The end of the year, well not really.

Last weekend saw the last public steam service until the end of December. Traditionally we don’t run public services during November but this year we are running the Swedish Railcar on the middle two weekends, I await with interest to see how busy we are. Hopefully we will be but it will depend very much on the weather.

The last weekend was a series of fits and starts with a number of people about, including those who had been given vouchers last Christmas for a steam ride who realised they ran out at the end of the year.

Now this is where I give my thoughts on the past year, please note these are my thoughts as a working member they are not my thoughts as a director/trustee of the railway.

All in all it’s been an interesting year with the good bits far outweighing the bad.

As in previous years the visitors have been a mixed bunch ranging from really interesting to downright socially challenged! But that said we have had some really nice visitors this year from all over the world and it’s always nice to see them enjoy themselves during their visit.

The main problems at the station are as always the lack of toilets and the lack of a train every five minutes to photograph. It’s fair to say that often this year the ones who have spent the least have caused the most work. Some people just enjoy their visit and we enjoy having them as visitors, but some are a challenge. One asked me the difference between a customer and a visitor. I explained that a customer is a visitor who has actually bought something. He went away having spent Zero.

In difficult economic times it has to be realised by the non-paying public that their viewing of the trains is subsidised by the people on the train who have actually dipped into their pockets and coughed up some cash.

On the subject of trains I never cease to wonder why those who are not travelling and don’t intend for any of their cash to see daylight are the ones who moan the most if we run late. Those who have paid normally make some comment along the lines that by running late we are being authentic then sit back to read the visitor guide. The non-paying public are the ones most likely to read the time board outside then come in and ask when the next train is.

Dog walkers don’t get any better with most having just a vocabulary of two words, and those are dog & bowl, they have not been on the advanced course in manners where they would have learnt such words as please, thank you and do you have? They are a regular irritation, especially those who butt in when I am chatting to a paying visitor or I am in the middle of selling tickets. Still at least I get rid of them some poor soul is looking forward to them getting home!

Their is no award this year for the idiot of the year or the best visitor of the year, there are too many contenders for both.

Special mention must be made of some of the non-working members of the railway. Please remember if you come into Orton Mere and want to travel the following things.

  1. We are not psychic, just because you look strange does not mean we will automatically assume you’re a member.
  2. The best way to start a transaction is not to just throw your membership card on the counter and stare at me.
  3. Just because you’re a member does not give you the right to walk in front of others waiting to spend money.
  4. In the case one one chap please remember we need to see your current membership card not one three years old. Because if you think that’s acceptable all that’s going to happen is that you won’t travel at members rate and I will think you’re an idiot.
  5. Also please remember please and thank you go a long way. In fact they will go further than you will if you have left your card at home.

Finally my thanks to the volunteers who have helped me run the station with special thanks to my ever suffering wife who has worked many more Sunday’s than she should have had to, mainly down to others who could not be bothered to get out of their beds during the cold and wet weekends. Special mention also to Tom without whose help I could not have opened most Saturdays this year. Also of course Rosemary who maintains the station garden and also nags me from time to time. To all the volunteers who have helped me in the past year you are appreciated.

I would also like to that the other working members who have through their actions made my year easier, even if in some cases their only action has been to stay away as much as possible. For those who do as little as possible but still call yourself a working member please give a thought to S&T, the civils, that chap who sorts out the phones and all the others who do the less glamorous jobs on the railway, without them you would not have somewhere to play at the weekends.

We will see you all next year no doubt.