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Competency - ex Cholsey and Wallingford

Discussion in 'Locomotive M.I.C.' started by ruddingtonrsh56, Dec 9, 2021.

  1. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Remembering 60532's priming issues and their result, there's really no arguing with that.
     
  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think it would be quite problematic to make steam more like diesel (i.e require individual type competencies). You could, for those railways that have them, make diesel more like steam, i.e. have. general competency but ensure your training and assessment meant you had to demonstrate competence across the range before being passed out as qualified.

    I suspect even with steam, it will become increasingly common to have a more formalised change management process when a new type is introduced, either a loco new to the line, or else newly returned after many years out of traffic.

    Tom
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    That is going to happen with steam, I'm sure. What concerns me with the earlier discussion is not just the competency with the locos but the overall competency, which includes such things as route knowledge, rules and regulations, actual driving ability and medical standards.
    Another recent comment from the ORR which might be of interest to you, Tom is that rule books should reflect the requirements of your railway in 2021 and not a rulebook set in 1950. Basically, they don't seem to like heritage railways using generic rulebooks.
     
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  4. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    From a management point of view, I agree with you on the implications. But I'm still struggling, on a first principles basis, with the idea that steam competency is regardless of type, but diesel is highly type specific.
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I would think that most steam loco drivers could get onto a steam loco, operate the various controls and make it go. I'm passed to drive class 25' diesels yet, if I got on a class 37, I wouldn't really even know how to start it.
     
  6. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    I think also with steam you can fire a loco or drive a loco not quite right, and for most locos it won't immediately come back to bite you on the behind. The room for error of course varies depending on type of loco and what is being asked of it (load, route etc), but if the pressure starts dropping or the loco starts losing speed that doesn't necessarily mean you're doomed to run out of steam and stall - there's usually some amount of time to rectify it, if I'm really really struggling as a fireman I can always flag that to the driver and ask them if they're possibly able to ease up the demand and take a look and suggest ways to improve when they get a chance.

    I also believe (correct me if I am wrong) that for diesels if something mechanical starts to go wrong there is a much greater need for the crew to know exactly what it is and take action immediately, whereas with steam locos unless something goes catastrophically wrong you'd generally be able to limp to the next station and take a look over it there.

    Of course you would expect steam loco drivers to know what to do if something did go catastrophically wrong, and while, say, they may be used to running locos with Stephenson Valve Gear and then get a loco with Walschaerts valve gear on loan where they are less confident with if something goes wrong with the motion, that is where having a minder who knows the loco better comes in. The minder is also there to advise on the finer details of how the loco likes to be driven or fired, and ways to troubleshoot and problem solve if things aren't going perfectly
     
  7. Herald

    Herald Member

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    I wonder to what degree the diesel age documented a process which had perhaps previously been rather informal? It seems unlikely that as railway management's invested in new locomotives they didn't also provide some training to ensure they were effectively used and maintained. It would probably be useful to management, however, not to make rules too restrictive thus reducing flexibility of rostering.

    As "new" forms of traction had emerged long before nationalisation does anybody have details of how competency and working conditions changed for loco crews even pre-grouping with electrification? Were type specific competencies only introduced under BR and how much did unions and industrial relations play a part in what emerged or were there specific responses to accident or incident reports? Given the long history of management seeking to blame individuals for delays and incidents even when poor training or what we now term human factors were the real cause did the change of traction bring a more sensible attitude to training and competency assessment?
     
  8. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Historically footplate crews learned their trade on the job, just like any other apprentice. However, this was the longest apprenticeship in the world with no technical training, other than that provided by M.I.C.'s. When the diesels and electrics were introduced, even in pre-grouping times with the latter, there was no long apprenticeship available and footplate crews had to be quickly taught how to drive and fault find. That involved intensive training in the classroom and out on the road. It was obviously a successful way and has continued ever since with the more modern forms of traction. However, in steam days, there was still a need for cleaners and firemen so the long apprenticeship could easily continue without problem as people progressed from cleaner to passed cleaner to fireman to passed fireman to driver. There was also the link system, with footplatemen starting in the lower shunting links and slowly progressing up the links to the prime express passenger duties.
     
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  9. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Steve with you signing 25’s are you not passed for 24’s 26’s 27’s and 33’s ? Being as they’re all from a similar family why would you not be able to take control of one of those?
    Regarding 37’s I’m pretty sure if you sign for one of those you’d be able to sign for the likes of Class 20’s 40’s and 50’s. (Deltics I’m not sure about)
    Not sure what it’s like with Peaks and Spoons (44, 45, 46 and 47) but I think they’re Similar.
    And finally I’m led to believe with 56’s and 58’s if you sign one you sign the other. Or you did about 15 years ago according to an ex Saltley Seagull I know.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2021
  10. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Passed for 24's in theory but as I haven't set foot on one in about 15 years, I wouldn't wish to go no one. I did pass out on a 26 about a week before it went. To be honest, as far as I'm concerned, the best bit about driving a diesel is getting off it.
    Not sure that your 37's and 20's holds much favour with the ORR in terms of being passed out from recent experience. Retaining competence, possibly. No idea about 40's & 50's.
     
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  11. Eightpot

    Eightpot Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    As one very basic example one will need to know where the Battery Isolation Switch is on a loco, in totally different places comparing 08s and 24s, just to give two examples. Without that knowledge you aren't going anywhere.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2021
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  12. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Have to say that’s very true, having known an ex Willesden fitter, him and his mates were looking forward to as he put it ‘playing around with 73’s’ in the mid 90’s when they worked down from Dover on the Mail train, for the first few weeks they couldn’t do anything until a friendly EWS driver showed them where the BIS was.
     
