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1  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 2021 - TransWilts cancellation and amendment log on: January 06, 2021, 06:39:27 pm
The 17:50 Gloucester to Southampton Central service (via Swindon) service will be starting at Westbury as the unit for the service at Gloucester has a fault.
2  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Boxing Day - no trains and, this year, no few sales, on: December 26, 2020, 10:01:50 pm
First cancellation for tomorrow morning has just appeared on Journey Check

Sun, 27 December 08:38 Exeter St Davids to Barnstaple due 09:32
27/12/20 08:38 Exeter St Davids to Barnstaple due 09:32 will be cancelled.
This is due to heavy rain flooding the railway.

I understand that because of the forecasted severe weather tonight, Network Rail have requested that the first scheduled services on specific 'at risk' routes must run as empty coaching stock to confirm that the tracks are free from obstructions such as debris and flood water. This would explain why the return working is not showing as cancelled.
3  Journey by Journey / London to the Cotswolds / Re: Flood and pestilence ... no fire, though. on: December 24, 2020, 05:10:40 pm
Suggestion I have seen is that there were problems further north than Cowley Bridge too, and those are the ones remaining, with the Barnstaple line up and running again, but Exeter to Taunton still closed.

Staffords Bridge, located between Cowley Bridge Junction and Stoke Canon, is the problem (again). The line there is closed once the water has risen to a predetermined level. The water level there hasn't yet receded below the mark at which the line can be reopened. Once it has, a bridge examiner must confirm the integrity of the structure before trains can cross it. This is not expected to be possible until tomorrow morning.
4  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Shortage of train crews on Great Western Railway since September 2017 - ongoing discussion on: December 17, 2020, 04:04:01 pm

It is 75% of one depot, not 75% of the entire organisation.

It is certainly not 75% of one depot!  That would equate to hundreds and would almost certainly see Public Health England launching an investigation!

The 75% number was based on the Sir Peter Hendy response yesterday for predicted availability at the depot next week, although I am not sure whether that was just the drivers or all grades. He would appear to be way off then? If so that'll teach me to check his figures before posting. However, that is inclusive of those self-isolating as a precautionary measure. It is probable (although not definite) that a large percentage of the precautionary self-isolating staff will not have caught the virus and therefore would most certainly not see Public Health England launch an investigation. However, if a large proportion of those do subsequently test positive, then you may well be right.
5  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Shortage of train crews on Great Western Railway since September 2017 - ongoing discussion on: December 17, 2020, 10:11:24 am
I'm not aware of any other organisation of any scale anywhere in the UK that has lost 75% of its staff due to Covid infection or isolation - worth remembering as well that this is geographically one of the lowest affected areas of the UK and that train drivers spend most of their day alone in a sealed cab which is regularly cleaned/disinfected.

You might expect these sort of rates amongst (for example) supermarket staff, teachers, NHS workers but thankfully that hasn't happened.

Has there been a failure of social distancing or perhaps some sort of staff gathering where this exposure could have taken place?

It is 75% of one depot, not 75% of the entire organisation. With the best will in the world, it is impossible to fully mitigate against such a local event happening as staff do have lives outside of work that will see them interact with others such as partners and children. The important thing to do is to take sufficient action to prevent it spreading to other locations. Those that follow rugby union may be aware that the professional clubs are following strict protocols such as social distancing, regular testing and player 'bubbles'. This hasn't prevented an outbreak at Exeter Chiefs (in my opinion an extremely professional and well run club) and has seen them have to forfeit their next match owing to the squad self-isolating. Their opponents from last week, Glasgow Warriors, have had to do likewise after being in contact with them. It shows it is not as easy as saying there are measures in place so it won't happen.

Back to railways, I know that Bristol had a lot of staff unavailable for similar reasons earlier this year, however the effects were less noticeable because of the reduced timetable in operation at the time. Large 'urban' depots such as Paddington, Bristol and Plymouth will be more susceptible than smaller 'rural' depots such as Par and Westbury because of the surrounding environs where the staff live and interact with the outside world. It is also unsurprising that these outbreaks have coincided with the colder weather and reduced daylight where staff are more likely to be inside for longer periods than outside. In the summer, there were plenty of staff who would take their break outside in the fresh air. Understandably, this is less appealing at this time of year.

