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Members' Newsletter Extra - Early Summer

The Network Rail (NR) Operational experience days in March point the way to help securing our financial future. The NR graduates were amazed to find out they were being mentored by John who joined British Rail 65 years ago, ably assisted by Paul on this occasion.

Editorial Phil

Welcome to the COVID-19 emergency Members' Newsletter Extra. Yes, I am back on Newsletter duty! But on a one-off emergency-only basis you will be relieved to know! Communication is vital at any time, but with the COVID-19 situation it is even more critical. As with society in general now, we have had to adapt to an evolving and often unclear guidance in an unprecedented situation without many hard and fast guidelines, which are also often unclear.

To expedite information about our Railway, this is the first Newsletter which will be emailed to members and also posted here under the 'Join our team' banner on the website. For obvious reasons, this means that we need your correct email address! Please note the important message below concerning the delay to the AGM until health guidelines allow us to hold the meeting and members are comfortable attending.

We are also unable to hold our bi-monthly Members’ meetings, so email is another way of keeping everyone up to date. We are also very aware not everybody has a fast broadband connection, so this limits the digital size of the Newsletter and its contents.

If we do not have an email address for you, you will be receiving a much-abbreviated version by post which will arrive some while after the email / website version. There are also associated costs with printing and posting it out and your Railway needs to conserve cash now, as we are not generating any meaningful income.

So please can you make sure Brian our Membership Secretary has your correct email address and do please quote your Membership Number. Your details will NOT be passed to any other outside organisation.

You will see in this Members' Newsletter Extra some thoughts from Stanley, Chairman, who with impeccable timing took over the reins from Danny! There is also an appeal from Paul and the Finance Team, which was suggested by a Member and is a way of supporting your Railway, becoming ever more urgent as time goes on.

Another way of supporting the Railway is to renew your Membership perhaps with a small donation. Or of course volunteering from home. This is how the Aston Rowant extension preparatory information is being carried out and preparing for the time when site visits can be made.

Please let me have any comments and suggestions about fundraising. Thank you. 

From the Chairman Stanley

As this Members' Newsletter Extra goes out during a trying time for our Railway, I just want to add a few words, leaving most of the space to others. Whether you are one of the few Volunteers still working your socks off to maintain our Railway; one of the Volunteers who would like to be helping to run our Railway, but must be more cautious with your health; or a Member who just wants to see us bustling with visitors again and be among those visitors – Thank you, support comes in many forms. Your Favourite Heritage Railway will be running again as soon as the government make this possible. Meanwhile, read all about us here and on social media, supporting us in whichever way you can.  

                              

Danny and Stanley at Chinnor
        
Donations: some of our Members have made splendid online donations to our General Fund and thank you so much to all those who have already done so, including those who have given £200, £100, £50 and £25 (you know who you are and our heartfelt thanks to you once again).

You can contribute any sum from £5 upwards on the donation page and it is amazingly easy to do! Note: if you pay income tax, you can gift aid your donation, so the Association gets even more money, but from HMRC at no cost to you.



Joe’s picture shows the unusually quiet yard this Spring. 

AGM - IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO ALL MEMBERS Roger

It is usual practice to hold our AGM on the first Wednesday of August, but due to the current COVID-19 situation and the demographic of our Members, the Directors have taken the decision to move this to the next pre-planned Members’ Meeting scheduled for Wednesday 7 October, and the formal notice required for this is shown below.  

Consideration was given to having a ‘virtual’ meeting, but it was agreed this would disenfranchise too many members who may not have the equipment or expertise to take part. If, as we approach the 7 October, concerns still exist, the Chairman will adjourn the AGM to a later date, or decide how best to proceed, taking all factors into account.

Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway Association Ltd
Notice is hereby given that the 2020 Annual General Meeting of the Company is to be held at Bledlow Village Hall at 20.00 hours on Wednesday 7 October 2020. All members are entitled and encouraged to attend. An agenda and documents will be available under the Join our team section on this website beforehand.

We wish to keep Members informed as to what is happening on all our Railway matters and the most effective way to do that is via email. If you are not currently receiving emails from us, please contact Brian our Membership Secretary, or contact me by email or by letter to the Railway, quoting your Membership number.  

Please also remember to update the Membership Secretary with any changes to your email address or other contact details as soon as they occur. If you do not have access to the internet and require the AGM documents to be posted to you, or collected at the AGM, please write to me at the Railway.

Company Secretary. 

