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1  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Great Western Main Line electrification - ongoing discussion on: April 27, 2020, 12:26:32 pm
Knowing a fair bit about this structure, I think it is fair to say that it is not in the best state of repair. I recall driving over it last year that the undulations in the road surfacing were interesting.
It is an Oxfordshire CC maintained asset. They were keen to have a new structure I recall but what really put the spanner in the works was the length of time that the diversion would have been in place was too long for the locals to stomach.
The installation of a single lane traffic light controlled bridge to permit access over the railway was looked at briefly but those proposing this were told by those higher up to cease any further development.
Still, the bridge has been saved. A rather shabby example of a Brunel structure.
2  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / IET Driver Only Operation - bit strange on: January 07, 2020, 09:48:32 pm
I caught the20.37 ex Padd to Oxford (I think) on Sunday evening. No issues at the Padd end but became parent that the onboard CIS was blank. I knew where I was going and knew where I was. Train stopped at the stations advised on the indicators at Padd but nothing on board and no announcements either pre-recorded or bespoke. Arrived at Didcot where I got off. It was apparent that this was a single person manned train as the dispatch staff "tipped away" the driver and not a "guard."

Asked friendly platform staff person who told me that drivers do not do announcements on DOO booked runs but onboard CIS should have been enabled.

For anybody not knowing what was happening, could have been a bit disturbing.

Is this the norm, as first time for a while on late-ish Sunday train  out of Padd?
3  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Great Western Main Line electrification - ongoing discussion on: October 28, 2018, 11:11:48 pm
From personal inspection of this particular structure over a number of years, it is clear that the structure is showing significant signs of distress. I would not be surprised if some form of vehicle weight restriction were to be applied in the future, particularly if we have a harsh winter and freeze/thaw effects disturb the brickwork. Next time someone drives over it, take a look at the road surfacing and the undulations.
4  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Infrastructure problems in Thames Valley causing disruption elsewhere - ongoing, since Oct 2014 on: March 06, 2018, 08:45:15 pm
Back the day, I was on my first cab ride as part of my training to see what the railway was all about, in a class 86 from Carlisle to Preston. All going well and suddenly felt an unusual jolt and a lamp illuminated on the driver's console, no power being taken. So free wheeled for a good few miles and came to a halt. Driver got down. Looked up. A large black crow or remains of was wrapped around the pantograph. Raised and lowered the pantograph again a couple of times and it fell off and we were on our way again. I dare say that current monitoring/safety systems may not allow this perhaps but this was 1979.
5  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Reading Station improvements on: January 25, 2018, 03:42:58 pm
This is quite interesting. I remember back in 2007 just after I started work at Reading, a massive rain storm caused a similar problem under the then not widened Vastern Road bridge. The pumping station to deal with such events is located in the roundabout on the south side. I was led to believe that for some reasons the pumps did not cut in. However, the man sent to sort it out (presume a Thames Water technician) was stranded in traffic in the area and could not get there quickly so the flood waters deepened.
Regarding Cow Lane, the design, when I last saw it, did include for a pumping system to deal with any similar occurrence. Proof will be in the future once the works are completed.
One other little bit of trivia that may be of interest. We undertook a very extensive bore hole survey throughout the area ahead of works commencing. We found (I recall 2008 or 2009) that we were finding ground water about 1 to 2 m below ground level around the multi storey car park on the north side. However, once works kicked off fully mid 2011 onwards, the ground water level was considerably lower. Whilst no one probably appreciated it, the aquifers were quite depleted. The extremely heavy rains of the following winters thus having no ability to "top up" the aquifers slowly resulting in flooding in many areas. I do not know what the situation today is though.
6  Journey by Journey / London to Reading / Re: Class 387 coming to Thames Valley - ongoing discussion on: January 16, 2018, 10:15:24 pm
Just throwing out there, 504 days "in traffic"? Really perhaps inspections out to be around hours operated (like aircraft). I don't know but are inspection regimes created around the vehicles earning a living from day one (accepting requirements for driver training etc) as, I may be very off the mark, but I don't think the 387's are really run in yet or am I missing something?
7  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Infrastructure problems in Thames Valley causing disruption elsewhere - ongoing, since Oct 2014 on: December 13, 2017, 10:11:04 pm
I can only second that. I went to a leaving do a couple of weeks ago. The moral and enthusiasm of the people I had previously worked with since 2007 onwards was no longer there. Lack of management, lack of planning, lack of foresight were common themes talking to my former colleagues. I felt rather down considering what a successful team I had been part of 3 years ago.
8  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Why allow an early running freight to disrupt passenger trains? on: December 05, 2017, 05:57:19 pm
Back in the day when I was working for NR and Chiltern Railways on Evergreen 2, we were slewing track at Beaconsfield to lift the 40PSR upto 70 on the up. A rather tired 07 tamper was toiling away at the London end around 02.30 on the Monday morning. Now tampers can make a fair bit of noise and all was going well. I am up at the road bridge end making sure all our gear was clear as we had to hand back at 05.30ish. Suddenly all goes quiet. Ah, get down to the other end and the tamper has sat down and blown a main gasket depositing hot but environmentally friendly hydraulic oil all over. Machine is immobile with no self  drive. Fitter called for. In the meantime, how do we move this dilapidated piece of....... No rescue locos anywhere on the patch but the only vehicle with a screw coupling to match the tamper's  is Chiltern's Bubble Car at Aylesbury.
A series of phone calls (avoiding any NR on call persons because they may not have known what I was on about) and Chiltern control agree to man up the Bubble car and bring it upto the protection near High Wycombe. Marylebone SCS fully aware of move. In the meantime fitter arrives and literally fabricates an ad hoc gasket to insert into guts of machine. It holds sufficiently to get drive and control back to tamper and limp it back to engineers siding at H Wycombe. Bubble car not needed but it could have been used. Up side -  Monday morning service ran as timetabled. Downside - speed not raised for another week and ESR imposed but no more onerous than when we started on the Friday night.
A case of who you know perhaps rather than what you know. Happy days.
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