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Author Topic: Heritage lines as public transport  (Read 2545 times)
grahame
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« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2021, 05:18:58 pm »

It really would be a bit of a cinch to operate a very comprehensive mixed timetable if the section between Minehead and Dunster was double tracked, and the crossing loops re-instated at Kentsford and Leigh Wood.  The problem as I see it would be the operation of signalboxes.

Let me add some amateur thoughts.  As the track is single through Kentsford and Leigh Wood at present, any or either loop there would not need to be "heritage".    During none-heritage operation, intermediate heritage boxes switched out, signals left pulled off in both directions, and a single platform in use. Leaving, purely, the issue of the level crossing operation to be overcome.  Williton's Station Road is only about 40 metres to the north of the A39 bridge BUT that may be an issue for access by pedestians and cycles if it was to be shut permanently across the road.   Blue Anchor much more of a problem if you want to retain heritage - a very long way round if you close the crossing, and not practical to build a new half barrier crossing 100 yards or so to the west.  Don't see National Rail gates operated by train manager finding much favour, nor "Stop and Proceed" which in any case would destroy the gates.
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« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2021, 06:21:36 pm »



...Could we not switch out the signalboxes in favour of a panel box for the winter service, then switch them back in on the Bishop's Lydeard-Minehead section for the summer daytime heritage service? That way - in theory at least - everyone's a winner.

The problem is that the boxes at Minehead, Blue Anchor and Williton control level crossings, and the one at Bishops Lydeard is the fringe to Exeter Panel.

Switching out is an attractive idea, but I can't see how it could be achieved.  Unless the whole line goes onto some kind of remote, centrally controlled signalling with the "Disneyfication" of what's already there to create the illusion that it's doing something operational

The strength of heritage railways is the corps of volunteers that operate the railway because they enjoy the bygone era of the railway, "Disneyfication" to run a public service would destroy a heritage railway.  Most of the true cost of operating and maintaining a heritage railway is hidden by (the hugely valued) volunteer effort to run a public service, that is a Professional railway has a high cost.

I cannot see a blended heritage and public service working very well I do not even think the RH&DR operate a 'public' service any longer
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« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2021, 06:44:56 pm »



...Could we not switch out the signalboxes in favour of a panel box for the winter service, then switch them back in on the Bishop's Lydeard-Minehead section for the summer daytime heritage service? That way - in theory at least - everyone's a winner.

The problem is that the boxes at Minehead, Blue Anchor and Williton control level crossings, and the one at Bishops Lydeard is the fringe to Exeter Panel.

Switching out is an attractive idea, but I can't see how it could be achieved.  Unless the whole line goes onto some kind of remote, centrally controlled signalling with the "Disneyfication" of what's already there to create the illusion that it's doing something operational

The strength of heritage railways is the corps of volunteers that operate the railway because they enjoy the bygone era of the railway, "Disneyfication" to run a public service would destroy a heritage railway.  Most of the true cost of operating and maintaining a heritage railway is hidden by (the hugely valued) volunteer effort to run a public service, that is a Professional railway has a high cost.

I cannot see a blended heritage and public service working very well I do not even think the RH&DR operate a 'public' service any longer

Fair enough. Stick-it-on-the-too-difficult-pile-until-the-WSR-inevitably-goes-bust it is then.
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2021, 11:15:16 am »


Let me add some amateur thoughts.  As the track is single through Kentsford and Leigh Wood at present, any or either loop there would not need to be "heritage".    During none-heritage operation, intermediate heritage boxes switched out, signals left pulled off in both directions, and a single platform in use. Leaving, purely, the issue of the level crossing operation to be overcome.  Williton's Station Road is only about 40 metres to the north of the A39 bridge BUT that may be an issue for access by pedestians and cycles if it was to be shut permanently across the road.   Blue Anchor much more of a problem if you want to retain heritage - a very long way round if you close the crossing, and not practical to build a new half barrier crossing 100 yards or so to the west.  Don't see National Rail gates operated by train manager finding much favour, nor "Stop and Proceed" which in any case would destroy the gates.

