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Volunteer Train Guard

Shifts are rostered on a bi-monthly basis to suit availability, usually 7.5 hours per shift (typical day 9.30am – 5.00pm)
Application deadline
Ongoing. Applicants must be aged 18 or over.

We're looking for volunteers to operate our rolling stock so that we can keep our steam railway running at weekends and during school holidays.

Located on the historic site of the world's oldest surviving passenger railway station, the Museum of Science and Industry's (MSI) amazing galleries and outstanding collections tell the story of Manchester's scientific and industrial past, present and future. Our mission is to explore where science met industry and the modern world began, and to understand the impact that Manchester science, technology and innovation continues to have on all our lives.

Our regular railway operation, the 1830 Express, is a popular visitor attraction supported by staff Explainers who interpret the significance of a trip on our historic standard gauge demonstration line to passengers. We run this on select weekends and weekdays during school holidays. There are eight trips per day between 11.30am and 4.00pm, apart from on Sundays when there are seven trips between 12.00pm and 4.00pm.

Our department

Rail operations coordinate all railway movements on the site, and maintain our operational locomotives and rolling stock in condition fit for service. Management of the department is through the National Railway Museum in York, another member of the Science Museum Group. Activities are instructed and supervised by the paid staff Rail Operations Coordinator and there are a small number on casual staff Interim Steam Railway Drivers, while the remainder of duties are undertaken by volunteers.

The role

We require enthusiastic and committed volunteers with good interpersonal and customer care skills to support delivery of a high quality service to museum visitors. Duties undertaken by volunteer guards on the standard gauge demonstration line include:
  • Attending the museum for shifts at the specified times agreed on the roster provided by the Rail Operations Coordinator.
  • Assisting the driver in ensuring that the train is operated in a safe and proper manner at all times – ensuring the brake test is undertaken and satisfactory function of train pipe before any movements commence.
  • Undertaking fitness-to-run checks on rolling stock, track and infrastructure, and clamping points prior to commencement of public operations.
  • Checking passenger receipts and exchanging for souvenir tickets.
  • Ensuring passengers do not lean out of carriages or behave unsafely.
  • Ensuring passengers get on and off the train in a safe and orderly fashion and instructing them to leave the carriage with care.
  • Checking all doors are closed and locked properly, with catches and handles in good order.
  • Ensuring the platform is clear with gates secure and locked prior to departure of train.
  • Signalling clearly to the driver permission to depart from the station when the train is ready using flag and whistle. 
  • Stopping the train at any time deemed necessary using the emergency brake valve.
  • Observing the line ahead while propelling and stopping the train in an emergency.
  • Being aware of the procedure for reporting of accidents, injuries and dangerous occurrences on MSI lines.
  • Communicating with the Duty Manager via radio using MSI codes and ensuring the Responsible Person is engaged in the event of an incident.
  • Being courteous, welcoming and reassuring to all visitors.
  • Being well informed of all facilities, events and exhibitions taking place in the museum.
  • Answering queries or seeking the assistance of those who can do so (please refer questions on the locomotive to the loco crew).

Training and equipment

Having being accepted for the role, volunteers are asked to complete Health and Safety e-learning training and attend an induction which will include:

  • Museum induction
  • Department induction
  • Rail safety training
  • COSHH Training
  • Manual handling training

All Rail Operations volunteers are issued with safety boots, boiler suit and a copy of the MSI Rules and Procedures Book, which you are expected to learn. Guards will be supervised for the duration of their training by a qualified train crew member learning the relevant operating and safety procedures. The role will have on-going monitoring, assessment and training in line with the Railway Safety Management System, with opportunities to progress and become a steam locomotive fireman.

Prior to qualifying in the safety-critical role of guard, the museum will put you forward to attend a medical examination with a recognised practitioner; this is to ensure you meet the criteria specified in Heritage Railways Association guidance.

Qualified Guards from other heritage railways will, on presentation of sufficient evidence, receive familiarisation training with a view to being assessed for transfer of their grade held elsewhere.

Desirable skills

The appropriate candidate will:

  • Be able to work as part of a team
  • Be able to follow safety procedures
  • Be physically able to manage the activities involved, which will include lifting and carrying as well as climbing on railway vehicles
  • Have excellent time-keeping
  • Be willing to work alone under indirect supervision
  • Deliver excellent customer care

How to apply

To speak to us about volunteering, please call us on 0161 696 778. If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please complete our application form and email it back to us at We ask potential volunteers to attend an informal interview and complete a low level security check (Basic Disclosure) as part of the recruitment process.

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