Jump to content

Headcodes/Train reporting numbers and compiling a working timetable


JN
 Share

Recommended Posts

I’m trying to create a working timetable from the research I’m doing for a Tees Valley model railway in the early 1990s…

6E09 BSC Shelton - Tees Yard

6N20 Wakefield Cobra - BSC Lackenby

6E21 Hardendale - BSC Lackenby etc

 

Right, so we all know what I mean is that I know already that 6 means a freight train limited to 60mph (different from 1 meaning express passenger and 0 meaning light engine). I know the next character is a letter; E = Eastern, M = Midland, O = Southern, S = Scotland and V = Western for inter-regional trains and Z = excursion/one-off/special (probably the wrong words, but you get the idea) with other letters meaning the destination (I don’t know if this is general or specific), but London is always A for intra-regional trains. 1AXX might a be a Newcastle/Leeds - London express passenger, but even on the same line an Edinburgh - London express passenger would be 1EXX. Likewise on the WCML 1M from Glasgow or 1A from Manchester/Liverpool to London. The Western region is a little different as Cardiff is still considered the Western Region (probably to do with the history, the formation, of Britain/the UK).

 

What does '09' '20' and '21' mean from the freight examples I’ve given above?

 

I’ve thought:

Train order (at origin or destination) - I’ve seen this before, but can’t remember where and I don’t know if its train order at origin or destination

The path the train operates within (21 is the start of the 21st five minute interval since 6am, for argument’s sake)

Route (21 meaning via the ECML and 22, again for argument’s sake, meaning via Hartlepool or vice versa) - this is useful because some of the trains I’m interested in modelling will head over Copy Pit and, well, there is the 'operational challenge' of moving the transformer to act like climbing Copy Pit…

 

I’m trying to work this out because I’d like some structure to my operations and whilst a 1990-94 WTT might not be ideal its better than nothing (otherwise I’d run the same train, the same stock and loco all the time). As I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve chosen this era and location because I like the types of trains and locos etc rather than because this is my stomping ground where I have massive personal experience (because I could see everything because I was working at the station cafe/signal box/head office etc or ‘seeing the railway from my office’) or trainspotting memories of…

 

I’ve looked online to see if I can find a WTT, even one made unofficially, but nothing so far. I know photos of the era are a limited source (being of what interested other people at the time for some unknown reason). I’ll post below of what I have already, so if anyone has something to contribute or correct that’s welcome and fine. The information might be of use to someone else too.

 

The information is readily available in the caption and comment section of Flickr photos, so I figured to use it. I’m also using the photos (as far as possible) to help me with the locomotive used and wagon types and train consists. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at kit-building. There are parts of modelling which I find daunting too, so ‘the general ascetic’ and something on the simpler side is still do-able and still provides a bit of a challenge and/or focus (also, focus stops me ‘buying with my eyes’ every time there is a new release). I’m also a bit more interested in the operational side and how all the little systems fit together.

 

Anyway, the WTT I’ve got (without times), so far:

6E09 BSC Shelton - Tees Yard (someone had pointed out to me that this was 6E34, but 09 was the one I found)

1Z15 Tyne Tees Wanderer (Birmingham - Tees Dock - Hartlepool - Birmingham)

6N20 Wakefield Cobra - BSC Lackenby

6E21 Hardendale - BSC Lackenby

6E28 Wolverhampton Steel Terminal - BSC Lackenby

6E30 Dalzell - BSC Lackenby

6E31 Wolverhampton Steel Terminal - BSC Lackenby

6Z39 BSC Shelton - Tees Yard

6E34 BSC Shelton - Tees Yard

6E40 BSC Corby - BSC Lackenby

6E41 Blackburn - BSC Lackenby

6E43 Hardendale - BSC Lackenby

6E47 Cardiff Tidal Yard - Tees Yard

6N54 Redmire - BSC Redcar MT

6N67 Wakefield Cobra - BSC Lackenby

 

6M01 BSC Lackenby - Wolverhampton Steel Terminal

6M05 BSC Lackenby - Wolverhampton Steel Terminal

6M13 Tees Yard - BSC Shelton

6M41 BSC Lackenby - Hardendale

6M46 BSC Redcar MT - Hardendale

6M47 BSC Lackenby - BSC Corby

4D50 Wilton - Felixstowe

6M51 BSC Lackenby - Blackburn

6N53 BSC Redcar MT - Redmire

6M58 BSC Lackenby - Blackburn

6V64 Tees Yard - Margam

6V64 Tees Yard - Cardiff Tidal

6M71 BSC Lackenby - BSC Workington

4L79 Wilton - Felixstowe

6Z95 BSC Lackenby - BSC Corby

 

There were passenger services too. 1E/1Mxx (Manchester Airport - Middlesbrough/return) as well as Bishop Auckland/Newcastle - Saltburns and their returns. I read a BBC article from 2019 about how Redcar (British Steel) is the least used in Britain/England. From videos I've watched of the era the passenger trains look regularly less than even half-full with barely anyone on the station platforms. If stuff is missing its because I don’t know and don’t like ‘making it up’ (I then go too far and I can get too extreme and I become a bit silly). The idea is to run 6E09 then 1Z15 then 6N20 and so on. Once the westbounds are finished I can then move on to the eastbounds and repeat.

