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•service update•

MON 23 OCT

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Locomotive Operating News - December 2013

Welcome to the first on-line edition of Locomotive Operating News.  Locomotive Operating became a department in its own right a couple of years ago, recognising the distinctions  between the operation of the railway’s locomotives and the engineering functions needed to restore, overhaul and maintain them in a serviceable condition, ready to meet the demands of our often intensive traffic requirements.

Ever increasing traffic levels, growing numbers of footplate staff and the need to control the robust training and competence management system resulted in the creation of the Locomotive Operating Department under the leadership of Locomotive Superintendent Len Pullinger.  Len is responsible for recruiting, training and maintenance of standards for a team of over 30 qualified Drivers and Fireman and numerous trainees.

These Locomotive Operating News updates will focus on the people of the department and how we go about our business, so expect to find out more about us in the months ahead.

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W24 'Calbourne' and W8 'Freshwater' are prepared for service on the first day of the Autumn Steam Gala - 5th October 2013.  The barriers in the foreground are being used to create a safe walking route, enabling  gala visitors to access the Mechanical Engineering Workshop.
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Also on the first day of the Autumn Gala, WD192 and WD198 are prepared for service on the wheel drop road.

Autumn Steam Gala - 5th &6th October 2013

Although originally intended to be the return to service for W11 ‘Newport’ and Ivatt 41298, both ‘Team Terrier’ and ‘Team Ivatt’ were unfortunately overtaken by events; a combination of unexpected mechanical difficulties and non-availability of key personnel led to both locomotives missing the deadline.  The event continued without the anticipated star turns and was still very successful.

Four locomotives and crews were required on both days of the event; W8, W24, WD192 and WD198 were all in use with their duties being swapped around over the two event days to maintain variety and interest for the many visitors.  With so many locomotives in use simultaneously it was necessary to use the wheel drop road for preparation and disposal duties on both days of the event.

Our footplate crews had the opportunity to take part in some out of routine workings, including goods trains (some vastly overpowered!) and Double Heading of passenger trains.  Two crews had the rare experience of taking W8 out at the head of the Push-Pull set without the remainder of the 4-wheelers tagging along.  The working timetable was quite complex, requiring all of the railway’s operating staff to keep on their toes in order to get locos to the right places at the right times; there were a few hiccups but nothing that could not be overcome with ingenuity and initiative!

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W24 'Calbourne' waiting to move off shed and take out the first train of the Gala.
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W8 'Freshwater' arrives at Havenstreet whilst WD198 and W24 prepare to get their train away to Smallbrook Junction.

Christmas & New Year Operating

Alan Brindley has finished off a successful first year in charge of the Enginemen’s Roster with the publication of our Christmas and New Year duties.  During this short but intense winter operating period there are 11 operating days; there is a requirement for two engines on 9 of them so a total of 20 crews are required.

Our Christmas engines this year will be W38 ‘Ajax’, recently returned to service following the fitting of new valves, and WD192 ‘Waggoner’.  The ‘Austerity’ will be hauling the Santa Special, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day passenger trains whilst ‘Ajax’ is allocated the vital task of delivering Christmas presents to the station, ready for Santa to distribute.
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W8 'Freshwater' takes water at the head of the Push-Pull set.

Training

Practical footplate training continues whenever possible. Andy Toplis will fit in another two driver training turns, under instruction from Alan Brindley, during December and there will also be Fireman training opportunities for some of our Cleaners who are working towards promotion.

As a follow up from ‘Calbourne’s 2012 visit to the mainland we have recruited a number of established Enginemen from Mainland railways; most recently Matt McManus and Sam Dallison from the Swanage Railway have been passed for firing duties on the IWSR.
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Fireman Mike Salter takes a breather as 'Calbourne' waits to depart with 'The Sundowner', the last train of the day on 5th October.

Looking Forward to 2014

The 2014 operating season will be as manpower intensive as ever, with the Railway running continuously from June through to September.  We also have the return to service of W11 ‘Newport’ to look forward to; a significant number of the current footplate team have never had the opportunity to work on her before, W11 has been out of traffic since August 2002.

There is also the anticipated completion of Ivatt 41298, which will bring a more modern flavour to the roster and also the new (to us!) technology of Walschaerts valve gear, piston valves, rocking grates etc., so training and familiarisation will be needed for all footplate staff as the Ivatt takes its place in the running fleet.
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W11 looks very smart on static display during the Gala and is now expected to be back in service next year, it will be a lot longer before fellow Brighton loco W2 is back in traffic! 

Join the team!

To sustain the level of effort needed to fulfil all loco crew requirements throughout the year we are always on the lookout to recruit new members to the team.  New recruits can start out as Locomotive Cleaners, gaining essential knowledge and experience of locomotive and railway operations, those with the enthusiasm and aptitude have the opportunity to progress to Fireman via our work book based training programme.  If you are interested in joining our happy band there has never been a better time to make quick progress towards becoming an ‘Engineman’ – it’s a job title, ladies are more than welcome to join the team!
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The initial point of contact for aspiring Enginemen is the railway’s Volunteer Coordinator Alan Gaskin, he can be contacted at  alan.gaskin@btinternet.com or by calling the railway on 01983 882204.