I don't think there's much "amateur" about these thoughts

Plans existed for the remote operation of the loops at Kentsford and Leigh Wood 40+ years ago.  If they've not rotted, I'm sure they can be dusted off.  Either using motor-worked semaphores or searchlight signals wouldn't be objectionable.  Either long/short section token working or do away with tokens in favour of a more modern single-line control, which would perhaps be a bit more challenging for heritage aficionados.  very do-able, given the will and the lolly.

When we took-over the line and in the process of setting up the original LR(T)O, in 1974 or thereabouts, the non public-road status of the level crossing at Williton got overlooked somehow.  There were signs up at the crossing informing of this status, but the very clever people in charge ignored history.  BR (British Rail(ways)) (and presumably it's predecessors) had chained-up the gates one day per year to prevent a right of way coming into being.  By the time we got to the actual re-opening at Williton in August 1976, it was too late.  No correction of the oversight could be countenanced by HMRI (Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate).  The gates would normally be left open for road traffic and closed only for passage of trains.  The gates had, in big-railway days been left closed across the road, for road users to operate at times when they were unlocked from the 'box.  Closing them for a train became the responsibility of the railway.  Williton might need to be open as a cossing loop in even a sparse winter service, though

Blue Anchor is not easy to "solve".  The LC (Level Crossing) is not well situated from a highways point of view, approached from the northern side by a sharp left blind bend in the road.  I don't think here's much chance of any type of remotely supervised (other than perhaps CCTV (Closed Circuit Tele Vision)) crossing being permitted here.  "Upgrading" to lights and barriers would destroy the heritage ambience.  As would stop boards.

Plans existed back in the mid 1970s too for the switching out of Minehead 'box and auto operation of arriving and departing trains.  That was before Seaward Way LC was a thing.  Now that the LC is CCTV supervised, perhaps there's potential fo this to be controlled from elsewhere - Blue Anchor, perhaps?



 
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« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2022, 04:12:07 am »

A new working group has been set up to promote through running between Bishops Lydeard on the WSR and Taunton.
See news report on May 24 on the WSR news website. http://www.wsr.org.uk/news.htm

Sounds like good news, but we have had a number of studies, working groups, reports, committees, consultations and the like over the years, but no regular through service has yet resulted.
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« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2022, 06:20:24 am »

A new working group has been set up to promote through running between Bishops Lydeard on the WSR and Taunton.
See news report on May 24 on the WSR news website. http://www.wsr.org.uk/news.htm

Sounds like good news, but we have had a number of studies, working groups, reports, committees, consultations and the like over the years, but no regular through service has yet resulted.

I recall four stages to our campaign for change here in Wiltshire
1. Make people who can do something aware that something needs to be done
2. Have them work our properly what that "something" really is
3. Get "something" implemented
4. Work, work work to ensure it works and carries on, progressively tuned in the light of time and experience

If this study is phase 2, good news.  There can, sadly, need to be multiple passes at phase 2 ... with 2a being to work out how it can be implemented - financially, with due regard to those it will effect consequencially, and how you get from where you are now to that implemented "something".
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« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2022, 09:38:39 am »

A new working group has been set up to promote through running between Bishops Lydeard on the WSR and Taunton.
See news report on May 24 on the WSR news website. http://www.wsr.org.uk/news.htm

Sounds like good news, but we have had a number of studies, working groups, reports, committees, consultations and the like over the years, but no regular through service has yet resulted.

Looking at the news report, they have the right people involved, Matt Barnes of GWR (Great Western Railway) in particular.   
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onthecushions
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« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2022, 09:55:21 pm »

I think that the real problem is "through running", as a regular service (other than a visiting excursion) requires a full, modern NR» (Network Rail - home page)/TOC (Train Operating Company) compliant train etc.

I think that a better route to public service would be to provide an independent  shuttle connection to a bay platform from the heritage + public service line, at an NR interchange station. This is often not easy as track beds, if they ever existed may be obstructed etc. However the alternative is very expensive signalling and track alterations as well as rolling stock procurement and adaptation to main line operating standards, after which paths have to be identified and significant extra annual operating subsidies allocated.

It may have been cheaper to build (and operate) a short, new line into the old south bay (now car parking) at Wareham for the Swanage services as well as slew/clear the track bed from Norton Fitzwarren to Taunton north bay (platform 7?). The arrangements at Cholsey, Smallbrook and Keighley etc spring to mind.

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