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Pick up goods and Working Timetables


MDP78
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I am in the process of perfecting a system of allocating wagons and vans to model pick up goods trains using dice rolls and derivative of a waybill system.   This has produced some interesting results so far, such as trains with very few wagons on some occasions and the reverse on others.  The intention is to try to replicate peaks/troughs in demand and therefore relatively prototypical.  It is also intended to add interest to shunting the goods yard.  It has got me thinking about how strictly the WTT was adhered to though.

 

In WTTs regular freight workings are timetabled to be in certain stations for a specific period of time.  The longer the period of time, I am comfortable with the assumption that normally that station was destined to receive or generate more traffic.  I am also comfortable assuming that junction stations also would typically generate more work for pick up goods that other stations due to the need to exchange wagons, thus also justifying timetabling the pick up goods to spend more time there.   

 

However based on initial trials of random allocation of wagons to trains I do have a few questions.  

 

Despite being timetabled to shunt a particular station for a certain period of time, I assume that even in the prototype, especially by the early 1960s, some stations would generate no or very little traffic on certain days.    Even if the train was timetabled to be in a particular station shunting the yard for say 1 or 2 hours, if there was actually only 30 minutes work there, which of the following would happen:

 

a) the train simply sits in the yard once all of the work is done and waits for the allocated time to come before departing to the next station; or 

 

b) if the section ahead was clear and there was sufficient time in the timetable to avoid other traffic, the train moves to the next station (or indeed to its final destination)  early?

 

 

 

 

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I think most people, if given the chance to finish early would take it if they could.

Whether the train would leave early would I think depend on a number of factors. If the train is on the return working, or nearing the end of the duty, then I think most crews would get away early if they could. On the outward leg there might be other things to consider. It might be that an early arrival at the branch terminus might mean there is no return pathway available early, or there might be commercial reasons where the train has to wait for traffic to be loaded/unloaded, so cannot return early.

Perhaps there is a decent chip shop near next station, so the crew would want to get there as soon as possible.

Alternatively on the return working if they get back early they might find the yard shunting staff will want them to do extra work there, so they might be happy to sit and wait their booked time,

 

cheers 

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Pubs and chip shops notwithstanding, usually option B.  If the train crew were ready to go then it would be up to the signalman to decide when he had enough of a margin to let them run without getting in the way of anything else. If that would involve arriving early at a terminus or similar where capacity might be a problem it may involve a phone call to check there was room first. 

 

Learning what could be allowed out in front of what with sufficient time to avoid distant checks to a following higher classification train was known as 'margining' and was part of the signalman's box knowledge. 

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If there is too much traffic on a certain day for the scheduled train to cope with another might be arranged by control, and that would then have to fit around scheduled services. But that is not likely on the average rural branch, which is what we tend to model both because it was unlikely to happen and because there would probably be no spare loco, crew and brake van available.

What you may like to consider is special seasonal traffic. For example, near me was the Kerry branch, In latter days a goods three times a week. But when the Kerry Sheep Fair happened in September it was all hand to the pump, with sidings at nearby stations cleared of traffic, lots of extra trains etc for just those few days. Not in the WTT but arranged by Weekly Notice. Another Welsh example in the past was the National Eisteddfod, in a different place each time, and with lots of trains to deliver exhibits and animals beforehand and take them away after. I am sure that the same happened with the bigger County Shows.

Then there was seasonal traffic such as sugar beet. Lots of extra trains for a few weeks in parts of the country where beet was grown.

Jonathan

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The pickup generally serves all the stations on a route, it only attaches/detaches a few vehicles at your station, so don't schedule the whole train to the one station, a common modellers' mistake.  Once emptied, the wagon would often be worked away empty if there was no suitable new load for it.  Many wagons are labelled with a "return to" station, especially before Pooling.  In some cases, however this might only be when requested by Control.  Or for outgoing traffic, the station might need to requisition suitable vehicles the previous day ready for loading.

 

Also don't forget that a rural station would only be equipped to handle certain types of traffic - coal, general merchandise in opens/closed vans, cattle, horses, parcels etc, maybe agricultural machinery on a lowmac etc, maybe timber.

