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Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:27 am
This topic has been established to enable the RO production team to communicate important RO related information to members and to enable members to provide feedback to the production team on the quality, composition, style etc of the railway Observer.

Look forward to your contributions.



Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2014 2:36 pm
by windsor_lad
Just to get things moving - is the RO as good as it gets.


Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:41 am
by Western Druid
My personal opinion is that the RO is the best it's ever been and I go back to the early 80s. I read more of it now than I did 10 years ago. For a magazine that is put together by volunteers and not professional railway journalists it's as good as it gets. There are some superb photographs, interesting articles covering a wide range of railway subjects and the magazine itself is printed on excellent quality paper.

Mike Robinson has done an excellent job, he's put his own style on it and edits it the way he wants, he's entitled to, he's the editor, someone has to steer the ship, it's not to everyone's liking of course, it never will be, it wasn't mine to begin with, some will never embrace change, but now it's settled down I'm pleased with it and enjoying reading it, well most of it, there are bits that bore me but you can't please everyone all the time.

As someone in their 50s and been a member for over 30 years my opinions are not as important though as those of the younger generation because inevitably it's them that need to feel the RO represents their interests - one day all us oldies will have gone to that marshalling yard in the sky and someone will have to take over.

But for now I like the RO and I enjoy reading it, so thank you to everyone who puts it together.



Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:58 pm
by North Road Shops
Regarding the content of the RO.

Is the section on Traction and Rolling Stock which shows all of the transfers, new allocations etc. gleaned from official records or is it based on information from RO correspondents?

North Road Works


Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:25 pm
by Peter Hall
North Road Shops wrote:Regarding the content of the RO.

Is the section on Traction and Rolling Stock which shows all of the transfers, new allocations etc. gleaned from official records or is it based on information from RO correspondents?

North Road Works
What could be considered to be 'official rolling stock changes' ceased in the mid 1990's.

Until April 1994 the likes of the RCTS, Platform 5 (P5), Ian Allan etc paid a quite hefty sum for what were referred to at P5 as the 'green sheets'. These were produced every four weeks and gave details of all changes made to Rolling Stock Library (RSL)/TOPS records of rolling stock in that period. In addition the P5 contract also saw provision of an annual inventory, diagram books (as in drawings) and updates to these. Others had slightly different contracts.

In April 1994 provision of such information was stopped. The reason being given that such was confidential company sensitive business information and could not be made available in the newly emerging privatised railway. The following three years saw considerable behind the scenes, as well as public, activity to have the decision reversed during which time provision was re-instated. The late Peter Fox (P5) and Neil Webster (Metro Enterprises) were particularly involved, not sure about the RCTS (as I am sure you will be aware their is 'history' going back to the late 1970's here). However, despite the issue being discussed in the Palaces of Westminster, in 1997 a final NO was given.

It should be noted that the RSL now has a much different role to that in BR days. It is operated by a contractor and surprisingly is not something that has been taken back in house by Network Rail. In BR days its annual inventory was in effect an asset register of BR rolling stock which tied up with vehicles listed on TOPS. Nowadays its function is to keep TOPS updated to allow the railway to operate. Inclusion of a vehicle means very little, as a process is required to remove vehicles no longer active, thus many long since scrapped/preserved etc vehicles details remain. Similarly the likes of depot codes, pool codes etc do not have consistent meanings as in BR days and are often just their because a field needs something other than a blank. A complex pyramid of certifications etc decrees whether a vehicles is actually permitted to operate.

Obviously some information included in the RO comes from what could be considered official sources, i.e. it being provided by the vehicle owners with consent for its publication - this is certainly the case with P5. The majority though must presumably come from RO correspondents. Whether some of that comes through the back door from owners I would not like to say.

If North Road Works was asking the question of P5 the answer would be Yes and No and I suspect that is the answer as regards the RO.


Posted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:01 pm
[quote]s the section on Traction and Rolling Stock which shows all of the transfers, new allocations etc. gleaned from official records or is it based on information from RO correspondents?[quote]

I think Peters response encapsulates the situation very well. Most of our reports come from a mix of sources but the majority are from keen eyed/eared correspondents some of whom for obvious reasons don't want to be identified. Not quite as difficult as like tracking Soviet warplanes during the 'cold war' but on similar lines!

