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- Preservation Society
Volunteering on the Talyllyn Railway
Have you ever thought about working
on the first preserved railway in the world?
If so, read on...
Almost all the staff seen working on the Railway are volunteers - members of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, who thoroughly enjoy themselves running the railway with the unique Talyllyn combination of professionalism and fun.
We look forward to welcoming you, as part of the TR team. There is something for everyone, ranging from working in the shop, to helping on the operational side as a Guard, Signalman, Fireman or Driver. In addition, there are opportunities to work with the Track Gang or with the Engineers.
Training is free! All that is required, once you have become a member of the TRPS, is a wish to work with others, striving for a common purpose - the continued existence of the Talyllyn Railway.
This page attempts to show you the variety of work with which you can become involved. If you want more information, please have a chat with any of the volunteers around the Railway - they are all very enthusiastic about their job - or email the volcoordinator [at] talyllyn [dot] co [dot] uk (volunteer coordinator). More pictures of volunteers in action at the bottom of the page. Read about the latest activities undertaken by volunteers on the Talyllyn Railway.
The Traffic Department volunteers are often the most visible to the passenger, in their role as Guard, Stationmaster, or Blockman (the TR "Signalman").
A Guard normally begins the day by cleaning and preparing the train. This is followed by two or more trips up the line, when he or she is responsible both for looking after passengers and the safe, punctual operation of the train. All Guards begin as Trainees, working alongside an experienced Guard and possibly an Assistant Guard. As in all departments, the training is very practical - you will learn about ticket issuing and checking, and you will build up your experience of the line and the operation of the railway, which will enable you, once you have become an Assistant, to begin guarding trains under the supervision of the Guard.
Guards also perform station duties. However, if you enjoy meeting the public, but do not wish to work on the trains themselves, you may decide to become a Station Assistant, which can also be a very worthwhile and rewarding experience.
A Blockman is responsible for the signalling and passing of trains up and down the line. Although this may seem a more solitary occupation, particularly when you are rostered at some of the more remote blockposts, Blockmen often find that passengers are very interested in their work, and love to chat.
A Controller is in charge of the operation of the Railway and experienced Blockmen and Guards can apply to be considered for this training.
Locomotive volunteers begin by cleaning the engines and assisting at other jobs around the shed. This gives you an opportunity to learn your way around the engines and start to find out how the Railway functions. Those who perform their duties conscientiously also have "third-man trips" to learn the road and the basics of producing steam. Once the necessary skills have been attained, volunteers progress to firing. Firemen who have fully mastered the craft of getting the best out of the engine under all conditions then begin to learn the art of driving steam-hauled passenger trains safely and to time. It takes a great deal of self-discipline and hard work to progress through the grades from Cleaner to Driver, but the fun of teamwork and the fascination of steam make it well worth while.
The workshops at Pendre maintain the locomotives and rolling stock and undertake numerous other essential mechanical engineering tasks. Loco working parties on selected winter weekends undertake a variety of jobs to prepare the engines for the following season. No previous knowledge is necessary. Jobs are always available at other times and those already possessing workshop skills will be particularly welcome.
The Talyllyn Railway like all railways needs continual maintenance and relies on its band of regular outdoor volunteers to do most of the work. These volunteers come back year after year to enjoy the Welsh countryside, comradeship and satisfaction of seeing a job well done. Some of the regular volunteers come from overseas every year to help. Over the years we have amassed a wealth of experience and a selection of plant to lighten the load. The plant includes ballast tampers, Bobcat digger, broach rail drill, disc rail cutter, special wagons, petrol driven impact wrenches & strimmers etc.
Do not be put off by an apparent lack of knowledge or skill we are only too happy to pass on the knowledge and skills we have learnt over the years. New faces are always most welcome.
See the Railway's Outdoor Work Programme
If you are interested in maintaining the high standards of our carriage fleet, why not join the Bodgers? Despite their name, this dedicated group convert, mend, and paint the carriages to a high standard. The heated paintshop can be quite a lure in the winter months, but even during the summer, there is plenty to do.
Signals and Telephone
You are welcome to help us maintain the railway's signalling (electrical and mechanical) or help with the telephone systems.
There are many other activities and areas where your help would be much appreciated, for example:
- Publicity distribution
- Manning the sweet/drink trolley at Dolgoch
- Gardening (at the stations)
- Helping in the shop
- Helping in the refreshment rooms
- Museum Attendant
- Museum & Heritage working parties
- Railway Letter Service
- Area Group Working Parties
- Manning stands at exhibitions
The normal minimum age for working on the Railway is 14. However, if you are keen to join in, but are not yet 14, or you are just a little older and would like to try volunteering for the first time, how about joining the Talyllyn Navvies? Working parties are run each year just before the August Bank Holiday. You will have lots of fun working with other youngsters on the railway, working at stations, along the lineside, and helping to clean and polish some of the engines, as well as having outings to other railways, walks, swimming, and other activities such as barbecues.
Talyllyn Tracksiders is the name for the Railway's family volunteer working group. Working visits are organised 2 or 3 times a year, and groups work on projects such as painting, clearing undergrowth, restoring slate fencing, building footpaths, relaying sidings and many other jobs, as well as having time for barbecues and beach parties. The aim is to have fun, learn new skills and make friends. There is no lower or upper age limit for the Tracksiders although most youngsters move on to operating duties when they are old enough.
Young Members' Group
This group of 14-25 year olds, meet regularly for working parties and for social events and are always ready to welcome new faces.
Everyone on the Railway took the plunge and booked for their first time.
You will be amongst people who have a great enthusiasm for the TR. This enthusiasm is infectious.
You will be given all the help and training you need. Don't be put off because you feel you know nothing about railways.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask us. We can give you printed information on:
- Public transport to and from Tywyn
- Social Activities
We can also help with:
- Planning and booking your visit
- Rosters and days off
- What to do when You first arrive
- What to wear whilst on duty
For more information...
For more information, contact the railway:
The Talyllyn Railway
- Wharf - Traffic and General Enquiries
- Tel: 01654 710472
- Pendre - Engineering and Locomotive Enquiries
- Tel: 01654 710643
- Bodgers Corner
- Tel: 01952 603819
- Outdoor Working Parties
- Tel: 01654 710493
- Talyllyn Tracksiders
- Tel: 01904 766967
Our email address is volcoordinator [at] talyllyn [dot] co [dot] uk (for volunteering enquiries). Details of how to make a volunteer booking are also available.
Details of Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society membership are available elsewhere on this web site.