I am of the opinion that reinstating more trains at the recent timetable change wasn't the best move at this time of year and has exacerbated the problem as I am sure that there will be further localised outbreaks at depots this winter.
6  Journey by Journey / London to Swindon and Bristol / Re: Chippenham station and track layout on: May 05, 2020, 05:03:57 pm
Chippenham was resignalled with Multiple Aspect Signalling, coming under the control of Swindon PSB as part of Stage 2 (Wootton Bassett to Thingley) of the Swindon resignalling scheme in December 1966.
I don't have the notice to hand, but seeing as Swindon PSB (and the associated Chippenham remoted interlocking) were not comissioned until 1968, presumably the new signals were initially controlled more locally (possibly by Thingley Junction)?

Well spotted. Should say stage 6 (Hay Lane to Thingley and Hullavington) March 1968 instead. I had a pile of notices in front of me and read the date from the wrong one. D'oh!

Stage two was the abolition of Chippenham East SB and the closure of Langley Crossing box.
7  Journey by Journey / London to Swindon and Bristol / Re: Chippenham station and track layout on: May 05, 2020, 04:41:50 pm
Chippenham station has seen numerous alterations over the course of its history. The original station, opened in 1841 and built in an Italianate style, was heavily altered after the completion of the route to Weymouth and Salisbury in the 1850s. An island platform was built, creating a down direction bay and a train shed was provided. A bay for Calne services was provided at the up end of the island platform. The train shed was removed in the early 1900s and replaced with the canopies that are still there today. At the turn of the century, the down bay platform was converted to a through line, however being controlled by both West and East signal boxes required special working arrangements. To negate this, the bay was soon re-established by the erection of back-to-back buffer stops, with the line to the east of the buffers becoming a siding with the curious name of 'New Found Out' (NFO).

The excellent post by Bradshaw shows the dates for the closure of the various sections of infrastructure at Chippenham.

Chippenham was resignalled with Multiple Aspect Signalling, coming under the control of Swindon PSB as part of Stage 2 (Wootton Bassett to Thingley) of the Swindon resignalling scheme in December 1966.

The slewing of the track to the island platform required the demolition of a wooden station building. A refreshment room stood behind the buffer stops of the Calne bay, adjacent to what would have been the NFO siding. This was demolished in 1975. This allowed the former Calne bay to be completely infilled, as it had already been partially infilled with a ramp down to a barrow crossing leading to the east end of the original down main platform following the Calne branch closure. This allowed the down main line to be slewed across to the island platform, allowing a complete HST formation to be accommodated at the platform. What is now the down main line is,  to the west of the original footbridge, the location of the down bay. East of the footbridge is the location of the NFO siding.

For anyone who may be interested, the location of the demolished wooden building is easily identifiable today. The canopy at the eastern end of the current down platform stops abruptly and retreats away at a right angle away from the edge of the down platform. This was where the building was situated. The filled in Calne bay is also identifiable for the same reason with the canopy only covering half of the island platform at the eastern end of the station. The former Fish Dock and the former Parcels Dock are also still extant at the east end of the station near the current taxi rank.

8  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Can you place these pictures on: March 10, 2020, 10:02:32 pm
Just one picture remaining .. anyone ??

9  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 2020 - TransWilts cancellation and amendment log on: March 09, 2020, 09:01:43 pm
It appears that a road vehicle has struck one of the bridge parapets (road over rail) and knocked some of the masonry onto the track before leaving the scene without reporting the damage and obstruction.  Angry
10  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 2020 - TransWilts cancellation and amendment log on: March 09, 2020, 08:54:28 pm
20:45 Swindon to Westbury due 21:26
20:45 Swindon to Westbury due 21:26 will be diverted between Chippenham and Trowbridge.
It will no longer call at Melksham.
It will be delayed due to the diversion and is expected to be 7 minutes late.
This is due to a train hitting an obstruction on the line.

The 17:50 Gloucester to Warminster service is currently (as at 20:50) sat at Melksham station. It has struck something in the vicinity of Dunch Lane bridge. Both engines were initially shut down but the crew have managed to revive them and limp forwards to Melksham station. The unit from the 20:06 Westbury to Cheltenham service (cancelled) is being used to rescue the stranded train.
11  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 2020 - TransWilts cancellation and amendment log on: February 19, 2020, 08:56:17 pm
The 17:50 Gloucester to Westbury (instead of Southampton Central because of the landslip) service was cancelled throughout owing to disruption from the incident at Keynsham earlier.
12  Journey by Journey / Portsmouth to Cardiff / Re: Landslip between Salisbury and Romsey on: February 18, 2020, 07:59:47 pm
The location is just the Romsey side of Milford curve, where the line runs out on an embankment at the start of the climb up to Alderbury. There was a defect reported a month or two ago where the Up Dean line was reported to be slightly out of alignment. Earthwork engineers attended and reported issues with the embankment. A 20 mph ESR was put in place on the up line. A full inspection has been impossible as the field at the foot of the up side of the embankment has been flooded since before the initial defect was reported. Following another driver reporting further voiding today, it has been found that the embankment has deteriorated further, resulting in the line being closed completely. This will likely take a long time to repair owing to the flooding at the foot of the embankment.

