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Bluebell WESTERN Extension - so what's occurring then?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by domeyhead, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. goldfish

    goldfish Nat Pres stalwart

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    The comparison between a vintage tram and a modern tram is pretty substantial. The comparison between a 4Vep and Desiro or a 455 is nothing like as great. I'm just sceptical that any investment in that territory could ever be viable.

    Before people start giving it the 'if we all had that attitude, there'd be no preservation at all', I do get that argument, but the situation in the 50s/60s when railways could run on little more than good will and elbow grease is long gone. These are commercial sites offering a commercial experience. They can't afford to be toys.

    Simon
     
  2. Grashopper

    Grashopper Member

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    I recently attended an IMECH-E lecture by Network rail and Uckfield-Oxted is on the list for electrification.
     
  3. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Well-Known Member

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    Tom,

    I understand the first part of your answer here ("assume it is always on"), but not the second. If you put in a purely cosmetic length of third rail within station limits and along the Ardingly spur until it goes into the trees...something with no physical connection to any power source whatsoever...you would not have to worry overly. It would be an extra trip hazard and the changeover would have to be managed correctly if it ever did become live (and it might never do), but these are not beyong the wit of man?

    Andy
     
  4. Grashopper

    Grashopper Member

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    As a member of "big railway" staff, we are taught to treat ALL 3rd rail as LIVE AT ALL TIMES. It would be unwise to have dummy rails anywhere as anyone who works within proximity of live rails may become complacent if working in the vicinity of dummy ones and end up getting "juiced" when at work.

    I occasionally work at St Leonards depot and although I know, and can see that the rails are physically disconnected from the power supply I still treat them as live.

    Even dummy rails would have to be treated with the same respect and care as live ones and would require changes to the SMS and PTS as if they were live. In the end it would not be worth it.

    All heritage railways have a duty of care towards all staff and volunteers, this includes their travelling to and from the railway (fatigue must be taken into account). This duty of care would extend to contradicting safe working practices at normal places of work.
     
  5. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Or, to put it another way, one wouldn't want one's volunteers to 'contract' poor working practices at their volunteer establishment! :wink: Potentially a lot worse than contracting the flu...

    Noel
     
  6. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Well-Known Member

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    Could you provide a reference to back this up please?

    PS I work on a big railway too
     
  7. A1X

    A1X Well-Known Member

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    With the right marketing, who knows? The people having children and bringing them for a day out nowadays grew up with vintage SR EMUs (BIL, HAL, SUB etc.) and increasingly with 1960s era EMUs (CEP, VEP, CIG). Plus there's also the technology side to consider, pretty sure you could make a bit of dosh out of marketing this as an opportunity to schools, colleges etc.
     
  8. Ploughman

    Ploughman Part of the furniture

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    Just think you could have a visit from a proper EMU.
    The LMS set ex Merseyside dating from 1938 - 9
     
  9. david1984

    david1984 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I can't remember the layout exactly as it's been a while since I've been down the Brighton main, but does it run paralell with the mainline for a bit from the junction to Haywards Heath ?.
     
  10. david1984

    david1984 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Isn't that being 3rd railed though ?, no point having a small pockets of overheads in a sea of 3rd rail with 90% of the stock being 3rd rail only, the overheads down the LSWR make sense as that forms a through route to the rest of the country via Reading, Uckfield is basically an out and back to Victoria/London Bridge.
     
  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The actual junction is about a mile north of Haywards Heath at Copyhold Junction. At that point the Brighton Mainline is two tracks (it narrows for Balcombe Tunnel and the Ouse viaduct) but it splits into four tracks between Copyhold Junction and Haywards Heath station. The four tracks are initially in a cutting and then on an embankment (as I recall), so the possibility of building a fifth track for Bluebell trains is extremely complicated due to a lack of space (further south towards the station, it does widen out with a siding, so there is space - but not at the north end of the section of line). There is not a snowball's chance in hell that we could ever run our trains on the four track mainline - too crowded for that - so without a fifth track, I'd say we'll never run into HH station - even ignoring the operational problem of finding space for a separate platform and run-round loop there.

