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Brake Vans on services that reverse


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I have seen pictures of in particular the Nuclear services on the North Wales coast that reverse at Llandudno junction with a Brake Van, I assume that the brake van would be shunted so it was always on the rear? 

I ask as it is a scenario I would like to replicate on my layout.

Thanks

Phil 

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Hello Phil, I can't speak for every scenario, but I do know that brake vans are propelled along, preceeding the locomotive, in a variety of cases & locations. Several Welsh branches had that operation as part & parcel of the local working instruction.  Examples such as Common Branch Junction- Creigau quarry, for example, then Llantrisant- Llanharry. Probably the best recognised example was the Pontnewynydd brake vans, so designed such that he loco driver can see straight through  and over the van, to see the road ahead.

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Brake vans provided at each end was common practice where a run-round was performed during the working.  Millerhill-bound services originating at Kingmoor left the yard via a reversal and run-round at Stainton, before heading north up the Waverley route.  These 4Sxx inter-yard fast freights are readily identifiable by the brake van inside the loco. Their southbound counterparts were routed a different way into England so only had the van at the rear.

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Yes, a van at each end was very common on SR services in the London area, because the routes needed multiple reversals and the lines were so busy that a snappy runaround was vital.

 

Back to the OP though: nuclear flask trains are air-braked aren’t they? So the make-up May be dicatated by both the need for barrier vehicles and the need to carry security personnel, as much as by traditional braking arrangements.

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In the case of the North Wales nuclear traffic. The train left Llandudno Junction with the van at the rear, to Blaenau Ffestiniog where the train was shunted to allow the loco to propel the train with the van leading to Trawsfynnedd, where there was no run round. The train returned to the Junction in the normal formation.

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3 hours ago, 'CHARD said:

Brake vans provided at each end was common practice where a run-round was performed during the working.  Millerhill-bound services originating at Kingmoor left the yard via a reversal and run-round at Stainton, before heading north up the Waverley route.  These 4Sxx inter-yard fast freights are readily identifiable by the brake van inside the loco. Their southbound counterparts were routed a different way into England so only had the van at the rear.

Does that mean there was a siding somewhere near Millerhill for the hundreds of brake vans that would accumulate there?

1 hour ago, Nearholmer said:

Back to the OP though: nuclear flask trains are air-braked aren’t they? So the make-up May be dicatated by both the need for barrier vehicles and the need to carry security personnel, as much as by traditional braking arrangements.

All freight has been continuously braked for nearly 30 years, and as far as I know there are no traditional brake vans still in use even on engineering traffic, so this question is historic only.  

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Propelling movements on running lines of this sort are authorised by the relevant Section Appendix (to the Rules and Regulations).  Blaenau Festiniog to Trawfynydd is not a running line, it is a 'long siding', and the propelling movement is a hand signalled shunting movement.

6 hours ago, Edwin_m said:
10 hours ago, 'CHARD said:

 

Does that mean there was a siding somewhere near Millerhill for the hundreds of brake vans that would accumulate there?

If it did, the vans would be 'balance worked' in freight trains or as booked brake van trains, supplemented as traffic required by the occasional brake van special.  Only the rear brake van was manned by a guard and carried tail or side lamps.

Edited by The Johnster
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7 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

Surely flask trains must always have been fully fitted?

 

Its not a cargo you’d want to trust to the vagaries of manual braking.

Up until 1998 they had a van on the rear for the guard to ride in

Nuclear and other dangerous goods services had the guard on the back to carry out protection in the event of an emergency without having to walk past potentially leaking wagons 

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On 03/04/2020 at 13:01, Edwin_m said:

 

All freight has been continuously braked for nearly 30 years, and as far as I know there are no traditional brake vans still in use even on engineering traffic, so this question is historic only.  

Although the railway had already gone 'fully fitted' by 1993 there were still three flows that ran as unfitted trains under the them Class 9 headcode.  Hence when we (in TLF) were asked to give up the Class 9 headcode for use by Eurostar we objected strongly because we were still running relatively short distance Class 9 trains in three locations spread across the country from South Wales to North East England although in all three places there was only a single flow running as Class 9.

 

Of course our pleas were in vain and Class 9 was taken away from us for Eurostar use (where the leading digit, 9, came at the end of the list of leading digits used in four digit train numbers for the  various international routes around Europe).

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On ‎03‎/‎04‎/‎2020 at 13:13, Nearholmer said:

Surely flask trains must always have been fully fitted?

 

Its not a cargo you’d want to trust to the vagaries of manual braking.

 

Nuclear flask wagons were originally included in mixed freight trains, which were not always fully fitted.

