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Cornish Rail Improvements


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I thought it might be an idea to start a topic dedicated to the upgrades announced yesterday

 

gallery_14496_2509_18830.jpg

 

The signalling element presumably means the end of semaphores?  Is that sort of money enough for an entire resignalling scheme or is it as suggested by The Stationmaster in another thread some IBS thrown in to break up the longer sections?  Given it includes Plymouth to Totnes that presumably will allow the long sections there to be broken up too?

 

Extending Long Rock is interesting too, although I thought they already did a fair amount of work on the Night Riviera.

 

Increasing capacity on the Night Riviera could well be cascaded Caledonian Sleepers?  If it was new vehicles they probably would have said so.

 

A lot of talk about the half-hourly service which I wonder how that would be provided.  Is it half-hourly locals with Cross Country and London HSTs in addition or would they form part of the half-hourly service?  If a decent clockface interval service can be created there is great potential for growth.

 

It will be interesting to see this develop as the facts emerge!

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If you trawl through the " today " thread, all the info is there as its old news to those in the know !  Yesterday was the " official public " announcements.

Yes its goodbye semiphores and no new sleeper stock until at least next longterm franchise (2020?) but its a good refurbishment and extra coaches.Gates at PZ station, new half hourly PZ - PLY timetable from 2017 with currently 165/6s with stabling point at the old mail/broccoli sidings outside PZ. When IEP kicks in up-country we shall be left with around 16 HSTs for our PZ - PAD services which will be refurbished and maintainence done at LA and more heavier work possible than now  at PZ. The 57s will become ours too and  good old 08 410 should have a celebrity paint job never seen before on an 08 - eventually and to cap it off, a series of depot stickers have been designed with a final choice made sometime this year !!

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Yes I know some of this has been covered in the today thread, but thought it would be easier to have a dedicated thread to keep it all in one place as the projects progress.  I am sure there will be much more detail to be added in due course.

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I know it's a BBC story but it does seem to give an answer regarding the signalling -

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-28135030

 

It would be interesting to know what Cornish 'signalling equipment' 'dates back to the 1890s'.  I presume it might possibly mean signalbox structures (Lostwithiel is definitely an old structure, and is listed) but I would be very surprised if there is a single signal structure anywhere on the Cornish mainline which is pre-war let alone 19th century and all the block instruments and block controls are fairly modern with no pre 1947 design blocks in use AFAIK.  In fact I have a suspicion that most of the mainline semaphores in Cornwall are probably newer than many of the colour light signal structures, and some of the signal heads, which exist between Moreton Cutting and West Drayton!

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The 1/2 hour service will be a godsend. The 2hr gap between 3:30 and 5:30 for trains heading west from Plymouth to Penzance (it's not quite this but close enough) is a real pain.

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Yes, the only things that date back to the 1890s, are the box structures themselves - The lever frames are all recons in one way or another, and all other block equipment is probably post war by now.

 

With regards to if there is enough money or not to do the signalling, the answer these days is very probably 'Yes'

 

Unless major track alterations (which I doubt) are to be made in the current Plymouth Panel Area, all the current local interlockings there can be made to work from anywhere on the UK mainland via a single telecommunications cable and the current TDM machines in each relay room - In Cornwall, this is already in use at Lostwithiel and Par, to control the Largin and Burngullow-Probus sections respectively - The cost of the solid-state electronic circuitry required for any new interlockings in Cornwall is nothing compared to what was say fifteen years ago, and NR has embarked on the major use of axle counters, which have become so reliable these days, that the lower failure rate and maintainance costs that they incurr far outweigh those of conventional track circuits. They have now also embarked on the use of lo-cost LED signal heads, which again are far cheaper to maintain than the traditional type of CL signal heads.

 

So what would be involved then as far as control goes? - From my experience in working within an IECC environment, the whole of system west of Totnes could easily be worked from two workstations (on one IECC machine) in Didcot, the first of which would probably control the current Plymouth area from Totnes to Liskeard, and the second of which would control everything west of there.

