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Bluebell Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Jamessquared, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. martin butler

    martin butler Member

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    I suppose it depends on where you are coming from, and if you are using the rail network to get there, if you are coming from sussex then Haywards heath would make sence, just as much as if your coming from london, then both East Grinstead and HH would be about the same travelling time. where it does get interesting though is which mainline conection, assuming that there will be a crossover between the BB line and NR metals would get used more, you could in effect see tours accessing the bluebell at HH and regaining NR metals at EG assuming the train arrives at HH facing london
     
  2. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    what are the possibilities of using the acquired bridge spans to go southwards from sheffield park?
    cheers,
    julian
     
  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Going south is even more challenging than going west...

    Tom
     
  4. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    With regards to Spa Valley, our stock is accepted on the Birchen to Eridge section by NR by Number and based on Dimensions, Weight etc.
     
  5. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    hi tom,
    why more challenging southwards, given the problems of copyhold junction and the brighton mianline connection? even using the bridge spans to extend sheffield park yard southwards would i have thought have been an advantage. im not convinced that the ardingly scheme is worthwhile. it is interesting to note that the IOWSR has made no further 'progress' in joining up to the ryde-shanklin line at smallbrooke despite being but a few yards apart. there is no commercial case for so doing. i can however see that the extension to east grinstead has considerable commercial benefits and makes solid business sense.
    cheers,
    julian
     
  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    As always, the following is my personal view.

    With regards a westwards extension - it's probably fair to say that opinion is divided, at least amongst people I speak to. What it has in its favour is that getting to the outskirts of Ardingly at least is (relatively) straightforward. Going beyond is much more complex, as we have discussed.

    As for going south - it is way way more challenging.

    Firstly land: It is nine miles to Lewes (six to Culver Junction, which is where the mileposts measure from, and where we meet the abandoned Lewes - Uckfield line; three more on to Lewes). We don't own any of the land, whereas we do own all the land between HK and Ardingly (with the exception of Lywood Tunnel). So the first problem going south is a land purchase of comparable magnitude to buying almost as much land as we already own again.

    The first technical challenge is crossing the A275 immediately south of Sheffield Park. After demolition of the bridge, the road level was raised to help alleviate flooding. So apart from the issue of building a bridge across a main road, we would have to decide either to re-lower the road and accept responsibility for pumping infrastructure, or raise the trackbed south of the station to provide more headroom by means of a steeper gradient immediately south of the station. In practice, my fag packet calculation is that we could gain a worthwhile four or five feet of extra clearance that way, without making the gradient any steeper than the new ruling gradient on the line. I'm not a civil engineer to know how exactly you would raise the level of the running line, while keeping the sidings on both sides near-level, but I assume it is possible.

    The next couple of miles is reasonably clear until you arrive at Newick. The site of Newick and Chailey station has been developed for housing, so you either have to get involved in compulsory purchase, or build a diversion.

    There is also another infilled cutting like Imberhorne Lane. However, the landfill tax credit scheme no longer exists, so at today's prices, you might be looking at around £100 / ton to remove the material, rather than £25 / ton. Additionally, the material in that site is apparently producing large amounts of methane, so is far less benign than the material at Imberhorne Lane. To my knowledge, no-one has ever dug out a cutting like that.

    Beyond Newick, the way is relatively clear again through Barcombe to Culver Junction - assuming by then the Uckfield - Lewes line hasn't been reinstated. However, the way into Lewes has been extensively redeveloped to the point where it is essentially obliterated. Probably re-instatement of Lewes-Uckfield provides the best possibility of getting in to Lewes, because I can't imagine how it would be feasible for a heritage railway alone, and I really can't see the commercial rationale of building 8 miles of extension just to peter out in a field on the edge of the town you are heading for.

    All of the above would no doubt come with significant legal and regulatory challenges.

