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West Somerset Railway Operations

Discussion in 'Heritage railways & Centres in the Uk' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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    SCC are responsible for this one because it was required for a new road. In most other cases the railways are responsible for maintaining crossings because the road was almost always there first. Same with bridges - if a bridge was built to enable a railway then the railway must maintain it.
     
  2. The Man of Kent

    The Man of Kent New Member

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    Memo to self - try to avoid use of irony in future posts ......
     
  3. The Man of Kent

    The Man of Kent New Member

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    If he had a fault from the railway point of view it was in using his position as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce when he was actually writing for the Rail Link Group - a position he still holds.
     
  4. The Man of Kent

    The Man of Kent New Member

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  5. Snifter

    Snifter Active Member

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    Yup, an aircraft cannot fly until the weight of the paperwork exceeds the weight of the aircraft. I remember many years ago having a chat with a bloke who owned a Tiger Moth. He mentioned that the official spark plugs were about £40 each. They were however totally identical to the plugs used in an old Austin (IIRC) which even had the same part number but without an additional identifying mark. clearing them for aviation use. Whenever the aircraft was inspected, the examiner would comment on how clean the official plugs were when removed from the aircraft.
     
  6. Robin White

    Robin White Resident of Nat Pres

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    At the moment it is an ‘ABCL’. Quite a rare beast. Effectively an automatic crossing amongst signals. So the platform starter can remain off for as long as you like without initiating the crossing. The forward movement of the train triggers the crossing just out of the platform, and the driver gets a flashing white to indicate that the crossing is working correctly before he goes over it.

    This all keeps the ‘road closed’ time down to 2-3 minutes.

    It also mean that for shunt moves (the single line is, effectively, the headshint for the Station) a period of ‘road open’ is enforced before the returning move.

    It further means that the platform starter is routinely ‘off’ for 10 minutes or so before departure. This makes the platform staff / guards work easier, knowing they have the road.

    With full barriers it will be a different kettle of fish. Assuming conventional signalling, the barriers will have to be proved down BEFORE the platform starter can be cleared, as it reads up to the advance starter. The published papers which have been submitted to SCC talk about the ‘road closed’ period being extended to only 4-5 minutes. This seems to be wildly optimistic.

    I hope that we do not have developing here another example, all too common on heritage Railways, of technical departments designing and installing things without proper review by experienced operators who are able to work through the consequences.

    We had such an example at Seaward Way.when originally installed. The Engineer assumed that Signalmen would engage facing point locks for departing (all trailing) shunt moves. No need for that, of course. So, as installed, the signalman could unpick and reset the route behind a departing train, and clear the inner home for a return to the station as the last wheel cleared it. The effect was that the barriers would sequence properly for the departing move, but then go from nothing to red lights and ‘barriers descend’. After a practical demonstration a slightly white-faced engineer headed back to his circuit diagrams and added in a circuit to ensure a minimum period of ‘road open’. The saving grace was that a land dispute between Butlins and the Council meant the the landward side of Seaward Way up to the Crossing was open for a year and the crossing installed and operating behind barbed wire before the bit from the crossing to the sea was opened, giving time to get this sorted out.

    No doubt the wisdom of drawing in appropriate experience to avoid installing unfortunate equipment will be recognised on the WSR and elsewhere.

    Robin
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 11:24 AM
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  7. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Member

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    I have never met the gentleman concerned. He is not the first to champion a Minehead Taunton commercial service. I have no reason to doubt his sincerity, but I suggest that to those of us who are passionate about the West Somerset Railway as a 'Heritage' Railway, and particularly the steam haulage and c.1950s ambiance, he is not (nor his vision) something we should dwell on, let alone 'rubbish'.

    (As a matter of note the West Somerset Free Press article also included the following from a Chamber spokesman, quote "But upsetting officialdom with his straight talking, and on occasion use of colourful language, began to cause concern within the Chamber, especially as doors to reform started being slammed in his face". At the risk of personalising this debate I can hear that being said of myself :). )

    Our goal (those who support) must be to maintain and grow the WSR as is, particularly recognising that more passengers, educational aspects (including museums) and special events etc. are all beneficial to the economic standing of Taunton and West Somerset.

    Should Mr De Mendoza with others (or somebody else) be able to produce (with funding) a scheme to run a Minehead to Taunton service then the stronger the WSR (Heritage) operation the better our negotiating position (ie benefits to West Somerset et al). Any commercial operation will have to fit in with the WSR (Heritage) rather than the converse.

    Meanwhile I suggest belittling the aspirations of some members of the West Somerset population is probably counterproductive. (I am regularly asked in my local general store "When is the Railway going to run to Taunton". My stock answer is to the effect "I think it's difficult and outside my knowledge or as I understand it the current Railway's aspirations.")

