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CME 2023

Discussion in 'What's Going On' started by Oswald T Wistle, Jan 6, 2023.

  1. free2grice

    free2grice Part of the furniture Friend

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    The RHTTs have been running for a fortnight in the west country. Perhaps it would be wise for Network Rail to start at the end of September in the north.

    WISE and NETWORK RAIL? Perhaps not. [BJ]
     
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  2. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    An excellent read. Few on here will begrudge that level of detail when it fairly describes what a good loco crew is able to produce in challenging circumstances.

    I hesitate to say this next bit as it will be construed by a few to suggest criticism when it is definitely not intended. But my personal view is that Steve Chipperfield is a 'first among equals' when it comes to handling BIL (and also the Duchess), so it was the best combination 'on the day' as they say.
     
  3. 30567

    30567 Part of the furniture Friend

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    On my local line, Harrogate to Leeds with the notorious problem of stopping a sliding train on the bank not to mention starting uphill the other way, the RHTT trains have been running for at least a week.

    I'm a bit surprised they didn't start at least from Blackburn to Clitheroe before today.
     
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  4. Julian Jones

    Julian Jones New Member

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    Great report, as ever and thanks for the good company with you and Di on Saturday.
     
  5. Oswald T Wistle

    Oswald T Wistle Well-Known Member Friend

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    This morning I decided to take a look at the state of the line / trackside vegetation around Wilpshire Tunnel and the old station. The rail was bright and shiny. A local resident told me that she had recently had a letter from NR to say that they would be carrying out tree thinning work in the next 1-2 weeks. You couldn’t make it up!
     
  6. 1020 Shireman

    1020 Shireman Part of the furniture Friend

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    For anyone interested, I've attached the outward and return timings for the 7th October. Have included the notes from the on the day timing sheets. I'll put together the timings for the 3 CMEs we've done with BIL this year later.
     

    Attached Files:

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  7. Oswald T Wistle

    Oswald T Wistle Well-Known Member Friend

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    Following 35018's difficulties with Saturday's CME, on Tuesday morning I went over to Wilpshire Bank to see the how leaf fall was progressing and the state of the rails. I do recall the very informative explanation posted on NP, that the major culprit of poor railhead is the "goo" exuded by the microbes that digest the trackside vegetation. I took a series a photos showing the state of play throughout the last mile of the climb and combined them into a "slideshow", it may be of interest to those less familiar with the area. It does run a little (too) fast and, to preserve your sanity, you may need to use "pause".

     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2023
  8. John Petley

    John Petley Part of the furniture

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    Most interesting video. thank you, David. It certainly provides a good explanation for 35018's difficulties last Saturday. It's hard to believe that it was over 43 years since I stood on the northbound platform of the old Wilpshire station (along with a good few others, I may add!) to photograph Maude and the two Caledonian coaches on their way to Rainhill. How time flies!
     
  9. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Very informative as I have only ever seen it from inside the train, and it has often been dark during many of my trips anyway.
     
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  10. Oswald T Wistle

    Oswald T Wistle Well-Known Member Friend

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    I hoped that some people might find it useful in understanding what has always been a difficult stretch of line.

    In early May 1980 there had been some extensive lineside fires caused by steam locos; on the 3rd SNG set the trackside on fire from "one end of Darwen to the other" - no exaggeration. Subsequently, LMR insisted that diesel haulage replace steam or at least was added to the front, even for LE moves. Maude was the only one that "slipped through the net". We watched her stately progress from the over bridge on the Blackburn side of the summit.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2023
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  11. Oswald T Wistle

    Oswald T Wistle Well-Known Member Friend

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    It was somewhat surprising that BIL, a pacific locomotive with a reputation for being “light on her feet”, was chosen to head the final CME of the year in what was the leaf fall season. Graham (@1020 Shireman) posted an excellent account of the day’s events together with his timing sheets. As expected, at certain points in the journey BIL struggled for adhesion and this culminated in coming to a stand on Wilpshire Bank. Only after hand sanding and a display of consummate skill by driver Steve Chipperfield did the train manage to restart.

