Answers to some of the frequently asked questions that members of the public and volunteers ask:
Q: When did The Friends of Poole Park take on running the railway?
A: We commenced management of the railway on Saturday 22nd July 2017.
Q: Why did operation of the railway come up for tender?
A: The previous tender expired.
Q: Who submitted a tender for operating the railway?
A: The previous operator, other miniature railway operators, local business people & The Friends of Poole Park.
Q: Why was the tender awarded to The Friends of Poole Park?
A: The Friends of Poole Park had stiff competition but presented a different operating methodology and vision for the future of the railway. Since it’s inauguration in 1948, the railway has been run as a private business by a sole operator. As a charity, The Friends of Poole Park have made a significant change to the operational structure and instead of managing the railway as a commercial venture for singular benefit, created a community venture. The venture is a social enterprise where all the proceeds from the railway will be redirected back into the railway and beyond that, into Poole Park initiatives for the benefit of the local community.
Q: How long will the new tender run for?
A: 30 years
Q: Who manages the day to day operations of the railway?
A: Volunteers comprised of local residents and railway enthusiasts. The railway is operated by the community for the benefit of the community.
Q: What help is needed?
A: A lot! Local residents and businesses have already been very generous with donations of time and materials but more is needed. For more information or to offer help, please click here.
Q: Who can offer help?
A: Anyone! We will very gratefully accept offers of help from individuals and businesses to operate the train going forward, promote community initiatives and organise future events.
We welcome individuals of all ages, from the private, public, retired, family and voluntary sectors, members of business and networking organisations, charities, faith or disability groups, sporting or creative clubs, the U3A – anyone who would like to work with us to do some good for the community!
Q: When will the railway operate?
A: At weekends and during Dorset & Hampshire School Holidays, as well as week days when the weather proves suitable. We will also be offering training courses and driver courses throughout the year, which can be purchased as gifts.
Q: What is being done to meet health & safety concerns that have been publicised?
A: In 2016 there was a well publicised de-railment of the railway carriages. This was caused by a broken spring on one of the carriages which resulted in an axle slipping off the track. A health & safety report for the track has subsequently been undertaken and confirmed that there are no health and safety concerns going forward.
Q: Does the track need to be replaced to meet new health & safety standards?
A: After detailed inspections, we can confirm that the track in it’s entirety does not need to be replaced. There was some degredation to the track which is located on the bridge and exposed to the elements, but this has now been replaced and ongoing maintenance will be undertaken.
Q: Does the railway need to be fenced in?
A: In accordance with health and safety recommendations, the railway does not need to be enclosed with fencing.
Q: Will there be anything else of interest for children?
A: A number of attractions are planned for the future, including wildlife displays tucked into foliage around the track, special events and entertainment for all ages.
Q: Can provision be made for disability access?
A: Yes. With provision of a longer track that doesn’t need to go over the bridge which restricts the carriage width, we can utilise wider carriages that are suitable for wheelchair access.
Q: Is PPR linking up with other local interest groups?
A: We are working with a local organisation called Men’s Sheds which helps bring men together in the community, to create a social activity, whilst harnessing valuable skills for community benefit. We aim to build a dedicated Shed next to the maintenance shed, which will provide a focal point for local activity and harness essential skills for operating the railway.
Q: How will the project benefit the local community?
A: As a community initiative, this project will be operated by and for the local community.
In time, the merger of local councils may ultimately distance decision making from the heart of the community and many open spaces will be placed in the care of Land Trusts to maintain.
The Friends of Poole Park are therefore taking tentative steps to ensure that as a non profit organisation, part of it’s mission is to work with and on behalf of the community to assist in conserving the land of Poole Park and ensure that developments in the park are led by the people, and are for the benefit of, those who use the park.
In addition to this, the organisation plans to re-ignite NEET training for young people and provide valuable work experience opportunities. Funding from the Poole Park Railway, will contribute to the council’s long term spending plan for the park, provide a focal point for affiliated groups such as charities to raise their profile via themed events and provide the ideal platform to create a premier steam heritage destination, generating entertainment, tourism opportunities, income and employement.