A slight error in the estimate or buy a new calculator?

Report in Live Rail Feb 2017 (Journal of the Southern Electric Group)

“The Department for Transport has discovered that the £20 M originally allocated was far from adequate, so is providing £300 M for improving the resilience of the Southern & Thameslink network.”

That is an error in the “estimate” of £280 M- ( 1400% ).

Anybody dismissed, shot at dawn or hung from a lamp- post- course not- the taxpayer will provide!

The age of trains?

When will transport correspondents and perhaps some campaign groups, understand the the age of trains is nothing like the age of cars. They continue to be surprised by how long they last & how they are regularly refurbished

An article in today’s Guardian provided by the Press Association  draws attention that Britain’s rolling stock is “21 years old on average”.

Now average is like statistics -it can be manipulated. The figure seems to include 40 year old Caledonian sleepers- MK3’s  to you and me, which have had at least a couple of major upgrades during their life and are still some of the strongest railway carriages ever built in Britain. If you recall Morris Marinas and Austin Allegros, popular cars of the same period, we are not talking about the same sort of product! Even still  these sleepers aren’t exactly a major part of our current carriage stock.

Then they’re are onto Pacers. Now if memory serves me right they are a derivative of a Leyland National bus body-  And who drove (no pun intended) BR to use these- yes our wonderful Ministry( of/for but generally against railways) who wanted to replace 40 year old DMU’s which have only recently departed our systems- but were always better than Pacers.

As usual the situation is not simple, but commentators need simple solutions these days.

Railways have been “cascading” rolling stock for generations. The Southern Railway was a past master at it and BR- Southern Region carried on the tradition. So how old is the train- do we date it by when it was first built; when it was last refurbished or when they added Wi-Fi?.

Re-using perfectly good under-frames in the building of “new” electric stock was usually the way they could afford to create most of the Southern Electric system .An investigation into a crash into the buffers at Cannon St station in 1991  identified that the under frames on the electric stock built in the early 1950’s, dated from 1928 & 1934 and this was possibly a minor contributory cause of the extensive damage. (The train hit the buffers at 10 mph- possibly not a design criteria!)

Then of course the usual- they do it better in Germany, France & Japan piece but no facts to back this statement. With the state of DB and SNCF these days I would guess there aren’t any!

We should count ourselves lucky we have Network Rail..

The new Amtrak station at Niagara Falls, which reportedly took 17 years to complete and cost $43 million, will open on December 6… Timetable News European Rail Timetable Editorial December 2016






The press & railway terminology

Unfortunately on the extremely rare instances of railway accidents without or with fatalities,  press & TV reporters seem unable to use the correct vocabulary for railway related items.

They borrow terms related to motoring- the … came off on a sharp corner- rather than a curve in the track. Then the most inappropriate- “the …. skidded or swerved off the track”.

The term train tracks or rail tracks (that’s like saying rail rails!) seems to have crept into common usage, rather than the more correct railway tracks.

I’ve heard ballast referred to as shingle or gravel, the list goes on…. confusion between locomotives, carriages and multiple units.

Obviously we have reached an era when interest in transport systems  in ones youth, other than cars, passed the reporters by.

We won’t mention their lack of knowledge of railway safety systems or acknowledgement of the rarity of railway accidents & fatalities when compared to  motoring.

and some of them call themselves transport correspondents..

A “new” fact regarding Liphook railway station signalling

Reading the latest South Western Circle Monograph on the L&SWR use of low pressure pneumatic signalling by Stuart Isbister I came across the following-

“Upper quadrant signals were first introduced onto former L&SWR routes at Liphook on Sunday 25th March 1928”

Apparently no further conversion dates are recorded on “Signalling Notices” to train crew.

It also appears that about the same time distant signals generally were changed from red arms, to the now familiar yellow arm with black chevrons. The spectacle colours were changed to yellow and green (from red and green).

The description of a yellow distant signal, with arm in the horizontal position was referred to as being “at caution” rather than “at danger” as previously.

Durbridge (Dursley) in wartime

Of all the places that would be the destination of a Dunkirk troop evacuation train from Dover, one of the least likely must be Dursley.

Friday May 31st 1940 Train no V.162 Departed Dover 10-15am;  Arrived Redhill 12.53 pm  Departed  1.01pm Route via Reading and Yate (Gloucestershire)

There is no record of its arrival time in Dursley or what  facility the troops were accommodated in upon arrival.

This was the 44th evacuation train of 79 operated that day, of which 61 left Dover

An average of 536 troops were accommodated in each of the 560 trains that were operated from 27th May to 3rd June 1940.

In total 300,563 troops were evacuated from Dunkirk and thence by train from south coast ports.

Perhaps a special on the layout…

Arriving in good time

From the ABC Railway Guide April 1859

“Be sure to be at the station several minutes before the departure of the train by which you propose to travel.

Hurried excitement and bustle will throw you into a perspiration, which will be fatal to all comfort during your ride and will expose you to the danger of catching cold. “