Eleven Welsh narrow gauge railways have shown a commitment to excellence in customer service by launching a training programme for their staff and volunteers.
Grant funding from the UK Government Department for Transport's Heritage and Community Rail Tourism Innovation Competition has enabled the Great Little Trains of Wales to develop the ‘Service with Spirit’ programme.
The programme was designed by the railways in collaboration and led by professional customer service training coach Amy Kirkland of Kirkland Training. This bespoke course has been specifically tailored to the needs of the heritage railway industry.
Representatives from the Great Little Trains attended a one day workshop which covered a wide range of aspects, including championing passengers, providing good first impressions and making a lasting impression on visitors. After the training, representatives each received a toolkit to enable them to deliver the same type of training to fellow staff and volunteers within their own individual railway.
“We believe this is the first time that a group of railways has worked together on a project like this”, said Will Smith of the Vale of Rheidol Railway. “We know that Wales attracts visitors from all over the world to experience the Great Little Trains and it is important to ensure that they receive a warm and friendly welcome from the staff and volunteers.”
Stephen Greig, Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways’ customer service manager, added: “It is essential that we are always improving our standards to provide an experience for our visitors that exceeds their expectations and captures their imagination.
“Collaborating in this way is going to help each railway share ideas on how to deliver these levels of excellent service and sustain them for people to visit and enjoy in the future.”
Amy Kirkland, of Kirkland Training, said:
“The training will help ensure consistency in levels of service across the 11 railways by reinforcing the Great Little Trains of Wales standards. The aim is not to make each railway uniform, but to encourage them to celebrate and share their individual history and heritage whilst ensuring that visitor expectations are exceeded.”
Welsh Government Economy Secretary Ken Skates said:
“Frontline staff are the first impression that visitors get of an attraction and the welcome and service they receive leaves a lasting impression of Wales as a destination.
“Great Little Trains are to be congratulated for this initiative which will ensure that visitors to our narrow gauge railways will gain a greater understanding behind the epic story of our railways during Wales' Year of Legends this year.”
In 2016, the Great Little Trains of Wales secured a £67,000 grant from the UK Government Department for Transport's Heritage and Community Rail Tourism Innovation Competition.
The grant enabled the group to publish a new guidebook called “Big Train meets Little Train” and accompanying website www.bigtrainlittletrain.com encouraging visitors to visit the “Great Little Trains of Wales” and many other Welsh attractions by public transport, as well as enabling the development ‘Service with Spirit’.
Rail Minister Paul Maynard said:
“It doesn't matter whether a railway service is a heritage line popular with tourists, or a mainline route used by commuters, the Government expects customer service to be a high priority.
“I am delighted to see the Great Little Trains of Wales have used the grant they received from the UK government to really take this message to heart.”