COVID-19 Refunds Lynne

Passenger Services and the Commercial Team joined forces in arranging £27,000 worth of refunds or alternatives - including Gift Certificates, converting to donations or deferments, for our 2020 season bookings. Customers have been very loyal and are appreciative of the way Volunteers have dealt with their bookings.

This is especially important in reputational terms, as many airlines and some tourist attractions have not been so very customer-focussed and are delaying refunds or only offering vouchers. Hopefully, our policy of offering full refunds (or alternative choices) will be rewarded with customer loyalty when our services resume. 

Engineering Department Update Dave

As with most other Departments many of our staff are self-isolating, but those still working have made significant progress.

Newly arrived from Wolverton Works, 08629 was not working in vacuum, caused by a failed low speed compressor. Investigation showed that a check valve and all the cylinder head valves were seized, a consequence of it running in air mode for many years. All but two freed up, but the last two are being very obstinate because the design means that no access is possible. However, we have a cunning plan!

IRIS has been running for some time with strange noises coming from the engine, coupled with difficult starting. A failed cylinder head gasket was suspected, so after getting it into the Restoration & Engineering Centre (REC) we removed the left bank head to find that the gasket had failed between all the cylinders. Waiting on parts from Avon Valley before reassembly, it will be interesting to see how she performs on six-cylinders rather than three! Iris came to the rescue on a Network Rail Operation’s experience day when the hired in Class 33 failed again.

08825 is running but with an air leak under the cab. This will be attended to when 08629 is outshopped to replace it. Much rectification work has been done on the damaged traction motor in the Class 31 by Jamie and Mike. This will be assessed by an expert before we attempt to run it.

Jeremy and Gavin have been working on the new Kubota digger. Full service and a few mechanical issues sorted, rot and rust in the cab and engine cover rectified and a full repaint in progress. They expect to outshop in around two weeks, good as new.

The Coles crane failed with a recurrence of a compressor issue, a consequence of bad design and installation. This time we are going to bite the bullet and re-engineer the mountings, hopefully to provide a permanent solution.

AN APPEAL - YOUR RAILWAY NEEDS YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS & HELP PLEASE Paul

Dear Member and Supporter,

We made the decision to close all operations on 17 March, which was at the end of a successful Network Rail Operation's experience day and two days before a full 6-days were due to be completed. The first major public events we lost were Mothering Sunday and the Diesel Gala Weekend, all would have been a huge early season cash-flow and profit generator. Easter running and Bank Holidays plus various events and regular running days were then lost, and all of these usually generate lots of revenue from our Visitors – all gone and sadly, as is now the new normal - it means we are unable to generate any income until further notice.

It is not a fantasy to say we may not be able to operate public services for quite a time, thus losing a huge six-figure sum. Despite being closed and not having to meet operating costs, such as locomotive hire fees, coal, and diesel fuel costs, we still have ongoing fixed costs of around £6,000 each month. At least we are in a stronger position than some Heritage Railways, in that we do not have any loans, wages or salaries to pay! But we have had to pay for extra security measures due to trespass.

We have been offering refund choices, including Gift Certificates, or seeking donations from those customers who pre-booked tickets for the start of the season (£27,000). While this has generated a lot of goodwill and retains some of those monies, it has been nowhere near enough to cover our £200 per day, seven days a week, which are our fixed outgoings.

Stanley, as you will be aware, accepted the challenge of following Danny as your Chairman in February, perfectly timed to coincide with the COVID-19 catastrophe! Stanley quickly convened an emergency team - which meets by phone on a weekly basis to review our Railway’s progress during the shutdown.

The emergency team has one target, to ensure YOUR Railway’s survival, it is that serious. This goal is considerably helped by Members’ suggestions on how you can help - so please keep these ideas coming via Phil and the Commercial Team or see contact details for Directors & Managers in any previous Watlington Flyer.

A stalwart Member has proposed we set up a special COVID-19 Help-fund, whereby all Members can donate a fixed amount every month for 12 months. If say 100 Members each donate £10 a month from July 2020 to June 2021, (equivalent to just one decent coffee every week), then that would raise £12,000. What’s more your Railway can claim 25% Gift-Aid, which means £15,000 raised, or well over two months of our fixed costs covered.

If you would like to help with a monthly donation please set up a Standing Order with your bank for the amount and duration you want and we can email you our Sort Code, Account details etc.

We would appreciate it if you will also complete a Gift Aid form, which you can obtain by email from Charles who looks after our Gift Aid or send by post to the usual Chinnor station address. Many of you will already Gift Aid your subscriptions so this will not be needed, but if you are unsure please contact Charles.

