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Ian J.

Rules Affecting Appearance of Heritage Line at 40 or 50 mph

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4 hours ago, Ian J. said:

While I accept that in the real world it probably wouldn't be worth any heritage line running above 25mph, please remember this is a 'what if' scenario for an imagined line that is longer than any current heritage line (my current estimate is around 29 miles); is built to a sort of 'secondary line' standard for earthworks for its main line (the branch has tighter curves); and is carrying commercial freight already. The extension of the initial S&P idea is to also have some commercial passenger services as well as heritage services, and as commercial services the passengers would 'want' to get from A to B faster than a sedantry trip for leisure, hence the idea for allowing for 40+ mph. In modelling sections of the line, I am wanting to ensure that the features are suitable for that higher speed.

Sounds to me like you would be better modelling something akin to the Grosmont to Whitby line - Network Rail with Heritage services in season.

 

Plus Fort William to Mallaig is a similar offering.

Edited by woodenhead

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53 minutes ago, phil-b259 said:

Would mechanical signalling be a no-no, these days? My impression is it might have to go :(

 

I believe there are still places on NR that use mechanical signalling.

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1 hour ago, Ian J. said:

@The Stationmaster I get the feeling you're taking the binary position, that a railway is either heritage or commercial, but not anything inbetween?

 

Because, at least from a legal perspective, it is a binary position.

 

If you are a commercial operation, then you need to follow the legalities/regulations governing being a commercial operation.

 

In the real world there is no "well, we will pick and choose which parts of commercial and which parts of heritage we like".

 

1 hour ago, Ian J. said:

 

Unfortunately for my scenario, the railway is coming from a heritage starting point and is looking for added revenue, hence the freight trains, while not destroying the heritage that brings visitors to the line. Accordingly the running of commercial passenger services would have to fit in to the heritage appearance as much as possible, so any changes that would obliterate the heritage elements (such as turning it into a pseudo-Network Rail line outright) would be unwanted.

 

At which point your fictional heritage railway would need to make a choice - retain its character by remaining a heritage line (and giving up the wanted extra revenue) or go for the extra revenue and accept that you are no longer a heritage railway - you are a commercial railway in operations and appearance that happens to run some heritage stock / services on occasion.

 

1 hour ago, Ian J. said:

In your post, it seems you're making it an all or nothing change such that, while heritage services could run, the line itself (which includes the stations and their appearance, the types of signals used, etc) would pretty much have to be wiped out in order to meet the requirements for a much faster line (not that the S&P would ever have been a 90mph line or could 'realistically' ever be), and to meet modern regulations on provision of facilities (which may have to happen to some degree anyway, as already does with most heritage lines).

 

Because it would be.

 

In addition to the mentioned realities of the law and regulations, the insurance coverage would also force significant changes as the risks change.

 

1 hour ago, Ian J. said:

I disagree (with an uneducated mind) on the idea that running at around 90mph would be needed to keep passengers using a commercial service, by the way. There must be quite a few lines on the national network where that already doesn't happen and average speeds of 40 or less are common due to maximum speeds not being at 90 or more (suburban lines in London are what I'm thinking of, the Overground lines particularly).

 

Any new / reopening line today has to deal with the realities of being an operation in 2020 - and that means you are competing with the private car.  To be a competitive choice you need to be convenient in point to point timings, which means higher line speeds.  If you can't achieve the higher line speeds, then it is unlikely your new commercial passenger service would be successful in getting people out of their cars, and thus it won't generate the revenue expected.

 

Those higher line speeds allow for higher average speeds as you make up for time lost at stations, and don't base things on what happens in a bigger city with lots of stations relatively close together and congestion that gives rail transit an advantage over roads.

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1 hour ago, Ian J. said:

Would mechanical signalling be a no-no, these days? My impression is it might have to go :(

 

From a regulation perspective, maybe?

 

Obviously NR still has mechanical signalling in use in some places, though the real question isn't whether it still exists but rather would the regulators allow it on a "new" line which your heritage railway would likely be treated as.  Maybe, maybe not.

 

But, from a practical perspective, depending on how much signalling required the answer would be yes - the cost savings from being able to have 1 person signal the entire line would help with that much needed revenue, particularly if the regulations mean a higher standard of training for your line's signallers.

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38 minutes ago, The Johnster said:

I believe there are still places on NR that use mechanical signalling.