    Even if we could find space, there are also other problems. As I understand, the Spa Valley had quite onerous restrictions on building a line parallel to the mainline at Eridge - including, as I understand, any p/way maintenance being by Network-Rail trained staff or volunteers; central door locks on carriages on the mainline-side; no 4 wheel vehicles - and that was just to run parallel to a 60mph line. We'd be running parallel to a 90mph line, so unless there was a big space separation, I'd imagine we could only do so under very restricted conditions. (Network Rail are essentially interested in protecting themselves from delays on the mainline caused by an accident on the heritage line).

    Hence my view that an ultimate mainline connection between the Bluebell and the mainline at Copyhold Junction is feasible for incoming charters etc; but the possibility of Bluebell trains proceeding beyond Copyhold Junction is negligible, IMHO.

    Tom
     
  12. Foxhunter

    Foxhunter Member

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    Sounds like the Bluebell ought to invest in a Class 73 and then everyone would be happy! :bolt:

    Foxy
     
  13. Grashopper

    Grashopper Member

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    Can't back it up per-se, but I was involved in a duty of care discussion with some of the BB officers who take it very seriously. Everybody (who cares) brings best practice from their individual specialist fields to the railway, so contradicting these best practices (where adopted) would seem (to me anyway) to contravene a duty of care.
     
  14. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Part of the furniture

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    I don't believe there are any plans to electrify further using third rail, especially with a program of conversion to OHLE now looking likely, nor is there any real need with both the Desiro and Electrostar fleets capable of Dual Voltage operation - with the conversion expected to take decades and proceed in phases, a relatively isolated route such as the Uckfield and East Grinstead branches would actually seem pretty ideal, especially as it would reduce the cost of removing a DMU island.

    Chris
     
  15. Grashopper

    Grashopper Member

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    (Getting off topic a bit) All new stock purchases for the 3rd rail network must be DV (dual voltage) capable; if not fitted with AC equipment from build must capable of being retrofitted (easy with Desiros and Electrostars).

    Electrifying the Uckfield line would help increase capacity on the line by virtue of being able to run corridor fitted stock; 171s could then be cascaded to the Marsh line to strengthen that service. There are no plans that I know of to electrify the Marsh line.
     
  16. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill Part of the furniture

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    Pretty much exactly as I thought in regards to Haywards Heath sadly but the connection would come in useful for tours coming in without worrying too much about gauging and would also be easier in turning locomotives which can be serviced at Brighton and use the Triangle between Preston Park, Hove and Brighton.
     
  17. Southernman99

    Southernman99 Member Friend

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    If the connection was established at Ardingly. It would provide an escape route for charters. Charter arrives from London via EG, and without the need to turn the loco it could return to the network via Copyhold. Or it could be one very good railtour starting from HK heading westwards then round the houses via Eastleigh up to Addlestone Jnc, Staines, Clapham Jnc then weaving around London to Norwood Jnc off the Crystal Palace line and then head south back to HK.
     
  18. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Just worth reiterating the point about charters made in the Northern extension thread, i.e. that I wouldn't expect more than a very low number of charters to occur each year once the initial excitement wears off. So a Western extension may be operationally convenient for charter traffic, but that doesn't in itself constitute a viable business case. In other words, a Western extension has to stand or fall on whether it is economically viable for the Bluebell's core business of running its own service; if a connection at Copyhold Junction then enhances flexibility for charter operators, that is great but isn't in itself a reason for building the extension.

    Tom
     
  19. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie Part of the furniture

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    Ok, so 3rd rail is a non-starter. Makes sense. Convincing arguments.

    So, the natural progression is to look at convincing alternatives. To me, having a diesel at one end of an EMU set loses that Southern Tram...I mean Southern Railway experience. Alternatives?

    MLVs had batteries - could an MLV in the rake render enough power for the low speed working an Ardingly branch would require? MLV, NRM's 2-Bil, hey presto!
     
  20. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Well, the Southern Tram ... Railway had diesels pushing EMUs - think Class 33 + 4TC going down to Weymouth.

    But more seriously, what's wrong with making the Ardingly branch - erm - steam hauled? Thoughts of electification seem to be a fantasy amongst a tiny minority of people, but there is precious little real enthusiasm for it - witness the fact that the 4COR motor coach stored on the railway is slowly deteriorating because no-one wants to give it any TLC. Given the logistical and financial problems of electrification (which, quite apart from anything else, would mean putting third rail through the Hanson site - has anyone stopped to consider how they might feel about that?), it simply isn't going to happen in any form.

    Tom
     

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