Every train that operates on the railway has a guard, and most of these are volunteers. In the height of summer up to five guards are needed every day, but at least two guards are needed throughout the daily service.
Being a guard on the railway can be both a challenging and rewarding job. A typical day will see you report to Ravenglass in time to ensure the cleanliness of your carriages and also assist in any shunting that may be required.
There is always time for a cup of tea or coffee before commencing your first trip of the day. As the guard you will have collected your ticket book and money float from Ravenglass booking office along with other essential equipment prior to checking your passengers tickets.
Another of the guard’s duties at Ravenglass (and Dalegarth) is to assist the driver in coupling/uncoupling the engine as well as watering it. Once all the passengers are on board you will check the signal is off, blow your whistle and set the train off.
On your journey up the valley you will ensure that the train stops at the intermediate request stops as required and also sell tickets to passengers wishing to board. You are also expected to keep the train running to time wherever possible and ensure that it is operating safely (e.g. your train passes other trains at the correct locations). In addition you also perform an important customer service function as often, you will be the first person from the railway that a passenger speaks to. You may be asked to provide information on everything from main line connections to the history of the railway and the local area itself.
A typical Guarding turn will consist of either two or three round trips in a day. At the end of your last trip you may be required to help shunt the carriages into the carriage shed before returning to the Booking Office to cash in your day’s takings.
As you might expect for such a responsible role, full training is given which not only includes the above duties but also covers such things as the radio control system and the workings of the locomotives. It is worth noting that virtually all our guarding roster vacancies are filled by volunteers.