 

Automatic route setting (which sets up the routes in accordance with the timetable) would take 95% of the workload off the Signallers, and they would only have to intervene in the case of any late running or degraded working. Indeed, the main job of the new 'Cornish' Signaller would undoubtedly revolve around the operation of the remaining six level crossings, and even then, all that would entail would be for him/her to confirm that the barriers were down and that the crossing is clear.

 

:-)

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Horizontal is right, the resignalling will cover Totnes (exclusive, I think) to Penzance and will all be controlled from the TVSC at Didcot.

 

I'm still not sure about the old loading banks at Ponsandane, Paul, having specifically checked with a colleague yesterday whether this was still part of the overall plan.

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Maybe Im a bit Luddite, but I always thought that at locations such as Coombe J, there was something inherently safer when the signalman controlling the place actually knew where and what you were talking about

That is an interesting point Mickey.  There are almost certainly folk now in the TVSC who have never seen the sky over places they control and quite likely have a very limited knowledge of anything beyond what is on the screen in front of them.

 

they will get used to things like the time various trains take to do, or not do certain things but I suspect the real possibility of being 'out of touch' comes in times of degraded working when knowing where a signal is and the situation of the line in rear (and in some respects in advance) of it can be helpful, to say the very least.  In the early days of this highly centralised signalling it might not be too bad but as new folk come in - with little or no 'real' railway experience or outdoor knowledge of what they are controlling i can see possible pitfalls.  Wide area panel boxes are one thing - somebody in the Thames Valley dealing with clay trips to Fowey could be quite another.  And not helped for example when a lot of the input information for possessions on the zone is - so I'm very reliably informed - going into formats which in some cases bear little or no resemblance to the physical state of the railway and those inputting it know virtually nothing about the geography of what they are supposedly dealing with.

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Probably a good idea to separate the latest news from the rest.  As I never have any news to impart, it will be a pleasure to find it all in one place and then I can doddle around the other discussion areas, this site being my main source of 'news.'

 

Brian.

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The BBC article is interesting and they do again say that journey times will be improved.  I cannot think of anywhere that speed is restricted because of the signalling?  Capacity will be increased but unless they are intending to do trackwork as well I cannot see how journey times will be improved.

 

The headline of half-hourly train service initially sounds great, but as someone who spent a good proportion of his railway career writing and operating train plans I am looking forward to more detail on this.  Do they all stop at every station for instance?  Do the through services come in addition to the base half hourly or are they part of it?  If the stopping pattern is not the same and the through trains form part of it that imposes quite a constraint on planning and integration beyond Plymouth.  Looking forward to seeing this develop.

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Understand that both through and local trains will form the timetable. There will not be enough room on depot or station to stable stock overnight for this so they have to go somewhere - there is talk of the sidings also being used whilst depot rebuilding going on.

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Maybe Im a bit Luddite, but I always thought that at locations such as Coombe J, there was something inherently safer when the signalman controlling the place actually knew where and what you were talking about

The displays in the control centre are designed so that the signaller has no need to know what the locations that he/she is controlling actually look like. But, the Signallers are periodically allowed time to go out on-sight to ensure that they that they do.

 

:-)

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With regards to the resignalling and central control from Didcot, what method of control would probably be adopted for the single line branches?

Pretty well the same as now, but with additional track-circuit block working between Par and the Goonbarrow Jcn side of St Blazey Bridge Level Crossing (the Penweathers Jcn to Penryn section is already worked by this method from Truro). All track circuit block working in Cornwall would be normally worked by the Automatic Route Setting System within the IECC machine at Didcot.

 

With regards to the Liskeard to Coombe, Lostwithiel to Carne Point, St Blazey to Goonbarrow, and Penryn to Falmouth sections, these would probably continue to be worked under the 'No Signalman Key Token' method, except that the token would be released by the Signaller at Didcot, and not locally.