 

As I said, elsewhere on this forum, on other threads “The working timetable information, whilst taken (I don't believe the people who shared the information on Flickr were deliberately out to deceive me) and now shared in good faith, could be wrong. I've mostly learnt it from the captions of photographs. Unverified, second-hand information, isn't the best. However, the information does seem to be consistent across multiple people… I realise now that I might have seen 'BSC Shelton - Tees Yard' and just assumed same train = same headcode etc”.

 

A tip before I go, for those who don't already know, the best results I've found when searching for train photos on Flickr is to use something like 'Tees Yard - Margam'. Not everything is relevant for me, but that's because I have probably more precise criteria than Flickr's algorithm. However, I'm usually able to tell either from the photo quality (I can tell between a negative/slide scan and a digital photo as well as from the locos and/or stock if a photo is relevant or not). I just don't do a date search because some photos were scanned two years ago, say, but taken in 1991 - sometimes Flickr takes the date of the file not the photo.

 

Most of all, I want to make my layout interesting rather than ‘whooosh!’.

 

Anyway, apologies for going on for so long.  As one friend always tells me, I explain things too much. I’m not very good at communicating and think when I type. Also, one thought triggers another and I get a bit tangled in my thoughts. I’ve also now written bits of this in other posts, so I thought maybe I should just ask for help. I can bring it together in one simple, but over-explained question!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oops, just to be clear... The point I'm modelling is probably going to be 'Thornaby Station' although, I might yet fictionalise things a little because I really want one siding to be a docks. However, 'Thornaby/Tees Valley area in the early 1990s' will be the 'foundational principle' - it started off as a 'Stockton and Darlington Railway in the 1990s' because of my fondness for coal and steel trains and gradually shifted east as I settled on the era I have. I did think about other areas, but they didn't motivate or stick like this has...

Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, JN said:

What does '09' '20' and '21' mean from the freight examples I’ve given above?

 

I’ve thought:

Train order (at origin or destination) - I’ve seen this before, but can’t remember where and I don’t know if its train order at origin or destination

The path the train operates within (21 is the start of the 21st five minute interval since 6am, for argument’s sake)

Route (21 meaning via the ECML and 22, again for argument’s sake, meaning via Hartlepool or vice versa) - this is useful because some of the trains I’m interested in modelling will head over Copy Pit and, well, there is the 'operational challenge' of moving the transformer to act like climbing Copy Pit…

 

My understanding is that the two digit number is the train order, but I'm not sure whether that is the order of departure from the origin or the order of arrival at the destination, or at some other point on route.  Sometimes a train with the same train reporting code starts at a different time on certain days (eg MO) and similarly, for routes where there is more than one train between the same origin and destination on the same day, they will have separate train operating codes.  This is a bit more obvious when looking at passenger trains rather than freight.  That would therefore rule out the suggestions that it defines either the departure time or route taken.

 

2 hours ago, JN said:

I’ve looked online to see if I can find a WTT, even one made unofficially, but nothing so far.

 

I don't know of a source for your time period, but Network Rail publish their current Working Time Table online.  https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/the-timetable/working-timetable/.  This covers the entire country.

 

I'm not sure which one covers your area of interest - I only know that the ones starting with a G are Scotland.  Passenger and Freight Working Time Tables are separate.

 

There are sites with some historic Working Time Tables, but they tend to be more historic than the 1990s and tend to also be limited in coverage, obviously being scanned from what the site owner has been able to source. 

 

Hopefully you get some better answers as it's something I'd like to understand better as well.

  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking at a 1970 freight WTT for the South Western Division, it looks as if the two-digit numbers are mainly used to give trains unique numbers. As said above, you could have the same number on different days of the week, eg 6O41 was the 13.40 SO Cardiff to Salisbury tanks and also the 18.45 FO Cardiff to Eastleigh. There are some oddities, eg Northfleet to Welbeck Colliery empty hoppers are all 6E00, while the corresponding Welbeck to Northfleet workings are 6O60 to 6O64.

On some frequent shorter distance passenger routes I think the 2-digit number indicated route rather than individual train, for instance I recall that circa 1970 Kings Cross to Cambridge trains were all 1B66 or 2B66.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got quite a big collection of WTTs, from around 1961 to the late 1990s, so have a fairly good understanding of how things tend to work - and how confusing it can sometimes be.

 

For older WTTs at least, the general rule was that for passenger services, numbers less than 50 were unique to that service, and would increase during the day. So, for example, northbound departures from St Pancras to Sheffield or Leeds would start as 1E01 and increase through the day up to around 1E49 (E because Sheffield Midland station is actually in the Eastern Region). Services to Derby would be 1P01, etc, as Derby's area code was P, and services to Leicester would be 1F01, etc. So all of those services would see their headcode change through the day, increasing with each departure - sometimes in steps of 1, but sometimes by 2. For some busy routes, you would see the numbers go above 50 - for example, on the May 1970 timetable, the 1M98 service was the 10:50pm Glasgow to Euston sleeper.

