The COVID-19 virus has brough a halt to the volunteer operated Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway (C&PRR) running passenger trains for the first time in its 30 year history.
The line opened in 1872 with passenger services being withdrawn in 1957 leaving coal and cement traffic serving Chinnor cement works to keep the line open. Thirty years ago volunteers took the line over.
In that time they have built a new station at Chinnor which is often mistaken for the original Victorian one demolished over 50 years ago. They also built a new station and laid half a mile of track at Princes Risborough while also rescuing the massive listed Great Western Railway signalbox there from collapse, returning it to service in 2019.
The C&PRR will always welcome new volunteers, but what roles are available? The track team has already been featured in these Covid-related postings but without the engine driver and fireman, the guard and porter, the Station Master and ticket collector, signallers and stewards, engineers and tea drinkers nothing would move!
Who are our volunteers? They are the most important part of the railway because without their efforts, it would not exist.
To operate a steam train, you need a trained driver and fireman. The long hours and physically demanding and dirty work is sometimes referred to as the “romance of steam”!
You must also have a guard who is in charge of the train and safety of passengers and is not just about waving a flag and blowing a whistle. And again it’s a hard physically demanding role requiring a lot of training and assessments. We have to check tickets on the train and this is where on-train stewards are kept busy as they also serve refreshments from a bar counter or a trolley. No steam train ride would be complete without a Sunday cream tea which means we need serving and catering volunteers who are all hygiene trained.
But a train cannot move without a signaller who also has to undergo very strict training as they are responsible for the safety of the line.
Before a train moves, it requires the permission of the Duty Line Manager and the Station Master whose job titles point to the varied duties they need to be competent to carry out. The booking offices need trained volunteers who can answer any question about the railway instantly while issuing tickets.
We’ve not looked at the many engineers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the carriages safe and welcoming, the plant and machinery working and the toilets operational and tidy.
And behind the scenes is a team of Trustees and directors who often use their professional skills and knowledge to keep the railway safe and legal.
Whatever you may fancy doing, we have a role for you, young or old, male or female. For details , please visit our membership page.
Because of Covid-19, the line only sees engineering, test and inspection trains operating with volunteers working to Government guidelines but we are unable to operate passenger trains.
The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway really needs your financial support in these challenging and uncertain times. Despite only using volunteers, the Railway still costs £6000 a month irrespective of running trains or not. No matter how large or small, every donation will be welcomed and it’s easy to contribute on our donations page. Not only will it help us maintain the railway, but to reopen it as soon as we are allowed and the safety checks have been completed.