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Keighley & Worth Valley Railway signals a need for volunteers
More volunteers are “desperately” needed if one of the area’s top tourist attractions is to keep running at current levels.
The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway has experienced another bumper summer but the success has left volunteers and staff stretched to their limit.
Chairman Matthew Stroh told members in a recent briefing that pressures had got to the point where the service would most likely have to be reduced next year to make sure there were enough staff.
Now a plea for more volunteers has gone out to help to keep the railway running smoothly.
Trains run on the Victorian steam line on the weekend but in summer months and school holidays this is extended to all week. This summer to maximise visitors this started a month earlier.
Mr Stroh said that although the railway is not “haemorrhaging” volunteers, the situation was getting worse as existing volunteers find themselves able to offer less time due to other commitments.
The situation meant more staff would have to be hired over Christmas, Easter and half-term holidays, and that the railway will have to be more active in seeking out volunteers.
Some of money for extra paid staff will come from increases in ticket prices next year.
He said it was not just a shortage of front-line staff, but also a need for more people behind the scenes to keep the railway running smoothly.
The railway is likely to see a surge in visitor numbers next summer, as stops on the line like Keighley and Oxenhope are on the route of the Yorkshire leg of the Tour de France.
Mr Stroh said that the desire to provide customers with a better service was leading to the strain.
He added: “We have seen that extending the period of operation, as we have done this year, generates funds for the railway. A positive cash contribution is generated on such days, but it puts increasing pressure on our limited pool of volunteers and few employees.
“We are not by any means alone in experiencing pressure on volunteer ability and we need to take steps to respond to the problem, not least because of the immense pressure it puts on the volunteers who try and fill the gap in the roster.”
In the latest issue of Push and Pull, the magazine of the railway, editor Melanie Hanson Ratcliffe said: “The railway’s chairman and directors are working at ways to address the problem in future years. However, additional volunteers in many of the departments are desperately needed, so please do consider volunteering.”
Anyone wanting to volunteer can call (01535) 645214 or e-mail email@example.com.
The railway features in the TV series Peaky Blinders which starts tonight.
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