 

More importantly, what it would not handle is most of the more unusual types of vehicle that need special facilities like oil or milk tankers.  For example, fuel tankers would only run to places that could unload them (and those places would see the traffic regularly), although oildrums or barrels (more likely to be beer!) might be transported in an open.  Most stations had a small hand crane, so could unload some stuff that was to big to manhandle, they would need an end loading bay to load/off-load vehicles unless the vehicle could be unloaded onto a platform.  There typically would not be enough demand to warrant a banana van or a loaded fish or gunpowder van.  So you should consider whether the station can handle any traffic, and whether there would be local demand or local supply to warrant certain traffics  you want your system to schedule using specialist vehicles.  As mentioned above, in the case of an agricultural area, there are some traffic flows where you you need nothing for 9 months of the years, then several similar vehicles daily for a bit.

 

Private owner vehicles would mostly be those owned by local companies - if there's a local factory it might have its own vans or opens.  The coal merchant might have his own, but more likely he would buy from particular pits, but you could expect to see such traffic in the same livery frequently rather than a different livery every time. On the other hand, vans and open from railway companies all over the country could be expected from time to time, albeit with a strong bias towards more local lines and proportionate to their size.

 

That doesn't mean the station would never see things like oil tanks - but they would be working past on through trains on main lines, or perhaps on the pickup but destined to/from some other station on the branch.  Your scheduling system should in principle determine what vehicles for adjacent stations should be in the consist, even though you will not be attaching/detaching them.

 

It was common for pick-ups to be marshalled such all the traffic to be detached at a given station would be grouped together which simplified shunting at wayside stations, although you would still need to put them into the relevant siding within the yard.  Sorting of the outgoing wagons would be a matter for the local marshalling yard to to deal with. 

 

.

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Also worth considering that PU goods trains served yards at stations on main and secondary lines, as well as branches, and on such lines running to TT was important if the whole service wasn't to crumble. Leaving early from a station with a headshunt that also acted as a lie-by, and therefore allowed other trains to pass, and galloping on to a station without that, so that shunting occupied the "main", would cause a lot of hassle, for instance.

 

Then of course the question of yards that could only sensibly be shunted in one direction, leading to some stations being served by the Up train, and some by the Down.

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... and of course, in many cases the Up Train was also the Down Train!

 

That is, having called at all the stations it has to serve in one direction, it usually has to run round and bring back all of the wagons it's only just collected and it returns, serving the stations remaining to be served.  Because the usual pattern was that it starts out at a big marshalling yard with all the traffic destined for the line that day with a loco and crew based nearby, and that same yard is likely to be the immediate destination of all the traffic collected, and which on arrival gets sorted for distribution all round the rest of the country. Although only maybe something like 30 or 50 miles each way, the trip out and back, with all the wayside shunting and waiting to give precedence to faster trains was likely to be the whole of the shift for that crew,

 

General pattern was the pickup ran during daylight hours, as that's when the goods yards were staffed and the wagons would be ready for collection.  The distribution further afield was more likely to be overnight, which would mean they would arrive at another yard to be sorted for distribution by another pick-up the next day.  As the long distance runs would be main lines, running them at night had the advantage that they didn't get in the way of more important passenger workings, using otherwise spare line capacity.

 

I'm sure there are lots of examples where there generalisations aren't quite true, but something along that pattern will apply in many cases.   

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For stations that only generated a limited amount of traffic, it is likely that only a limited amount of time would have been allocated for shunting or there may have been a notation saying that the train calls only as required. This certain seems to have been the case for a lot of freight services in Cornwall in the early 1950's.

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Speaking of East Anglian branch lines and the likelihood of oil tanks at branch line stations, it’s worth noting that in WWII numerous oil depots sprung up at branch line stations near airfields. 

Chappel and Wakes Colne was an example I happened to visit yesterday. This was a simple spur off the end of the passing loop, just one siding with facilities to unload half a dozen tank wagons or so. Petrol, oil and lubricants were handled. 

Some of these probably lasted beyond the end of the war if they served airfields that continued in use, though I’m no expert on that. 

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I did a quick search on Flickr and the Chappel WWII oil terminal is just visible in the background of this photo dated 1961:

Chappel & Wakes Colne. Train for the Colne Valley line. 30.12.61

Look under and beyond the footbridge to the dark vertical structure alongside the track.

The museum at Chappel has a much better photo. 

Sorry this has gone a bit off topic. 

