Setting aside recent events with El Zorro, I’d like to concentrate on areas that nobody has commented on to date.
I started in the rail industry in 1979, and have worked in several depots, and for several operators. My last job was with El Zorro in Parkes, where I started my railway career, so the wheel has truly turned full circle. Some on this site have taken great delight in putting down El Zorro and Ray Evans & their employees since day one, but then I've seen the same with LVRF/IRA, so it’s always seemed to me to be fashionable to have a crack at the smaller operators trying to have a go. I don’t know Ray Evans, but I’ll say one thing- El Zorro as a company have provided long term work for hundreds of people, myself included and out of all the operators I have worked for in my career, they were by far the best and fairest to work for.
Exceptionally well written post in general.
I too have noticed a tendancy to attack the smaller operators and calling them "dodgy brothers" and other unflattering nicknames, which are less than fair - as Brian says, building a business up from nothing to be something is a very big ask, especially when one enters the small market of rail freight with high capital expenditure (locos, wagons, etc). People are quick to comment on the use of older locos (especially in the early days of open access, this is what gave most, heck, all of the operators a break, because they bought the locos for a song), and a lack of uniforms, maintenance etc - I see it as a company trying to stretch the dollar as far as they can. Sometimes it backfires, with loco failures and the like, but then again, they're not alone - the big companies still fail on the mainline with modern, brand new horses.
The next point I would like to address concerns the claims that El Zorro workers are receiving preferential treatment in re-employment with other operators. I can assure you that there are many former El Zorro drivers still out of work, again myself included.
Sadly, I'm sure this will make some people happy - it shouldn't.
[...] all companies have had their good and bad points, and some could be dead set bastards, but in respect to El Zorro I’ve never worked for a fairer employer. A pity people on here who have been critical don't know about things such as the employees who were unfortunate enough to be struck down with chronic medical conditions, life threatening disease or family tradgies that have been supported by EL Zorro while they recovered, where other companies have shafted their employees in similar situations- something I am very well aware of as one of those people concerned, and I’ll say here and now that this was far and above what El Zorro had a legal obligation to do, and for that I thank them. OK, so I'm now owed some pay and entitlements, but without El Zorro where would I have been?
Thankyou very much for taking the time to write this personal and positive view.
As usual, we get too caught up in "this heritage unit is worn out" and "that train is no longer running", and people constantly forget the human factor. At the end of the day, you're the guys left holding the bag, and I don't hesitate in suggesting that a lot of those here, both in and out of the industry wish you the best.
Thanks again for the interesting read.