 

Im pretty sure the section between Settle Junction and Carnforth is mechanically signalled and at 24 miles is the longest continuous section on the network aswell.

 

I could be and I am prepared to be very wrong on this.

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Does the Dartmoor Railway meet your criteria in any way Ian?

Currently there is a summer sunday only passenger service from Exeter to Okehampton.

The heritage service is Okehampton to Meldon Viaduct on summer weekends, but they have run heritage trains Okehampton toward Yeoford.

There has been no commercial freight over the route for some years. When did the last ballast trains run from Meldon, did that overlap  with the heritage train working?

 

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Dartmoor Railway is an odd sort of set up.  I've stayed twice at the YHA in the goods shed, and the station is lovely; highly atmospheric, very nicely restored/preserved, and the staff are very friendly; in fact, Okehampton is a very friendly place all round.  The station seems to be the projected base of a full scale railway operation in order to connect the town to Exeter, and ultimately Plymouth as well, but seems to have little intention of running regularly as a heritage line with timetabled services, and not to have much in the way of facilities for restoring or maintaining locos or stock, not yet anyway.  It has a very good model and book shop, and does a perfectly decent cream tea, but is not a typical heritage/preserved railway operation.  Not to say it hasn't got a lot to offer in the way of modelling inspiration; the station approach, up a steep hill with the railway on shelf on what is the slope leading to the moor, is a wonderful combination of slopes and angles, and the general layout of the station and goods yard is very attractive as a layout; the 'shelf on a hillside' location lends itself to reproduction on baseboards

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Some years ago I was involved in a feasibility study into the use of a heritage railway to run through trains via its Network Rail connections so the towns in served would have a commuter service to the nearby city.  We concluded that the only way of doing this without the heritage operation having to take on most of the systems, rules and standards of the national network was to have a "time segregation" where the through trains didn't run at the same time as the heritage service.  So at certain times of day the railway would follow national network rules and at others it would revert to heritage rules.  For example we though it would need AWS/TPWS but the trackside equipment could perhaps be hidden under wooden planking so as not to be too obvious.  Stations could have ticket machines inside an imitation lamp hut or similar, and closed off during heritage running hours.  

 

Because on certain weekdays the railway ran a timetable from mid-morning to late afternoon, the commuter service would be limited to not very attractive hours of operation and wouldn't run off-peak or at weekends.  I guess heritage trains using main-line certified locos and stock could have allowed both types of service to run at the same time, but the railway wasn't interested in doing this and would probably have had to have the considerable costs involved reimbursed by local government.  

Edited by Edwin_m
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8 minutes ago, Edwin_m said:

Some years ago I was involved in a feasibility study into the use of a heritage railway to run through trains via its Network Rail connections so the towns in served would have a commuter service to the nearby city.  We concluded that the only way of doing this without the heritage operation having to take on most of the systems, rules and standards of the national network was to have a "time segregation" where the through trains didn't run at the same time as the heritage service.  So at certain times of day the railway would follow national network rules and at others it would revert to heritage rules.  For example we though it would need AWS/TPWS but the trackside equipment could perhaps be hidden under wooden planking so as not to be too obvious.  Stations could have ticket machines inside an imitation lamp hut or similar, and closed off during heritage running hours.  

 

Because on certain weekdays the railway ran a timetable from mid-morning to late afternoon, the hours of the commuter service were limited and there would be no service off-peak or at weekends.  I guess heritage trains using main-line certified locos and stock could have allowed both types of service to run at the same time, but the railway wasn't interested in doing this.  

 

^^^^ This is very close to something I had been thinking about from an operational point of view. I imagined that the heritage stock couldn't be used at the same time as commercial stock running at higher speeds due to the fragility of the heritage stock in the event of an accident. In my imagination, the commercial services would run early mornings and late evenings Mon-Fri using modern stock, with heritage on old stock limited to 25mph at weekends and during the day between the commercial running on school holidays.

 

Obviously there would be some physical changes to the line and stations, but the idea was to try and keep changes to a minimum, and hide them as much as is practical. The AWS/TPWS would be visible, and I don't have a problem with that, as probably would be things like platform edging for partially sighted and ramps for disabled access, etc. The intent of this thread was to try and work out a list of the things that would be different and make sure I modelled them appropriately.

Edited by Ian J.

