Whilst I ran Orton Mere Station one of the most common comments was “It must be boring to work at a station.”
Actually that’s far from correct, there is always something to be done. From removing rubbish off the platform to clearing up the mess left on tables by visitors.
On a weekend day unless it’s tipping down with rain there will be a fairly steady stream of visitors. Most of them don’t want a train, they may want a timetable, a drink, a snack, water for their dog, or as is often the case just a chat. It’s amazing how long some of the visitors can go on about trains and railways in general. When a visitor starts with the words. When I worked on the railway…. You know it’s time to sit down. Some regulars will tell you the same things over and over again each visit.
On busy days you will get the platform warmer, who comes to take pictures, get in the way and spend nothing. The mere mention of platform ticket and they will be out of the gate quicker than a whippet on speed. I can recall regular platform warmers who have visited over a period of ten years and have yet to buy anything.
Then you will get the regulars, they will walk in and you know exactly what they will have, it never varies from week to week.
It must be remembered that the station is often where visitors get their first impression of the railway, and as they say you never have a second chance to make a first impression. The volunteers at the station always made all visitors welcome without exception. I have no doubt this is exactly the same at the other stations as well.
One tip by they way. The way a visitor is dressed has no connection to the amount of money they will spend. This is from experience. And remember the better they are dressed then more likely they will be to moan about the price.
Now as well as the sane and sensible questions you also get the odd ones, here are a few in no particular order.
How much are your £1.70p Magnums?
Are the trains running today, with City of Peterborough sitting outside the door.
Do you take Stagecoach Megarider tickets?
Do you sell ice cream? Whilst leaning on the freezer.
Do you sell daily papers?
Where are your Tampax? It was a man asking by the way.
I am off to North Norfolk Railway next week can I buy tickets from you? I was so tempted!!
What steam’s running today? It was a diesel gala.
My personal favourite is. “Is there another train after the last one?”
The list just goes on, but they liven the day.
Then of course the train arrives, and quite often somebody travelling will stand in front of a carriage door and expect it to open automatically. They always look surprised when it doesn’t.
I could rabbit on all day about working at a station, but then if I did there would be nothing for you to discover when you have a go. I do hope the working members amongst you will have a least one go, there is more to the railway then chugging up and down on trains!!