    I trust the Plc (and supporting bodies) will continue to respond to questions/queries concerning a "Taunton service" whilst concentrating on the enhancement of WSR (Heritage). The less time we all spend 'mythering' about a Minehead Taunton service, specifically what might be rather than what is, the better ?

    Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 11:37 AM
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  8. Matt78

    Matt78 Active Member

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    Interesting point about the style of crossing. We (Gwili) have always had traditional gates on the level crossing at Bronwydd, as this was written into the Light Railway Order (it refers to “the gates”).. Hard to see a new installation being completed with gates these days. Probably something akin to grandfather rights if you like.

    Regards

    Matt
     
  9. Aberdare

    Aberdare New Member

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    Minehead Seaward Way level crossing.

    A brief explanation of the particular circumstances regarding the automatic level crossing at Minehead for those not familiar with the site.

    When the WSR re-opened as a "preserved railway" the present site of the level crossing was open fields and all traffic to the Butlins camp would queue through the town of Minehead causing considerable conjestion. In the late 1980's the local authorities planned a relief road from the aproach to Minehead direct to the sea front by Butlins. The advantage of this was Butlins traffic would by-pass the town and the road would provide access to a large area of open land that was suitable for housing, retail and industrial development.

    The route of the road meant that it would have to cross the WSR just outside Minehead station. Three possible options were available; 1, a bridge. 2, an underpass. 3, a level crossing. The surrounding terrain is all very level and so both of the first two options would have taken up not only very considerable funds but also a significant proportion of the land that the authorities were seeking to develop. Result was that a level crossing became the only viable plan.

    At this time the railway at Minehead did not have a working signal box or any fixed signals to to control train movements. All control of point work at the Dunster end of the station was via a 5 lever ground frame. The site of the new level crossing was on open single line some way from the station, a location that suited automatic operation and activation by track circuits.

    The road was constructed in quite small sections over a couple of years to suit the funds available from the local authorities. The crossing being part of one of these stages, in fact it was built by independent contractors before the road reached it on either side. Because the railway pre-dated the road and crossing all costs fell to the local authorities both for construction and maintenance. The railway had "right of way" due to its original 1870's act of parliament and subsequent transfer orders.

    Following construction Somerset County Council as highways authority sought to appoint a contractor to undertake the routine maintenance and attend any breakdowns of the equipment of the lights, barriers etc. Minehead is quite some way from the remainder of the rail network where suitable contractors were based and most crossings on the national network were maintained by the then BR. It was logical that the WSR should become the maintenance contractor and charge Somerset County Council for all associated costs, this was possible because the WSR had suitably qualified staff already available, the arrangement continues to this day.

    When fixed signals were installed at Minehead and the signal box bought into operation the operational arrangements of the level crossing were not altered and it is still controlled automatically by the passage of trains operating track circuits. The only interface with WSR signals is that the colour light down home signal adjacent to the crossing will not give a clear aspect for any route into the station unless the level crossing has been activated by an approaching train. The signaller will pull all the appropriate levers but the signal will continue to show a red aspect until the train arrives, the speed limit of 10 mph allows enough time for the train to trigger the sequence, the barriers to lower, the home signal to clear, the flashing white light illuminate to confirm that the crossing sequence is working correctly and for the driver to visually confirm that that the crossing is not occupied by a vehicle or pedestrian.

    Unfortunately the arrangement does require a locomotive passing from the main platform side of the station to the bay platform side of the station to continue over the crossing and return because of the position of the triggering track circuits which start the crossing operation. The same applies for any move between sidings on the bay side.

    Since construction vehicular traffic has increased considerably, in addition the building of 3 superstores, fast food catering, youth centre and footpaths has resulted in many many more pedestrians from what was the occasional dog walker to on occasions a almost constant stream. This change of road use seems to have dictated an upgrade whilst the renewal is in progress.

    Hope this helps to explain things.

    (edit, link for the Minehead Seaward Way web cam on wsr.org).
    http://www.wsr.org.uk/r-cam-md2.htm

    Andy.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 11:33 AM
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  10. The Man of Kent

    The Man of Kent New Member

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    We have to have aspirations even if they are expensive and difficult otherwise 4110 will spend the rest of its days rusting in the headshunt.
     
  11. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Member

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    Sorry I was referring to 'mythering' about a Minehead Taunton service: I agree we need to (inter alia) work hard (fundraising) towards bringing 4561, 7821 and 4110 back to beneficial operation.

    Have modified previous post

    Michael Rowe
     
  12. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Just undertaken a quick count on the web cam. Saturday - late morning in the winter. Over a dozen vehicles in a minute. This looks like a busy crossing to me!
     
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  13. The Man of Kent

    The Man of Kent New Member

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    And I was drawing a comparison, the cost and difficulty of restoring 4110 against the cost and difficulty of our twice daily summer DMU service working from and to Taunton rather than Bishops Lydeard.

    There are costs and difficulties but without aspiration there is nothing.
     
