 

I am 33, and have bills ahead of trains sadly. 

Who are these "others" that are making a profit from the FR? 

And unless you spent a considerable amount of time as a cleaner and then fireman I cannot see how you managed to drive steam loco's there. It's not something that is allowed willy-nilly to any one who pops in now and again, there is a serious amount of training and examination before you are allowed near the regulator of a steam loco there.

 

I was an FR  Cleaner then Fireman 1980 -- 2005, only stopped as I became full time carer for my wife and could not put in the required time to keep my ticket. I'm also one of the ones Nearhomer is looking for that didn't spend any of my working life on the real thing. I still do a little for the FR as I cast the resin bezel rings that hold the seat numbers in the coaches alongside casting my 7mm narrow gauge kits. (no prizes for guessing which railway the majority of my kits are for)  

 

Phil T.

Edited by Phil Traxson
to make my credentials for comments clear.

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5 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

Interesting what a high proportion of responses is from real-railway “lifers” (i’m one too).

 

can you drum-up responses from people who haven’t spent 40+ years earning their crust to the real thing, and might, therefore, have a grain of romance left in them?

 

 

"Romance is dead!" But, all unseen, Romance brings up the nine-fifteen.

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I'd like to volunteer, but life (family) gets in the way at the moment. The part that interests me is working the carriage and wagon dept, I like the idea of cleaning rusty parts and sanding stuff. Driving trains or wearing uniforms doesn't do it for me!

I've been following the work of the Midland Railway Butterley Historical C&W on Facebook, it looks like fun. 

Edited by Talltim

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11 hours ago, Phil Traxson said:

Who are these "others" that are making a profit from the FR? 

And unless you spent a considerable amount of time as a cleaner and then fireman I cannot see how you managed to drive steam loco's there. It's not something that is allowed willy-nilly to any one who pops in now and again, there is a serious amount of training and examination before you are allowed near the regulator of a steam loco there.

 

I was an FR  Cleaner then Fireman 1980 -- 2005, only stopped as I became full time carer for my wife and could not put in the required time to keep my ticket. I'm also one of the ones Nearhomer is looking for that didn't spend any of my working life on the real thing. I still do a little for the FR as I cast the resin bezel rings that hold the seat numbers in the coaches alongside casting my 7mm narrow gauge kits. (no prizes for guessing which railway the majority of my kits are for)  

 

Phil T.

 

Phil, 

This comes off rather like an unwarranted personal attack, which out of politeness I'm going to put down to a bad day on your part and make no comment on.

 

If you really do feel so strongly that you wish to discuss  further on the subject of unpaid labour in business (for that is exactly what volunteering on a heritage railway is) then start a new thread by all means and I will be happy to elaborate on my viewpoint, as that does seem like a topic worth discussing, but is perhaps a bit too specific to derail this thread with.  

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Tried volunteering on one many years ago, never again thank you very much!

No names no pack drill, however, internal politics ran rampant, departmental vicious slagging off other departments, newcomers treated like dirt, fast enough to call you in at short notice though! Cliques all over, make an error because no one ever bothered to tell you the right way  and major uproar, no excuse accepted. Wonder it ever survived but it did.

OK so maybe my face just didn't fit, I tried hard for a year but quit in the end. I wasn't going to try again. Found other things to do to spend my restricted availability on.

 

I do like preserved lines and admire the work that goes on, but volunteer? Not likely.

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Several years ago I visited a preserved railway on a day that trains weren't running and approached a group of voluteers working at the station.  I asked about volunteering and was greeted with a blast of hostility - it seemed clear that they didn't really want anyone else interfering with their little fiefdom.  Needless to say I haven't been back.

 

DT

Edited by Torper

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I've been a member of the East Lancs RPS for a good few years, but despite being interested in getting involved as a volunteer and getting pressure of two fellow members of the Manchester MRS to throw my hat into the ring, steadfastly avoided it. Main reason - time. A job which could take me all over the North of England and Scotland, away from home at times, plus keeping modelling and organising the annual exhibition as well as playing in a band, no chance. The desire and interest was there, the time and commitment, no. I did say to the two Johns though that when I retired .....

 

Three months before I left work for the last time I signed on the dotted line as a signalman. I was in wind down mode and had got to the stage where I couldn't give a toss about work to be honest. At the same time my wife, who had just retired, also signed up to work in the Museum, and also as a meeter and greeter for organised parties and tours.   Why signalling? Whilst I like cabbing locos and have indeed had my hand on the regulator and shoveled a bit of coal, I just am not interested enough to endure the dirt grime and hours. OK working a block post is no sinecure, (probably work as long as some of the crews) but my interest is in the operation and regulation of the railway, a fascinating subject in its own right.

 

Has it been worth it? Absolutely, a bit of hard graft mentally to learn the rules and the boxes etc, written exams and assessments but at the end of it a very fulfilling job which I enjoy. Mrs C as well, who had no interest in railways, finds herself getting more and more involved (She even knows the difference between a 24 and a 25 now, prior to that she'd look blank if I even mentioned the word Diesel) and it gets us both out and both physically as well as mentally exercised. Yes there's politics and cliques but there are those everywhere, we have made a whole set of new friends and are probably working harder than when we were paid to work!

 

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