Edited by clachnaharry
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5 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

Although the railway had already gone 'fully fitted' by 1993 there were still three flows that ran as unfitted trains under the them Class 9 headcode.  Hence when we (in TLF) were asked to give up the Class 9 headcode for use by Eurostar we objected strongly because we were still running relatively short distance Class 9 trains in three locations spread across the country from South Wales to North East England although in all three places there was only a single flow running as Class 9.

 

Of course our pleas were in vain and Class 9 was taken away from us for Eurostar use (where the leading digit, 9, came at the end of the list of leading digits used in four digit train numbers for the  various international routes around Europe).

At the risk of starting a tangent, where were these please?  I know coal down to Swansea docks was a late survivor but not aware of the others.  

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3 minutes ago, Edwin_m said:

At the risk of starting a tangent, where were these please?  I know coal down to Swansea docks was a late survivor but not aware of the others.  

 

I think it was alluminia neat Blyth and some tioxide flow on south humberside 

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Steel from Skinningrove was another late survivor,  that was an odd flow as if it was booked into Lackenby there was a local instruction from many years ago that allowed the train to run round and proceed up a pretty steep hill into lackenby without reversing the van.

This was from the days when local traffic from the south bank area could run to tees yard without a van providing the move was on the goods line.

During daylight hours a red flag tied around the coupling hook would indicate the end of the train 

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And a tail lamp hung on it at night; that's why the handle's that shape, so it is supported by the drawhook and the lamp doesn't swing about.  On the Ferry Road trip from Penarth North Curve we used yesterday's newspaper jammed in the hook to show that the train was complete.

 

Local to me, and still running in the 70s until the GKN East Moors steelworks closed, were the Llanharry-East Moors class 8 iron ore trains, Llantrisant jobs that reversed to run down the Tidal Sidings branch at Pengam reception.  A van was marshalled at both ends of these trains of short wheelbase hoppers, which had rakes of disused banana vans loaded with sandbags as fitted heads.  They were hauled by 42xx/5205s in steam days, with D68s (Class 37s) replacing the 2-8-0s in 1965.  The van at the fitted head end had to be piped through, of course.

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3 hours ago, Edwin_m said:

At the risk of starting a tangent, where were these please?  I know coal down to Swansea docks was a late survivor but not aware of the others.  

One was the Swansea docks coal flow as you have mentioned, I'm reasonably  sure that the one in the North East was the alumina flow mentioned by Russ because it was definitely somewhere in that area.  I'm not entirely sure about the third one but from what I can recall all three of us who were at that time responsible for TLFs train planning and control organisations each had one flow left.  So mine was the Swansea one and the Blyth ot thereabouts one was with my York based colleague while the third would have been with our other colleague based at Crewe - whose area of responsibility covered most of the former LMR plus the former ScR as he had an outbased staff at Glasgow although I believe his Class 9 flow was 'somewhere in England'.  

 

Alas when our organisations were disbanded we dumped a lot of our correspondence or distributed the live stuff to the new shadow freight operating companies so I doubt the original meeting notes survive - and they listed the three flows as did the correspondence with the BRB.   I do have a couple of crates of 'saved' paperwork from that time but it would take an awful lot of delving through to see if I kept any of that particular subject from 27 years ago:rolleyes:     I also know that the three flows were not identified in any correspondence with European Passenger Services (as they then were) because the relevant file there later came under my control.

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20 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

One was the Swansea docks coal flow as you have mentioned, I'm reasonably  sure that the one in the North East was the alumina flow mentioned by Russ because it was definitely somewhere in that area.  I'm not entirely sure about the third one but from what I can recall all three of us who were at that time responsible for TLFs train planning and control organisations each had one flow left.  So mine was the Swansea one and the Blyth ot thereabouts one was with my York based colleague while the third would have been with our other colleague based at Crewe - whose area of responsibility covered most of the former LMR plus the former ScR as he had an outbased staff at Glasgow although I believe his Class 9 flow was 'somewhere in England'.  

 

Alas when our organisations were disbanded we dumped a lot of our correspondence or distributed the live stuff to the new shadow freight operating companies so I doubt the original meeting notes survive - and they listed the three flows as did the correspondence with the BRB.   I do have a couple of crates of 'saved' paperwork from that time but it would take an awful lot of delving through to see if I kept any of that particular subject from 27 years ago:rolleyes:     I also know that the three flows were not identified in any correspondence with European Passenger Services (as they then were) because the relevant file there later came under my control.

I think the third service was between Immingham Docks and the nearby Tioxide plant. 

The alumina train, which ran from North Blyth to Lynemouth, used the last wagons to be built unfitted, constructed in the 1970s.

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14 hours ago, The Johnster said:

And a tail lamp hung on it at night; that's why the handle's that shape, so it is supported by the drawhook and the lamp doesn't swing about.  

