LATEST..          Santa Bookings for Christmas are selling out fast - see booking page for train times and available seats          CHRISTMAS CARVERY IS NOW FULL         Looking for gift ideas?          Our SHOP is open during November on Saturdays and Sundays 10.30am until 3.30pm          or you might want to consider the ultimate gift for him - buy a FOOTPLATE EXPERIENCE VOUCHER today - date can be booked later to suit          CHRISTMAS is COMING! Our SANTA SPECIALS event fills up quickly so book your seats early to avoid disappointment          See our SANTA SPECIALS & CHRISTMAS CARVERY pages now          Also running BOXING DAY and NEW YEAR'S DAY for a wonderful way to see the New Year in!          All operating days and events can be found on our YOUR VISIT - Timetables page         
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    Loco Ops Feb 15 Header

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MON 18 DEC

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Thursday 21 December

Locomotive Operating News - February 2015

Festive Season Services

As ever, the majority of Santa Special trains were well loaded. The carriage set provided varied between 4 and 5 bogie equivalents. Due to the (soon to be rectified) shortage of bogie carriages, some of the 4-wheelers had to be used to make up the necessary seating capacity.

WD192 provided the steam power for all of the mid-winter trains with few problems encountered. There were a few days when the rail head conditions were less than ideal, mainly due to ice, crews and locomotive coping well.  The Austerities are ideal motive power for the winter services; they are not at all taxed by the heavy trains and are very sure footed in all but the worst of conditions.

Also on Santa duty this year was Class 03 D2059 which was kept busy hauling the North Pole shuttle into Havenstreet Station from the Arctic, somewhere to the rear of Train Story! Diesel crews were pleased to find the cab heaters working at full efficiency.
Loco Ops Feb 15 1
WD192 'Waggoner' moves off shed for Santa Special duties on the morning of 13th December 2014
Loco Ops Feb 15 2
Santa Special crew on 23rd December 2014.  Fireman John Kirkaldy (left) and Driver Andy Fidler.
Loco Ops Feb 15 3
D2059 waits to draw forward into the station with the North Pole Shuttle, Second Man Graham Farrar is getting into the festive spirit in the cab.
As soon as Santa and his reindeer had made their way back up north, it was time for the Boxing Day Mince Pie Specials and a week later the New Year’s Day Hangover Specials.  The New Year services in particular were very popular with some trains running at full capacity.

With the mid-winter programme complete, ‘Waggoner’ was stabled on the shed roads, unusually the only locomotive outside of the works at the moment.  All of the others are either inside the workshop or taking a well-earned break inside Train Story, this being the first year we have been able to take advantage of the undercover storage and exhibition space to protect the fleet from the ravages of the winter weather.

In addition to the passenger services the Loco Ops team has also been providing crews for numerous works trains, all headed by D2059.  The majority have been ballast workings, in preparation for the tamper to visit the railway in mid-February.  Two weekends of works trains, one in November and one in January, were operated to assist with the telegraph pole replacement project in the Wootton section, the trains moving the new poles and the plant needed to erect them to the work site.
Loco Ops Feb 15 4
'Waggoner' arrives at Havenstreet, 23rd December 2014.
Loco Ops Feb 15 5
Following a short break for lunch, 'Waggoner' heads off to rejoin the train.

Looking Forward – the 2015 Operating Season

The first train of the 2015 season will run on Sunday, 15th March.  After a quiet first month the pressure starts to mount during April and, before we know it, the railway will be running 7 days a week once more.  Roster Manager Alan Brindley elaborates in his report further on.

All being well, the locomotives available for service at the start of this season will be W11, W24 and WD192.  W8 should join the fleet later on in the season, it is currently waiting for a fresh set of boiler tubes to be fitted.  There remains the possibility of Ivatt 41298 coming on stream later on.  The operational fleet this year will be reminiscent of the early to mid-nineties, the early days of the Smallbrook extension.  The only difference is that WD192 has taken the place of WD198 in the line-up, WD198 remains out of service for boiler repairs.

From our customers perspective this is actually good news; on all Red timetable days (two locomotives in service) there will always be one, if not two, of our Island locomotives at the head of the trains.
Loco Ops Feb 15 7
2nd January 2015, 'Waggoner' is sheeted down to keep the worst of the weather away from the cab and motion, the only one of our locomotives to spend the winter outside this year.

Roster Manager's Report

From Alan Brindley

Welcome to the new operating year! As we say every year, this season promises to be the busiest ever.  There are already some charters booked, the heritage freight train will be running on the second Sunday of each month, additional evening carvery trains are planned, the Real Ale train runs again, an additional evening of Halloween Fright Night trains is booked, all in addition to the routine of day to day running.

There aren’t many running days during March, but April will more than make up for it.  I have already sent out the footplate roster returns for March and April, so please get your replies back to me in good time.

My plan is to issue the April roster earlier than usual as the Easter holiday is right at the start of the month; I think crew members will appreciate an early advice to allow them to make other arrangements over the Easter holiday if not required for footplate duties, I have heard that some of you actually like spending time with your families!

We will be providing crews for 15 consecutive running days during the Easter School Holiday period, including 3 Red timetable days (two crews required for each) over the bank holiday weekend. There is also an evening train booked for Saturday 11th April.  Since I sent out the roster information I have been advised that a Driver & Fireman are required for Friday 27th March and Saturday 28th March.  Also a diesel crew is needed for the evening of 22nd April, starting after the last train and ending about 22:00hrs.  As you can see, the season has yet to start and already there are plenty of turns to go around!

2015 is going to be a busy year and I understand that 2016 may be even busier as the railway takes advantage of an ever increasing number of business opportunities.  I have faith that together we will rise to the challenge!
Loco Ops Feb 15 6
The 'Terriers' have received a festive touch in Train Story, where they will remain undercover until required for the next operating season.

Improved Crew Facilities

During February a group of Loco Ops members got stuck into improving the environment of our PMV grounded body changing room.  The work has included a thorough re-paint, repair of areas of damaged and rotted body work as well as laying a new floor.  The old sink has been removed although the washing machine is retained.

The work has made a real difference, we must all now make sure that our changing area is kept clean and tidy. A broom will be provided, please don't be afraid to use it! 

At the same time the signing-on point has been relocated into the former Smallbrook Junction ticket collectors hut, which was recovered to Havenstreet when the 1960s style station building was built at Smallbrook a few years ago.  The hut now stands next to the workshop building, making more space available inside the PMV.  The hut has more  space available to display running notices, which all crews should read when booking on for duty.
Loco Ops Feb 15 8
Before...
Loco Ops Feb 15 9
After...
Loco Ops Feb 15 10
Len Pullinger and Alan Brindley bring their painting and decorating skills to bear.

Footplate Experience

The footplate experience business continues to develop. A real boost has been the initiative to sell experience tickets as Christmas presents.  The take up was amazing with over 30 footplate experience vouchers despatched during December.

Footplate Experiences are always pre-planned, crews should check the daily roster sheet for experience notifications when booking on.
Loco Ops Feb 15 11
Steve Smart tests out the new signing on desk.

Join The Team

To maintain 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 team members 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, and eventually Driver 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!
Loco_Ops_Engineman_Badge_2
The initial point of contact for aspiring Enginemen is the railway’s Volunteer Coordinator Frances Yunnie, she can be contacted at  volunteer@iwsteamrailway or by calling the railway on 01983 882204.  Alternatively, visit the Volunteering page for further information.

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