ROLE OF VOLUNTEERS
We have prepared a FAQ to answer the most common questions so that potential interested volunteers/members can understand more of what they could be doing or dealing with.
How does becoming a volunteer actually help GMR? By becoming a railway volunteer on this project, you will be able to help along side other likeminded volunteers. Many towns in Australia have preserved railways but not all actually maximise the potential of what could be done with converting a disused railway line into a operational line for carrying tourist on train rides. Railway tourism in NSW is a niche business market sector but it is growing each year, as more and more people wish to experience the exciting of visiting old railway stations, infrastructure, railway museums or have fun of riding a heritage train on a railway line.
The spin offs in having railway tourism is that visiting tourists having spending money and spend it. The expenditure in local towns can be seen spent on areas such as food/drinks at cafes/restaurants, motels/pubs, petrol stations and craft shops. These extra dollars spent by tourists can go someway in helping to sustain/support meaningful local employment. Australia already has many famous tourist / operational railways such as Puffing Billy, The Zig Zag Railway, Victorian Goldfields Railways, South Gippsland Tourist Railway, etc and they have all established a successful and well known tourist product by reusing the existing railway infrastructure and turned them into businesses.
These tourist railways now help the local towns by providing a growing inbound railway tourism market. Some have been in operation for 40yrs or more and are still successful due to interest from local, interstate and international tourism. As seen elsewhere, if you develop a railway from a state of disuse/shut down, sell/market it correctly to the general public and serve the needs of the tourists who visit – you can tap into and reap the rewards of the niche and growing tourist railway market.
What kind of working bee times and workload would be needed? We wont be asking much from volunteers. Working days on the projects would be initially on weekdays or weekends – just 1 or 2 days a month to help out on site if you can provide the time. Most volunteers railways allow to have projects to be worked on from 8am to 5pm on a weekend. Some projects even have week day working bees due to the popularity. If people can only put in 2hrs , that is fine. Any amount of support is appreciated.
Is the work planned deemed to be hazardous or hands on? Yes , for some of the the planned work will be hands on as, these tasks will be relaying and restoring the railway perway/track to a operational standard as required by ITSR, ARTC and John Holland rules and regulations. This will require volunteers to be using specific railway industry tools, jackhammers, drilling machines and sledgehammers, etc. Conducting such work will be managed under the Safety Management System which is designed to minimise as far as possible all potential hazards and risks in the railway industry. Safety first is paramount in such projects so the appropriate machinery training, personal protective gear and advice on clothing would be given to volunteers doing such work.
So what will a railway volunteer be doing on this project? A railway volunteer for this project will be able to do different roles that suit their skills and experiences. In a project of this size there will be many different roles. A volunteer could be able to assist in helping to maintain the station grounds, restore or repair infrastructure such as railway track / sleepers / rolling stock, help in the various tasks to raise further funds/seek support for the project and if interested in taking on further responsibilities – be involved in helping to run the project as part of the management sub-committee. Some of the tasks across the precinct will include working on:
- helping to maintain/clean the station buildings / yard and rollingstock,
- conduct tours for visitors,
- manning the Glenreagh West Depot/museum
- working on administration documentation / plans,
- being part of fettler gangs to resleeper the railway yard and line
- help organise or running display stalls at GMR events
SKILLS NEEDED TO HELP EXPAND THE PROJECT
By helping to restore the railway line back to an operational level, the long term spin offs will benefit Glenreagh if enough people work together towards the goals.
With the implementation of the new management board and new planning, some of the interests/skills we will be seeking from volunteers will be:
- Project management skills
- OHS awareness / SMS skills
- Repairing wood and metal infrastructure
- Interest in preserving/presenting heritage infrastructure