    BIL had already climbed Grayrigg and Shap with no problems. Plenty of slipping after leaving Carlisle whilst climbing the tree-lined (1/132r) section past Cumwhinton. There was also some slipping around Birkett Tunnel on the long climb to Ais Gill. So, all things considered, so far so good but perhaps the severest challenge was yet to come.

    Wilpshire is often overlooked when it comes to listing the most difficult climbs, but not by enginemen. In 4.6 miles the line climbs from around 200ft at Whalley to just under 500ft at the summit, much at 1/82r and with an average gradient of 1/84r. Being at a low elevation in green and fertile countryside, much of the trackside is covered with bushes and mature broad-leaf trees, especially in the cuttings. No more so than both ends of Wilpshire Tunnel (324yds) where the deep cuttings are especially overgrown and, as an added bonus, as the track leaves the southern portal of the tunnel the gradient increases to 1/68r for 422yds. Oh, and being Lancashire, it often rains, so even if it’s not raining on the day everywhere will be damp – enjoy!

    In his report, Graham sagely observed, “we'll be lucky to have a slip-free climb of Wilpshire Bank. A lot will depend on whether the Rail Head Treatment Trains have been regularly running from Daisyfield down to Hellifield.” Well, they hadn’t even started!

    Just imagine a nice dry sunny afternoon in July, BIL with 11 coaches, heads south through Whalley station at 20mph (the speed limit across Whalley Arches). Adhesion is not a problem, nor is the load for the big pacific. Once clear of the arches speed builds and then beyond Langho settles back on the 1/82r to a leisurely 25mph. The 6 small spots where BIL’s driving wheels meet the rails must provide at least 7.7-tons of pull. (The pull on each driving wheel, made possible by the adhesion between the wheel and the rail, would be capable of lifting the weight of a small family car). Expressed another way, this pull exerted to haul 11 coaches at 25mph up the 1/82r could haul 13.5 coaches at the same speed up a gradient of 1/100r.

    The gradient eases to 1/88r as we enter a tree-lined cutting on a long left-hand curve. The cutting deepens, more and more trees almost engulf the track as we approach Wilpshire Tunnel. Into the tunnel but then as BIL is about to leave the gradient increases to 1/68r, soon the whole train is climbing at 1/68r and over this next 422yds the train will have slowed by around 2mph. The gradient eases to 1/86r shortly before the track curves to the right thro’ the old Wilpshire station. Soon the track straightens and continues to climb thro’ Ramsgreave and Wilpshire station (where Oswald will be waiting) and on and over the summit.

    That’s what could happen, but this is what did happen. On the CME of 7th October BIL was hauling 11 coaches, Graham estimated the weight of the train at 425-tons, add on the loco and around 575-tons total. The length of the train including loco would be just over 260yds.

    Graham records slipping at various points between MP16¾ and MP16. This is where the train passes behind Billington and on towards the golf club in a curved, tree-lined cutting. This is not a usual location for slipping but is where 6201 came to a stand in November 2012. [Hand sanding and a superb display by Gordon Hodgson came to the rescue]. Adhesion issues here would have been a major concern for Steve Chipperfield.

    IMG_1359.jpeg
    Overbridge 38 (16m 67ch) looking south, location of the first slipping (17 Oct 2023)

    Once beyond the golf club, there is a long straight thro’ Langho station with the track beyond predominantly carried on a low embankment. Things settled down until the train approached the northern portal of Wilpshire Tunnel, the easing of the gradient from 1/82r to 1/88r might have helped, but only marginally. Adhesion was to become the major issue with a long LH curve and trees, trees and more trees.