I have heard that the Down Dean line will be assessed for opening to traffic as a matter of priority for multiple units only with locomotive movements prohibited. This will allow Single Line Working to be implemented between Laverstock South Junction crossover and the East Grimstead ground frame and crossover.
13  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Storm Dennis - 15th/16th Feb 2020 on: February 16, 2020, 10:11:14 pm
When the railway was constructed at Cowley Bridge, the Exe was diverted for a short distance to its current channel that runs adjacent and parallel to the north side of the railway on the eastern approach to Cowley Bridge Junction. I was wondering whether the channel mentioned by Stuving was the former natural course of the river?

The installation of the high capacity culverts under the main line was intended to prevent water from backing up against the railway embankment and causing ballast washout by allowing a significantly increased volume of water to pass under the railway compared to the previous version.

The decision to close the railway and deploy the booms would have been made after receiving data from the weather forecast provider. The rainfall and river flow data for the catchment area would have been monitored at regular intervals and compared with previous events to give a prediction of likely water levels lower down the system later on. On this occasion it was deemed likely that the infrastructure would be at risk of a flooding event. Just a slight difference in reality compared to the predicted model can be the difference between flooding and not. The work undertaken in the area was to increase resilience so that the railway would only be affected by a 'once every 10 years' flooding event. Time will tell if that sort of event will actually become more frequent than that and require further mitigation work.

Certain locations (such as the Blackwater River bridge near Broom level crossing that saw the former LSWR route blocked to trains) use remote monitoring equipment and the line will be closed immediately once the water level has reached the predetermined limit. A problem with some rail over river bridges affected by flooding is that even though the water level may have dropped low enough to allow the resumption of train movements, the bridge may still require a visual inspection before being passed as safe to use. Bridge scour is a serious risk and procedures were significantly tightened up following the fatal Glanrhyd Bridge collapse in 1987.
14  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 13th May 1985 to 13th May 2020 - Melksham Station reborn on: February 07, 2020, 09:54:55 pm
Two tracks but one platform? Or was there a second platform out of sight?

The second platform was on the right of the image, directly opposite the remaining platform. In 1966, all of the remaining stations between Thingley Junction and Bradford Junction were closed following the withdrawal of stopping services from the route. In 1967 the line was singled between Bradford North Junction and Thingley Junction. The line on the right in the image was retained as the running line and the adjacent platform was later removed. The line on the left of the image was retained as a siding as the station site was subsequently used as a rail served oil terminal, as well as a remaining siding serving the West of England Farmers Ltd silos beyond the bridge. Fortunately, this led to the former down platform escaping demolition. When it was proposed to re-open Melksham station, the only surviving platform was the former down platform, on the opposite side to the remaining running line. The running line was therefore slewed across on both approaches to Melksham, making the track adjacent to the platform face the running line and allowing the station to again serve the public. Unfortunately, the southern end of the remaining platform had been sold off to private hands and couldn't be used for its original purpose, however the remaining 40 metre section at the northern end could be returned to use. The selling off of the southern section of the original down platform necessitated the platform to be lengthened at the northern end to allow 3-car trains to be fully accommodated.

The above link has some nice old pictures of the station site.
15  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Snagging - where are timetable tweaks needed? on: February 04, 2020, 12:46:40 pm
This will also provide a nice connection out of the 18:15 Weymouth to Bristol service, which divides at Westbury to provide a unit for the Swindon run (effectively providing a through service from Weymouth to Swindon, even if not advertised as such).

A bit of a shame it can't be advertised as such - a well timed through train returning people from a day on the coast on a Saturday would go down well, surely?

It may well (and hopefully will) be advertised as such. I was just being cautious regarding the limitations of the customer information systems, although having said that, services that are currently scheduled to divide on route seem to be advertised as such on both the GWR and SWR systems.
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