The Digital Railway

Last week (10th May 2018) , the British Government in association with Network Rail announced that it would be investing in a digital railway, but what is that?

Basically, for well over a hundred years, railway signalling in the UK is a “block” based system. That is, a pre defined area of railway ‘blocks’ divide up the network, and no two trains can occupy the same block at the same time. In recent years, if a train moves past a red signal in to an occupied block, the onboard safety system (TPWS) will apply the emergency brake. This system albeit very safe, is very inefficient. A better way would be to allow the trains to report their position, speed etc. This would allow trains to run safely at closer distances, and would increase the capacity on the network.

The cost would be high, but as many of the signalling systems in the UK are nearing an upgrade, the spend would not necessarily be in addition to works which have been already identified by Network Rail.

To better explain this, the following video from Network Rail shows the current system of signalling, and how the new digital systems would improve the UK rail network.


Please also visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on YouTube
Please also visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast On Instagram
Please also visit Mistydale Model Railway On Facebook


That’s all for now, thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.

Banbury – Gateway To Almost Everywhere!

In the June of 2017, I visited Banbury Railway station, with a short trip to Heyford.  I had seen many videos from the station with its varied traction, but mainly wanted to see the Chiltern Railway services from London Marylebone to Birmingham,  some of which are class 68 / 67 hauled.  The day certainly didn’t disappoint.

Firstly a little history.  Banbury Railway Station opened in 1850 as Banbury Bridge Street Station, for the GWR.  At first it was just a single line station, but due to popularity was increased to double track a few years after opening.  Goods loops were also installed around the station, notably adjacent to the “up” line.  This also provided access to the LNWR route via another Station, Banbury Merton Street.  Further terminating bays and goods loops followed, cementing Banbury’s importance in the rail network.  In 1948 during nationalisation, the station was renamed Banbury General.

Banbury Merton Street closed in 1960, and with that Banbury General was renamed Banbury.  Some, but not all, of the goods loops around the station have subsequently been removed, and the station now has 4 lines, served by three platforms.

Many freight services pass through Banbury, mainly intermodal workings from/to Southampton.  Below are two images of Freightliner 66 501s working on the “Up” line from Southampton docks towards London.

fl again3fl again 2

The main current (2018) passenger services are as follows :

Chiltern Railways:

3 tph to London Marylebone 
2 tph to Birmingham Moor Street, 1 of which carries on to Birmingham Snow Hill

Cross Country:

Services to Bournemouth, Manchester, Reading and Newcastle

GWR

Cherwell Valley line services to Reading and Didcot Parkway

As you can see, it really is a gateway across a good part of the country!  The two pictures below are of Class 68 locomotives, on loan from DRS, on services to London Marylebone (top) and Birmingham New Street (bottom) for Chiltern Railways.

68 368 5

And here are a couple of Cross Country Voyagers, en route to Manchester and London respectively.

double vomit comet

I have also posted a video to my YouTube channel, and this can be seen below:

The station staff are friendly and are ok with photography / video work, obviously with the rules of the railway always being adhered to.  I really enjoyed my visit here, so much going on with all different types of traction, and hope to visit again in the future.


Please also visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on YouTube

Please also visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast On Instagram

Please also visit Mistydale Model Railway On Facebook


That’s all for now, thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.

Stations Near Me – 1 – Sittingbourne

As a companion to my ongoing series of potted station histories in the Medway area, this blog subsection will concentrate on other stations near to where I live in Rainham (Kent). The first is Sittingbourne.

Sittingbourne station opened on the 25th January 1858, as part of the East Kent Railway (later to be merged with the South Eastern railway to form the South East and Chatham Railway). At this time, trains would terminate at Chatham and a horse and cart would transfer passengers to Strood, where they would join passengers on the South Eastern Railway.

The large and impressive station building is situated on the “up” line, with 2 platforms, the “down” side connected by a subway. Goods sidings at this time were adjacent to the “up” line, to the east of the main station building. In 1860, services to Sheerness-on-Sea commenced via a new line next to the existing down platform, making this platform an island type.

In 1899, a new footbridge linked the two platforms, complementing the existing subway. It was around this time that the station was also re-named “Sittingbourne & Milton Regis”, a name it was to retain until changed back to “Sittingbourne” in 1970.

