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Brake vans each end of a train ?


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8 hours ago, The Johnster said:

....... Of course, only the train van would have ........... the lamps displayed.

....... which is why the use of FIXED side lamps was abandoned - though they managed to last to nationalisation on the LNER, relying just on the sight of the tail lamp itself for confirmation that the train was complete. [ Conversely, the Southern got rid of fixed lamps early on and relied ONLY on two demountable side lamps to demote the rear, without the need for a third lamp : economical as ever ! ]

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3 hours ago, caradoc said:

By the time my Control career started in Glasgow in 1984 brake vans were no longer a critical part of most freight operations, however my colleagues told me that in the 'old days' brake vans could be like gold dust, so muich so that a Controller was responsible for monitoring and collating their whereabouts !

Brakevans were controlled on the normal Rolling Stock Return but in areas such as those with a lot of mineral traffic they would be subject to more immediate control such as the example you quote.  When i was in South Wales we used to guard some of our vans very jealously to stop the likes of Margam, in particular, stealing them and sending engines back without the van if a train was cancelled.  I even asked Cathays to brand the vans 'Radyr RU' but was rebuffed as that wasn't permitted by then:(

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I've commented before about Margam in regard to stealing brake vans; they once pinched one of mine while I was having a cup of tea and replaced it with an unprepped one with no lamps, equipment, or stove coal in the hope that I'd climb aboard and give the tip before I'd realised.  I returned to the train just in time to see my warm van disappearing down line in the direction of Llandeilo Jc or somewhere.  The yard foreman ordered me to take the train but refused me access to lamps or coal.  Not gonna happen.

 

This precipitated a my throwing my toys out of the pram big time and refusing to take the train, being reported to my Train Crew Manager at Canton, and eventually departing back cab with the fitted head as a class 6 in high dudgeon.  Wasn't surprised to be called into the office when I booked on the following night, which gave me a chance to explain my side of the tale.  Never heard anything more about it...

 

Larceny in their souls the lot of 'em.  Least lamented closure as far as I'm concerned; their train preparation was incompetent to non-existent as well, except for their own blokes.  You could turn up at Radyr or Llantrisant in the knowledge that all you had to do was light the stove, everything else being done properly for you, and there was little problem prepping your own train in most places, but not Margam!

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On 02/03/2019 at 09:43, DY444 said:

There was a period when the Denby-Willington coal trains ran with a brake van on each end.

I think this had more to do with the number of gated crossings, 2nd man opens gate then the guard would close the gates . Two brakesvans to save faffing about after loading with coal, simply engine on the other end and ready to go. Always seemed to be plenty of airpiped brakevans at Derby. It's also worth remembering that class 20 hauled freights required a brake on fully fitted freights but not necessarily at the rear . This rule was changed around the time mass dualbrake conversions started(83-84ish?) Finally shark ballast ploughs are not classed as brakevans but there was an emergency brake valve.

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Guards on MGR trains hauled by twin nose to nose class 20s rode in the cab of the trailing loco, but it was a bit anomalous.  The principle of the guard riding on board the loco on a fully fitted train was that he was still required to observe the train and alert the driver of any problem, then protect in rear with detonators if needed.  On a single class 20, or any other loco with a single cab, there was nowhere for him to sit but jobs involving single Type 1 locos were almost always class 7,8, or 9 trains that had brake vans anyway.  

 

But with a pair of 20s on a fully fitted train, the guard, who communicated with the driver by use of the fire alarm test bell push button, had no means of communicating with the driver at all, which rendered his usefulness a bit moot...

 

In the event, we often rode in front with the drivers, who appreciated the company, and it was just as possible to keep an eye on your train with an occasional look back on a curve; the driver checked his side in the same way.  In the back cab, you were supposed to sit in the secondman's seat in case you bumped into anything on the control desk, but that meant that that side of the train was not under any observation from anyone at all unless the job was double manned.  This was a matter that was paradoxically gaining more importance with the spread of MAS signalling and loss of observers in the form of signalmen every few miles.

 

The usefulness of a freight guard in the back cab of a loco is debatable at best, but observation of the train was more important in the days of short wheelbase older wagons whose riding was sometimes questionable, the reason for the 45mph speed restriction, and which had more bits to come loose and cause potential problems, not to mention handbrake levers that bounced about sometimes, and axleboxes more prone to overheating than modern roller bearing types.

 

It's all automated now; freight trains are manned driver only, MAS and automatic brakes mean that divided trains are virtually unknown, and hot box detectors count axles and keep an eye on things.  Drivers are kept alert by buzzers and things they have to respond to on a regular basis, and don't need other human beings with them to make sure they are awake.  

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Technology exists to make trains driverless anyway.

its far easier than making driverless cars.

 

UK railways would make a great leader for this, as the fencing of our tracks is more so than any other nation.

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When I was at Hooton in 1976, partially fitted trains from Chester direction to the Helsby Branch (and vice-versa) that needed to run round had a brake van at either end and were allowed 20 minutes to run round. If a train had only one brake van they were allowed an extra 10 minutes to run round the brake van as well.

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1 hour ago, flyingsignalman said:

When I was at Hooton in 1976, partially fitted trains from Chester direction to the Helsby Branch (and vice-versa) that needed to run round had a brake van at either end and were allowed 20 minutes to run round. If a train had only one brake van they were allowed an extra 10 minutes to run round the brake van as well.

 

The accident at Chester General on the 8th May 1972 involved a train with Brake Vans at both end.

 

“The train had run from Ellesmere Port as an unbraked freight train and stopped at Helsby, where it needed to reverse. The guard had forgotten to connect the vacuum pipes when the locomotive coupled up to the opposite end of the train, so that extra brake power was not available on the falling gradient into Chester. The driver had also omitted to carry out a brake test before departure.”

 

http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/DoE_Chester1972.pdf

 

 

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4 hours ago, adb968008 said:

Technology exists to make trains driverless anyway.

its far easier than making driverless cars.

 

UK railways would make a great leader for this, as the fencing of our tracks is more so than any other nation.

On very high speed railways in the future this may be essential as the capacity of human drivers to respond to situations at 300 mph + will not be up to the task!

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7 hours ago, The Johnster said:

On very high speed railways in the future this may be essential as the capacity of human drivers to respond to situations at 300 mph + will not be up to the task!

 

Which is why the ORR mandate that in cab signalling for trains which travel at grater than 125mph  which can intervene if the driver does not react appropriately to said in cab signals / speed limits!

 

(Hence the flashing green / 140mph trial site on the ECML is not permitted to be used in normal service above 125mph)

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Indeed.  Drivers on such trains are morphing into 'train minders' whose job will be mostly to drive the train at low speeds in shunting or positioning moves, or to be able to move it if the automated system fails for some reason and has to be switched out of use; they will be speed restricted in this.

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20 hours ago, The Johnster said:

On very high speed railways in the future this may be essential as the capacity of human drivers to respond to situations at 300 mph + will not be up to the task!

Not quite sure about that.  Some human "drivers" have coped adequately with speeds double that at low level and no rails to follow.  "Situations" can come up very fast so you certainly don't need "buzzers" to keep you awake.

best wishes,

 

Ian

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They have, but even at 50 feet or so there is little that will get in the way and no traffic passing in the opposite direction with about 3 feet clearance.  When 'situations' come up they do so very fast indeed, but an aircraft is a lot more agile and responsive than a train,  And fighter pilots, young guys with very sharp reflexes, don't have to do it for 3 or 4 hours at a time, not at low level anyway!

 

I live in Wales and see quite a bit of this sort of thing as they train for it; it is very impressive.  Especially when they do it with Hercules transports...

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