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Lineside embankment fires.


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Off the beaten track, and off, at a tangent from the 'Modelling railway accidents' thread.

 

Has anyone included such a feature on their layout ?

 

Trackside fires were quite prevalent during the 'Days of Steam', but, rarely seen modelled.

 

I've thought of a small cameo, with the local Fire Brigade in attendance, reached by a remote farm track, with their hoses traiing up, or down, with said Brigade fighting the outbreak of an embankment blaze.

 

Thing is,.. How to model the fire ?...

First thoughts are to represent the damping down stage, with blackened / burnt ground-cover. , represented by Black spray painted Woodland Scenics / Noch / International Models grass mats. Or, maybe, having a go with my Zippo.

 

The next idea, would be to model the fire in action, possibly using versions of the illuminated hot-spots available from the likes of Express Models, or others.

 

Any input on the subject will be extremely appreciated.

 

Cheers All.

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ummm, having controlled a few for clearance purposes, have a think about your chosen era, what vegetation you are depicting and what time of year you are choosing.

Different eras also mean different standards of lineside housekeeping. In the days of 8 men per p-way gang and fence to fence meadow land things were different to the lineside woodlands with flailed edges of recent years. Different stuff burns in different ways and is different in itself through out the seasons. A bank side grass fire will go well in a dry summer, or when dead in a dry/cold winter, but burns and travels so quick that it only discolours the more substantial undergrowth.... unless it meets something with a built in accelerant (like a telegraph pole). Oh and if you want to panic your 1:76 p-way figures....... threaten to set fire to a bank of dry bracken with a tail wind. The last 1:1 I saw I couldn't walk up the bank fast enough to keep up let alone get ahead and control its direction (reminds me that a fixed shadow from a structure will keep veg moister and less flammable, giving odd unburnt areas).

 

PS - if a modern scenario with fire tender etc..... look to the surroundings too. If its arable land you will get a farmer and his labourer threatening merry hell if he loses so much as one stalk, despite the boundary maintenance gap having been ploughed over on his side of the fence so there's no fire gap.

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I seem to recall an early Model Rail that covered this - it was the edition that reviewed the Hornby Merchant Navy or the month after. I think it might have been something like a 'build an embankment in a weekend' article. Can't remember how extensive the lineside fires aspect was however.

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Trackside fires were quite prevalent during the 'Days of Steam'.

Common well beyond the days of steam. The usual source of the fire being a discarded cigarette end. Newer trains, with air conditioned stock where the windows don't open, was a big factor in stopping most of these fires as too of course was the eventual total smoking ban on trains.

 

Also, the use of hoses was not as common as was beating the fire out from what I remember.

Though this could have been mainly down to the fact that my local railway line was electrified.

:scratchhead:

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PS - if a modern scenario with fire tender etc..... look to the surroundings too. If its arable land you will get a farmer and his labourer threatening merry hell if he loses so much as one stalk, despite the boundary maintenance gap having been ploughed over on his side of the fence so there's no fire gap.

 

He's also in breach of CAP regulations which specify a 2m stewardship strip between the boundary and the crops to encourage wildlife...

 

Back on topic, I can remember a layout in the Modeller with a burnt embankment sometime in the 90s but it's the only one I'm aware of.

 

One of the reasons for beating a fire out rather than using water could of course just be the difficulties of getting water to the location in question. I'm not aware of a SG equivalent of the RAF Chilmark fire train!

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More than a decade after steam had left the SE Division, I had a number of fires in the vicinty of Sole Street which I ascribed to overheating in the wooden troughing conveying the electrical control cables. This was the Summer (1975), sure, but the fires all started in the troughing, not under or around it. Exceedingly tedious!

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Not a fire in progress but I have inclded a representsation of a small area of burnt embankment on my layout Fisherton Sarum. As can be seen on the right hand side of this image below (courtesy of BRM mag)

 

post-243-0-82691900-1334050517.jpg

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On the Western (and probably elsewhere) lineside banks were subject to controlled burning twice a year - Spring/early Summer and Autumn - in order keep vegetation growth under control and reduce the risk of lineside fires. This practice gradually ceased with the increased use of buried/part buried cabling instead of telegraph poles and overhead conductors. The introduction of mobile PWay gangs instead of 'Home Gangs' probably also played a part as folk were less familiar with the lineside surroundings.

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Not just the Western. I recall seeing this in the PW Institute's book on British Track, a circa 1970 edition. The stated aim was as much as anything to keep the vegetation in check to prevent lineside fiores from stray cinders ejected from locos. As such, most embankments in the steam era had little more than rough grass to them. The book also stated that with the reduced risk from diesels, this was no longer required. Changing patterns of maintenance also had an impact, of course.

 

All of which means, in cuttings, there are more sources of leaves, which were not such a problem with "old-fashioned" stock with brakes bearing on the tyre, as they cleaned the muck off the wheels. Along come advances ion technology, such as disc brakes, and come autumn time, we have two months of mayhem with modern "up to date" dmus particularly.