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6 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Dartmoor Railway is an odd sort of set up.  I've stayed twice at the YHA in the goods shed, and the station is lovely; highly atmospheric, very nicely restored/preserved, and the staff are very friendly; in fact, Okehampton is a very friendly place all round.  The station seems to be the projected base of a full scale railway operation in order to connect the town to Exeter, and ultimately Plymouth as well, but seems to have little intention of running regularly as a heritage line with timetabled services, and not to have much in the way of facilities for restoring or maintaining locos or stock, not yet anyway.

 

Recently discussed elsewhere on here (link below) as the railway is for sale as the American owner sells it's 3 UK businesses.

 

The original poster might find it interesting, particularly the linked to Devon Council report on the necessary features of the line and new station to allow for both the mainline Devon Metro trains to run as the same time as the Dartmoor Railway trains (signalling considerations, bay platform to allow both trains to connect, safety considerations), or even the necessity of a new station and car park so that the heritage railway can even operate without having commuters take all the parking.

 

Also the superficial inspection of the existing line and the faults that indicate, while currently acceptable for its heritage operation, there is likely a lot of upgrading and certainly more thorough inspection of the line required for proper mainline passenger service.

 

 

Edited by mdvle
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Putting aside what the legislation may say and putting on the operating and commercial hats there are all sorts of implications and reasons why a heritage railway would not want to increase line speed. 

  • We are selling our passengers an experience of a past time when things were less rushed, going faster won't necessarily bring more passenger
  • Going faster will though increase wear and tear on engines and stock which are at least 50 years old. 
  • Thinking of my local line in BR days there was a speed limit of 45 mph with further restrictions. In truth it would only be suitable on probably 3 sections and on three of them you would want to remove level crossings to reduce risk. I am not sure the cost benefit would stand up.
  •  I don't know that much about PWay but would imagine higher speeds would require a greater depth of ballast, which is all an additional cost. 
  • It is possible some signals would need to be moved to allow for higher running speeds, the thought of approaching some at BR line speed would be quite alarming (in my view)

I think the idea of higher speed is one more attractive to modern traction enthusiasts, rather than the majority of visitors

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Most PWAY on most heritage lines is laid to mainline specification (note specification not standards) heritage railways don't skimp on ballast...just like they don't put keys in every other sleeper....whilst in some cases rail and points may be second hand.....its in the railways best interest to have the highest quality permanent way possible, because dodgy railheads create dodgy wheelsets, on locos and coaches....and yes the locos might not be the railways problem but the coaches are....no coaches no trains, no trains, no people, no people, no income.

 

so yes a lot of railways run on less than A+ Pway...but its getting rare now, especially since the ORR are now paying very very close attention to it....

 

you hit the nail on the head...wear and tear on stock....

 

but also...bear in mind a trip on the West Somerset for a family of 4 is close to £100 quid....if they ran at 40mph....that would make it what a 40 min journey....

 

then bear in mind...fuel....not so much for diesels...(the harder a Sulzer is worked the more efficient it becomes) but steam....and the problem isn't coal....its water! water is tightly controlled resource on preserved railways...not because of cost...because of supply...it has to be treated and that takes time....its not just a case of filling up from the tap (unless you want to pay extra at overhaul time).... and there are very few preserved lines which have the capacity to use extra water.

 

you create a 40mph timetable you have to stick to it....and a lot people think a preserved line can run how it likes, not the case....you create a timetable punters expect you to stick to it....most railways have issues sticking to a 25mph timetable...

 

someone above mentioned commercial vs heritage.....that line has been blurring very heavily in the last 10 years...the days of preserved lines running on heritage enthusiasm alone is long gone.....with 6/7 figure wage bills.... donations don't cut it anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Regarding semaphore signals, Hastings has recently been re-signalled with new semaphore signals in places, the reason being the line capacity, overlaps and other considerations made sense to keep the semaphores. colour light signals neede a longer overlap, diffreent interlocking and the like. so there's no problem with the ORR and semaphore signalling. there's still a lot of it about.

 

Another aspect is the crashworthiness of older stock. Whilst crashes are fortunately extremely rare on all railways, they do happen. When the IWSR was considering the future of the Ryde Pier Tram, a thorough investigation had to be made as to the compatibility of an ancient lightweight tramcar coming into an equally ancient and heavy steam loco. It was found that the regulation provide for joint running as in the west Midlands running next to NR track. Providing it was impossible for the two to never meet on a passenger line, it was ok. It was decided that the IWSR block system met those criteria. Hence the Ryde Pier Tram project proceeds steadily.

