The Kent and East Sussex Railway

General Manager vacancy at Kent and East Sussex Railway

The Kent and East Sussex Railway is a 10.5-mile long heritage line currently running from Tenterden in Kent to Bodiam in East Sussex (with a potential extension of a further 3.5 miles to meet the mainline at Robertsbridge) which runs a mixture of steam and diesel heritage trains. Hosting over 80,000 visitors each year, this unique rural light railway is the home to the iconic Wealden Pullman.

The line which has operated as a heritage railway since 1974, has a permanent paid staff, providing support in Loco and Carriage & Wagon workshops, Operations, Infrastructure, Commercial and Catering activities to a volunteer workforce of around 500.

The railway has a number of established events throughout the year culminating in the Santa Specials which have become a huge part of Christmas traditions for many generations of visitors.

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Job Description

A full time General Manager is sought to lead and manage all aspects of the day to day operation of the Kent and East Sussex Railway, ensuring it is safe to operate and commercially successful. This job requires a natural leader who has commercial acumen and a can-do attitude, who takes responsibility for getting tasks done, and who can build and inspire a team of paid and volunteer staff to deliver the railways challenging objectives.

The successful applicant will be based at the railway’s offices at Tenterden, and will hold a current driving licence and have their own transport as it is important that they are visible across all 5 of the station sites. A flexible approach to hours will be required, which may include weekend and bank holiday working, school holidays, evenings and the period up to the Christmas celebrations.

  • ROLE – General Manager, Kent and East Sussex Railway
  • TERM – Permanent (following a trial period)
  • REPORTS TO – Chairman of Kent and East Sussex Railway Board of Trustees
  • HOURS – Nominally 37.5 hours per week. As this is a 7 day a week operation, there will be a requirement for some weekend and Bank Holiday working.
  • SALARY – Up to £60,000 dependent on experience and qualifications.
  • ANNUAL LEAVE ENTITLEMENT: 28 days (including bank holidays)
  • START DATE: Subject to negotiation.

Person Specification

Effective communicator, able to inspire and motivate staff and volunteers.Able to conduct press interviews, including radio and tv
A proven track record in a senior management role(s), setting targets and managing performance.Track record in business development and change management.
Experience of leading improvements in the safety and risk management culture of a multi-discipline business.Experience in writing or assisting in developing Safety Management Systems and Risk Assessments
Proven record in promoting and improving customer service, to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction. 
Good level of business and commercial awareness, financially literate.
Able to operate effectively in an organisation dependent both on the discretionary effort of volunteers and the work of employeesExperience of developing strategic business plans

Personal Attributes


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  • Strong leadership attributes.
  • Team player, with an ability to engage and motivate others.
  • Ability to build effective working relationships at all levels, both within the railway and externally.
  • Ability to prioritise and to delegate.
  • Strong and effective interpersonal skills.
  • Effective communicator at all levels.


  • Ability to remain calm and focused under pressure.
  • Articulate and enjoys working with people.
  • Highly motivated.
  • Influencing and negotiating skills.
  • Exemplifies a culture of inclusivity.
  • Ability to work on own initiative to meet deadlines.

The “small print”

The Kent and East Sussex Railway is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of its staff and visitors. All staff are expected to share this same level of commitment. The role may require the post-holder to be in a position of responsibility with respect to young persons or to vulnerable adults and may, subject to requirements, require an enhanced Criminal Records check.

The role of General Manager is designated as a Key Safety post. The successful candidate will be required to complete a Medical Questionnaire Form and may also, at the Board’s discretion, be expected to undertake and to pass an appropriate medical examination carried out by the Company’s appointed Medical Practitioner

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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: Applications close on 31 May 2022

If you would like to understand more about this role before applying, please email your name and phone number to to arrange a call.

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