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Gradient profiles of Heritage Railways

Discussion in 'Heritage railways & Centres in the Uk' started by Jamessquared, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. Allegheny

    Allegheny New Member

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    On another thread, someone suggested that the Strathspey Railway could potentially be extended through to Forres, following the route of the Highland Railway original mail line.
    If this went ahead, it would involve a twisting slog of about 17 miles from Forres (not much above sea level) to Dava Summit (1052 feet/320 metres, or 19 feet/6 metres higher than Beattock!)
    Good Luck with the extension to Grantown-on-Spey!
     
  2. Hurricane

    Hurricane Active Member

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    Someone is obviously listening/observing......
    http://preservation.watercressline.co.uk/about/view/gradient-profile
     
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  3. baldbazza

    baldbazza New Member

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  4. Robkitchuk

    Robkitchuk New Member

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    Bowes hosts two inclines to East or Flatt bank, 1170 yards long at 1 in 70. And the short or West Bank at 750 yards at 1 in 13. The east bank is both rope hauled and locomotive worked. Blackhams hill stands at the top of both inclines at 500 feet above sea level.
     
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  5. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Good to see. All that's needed now is a better quality upload that's easier to read or is it my software? :)
     
  6. Footbridge

    Footbridge Member

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    On http://www.bikehike.co.uk/mapview.php you can plot any route you like and it can give you the profile. It takes a bit of getting used to but I find it great when planning cycle trips to help my dodgy knee.
     
  7. City of truro fan

    City of truro fan New Member

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    You have all missed that the steepest railway is the Fawley line garden railway thats so steep they can only pull 2 wagons on it!
     
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  8. lil Bear

    lil Bear Part of the furniture

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  9. lil Bear

    lil Bear Part of the furniture

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    CVR profile now added.

    https://www.churnet-valley-railway.co.uk/line-guide
     
  10. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    This is a gradient profile of the Kent & East Sussex Railway:

    www.kesr-mic.org.uk/resources/Gradient+Profile.pdf

    Having worked over the line as a fireman in the 80s and 90s, I noticed one bit which doesn't match my own memories; the profile shows the line through Wittersham Road Station as level. Certainly, when I worked on it, part of the platform road was level, but as Northiam-bound trains approached the signal box, the gradient changed quite abruptly to a steep climb, which continued over the crossing and up the bank. I was told by one of the older members at the time that the plans for the original Railway called for a cutting to be dug through the ridge immediately west of Wittersham Road - but the fledgling company couldn't raise the capital to pay for the necessary earthworks, so the line simply went up and over! Mind you, in fairness to Colonel Stephens, considering how little capital he had to work with, it was quite a feat that he managed to get the line built and opened at all.

    Going towards Rolvenden over that bank was a ticklish business in the summer, as the field adjoining the line to the south-east was usually sown with rape; in hot weather, you could see a haze of (very inflammable!) rape seed oil hanging over the field, yet the engine had to be worked hard to get five Mk.Is and a van up the 1 in 80 gradient. It would have been all too easy to chuck a burning coal out of the chimney - even with the fire-hole doors open - and see the whole field go up in flames!

    Another point about which I have my doubts is the approach to Cranbrook Road Crossing, heading towards Tenterden. That stretch is shown as 1 in 50, but I'm certain that the straight approaching the crossing is much steeper than other parts between Rolvenden and Tenterden. I remember talking to an old member soon after I started working on the line in the early 80s. He'd been involved in opening the first stretch, from Tenterden to Rolvenden, and told me that his gang had checked the gradient approaching Cranbrook Road, and found it to be about 1 in 37! Certainly, when the gates were worked by the guard, so you had to stop east of the crossing, then do a standing start, it seemed by far the steepest stretch of the line - and was very tricky, even when the crossing gates were manned, on winter afternoons when the dew started forming on the railhead. If your engine was going to pick her wheels up anywhere, it would be on that stretch of line.

    I wonder would one of those hand-held GPS thingies be able to give you a more accurate profile, if you were riding on a train?
     
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  11. Wenlock

    Wenlock Active Member Friend

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    I have seen 1in37 quoted elsewhere, but not in any official survey. I have also seen three slightly different profiles for the KESR, one of which was based I believe on a survey carried out by BR when they took over on nationalisation.