    So current policy ceems to be to work with the planning authorities to prevent any further encroachment on the land, but there is no active push south. I don't think there is any even indicative cost of what all of that might cost, but if you reckon on the Northern extension being £2million / mile at today's prices, it is easy to imagine a southern extension would be many multiples of that, and any reasonable expectation of a payoff wouldn't occur until you had made it all the way into Lewes town centre. Realistically, you are into Euromillions / Russian Oligarch territory...

    Tom
     
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  7. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    hi tom,
    thank you very much for that very detailed reply, and i apologise for forgetting that the road had been raised just south of Sheffield Park where the bridge once was. i also wasnt aware of all the redevelopment on the track bed southwards.
    many thanks,
    julian
     
  8. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    A southbound extension would be a massive challenge, as Tom has rightly pointed out. Going west comes next, not for a few years, and a sufficient challenge to exercise a few minds, at least if it is to progress beyond Ardingly. However, I wouldn't rule out the Bluebell going south one day, but not for a very long time. Perhaps in time for the centenary of closure?
     
  9. 5786Dan

    5786Dan New Member

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    Is it likely that West Hoathly will be reinstated in the near future given the success of the EG extension? Would it be likely to appear before the Ardingly extension or not?
     
  10. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Member

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    Without taking this thread off track too far, I do not think the IWSR is currently trying to make progress as you put it, more of a 'watching brief' at the present time. It all depends on the Island Line; the current setup will need to change at some time in the future because many of the assets (trains, signals and power supply) are getting near life expiry. At the point when works are required it would seem worthwhile to correct a current problem where the passing loops are very close to the ends of the line, which results in an uneven service that does not match with the even ferry intervals. A relaid loop at Brading (roughly half way) would mean the trains could pass there and match up with the ferries. At the same time you could remove (almost) all of the signalling and run on line of sight like a tramway with one train in each section. Once this loop is relayed, the double track section from Smallbrook to Ryde is not necessary, so one track can be passed to the IWSR along with part of Ryde St Johns Road station. The local authority seems to be behind the idea as does Network Rail, so the will is there but the time is not right. There is still all of the issues about running alongside an electrified line and so on as already discussed, plus St Johns Road is really on the wrong side of town, in an ideal world we would go to the Esplanade (nearer the tourist bit) but there is a reduced height tunnel in the way and the track layout would be very difficult. The station at Smallbrook looks set to remain as a large housing development is planned nearby. So, it should happen in due course, but is clearly dependant not just on the steam railway.

    I should point out this is my personal understanding not an official IWSR view.
     
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  11. A1X

    A1X Member

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    Here's just a thought from reading Tom's post, but would there be a legitimate business case to extend the line south of Sheffield Park as far as the A272 and create a large car park with station there? Wouldn't need to be anything fancy but could provide some much needed additional car parking capability on a major road and also increase operational flexibility?

    Call it "Newick North" or something?
     
  12. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Member

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    Apologies for continuing to stray off topic, but has the track through the tunnel been raised any further since the 80's? A few years ago a former employee pointed out on the SEMG yahoo group that, back then at least, Rink Road bridge in the up direction was actually lower than the roof of the tunnel and this allowed a wooden profile of a Class 503 to successfully negotiate the tunnel when they were being considered as replacements for the ex-LU Standard Stock.

    Though rather tight in places an unmodified 03 shunter apparently did the same, so unless there have been any major changes since ex-Island rolling stock may still fit through to Esplanade... at least in theory.

    Chris
     
  13. seawright

    seawright New Member

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    I don't know what the implications are of running steam locomotives on electrified lines though I am aware that some diesel locomotives were either built with or modified to have high level brake pipes to facilitate coupling/uncoupling on electrified lines. I'm also aware that steam is the primary, though not exclusive, source of motive power on the Bluebell Line however could the line to Hayward's Heath be electrified so as to provide a realistic environment to run preserved electric locomotives and EMUs? I realise it would require some precautions at HK but provided there is space for a separate platform would this be any different to East Grinstead?
     