    E.jpg
    Overbridge 22 Vicarage Lane (14m 19ch) looking south towards the north portal of Wilpshire Tunnel (10 Oct 2023)

    BIL “slipped” into the tunnel at 14.4mph, a slip inside the tunnel and down to 10.8. At this point it was probably only momentum that kept the train moving rather than any pull from BIL.

    I am not sure exactly where the train stopped, but what was involved in getting it moving again was an act of outstanding skill - and this is the reason why . . .

    BIL, Steve and the Very, Very Slippery Track

    The train (260yds long) fits comfortably inside the tunnel (324yds) and once inside is, for a brief period, all on the 1/88r and drags/feels like 13 coaches would on 1/100r. [I will use this “feels like on 1/100r” as I continue]. Until there is some sort of effective adhesion it doesn’t really matter what the train “feels like”. Somehow, BIL moves forward until she is just about to emerge from the tunnel. At this point BIL is on the 1/68r and being “the heavy bit at the front” the “drag-back” increases, and the load now feels like 14.3 coaches. It has just got even harder to haul the train and it will get harder still. The track is now in a deep, but wide cutting, there are bushes and trees everywhere.

    K.jpg
    Overbridge 20 Ribchester Road (13m 62ch) looking north towards the south portal of Wilpshire Tunnel (10 Oct 2023)

    Ribchester Road overbridge is about 200yds south of Wilpshire Tunnel. As BIL’s tender clears the bridge to the south, and with two coaches still inside the tunnel, the whole of the train is now on the 1/68r and feels like 18 coaches (on 1/100r). If BIL couldn’t find enough adhesion to pull 13 coaches how the hell will she find enough for 18! To make matters worse, to the south of the bridge the cutting narrows with a steep tree-covered bank to the left and bushes and overhanging trees to the right. The train must somehow move forward. Only when the last 3 coaches have yet to pass under the bridge will BIL have reached the point where the gradient eases to 1/86r and from here forward the load will gradually reduce.

    L.jpg
    Overbridge 20 Ribchester Road (13m 62ch) looking south up “Slippery Alley” (10 Oct 2023)

    Eventually BIL reaches the northern end of the curved platform of the old Wilpshire station, the load has eased but the last 6 coaches remain on the 1/68r. It is not until BIL has passed the old station house that the rear of the train clears the 1/68r. The trees to the left have now gone; those to the right are far fewer. BIL eases forward onto better, straight track.

    As the train passed thro’ Ramsgreave & Wilpshire station Steve gave a long blast on the whistle, part victory, part relief. The waiting gallery cheered and clapped – they didn’t really, but maybe they should have done for what they had just witnessed was a display of driving that they are unlikely ever to witness again.

    BIL steamed over the summit, disappeared from view and everyone lived happily ever after.

    The End

    I still marvel how “the gang” got the train moving again with such abysmal track conditions. My thanks to Graham for the use of his posts.

    Note to NR: please start your RHTT before next year’s October CME and a few guys with chainsaws are long overdue and could work wonders – much of the problem vegetation and trees are on YOUR side of the fence.

    A Happy (and steamy) New Year
    from Oswald & Mrs W
     
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  12. 46203

    46203 Member

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    The line was referred to by Carlisle men as the Alps!
     
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  13. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    It’s a myth that rebuilt Bulleids are light on their feet. If you had been on the Belmond behind Clan Line taking nearly 600 tons of Pullmans up the bank from Herne Hill to Tulse Hill you would know what I mean.
     
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  14. Oswald T Wistle

    Oswald T Wistle Well-Known Member Friend

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    Perhaps the comment was poorly phrased it was not meant as a criticism of rebuilt Bulleids, I have read in awe of some of the exploits of Clan Line in the south. What I intended it to mean was a) why a pacific locomotive? (and not a 4-6-0) and b) why BIL which does have a reputation, rightly or wrongly gained, for slipping when railhead conditions are poor. It may be that, on the day, BIL was the only loco available.
     