The Southern Railway took over in 1923, The goods sidings on the “up” line were removed around this time. In its place, a small goods yard was installed to the side of the “down” platform. Serving primarily the paper mills, it also provided stabling for chemical trains going to Sheerness Steel in the late 20th Century.

Electrification at Sittingbourne came quite late in 1958 (the lines further west through Gillingham had been electrified since the late 1930’s). With electrification, the old semaphore signals were removed, with full electric light signals put in their place.

In recent history, a new bridge to the east of the station building was opened in April 2012. This included a lift for passengers. This was a great improvement on the situation before that, which required passengers who needed assistance to be taken across the tracks via a walkway with a member of station staff. A full refurbishment to the toilets and station building was also undertaken at this time, as well as new platform shelters. The subway was blocked in the early 2000s.

The station building is the oldest piece of railway architecture surviving in the area, and can be seen below, the top picture from the “down” platform, the other from the road:

station building

(c) David Glasspool

geograph-2001726-by-Stacey-Harris

Sittingbourne railway station
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Stacey Harris

Incidents:

Three major incidents have occurred either in or near the station:

1861 : A derailment just outside the station causing 1 death.

1878 : A collision within the station as a passenger train ran into static goods vans. The fault for this was attributed to the goods shunter. 5 People died.

1966 : 18 vans of a freight train de-railed just past western junction on the “Down” approach to the station. This caused extensive damage to the infrastructure and closure of the entire line for two days. Thankfully there were no casualties.


Some information contained is this blog was obtained from the KentRail Sittingbourne Page .

Photographs (c) David Glasspool and Stacey Harris


Videos I have taken can be found on the RainhamRailEnthusiast YouTube Page.

My model railway has a Facebook page, click to view Mistydale Model Railway .

You can also follow me on Instagram : @RainhamRailEnthusiast

and Twitter : @RainhamRail


Many thanks for reading this Blog instalment – goodbye and I’ll Blog soon.

Sheerness-On-Sea Railway Disaster 1971

In this blog, I will write about the railway accident which occurred on 26th February 1971 at Sheerness-on-Sea railway station.  All relevant links to content are at the foot of this blog.

On the evening of 26th February, the 17:16, 10 car train from Victoria to Sheerness entered the station but failed to stop and the first carriage ended up careering into the station, demolishing most of the booking hall.  Unfortunately 1 person died and 13 injured, including the driver.  A more detailed look at the accident is contained below.

sheerness 1

Sheerness-on-Sea station 1971

The train itself was a 2-HAP built for the Kent Coast line between 1958 and 1963.  This particular train comprised of 5, 2-car trainsets, all steel construction on standard BR bogies.  The power to these trains was via a controller in the cab which requires it to be depressed at all times in order to take power.  If this handle is not depressed, the brakes will apply automatically, with around a 2-3 second delay.  This so called “dead man switch” still applies today, in various forms.

As noted by various eye witnesses, many of whom were railway staff, the train appeared to slow correctly when entering platform one, but was seen to be going too fast as it ran along the platform.  Indeed one eyewitness – railwayman M.Gordon remarked to a colleague “that train is not going to stop”.

A few seconds later, the leading cab ploughed into the platform 1 buffer assembly, at what is believed to be around 10-15mph.  The upper portion of the front coach detached from the bogie assembly and carried on over the concourse, demolishing most of the ticket office and taking out a centre beam before crashing though the front of the building and coming to rest, as seen below.

sheerness 4

(c) John Gamble – Via KentOnline

sheerness 5.JPG

(c)Kevin Ali – Sheppey Website

The fatality was a Mrs Joyce Carr, who had just bought a ticket from the office.  The 13 other injured were taken to Medway hospital, including a near term pregnant woman who gave birth 2 hours later.

The Official Report states the following conclusions to the accident.

The driver – Mr Rothwell, had suffered a head injury at Holborn Viaduct a year earlier, in which he was unconscious for around 8 minutes.  After extensive testing and evaluation, he was passed fit to drive again July 1970, and re-examined in October the same year.  Another test was planned for April 1971.

Mr Rothwell when interviewed stated that he remembered applying a slow brake to the train when entering the station, but that the next thing he remembered was being slumped over the cab after the accident.  This was in agreement with at least two other witnesses who found Mr Rothwell in the cab afterwards

The overall conclusion is that the driver had blacked out, slumping over the controls, thus still providing the connection with the controllers Dead-Man switch.  The train carried on at 10-15 Mph, before connecting with the buffers. This caused immediate application of the emergency brake, slowing the rest of the train.  Indeed, only the second carriage was further damaged, most of that ending up on the detached bogie of the leading carriage.