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  14. Mogul

    Mogul New Member

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    I cant provide traffic stats for Norden and don't know Seaward Road but the crossing at Norden does not cross the main road to Swanage. Its on a side road installed by BP some years back to access their Wytch Farm oil gathering station. The road only serves this, a farm (the sort with cows that gave its name to the sort with oil) and the car park for Norden Station. Its effectively a dead end and traffic is sparse. We were surprised at the requirement for full barrier.

    The SSC document contains the words "A subsequent Deed of Variation to the Lease dated 4th March 1993 between SCC and WSR Plc (“the Deed of Variation”) states that SCC is responsible for funding repairs of the asset through WSR Plc" and also "The Deed of Variation provides that, subject to SCC paying for the maintenance, upkeep, renewal, repair and servicing to the Crossing Protection System, the Crossing Surface System, the Crossing and the Road System, WSR plc would maintain the Crossing Surface System and Crossing Protection System and be exclusively responsible for the operation of the Crossing."

    EDIT. I now see this has already been covered up thread whilst I was catching up.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 10:00 PM
  15. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    Thanks Andy. It makes much more sense now.
     
  16. 5801

    5801 Member

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    I'm not sure the Engineer has a lot of choice. Converting this to a full barrier crossing means, as you say, that it must be interlocked with the signals. I assume that it is going to be remotely controlled from Minehead box, with the signalman confirming visually that the crossing is clear before signalling a train over it. It would seem likely that to avoid long crossing closure times you will have to move to a regime whereby for departing trains, platform staff (or train crew) operate a 'train ready to start' plunger to advise the signalman to operate the crossing and clear the signals.

    For arriving trains things may be simpler. Presumably the existing track circuits provide a suitable means by which the signalman can judge when to start the crossing sequence. If not, an additional treadle is not difficult to provide.

    However, if the work is currently taking place, all this must have been designed, verified and approved already.

    Stuart J
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 2:43 PM
  17. Mogul

    Mogul New Member

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    That's pretty much how Norden works.
    The crossing is the boundary between two token sections so stop signals in either direction also protect the crossing and are interlocked so cant be cleared until crossing is down. Trains approaching from Wareham are track circuited on approach so the gate keeper can start the gate sequence at the optimum moment before going out side to exchange tokens as the train passes over. From Norden station side a plunger advises the gate keeper when the train is ready to start. Norden station its self continues to be worked by groundframes and is part of the block section controlled by Corfe Castle signal box so is from a signaling perspective is Not within 'Station Limits'.

    A slight delay in departure is thus incurred as once the guard has checked all doors are shut and the train is ready he then plunges from a location near the front of the train from where he can see the crossing and signal which is on the other side of the track. He then waits there while the crossing comes down. This always feels like an eternity and during this time doors can get opened again. Once he sees the crossing down and signal clear he then walkes back to his van re checks the doors before giving the green flag. When we first operated our 'over the road gala' we didn't anticipate how significantly this delay added up and in a tight timetable caused increasing late running as the day progresses. Possibly a lesson for WSR to learn here.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 10:06 PM
  18. Bayard

    Bayard Active Member

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    Most of these arguments seem to be, on the face of it, specious: cars can hit barriers, barriers can hit cars, a wooden gate is easier to repair than a metal barrier, etc. Added to which, traditional gates give a much better visual signal to a railway driver that the crossing is closed against trains than barriers. Also, as far as maintenance is concerned, the WSR already "has the technology". It seems to me that traditional gates are deprecated precisely because they are traditional and thus "out of date". However, does anyone have any evidence that, if the crossing is to be controlled, as it appears the Seaward Way crossing will be, that gates are either slower or more dangerous than barriers?
     
  19. staffordian

    staffordian Member

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    Perhaps a little dated, and only really comparing automatic half barriers with traditional gates, but I have just re-read the MOT report into the 1968 Hixon Level Crossing accident, which occured 50 years ago last week, though frighteningly, it seems like only a short while ago to me :(

    http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/docsummary.php?docID=74

    Many early pages of the report are devoted to the pros and cons of AHB v gates, and come out firmly in favour of barriers, mainly for reasons which are too obvious to repeat here (clue - it's all about £££££s).

    But one interesting point I had given little though to was that gates did provide a safe physical barrier against intrusion onto the railway in the days of horse drawn vehicles and driven livestock. With motor vehicles, that advantage is lost, so there is little point in retaining full gates.
     
  20. Forestpines

    Forestpines Active Member

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    Indeed - the original purpose of crossing gates was to keep the railway's lineside fencing continuous, rather than to protect road traffic. Lineside fencing, in turn, was insisted upon by the landowning factions which dominated both parties in Parliament.

    Originally most crossings were left normally open to trains and only closed across the railway when the road was being used. There are still a few manned gated crossings on minor roads which are only opened and closed when needed - in other words "leave the gates open for trains until a car comes, then leave them open for cars until a train comes".
     

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