 

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OK, to clear something up that might not be obvious but it has been mentioned in @Edwin_m and my posts above - the idea of running the heritage services at 40mph would not be what happens. There would be a clear (time) division between heritage and commercial services, and the stock for each would have to be entirely different. A bit of further thought and I think it would be likely that the commercial services could be a joint venture with a National Rail TOC rather than the S&P's own stock, if an arrangement could be found that was beneficial to both parties.

 

So, heritage = S&P heritage stock @ 25mph, within a restricted set of times (weekends and public holidays, and non-rush hour during school holidays); commercial = TOC 'modern' stock @ somewhere between 40 and 60 mph, rush hour mornings and evenings Mon-Fri).

 

I'm beginning to get a better idea of how the line and lineside might look, with AWS/TPWS, semaphores for the most part, some provision of disability features on stations (which means non-heritage platform edging, I think), and a few other smaller things like modern toilets, maybe ticket machines at the lesser stations, etc.

 

Speed limit signs will be a headache as there will need to be both, for 25mph and the higher limit but with some way to indicate which is in force based on the time of day or some other factor affecting operations, but with a default that the lower heritage speed always takes precedence.

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5 hours ago, pheaton said:

Most PWAY on most heritage lines is laid to mainline specification (note specification not standards)

 

 

 

A specification identifies what classes to meet in the standard. In most cases wear at 40mph would be very little different than 25mph, as long as the equalisation speed is in the 25mph-40 mph range. Back in 1990 I did a long section on the Cromer branch were the was reduced speed limit due to a bridge just off section. The rails had been in since the 70's with a nice selection of GER and even MGN chairs and it had almost zero wear acrooss the head.

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I think the discussion is getting hung up on detail about heritage passenger services. There are plenty of prototype examples where commercial operations could generate additional revenue without necessarily requiring higher speeds.

 

- Revenue freight such as stone to Minehead, MOD to Redmire, coal from Wolsingham and bitumen on the Ribble. I have a recollection spoil trains operated on a preserved line but can't remember the details.

- Seasonal running of main line DMUs onto preserved lines, for example to Corfe Castle and Bishops Lydeard. Okehampton is a more complicated example but shows how you can mix things up.

- Main line rail rail tours running onto preserved lines.

- Storing somebody else's preserved loco and support coach.

- Charters for film and TV production.

- Not quite a commercial operation, but some preserved lines have seen the NMT, RHTT and weed spraying trains.

 

So run more or less whatever you want.

 

Cheers
David

Edited by DavidB-AU

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6 hours ago, DavidB-AU said:

I think the discussion is getting hung up on detail about heritage passenger services. There are plenty of prototype examples where commercial operations could generate additional revenue without necessarily requiring higher speeds.

 

- Revenue freight such as stone to Minehead, MOD to Redmire, coal from Wolsingham and bitumen on the Ribble. I have a recollection spoil trains operated on a preserved line but can't remember the details.

- Seasonal running of main line DMUs onto preserved lines, for example to Corfe Castle and Bishops Lydeard. Okehampton is a more complicated example but shows how you can mix things up.

- Main line rail rail tours running onto preserved lines.

- Storing somebody else's preserved loco and support coach.

- Charters for film and TV production.

- Not quite a commercial operation, but some preserved lines have seen the NMT, RHTT and weed spraying trains.

 

So run more or less whatever you want.

 

Cheers
David

The GCR(N) has freight trains running off the main line at Loughborough to the gypsum plant at East Leake, but not while it is running its own passenger trains.  The Mid-Norfolk has been storing brand new trains for Greater Anglia until they are ready for use, because the existing fleet occupies all the depot space.  

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On 12/01/2020 at 18:08, mdvle said:

 

Any new / reopening line today has to deal with the realities of being an operation in 2020 - and that means you are competing with the private car.  To be a competitive choice you need to be convenient in point to point timings, which means higher line speeds.  If you can't achieve the higher line speeds, then it is unlikely your new commercial passenger service would be successful in getting people out of their cars, and thus it won't generate the revenue expected.

Possibly, but people are more open to alternatives to cars not just based on speed these days, so whilst taking a lot longer won't cut it speed certainly isn't the be-all and end-all.

 

On the points about mechanical signalling my assumption that you won't find any new (other than replacement and some alterations) is simply because it's more expensive to operate so there's no economic or practical reason to put it in, rather than because it has any shortcomings against regulations.

