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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 98 - October 2007
Chairman's Report - Andrew Bratton - Autumn 2007
Thanks to the efforts of our members and staff, the season to date has shown a recovery in the attendance level, which is now more in line with 2005 than the poor level achieved in 2006, which stretched our finances to the limit. The only disastrous weekend has been the Spring Bank Holiday, when it rained most of the time. Very few visitors had the pleasure of seeing both Beatties operating at the same time, with 30587 on the vintage train in the down yard and our 30585 on the open wagon train in the up yard.
However we have come off lightly with the wet weather with only minor damage to the field incurred when it was used for the Sunbeam Alpine and Rapier Rally. Unlike the Severn Valley Railway, which has to find several million pounds to remedy their landslides and loss of revenue?
The other bad news in the preserved railway world has been the fatal crushing of a guard at the Gwili Railway. On 19 July 2006 a volunteer train guard on the Gwili Railway became trapped between two carriages as they were being coupled together during a shunting manoeuvre.
The immediate causes of the accident were a misunderstanding of shunting hand signals, resulting in the driver moving a carriage to couple up to others that were stationary, and at the same time the guard stepping into the gap between the carriages in the belief that the vehicles would not move. There were four contributory factors to the accident. The underlying causes were the practice of volunteers multi-tasking in safety-critical activities, and on this occasion without clear understanding of their limits, and the safety management organisation and its application at the railway.
The RAIB has made nine recommendations aimed at:
The same thing could happen at BRC if we let standards slip. The recommendations are being reviewed to ensure it does not happen. Of particular concern to me in the RAIB report (Para. 110) Underlying factors: The overloading of duties on the chairman of the Gwili Railway, thus preventing him devoting enough time to safety management. Operating staff should all read the RAIB report which can be found on:
Without doubt many of our members wear too many hats due to the lack of volunteers prepared to take on management tasks. We urgently need an Operating Standards Manager who must have achieved Driver or Fireman grade at some time. Our operating rulebook is long overdue for a rewrite to remove irrelevant rules, take out ambiguities and include additional rules specific to the Centre. Our list of job vacancies is available from the Hon. Secretary.
The need for medical examinations of some operating staff was also highlighted and has been the subject of a Guidance Paper by the Heritage Railway Association. We cannot ignore it.
The same web site also mentions Investigation into an incident at Aylesbury North on 27 August 2007. This was when a Class 66 confronted our charter bubble train from Chiltern Trains on the line. Fortunately they kept their distance!
Due to this vintage locomotive being more fragile than most, we have had a policy of not loaning it out to other railways. However we made an exception for it to partake in the celebrations at the Bluebell Railway for the completion of the restoration of the 4th ex Met. carriage from the Chesham set, at the end of July. Without doubt it was a spectacle not to be missed. Regrettably I could not make it due to prior commitments. Our crews reported that the locomotive performed extremely well for two weekends with plenty of power in reserve. Unfortunately it failed with a hot box for the third weekend and has had its offending journals turned. It was forwarded to South Coast Steam on Portland for this work, which has been without delay, for which we are most grateful. With Beattie away at Bodmin and Coventry often hired out for Thomas duties there has been a motive power shortage in the up yard. MET. 1 is now safely back at the Centre.
The Appeal for a stowage van to accompany the TPO was successful and a vehicle should be acquired shortly. The purchase was delayed by flooding in the Doncaster / Rotherham area where a rake is stored.
We are introducing a new category of volunteer that is not a member. Our 'new' Commercial Assistant, Neil Walden, highlighted the anomaly of charging volunteers to come and wash up in the kitchen. Non-Commercial volunteers (those looking after the needs of visitors, excluding those involved in the operation of trains) will no longer be required to become members and pay a subscription. They will be required to complete an application form and will be issued with a Gate Pass. They must sign in at the Gate to get cover under our public liability insurance policy. In recognition of their efforts regular volunteers will be entitled to a Complimentary ticket so that they can bring their friends and family along.
Once again the crew roster clerks have been forced to spend many hours on the telephone trying to fill the entire roster due to the pool of qualified crews, particularly firemen grade, being too small. To increase the pool is not easy as it is a time consuming job for both the volunteers training and those being trained. To ease the shortage it would be helpful if qualified crews whose tickets have lapsed would come back to either crew engines or help with the training.
NUMBER OF LOCOMOTIVES STEAMED
I hear frequent criticism from members that we often steam too many small locomotives, which, in their view, is a waste of money. Also some crews do not bother to run a train if there are no passengers, to save coal. In my view both are false economy regardless of how many visitors are on site. We exist principally as an operating steam railway, which is what visitors come to see. Would you recommend a restaurant to a friend which only has 1 or 2 things on the menu, or one which sends the waitress home early because there are not many customers? Recommendations from existing customers are the cheapest and best publicity. One satisfied customer could generate hundreds of new customers - the pyramid effect.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 01 December 2017