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Ever since seeing a photo of Broughton-in-Furness station on the Coniston branch, I have always thought that it would make an interesting model, with the running line rising at 1 in 59 towards the terminus, and the goods yard set at a lower level.

 

 

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Having just acquired a history of the Coniston Branch, from the Cumbrian Railways Association, I have found out it has even more attraction, as it appears that the passing loop was operated in the opposite hand to normal, with trains passing nearside to nearside.  Is there anywhere else in the UK where opposite hand running was allowed in a similar way?

It all starts with the convoluted history of the station, which opened as a terminus of a line from Foxfield, and acquired a large goods yard and an engine shed reflecting its terminal nature. However, with the extension towards Coniston, it was necessary for the extended running line to have a fairly steep 1 in 59 gradient, resulting in the platform line being set much higher than the, presumably, level goods yard, as can be seen in the photo.

Subsequent operations showed that it was necessary for trains to cross at Broughton, and recourse was made to shunting one train into the goods yard to let the other pass.  However, Col. Yorke, in the course of his inspection of the new signalling that had been installed on the branch, took exception to this shunting of passenger trains into the yard, and he required that a new loop and platform be provided, works which were not completed until 8th July 1903.  The geography of the site meant that it was impossible to fit in a standard loop, so the platforms were staggered with a foot crossing between the ends, and the loop itself started half way along the original platform, as can be seen in the photo.  This configuration would have meant that a Coniston bound train standing at the original platform would block access to the loop, and with the severe down gradient for trains approaching from Coniston this could be dangerous, so it would seem that they were allowed to use the platforms unusually with reversed running compared with the norm.1727092582_broughtoninfurnessplan.JPG.310f7aeca6f1497263bc7df45ba8d611.JPG

“The final inspection of the new loop and platform by Major Druitt yielded the following example of contemporary Civil Service literary style:

“Owing to the levels of the ground at this station it was impossible without great expense to place the platforms opposite each other and in order to enable trains to pass each other while standing in either platform it is necessary for the up trains to use the usual down loop line and vice versa, as the platform on the proper up side is at the down end of the platform on the proper down side.  I see no objection to this unusual arrangement which was approved by the Board of Trade provisionally.”

 

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There are many locations in the Scottish Highlands where right-hand running through loops applies.  My understanding of this is that it arises from the modernisation of signalling and the replacement of fixed signals with RETB electronic tokens.  Right-hand running means the drivers of both trains are alongside the island platforms on such lines and may easily alight from their cabs should the need arise to call the signalling centre or speak with each other.  Not perhaps quite the same scenario as at Broughton-in-Furness bu it serves to illustrate that this was, and is, by no means unique.  

Edited by Gwiwer
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and in order to enable trains to pass each other while standing in either platform it is necessary for the up trains to use the usual down loop line and vice versa,

If that was the objective then it failed. The real objective not being mentioned.

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1 hour ago, Gwiwer said:

There are many locations in the Scottish Highlands where right-hand running through loops applies.  My understanding of this is that it arises from the modernisation of signalling and the replacement of fixed signals with RETB electronic tokens.  Right-hand running means the drivers of both trains are alongside the island platforms on such lines and may easily alight from their cabs should the need arise to call the signalling centre or speak with each other.  Not perhaps quite the same scenario as at Broughton-in-Furness bu it serves to illustrate that this was, and is, by no means unique.  

 

I think the reason is more to do with access to any sidings at the station These need to be accessed via the "normal" setting of the sprung loop points. As most of these were originally trailing points, the loops have been reversed so that they are now facing points.

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1 hour ago, Grovenor said:

If that was the objective then it failed. The real objective not being mentioned.

I know the English is rather convoluted, but I don't quite see that it failed. The arrangement allowed trains in either direction to enter a platform and wait for the other to arrive. I can see that it is not possible for a Coniston bound train (travelling left to right) to continue non-stop, having to wait for the Foxfield train to vacate the other platform, but that was an unlikely requirement on the branch. Otherwise, using orthodox running protocols, if a Coniston train arrived before the Foxfield train, it would have to wait outside the platform for the second train to arrive before being able to move forward to allow its passengers to disembark. 

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Although Axminster loop is officially bi-directional on both roads the speed profiles at the junctions at each end were designed for right hand running and the line designations are reversed from normal with the up line on the south eastern side of the formation and the down line on the north western side.  It did operate with right hand running for a while after it opened but reverted to left hand running following some sort of incident.  That leaves the slightly unusual situation of all up trains using the down line and all down trains using the up line.  Can't be many places where that happens.

Edited by DY444
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The loop at Tisbury sometimes has nearside to nearside passing.

 

Normally a down train runs into the loop and once tucked away the up train departs Tisbury and passes offside to offside.  However if a down train is late the up train completes its station stop runs into the loop and awaits the passing of the down train i.e. nearside to nearside.

