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Bridge that Gap: Great Central Railway News

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Gav106, May 8, 2010.

  1. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    It seems ironic that one of the fears not so long ago was that the GCR would swallow up the GCR(N) in a less than amicable way. Now GCR apparently don't want anything to do with GCR(N) at all, or the very barest minimum co-operation to give them what they want and no more.
     
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  2. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    That is a fair question, but this DCRT member is also rather concerned at the suggestion that there may be matters involving learned friends in the vicinity of either part of the GCR.

    I generally find a statement that information published in a public forum in contravention of instructions to keep it private is rather an effective confirmation of the truth of what has been published.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  3. garth manor

    garth manor Member

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    Echoes of the Welsh Highland ?
     
  4. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    I
    That may be true, but I still don't see how it gives him permission to share information with people he has been directly instructed not to share it with.
     
  5. NBDR Lock

    NBDR Lock New Member

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    We’ve already established that, whether your priority is (a) to see through services between Ruddington and Leicester North or (b) to give GCR(S) access to the national network, the physical gap needs to be bridged, so let’s just get on and build it.

    Clearly, we still have a few years before an organisational structure capable of operating trains over the link is actually needed, and we can argue about what form that should take until the last closure rail is fitted. However, current speculation is either inferring or creating a rift between the two railways. If their leaders are serious about reunification this needs to be nipped in the bud. To this end, what would be good is if the difficulty the GCR(N) now has, following issue of the ORR Improvement Notice (Improvement notices 2020 | Office of Rail and Road (orr.gov.uk) ), could be used as an opportunity to bring the safety management systems of both railways into line as a first step towards operational union and thereby reassure us all.
     
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  6. Squiffy

    Squiffy New Member

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    Looking from the outside (I only discovered NP having been furloughed in March and didn’t even realise that there were two GCR organisations) I cannot understand how a project to join the two halves gets started in the first place if there was not a clear statement of what the final position was to be. It is obvious that there is a binary choice between maintaining the existing organisations with some form of sharing the new asset or a merger. As the word “unification” is used, to the lay person that would suggest the later, and as most of the publicity at the top of the social media pile relates to the double track main line south one would assume that would be the line’s future identity. Whilst it may not be what the membership of the north want to hear I believe that is how the general public see it. If I turned up as an uninitiated punter to a newly linked GCR and found that I had to buy two separate tickets for a full line journey I would firstly be mystified, secondly be suspicious of what the reason behind it was and consequently may not have a positive impression of my experience. I believe the key is simplicity and good communication (as with most things in life).

    I know this is a very nuanced and increasingly emotive thread and I do not wish to antagonise anyone but sometimes people on here are very close to the coal face and occasionally a different viewpoint might serve a useful purpose.
     
  7. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    My understanding is that, when in the 1980s it became known that the MoD depot at Ruddington would be closing and that section of railway line could become available for preservation, the GCR decided it would be better to attempt to set up a new heritage centre as a new organisation, therefore meaning if one organisation went under then the other was unaffected. While I can see the logic in that, I think with hindsight more should have been done from the outset to 'link' operating practices, including crews, training methods, management systems etc. Doubtless there was politics (on both sides) which at the outset and ever since has got in the way of attempts to manage this. We could analyse this til the cows come home, but as those decisions were made 30 years ago, there isn't really much we can do to retrospectively change them now, and we are stuck with the consequences of these decisions, many of which would have been made with sound reasoning behind them.

    Now you have a situation where the GCRN has largely an independent volunteer and staff pool compared to the GCR(S). This results in its own independent identity, which in and of itself is no bad thing, except it could cause problems when the subject of a merger is raised. As a GCRN volunteer, I can remember about 10 years ago it was widely known/assumed/thought at the GCRN that upon joining of the two lines, the GCR(S) would impose itself upon the GCRN with a hostile takeover, and every volunteer, regardless of their competency level would have to restart at square one. Obviously, were that to actually happen, many volunteers, who may have spent 20 years or more gradually rising up the ranks, say from cleaner to fireman to driver, would be rather peeved if they suddenly found themselves back as a day 1 cleaner. As such many volunteers at the GCRN were actively opposed to the idea of joining up.