 

***

 

I'm assuming any train operating with passengers (and any at all?) would have to have a speedometer fitted, which is visible on steam locos (and that this would apply at 25 mph or 40 mph).

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   Interesting topic. I suppose you'd have to look at what planned traffic/justification there would be on your layout for such a service?

 

   My local line is the KWVR, and periodically it gets talked about the line running a commuter service... When it was preserved, I gather the original intention was to keep running commercial passenger and freight to the mills along the line, in some form (kind of like how the Middleton in Leeds did with heritage locomotives running commercial freight), but it took so long to do with BR beurocracy that most if not all of that business disappeared by the time it reopened.

 

   From what I gather from when it's cropped up in the railway's in-house mag and when the staff/vols talk about it, it's generally regarded as a non-starter these days.  Given the gradients and twists and turns of the route, high-speed running is never going to be an issue (nor given the relatively short length), the main problem seems to be the two traditional gate-worked level crossings.  That and I suppose the cost of travel compared to the 'heritage' service... would people pay more for both?  Would they cram onto the commuter service in preference to a more expensive steam-hauled MK.1?  

   The line has two DMU's and two railbus units, so maybe a sponsored commuter service to a cross-platform interchange at Keighley would be do-able, but I'd imagine a hefty subsidy from Northern (or whoever takes over from them) would need to be in order to cover staffing the level crossings and the like.  Thing is, there is a very regular local bus service most of the year, it's only really bad weather where the railway really comes into its own in regards to being regular, though admittedly most of the buses run routes higher up the valley sides than the railway.

   But that said, as a local resident I get a discount to travel, and I do use the line as public transport when I can, and there is a noticeable selection of other people who do the same, scattered in amongst the tourists.  And given just how many houses are being built along the valley, the time might come when the subsidised passenger service rears its head again, with more justification.

 

Edited by Ben B
corrected a grammar problem
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On 12/01/2020 at 17:25, AlexHolt said:

Lines that do have higher speed restrictions are only allowed to do so when there are no passengers running. The mainline section of the North York Moors is the only exception I can think of, which has been mentioned already in this thread. 

 

The Mid Hants got a temporary speed increase to 60mph in early 2015 for testing of Britannia after its major repairs. However this was only allowed when no passengers were being carried and when no other trains were on the line. 

This isn't totally accurate. The Great Central has been mentioned already, and has three different authorised speed limits - 25mph in normal service, 45mph for non-passenger-carrying services, with restrictions (can be mixed in with 25mph passenger services operating at the same time) and 60mph with restrictions - no other trains operating and no passengers carried. The 45mph operation in practice is only on the up line through Quorn Station, requires the foot crossing between the car park and the island platform at Quorn to be manned and closed, and is used at special events to demonstrate TPO mail pickup and set down. Preceding and succeeding trains can be passenger carrying and will run at 25mph.

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On 12/01/2020 at 18:14, mdvle said:

 

From a regulation perspective, maybe?

 

Obviously NR still has mechanical signalling in use in some places, though the real question isn't whether it still exists but rather would the regulators allow it on a "new" line which your heritage railway would likely be treated as.  Maybe, maybe not.

 

But, from a practical perspective, depending on how much signalling required the answer would be yes - the cost savings from being able to have 1 person signal the entire line would help with that much needed revenue, particularly if the regulations mean a higher standard of training for your line's signallers.

You could use mechanical/semaphore signalling in the scenario proposed (and elaborated) by the OP but with certain provisos.  If there are any section os single line and a system of signalling which does not use a physical token handed to the driver is not used the signal controlling the entrance to any section of single line has to be a colour light signal.  Almost certainly AWS is likely to be required for higher line speeds as we now seem to be talking about a 60-70mph maximum line speed if we are looking for a 40 mph overall average speed andTPWS might also be required as well.

 

The only problem with semaphore signalling is that if you are looking to run a commercial service it could well impose manning requirements which might prove either difficult or expensive (or both) to meet.  there are some ways round this such as using long and short sections depending on which timetable is in operation.

 

The big key to it all is the mix of train types at any one time.  So for example if freight trains only run when the railway is closed to all other traffic you don;'t havea problem - but taht doesn't sit easily, if at all, with a commercial passenger service  so you would probably have to provide for them running simultaneously.  the problem with operating a commercial passenger service is that it might not be attractive to passengers (and local Govt etc funders) if it only runs on weekdays because they will expect some weekend services - when the heritage trains are running.  So you're back to a railway having to suit two types of traffic running at the same time

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On 13/01/2020 at 23:13, Ian J. said:

Speed limit signs will be a headache as there will need to be both, for 25mph and the higher limit but with some way to indicate which is in force based on the time of day or some other factor affecting operations, but with a default that the lower heritage speed always takes precedence.

