When enthusiasts become staff......

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KYellowhammer

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Hello all, first post. :)

I have been browsing quite a few of the threads and have noticed that several posters are currently railway staff as well as railway fans. So I am wondering how becoming a staff member, taking on shifts and the responsibility, possibly dealing with rowdy members of the public etc, affects your feelings towards the railways as a wider entity? And also how you guys manage to keep the "enthusiast" and the "professional doing their job" separate?

On the other hand the drivers often say its still the best job they have ever had [even those on DOO]. Seems its one of the very few lines of work where people do it as a day job and continue to express a keen interest in the infrastructure, traction etc even after becoming aware of the day to day pressures.

It would be interesting to read some stories from railway staff about how their interest in the railways came about, and also how their feelings changed [or indeed if their feelings changed at all] when joining up and working in the railway industry for a good while.

Cheers :)
 
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DarloRich

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Hello all, first post. :)

I have been browsing quite a few of the threads and have noticed that several posters are currently railway staff as well as railway fans. So I am wondering how becoming a staff member, taking on shifts and the responsibility, possibly dealing with rowdy members of the public etc, affects your feelings towards the railways as a wider entity? And also how you guys manage to keep the "enthusiast" and the "professional doing their job" separate?

On the other hand the drivers often say its still the best job they have ever had [even those on DOO]. Seems its one of the very few lines of work where people do it as a day job and continue to express a keen interest in the infrastructure, traction etc even after becoming aware of the day to day pressures.

It would be interesting to read some stories from railway staff about how their interest in the railways came about, and also how their feelings changed [or indeed if their feelings changed at all] when joining up and working in the railway industry for a good while.

Cheers :)
nobody who is an "enthusiast" becomes staff. It is forbiden and should be frowned upon. One must maintain an air of casual indiferance. ;)
 

Mike C

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My grandfather was a railwayman and I grew up next to the WCML in southern Scotland so it has always been a part of my life. That's how I got "into" it I suppose. When I graduated as an engineer, putting the two together seemed inevitable.

I have a very fortunate position in that I work on good engineering projects on high speed rail but I am still part of an operational railway - close to the action. I can't think of any other companies that offer that mix of experience.

Sure there are good days and bad days like anywhere else, but if anything being continually exposed to and challenged by the job actually fuels the interest rather than stifle it.

My interest in railways is mainly technical and operational - I have no interest in spotting numbers, "bashing" (whatever that is) or galas etc. I enjoy taking railway related photos, but more for the photography aspect of it.
 

KYellowhammer

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nobody who is an "enthusiast" becomes staff. It is forbiden and should be frowned upon. One must maintain an air of casual indiferance. ;)
Surprised nobody has coined the term "rush-hour face" yet. I have seen it, but I don't get offended by it :)

My grandfather was a railwayman and I grew up next to the WCML in southern Scotland so it has always been a part of my life. That's how I got "into" it I suppose. When I graduated as an engineer, putting the two together seemed inevitable.

I have a very fortunate position in that I work on good engineering projects on high speed rail but I am still part of an operational railway - close to the action. I can't think of any other companies that offer that mix of experience.

Sure there are good days and bad days like anywhere else, but if anything being continually exposed to and challenged by the job actually fuels the interest rather than stifle it.

My interest in railways is mainly technical and operational - I have no interest in spotting numbers, "bashing" (whatever that is) or galas etc. I enjoy taking railway related photos, but more for the photography aspect of it.
I find that particularly interesting, as I have always been intrigued by the infrastructure and how it all comes about, so to speak. I think that's because as I was growing up we had a line running right behind our house that carried both multiple units and numerous freight locomotives [and loads] heading to their various destinations [our snooty neighbours used to moan about the class 47s quite a lot]. There was quite a diversity in what I saw plus a reasonably high volume for just 2 tracks, so the logistics of it, plus the technical bits such as signalling, seemed intriguing once I was old enough to understand there was more to it than laying a track, getting into a train and operating it.

I don't tend to do the spotting thing either, although I do love a good "hellfire" loco, or even a reasonably gutsy sounding multiple unit such as Chilterns class 165s. The driving element of it does also interest me, although that is now at least partially de-mystified by the numerous cabview videos uploaded onto Youtube, plus driver comments on these forums. Still a lot of know-how that you don't necessarily get to see in those vids though. And virtually zilch in terms of videos or mini documentaries on the technical and logistical aspects.

Surprised no-one's said it yet but welcome to the forum!
Thanks :) Stumbled across the forum the other day and read quite a few threads, so today decided to bite the bullet and sign up.
 

Flamingo

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Well, I never had more than a passing interest in railways before I stared working on them. And I started working on them as I was in a situation where I wanted a regular pay-cheque, if I'd been offered a job in a factory, shop, civil service or oil-rig (all of which I was applying for at the same time) I would have taken it. I got involved in this forum initially as a way to vent my spleen against commuters!