    Fortunately relationships have improved since then (at least, until this year) and there is hope of a join which does more to acknowledge the experience of everybody. Personally, were I to have more of a position of influence in the organisation, I would be pushing for more of a link of volunteers, of perhaps footplate crew exchanges (GCRN crews going to Loughborough and being trained and passed out for that route, and vice versa).

    Comments have already been made of the opportunity of this ORR Improvement notices to make changes for the better in the way the GCRN is run and operated, and I have no doubt these changes will be implemented. One would hope that these changes, where appropriate, would bring the GCRN more in line with the GCR(S) to make a smoother transition when the time comes. The issue there is that there will still be some resistance (possibly on both sides, for various reasons) to the idea of a merger, regardless of how far ahead that will be, and I imagine the events of this year will not have helped those who are more staunchly against a joining of organisations.
     
  8. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    I wonder if there are any people watching this thread who have a better understanding of what the situation is like at the Rother Valley Railway and Kent and East Sussex Railway? That is the closest comparison I can think of and I would be interested to hear what the situation is like there (structure, relationship of 2 organisations, volunteer and operation overlap etc) in comparison to what things are like with the Greater Great Central
     
  9. Wenlock

    Wenlock Member Friend

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    I was not involved at the time that the Rother Valley Railway Heritage Trust was formed.

    However my understanding is that the RVRHT was formed because the KESR had become too financially stretched by the extension to Bodiam. The idea being that the KESR would not be able to extend the last, and most difficult, section but that a separate body could fund raise and progress the project on the basis of building from Robertsbridge towards Bodiam.

    The progress was slow at first, but has speeded up in recent years. Volunteers at the RVR used to carry out repairs and maintenance, and also shunt rolling stock as required.
    There was a change once the planning permission had been agreed for the station layout at Robertsbridge Junction, the RVR remained responsible for all of their track, but all operational matters were carried out by volunteers qualified for train operation on the KESR. These volunteers had to become members of the RVR as well. Existing RVR volunteers were offered the chance to join KESR and qualify likewise, but could carry on working in non-operational roles at RVR.

    As I understand it the intention has always been that once a through railway connection has been made, the operation of the combined railway if it succeeds would be the responsibility of the KESR. I think the RVR would (at least initially) retain ownership of the line between Bodiam KESR/RVR boundary and Robertsbridge Junction.

    [I'm sure that if I've got any of that wrong @mikehartuk will jump in with a correction]
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
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  10. JorgeR

    JorgeR New Member

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    To my mind, this is an utterly sensible way forward- and it does the two railways no harm whatsoever to begin conversations about what a merged structure would look like, with common rulebooks, procedures, and so forth.

    That said, I really do feel as lifelong GCR supporter and occasional donor, these rumours of discord need to be quite firmly nipped in the bud. I know one family member has cancelled a standing order based on the apparent movement from the Loughborough team from a desire for a truly united railway towards a simple main line link.

    Whilst the work done at GCR(S) to put the railway on a sound financial footing over the past fifteen years has been admirable, it does appear a little reflection is needed. From an outsider perspective, there appears to be something of a whiff of bullying from Loughborough- not utterly different, perhaps, to the early treatment of the MLST at the hands of BR! On the flipside, it would appear that there are some serious concerns at Ruddington that need stamping out, and communication from both ends, but Ruddington in particular, quite clearly need improvement.

    At the end of the day what it will probably take are serious questions at the AGMs of both ends, and major pressure from the various supporter groups, to knock some heads together- which is why I don't think temporarily withholding standing orders for the Gap project is such a bad idea. Absent that, I can see continued deterioration, unfortunately...
     
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  11. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    I do hope that everyone on both lines will carefully reflect on what has unfortunately happened at several other vintage lines, and get themselves straightened away. I don't have any axe to grind at all on whether they unify, or stay separate (either would in theory be fine with me, if that's what the bulk of the members there want), provided they keep in close communication and coordination, and there is mutual respect.

    Noel
     
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  12. JorgeR

    JorgeR New Member

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    This, to my mind, is what's absolutely key!
     
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  13. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    And the lack of which has been a large part of the problems at one or two other railways.
     
