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Author Topic: Great Western Main Line electrification - ongoing discussion  (Read 153797 times)
CyclingSid
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« Reply #690 on: January 04, 2019, 10:48:51 am »

Thames Water probably have a similar problem. There was a massive sale of their paper record maps, presumably before they had digitised them all. So it is not unusual for them to claim they don't know where the pipes are.
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Dispatch Box
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« Reply #691 on: January 04, 2019, 11:55:39 am »

Trouble with the Western area is it was BR WR policy (1950-1970) to bury S&T cables, not have them in troughs like all other regions..... Roll Eyes  However, fairly good records of what was where were kept.  Trouble was at privatisation Railtrack wasn't interested in saving any of it, and allowed it to be kept by the privatised infrastructure companies that it employed.  When these changed hands it wasn't RT policy to take back control of the records so a lot of them 'went in the bin'..... Tongue

Edit to add: How do I know that?  Well I have a large number of them here in my garage at home......

However in the Gloucester area, I noticed that when Gloucester panel was installed in 1968-9 there are quite a lot of concrete troughthing along side the tracks and also leading to the cabinets, with some cables coming out of the ballast in places. Yet when they did the filton bank and reading, seemed to put through plastic ducting, I suppose this will change now as the government are trying to rid of plastic.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #692 on: January 04, 2019, 12:46:00 pm »

Also clear that Network Rail didn't have accurate knowledge of the condition of a lot of its assets, and didn't take this into account. For example bridges that were thought capable of being raised actually needing more or less a total rebuild.
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Gordon the Blue Engine
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« Reply #693 on: January 04, 2019, 01:04:20 pm »

Trouble with the Western area is it was BR WR policy (1950-1970) to bury S&T cables, not have them in troughs like all other regions..... Roll Eyes  However, fairly good records of what was where were kept.  Trouble was at privatisation Railtrack wasn't interested in saving any of it, and allowed it to be kept by the privatised infrastructure companies that it employed.  When these changed hands it wasn't RT policy to take back control of the records so a lot of them 'went in the bin'..... Tongue

Edit to add: How do I know that?  Well I have a large number of them here in my garage at home......

I would take slight issue with this.  In 1995-96 I was working for Railtrack at Swindon, helping get things ready for privatisation.  We had to compile spreadsheets detailing the condition of every bridge, tunnel, culvert, lineside fence by mileage etc so the Prospectus could give an accurate description of the assets. This was difficult as even then, before privatisation, records were sketchy and incomplete. Tom Winsor (then the Rail Regulator) tried very hard to get Railtrack to get on top of its asset management after privatisation, but I don’t think he was very successful.

The problem with records probably arose when RT was formed as a division of BR in 1993, and not on privatisation in 1996   
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #694 on: January 04, 2019, 02:00:33 pm »

I would hope that any records made now are kept in both digital and paper form. Both are vulnerable to obsolescence but in different ways: digital through incompatibility of future systems, paper to fire, water, moths etc.
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« Reply #695 on: January 04, 2019, 03:51:01 pm »

I would hope that any records made now are kept in both digital and paper form. Both are vulnerable to obsolescence but in different ways: digital through incompatibility of future systems, paper to fire, water, moths etc.

I agree regarding digital. I remember way back in the 70's that IBM (I think) just managed to saved the last couple of a particular tape drive for NASA to read the vast amount of data they were receiving from their satellites.
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Electric train
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« Reply #696 on: January 04, 2019, 06:30:09 pm »

Trouble with the Western area is it was BR WR policy (1950-1970) to bury S&T cables, not have them in troughs like all other regions..... Roll Eyes  However, fairly good records of what was where were kept.  Trouble was at privatisation Railtrack wasn't interested in saving any of it, and allowed it to be kept by the privatised infrastructure companies that it employed.  When these changed hands it wasn't RT policy to take back control of the records so a lot of them 'went in the bin'..... Tongue

Edit to add: How do I know that?  Well I have a large number of them here in my garage at home......