Mike Robinson

RO Editor


Posted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 10:09 pm
by North Road Shops
Thanks for the answers on this guys.

North Road Works


Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:37 pm
by Bescotyard
For a monthly magazine produced (usually on time) by agroup of volunteers I think it is fantastic. The quality is good, the information is useful and the addition of articles lately has improved it too. There are only two things which irritate me.... printing articles and especially pictures unneccesarily over the page join and the high percentage of pictures in each edition from the editors camera. There must be others out there taking pictures which could just as usefully be used.

Thanks to the team.



Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:12 pm
by ttrains
First of all, as someone who publishes articles and books for a living, I can imagine the hard work that goes into producing the RO every month.

I also notice that the members--and the Editor--is asking for input and contributions from the younger generations. As someone working full time and with a young family, I surmise that there are many of us who would like to contribute, and perhaps to "nudge" RO into covering modern (contemporary) traction including EMUs and DMUs, but find it extremely difficult due to various other commitments.

I do not have an answer to this; but unless the younger generations feel comfortable in being able to contribute, this problem might persist.


Access to the Digital RO. Article to Appear in Jan 2015 RO

Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 5:13 pm
The following note is posted here in advance of its appearance in the January2015 RO.
Regular users of the Digital RO will have noticed a number of improvements to the access process taking place over the past few weeks and whilst I would apologise for any confusion the speed of the changes may have caused we now have all our 'digital eggs' very efficiently in a single basket which is capable of supporting the most commonly available digital and mobile platforms by centralising our digital product on one software set as from January 2015. The current and all previous issues published in 2014 are directly accessible from the 'Members' drop down menu by selecting 'Railway Observer' or by clicking on the current RO cover on the home page. After logging in your browser will open and a blank screen will be replaced by a large RCTS logo in the centre of the screen indicating that the current month's digital issue is down loading. How long this takes will entirely depend on the speed of your Broadband connection. Once the cover appears you can begin to browse the pages either by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of the page or using the arrows in the tool bar at the top of the screen. If your browser refuses to download after a few seconds then the most likely cause of this is your browser's default security settings which you will need to adjust.
Should you then wish to download the issue to your device or machine simply click on the download icon at the top right hand corner of the toolbar at the top of the screen. This will arrive in your 'downloads' folder and by double clicking on it it will normally open in Adobe Acrobat Reader. You should ensure that you have the latest versions of reader available for your device or machine.
You also have the option to view other recent issues held in the archive - ie those from the current or previous year. Just click on the ?Archive? tab at the left hand side of the screen and select as appropriate. Once into your desired issue the reading and downloading process is identical to that used for the current month.
What about accessing back numbers of the magazine from the years before 2014?
These will be held on the Societies own server, and as of Jan 2015 only two earlier years are currently available - issues from 2012 and 2013. However as part of the Societies Web4 project it is planned over the course of the website redevelopment to gradually add earlier years RO?s to this archive. In most cases these will have been created by laboriously scanning individual copies of the magazines into PDF files for inclusion in our previous ?CD? sales activity, and having been created over a period of several years will inevitably be of somewhat lower quality than we are able to achieve today. Simply click on the ?Members? option on the menu bar and after signing in as a member this will offer you the ?Member Services? screen. Select the ?RO Early Years Archive? option which will take you to the selection screen showing the years available. In Jan 2015, this will only be 2012 and 2013, but by January 2016, it will also include all issues from 2014 - which will have been transferred to the RCTS server - plus as many pre-2012 years as we have managed to add to the archive in the previous 12 months.
I trust this summary helps you understand both how we are progressing with the Digital RO initiative, and how to access and download digital RO?s with minimum difficulty.
The digital RO development has come a long way over the past eighteen months and we are now very close to achieving final completion of the strategy. However, as we are governed very much by the state of fast moving digital technology, short notice changes to the access protocols may still occasionally occur and wherever possible I will try to communicate these in advance via the RO Channel of the web Forum and, of course, the RO.
However let me apologise in advance for any sudden changes that do cause you momentary concern - unlike the digital giants we are a volunteer organisation and we do not have unlimited resources with which to capture and react to all changes in a totally seamless way.
Mike Robinson, Managing Editor