My input is derived from experience over many years and is conditioned by what I see happening around me now and from what friends tell me they experience elsewhere. Mark well though that I don't say it is a failing in all younger gen rail heritage volunteers or paid staff and I readily accept it isn't behaviour limited to those under (say) 30! We need a mix of ages, skills and knowledge but most of all we need an open, welcoming culture that is inviting, encouraging and supportive and that is not something we have yet.
Cliques are generally an ugly and poisonous blight no matter where they occur and those I refer to are classics of the genre. The fact that they seem to self perpetuate (if allowed) or have been part of the scene since cocky was an egg is no justification for their ongoing survival. I seem lucky enough to be able to float above or around them and hide my disgust. I must be effective at fooling those who promote themselves through "their" clique because most of them think I'm part of their silly, bitchy games, not everyone can be so fortunate though.
Why do I not stand up and confront the "brotherhood"? It's not worth the hassle, I did my tour of duty on the firing range with people firing marbles at me, my days of serving on Boards and Committees are long over and I think subtlety is more my strong suit now, generate a discussion of the issue so that those with the power to act, will. There was a clean out once before when a seemingly irreplaceable but deeply flawed regime was turfed out with the promise of fairer and more open approaches to replace it, but as somebody else said, it has degenerated into the same old game with new (or not so new) faces. Perhaps the new structure of the rail heritage sector will provide the mechanism and that was part of my point, the time is ripe for change.
It is certainly true that a lot of good work is evident in the sorts of things PRRS2 mentioned, but if you were somebody who was actually closer to the reality and knew all that went on and also understand such things, your view might be tempered by what isn't bragged about, by what was destroyed or wasted rather than created. An end product is the sum of all that went before it and the bottom line needs to reflect that. It's all well and good to pat the team on the back for what they get right, but they won't learn if they also don't get a smack for what they f--d and pretending it didn't happen or burying the bad news with hype ain't professional, ethical or productive.
Can I also make a further point that the sort of skills and knowledge we need for our sector to continue to prosper isn't found only in serving or ex-railwaymen (and women). I'll stick to the area I know best, the mechanical and steam side, but let's include loco crews as well. Everyone needs to start somewhere and part of the learning process is practical experience which includes errors and too many of our colleagues forget this and are too quick to condemn. We were all newbies once, none of us is without sin and nobody ever came into this world an expert. Why are those who do all in their power to exclude new and non-railway background volunteers so fearful of new blood, what is it that drives them to waste so much energy and thought to the black art of undermining and blackmail? Wouldn't these people gain greater satisfaction and kudos from seeing someone who came into the depot with non-railway engineering experience or even no experience, grow in knowledge, skill and usefulness to the organisation under their tutelage, so that their legacy is a truly positive one, not negative? In this area at least I think the poms have it all over us in NSW.