In view of all this, it is perhaps surprising that the version of RT1, the Railtrack contract for track maintenance effective on vesting Day, 1.4.1994, there was no clause whatever pertaining to control of vegetation. This was hastily negotiated with BRIS in the succeeding few weeks!

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In view of all this, it is perhaps surprising that the version of RT1, the Railtrack contract for track maintenance effective on vesting Day, 1.4.1994, there was no clause whatever pertaining to control of vegetation. This was hastily negotiated with BRIS in the succeeding few weeks!

 

But not everywhere - as many linesides bear witness. The chap who did my tree surgery work a couple of weeks back has worked for Railtrack and NR on contract and has made a good living out of dealing with cuttings (e.g Sonning) where there was no regular lineside maintenance (although recently flails were used instead as they're cheaper than him).

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Not a fire in progress but I have inclded a representsation of a small area of burnt embankment on my layout Fisherton Sarum.

 

I've certainly got a selection of scorched earth photos as a basis to include on Eridge's cutting in due course.

 

Where I used to live in SE London we regularly got grass fires from the Q1s and Ws slogging up the bank from Lewisham, and I recall making my first 999 call as a six-year old ("Thanks sonny, we've already had a call about that one"). I even had some photos of one of them (probably long gone) but it was mostly a lot of smoke so for a modelling cameo you could do worse than use some of those smoke generators as used for engine sheds.

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Trackside fires have been as common down here as insurance claims since the North Wales line was passed for steam. Some fields caught fire even before the steam train passed so there we are!

Would these be the same fields where the lineside fences suddenly became ineffective at keeping sheep off the line following the Chernobyl fallout and the ban on moving radioactive livestock?

 

It is surprising how insurance can be such a major cause of accidents.

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According to the then DCC at Manchester the sheep were apparently cave dwellers as well, sometimes herding themselves into tunnels for more efficient butchery by passing trains as drivers got wise to the usual suspect locations. Purely hearsay of course, and the failure of the Russian nuclear reactor and the Welsh lineside fencing must have been purely coincidental. I'd not want to suggest that good honest farming folk would consider doing anything illegal.

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Trackside fires have been as common down here as insurance claims since the North Wales line was passed for steam. Some fields caught fire even before the steam train passed so there we are!

 

Has it stopped raining then?

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Hi Folks. Again, Many thanks, for the many, and, varied answers.

 

What sparked my imagination / question of, was, the recollection of turning up at my favourite lineside location ( A cutting, between two road-overbridges. One a main road, the other, a gravel farm access road) only to be confronted by a Dennis pump, with it's crew over the railway boundary, applying their hoses to the fire on a typical embankment, covered with wild long grass / wild flowers.

Reluctant to make my presence known, I beat a hasty retreat, and observed from a distance.

This scenario has, since then, remained a possible model feature.

 

Addendum. It's a pity that the 'controlled lineside burning' hasn't continued. Any attempt, these days, to clear lineside vegetation, appears to result in tree-huggers saying "It's either me, or the tree", protest.

 

Judging by the present lineside vegetation (On the SWT Mainlines, at least), the leaf-fall problem has contributed to several schemes to obviate same, but, the probhlem continues.

 

What say you, ?

 

Cheers All.

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Sorry for a late reply, but just noticed this thread.

 

A way you could make the burnt-out vegetation scene is by having one or two Seuthe smoke generators under the layout, drill a few holes into the baseboard and then place the vegetation over the top. This would give the impression that the fire has just been put out, and makes it just that bit more unique.

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Hi Folks. Again, Many thanks, for the many, and, varied answers.

..........

 

Addendum. It's a pity that the 'controlled lineside burning' hasn't continued. Any attempt, these days, to clear lineside vegetation, appears to result in tree-huggers saying "It's either me, or the tree", protest.

 

................

 

What say you, ?

 

Cheers All.

 

 

My son is in the tree cutting trade and quite often gets stopped when clearing cutting sides by protestors. We even had an item on our local TV news a few months ago about a stupid couple near Rotherham protesting that since all the trees had been cut down they could see the railway in the cutting at the bottom of their garden. Perhaps they hadn't noticed it when they bought their 1970's house next to an 1840's railway line.

 

 

However back to the OP the S & C had controlled burning most years when I was growing up. One of my most abiding memories of 11th August 1968 is driving over the top of Birkett tunnel when the two black fives had stormed south going flat out and there appeared to be an almost continuous banking fire alll the way north along the side of Wild Boar fell, a very fitting end to steam.

 

Jamie

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Gorse is particularly bad for uncontrollable burning, arcing on third rail or even steam specials still cause lineside fires. The fire brigade do usually beat out the fire and the damp down if they can get the engine near enough. They ended up using a water filled slurry tanker for damping down from the farmer at the last one I attended at Bincombe tunnel, the water had a definite brown tinge still!

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