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Bluebell Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Jamessquared, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Member

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    As it is owned by a group of Bluebell people, presumably aquired for the purpose, it is on the same footing as the C Class and a few others. Is it still being referred to as 'plant' or as a resident loco for engineering work?
     
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  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    It's a replacement for 13326, which was in turn a replacement for the previous shunter whose number I can't remember, which was the original "plant". Since there hasn't been any official notification of a change, I assume it is still considered to be "plant". Hence I don't see why everyone is suddenly getting so exercised by its presence: it is simply a diesel shunter on hire, like the last one - nothing has changed just because of its arrival. If people don't like shunters, the time to moan was 6 years ago, not now!

    In an ideal world, we'd still do all shunting by steam: certainly the loco inspectors would prefer that, since it is an important part of training, particularly for aspirant firemen. But anyone who wants to go back to those days has to answer the question of how we could afford to restore a loco (both in terms of cash and, perhaps more pertinently, workshop space and capacity) like Normandy that would have very limited use on service trains. Certainly, in the immediate future, any upturn in financial fortunes in the loco department is likely to go into improving the situation for locos able to run the service, getting us back to the aspiration of four large, four medium and two small locos. So even if we use the service locos for shunting at times (Birch Grove is excellent for shunting) , I can't see us restoring Normandy, the Yankie Tank or the North London Tank for many years.

    The other big advantage of the diesel, particularly on non-running days, is that now we are storing considerable numbers of vintage coaches at Sheffield Park, a diesel can be got into service in about 5 minutes. If - heaven forbid - we had a fire in Sheffield Park Carriage Shed, the diesel could be rescuing coaches in a very short space of time. Whereas on a non-running day, or when the service loco is up the line, we'd feel a bit sick if the SP carriage shed had a fire, and the loco department was saying "we'll be with you in about three hours" while the Maunsells, Pullmans, Obo and pre-group bogie coaches burnt to the ground. That was one of the main considerations of getting "Skippy" at Horsted Keynes, and leads me to believe that, like it or not, we will probably always have a diesel shunter at Sheffield Park.

    Just my opinion, as always.

    Tom
     
  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Theoretically yes, though a photo I have seen of the data label shows "15mph". So there is a bit of confusion about whether it is a genuine 09 (capable of 27.5mph) or has, at some point been re-geared back to 08 standard (capable of 15mph, but with a bigger TE). I'm sure the owners know what they have bought, but personally I'm not sure. The advantage of an 08 is that it has a TE similar to a 9F, so can take a huge load up the line, albeit at slow speed. An 09 is closer to a Black 5 in TE, so can't take such a big load, but can run at line speed of 25mph.

    Too early to say I'd guess for certain, though we seem to be getting a full load at EG on the first train each day, while still getting a full load on the second up train from SP (the 11am, the same time as our first departure on the old timetable). So so far, so good - it looks like we are developing a traffic originating from the north (which we never previously had in more than penny numbers) without adversely affecting the numbers travelling from the south. The commercial department seem have some interesting ideas for further development of traffic from EG.

    Tom
     
  4. alts1985

    alts1985 New Member

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  5. Funny how a sound bit of common sense can shut those up who are too busy leaping on their keyboards, furiously keen to blast out 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' posts, to think things through properly, isn't it? A salient point very well put.

    Although, being selfish, I think it is a shame if the USA isn't restored to working order for aeons. I would love to see all four reunited and in working order at the KESR... although somehow I think that's just as unlikely...
     
  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    With regard the Yankie tank, I seem to recall (from a conversation with the driver concerned) that the reason it was stopped during its last period in action was because it burst a main steam pipe, which was pretty well terminal. That's obviously not impossible to repair, but does make it - when added to the normal run of things on a traffic-worn engine - a pretty expensive proposition.

    As for shunting engines in general: it's interesting to recall that the first track panel on the northern extension, past Leamland Bridge back in 1988, was laid by the steam crane with Normandy acting as train engine. But had that been the available "plant" for the last two miles from Kingscote, I doubt we would be in EG yet. The NEP team worked some pretty long shifts: if you had to add perhaps four hours on top at the beginning of the day to get Normandy and crane lit up and along 10 miles of line; and an hour and a half at the end of those shifts to get it back to the 'Park and disposed, the strain would have been pretty well intolerable, for loco department if no-one else - even assuming a high degree of reliability. And that is without considering the issues of coal and water supply north of Kingscote for an engine in use for perhaps 12 hours a day once on site. It rather screws your operational efficiency if every few hours, your tracklaying plant has to disappear for forty minutes to get more supplies.

    Pace Paul Hitch, building, maintaining and operating an eleven mile line with the loco department inconveniently situated at one end is a completely different proposition to operating a five mile line. I've seen some very interesting traffic numbers that make it look - early days yet of course - that the extension has been a big success, but anyone who thinks you can operate eleven miles of railway in the same way as five miles without something having to "give", is deluding themselves. I suspect that what will "give" is that we will need a permanent diesel shunter presence at both our main engineering bases - SP and HK.

    Tom
     
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  7. stephenvane

    stephenvane Member

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    I don't think the 08 at the Bluebell has been simply 'Plant' for some time. It was integrated into shunting carriages and the normal day to day operation of the railway a long time ago, as well as helping build the extension.

    Now that the 09 has arrived, which is owned by members of the Bluebell, I think it's safe to say that it will have a permanent home there. After all, now the extension is finished the 'Plant' argument doesn't really hold water any more.

    No bad thing it my eyes though, it makes a lot of sense for the Bluebell to have a couple of small diesels.
     
  8. Southernman99

    Southernman99 New Member Friend

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    Heaven forbid this does happen but....

