The Permanent Way or P Way, can be defined as a pair of rails typically laid on wooden sleepers embedded in ballast, intended to carry the ordinary trains on the Railway. The role of the PWay team is to build and maintain the PWay or track, to ensure our trains and visitors enjoy safe passage along the length of our 15 mile railway.
After an initial Personal Track Safety briefing when you first join the gang, you will be expected to watch and learn, working alongside an experienced team member for the first few weeks. You will find that, before long, you know exactly what is needed and the safe way to undertake the work.
As you might expect, the work is entirely outdoors and in all kinds of weather. The materials and tools are often heavy and dirty so protective footwear and clothing are essential. When at the trackside you will need to wear (orange) High Visibility Clothing. Although much of the work is manual, mechanised assistance is now more readily available than in the early years. Teamwork is an important part of getting the job done and volunteers can 'pace' themselves during concentrated jobs. Indeed many have been with the "gang" since the very beginning and although well over normal retirement age, still play a very active and invaluable role, trackside.
The PWay Travelling Mess Coach provides warmth, shelter, good catering facilities when required as well as a place for stimulating conversation. Members of the gang come from a wide range of backgrounds and the blend makes for interesting company whatever your interests. If you like fresh air, exercise, an occasional touch of banter, the odd sticky bun and a sense of achievement then you have the option of joining the PWay teams either on a Wednesday or on Saturdays or both for that matter.
In addition to the work gangs, but very much part of the PWay Department, we also have Track Patrollers (TPs). TPs do not have to do the heavy gang work, but their role is fundamental to the Department, because unless they do the patrols and record any track faults, there is no ongoing work for the gangs to do!
TPs always go out in pairs and they walk on the ballast between neighbouring stations, generally getting a train back to their start point, or vice versa. It is a rostered role, but as soon as the roster is opened, on a Wednesday of each week, pairs of Patrollers can agree their own week-day, or weekend patrol days. They do not have to go out with the same person every time, nor do they stick to any particular section of the line. There are more than sufficient patrols available each month to justify the issue of a Work Permit for this role, so anyone who becomes a TP does not have to do any other volunteering on the Railway.