I know a few staff who would be described as enthusiasts. Less than 10%, I would guess. I would certainly not describe myself as having more than a professional interest. (I'm not saying that to knock anybody who is a rail enthusiast, just trying to put the OP's query into perspective).
 

158801

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If you work in a computer shop and are a computer geek - everyone will look up to you and ask you questions.

If you work in a beauty salon and are interested in fasion you will get along fine.

Work on the railway and sya that you are an enthusiast and you will have the p**s taken out of you ! You will lose respect from your colleagues.

I'm a closet enthusiast. I don't tell anyone what I enjoy doing.

I want the railways to suceed. I am pro-rail - but I depair at management and what they do.
 

Ticket Man

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Work on the railway and sya that you are an enthusiast and you will have the p**s taken out of you ! You will lose respect from your colleagues.

I'm a closet enthusiast. I don't tell anyone what I enjoy doing.
Whilst I don't have as much time as I would like to being an enthusiast, my colleagues are aware of my status and do get mocked for it.
I'm bigger than all them though so they never take it too far ;)

For me personally, I never had much to do with the railway before I joined up and have only become a low level enthusiast since I started the job 4 years ago. I come from a family of bus men so this was a step out of touch for me but I was desperate for a career change and took an opportunity that was available.
Looking back on it, I'd say it was defiantly a move for the better :)
 

pitdiver

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nobody who is an "enthusiast" becomes staff. It is forbiden and should be frowned upon. One must maintain an air of casual indiferance. ;)
I was an enthusiast albeit as a child. I lived across the road from the ECML. I became staff on LUL. However I was station staff not a driver
 

Rugd1022

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I think you'd be surprised just how many enthusiasts there are in the job, whether they're 'in the closet' or otherwise. At our depot around half of us are openly interested in the job, including our new guvnor who's an active member of the DTG. Over at Bardon Hill where some of our shunters are based they're mostly enthusiasts too, plus all but one of the regular signalmen there. Sometimes it makes the job so much easier as we're all singing from the same hym sheet.

It's funny how often I bump into other drivers and staff at steam and diesel galas who've often kept there interest quiet.... even some of the management!
 

Flamingo

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I've visited the railway museum in Swindon a few times, but always told my colleagues I was on my way to play piano in a brothel so they wouldn't think any less of me! :lol::lol::lol:
 

DarloRich

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I've visited the railway museum in Swindon a few times, but always told my colleagues I was on my way to play piano in a brothel so they wouldn't think any less of me! :lol::lol::lol:
I can get away with my knowledge of " the system" by saying it is due to travelling all over the place to the football " and spending ages sat at stations waiting for trains"

that is an ok intrest!
 
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calc7

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I can get away with my knowledge of " the system" by saying it is due to travelling all over the place to the footbgall " and spending ages sat at stations waiting for trains"

that is an ok intrest!
Same excuse as me.
I save all my rail tickets, since September I've created a pile more than 4" high. <D
 

34D

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If you work in a computer shop and are a computer geek - everyone will look up to you and ask you questions.

If you work in a beauty salon and are interested in fasion you will get along fine.

Work on the railway and sya that you are an enthusiast and you will have the p**s taken out of you ! You will lose respect from your colleagues.

I'm a closet enthusiast. I don't tell anyone what I enjoy doing.

I want the railways to suceed. I am pro-rail - but I depair at management and what they do.
This is exactly my experience from working with a railway co a couple of years ago - esp the last sentance about managers.

For any enthusiast considering application, I'd always recommend keeping quiet about the interest during interview and probationary period.
 

Anon Mouse

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Sometimes being an Enthusuast is (or is seen as) a hinderence. I kept it quiet at first, but it didnt last long before I was 'outed' (toots at me while I was taking photos/closet cranks on railtours/Rail in my kit bag) and people seem to get on with it. There's a few people I know who keep thier interest very quiet adn I only found out about one Lad after meeting a freind of his on the Cally Sleeper and another 4 on Railtours (3 on the same tour!)
 

Phil6219

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Well I have been an enthusiast since childhood, It helped that my Grandad was a fireman on the Manchester Ship Canal Railway :) I kinda dropped out of the scene around 2002 until 2 years ago when a colleague of mine made a snide remark about how something I wrote on a pallet "Not to be moved" should be on a loco... I have just started out as a volunteer with the aim of getting onto the mainline next year but...

Regarding being an enthusiast and working in the same industry, I was an aviation enthusiast since childhood and got interested in pretty much everything to do with it. I learnt as much as possible about various aircraft, procedures, air traffic control and even the more trivial kind of stuff. Years later I got a job as an air steward, my knowledge gained during my time as an enthusiast really helped me in the sense that I could explain more to passengers or other crew - not to mention getting to chat with the pilots about various bits. After several years my airline went bump and I have never flown since, I have not even gone near an airport nor have I had the desire to.