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  15. The Gricing Owl

    The Gricing Owl Member

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    Totally agree John. Were you on that astonishing climb from a signal stop at Westbury up to Upton Scudamore behind 35028 in 2009? The load was just under 600 tons with the plus 1 (see the log below), being a diesel loco. Not even taking its own weight - I was in the rear part of the rear coach and the diesel was switched off. Atrocious weather conditions with heavy rain and wind lashing the side of the train. It was long before my footplate run on 35003 at 106 mph (26 June 1967 - footplate log published a number of times) that I become a 'fast Bulleid enthusiast'. But this climb is amongst my most valued Bulleid performances. Along with such as original condition Bulleid 34019 topping Roundwood bank from a Winchester start at just under 55 mph with 14 cars for 500 tons gross.

    Just that part of the November 2009 log of 35028; miles and miles per hour. I think my bash book has just dried out, I remember a fair bit of water landing on me through the only slightly open top windows! The penultimate column is part of the calculation that helps me calculate the average speed which is in the last column.

    35028-Upton-Scudamore.jpg
     
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  16. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    I wasn't on that one but I think I was out photographing it. I was on the 18.15 Weymouth - Waterloo on 26th June 67 when Fred Burridge did the 106 mph, lucky you being on the footplate. The next best run I had was with Clan Line on the ACE in 2022. I was privileged to get two turns on the footplate, between Woking and Basingstoke I said to our driver, Bill Monteith, wouldn't it be nice to have a thrash down here as the did in the old days. He said he would love to but he did want to hold on the his job! The second stint was Bristol to Salisbury with Bob Baines driving, the climb to Upton Scudamore was unforgettable. I should also mention the fireman, Craig Stinchcombe, who fired all the way from Exeter back to the depot at Stewarts Lane.

    I'm now going up and down to Devon helping to get the engine back in working order. There will be a lot of work to do at the Lane when it gets back so if you are a member you will always be made welcome if you want to come and help out!
     
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  17. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    It must be those northern drivers who don't know how to handle it!! Seriously they were a bit light on their feet in original form. The oil bath sprung leaks fairly regularly, with all the flexing of the frames why was the oil bath welded to them rather than riveted? There was also an axle going through it with just a leather seal. All that oil spraying around was bound to get on the wheels and rails.
     
  18. Bulleid Pacific

    Bulleid Pacific Part of the furniture

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    Certainly remember that run, the 'Merchant Venturer' being my first steam tour from Waterloo, and taking in the West London Extension and Berks & Hants on the outward. I also recall the pretty abysmal weather, and cabbing 35028 at the stops at the invitation of the late Colin Kerswill.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2024
  19. Oswald T Wistle

    Oswald T Wistle Well-Known Member Friend

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    I was intrigued to see just how much "thinning work" NR would carry out, so I revisited Ribchester Road bridge on 29 NOV and from what I could see - none! I tried again on 26 JAN still no change. Perhaps they've been busy cutting up all the trees that have been blown over and blocked various lines.

    K.jpg
    Looking north from Ribchester Road Bridge (10 October)

    K2.jpg
    Same view (29 November). The NR boundaries can be seen at the very top of the cutting, all within could (and should) be managed by NR.

    L.jpg
    Looking south from Ribchester Road Bridge (10 October) - oh dear!

    L2.jpg
    Same view (29 November) - oh dear again! The fence marking the NR boundary on the right can be seen. Apart from the tree in the foreground most of the mature trees are in the rear gardens of the nearby houses (hence the letters) and overhanging branches could be removed. To the left is an area of woodland that stretches from Ribchester Road Bridge almost to the Station House on the old Wilpshire station. It occupies an area bounded by the railway and the nearby A666; nearest to the camera it is around 40yds wide rises steeply (50ft) up to the road, at the distant end it is around 30yds wide and is less steep (25ft up to the road). The NR boundary line appears to be a post and wire fence which is only a few yards from the running line and hidden by the bushes. I've no idea who owns the land, Local Authority? but this is by far the main cause of the problem.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2024
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