Another Member has suggested we also sell Gift Certificates for future online purchases and we have done that (valid right through until 31 October 2021). You can easily purchase them online and they make ideal presents for friends and family, or maybe gift them to those who have helped you in these unusual times?

Of course, the emergency team is acutely aware that many Members may find themselves with limited funds due to COVID-19 and its effects on the economy. But equally, with pubs and other leisure outlets closed, others may well have some spare cash to donate or to buy Gift Certificates!

Remember, no Visitors means no income of any kind to meet those ongoing costs and it certainly means little or no investment this or next year to keep your Railway fit and able to run - so any amount you are able to give will be gratefully welcomed. Please help in any way you can.         

Yours sincerely
Paul and the Finance Team

S&T (and Other Infrastructure) Steve

After an initial full stop when Lockdown first came in, improved understanding revealed that site work (not doable from home) could carry on. Not ‘business as usual’ of course.

A number of our key volunteers stood down, but we also had people from other Departments offering to help, for which I am most grateful. Many who stood down are now returning. We have to spread ourselves out across the week more than before, to keep numbers down and so aid social distancing.
 
Some jobs immediately lent themselves to this way of working, such as trenching in some cable ducts: one operator in a digger cab, and an assistant not. Other jobs can be adapted to suit, and between Station formers and S&T across different days we've made fair progress of late. One-person jobs like painting also fit well. We've a scaffold tower up at the North Box to repair the roof and work around it doing painting and timber repairs lower down.

Signal posts and fittings restorations are in progress at Chinnor. We've been edging a cess path at Risborough with old sleepers. Renovation of lineside equipment cabinets is being done. Restoration and wiring of signal post telephones and a small concentrator (switchboard) happens in home workshops. This is mostly low-cost stuff, as we have no income of course. Work to repair the red HQ coach timberwork has just restarted; likewise, a "Sentry box" destined for Horsenden Lane crossing.
 
Our Railway has suffered from a lot of trespass and vandalism. Jeremy took this photo of the severed Chinnor home signal wire. We have had to spend precious cash on security cameras at a time of severe cash constraints.

Maintenance has to continue too, plus Weedkilling and vegetation control, fixing faults, changing batteries, lubrication and inspections. We have also had to deal with incidents of malicious damage, repeated deliberate cutting of signal wires and tampering with cables near Chinnor. Animals have been nibbling cables again too, but that is forgivable.

Work progresses gradually on preparing signalling for Risborough once the Independent Line is restored. Our Railway Safety Panel met by teleconference for the first time! Plans are being made for the pointwork (trap points and a siding). Our application for a Transport & Works Act Transfer Order to cover the Independent Line between Risborough and Thame Junction has just started its public consultation stage, the outcome being hoped for by year's end.

We are entering negotiations also for renewal of our 5-year Track Access Contract which allows us to run our trains over Network Rail's Thame Branch Siding. Contractors to NR will shortly start rectification work on the track drains under our land at Risborough. It's all happening!
 
As we decline into recession we are in uncertain times and we do not know what ‘normal’ may come to look like - but work to keep your Railway alive and kicking continues, as it must. We look forward to having everyone back.

Caption Competition Phil

The Network Rail Operation’s experience days produced a number of amusing incidents, worthy of a caption competition. Captions please for this picture to Phil and the Commercial Team.

Steam Locomotive News Richard

Our Steam Locomotive for this year is 0-6-0PT No. 6412 from the South Devon Railway. She arrived at Chinnor on 17 March and has been set up ready for service, whenever that might be able to commence. At present she is stood near the top of road 1A, so that the pit is available for other purposes while we are unable to run trains.  

We also took a delivery of coal on the 3 March in readiness for the new season and as this edition was published, it looks like the coal stock may see us through the year with about 15 days worth on hand.



Two Network Rail graduates grab a chance to ‘cab’ 6412 on 17 March.

Permanent Way Patrolling Mike and Bryan

Mike writes: Bryan and I have both undertaken Line Inspections - I have been fettling the ballast dropped on the re-laid section of track at Wainhill; Jamie and Dave have pegged out the formation for the Independent Line; Justin has just started preparations for lifting the old Independent Line. All our work has followed Social Distancing requirements.



Vandalism: this brick was deliberately placed on the line and found by Jeremy.

