Tram crewing crisis at Crich

Despite some very positive developments at Crich Tramway Village during 2012, an ongoing shortage of volunteer tram crews has been a serious cause for concern this summer. There have been claims for the last few years that volunteer numbers have been in decline, which have been rubbished by some quarters, but recent evidence clearly shows that the number of available tram crews has fallen quite significantly.

Efforts have been made to operate three trams each day as much as possible during the school summer holidays, but even this has not always been possible. Recently a two-car service was provided on an August Saturday, which led to the unwelcome sight of large queues of visitors waiting for a tram at Town End. On a few occasions the Access Tram, Berlin 223-006 4 has been brought into service with just one crew member, as the only serviceable tram at Crich able to run without a conductor, and this has provided a small but welcome capacity boost. Indeed, it is only thanks to the dedication of some members of platform staff who go the extra mile to ensure that a good level of service is provided for the enjoyment of visitors that things have not been even worse.

The lack of willing volunteers to crew trams was all too apparent on August Bank Holiday Sunday, 26th August. The annual Vintage Transport Gathering may not be such a big draw as it once was, but it remains a highlight in the annual events calendar. Your writer recalls his first visit to this event back in 1991 when a whopping 14 trams were in passenger service, and although this figure has never since been matched on an August Bank Holiday weekend, visitors could confidently expect about ten trams to be in service around a decade ago. This year the Sunday saw a dismal five-car service in operation, and to add further insult to injury, one of the chosen trams was Blackpool 630 which offers just 48 seats. Some years ago I recall a Duty Inspector expressing displeasure that a crew had brought out a single-deck car with ten trams running, so for 630 to be chosen when so few trams were out on such a busy day was most disapointing.

It is sad to see Crich struggling for crews, particularly at a time when other departments, such as catering and the workshop, seem to be excelling themselves. Indeed, other organisations are showing the exact opposite trend – for example, the Heaton Park Tramway has welcomed a large number of trainee guards this year and at times the tramway has been over-staffed! Hopefully the cause of this decline in volunteer numbers in the Traffic Department at Crich can be investigated and resolved, as this could become a serious obstacle to the Museum’s drive to increase visitor numbers and stage more impressive special events.

This entry was posted in Crich Tramway Village. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Tram crewing crisis at Crich

  1. Geoffrey Ryder says:

    I am not surprised that the TMS are short of volunteers since the EGM, which I attended. It was a very sour meeting at times with some harsh comments from the floor to the Board. It was sad that the omnipotent TMS Board appeared not to see that there is a serious problem. Other people have commented about the lack of younger volunteers to carry the museum’s success on into the 21st century. I think that some of the volunteers of the past have become disillusioned with the way in which the museum is run. It is a great pity that at least two of the EGM resolutions did not receive sufficient votes to be adopted. If management policies do not change quickly, the membership and dedicated band of volunteers will no doubt continue to decline.

  2. David Holt says:

    If the National Tramway Museum does go down the plug-hole (I’ll see you at the auction; eg Lot 379 – one state-of-the-art light rail crossover, hardly used, the starting price is its scrap value), ordinary members like me will have to share part of the blame for persistently failing to be vociferous/convincing/eloquent enough to reverse the decline. Calling it The Business hasn’t helped set the right tone for survival. Correctly calling it The Society would sustainably encourage volunteers. And calling it Crich Tramway Village is small-minded and uninspiring. How can there be a “Town End” in a village? Since when would there be a huge assembly rooms, a town pub, a bandstand, an enormous depot complex and, one day, a Grand Union, in a village? Call it Tram Town or Tram City – that would fire everyone’s imaginations with thoughts of great things to come.
    I was deterred from crewing many years ago, by displeasure unjustifiably and publicly directed at me by “officialdom”.
    Got to go now – I’m off to Heaton Park to do some volunteering.

  3. John Hewitt says:

    Every time I’ve been to Crich in the past few years I’ve been disappointed to see the same combinations of trams out in service. These are usually:
    Southampton 45
    Glasgow 22
    Blackpool 40
    Sheffield 74
    Leeds 180
    Chesterfield 7
    and if there’s any disabled passengers – Berlin 3006.
    Glancing at my “haulages” book, I have ridden on Southampton 45 more times than any other tram in existence (apart from the vehicles on the tramway where I work as a volunteer restorer and conductor).
    There are tramcars there which I have never seen turn a wheel in anger at all!!
    I feel it to be a waste of time and effort to travel over 200 miles there and back from the North West only to see again the same combination of trams at work.
    If you look at the excellent Ffestiniog/Welsh Highland Railway site, there is a weekly locomotive rosta published. So, if you go on a visit, you know exactly which locomotive is going to be hauling any particular train. Why can’t something simil