The Weardale Railway: Operations Manager wanted

The Weardale Railway is seeking an experienced Operations Manager to take on the responsibility for the day to day operation of an 18-mile long heritage line running from Bishop Auckland to Stanhope in County Durham. 

Ambitious plans are in development to run a mixture of diesel heritage trains as well as an extensive event programme. The Railway has a small permanent paid staff carrying out a wide variety of duties, including workshop activities, track maintenance and administrative duties, supported by a dedicated and experienced volunteer workforce of around 50.

The Weardale Railway was acquired by The Auckland Project in March 2020, following a period of under investment, and is currently being upgraded with an extensive programme of infrastructure and permanent way repairs planned.

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The Weardale Railway Trust has been a constant throughout the heritage life of the railway and remains the key partner, supplying valued volunteers as well as operating the heritage service. A programme of special events is being planned and this is complemented by the range of newly developed visitor attractions in Bishop Auckland, centred around Auckland Castle and Kynren.

The role purpose:    

As Operations Manager you will manage and be responsible for all aspects of the day to day operation of the Weardale Railway, ensuring it is safe to operate and commercially successful.

This role requires someone who has proven rail experience, with a can-do attitude, and who takes responsibility for getting tasks done in a safe and compliant manner. You should be an experienced leader and a team player used to working with people to get the very best from them. The postholder should be an excellent communicator who understands the importance of building and nurturing relationships with our vast network of stakeholders including our neighbours along the 18 miles of line.

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Key responsibilities:

The post-holder will be responsible for the following key deliverables:

  • Dealing with day-to-day operational issues such as trespass and contractor access.
  • Managing the operational budgets within agreed parameters.
  • Providing appropriate management information to the Senior Management Team in a timely manner.
  • Preparing Weekly Operating Notices and Special Traffic Notices.
  • Allocating rolling stock and ensuring it is fit for purpose and is at the right place at the right time.
  • Ensuring that the railway is adequately staffed each day with the appropriate rostering and forward planning in place.
  • Monitoring of training needs for the workforce and ensuring that all required certifications are current and appropriately recorded and updated.
  • Ensuring trains are prepared, are clean and fit for service in a timely manner.
  • Monitoring the condition of all property assets ensuring that cost effective service contracts are in place, supported by a monitoring and maintenance programme that meets our compliance requirements.
  • Liaising with the Weardale Railway Trust and other 3rd parties in order to prepare annual operating and working timetables.
  • Managing and monitoring the website and social media channels.
  • Managing Document Control and the line management of Document Control staff.
  • Upholding the values of the Weardale Railway and setting an example for others.
  • Leading and managing volunteers in a manner that is consistent with the values of the organisation.

Health & Safety         

Knowledgeable and with extensive experience of the health and safety requirements of operating a heritage railway, you will be committed to delivering and upholding excellence in health and safety practice. 

You will be responsible for ensuring ongoing compliance with Weardale Railway policies, procedures and guidelines and placing the health and safety of visitors, staff, volunteers and contractors at the forefront of our thinking.

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Person Specification:

EssentialDesirable
Can demonstrate a minimum of 5 years previous experience of working on a railway in an Operations role (heritage or mainline).  Can evidence not less than three years of experience in a similar role.
Can demonstrate a proven ability to uphold and promote the vision, values and behaviours of an organisation.  Able to explain why this is important and the risks of not doing so.
Demonstrates a thorough understanding of and can maintain and manage Railway Safety Management Systems.  Can articulate their current understanding of SMS and understands their own knowledge gaps.
Evidences the ability to prioritise, work under pressure and deliver to agreed deadlines and within safety parameters.  Can evidence good organisational skills and detailed understanding of safety requirements.
Can evidence that they are a skilled communicator who can manage to work with people from a range of backgrounds and
can nurture colleagues to get the best from them  
Understands and can explain the importance of good communication with the workforce. 
Demonstrates excellent relationship-building, negotiation and interpersonal skills.    
Can demonstrate their ability to work as part of a team.Understands the importance of being a team player and why this is important.  
Able to demonstrate strong commercial awareness skills and experience.   
Demonstrable experience of planning and delivering large-scale events to budget and income projections.    
Can demonstrate experience of working in volunteer-based organisation, particularly leading teams of volunteers.  Has previously worked with volunteers.  
Demonstrable experience and a comprehensive understanding of the safety legislation relevant to the compliant operation of a Railway   
Is willing to undertake any training that is required to maintain existing qualifications or to gain further competencies as required by the organisation.  Has a positive attitude to professional development.
Flexible approach to hours, including work at weekends, school holidays, evenings and public holidays and in the event of emergencies.   
Able to travel independently around the local area.   
Able to pass WR Ltd company medical examination (including for colour blindness).   

How to Apply

Apply for this role by emailing a covering letter of no more than one A4 side explaining why you are suitable for the role, together with a copy of your CV to recruitment@aucklandproject.org.

Closing date: Tuesday 6th April at 5pm

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About the Author

Shannon Butcher

Let off some steam...