Carriage & Wagon John

We had numerous jobs to finish ahead of the planned start up on Mothering Sunday (that seems ages ago now). The RMB was fitted with a new fabricated brake rod and we then held our breath until it was successfully tested. Meanwhile, inside the RMB, the bar area has been refurbished and a new serving counter installed, and also a new set of modern batteries fitted.

The corroded vacuum pipe in TSO 4902 has been replaced with help from our engineering colleagues. The toilet floor had to be dismantled to give access and this has now been rebuilt.

The entire Carriage & Wagon team is currently stood down, with some home-based work taking place. Since the lockdown, our activity at Chinnor has been limited to periodic charging of the carriage batteries. Roll on the day we skip through the yard gates again! (Editor: That’ll be worth watching…)

 

The NDV is historic because it is either the oldest or second oldest Mark 1 vehicle and was an eyesore. The C&W team have repainted the carriage side facing our neighbours. The before and after pictures.

110 years ago Eddie

Eddie from Chinnor Village Facebook Group posted this image from 1909, which shows the road over rail bridge at Chinnor. When the Line was in use until it closed in 1957, the station entrance was always as shown on the photograph. The road on the other side of the line was only installed for the cement works when they opened in 1909.

Commercial & Marketing Phil

We do not know when public services might recommence, but behind the scenes the new Commercial & Marketing Team is moving forward at a tremendous pace in a commercial overhaul project. We are working closely with the Operations team and planning the start-up of trains together – we will be ready when government say yes!

It had been agreed by the Board that should not enough volunteers come forward to fill vital gaps, we would have to ask for paid assistance with the commercial overhaul project. You may recall this appeal was carried in the last few Watlington Flyers.

The good news is that several new Members have come forward and all our commercial, marketing and retail activity, is actively under review and change. We were already moving more and more towards digital marketing, using social media and our website, but the COVID-19 outbreak has greatly accelerated this. The dash to ditch cash has been a by-product of the pandemic, and we are busy investigating how this can be achieved by Richard, Booking Office Manager.

The website has not been fully utilising its capabilities and this is now undergoing a new design, with more friendly customer functionality being designed within the Commercial and Marketing team in conjunction with our website provider vTicket Rail.

C&PRRA Lottery Winners 2020 John

February       March     April    
Ist prize Colin J No 843 £100 GT No 2401 £100 David A No 2668 £100
2nd prize Alan W No 362 £55 John S No 261 £55 Robert N No 1123 £55
3rd prize Tom R No 1848 £45 Chris Z No 3018 £40 John E No 2716 £45
4th prize Bernard B No 263 £35 John N No 2970 £35 Ron H No 666 £35
5th prize David T No 1681 £25 Sylvia W No 145 £25 Keith B No 2676 £25
  C&PRR   £260 C&PRR   £255 C&PRR   £260

If you would like to join the 200 club, membership is £36 a year. You can contact John via email or telephone: 01726 64332.

Retail Strategy Richard

We know that many of our Customers, Members and Volunteers are looking forward to the time when our Railway can re-start public services, whenever that may be.

Naturally, we will observe any legislation and government guidance when we do re-start our operations and only after we are confident that we have made all necessary preparations. But we will also aim to ensure that travelling on our Railway continues to be a pleasurable experience for all those who visit.

In delivering services, we expect to make various adjustments to meet the ‘new normal’ and these may include:

It is likely that social distancing of some form will apply, in which case we will need to limit numbers on our platforms, onboard our trains and in our catering outlets. To achieve this, we may require customers to book their tickets in advance or alternatively to limit numbers of tickets available to purchase on the day of travel. This may also affect the use of Members’ Free and Privilege tickets, and more details will be available nearer the time.

We will enhance our hygiene and sanitisation measures in line with others in the transport, hospitality and tourism sectors, which will require extra time between each train service.

We will move towards cashless payments accepting credit and debit cards for most of our transactions – ideally contactless - for ticket purchases at our booking offices and for purchases in our shop and station/on train catering outlets. Many of our Volunteers and Customers are in the elderly or vulnerable group, and we need to avoid as far as reasonably possible any sources of cross-contamination, including dispensing with the need to manage and process most notes and coins.

We are missing greeting all our Customers and our Volunteer Colleagues at the Railway - but be assured we will welcome everyone with metaphorical open arms when the time is right!



Unwanted Visitors – smile please!

What we are not missing is the increasing trespass and vandalism like this hole in the lineside fence pictured by Jeremy. This has been broken down several times by unwanted visitors - determined trespassers. High definition security cameras have had to be purchased to identify those responsible. 