Wow!! The little gems you never knew, and learn about from a comment on RMweb!!! :yes: :good:

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1 hour ago, Butler Henderson said:

Was there any ruling on the use of brake vans at either end at all like a maximum distance for such workings?

I never came across one.  The biggest likely constraint I can think of was a shortage of brakevans so yards were not inclined to give one away' if they could help it and would get one off a train asap if there was half a chance before it went sailing off into  the distance.

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Margam were b*st*rds for this, and never in my experience grasped even the basics of the concept of train preparation either.  Van availability (Control's problem) aside, I can't see any reason why a piped van cannot be marshalled at the head of a class 7, 8, or 9 train to be used as a normal unfitted van when the train is running in the opposite direction to save a van running round move.  It doesn't happen on Cwmdimbath, where mineral trains reverse, because I like the extra operation of running the van around.  Empties arrive from Tondu at the terminus to be taken back down the branch a short distance to the colliery exchange sidings (off stage, until I win the lottery and have room for them).  The loco runs around and, as there is a steep bank down to the colliery, local instructions in the Sectional Appendix allow the train to be drawn down the bank with the van leading and brakes pinned down on the trailing wagons.

 

When the working returns with the loaded, the van must be marshalled at the rear to come up the bank in case of coupling breakage and runaways, and thus must be run around the train at Cwmdimbath so the van is now at the rear for the run to Tondu.  Vans at each end would ease this working but be more work for the guard, who would have to prep two of them, but would cost me two 16tonners in the loop, so the trains run with one brake van

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When I started in Control in 1984 brake van availability was long since being an issue, but I do recall old Controllers telling me how jealously guarded they were, and Control was required to keep a tally of vans and submit a daily report to the bosses.

 

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The trouble came at nationalisation when they were 'pooled'; prior to that any needed for a regular working could be officially or unofficially branded and reserved for that working.  Any that did escape at least stayed on their own railway, but once you'd lost one under BR it was as the snows of yesteryear...  The WR had a bit of an advantage as nobody else liked it's one ended Toads, so they were sent back next available, and the Southern assiduously kept track of it's wonderful Queen Marys, chasing them down vigorously if they got anywhere the signage wasn't malachite green.

 

I once refused to take the unfitted part of a train from Margam because they'd stolen my van and had no equipment they'd let me have to prep a fresh one.  Yard foreman reckoned he was going to report me, but I never heard anything further about it.  I just ignored him, uncoupled my unfitted portion, put a tail light on the rear vehicle, did a continuity test, climbed into the back cab, pressed the fire bell twice, and we went.

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Let's kill two birds with one stone (brake vans , fitted head and a bit more).

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Here we see (D)6990 working a Llantrisant - Cardiff East Moors iron ore train, at Pengam on the eastern (up) side of Cardiff.

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(D)6990 has worked the train 'up' the South Wales mainline from Llantrisant to Pengam, where the loco has run round.

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The train has a brake van at each end, commonplace on these workings, and, apart from the twenty or so unfitted hoppers, at the far end we can see around 10/12 banana vans (Tadpoles) which provided a 'fitted head' along the mainline allowing the train to run as a Class 8.

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However, at Pengam, the loco runs around, and leaves the 'fitted head' at the rear, together with a brake van, proceeding via Tidal / Cardiff Marshalling to North East Junction (for the East Moors works) as Class 9, and where the 'fitted head' would have been removed, whilst the hoppers were unloaded, then re-attached for the return to Llantrisant, again via a reversal at Pengam.

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I don't recall seeing banana vans used as a fitted head on lines in the valleys proper (although they may well have been so used), but can only recall them along the South Wales mainline, where I suspect it was helpful in allowing a Cl.8 freight run at a slightly higher speed than an unfitted Cl.9.

IF, this was the case, it contradicts the myth that the vans were used because of the poor braking of Cl.37s on unfitted coal trains in the steep valleys - perhaps there is someone who can confirm or negate this ?

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Many of the workings in the South Wales valleys were by "DBV" Diesel & Brake Van, where the van stayed with the loco for days, perhaps a whole week as by now guards and fotplate staff duties were synchronised. Through the seventies many yards retained their own "semi" dedicated brake vans, still with legends such as "Radyr Junc. for Cardiff Valleys Only" - "Newport for Gwent Valleys Only" - "To work Llantrisant Circuit Only".

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At Radyr, the brake vans were prepped by an eccentric railwaymen known as "Johnny Chopsticks"  who would apparently clean the vans thoroughly, attend to the lamps, paraffin and lenses as well as traipse up to the nearby woods to gather kindling for the van stoves.

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Thrown open to the floor.

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Brian R

 

 

6990-Pengam Junction-xx0872-mod-1.jpg

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