    A fire breaks out in the carriage shed at either HK or SP. What would you prefer to get the coaches out? Gas up a steam loco that takes 2 hours? Or a 09 that takes 10mins to get going? They are a very useful piece of kit. Powerful, able to do anything you ask of it. I understand the steam only fans but also understand where the railway itself is coming from in keeping it.
     
  9. 73129

    73129 Member

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    Sounds like a good move to me in swapping over to a class 09. The big advantage in having a class 09 is its dual brake and could be used to rescue a service train in section with out losing to much time and could also running a service train without losing time.
     
  10. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Not sure being dual brake helps much rescuing our service trains in section, unless Gary Walker is planning a spectacular defection from Havenstreet bringing all his little beauties with him!

    Dual braking will potentially make shunting of incoming air-braked charter stock easier, without which we would be in problems to maintain a suitable air braked loco in service indefinitely.

    Tom
     
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  11. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    Not planning any defections at the moment! :)
     
  12. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    Of the five IC locos currently based or in use at the Bluebell only one (13236) is described as an item of plant on the operational locos web page. The question of whether the Bluebell would ever tolerate long-term resident diesels seems to have been settled back in 2010 when the Sentinel was acquired for C&W shunting.
     
  13. Orion

    Orion New Member

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    This argument is very much the one which all sorts of insurance companies employ when trying to get me to buy insurance I don't need. If fire is a risk then buy a sprinkler system! Are Bluebell volunteers going to be expected to risk life and limb by going into a building that's on fire? I would hope not; such matters are best left to the Fire Service.

    This entire matter re the diesels is getting silly. There was virtue in having a diesel shunter for the extension works although that virtue disappeared once the policy changed and the spoil was taken out from the north by 66s. There is a virtue in the C&W Dept having the Sentinel although the Monday shunt was done for years without there being a perception that one was necessary; the Monday shunt was always done by a loco that had been in steam on Sunday and kept in light steam over night and no one ever seemed to be inconvenienced by the situation.

    The regrettable truth is that the Bluebell Railway is no longer a steam only railway. It is no longer unique and in loosing that uniqueness it has lost far more than it can ever gain by having these diesels.

    Regards
     
  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Orion: that is demonstrably piffle. The class 66s were taking domestic waste out from the north. The "plant" was hired for infrastructure purposes on the south end of the extension, mostly transporting clay capping but also transporting sleepers, ballast, vehicles etc. As you are I am sure aware, the "north" and "south" ends of the line didn't join up until mid March of this year. Therefore, the operational solution for removing domestic waste from the north, or the fact that the solution changed from lorry removal to rail removal, had precisely zero bearing on the the opertaional requirement for removing clay capping and transporting materials to / from the south end of the cutting.

    Are there any "steam only railways"? Certainly not the Gloucester-Warwickshire Steam Railway, or the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, both of which advertise that fact in their titles! (No offence meant to either organisation). As for what we may have lost: passenger numbers and revenue are up for the first four months of this year, so it doesn't appear to be either of those valuable commodities.

    If you are so vexed by the decision (and you do seem to be inordinately concerned by it!) then stand as a Director of the company on a platform of removing diesels. I gather there will be one or two vacancies for Directors in the next year or two. I (and I am sure many other members) would be interested in your solution to the financial and resource implications of a steam-only policy. I suspect the C&W and Loco Works managers may also be interested in how they should plan their workload with a restriction of only being able to move dead vehicles within the works twice per week, while simultaneously enhancing productivity to meet the enhanced operational requirement.

    Tom
     
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  15. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Meanwhile...

    Photos from John Sandys of continuing work at EG. The water tower looks like it is within a few brick courses of reaching tank level, and a canopy is being erected in front of the ticket kiosk. Long term, provision has been made at EG for a platform canopy, but I assume that will be subject to a separate fundraising appeal. There is a natural desire to allow traffic levels at EG to stabilise before making a final decision about the scale of permanent facilities needed.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluebellrailway/sets/72157633363555687/

    At Sheffield Park, work is currently underway on installing zinc roofing on the original part of the Platform 1 canopy, and the Freiends of Sheffield Park are hoping to complete the insallation of the second pillar and overhead woodwork of the canopy extension next month.

    Tom
     
  16. Orion

    Orion New Member

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    This is the usual unpleasantness from the Bluebell. It happens whenever there is criticism, no matter how the criticism is phrased.
     
  17. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Not unpleasantness, simply correction of factual inaccuracy. The requirement for plant at the south end of the cutting did not change just because mechanism for the removal of waste at the north end changed - sorry if that fact doesn't fit your preconceptions. As for asking how you would fund and resource going back to being a "steam only" railway: I'd ask that question of anyone who believes that such a move is what we should do. Steam only would be nice, but I believe is simply unattainable in the current financial environment. Even as we stand, the railway is only about 50% funded by fare and other PLC income: the shortfall is made up by a combination of fundraising activity, member contributions and unpaid volunteer input.

    Tom
     
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  18. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    It is merely seeing sense. Any money which can be saved from operating costs, can be put towards things like new boilers for such as 488. Forgive me for being to the point but no railway can run on harrumph alone! Money is required.
    PH
     
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  19. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Why is a sensible and robust response to your post unpleasantness? It certainly isn't from the Bluebell either for, as far as I'm aware, Tom is not an official spokesman, although I'd be the first to say he is a very good ambassador.

    I'm sorry, but you are talking drivel.
     
  20. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Talking of 488 I did hear a whisper, (and it is merely a whisper I can assure you), that a rich benefactor offered to buy a new boiler barrel and that this Loco restored on the condition that once 488 had run on the Bluebell for the few years , it could be hired out to other Railways.

    The rumor mill informs me that this offer was turned down as the powers that be did not want this Loco going to other Railways.

    Is there any truth in this please?

    Regards
    Chris

    (CCT MAN, was formerly Coalwagon).
     

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