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  14. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Member

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    Having read the 3 pages worth of a republished GCRN Board statement concerning their "difficulties" in the latest 125 Group newsletter that arrived today, I can't help wondering how they allowed to get themselves into the position that they found themselves in at the time of the ORR "Routine Visit".
    It doesn't make good reading....
    (The original appears to have been published in the GCRN supporters newsletter)
     
  15. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    Hi Johann
    Does the 125 group say what the situation is re their shed building fund?.....and isn't there a distinct GCR(N) thread on here so that we can keep this for the Gap news (although there is obviously an overlap...).
     
  16. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Member

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    Presumably there is a GCRN thread somewhere (?) (Edit: Couldn't find one when I looked - certainly no sign of one as far back as 2012!), but thought it fitted this one better. The A60 bridge synopsis looks rather grim!
    The 125 Group say work is underway on a draft lease agreement for the depot site and building quotes have been updated, but it appears it's all in "limbo" due to the GCRN situation and won't proceed until things are sorted there. There is £92K in the funds for the depot, so they currently £8K short of the total they were seeking.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2021
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  17. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    If (N.B. if) the GCRN is in shtuck, we could perhaps see the GCR's recent emphasis on the main line connection as an effort to appear positive, to maintain momentum on closing the gap, and to discourage any suggestion that the project is pointless unless and until the GCRN sorts itself out. On the other hand we could perhaps hope for the GCR to offer a helping hand, having regard to the long-term goal of a single long railway.
     
  18. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    I think we all hope that Mellish is correct and that the GCR and GCR(N) are working together to sort out the immediate problems and that we will attain that 18 mile preserved Main Line.
    Certainly we have been told that Cass Hayward have been appointed as consultants for the design of the final parts of the Gap project.
     
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  19. J Rob't Harrison

    J Rob't Harrison New Member

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    I would have thought that the A60 bridge is pretty much fundamental to the Gap (whichever form it eventually takes);
    1) Without it you can't run through trains from Ruddington to Leicester.
    2) Without it the GCR won't be able to get much out of the mainline connection (rough measurement via Google maps, there's about 40 metres of track between where the NR spur straightens out and the southern abutment of the A60 bridge- maybe enough for a big mainline steam loco and its support coach but not the excursion trains the GCR is hoping to attract).
    3) Without it the GCRN will be hurting as the Gypsum trains can't run (I assume that that traffic pays enough to contribute toward the GCRN's upkeep).

    Options?
    1) GCRN launches a fundraising appeal for it? (wait and see I guess, their December magazine said that a technical report/ assessment was being written.)
    2) The DCRT divert funds raised for other Gap elements to it? (it would be another part ticked off- and earlier than envisaged at that- but [correct me if I'm wrong] the Preci-Spark Bridge funds are ring-fenced specifically for the Preci-Spark Bridge?)
    3) GCR makes a contribution to the work? (why would they do that though when they have quite enough to look after on their own line? Also it would give ammunition to those who argue the GCR is interested solely in a mainline connection ["They would only pay for it because they want use/ control/ ownership over it"]).

    It begs the question though (and granted answering it probably isn't top of the list of priorities right now), how on Earth does anybody let such a critical piece of infrastructure get in such a bad way in the first place?
     
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  20. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Member

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    If you read between the lines in the piece in the 125 Group newsletter, I do wonder if any inspections by competent persons have been carried out on the state of the infrastructure. Mention is made of the fact that they are looking into employing people to take care of the infrastructure now, instead of relying on volunteers....

    The A60 bridge (326) is said to be one of the "key tasks" and "our consultants are currently engaged in detailed calculation of the residual strength remaining in the bridge" which does make you wonder what state it is in!

    They show 4 options for action for it:-
    1. Reopening with a speed restriction - described as a low probability that this is possible.
    2. Temporarily propping the bridge to support it ahead of repair/replacement - Depends on ground conditions.
    3 Repairing the Bridge.
    4 Replacing the Bridge.

    If the Local Authority wants increased headroom for road traffic then (4) is going to be the way to go, but is any Highways money available to do that?
    The new systems of examination and maintenance and repair of structures under the ORR Improvement Notice appear to have to be in place by the end of this month (29th Jan 2021).

    We'll just have to see what their consultants come up with in their calculations.....
     

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