Social Media Policy Phil

Members may recall three pleas for assistance in various areas within the Commercial Department before the current COVID-19 outbreak, or otherwise funds would have to be made available to pay for this help. Not enough Volunteers came forward to implement our strategy of moving to a far more wide-reaching Social Media profile, so some precious funds are being used in this project.

The commercial overhaul project is being driven by Richard and myself, with invaluable help and guidance from Lizzie. We are delighted to welcome Scott, David and Sue to the team who will be managing our Linked In, YouTube and Instagram platforms, respectively. Paul continues to excel with our Twitter account. Richard now offers resilience in updating the website in addition to Les.

The Railway website will be completely overhauled as part of this strategy and 2019 was the first year over 50% of revenue was taken via this platform, demonstrating how important it is and how much more it will be in the future. Given the fast-approaching ‘cashless’ society ethos, we need to up our game and simplicity of retailing tickets with new card acceptance machines and easier bookings available on the website, as these are all an essential part of the ‘new normal’.

But of course, Social Media posts can also be seriously damaging by what are known as keyboard warriors - those that hide behind their keyboard who simply post comments giving their version of events, often wildly at variance to what actually happened.

The final digital platform to address is Facebook and on which there are several Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway sites. Only one is our official site and run by us, so we cannot challenge all untrue comments. Anyone can post comments on these other sites as they are public groups.

Many of the comments on unofficial sites are less than helpful, so we will be issuing a Social Media policy detailing who will moderate each site, with the ability to delete comments as required. Censorship? Maybe, but this is our ever-increasing window to the world, and the wrong remark can instantly destroy our reputation even if it is untrue.

Social Media Strategy Phil

We have expanded the team with three recruits enabling us to considerably broaden our Social Media platforms. These were set up with the best intentions years ago but are now paramount in maintaining our corporate presence on the internet and online.

The team is posting regular content on our website and then linked to our Social Media outlets.

The World of Twitter Paul

In April 2013, I was sitting on the platform (our only one back then!), waiting to start my trainee Crossing Keeper turn, when I wondered whether our Railway had a Twitter account. My searches drew a blank – summarily answering that question. That evening I registered @ChinnorRailway and got it set up. The next day, I was the Railway’s first follower! In the seven years since things have come on in leaps and bounds. We now have over 2,500 followers who are keenly tracking news and activity at our Railway; this includes many Members and Supporters, plus our Guests who often share photos taken when they visit us.

Twitter is a micro blogging platform. Users post short comments, and a user sees all the posts from those they follow amalgamated into a timeline. Early experimentation identified that pictures and video work best, especially with text limited to 280 characters. My work in Operations meant I was well placed to offer a ‘behind the scenes’ view of the Railway, and nicely complements content posted on the Facebook page. This has included cab views, Diesel loco engine rooms, and even a time-lapse video of Chinnor to Princes Risborough in thirty seconds from the DMU cab.

It is also a useful communication channel where Twitter users can send ‘Direct Messages’ (like an email) to the Railway’s account.  Over the years I have had all manner of questions, from what traction might be running, to when the last train departs. If I do not know the answer, I can usually find someone that does, ensuring our Supporters get a prompt response.

Now I work as part of the Social Media team, reporting to the Commercial Department. Our main project at the moment is a semi-regular series of articles about the Railway to keep us connected with our Supporters, so we’re fresh in their minds when we reopen.  In addition to that, I hosted a virtual Diesel Gala over the weekend of 27-29 March sharing the best pictures and videos from our Galas in recent years which was greatly appreciated by followers.

Many of our Visitors and Members, old and young, use Social Media to keep in touch with organisations as well as friends and family. The Railway’s presence on these platforms is being developed as a key way to communicate with our supporters and ensure the best of what we have to offer is foremost in their minds.

You do not need a Twitter account to see what’s going on - so do please have a look at: twitter.com/ChinnorRailway

Network Rail Operations Experience Days Phil

Some projects take a long time to come to fruition. In February last year we approached the Chief Executive of Network Rail with an offer to host hands-on operational experience days. In June last year several high-level meetings were held at Network Rail HQ in Milton Keynes to agree course contents, a test day, real operations’ dates, and a price.

The test day was held in October and we were a tad surprised to find out we hosted the executive teams of the Network Rail Chairman and Chief Executive, who clearly really enjoyed their day with us. The latter, Andrew Haines, told me on 8 June by Zoom!