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I was discussing recently with a friend the fact that there was a dairy served by a private siding at Builth Wells on the Mid Wales line. A look at the map in Derek Lowe's book on the line revealed that there was also a siding serving Wagon Repairs. Builth is not exactly a metropolis, current population being well under 3000. Sidings like this may well have been more common than I realised. Conveniently, at Builth both sidings were well out of the station area, so could easily on a model disappear under a bridge.  Of course the milk traffic would have gone by passenger train, but there would also be opportunities to have your "cripples" arrive for repairs. Just a thought. And of course a place for your new, unweathered models to arrive on the layout.

Jonathan

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2 hours ago, Kris said:

For stations that only generated a limited amount of traffic, it is likely that only a limited amount of time would have been allocated for shunting or there may have been a notation saying that the train calls only as required. This certain seems to have been the case for a lot of freight services in Cornwall in the early 1950's.

This is an important point - generally over the years the amount of time trip freights were booked at any station reflected past experience of how much work they needed to do at that station.

 

As already mentioned it was I think it was almost invariably the case that local trips trips serving more than one location were formed in 'station order' at the originating yard and in some cases for busier locations traffic would be further segregated within the station order so that priority traffic or traffic for particular sidings could be shunted out more quickly.  Don't forget too that the trip was not only dropping off traffic but collecting outwards traffic (and empties not required at that station) and they would have to go into its formation in a way that allowed station order to be maintained for detachments.  This could mean that at its terminating point, where it would basically be turned round to go back to the yard it had started from the train might have to be remarshalled - say at the least to segregate loaded and empty wagons and in some cases to marshal wagons to be detached at stations which could only be shunted on the return trip.

 

The big problem modellers face is that shunting freight vehicles and a goods yard is going to take much longer than it did in the real world even if it might only be a simple drop off in a cuple of sidings.  Shunting was normally carried out at a brisk pace unless there was some particular hindrance to it being done that way and whenever possible wagons were loose shunted (i.e detached from the engine in motion and allowed to roll under their own momentum to where they were meant to go although that wasn't done when spotting wagons in goods sheds or if certain types of traffic were involved.  And in most cases goods yards would be shunted from the running line because the sort of passenger train frequency we see nowadays simply didn't exist on much of the network, especially branch lines, in the past

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I expect that many goods yards would have had at least one railway horse for cartage deliveries? To what extent might the outgoing cut of wagons be prepared using horse/man power prior to the arrival of the pick up goods? Similarly the incoming wagons could be distributed after the train had left. 

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East Anglian branch lines paid a prominent part in both the first and second world wars - and not just oil.

 

For example, Barnham on the Bury to Thetford line had huge area given over to storage of bombs and mustard gas in the Second World War.  Here's a page from the excellent book "Branch Lines to Thetford" by Peter Paye, ISBN: 9781 911038 77 1 showing the extensive siding layout.  This is a highly detailed book and is strongly recommended.   

 

Barnham bomb dump sidings.pdf 

 

These sidings were laid down in 1939 and lasted until the 1950s.  Bombs and mustard gas were transported by rail both during the war and when disposed of in the 1950s.  The site was later used for storing nuclear bombs but was after the line had closed.  For more information see:

 

http://barnham.onesuffolk.net/assets/History-Articles/The-Secret-History-of-Barnham-Camp.pdf

 

Before that in the First World War the area was used for testing tanks.  On page 52 the book says "In June1916 the War Office adopted the district around Barnham as a trial ground for the 'new instrument of warfare' and in the initial stages of introduction, the utmost secrecy was observed by all concerned under the mystery name of the 'Tank'... local people were warned they would be shot on site if they trespassed in the area."  Sidings were laid near to Barnham for the offloading of these new-fangled devices.

 

Many branch lines also had their unofficial methods of working and Barnham was no exception.  The same book notes (page 101) that "Down [freight] trains often passed the Down starting signal at danger and stopped hard up against the crossing gates to save time.  It was an unwritten law amongst footplate fraternity that trains conveying heavy loads of sugar beet would never stop on the Up road at Barnham as the locomotive could then take a run at the bank and not stall on the rising gradient.  Consignments of sugar beet left in the siding at Barnham were taken on the Down road to Thetford Bridge or Thetford to be worked Up to Bury St Edmunds by a later service.  When required to call on the Down road with a freight train at Barnham it was the custom to uncouple the tail end wagons before the locomotive and leading vehicles were directed into the loop or main line.  The points were then quickly changed to allow the uncoupled wagons to roll into the yard siding where shunting could be carried out as required."