    I can understand that there will be some variation up the bank, the line is sometimes quoted as "between 1in50 and 1in52" between Rolvenden and Tenterden. Gradients will have changed slightly over the years due to relaying and reballasting of course, but I thought the steepest bit was in the wet cutting. Looking down the line from Cranbrook Rd, the depth of ballast is substantial and it appears that stretch has been lifted quite a lot.

    One of the profiles I've seen shows 1in70 from the middle of Wittersham Rd platform to the top of the bank there, but 1in75 on the other side. Based on trains needing to apply steam to enter WM platform from the ground frame suggests a rise starting there.
     
  12. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    I'm sure the profile will have changed quite a bit. I remember second manning on works trains when the P-way gang totally demolished the original embankment (ash and clinker, and always being undermined by rabbits) and replaced it altogether with an embankment of mine waste retained by layer after layer of plastic-covered steel mesh. From the difference in the feel of rounding that curve, before and afterwards, I'm sure they took the opportunity to iron out quite a lot of wobbles, both in gradient and curvature.

    The profile you describe matches my memories of firing out of Witt Road platform, with the load on the engine rapidly increasing as each coach in turn hit the gradient half way along the platform (and the original very sharp turn out from the platform road onto the main line didn't help, either!) - but it must be 15 or 16 years since I fired on the KESR, so much may have changed since then.

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
  13. martinr1

    martinr1 New Member

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    Here is the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway for you
     
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  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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  15. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Active Member

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    I don't know but I have my doubts. A few years ago i gave a friend a lift in my classic car and he got his GPS out to see how accurate the speedo was (it reads a little high, but that's what we thought). What surprised me though was that the GPS also thought we were many feet below sea level! OK we were in Norfolk but even so...
     
  16. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    Actually, that could have been the case. A relation of mine used to work at a massive sewage treatment plant near Basildon, in Essex. He told me that the treated sludge from the sewage works was being spread over a huge tract of farmland along the Thames Estuary, and would eventually end up yards deep. He said the purpose of putting it there was to bring the ground level slightly above sea level - instead of being well below it, which it had been ever since the old sea marshes had been drained!

    As you drain off land like that, it dries out and shrinks. As it was barely above sea level to start with, it ends up well below. There are stretches of land like that, which are below sea level, on Romney Marsh, and in the North Somerset levels. I read an account of the disastrous floods which hit the coast of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex in the early 1950s, and I'm pretty sure part of the reason why the damage was so severe was that, in many places, once the sea walls were breached the sea could spread for miles inland, at high speed, because the land behind the sea walls was below sea level.

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
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  17. Robin

    Robin Member

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    I have no faith at all in the GPS height function on my :Android: tablet. The other day it reckoned part of the Severn Valley Railway was below sea level. :eek:
     
  18. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    You need to update your software - sounds like you have the 2007 version ;)

    Seriously, my understanding is that the altitude error on a GPS is greater than the horizontal position error, which is a matter of geometry of the satellites amongst other causes. A vertical error of 20 or 30 metres is not beyond the bounds of possibility. The other point is that horizontally you get errors as well, but if the GPS gives you a 10m horizontal error, most people would not notice as they have no suitable frame of reference with which to compare. Whereas if you are standing on the beach with a 10 meter vertical error, it is immediately apparent.

    Tom
     
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  19. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    Um - so 17 miles at an average gradient of about 1 in 90, and plenty of reverse curves? Well, that should sort out the firemen from the cleaners!
    :Dead:

    Jack
     
  20. Allegheny

    Allegheny New Member

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    When I first came across this I thought it would be awesome on a heritage railway, and since my earlier post I thought I'd look into it in a bit more detail. The line is now built over at Forres, and according to Wikipedia the climb starts near Rafford, which is about 150 feet above sea level.
    According to O.S.Nock - "The Railway Enthusiasts Encylopedia"-"Southbound from Forres for 15 miles; mostly at 1 in 75; reaching an altitude of 1052 ft on Dava Moor. There is a brief respite for 1.25 miles at Dunphail, but otherwise climbing very severe. Subject to high winds; and the exposed stretches over the moorlands south of Dunphail are notorious for snowdrifts"

    From the south the line climbs 300 feet from Grantown over the course of about six miles, up to Dava summit.

    Even though the route was the original main line of the Highland Railway, I doubt it carried much heavy traffic in the past.
     

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