 

However, for the local services, many of them would stick with the same headcode through the day, as it was used more a a route identifier than an individual service identification. So, for example, both a 8am and 6pm service from Matlock to Derby would use the same 2P59 headcode, as that was the route identifier for the Matlock to Derby service.

 

Freight services tend to have individual headcodes, rather than route identifiers, and as most for the period you're looking at tend to be inter-regional or to the London area, most would be either A, E, M, O, S or V. Local trip working would always be T, and usually 8Txx or 9Txx.

 

Really, the best thing to do is to try and get a working timetable for the area you are interested in, from approximately the right date, and work from that. Fortunately for you, by the early 1990s, they tended to combine all of the timetables (passenger and freight) into a single publication, so you only need to buy one, whereas for earlier periods, you have to try and find both the passenger and freight (or "Mandatory" and "Conditional", depending on period) ones. Of course, trip workings don't usually appear in the main published timetables, and you need to try and find the local trip notices for the area concerned.

  • Agree 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Gold

Letter N was at one time used for inter-regional trains to the North Eastern Region.

 

apart from trip freights - which used what amounted to a route identifier or particular pattern of service (methodology here varied very much according to Regional practice and interpretation) freights were normally numbered in eithera. daily or weekly pattern of ascending numbers from the lowest number at teh start of the day - rather like the system used for Class 1 passenger trains) but sometimes groups of numbers were used for services over a particular route or running inter-Regionally.

 

Again practice varied by many freights used the same number on every day they were booked to run during a week but the WR/LMR came across a problem with this on oil trains because if a train was heavily delayed you might end up with two e.g. 6m58s around at the both going to the same place but carrying different grades of product - which led to a rather embarrassing situation at Albion oil terminal in the West Midlands on one occasion when two days worth trains arrived in the wrong order carrying different product from each other.  That resulted in that train being given several different numbers over the course of a week.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

We attempted to make a timetable for Charwelton and this is what we came up with using services in the 80’s that may/would have used the GC if still open. It’s not 100% accurate I’m sure but great fun researching and trying to make up services that can never have run due to ‘closure’ that we reversed!

1C7B35A3-8A02-4D7F-A48E-9A2837DA0EDE.jpeg

F0BA877F-E22B-446A-9BA7-7A4FA089E1A0.jpeg

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're after a proper WTT then look for one with the code YH

 

That area code covers freight from London to Berwick (ECML) and all of the lines towards the east coast with the exception of East Anglia.

 

The National Archives at Kew have a lot of YH WTTs along with supplements, which showed changes to freight flows, that were issued to keep the WTTs up to date.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Gold

Trip workings have been mentioned above and could be complex covering very different workings on different days of the week

 

EG 8B51, the Gloucester trips covered by Class 22s 67 to 71 involved Dursley, Forest of Dean, Quedgeley and as far away as Newlands PAD. 
 

@The Stationmaster mentioned the Waterston-Albion tanks …. Another favourite of mine and one of the first major flows of block trains. But of course they did not have a monopoly of 6Vxx/6Mxx codes and had to mix it with any other class6 traffic. If you look at traffic on the Gloucester to Abbotswood section traffic originated at many locations around the country and there was therefore no way headcodes could be logically sequenced all along their routes.

 

Furthermore what was a class 6 train one day (block trains excepted) might be a class 7 the next depending on the presenting traffic and wagon types.

 

So it is a complex topic but fascinating. 99% of folks looking at your layout won’t spot errors, and at least 25% of displayed headcodes were incorrect. 
 

At least in your era you don’t have to display the headcodes! For me getting it right adds to the recreation…. Have a look at the Abbotswood Junction videos to see what I mean. Disc headcode locos are very handy for us!

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Further to my last post I've discovered that I have a pristine copy of WTT YH for the period 11 May to 27 September 1992.  Why I've got it is strange as it's not my most favoured area of the country.

 

If data from the WTT could be of use please Personal Message me with your requirement(s) i.e. in order not to clog up this thread.

  • Friendly/supportive 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

All this one reporting number goes from A to B mularky is far too easy.

.

Down in 'The Valleys' they did things differently.

.

Radyr - the 'hub of the Cardiff Valleys' had around 25 different diagrams in 1970, employing 15 or so Class 37s and a handful of Hymeks.

.

Radyr's trains worked out and home, via as many places in between as the planners could fit in to a shift.

.

Here is an example of just one turn, 9C76 from the 1970-1971 WTT.

.

Sweating the assets 1970s style

South Wales WTT - C76 1970-1971.jpg

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

And yet Radyr men were famous for an unhurried approach, and would crawl up to signals at incredibly low continental drift type speeds, keeping the train moving and not stopping if they could help it before the signal cleared; a game of extreme skill with loose coupled trains.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...