The following pictures show the extensive damage to the station after the wreckage was removed.  They are still images taken from 8mm footage, this can be viewed via a link at the bottom of this blog.

sheerness 2sheerness 3

(c) Graham White

Following the disaster, the station building was demolished, and a new one built to the side.

Sheerness_on_Sea_2004_4

(c) David Glasspool

The following are links to the original source for this blog:

KentOnline – Sheerness train crash remembered

Sheppey Website – Sheerness train crash

KentRail – Sheerness-on-Sea

Runaway Train – YouTube Video (c) Graham White

Official MOT Report 1971


Please visit my YouTube channel – Rainham Rail Enthusiast for videos of modern and vintage railway action.

Many thanks for reading – I’ll blog again soon.

Shameless YouTube promotion!!

Well, it doesn’t hurt!!  Here is the YouTube channel for Rainham Rail Enthusiast.  Showcasing my love of trains, both modern and heritage, plus a section for my model railway, Mistydale. Thanks for watching.

Mistydale Model Railway – an overview

Mistydale model railway is a fictitious static model railway, with heritage and modern traction.  At the heart of the model has always been ‘Mistydale station’, a Heritage line connected to the mainline.  153 DMUs service the railway from the mainline via Foxburrow Junction Station in the nearby town of Foxburrow.

Below is a picture across to Mistydale Station, with a 153 DMU in Platform 1 and the station vehicle park featuring vintage vehicles, play area with tea room.

mistydale a

Another view below shows the station at night.

mistydale b

After trains leave Mistydale, they enter the heritage line passing through Merlin Halt

mistydale f

The train then either returns back through the countryside back to Mistydale, or can access the mainline via Mistydale North Junction to the mainline loop.  Here Barleycorn Depot can be found

mistydale gmistydale h

After a small countryside journey, trains can access the line through to Foxburrow Junction Station, which will eventually have adjacent to it Foxburrow Yard, which is due for construction in January 2019.  Below is two pictures of Foxburrow Junction station in January 2018, when the branch to Mistydale was fully restored.

mistydale cmistydale dmistydale e

I will occasionally Blog about Mistydale, but for the latest information, pictures and video, please visit Mistydale Model Railway

Mistydale model railway is also featured on the Rainham Rail Enthusiast YouTube page.

Many thanks for reading, I’ll Blog again soon.

 

Medway Stations 3 – Chatham

Part 3 of my small potted history of my local stations contained within the Medway area.

Chatham station on its current site opened on the 25th January 1858 by the London, Chatham & Dover Railway.  This only took the line towards Faversham initially.  The station at this time comprised of 3 running platforms, one serving the ‘down’ line towards Faversham.  The other was an island platform serving 1 ‘up’ line and the other serving trio of loop sidings.  Above the lines, a road bridge crossed, which has stairs down to the platforms and the station building, at this stage at platform level.  The picture below shows a train on the ‘up’ line in 1939 (c)David Glasspool.

chatham 1939

The station is situated in a tight cutting, and flanked either end by the Chatham and Fort Pitt tunnels, seen below in two photographs from 2004 and 2006 (c)David Glasspool (the top being Chatham Tunnel)

Chatham_Tunnel

Chatham_fort pitt

Full running from Victoria to Ramsgate was realised from 5th October 1863.  Around this time a major remodelling of the station took place.  The main change was the addition of a main booking hall over the tracks on the road bridge, and the demolition of the original booking hall on the platform.  The sidings were mostly removed at this time, however two still remained adjacent to the ‘up’ and ‘down’ platforms respectively.

Electrification arrived in July 1939, including electric lighting to the platforms.  The mechanical signals were removed in 1959, replaced by 3 colour aspect signals, controlled from the new power box at Rochester.  Two years later, new buildings on the ‘up’ platform were completed and the station has not really changed since, except the replacement of the signals during 2013-2017.  Here is the station building photographed in 2004 (c)David Glasspool.

Chatham_2004

Chatham_2006

All photographs are not my own, but (c)David Glasspool.

For more detailed information on Chatham Station, head to Kent Rail Website.

To view my railway videos please visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on YouTube.

I also have an Instagram account.

Many thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.