This was the case for M&EE, what we now call electrification and plant, RT view it was the responsibility of their contractors to maintain records only problem was RT did not fund bits of BR (BRB and Regional design and drawing offices etc) to look after the records held so the new owners these bits who after all being are profit making and not a charity just dumped the records because it was costing them money and not earning …………………….. I have personal experience of dumping the contents of filing cabinets into skips, I was paid Sunday overtime to do it not pleasant but when your employer pays you to do something!
Even when a change was made to a different maintenance contractor because the managers were not always TUPE'd over they would errrrrrrrrrrrr loose the records

Even now in NR historic records of quite a lot of equipment is lacking
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« Reply #697 on: January 04, 2019, 10:10:43 pm »

Reported elsewhere that the first 387 units stabled overnight in the new Swindon Cocklebury Carriage Sidings have been vandalised Roll Eyes
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eightonedee
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« Reply #698 on: January 04, 2019, 10:56:54 pm »

Quote
If I have read things rightly, one problem with the work has been not knowing the true nature of what was on the railway. Over the years that have passed since the job should have been done - about 3 decades by my reckoning - a lot has happened to the railway, with tracks replaced, removed, remodelled and slewed, cables for signalling, telephones, internet and other things laid and buried alongside them, and less than comprehensive records kept of what was where. Someone must have known that there was a strong likelihood of what Donald Rumsfeld called "known unknowns" lurking, ready to show themselves only when work commences?

and

Quote
Thames Water probably have a similar problem. There was a massive sale of their paper record maps, presumably before they had digitised them all. So it is not unusual for them to claim they don't know where the pipes are.

This does seem to be where the smoking gun might be. In my experience this is one of the universal laws of organisations. Although some value proper archiving and record keeping there are very few sectors (mostly museum, library or academic) where this is ingrained as part of the organisational culture. Cyclings' example of Thames Water is typical of the services sector (whether public sector or private). The water companies/sewer undertakers have inherited records from a number of predecessor bodies - parishes, boroughs, old fashioned rural and urban district councils and so on. Some of those might have had good practice, but that could change over time, and might have depended on the diligence or honesty of individuals in post at the relevant time, and much work would even then have been undertaken by outside contractors who might not have kept records accurately, or put pipes, cables or similar where shown on the plans to which they were meant to be working. No doubt exactly the same happened in the railway sector, even before the upheavals of the run up to privatisation.

But all this should have been on the agenda of those planning the GWML electrification project. The problem is such important practical considerations do not feature in the world of economics, accountancy, PR and social science that drive so much important decision making in this country. I cannot be certain, but what I have heard about bridge heights being wrong and the painfully slow and haphazard nature of the way the stanchion bases were installed looked very much like a project where the contractor was finding out what they were dealing with in the ground as they went along, rather than a project properly planned after thorough prior due diligence and surveys.   

This is why I for one am deeply fed up that instead of properly analysing what went wrong with costing the project, but completing it, the idiots from the above sectors have left us with the half completed job and we will have to live with the unsatisfactory result for years. How will HMG/the Treasury etc avoid a repetition in future if they do not get a group of people who know what goes wrong on engineering projects to produce a proper report and publish it? After all the Reading reconstruction was reportedly completed on time and within budget - was it simply that everyone concerned was so conscious of the challenge of completely replacing all the track, platforms and infrastructure at this key point on the network they did the preparation properly first, whereas sticking up a few poles, wires and transformers alongside the track was not taken so seriously? Or was it that someone on high told them to get going as soon as possible so that the publicity dividend from completing a project stretching across southern England would not be delayed?

 

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TonyK
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« Reply #699 on: January 05, 2019, 12:37:54 am »

Even when a change was made to a different maintenance contractor because the managers were not always TUPE'd over they would errrrrrrrrrrrr loose the records

Er, I don't think that you are allowed to call someone a TUPE'd man or (especially woman) any more...  Grin

Good points, though. Presumably at the time rail travel was shrinking, and lines be singled or, as at Filton Bank, halved to two tracks, there may have been some who thought "Why on earth are we keeping all these drawing of what the track layout looked like in happier times? No-one is ever going to want to look at them again."

As well as that, you had all the emergency track renewals post Hatfield - something that proved that best practice was not always followed - which would have resulted in significant changes to track geometry in places, including depth of ballast, with each piece of work being as a stand-alone job. I'm betting the records weren't always updated immediately.
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« Reply #700 on: January 05, 2019, 08:43:38 am »

In my experience, records of the location of underground assets in streets are almost universally bad. Part of the problem is that they were based on the design drawing and that when the trench was actually dug it did not necessarily follow that line - particularly if it found some other pipe or cable was not where it was supposed to be and had to divert round it. 

Sewer records are particularly bad (they vary, in my experience between mostly right and non-existant) but at least sewers tend to be laid straight between manholes. The proportion of sewer records that are 'mostly right' has increased in recent years. The only really good records where those of Thames Water's London Trunk Sewers. 