It's a shame really, I still look to the skies and say that I should be up there and I have not completely given up on aviation but I no longer have my finger on the pulse nor am aware of general news whereas I used to find stuff out moments after it happened or even before things were announced.

I just hope that does not happen should I find my way into the railway industry.

Phil 8-)
 

Clip

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This is exactly my experience from working with a railway co a couple of years ago - esp the last sentance about managers.

For any enthusiast considering application, I'd always recommend keeping quiet about the interest during interview and probationary period.
Wouldnt bother me if i interviewed someone who said they were an enthusiast, its whether they can do the job correctly is all i care about. And not all managers are some big ogres on the railways so dont tar us all with the same brush please.

I only got into working on the railway cos i wanted a change from my last job of running a bar so when I saw NR were recruiting i thought, why not, and went for it and not looked back. I dont mind a bit of ribbing from staff and colleagues but its no different from me taking the **** out of them and what they like
 

Sir_Clagalot

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I think it can help having a background interest in the railways, I mentioned it at interviews and at my most recent (and succesful) one, one of the guys interviewing was also a modeller so there was a link if you like between us.
 

ANorthernGuard

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Now that I admit I miss this place too much! being an enthusiast and a member of staff is quite common, I personally do not understand "spotting" nothing against anyone that does but thats just me, I like the history and the nature of the railway. At my depot I very rarely get the "p*ss" taken out of me, in fact I get asked a lot of questions that most won't get asked, with the railway and its nature you need a reasonably thick skin, if you take the p*ss, you have to have the p*ss taken out of you, its a part of railway life but you won't get many professions that everyone (usually) watches each others back.
 

KYellowhammer

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Thanks for all the comments so far guys. Much appreciated.

Now that 158801 has brought it to my attention, I have also noticed that if you're say, a seasoned software developer, it'd be to your credit to have your own blog showing your "wares" and shouting your interest from the rooftops. Same with other professions, even therapists and the likes. Whereas on the railways, as some have alluded to, some light to moderate banter should be expected if you admit to being a rail fan. But it's interesting to note different posters suggesting completely different things with regards to staff with an active interest in the railways, and those who just take it as a job. Maybe that's based on different locations and segments of the railway...

I have to admit that I wouldn't mind a career change to the railways myself at some stage, although it's not feasible just yet. My first ever job was in a factory environment and I often [possibly wrongly] imagine that a similar kind of banter occurs within plenty of depots, mess rooms etc, not to mention a wide range of personalities within a similar level of camaraderie, although with a broader range of roles than where I started out my working life.

Thanks again for the comments :)
 

91101

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I've always worked in HQ and management roles since I started on the railway 4 years ago and to be honest, I would have to agree that generally, outing oneself as an enthusiast is not a good thing.

I am now in the position where I recruit and manage front line staff, and it can be hit or miss how "enthusiasts" transfer into the role of working for the railway. It can go two ways: either their enthusiasm helps them, gives them a background knowledge to use in their job, and they apply that, whilst enjoying their role.

OR

They think that the fact that they are enthusiasts means that they know EVERYTHING, and that knowledge translates to power, and that power goes to their head. They are generally hugely officious, and lack the ability to work alongside colleagues and can often put themselves in ham with the public as they fail to understand that dealing with people is a dynamic and challenging situation, and does not fit into their world of trains and numbers!
 

bengley

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I was asked during my interview if I am an enthusiast. I said no but they obviously knew otherwise they wouldn't have asked!

I get the **** taken out of me at work but it's only friendly banter most of the time.
 

ANorthernGuard

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They think that the fact that they are enthusiasts means that they know EVERYTHING, and that knowledge translates to power, and that power goes to their head. They are generally hugely officious, and lack the ability to work alongside colleagues and can often put themselves in ham with the public as they fail to understand that dealing with people is a dynamic and challenging situation, and does not fit into their world of trains and numbers!
That luckily shouldn't be a regular issue however like you mentioned you will always get the minority whom say that they know so much more by reading from books (or a mate knows about something yadda yadda)
 

91101

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ANothernGuard, I would say its more common than one would think.

Oddly, there does seem to be different grades within the railway which tolerate enthusiasm more, Train Planners for example: it seems to a be a prerequisite for the job that you ARE a crank!
 

Minilad

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Reading some of the replies here I must be really lucky in that at my depot there is quite a high proportion of enthusiasts. Certainly in the driving grade. In fact even a couple of our DTMs are neds. I have never felt the need to hide the fact I am a crank, and wouldn't anyway !!. I didn't need to hide the fact at interview either as one of the managers interviewing me knew of my interest.
 
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