 

With regards to the St Budeaux to Gunnislake, Coombe Jcn to Looe, Goonbarrow Jcn to Newquay, and St Erth to St Ives, these are in effect self-contained railways, and once in possession of the respective train staffs, any train in these sections would be effectively on its own.

 

:-)

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In addition to my post above, it would be quite likely that the Lostwithiel to Carne Point section would be wired for a 'One-in-Steam' (these days known as 'One-in-Fumes') i.e. 'One Train In - One Train Out' method of working without a train staff - This is done by the system seeing one train going into the section, and after that, it will not allow anything else in until that train has come out - This method of working is already in use between Skipton and Rylstone in North Yorkshire (York IECC), and between St Budeaux Jcn and the Train Staff Instrument at St Budeaux Victoria Rd Station (Plymouth Panel).

 

:-)

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In addition to my post above, it would be quite likely that the Lostwithiel to Carne Point section would be wired for a 'One-in-Steam' (these days known as 'One-in-Fumes') i.e. 'One Train In - One Train Out' method of working without a train staff - This is done by the system seeing one train going into the section, and after that, it will not allow anything else in until that train has come out - This method of working is already in use between Skipton and Rylstone in North Yorkshire (York IECC), and between St Budeaux Jcn and the Train Staff Instrument at St Budeaux Victoria Rd Station (Plymouth Panel).

 

:-)

Easy enough with fixed formation passenger trains but perhaps not quite so easy with freights of varying lengths where what comes out might not be the equal in length to what went in (or vice versa}.  In other words the principle of absolute block is lost because the system will only know if a train is complete if the whole length of a branch is monitored.

 

The resultant potential collision on a non passenger line might not necessarily be serious, especially as speeds are low even if loads are heavy, but it would be interesting to know how the system takes into account (or doesn't) the absolute block feature especially when we live in a  world where freight trains can (and have) part and automatic brake systems need not necessarily stop either portion (as has happened in the past).

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This method of working is only used where any train that goes in may not have the same number of axles on it as the train that comes out, and therefore is only used on Freight lines where the attaching and detaching of wagons is likely to take place at the far end (i.e. Carne Point) - Basically, as I said before, the system only sees a train go in and a train come out, regardless of what the consist is, and in all cases, that would involve some sort of motive power (which in the case of a runaway would be gravity!) - All the Signaller sees on his screen is a red 'Section Occupied' or a white 'Section Clear' indication!

 

The immediate occupation of the berth track circuit on the approach to the exit signal leaving the branch towards the main line, tells the system that a train is entering the section - When this berth track circuit has has been occupied and then cleared again for a second time, together with the associated occupancy and clearance of the next track circuit towards the main line, this will let the system know that the section is again clear.

 

As these days, the fact that all trains are fitted with continuous air braking, and rigid procedures are in place for the checking of trains before departure, the risk of a train leaving anything behind in the section has been deemed as being 'almost' negligible!

 

:-)

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Addendum - I should add to the above that the section of line between St Budeaux Jcn and Victoria Rd Station is currently covered by conventional track circuits. A combination of the operation of the track circuits across the junction and in the station, together with the release of the St Budeaux-Gunnislake train staff gives the signalman the 'Section Occupied' indication and not the track circuits only as in the Skipton-Rylstone example. Basically, if the Gunnislake staff is out of its instrument, the Signaller cannot route a train from the main line to the branch.

 

:-)

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£146.6 million is just a fob off - another good storm and we are again cut off for months. Spend £50 billion to improve the whole rail network would be a real investment rather than the whiter elephant of HS2!

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This method of working is only used where any train that goes in may not have the same number of axles on it as the train that comes out, and therefore is only used on Freight lines where the attaching and detaching of wagons is likely to take place at the far end (i.e. Carne Point) - Basically, as I said before, the system only sees a train go in and a train come out, regardless of what the consist is, and in all cases, that would involve some sort of motive power (which in the case of a runaway would be gravity!) - All the Signaller sees on his screen is a red 'Section Occupied' or a white 'Section Clear' indication!