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Before the Chiltern line from Banbury to Princes Risborough was re-doubled, the loop at Bicester North station was 'wrong line' with trains using the right hand line in each direction. I've always wondered why, if anyone reading can explain I'd be interested!

Edited by Ramblin Rich
added North to correct station name!
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4 hours ago, Nick Holliday said:

I know the English is rather convoluted, but I don't quite see that it failed. The arrangement allowed trains in either direction to enter a platform and wait for the other to arrive. I can see that it is not possible for a Coniston bound train (travelling left to right) to continue non-stop, having to wait for the Foxfield train to vacate the other platform, but that was an unlikely requirement on the branch. Otherwise, using orthodox running protocols, if a Coniston train arrived before the Foxfield train, it would have to wait outside the platform for the second train to arrive before being able to move forward to allow its passengers to disembark. 

The quoted text is

Quote

to enable trains to pass each other while standing in either platform

But trains cannot pass each other while standing at the original platform, only if standing at the new one.

Rgds

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4 hours ago, guzzler17 said:

The loop at Tisbury sometimes has nearside to nearside passing.

 

Normally a down train runs into the loop and once tucked away the up train departs Tisbury and passes offside to offside.  However if a down train is late the up train completes its station stop runs into the loop and awaits the passing of the down train i.e. nearside to nearside.

True in the morning but in the evening several up trains go into the loop as booked paths ;) 

As you say we frequently put the Up in the loop if the Down is late. If they are both there at the same time the Down usually goes in as it’s quicker than the Up trickling in from the station stop. 

Edited by PaulRhB
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Stanley  Junction, where the Highland Railway left the Caledonian main line. HR southbound trains used the westernmost platform.

 

Also, the whole of the London & Greenwich line was right hand running for many years until the first decade of the 20th Century due to operating issues at London Bridge.

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14 hours ago, guzzler17 said:

The loop at Tisbury sometimes has nearside to nearside passing.

 

Normally a down train runs into the loop and once tucked away the up train departs Tisbury and passes offside to offside.  However if a down train is late the up train completes its station stop runs into the loop and awaits the passing of the down train i.e. nearside to nearside.

 

The same can happen at Chard too (and indeed Gillingham) but there and at Tisbury one train has to be stationary in the loop.  That's quite a common arrangement.  What makes Axminster somewhat different is that the loop is much longer with 3 signal sections in each direction and so trains can pass with both moving and as I said earlier it was designed for right hand running to be the normal mode of operation. 

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28 minutes ago, DY444 said:

What makes Axminster somewhat different is that the loop is much longer with 3 signal sections in each direction and so trains can pass with both moving 

It did when they were booked to cross in the station, unfortunately the timings are for crosses between the station and west junction meaning they tend to start on cautions rather limiting the advantage of a dynamic loop. 

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1 hour ago, PaulRhB said:

It did when they were booked to cross in the station, unfortunately the timings are for crosses between the station and west junction meaning they tend to start on cautions rather limiting the advantage of a dynamic loop. 

When planning a dynamic loop there is one very basic principle to observe - it has to be long enough, with signals suitably located, to actually allow dynamic passing, some planners seem to miss that rather basic point.

 

Incidentally back in the early 1990s when I specified the details for the new freight loops between Southall and Hanwell Bridge they were specifically intended to provide for right hand running in the two loops because that was the only way that 100+slu train lengths could be accommodated simultaneously in both loops due to various site constraints and signal positions.  It has rarely happened in practice that Up & Down freights that long need to use the loops at the same time and they have normally been used in the conventional manner.

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1 hour ago, PaulRhB said:

It did when they were booked to cross in the station, unfortunately the timings are for crosses between the station and west junction meaning they tend to start on cautions rather limiting the advantage of a dynamic loop. 

 

Yes.  And to compound that I believe the junctions at either end were designed to best fit the braking/acceleration characteristics of 159s when entering/leaving the loops under right hand running so the procedural change to left hand running has resulted in arriving trains taking longer to clear the single line

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2 hours ago, DY444 said:

 

Yes.  And to compound that I believe the junctions at either end were designed to best fit the braking/acceleration characteristics of 159s when entering/leaving the loops under right hand running so the procedural change to left hand running has resulted in arriving trains taking longer to clear the single line

It’s really just the speed of the diverging route, I wouldn’t give too much credence to it being that closely matched to a 159 going by my experience of other projects on the WoE, it has to work with all possible trains and that includes engineering and diversions that regularly use the line ;) The time tabling is much more of an issue than the slight speed difference. If you set the section step times correctly, or alter them in this case which is an easy job IF you apply for it.

I wasn’t directly involved in the Axminster loop part of the project but I was in various others around that time and some parts of the panel consultation and equipment. My main hobby horse was the arrangement of crossing controls and screens which we successfully changed by moving everything up, (or was it down?), a couple of tiles! 
My main concern with right hand running is staff on track having that moment where they forget and step the wrong way, always makes me uncomfortable and why we have the proviso in single line working to stop and inform staff as it’s set up. 

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