 

Chris Turnbull       

 

 

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I've got quite a few books in the 'Branch Lines Around' series by Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith.

 

The books I have record freight tonnages in/out of stations on the routes in the books.

 

This would suggest that even by the 1930s (late dates not given in the ones I have) some stations were only receiving, for example, a coal wagon once every 2 weeks or so on average. So quite often there was unlikely to be much traffic at those stations, if any, depending on the time of year. 

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In terms of the make up of freight trains I am currently using dice rolls to determine numbers of wagons of certain types although at the moment rolling a 5 or 6 means no wagons or vans of a specific type.

 

Once I know the make up of the train, a second dice roll takes place. This determines the numbers of wagons of each type that get dropped off in the goods yard, how many get dropped off in the branch exchange sidings and how many remain with the pick up working. 

 

Once dropped off wagons have to wait a specific number of 'turns' (operating sessions) before being picked up.

 

So far it has made things more interesting than how I was running goods before - i.e once the dice rolls have taken place there is actually a clear plan as to which wagons stay/leave. It also means it is more likely I have to shunt wagons out of the way to access ones at the end of the siding.

 

 

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The two books by Gerry Fiennes (I tried to run a railway and Fiennes on rails) include a number of anecdotes from when he was yardmaster at Whitemoor in the 1930s and controller at Cambridge in early WW2. Probably more about longer distance goods traffic than local workings, but gives an idea of how things might be adapted on the ground.

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On 07/11/2021 at 14:43, MDP78 said:

In terms of the make up of freight trains I am currently using dice rolls to determine numbers of wagons of certain types although at the moment rolling a 5 or 6 means no wagons or vans of a specific type.

 

Once I know the make up of the train, a second dice roll takes place. This determines the numbers of wagons of each type that get dropped off in the goods yard, how many get dropped off in the branch exchange sidings and how many remain with the pick up working. 

 

Once dropped off wagons have to wait a specific number of 'turns' (operating sessions) before being picked up.

 

So far it has made things more interesting than how I was running goods before - i.e once the dice rolls have taken place there is actually a clear plan as to which wagons stay/leave. It also means it is more likely I have to shunt wagons out of the way to access ones at the end of the siding.

 

 

How do you allocate the wagons and how does it work with the dice?

Do you have several sets of sidings and work between them?

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On 07/11/2021 at 12:04, Mol_PMB said:

I expect that many goods yards would have had at least one railway horse for cartage deliveries? To what extent might the outgoing cut of wagons be prepared using horse/man power prior to the arrival of the pick up goods? Similarly the incoming wagons could be distributed after the train had left. 

Use of the pinch bar was probably far more common, and a lot quicker, than using a horse (which should in any case have been doing its own work).  And once cartage horses had been supplanted by motor vehicles they weren't there to use anyway.

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1 hour ago, Michael Hodgson said:

Would motor vehicles (excluding any purpose built shunting tractors)  ever have been used as the power source for tow-roping in yards ?

Only if some one was daft enough to try it.  The real problem with moving wagons is not getting them rolling (I'm talking about level sidings of course) - where a pinchbar is quite adequate - but in stopping them once they have built up any momentum of their own.  Dead easy to control a wagon you started with a pinchbar because it won't build up much momentum if you do the job carefully and let the brake rub once it's moving;  give a good tug with a motor vehicle and it's a lot harder to stop it especially if it's loaded.

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On 08/11/2021 at 23:05, Railpassion said:

How do you allocate the wagons and how does it work with the dice?

Do you have several sets of sidings and work between them?

 

Using the example of open wagons a roll of 1 would mean 50% of the ones in the train would be dropped off, a roll of 2 would mean 100% dropped off.

 

A 3 means 50% dropped off in the branch exchange sidings and a roll of 4 100% dropped in the branch exchange. 

 

A 5 or 6 means no general wagons dropped off.

 

I dont roll anything to determine which sidings the wagons go to. I have a siding with a goods shed and loading platform, a siding without and a siding with a loading dock. The latter is served in the opposite direction to the other 2. There is also a refuge siding that the goods uses to park the wagons not needed to be dropped off.

 

I shunt vans to the goods shed or loading platform. Open wagons also may go to the loading platform or the siding without the goods shed as do coal wagons. The loading dock has a crane so has wagons like conflats.

 

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