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    In Retirement.
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    Retired P-Way Engineer.

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  1. I don't think that is true. A Germany & Austria V Russia & France & Serbia war may have been reasonably inevitable given the political conditions in the Balkans, and the structure of the alliances between the countries in each block, But the main grit in the relationship between Germany and the British Empire was Germany building up its navy to a size that challenged the Royal Navy. Britain would probably have been quite happy for Germany to be all powerful on land. It was the challenge at sea that caused friction. If the Germans had settled for a fleet of a size to defend against France. Britain would probably have stayed friendly with Germany and not become closer to France. Then when WW1 came along Britain might well have said none of our business.
  2. I was involved years ago with replacing an original L&B bridge in Wolverton Works that was banned to mainline diesels and electrics, as that nice Mr Stephenson in a sad lack of foresight had used cast iron girders that were not up to the job. However this restriction did not stop the works double heading trains with their 08 shunters
  3. I don't think your alternate time line works OK France and Britain could have stood up to Germany in 1936, which would perhaps have toppled Hitler from power and prevented WW2. But if he survived in power that then leaves a problem with operation Barbarossa in that the only sensible route into Russia from Germany is through Poland, and we all know what happens if Germany invades Poland. Even with the British Army distracted by Dunkirk and unfriendly Germany tourists lining the French Channel coast, the British forces defending Egypt went through the invading Italian troops like a hot knife through butter. I doubt Italy would have dared to go to war with a Britain that they did not think had already been beaten by Germany, and if they did without German interference the Royal Navy would have closed the Mediterranean to Italian shipping overnight. The Italian advance into Egypt would probably have got about as far as Rome in six months. Without a war in the West the Dutch and British would then have been able to heavily reinforce their possessions in the Far East, and the American Pacific fleet not having to provide so many ships in the Atlantic would also have been stronger. So the Japanese would have had to consider that they would have much stronger opposition than in the real world, and we know that many in Japan were warning that the USA alone would steam roller Japan under with its industrial power. Without a war in the West there would also have been no Taranto so the Japanese might not have got the idea for the attack on Pearl Harbour. Then without a cunning plan to beat America on day one of the war the Japanese would have had to further consider their chances in a slogging war against the USA, British Empire and the Dutch. Bearing in mind that one of the things that drove the Japanese into war was that the Americans cut off their oil supply, Japan being very short of domestic energy supplies. The prospect of a long drawn out naval war against the odds and starting out with no fuel reserves would probably have made even the Japanese think twice. So I think the WW2 alternatives are no WW2, as it happened or Hitler being wise enough not to attack Russia while Britain was unbeaten. With the third option probably ending with the name Berlin replacing Hiroshima in our history books.
  4. The big thing that changed Britain from being friendly to Germany and distrustful of France to the reverse was when Imperial Germany started to build up a fleet to challenge the Royal Navy. If Kaiser Wilhelm had decided to concentrate on his army and not challenge Britain at sea, and then kept clear of the Low Country neutrals. Britain might not then have been that upset about another Franco German war. Being content to prosper while two potential rivals weakened each other. Without British back up and having lost the previous Franco German war, it is then possible that the French would have followed a Maginot line type defensive stance, along a shorter Western Front just along the Franco German border. Making the main theatre of operations the Eastern Front, with a large German drive into Russia. The main thing that lost Germany WW1 was the British sea blockade. Without a hostile Grand Fleet at Scarpa Flow blocking the exit from the North Sea, Germany would have been a lot better off, and keeping the Royal Navy out of WW1 minus GB, would probably have become a German priority. As others have said a neutral Britain might have made money selling arms to the combatants, with both sides avoiding upsetting British opinion in the same way that Germany restricted their submarine operations in case they brought the USA into the real WW1 against them. I would then see British society moving in much the same direction as it did in the real world but more slowly, without the impetus and technical progress provided by the shocks of total war. With Railway mergers occurring steadily on a commercial basis, but no doubt there would have been a few oddities where some small companies with a sound income and independent mind set, or just ones no one wanted to take over stayed in existence, against the trend to enlargement. The four main groups West and East Coast, Southern and Western were already partly in existence as geographical and/or business alignments, so we might have got a flavour of the big four. But with some surviving "Pre-Grouping" companies included in the mix. Then again someone might have got clever and ambitious, perhaps with a combined LNWR/L&Y group taking advantage of a head start given by an early merger given their history. To strangle the potential ECML group by pre-emptively taking over a company at the north end of that line. So that you end up with Euston for the North and Scotland, via an upgraded WCML with Kings Cross being the main station of a group serving the Midlands and Eastern counties. The possibilities are endless.
  5. I think with the use it would get on a preserved line that starting from new materials with a bit of patch replacement of the early failures you could get nearly 50 years use out of softwood sleepers. and a hundred years out of the rail. Given that there was still some 1950's rail in the WCML as recently as a couple of years ago.
  6. My brothers car has a system that dips the headlights just for the section of the beam containing an on coming car. With full beam continuing to shine past on either side. Perhaps something similar could be used so oncoming drivers will not be dazzled. The lack of the high beam in that sector should not be a huge hazard to track workers as the slight added risk of the beam dipping would be cancelled out by the beam dipping being a tip to look behind you.
  7. There used to be a low bridge on the Harpenden - Hemel Hempstead branch with a light weight deck that was hit so often that it had permanent lifting eyes fitted to allow it to be lifted back into place.
  8. There is a little bit of brickwork on the downside by the road bridge, that may be the last remains of the station. Apart from the loading dock on the other side of the A5 bridge.
  9. Myself I think that bright head lights are the best safety improvement for years, and are worth wagon loads of safety paperwork. However a combination of a headlamp in a yellow front has got to be better that either on its own. I found that after nearly forty years of working on track I was sensitised to the particular shade of yellow paint used, and that it attracted my attention regardless of any movement. I also found that on a hot day heat shimmer deflects the light beam randomly spreading the beam and reducing its effectiveness. Conversely the shimmering effect on the image of the yellow front of an approaching train gives a false impression of more movement so that instead of steadily enlarging the trains image also changes in size, which is quite eye catching.
  10. Perhaps they have some old school bosses who put staff safety over image.
  11. Grandmother rights? :-) Although I don't think any LU stock has yellow ends.
  12. The floors on Flatrols tended to be lower than those on Lomacs of a similar size. So if you were an Engineer wanting to load machines on site, it was easier to load them on Flatrols than Lomacs. The four wheel single Flatrols were lower than the bogie double Flatrols so if you were loading a dozer a single Flatrol was the best option. The larger doubles were fine for 360' excavators as the digging arm could be used as a prop to help the machine climb onto the wagon or held out to change the point of balance. Both useful aids where all you had to help load the machines were a couple of soggy rotten softwood sleepers.
  13. Could be worse I once had to load a scarifier fitted D4 dozer on a Flatrol, during a North London Line Job. there was no cant but the fact that on the other side of the wagon there was just a fence consisting of a couple of strands of wire to stop the machine falling off the bridge we were on and onto the ECML was slightly concerning.
  14. As an approximation expect a conductor rail to loose about 1/64 of an inch off the head each year due to wear.
  15. Would have been amusing if they had been. but they were just full of ballast.
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