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South Gippsland Railway has 82 members, of these 42 are 'active' volunteers. Active means that they come here and do something. Of the 42 active members, 27 came here to perform operational duties i.e. drivers and guards. The remaining 15 members were actually running the railway, performing track work, mechanical work, vegetation control, drainage, restoration, cleaning, bookings and administration.
You can imagine how difficult it would be for 15 people to run a railway. I was working 60 to 70 hours per week. Other members would attend according to their availability.
What made us fall over was a shortage of members who were capable and willing to spend time on synchronising our safety management system with current work practices, creating and re-writing documents and forms, learning to understand track geometry and communicating with Transport Safety Victoria. There are some forms and standards that require 'modernisation'
While there were people attending to these matters; our accreditation manager spent many hours per week working through the documentation and our civil manager was studying track infrastructure and geometry (both of these men have full time jobs), there were not enough people available to assist these people.
Re-writing the safety management system document required 6 safety meetings over the course of a year. A couple of these meetings were postponed due to the outside commitments of our volunteers so the process took 15 months. Transport Safety Victoria had given us 12 months to complete the task. I'm guessing that the fact that the document was presented 3 months late indicated to TSV that we were struggling.
There will be a meeting at 9:00 am on Saturday 16 January at Korumburra station. This meeting will provide the opportunity for people to commit to keeping the railway going. If it is deemed that there are insufficient people, the membership may or may not vote to close the railway.
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