The Weardale Railway is mainly run by volunteers whose contribution is essential to the running of the railway and its long term future. You can be part of this by becoming a working member in one of our many departments. Generally you do not need specific experience as training will be provided in your chosen area. Some operational roles, such as driving require a significant time commitment, training and assessment, however others do not and there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved.
Volunteers are always in demand whether helping in operations as a driver, guard, controller or crossing keeper, station duties in the shop or ticket office, or behind the scenes maintaining and refurbishing rolling stock and track. All prospective volunteers will be provided with the necessary training required to carry out their roles and will have the protection of the company's insurance.
We encourage our volunteers to become members of the Weardale Railway Trust. Upon receipt of the completed Trust application form and payment, new members are invited to list their areas of interest, any relevant skills and an indication of the time available to the Volunteer Coordinator via an email to email@example.com who will then put them in touch with the relevant team leader.
So how can I help?
We always have regular duties and also one-off projects that we need help with, so whether you are working, retired, at home, studying or maybe looking to develop your career or skills, volunteering with Weardale Railway is a fantastic way to spend your time and make are friends from all walks of life. You can give us as little or as much time as you can spare as everyone plays an important role in helping the railway to operate trains and ensure that our visitors enjoy their visit.
Listed below are some of the main areas where volunteers are needed.
Stanhope Station Gift Shop
The gift shop at Stanhope is operated and managed by volunteers. It is always busy, selling postcards, books, magazines, souvenirs and children's railway toys. The shop makes a significant contribution to the Trust’s income.
Trust gift shop at Stanhope Station
Maintenance Depot - Traction & Rolling Stock
The depot at Wolsingham is where the Trust maintains and restores the coaches and locomotives. For coach restoration skills in carpentry, metalworking, upholstery, plumbing, varnishing, painting, sign writing, trimming, wiring would all be of use but not essential as training is provided. For locomotive maintenance, engineering experience is a distinct asset but painters and general helpers are every bit as much in demands as fitters, turners, etc. The work covers steam and diesel traction, including No. 40 and our diesel multiple units.
Restoration of the Class 108 DMU
Photo: Tom Hatton
Cleaning the Class 108 DMU at Wolsingham Depot after its maintenance overhaul and exam.
Photo: Kevin Richardson
Our gardening teams do a fantastic job of keeping our stations colourful and attractive for visitors. You would be most welcome to help look after our station gardens, tubs and hanging baskets at Stanhope, Frosterley, Wolsingham, Witton le Wear and Bishop Auckland.
Hanging baskets under the canopy at Stanhope Station
Photo: Ruth Carroll
We have two gated road level crossings in regular use at Broadwood near Frosterley and Witton-le-Wear, with a third on the Stanhope to Eastgate section near Unthank Park. Crossing keepers are responsible for opening and closing the gates to allow trains to pass safely.
Operating Witton Crossing gates
Photo: John Askwith
Travelling Ticket Inspectors
Our TTIs sell the tickets, answer enquiries and generally meet the public. This role is very much the first point of contact for our customers when they travel with us. A good knowledge of the railway and the local area is an asset!
This role requires a period of training before being assessed to be a fully qualified guard. The guard is in charge of the train and is responsible for safety of the train and travelling passengers, whilst ensuring that the train departs each station on time.
Guard overseeing the safe departure of a train from Stanhope.
Photo: Graeme Carroll
For those with an aspiration to become a driver, there are paths to follow to achieve this. Newcomers to the steam department will begin as cleaners and progress to eventually become fireman and drivers. To operate our diesels, you will progress through being a traction trainee, secondman and eventually driver. This can take considerable time dependant on your availability, your own competence, medical health and training turns available. We are required to follow the policies, and training and assessment standards of Weardale Railway Limited.
Out and about working on the track itself. Fencing, ballasting, walking the line, checking the track, cutting back lineside growth are all vital jobs. The work can be fairly strenuous but will be tailored to suit your specific requirements.
Replacing Bowmac road panels at Witton-le-Wear Crossing
Photo: Tom Hatton
Sunday Gang clearing vegetation alongside the track
Promotion and Marketing
If you can help in this area you would be especially welcome. The railway is busy in the peak holiday months but is always seeking ways to fill seats ‘out of season’. We are also looking to increase our exposure to the corporate market and the travel trade.
Trust promotional display at Shildon NRM
Station Platform Staff
Duties consist of overseeing the safe and punctual departure of trains, answering queries from the passengers, and generally ensuring their safety. Some assistance is always useful to assist wheelchair bound passengers on and off the train and to escort them safely across the railway. Helping to keep the station tidy and assisting with special events are also important parts of the station staffs' duties.
Vacancies also exist for handymen, painters, etc, to do the general upkeep necessary to keep our stations looking neat and tidy.
Maintenance on the canopy at Stanhope Station
And the benefits...
Great company, a friendly working environment, a quarterly newsletter and a feeling of pride and achievement. Please don't let a perceived lack of skill deter you, as we have all started from scratch! Full on the job training is given as necessary. But the main thing is to come and enjoy yourself! In short, if you have the time and enthusiasm we can make use of you. Remember, potential volunteers must first become members of the Weardale Railway Trust for insurance purposes. If you are interested and have any queries please contact the Trust via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with the appropriate person.
Volunteers at Stanhope Station
Photo: John Askwith