  14. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member

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    There is no physical impedement in running steam on electrified lines. See all the excursions which run around the old Southern system. Third rail trains ran with screw couplings and low level brakes from 1920s to well in to 1970s. High level brake pipes were not used untill the 50s and were more to do with speeding up coupling/uncoupling using buckeye couplers as all the work can be done from platform level. Precautions would have to be taken re coupling and it would more be a case of familiarity with the operation. Do you have enough turns working near third rail as a volunteer to maintain minimum experience lkevels.

    There has been much discussion in Bluebell news re third rail and the concensus seems to be the problems exceed the benefits. For example do you employ a traction current engineer or buy in the expertisel
     
  15. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Member

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    NR tracks go to four tracks after Balcombe Station. not Haywards Heath.
     
  16. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    I have seen photos of the class 503 mock up at the tunnel mouth, they show a good clearance. The use of the class 503 would have required the lowering of all tracks in platform roads. Not sure how they would have coped with the spray on the pier.

    I am sure that I didn't imagine a few years ago seeing a report that Ryde tunnel had been cleared for class 150 and 158!
     
  17. burmister

    burmister Member

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    Four tracks go to two at Balcombe tunnel junction north of Balcombe tunnel. This junction was moved north to its current position several years ago to allow higher speeds on both the fast and slow over the new junction. ( seem to recall the fast was 65mph when junc was outside the tunnel entrance)

    It is then two tracks through the tunnel, Balcombe station and the Ouse valley viaduct to south of the old Copyhold Junction which is north of HH where the Ardingly branch leaves. After that it is four tracks to just south of HK. 'Copyhold' junction was moved southwards several years ago but still quite a long way north of HH to allow stopping trains to leave the main at speed to slow and stop at HH and permit a following 'fast' or overtaking train to approach HH under clear signals. Doubt if the TOC would appreciate their trains getting adverse signals approaching HH just to get enough space for a dedicated BB line.

    Spa is not allowed to run 4 wheelers next to the 60 mph NR line at Eridge so can't see BB being allowed to run 4 wheelers or perhaps even grease lubricated Bullied and Maunsell coaches next to 90mph traffic at HH. Perhaps we have 'discovered' the reason why the BB PLC only seems interested in running Commonwealth roller bearing Mk1s?:rolleyes:

    Brian
     
  18. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Ah, Newick Parkway :)

    In fantasy land - I'd extend south as you say, build a mother-of-all termini adjacent to the A272 with the London Bridge canopy roof, plenty of undercover space to store the service sets overnight out of the weather, a big re-constructed goods shed for the heritage goods wagons to be stored under cover; move the loco works to the old dairy site via kick-back siding; return Sheffield Park to a small station and concentrate all the commercial activities (offices and shop / restaurant) at Newick Parkway (where they would be more in keeping in style), along with plenty of space for the "large exhibits" museum we need.

    In the real world - I doubt there would be enough business advantage. We are reasonably well off for parking at Sheffield Park and adjacent to a main road already, so you'd be adding a complicated bridge, an extra station, two miles of extra infrastructure to maintain (track / signals), four miles on every round trip (and quite possibly would tip over from being able to get away with two service trains, to needing three to maintain a reasonable service frequency) for not much practical gain.

    Tom
     
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  19. 73129

    73129 Member

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    There could be a good commercial case for Network Rail to help finance the extension to Ardingly and Hayward's Heath. Then the extension could be used has a diversionary line from Hayward's Heath to East Grinstead when the line between Hayward's Heath and London is blocked. Or the BB could be used to take some of the pressure off the main line from Brighton to London in the morning and late afternoon.
     
  20. 21B

    21B Part of the furniture

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    I doubt that using the BB as a diversionary route is likely to appeal over much to either NR or BB. The practical operational issues aren't trivial.

    Derailing the thread again for a moment.....when the Island Line equipment finally reaches the end of its natural, whose to say that the solution isn't the wholesale transfer of the whole lot to the IWSR? Wasn't there some rumblings a year or so ago about the Island Line possibly no longer being a good use of public subsidy?
     

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