The only utility that produced and kept 'as built' records consistently was the GPO/Post of Telephones who kept this data in survey books with offsets from the kerb or the buildings at the back of the footway. That was fine so long as these landmarks were not demolished or moved.  Then you were on your own again. 

Now put that situation onto a railway track.  What are the landmarks you would use to plot the location of a cable?  In almost all cases it would be the track. Change the track alignment slightly and your records are useless.

It is only new, with the use of GPS location of records that it is practicable to make these records relative to an absolute datum as to ensure you can go back to the same point.  You records then need to record how the data was produced so that you know how accurate they are likely to be.

 
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Electric train
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« Reply #701 on: January 05, 2019, 09:55:48 am »

Even when a change was made to a different maintenance contractor because the managers were not always TUPE'd over they would errrrrrrrrrrrr loose the records

Er, I don't think that you are allowed to call someone a TUPE'd man or (especially woman) any more...  Grin

Good points, though. Presumably at the time rail travel was shrinking, and lines be singled or, as at Filton Bank, halved to two tracks, there may have been some who thought "Why on earth are we keeping all these drawing of what the track layout looked like in happier times? No-one is ever going to want to look at them again."

As well as that, you had all the emergency track renewals post Hatfield - something that proved that best practice was not always followed - which would have resulted in significant changes to track geometry in places, including depth of ballast, with each piece of work being as a stand-alone job. I'm betting the records weren't always updated immediately.


Very old records that were deemed not current were sent NRM by BR, privatisation early days things were a bit more sketchy


Today for new projects NR uses BIM based system, is developing 3D models etc held in a National system that contractors have access to for their projects.  Also NR has its own "google (c)" stylee map and rail type view.  Many records are now accessible online as pdf for front line staff


Things are improving, its a gradual process which will get there in the end …………………….. unless the politicians cause turmoil in the industry again
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Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.     
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ellendune
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« Reply #702 on: January 05, 2019, 10:00:29 am »

Things are improving, its a gradual process which will get there in the end …………………….. unless the politicians cause turmoil in the industry again

I read something yesterday about NHS GP IT systems that the Government want to do something radical to improve.  An NHS GP IT manager replied that they had just about fixed all that the Minister said was wrong with the systems and that the last thing they needed was something radical!
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Hellzapoppin
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« Reply #703 on: January 05, 2019, 12:55:55 pm »

Well this is my first post and it's about a subject I know a little about I thought I'd join in and try to dispel some of the myths surrounding the whole buried cables issue or indeed non issue.
First off, all the available drawings for the Western Route were collated and scanned some years ago, as the odd ones remaining become available then they to are subjected to the same process.
The rules surrounding buried services are laid down in H&S law and all industries incl the railway have to comply. The rules are quite simple really and set out a set of steps which if followed should reduce the risk of damage to any services within the work area.
I'm not going to go into the full details but let's look at a scenario where someone wants to install some equipment which involves excavation.
             RULE 1. UNLESS YOU KNOW OTHERWISE NEVER ASSUME THERE IS NOTHING THERE. ALWAYS FOLLOW RULE 1

Step 1. Obtain where possible drawings showing the services in the area. None available or not up to date go to Step 2
Step 2. Ask the asset owners if they know of any services in the area which may not be on the drawings. If unknown then go to Step 3.
Step 3. Carry out trial holes and fully CAT Scan the area. Please note that not all services show up with a CAT Scanner.
If services/obstructions are found then note and report the issue. In addition use that info to update the records.
Step 4. If the area is clear then carry out your work.

It should be noted that this process is for buried services which on the railway can include lots of things; drainage, cables, culverts, old foundations, old sleepers, rail never recovered, the original foundations for Swindon station etc etc. You can never assume anything when it comes to buried services and even if you had the drawings you MUST always do further investigation work.
There is actually 1 step prior to step 1 above which may be useful: Find an old git with the local knowledge who knows cables and ask him what's there.
I also see above a reference to the Filton Bank Project. All the redundant cables, where possible, have been recovered and any left in the ground are known about and plotted. The plastic ducts you see are temporary protection until the new trough routes are installed.

Hope I haven't waffled on too long for my first post and I'm happy to answer any generic questions about cables on the Railway.

 
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SandTEngineer
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« Reply #704 on: January 05, 2019, 01:07:11 pm »

Welcome to the forum.  Which railway discipline do you work in?  Useful to know when we make our technical posts Grin
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