The joy of small railways

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TheSlash

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I thought i'd give you an insight into small railways and why people choose them over larger railways

Volunteers
The joy of a small railway for volunteers is that they always have the option to do more than 1 thing. Also new volunteers don't spend ages at the bottom of the ladder waiting for priviledges such guard turns.
Since i re joined the EKR in May time i have done the following duties
Platform staff
Buffet staff
Guard {Passenger and Freight}
Driver and 2nd man
Infrastructure manager and associated track maintenance and repair duties
Shunter
Signalman
Rolling stock repair and maintenance
Level crossing keeper

On an operating day i know pretty much everybody, whether they are directly involved with the service {driver, guard} or working in the support department {model railway, buffet, rolling stock restoration}
Visitors find the railway very friendly and get to know volunteers by their first name, this often leads to people becoming volunteers themselves.
In general it feels like an extended family.

You don't run the risk of over stretching your resources by trying to cope with a large railway.
 
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Tomnick

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However, on a large railway you've got a much better representation of the 'real thing' as it was - and there's still the possibility of doing more than one thing! I've worked on the North Norfolk as a signalman, TTI, guard-in-training, platform staff, booking office, loco crew-ish, bit of rolling stock maintenance, pilotman (!) and probably some others that I've forgotten! While I take your point about getting to know people better on a small railway, I know quite a few of the volunteers on the North Norfolk quite well, and I don't get down there as often as I'd like to.

Speaking as a signalman now - I've never had a proper go in a box on a smaller railway like the EKR, but I can't imagine it being quite as interesting as any of the boxes on the North Norfolk or Great Central (or the other 'big' railways) - there's rarely another signalbox (or more than one) at the other end of the block section(s) to work with, and there's usually not the potential for an intensive, interesting service requiring proper regulation. In my experience, station layouts on the smaller lines tend to have very limited signalling, so could presumably be not so interesting to work as the more complex, fully signalled layouts on a big railway?

Having said all this, I don't really like this sort of discussion - we're all in the same game at the end of the day, so is there really a need to draw a distinction between a 'big' railway and a 'little' railway? We all work hard, and we all enjoy what we do - surely that's the important thing?

(I've never had the pleasure of a visit to the EKR by the way - if you do disagree with anything I've said, then you might one day have the chance to correct me! Of course, I'll happily return the favour by showing you what can be good about either of the 'bigger' railways that I volunteer on :) )
 

Tom B

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Can I just remind everyone to try and avoid this turning into a flamewar, thanks.
 

bunnahabhain

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On the whole I agree with what Tom said, there is no distinction between a smaller railway meaning you can do a lot more, it's just that a smaller railway on the whole has fewer volunteers which means you get to know all of them a lot sooner, whereas on a railway like the West Somerset or Severn Valley, it's probably very difficult for a member of Platform staff at Bridgnorth/Bishops Lydeard to get to know the operating staff at Kidderminster/Minehead.

But I do agree that railways can get too big for their own good, and that can lead to not covering their own costs due to having to run more trains to provide the same level of service as was previously provided, and maybe even having to reduce the service frequency due to longer block sections and the like.

As far as I know all railways offer new volunteers the chance to try their hand in whatever interests them, not just the smaller railways.
 

Coxster

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Steve has also formed a 'Rangers' group where he takes myself, Harold, and Seth under his wing (and any other youngsters who may want to join) and shows us how to do loads of new jobs so that the 'big boys' can do the stuff I only dream of understanding ;)

This consists of a questionaire that involves us not only doing practical things to help out but also having to answer four pages of questions such as how to work the ticket machine, how to run the model railway, what is an "FPL", how to operate a signalbox etc which, as you can guess, gets us talking to people we normally wouldn't speak to. For example, I now know a bloke called "Don" from the miniature railway who really is commited and I met someone who knew my name was 'Coxster' before he knew it was 'Damon' (what a co-incidence he knew me off a forum but not from the EKR ;)).
 

Tomnick

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We've got something similar on the North Norfolk, which gets the young 'uns involved in various projects. This lets them get experience in railway operations, get to know people around and about, and keep their interest going - then, when they turn 16 they can be officially rostered for some duties (cleaner, TTI etc). As time goes by, many will train as guards or signalmen (or both!), or progress to the rank of driver.

Obviously, being below the age of 16, there's not a lot our younger members can do in an official capacity - but it would be a pity to tell them to go forth whilst their interest is so strong, so letting them work alongside the 'big' workers is definitely a good thing!
 

47205

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Jamie C. Steel said:
On the whole I agree with what Tom said, there is no distinction between a smaller railway meaning you can do a lot more, it's just that a smaller railway on the whole has fewer volunteers which means you get to know all of them a lot sooner, whereas on a railway like the West Somerset or Severn Valley, it's probably very difficult for a member of Platform staff at Bridgnorth/Bishops Lydeard to get to know the operating staff at Kidderminster/Minehead.

But I do agree that railways can get too big for their own good, and that can lead to not covering their own costs due to having to run more trains to provide the same level of service as was previously provided, and maybe even having to reduce the service frequency due to longer block sections and the like.

As far as I know all railways offer new volunteers the chance to try their hand in whatever interests them, not just the smaller railways.

The Weardale was too big to start off with really, 36 paid staff is not a good number, imagine the pay bill... :shock:
 

TheSlash

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Tomnick said:
Having said all this, I don't really like this sort of discussion - we're all in the same game at the end of the day, so is there really a need to draw a distinction between a 'big' railway and a 'little' railway? We all work hard, and we all enjoy what we do - surely that's the important thing?

(I've never had the pleasure of a visit to the EKR by the way - if you do disagree with anything I've said, then you might one day have the chance to correct me! Of course, I'll happily return the favour by showing you what can be good about either of the 'bigger' railways that I volunteer on :) )

Thanks TomNick, i agree that we are all in it together. It's just that certain people take it upon themselves to make false and slanderous comments about a railway they have never visited.
Anyone from this forum is welcome to visit the EKR as a guest of myself or any other EKR member who is on this forum. Where possible i will take you 'behind the scenes'
 
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