 

The immediate occupation of the berth track circuit on the approach to the exit signal leaving the branch towards the main line, tells the system that a train is entering the section - When this berth track circuit has has been occupied and then cleared again for a second time, together with the associated occupancy and clearance of the next track circuit towards the main line, this will let the system know that the section is again clear.

 

As these days, the fact that all trains are fitted with continuous air braking, and rigid procedures are in place for the checking of trains before departure, the risk of a train leaving anything behind in the section has been deemed as being 'almost' negligible!

 

:-)

Almost exactly the same as the system a Signal Engineer of my acquaintance devised in the late 1980s - it was rejected by the BRB as being insufficiently safe as it failed to ensure that trains are complete.  Attached to their letter of rejection was a list of all the instances of fully brake fitted trains becoming divided and failing to come to a stand as a result.  The last one I saw was an air brake freight and while the vehicle which became detached did stop the train didn't.  Simple fact is that where human beings are involved if it can go wrong it very definitely will - sooner or later (and knowing the past rate of instances in which brake continuity tests were observed in the breach, and the impossibility of carrying them out on a DOO freight where there are no ground staff it's not to say that it couldn't happen again.  But if the industry doesn't mind has produced a risk assessment which says once or twice in one hundred years then fair enough.  Oh and I know of an RA just like that where the first incident occurred in year 2 of the 100 years - the rate turned out to be spot on, just that the predicted 3 instances all happened in a space of a couple of years).

 

Sorry to sound like cassandra but a good many years of practical frontline railway experience tend to leave you with a certain view on reality.  Unit trains - no problem, freights - I am left wondering.

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No Worries - The only thing is that in the 80s there were still some partly fitted freights around, which is why your acquaintance's idea was rejected. These days, there aren't!

 

With regards to fitted freight trains not stopping after becoming divided, I don't doubt your word, and 'have even seen this for myself overseas (North-West Australia). Usually it is the result of an over-efficient compressor on the loco if the division occurs within the first few wagons, or someone who hasn't done their job properly during the train prep.

 

:-)

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No Worries - The only thing is that in the 80s there were still some partly fitted freights around, which is why your acquaintance's idea was rejected. These days, there aren't!

 

With regards to fitted freight trains not stopping after becoming divided, I don't doubt your word, and 'have even seen this for myself overseas (North-West Australia). Usually it is the result of an over-efficient compressor on the loco if the division occurs within the first few wagons, or someone who hasn't done their job properly during the train prep.

 

:-)

Actually the idea was rejected for lines  (and only lines) that were restricted to fully fitted only operation - he knew well enough about partially fitted but by then parts of the network were fully fitted only (in fact Cornwall was I think possibly very much in his mind anyway at the same time).

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Actually the idea was rejected for lines  (and only lines) that were restricted to fully fitted only operation - he knew well enough about partially fitted but by then parts of the network were fully fitted only (in fact Cornwall was I think possibly very much in his mind anyway at the same time).

That does surprise me - But there again, in those days there was probably more of a 'can't do' mentality, with a fear of the unknown and a resistance to change amongst the BR higher archy. These days, it's more of of a 'can do if it suits us' approach!

 

:-)

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That does surprise me - But there again, in those days there was probably more of a 'can't do' mentality, with a fear of the unknown and a resistance to change amongst the BR higher archy. These days, it's more of of a 'can do if it suits us' approach!

 

:-)

More likely a case of far more practical experience, especially among operations & safety type folk, the vast majority of whom had 'been through the mill' of real operational work at every level in the industry  - and who rapidly became a vanishing breed following privytisation, especially if they asked awkward questions.  Don't forget also that now we have a body responsible for the Rule Book which is totally divorced from the railway where those Rules etc have to be applied and who not uncommonly take no notice at all of input from the practical level while at the other end of the scale we have folk new to the industry or with very narrow/limited experience 'producing' Signalbox Special Instructions or issuing written Instructions to Signalmen.

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