No they wouldnt, any speed higher than 25mph would simply be ignored when the Preserved service is running.

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7 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

...

The only problem with semaphore signalling is that if you are looking to run a commercial service it could well impose manning requirements which might prove either difficult or expensive (or both) to meet.  there are some ways round this such as using long and short sections depending on which timetable is in operation.

...

 

 

Agreed. This was something I thought about recently. I have wondered whether it would be possible to 'lock out' many of the intermediate signal boxes during commercial operation? If not, then I may have to concede to colour lights. But it's one more 'nail in the coffin' for the heritage appearance if I do, and a step closer to something that looks a lot like a regular line.

 

Regarding the freight trains, couldn't they just run at the heritage speed during heritage times? A proviso being that the anticipated fictional oil trains can only run when there's no steam running, so they'd probably be restricted to non-heritage times or overnight (if allowed at all - I'm not wedded to the idea of them but it would be one of the lucrative income sources that would have put in place the line upgrades that allow the commercial passenger service to run with less need of a big profit). As for weekend shopping trains, I think that's a case of the public get something of a service in the 25mph heritage trains and will have to live with that, but I don't see that being a big source of income. The line has a seaside section towards its end and that's a leisure feature that would draw more heritage visitors (as the likes of the Swanage, West Somerset, etc, do now) so shopping traffic is less important for revenue.

 

3 hours ago, royaloak said:

No they wouldnt, any speed higher than 25mph would simply be ignored when the Preserved service is running.

 

My worry would be the case of a driver forgetting which timetable type he/she is running. Good training should prevent that but we're all human, and some additional protection might be wanted by the regulator. Perhaps some kind of cue or reminder could be implemented, maybe a light next to the active line speed, with a default of no light = 25mph?

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57 minutes ago, Ian J. said:

 

Agreed. This was something I thought about recently. I have wondered whether it would be possible to 'lock out' many of the intermediate signal boxes during commercial operation? If not, then I may have to concede to colour lights. But it's one more 'nail in the coffin' for the heritage appearance if I do, and a step closer to something that looks a lot like a regular line.

 

Regarding the freight trains, couldn't they just run at the heritage speed during heritage times? A proviso being that the anticipated fictional oil trains can only run when there's no steam running, so they'd probably be restricted to non-heritage times or overnight (if allowed at all - I'm not wedded to the idea of them but it would be one of the lucrative income sources that would have put in place the line upgrades that allow the commercial passenger service to run with less need of a big profit). As for weekend shopping trains, I think that's a case of the public get something of a service in the 25mph heritage trains and will have to live with that, but I don't see that being a big source of income. The line has a seaside section towards its end and that's a leisure feature that would draw more heritage visitors (as the likes of the Swanage, West Somerset, etc, do now) so shopping traffic is less important for revenue.

 

 

My worry would be the case of a driver forgetting which timetable type he/she is running. Good training should prevent that but we're all human, and some additional protection might be wanted by the regulator. Perhaps some kind of cue or reminder could be implemented, maybe a light next to the active line speed, with a default of no light = 25mph?

A box could be locked out unless controlling a level crossing or any pointwork which needed to be worked to run the commercial service.  The railway companies recognized the benefit of being able to do this so many boxes had the facilty, but if one didn't then locking changes would be needed and I think in some cases extra signals (for example if a passing loop was normally uni-directional but operated bi-directionally on one track when the box was closed).  A special lever would be pulled to allow clearance of signals that wouldn't normally be allowed (such as in opposite directions on a single line) and a switch would be operated to interlink the block instruments and bells either side so it became one long block section.  

 

As to speeds, probably the commercial services would use different locomotives, fitted with AWS/TPWS and otherwise main line certified, so the heritage ones could be labelled as 25mph maximum in the cab.  Similarly a driver would know not to exceed 25mph unless they had the necessary extra training to run "commercial".  If a "commercial" locomotive and driver was assigned to a "heritage" working then I think the driver could be trusted to stick to the lower speed.  There are places on the big railway where certain train types have to observe lower speed restrictions with no signage, just communicated by notes in the Sectional Appendix and relying on the driver's route knowledge to remember this.  

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