HOPS is broken down into a number of sections that work together. Subscriber railways can pick and chose which sections they use and to what extent. Some sections are dependent on each other.
Sections include (but not limited to):
Subscriber railways add and administrate their own user accounts. There is no limit to the number of user accounts each railway can add. Depending on how other sections of the system will be used, it may be appropriate for one or more 'generic' user accounts to be used, or it may be appropriate for each user to have their own user account with a user name and password.
Storage of contact details such as telephone numbers and e-mail addresses
With each user account can be stored telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. These can be maintained by the individual staff to whom the accounts apply, as well as by designated staff on the railway.
Maintenance of competence records for individual staff against specific posts
HOPS can serve as a database of staff competence. When defining competence grades can be assigned if required, to give a sliding scale of competence. This is useful, for example, where some drivers are authorised only for shunting duties, or some signalmen are not authorised for gala days. Grades can be defined per position, not just per user. So a user might be competent as a driver on a tank engine on galas, but not a large engine, but can drive any engine on a low-season day. Part of this module also includes printable competence summaries, which some railways ask staff to sign and/or carry.
Availability of staff to cover duties
As part of its rostering functions HOPS has a facility for collecting users' availability. On pre-determined (by the roster clerk) dates, the users are polled for their availability and the results collated in HOPS. There are functions available for automatically assigning the required turns in the most economical way possible (see below).
Rosters and automatic rostering functions
One of the main reasons for HOPS being set up in the first place was rostering. This has now become one of HOPS's strongest features. We are now at the stage where rosters can be automatically constructed based on the Operations Calendar and Staffing Templates (for example, if HOPS knows that today is a 'blue timetable day' and on a blue day we need 'two signalmen and a guard', it will automatically add these turns into the roster (when commanded). Users can then be polled for their availability (see above), and when the availability has been collected HOPS has functions for automatically allocating all the turns to users in the most economical way possible. This process used to take hours of laborious shuffling of turns on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and now takes only 3 clicks! There are also other good rostering functions such as e-mail reminders to staff about their upcoming turns.
Duty Hours and Grades for operating positions
Opening Hours of Signal Boxes, Duty Hours of Guards, Drivers, opening hours of shops and offices... all this can be templated into HOPS for different operating days. This information can then be published alongside rosters to ensure staff and volunteers and managers know exactly what is expected.
Emergency and short-notice cover functions
HOPS has functions for those dreaded mornings when a guard has overslept or no-one has told the signalman he is working today.
Timetabling and diary planning
Your railway's operations calendar can be set into HOPS, as well as providing a single reliable source for this information for staff, it also works with functions for rostering. For example, if HOPS knows which staff are required as standard for a particular operating timetable, if it then knows which timetable is operating on which day it can make sure the correct staff are rostered on each day, removing the responsibility from the fallible human brain.
Facilities to manage the booking of groups and parties at the railway, with access controlled so that everyone can find the information they need to know, ie, the guards can see the booking name and total numbers, the station masters can see the contact information, the bookings administrators can view cost information, etc.
Issuing of purchase orders and receipt of invoices can be logged and tracked through the system from requisition, through approval and ordering, to receipt of goods and invoices and payment. Budget Lines and Supplier details can also be administered.
Staffing for specific types of operating day
As described above, templates of staff can be loaded into the different operating days. For example, on a 'red' day we need two guards and a signalman, on a green day we need two drivers and a fireman, etc. Once the templates are programmed in once they can be loaded up for each operating date of that timetable.
Logging of Observations Visits to Operations Personnel
Visiting and monitoring of operational staff such as drivers and signalmen is an important part of any competence management system. HOPS allows these to be logged and observations recorded for future action/reference.
Centralisation and Distribution of special traffic or operating notices for specific operating days
Documents can be uploaded by the required personnel to specific days in the calendar (ie special traffic notices or operating instructions). These can then be accessed by those with the necessary permissions.
Centralisation and Distribution of general operating documentation and reference sources
Documents can be uploaded by the required personnel to department areas, such as department operating instructions that apply generally, as opposed to a specific date (for example signal box instructions, or locomotive footplate policy).
Function Logs, such as Control Logs or Equipment Fault Logs
A fairly-new facility in HOPS. These logging functions create a central, and remotely-accessible, location for event logging, such as 'Control Logging' by the railway duty-manager on a real-time basis for future reference by railway managers and/or investigation/monitoring. Other examples include infrastructure fault logging and monitoring, or project monitoring and updates.
A discussion forum is provided in an environment that can be monitored and moderated.
Controlled access to everything in HOPS is fully customisable by the subscriber railway. There are a number of access permissions and these can be assigned to individual user accounts. Many users can have be assigned to one access right and many access rights can be assigned to one user. HOPS also allows Permission Groups to simplify the process, so, for example, if a group was created for guards, then the access right to guards' documentation could be added to the Guards' Group and then everyone in the group would have access.
The HOPS website also contains a shop with an ever-growing number of product lines of tools and equipment specifically tailored for heritage railways and their staff.
One of the best attributes of the organisation of HOPS is that it is developed by
heritage railway operators for
heritage railway operators. This means that, as well as there being massive potential for future growth and development in the system, the users and user railways of HOPS have every chance to shape its future and development. If there is a particular function that you think HOPS should do, or something that takes place on your railway that HOPS can't do, then tell us about it and you never know what might come out in the next HOPS udpate!