  13. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

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    There isn't even full consistency within diesels. Signing each class (or even sub class) separately is in place for diesel locos, yet traditionally railcars are signed on coupling codes. This led to all sorts of funny stories as there are lots of differences between the aforementioned railcars even though a driver has a "steam style" ticket for them all.

    A small example, most railcars have the driver's key pretty much in front of the driver somewhere on his desk. Metro Cammells however have them on the opposite side of the cab tucked under the lip of the desk. There was more than one occasion when a Metro Cammell came in on an excursion or transfer with the relieving driver (who didn't have Met Camms regularly on his depot) having to delay the train for an hour after calling a fitter to tell him where to put his key!

    This is exactly the sort of thing individual diesel drivers tickets are intended to stop!

    Sent from my moto g(8) power using Tapatalk
     
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  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    It's interesting though that get on an unfamiliar steam loco and you were expected to work everything out, even though important controls can be all over the place (how many different locations of blower are there across different locos?); you might be faced with a screw or lever or steam reverser (and in some cases I believe, the scale on a reverser reads the wrong way, i.e. moves backwards as you go into fore gear); different locos may "lift" the water different amounts when the regulator is opened etc etc.

    Even trivial things can trap the unwary. On a Wainwright H class, you push the damper lever down to open it. On a P class, you push it down to shut it ...

    I guess from the earliest days of steam, you just got on with it (and were probably in those days involved in maintenance anyway, so would be very familiar with "your loco"). As time went on, that never changed even as locos increased in complexity; only with the introduction of different traction did people think "maybe there's a better way to teach people about the things they are driving".

    Tom
     
  15. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

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    It's probably a topic for another day, and one that's been done before on here, but I'm personally astounded that in the current climate that the regs concerning steam loco traction competencies remain on their Victorian principles. A real case of grandfather rights.

    I have witnessed steam crews, erm, "having problems" after stepping on machines unfamiliar to them. It's often made light of, but step out of the public domain and I'm fairly sure there are a few minor incidents that have been caused by this problem.

    Perhaps "back in BR days" crews may have experienced a much greater breadth of engines than many preserved crews, they were also doing it every day, so I would speculate they were more appropriate to deal with different engines on the old system of competency. Can the same be said for a small preserved railway with one or two home fleet engines that suddenly hire or commission a big or unusual loco?

    What some people forget is that if you sign a Class 25 diesel it's possible to have a conversion course onto a Class 26 in one day. The main principles for both steam and diesel are always covered in the original basic training. I have mainly been greeted with horror when suggesting that in 2021 steam competency should be brought in line with diesel, but it wouldn't have to be a big deal if it was done right. Short term visiting engines tend to come with reps anyway. "Conversion courses" are often a quick run through component locations and oddities unique to said loco after all...

    I recall the Churnet Valley had two levels of steam driver (if I remember correctly) which was "S160" and "everything else". I think this was because the S160's were such unusual beasts compared with the rest of the fleet that folks benefitted by being briefed through the S160's perculiarities before being let loose? There may be some CVR guys on here who can correct me if I'm wrong on this one.

    Sent from my moto g(8) power using Tapatalk
     
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  16. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    The one fundamental that is forgotten in this discussion is that steam drivers start their footplate career as a cleaner and work their way up so they are very unlikely to come across something that they have never experienced before when there was an older hand to give guidance and knowledge. This, when you eventually become a driver in your own right very little will be unfamiliar to you. It is entirely different when you learn to drive a diesel loco. They are generally single manned so you don’t get the experience of riding out with someone who is already experienced in you daily routine, hence the need for a training programme.
    Things haven’t changed too much in the heritage era and,with few exceptions every steam loco has the same controls and components. It just the details that vary. One steam loco that is different is a Sentinel and I think it is the norm for drivers to be passed separately on these machines.
     
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  17. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    The big difference between an S160 and most other UK locos is the provision of an air pump and air braking equipment. Some also have Trofinoff valves.
     
  18. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Wasn’t there a problem with someone signing ‘steam’ then having problems with 60532 back in 1994? We are however some way away from discussing what goes on between those 2 bits of steel between Chosley and Wallingford. Any chance of a split please Mods? Thanks.
     
  19. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Member

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    Have just caught up !

    This reminds me of a personal observation at Oxford in the early Sixties. A Bournemouth crew had worked north
    on a rostered return working with a Bulleid Pacific. For some long forgotten reason the pacific was
    ‘stopped’ and the Bournemouth crew were to take over the incoming loco from the north and ‘man’ that
    to Bournemouth. The train duly arrived, the incoming crew on handing over, after the initial pleasantries
    enquired, “Have you driven one of these before ?” , the Bournemouth driver “ I’ve never ……….g seen one ! “.

    (In practice Halls were regular visitors to Bournemouth ( at this time on certain days with the Newcastle
    ( later York ) Bournemouth. The Granges were rare, I think, if memory serves me right, there was an issue
    with the Down relief platform at Eastleigh. )

    Happy New Year to all.

    Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2022
  20. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Do you have a hierarchy of locos when training at the Bluebell? On a line I worked on you would start off on one type (a small pool of about 4-5 locos 'easier' locos) and only once experienced (or even passed I can't remember exactly) you would then be rostered to learn on the more challenging locos. The same was also with driving, people would be passed on the 'easier' locos before being passed on the 'challenging' locos. A mark of seniority was whether you were passed for the challenging locos firing and or driving. (And the flipside is that I do recall some 'senior' people being annoyed about being rostered to locos they thought were beneath them).
     

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