Issue 252 is my last as a member of the RailStaff editorial team. After six years and 70 or so issues, I’m saying goodbye to this fantastic title and it’s set me thinking about what I hope to leave behind.
Trawling through the archives, I managed to dig out the first piece I ever submitted for the magazine. Published in November 2012, the article was the latest in a series which looked at the various organisations and institutional pillars that guide and govern Britain’s railway. That month we looked at the BTP, interviewing then chief constable Andy Trotter and covering everything from metal theft to 7/7.
Just a few months into the job, I was still learning about the industry, still yet to pick up many of the acronyms we take as a given and recognise the names that are now so familiar. But it’s true that the more you learn about the industry, the more you feel you have to learn.
We’re fortunate as journalists to have the opportunity to tackle different topics every month. Through the magazine we allow others to peer into parts of the industry that they would never normally get to see or may have never fully understood. The rich collective knowledge that resides throughout the depots, offices and factories that I’ve had the good fortune of visiting is staggering.
How we store and preserve this knowledge has been a recurring theme in this month’s issue. Concerns about the loss of corporate memory were raised at the Rail Safety Summit and TPE apprentice Caitlin Gent, who was interviewed for the first in a new series of articles, made the same astute observation. The issue hasn’t escaped those leading the launch of the new Wales and Borders franchise either. Don’t treat staff like the furniture that came with the house but actually listen to their views and learn from their experiences.
It’s coincidental that all of this comes at a time when the country is commemorating a 100 years since the end of the First World War. Lest we forget.
RailStaff’s modus operandi has always been to spread a positive message about life on the railway. This doesn’t mean throwing up a smokescreen to criticism or ridicule but instead providing some context to the popular narrative, showing the hard-working people who personally feel a weight of responsibility to passengers.
But this is just one of its values.
Besides promoting the industry, RailStaff helps to make sure the efforts and know-how of previous generations aren’t forgotten. Interviews with those from a previous era – people like former chief inspector Andy Trotter – can be a reminder of both the progress we are making but also ensure we’re not wasting time reinventing perfectly workable solutions to age-old problems.
RailStaff will continue to help shape the agenda in 2019 – I have no doubt about that. I’d like to thank the team at Rail Media for placing their trust in me to be the custodian of their flagship title, as well as all my colleagues in the industry who have given up their time to contribute.
Fundamentally, RailStaff has given me a greater appreciation for you: the men and women who live to serve the travelling public. You are determined and unwavering in your desire to do right by customers. I’ll forever be your advocate.
Thanks for reading.
Marc Johnson brought a breath of fresh air to RailStaff when he joined us some six years ago. Still in his early twenties, he soon picked up the complexities of the rail industry and led the drive to include more feature articles in every issue.
From editing our digital offering Global Rail News, Marc took over as editor of RailStaff from long-time incumbent Andy Milne in 2017. He retained coverage of regular favourites such as safety, training, people moves and industry news, but added features on major projects like Crossrail, Thameslink and HS2, social topics including diversity, occupational health and wellbeing, and the topical issues around skills, control periods and franchising.
Marc leaves us to move into the field of corporate communications, something he’s been looking to do for a while.
We wish him well – new editor Stewart Thorpe will have large shoes to fill.
Managing Director, Rail Media