As a result, two lots of three operation’s days were arranged for 10-12 and 17-19 March but as the dates became nearer, the COVID-19 crisis grew. During the morning on 17 March, it was agreed to postpone the next two days until the Autumn given the rapidly increasing nervousness about the growing pandemic.

The four days went well, despite the hired in Class 33 failing on 11/12 and 17 March with vacuum pipe and battery faults, causing ‘Iris’ and newly arrived Wolverton shunter 08629 to be pressed into service at no notice.

In early May, Network Rail and I recommenced discussions on fulfilling the two outstanding days which will hopefully take place in September or October. Given the quantity of trainees each day, social distancing can be maintained on these sessions.



Paul thought that a certificate would be a nice touch at the end of each day and duly printed them as well!
This was the end of 17 March, the last day we operated.

Towards Aston Rowant Allan

Now that the Princes Risborough (PR) Independent Line project will shortly be underway it is perhaps time to think about our other long hoped for project - the reinstatement of the line from Chinnor towards Aston Rowant.

With any project such as this it is research and planning that is key and our first steps in a feasibility study will not make an extension happen overnight, as there will be many hearts and minds to be won, and the plan is to extend the line in easy stages - unless millions of pounds suddenly become available!

Compared to the PR project this could be a reasonably straight-forward infrastructure scheme in the first phase towards Kingston Crossing, as there are no bridges and no hugely expensive infrastructure to contend with, at least not initially. It starts to get more costly to progress from Kingston Crossing towards Aston Rowant, as a level crossing will have to be installed across a minor road.

Once that has been achieved it is just less than a mile further on to reach Aston Rowant Station. Of course, little remains of the original site, which will need a lot of volunteer labour to clear and reinstate the station area.

However, if and when we get rails that far, we will need to provide a run round loop and hopefully a platform, so that our passengers can alight and stretch their legs and see how well the station area is developing.
 
This long-term project will add a further two and a half miles (five miles round trip) for our Railway. It will provide easy road access to bring in locos and rolling stock, which now must come in through Chinnor. There would be limited parking, but coach trips could easily be accommodated. It is but a short distance from the M40 onto the A40 to the station entrance and avoids having to travel by road to Chinnor.

This initial expression of interest and scoping project is now underway - it may take years to complete but it is taking the first step that is so important to any journey.

We have the necessary expertise and enthusiasm to make it happen. So, let us look towards Aston Rowant as a future goal. ARP (Aston Rowant Project).

This 1963 picture shows track lifting at Aston Rowant by contractors.

HOPS System Progress Report David

In the Spring edition of the Watlington Flyer I introduced the HOPS system that we are implementing to improve the management of our Volunteer Operations. The first phase of the project has been to enrol all our Volunteers onto the system, issue photo ID cards as permits to work, upload all competence and fitness to work records and to create a document repository for each Department to store and share important safety, technical and operational documents.

After some initial piloting in February the lockdown arrived just as we were starting to enrol all our Volunteers onto the system. This made the task of assisting our Volunteers who were less familiar with IT systems much more difficult, especially getting photos for the ID cards!! On the plus side the extra time locked in at home gave us plenty of time to push ahead with adding everyone to the system

From mid-May and with a great effort from everyone involved we have enrolled all of the 242 Volunteers that the Department Managers have identified into the system, and added competences for the 188 people who work trackside and hold a PTS. Believe it or not this is the first time we have had an accurate picture of how many Volunteers are active on our Railway and which Departments they work in! We have 142 ID Cards prepared and will issue them as soon as Volunteers are able to return to the Railway.

We have started to create document repositories with the SMS, Rule Book, Rosters, WONS, Weekly Emergency Committee meeting minutes available online to all Users, the Engineering Departments are now starting to upload maintenance records and the Tuesday Gang have uploaded drawing and equipment manuals.

There is still more work to do to finish Phase 1 of the project, but while this is happening we have just started to plan Phase 2 which will include adding the Operating Calendar and Base Timetables which will allow us to migrate the Advance Planner into the HOPS system.  

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this phase of the project – Roger has been adding users, Adrian, Paul, and Chrishave spent many hours checking and entering competences, Liz has transferred all the medical records into the system, Chris has produced the User Guides, and the Department Admins – John, Gavin, Richard, Dave, Andrew, Andy, Harry, Richard, Roger and Chris, who have supported their team members with registration, photos and uploading documents.  

If anyone wants to learn more about HOPS there are a series of online virtual workshops being run by Danny the creator of HOPS which you can find recorded on the HOPS Facebook page.

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