3rd Rail Protection

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NightStar

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GidDay All, I have a nagging question? Why in the UK is the third rail left exposed as it is? What was the reason for not fitting the cover boards like we have here in the US? Was the issue cost? Or was it more along the lines of different safety standards being implemented? I would think in this day and age surely having the rails exposed like they are must create a lot of problems with those who cannot stay off the darn things?

Second part of my question pertains to the choice of over running or under running? I have not seen too much in the way of under running conductor rail in the UK. So what was the reason for going with the over running rail setup? Was it cheaper to build and maintain or just personal choice by the operation companies?


My source for 3rd and 4th rail information http://homepage.ntlworld.com/russelliott/3rd-4th.html

Robert
 
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HSTEd

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Well they do fit kick-boards in stations, but otherwise the trackside workers know not to step on the conductor rails and passengers should not be at ground level anyway.
At this point the only significant safety issue really is people wandering onto the track at level crossings and the fact that small animals can get electrocuted and cause fires.

As for top contact versus bottom contact, top contact was simply the system that was chosen by the Southern Railway and its predecessors when they started electrification works on the Southern Region, we did have some side contact in the Manchester area which survived until it was replaced with the Metrolink system however, this was a result of another pre nationalisation company deciding on using that system for higher voltages than the top contact system.
 

jopsuk

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The shoe gear used in the UK would have to be fundamentally redesigned to allow a cover to be used- on that page, this picture clearly shows the typical design.

The conductor rail on a system such as the Long Island Rail Road is placed further from the running rails, allowing the shoe to project out from the bogie mount further, which then lets them use a cover.

The top contact system as used by the south of England network is possibly the simplest arrangement. It's older than all other systems.
 

Bill EWS

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Another point is that in the UK our railways have to be fenced in by law, stopping anyone wandering onto the track and getting hurt or killed. This makes the railway responsible for keeping the public safe. In the States the railway is 'open' and it is the responsibility of the individual to keep themselves safe. Road level crossings are an exception where there are barriers.

This has caused problms for railways in the U.K. as in American films you can see people walking the railway and many individual over here think it is OK to do so here.
 
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GidDay All, I have a nagging question? Why in the UK is the third rail left exposed as it is? What was the reason for not fitting the cover boards like we have here in the US? Was the issue cost? Or was it more along the lines of different safety standards being implemented? I would think in this day and age surely having the rails exposed like they are must create a lot of problems with those who cannot stay off the darn things?

Second part of my question pertains to the choice of over running or under running? I have not seen too much in the way of under running conductor rail in the UK. So what was the reason for going with the over running rail setup? Was it cheaper to build and maintain or just personal choice by the operation companies?


My source for 3rd and 4th rail information http://homepage.ntlworld.com/russelliott/3rd-4th.html

Robert
The first part of your question has been covered but, to expand on your second part.........
The short answer is cheapness. It's much quicker and easier - and therefore cheaper - to install top contact conductor rail equipment rather than the bottom contact system that I saw in use when I travelled out of Grand Central a few years ago. The drawback of the top rail contact system is it's propensity to allow snow to settle on it as well as water which freezes in the winter. The engineers in NYC whom I conversed with tell me that there are no such problems with bottom contact.
 

DavyCrocket

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They did add yellow kick boards to the third rail at Gatwick Airport. They only lasted a few days before becoming detached! Never bothered again.

If staff have to work close by to a live rail then there are insulation devices that can be used by being placed over the rail.
 

pablo

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IIRC, Yerkes introduced the system from Chicago circa 1890 for use on the Metropolitan; or, was it the Northern City line? 600vDC then, a bit more now. Spread elsewhere for compatibility.
What was the Tyneside system? Only exception I know of is the Manch-Bury which was 1500vDC side contact; an isolated system eventually superseded by diesels and then as sed above, OHL Metrolink.
 

HSTEd

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What was the Tyneside system?
I'm pretty sure it was 650-750V top contact Southern Region standard as the Tyneside Electrics used 2EPBs that were apparently redeployed without much trouble after the de-electrification took place.

And I'm not sure if the "superseded by diesels" comment is directed at Manchester or not, but as I understand it the line converted directly from third rail 1200v to 750V OHL.
 

142094

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Tyneside electric lines really have had a funny history - steam, to 3rd rail electrified (and overhead in some isolated areas), downgraded to diesel then upgraded and electrified at 1500V DC overheads for the Metro.
 

pablo

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And I'm not sure if the "superseded by diesels" comment is directed at Manchester or not, but as I understand it the line converted directly from third rail 1200v to 750V OHL.
I think side contact and protected 1200vDC is correct, not 1500.
Defo a diesel interlude before Metrolink took over. IIRC :lol:
 

HSTEd

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I think side contact and protected 1200vDC is correct, not 1500.
Defo a diesel interlude before Metrolink took over. IIRC :lol:
Apparently third rail operations continued with the overhead wiring at a rather advanced state of installation and the track reballasted in preparation for the switch-over, so any interlude must have been very short
 

Holly

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Another point is that in the UK our railways have to be fenced in by law, stopping anyone wandering onto the track and getting hurt or killed. This makes the railway responsible for keeping the public safe. In the States the railway is 'open' and it is the responsibility of the individual to keep themselves safe. Road level crossings are an exception where there are barriers. ...
I wonder when this changed?

We used to have street running freight trains back in the 1950s. For example at Pier Head, Liverpool underneath the "Overhead". And at Birkenhead docks and the line used to carry coal to Seacombe Ferry was unfenced (though segregated).
 

yorksrob

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I wonder when this changed?

We used to have street running freight trains back in the 1950s. For example at Pier Head, Liverpool underneath the "Overhead". And at Birkenhead docks and the line used to carry coal to Seacombe Ferry was unfenced (though segregated).
I know they had special rules for the Weymouth Quay branch as they had to hook a large bell to the front of the trains. (I also wonder whether passengers were allowed to use the toilet over this section as pulling the chain could have made a nasty mess of the roadway <D)
 

yorksrob

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The seagulls have already cornered the market in fouling up Weymouth's streets; I doubt it would have made much extra difference :P
Yeah, come to think of it, it couldn't be any worse than Wakefield town centre of a Saturday morning before the street cleaners get there !
 

LE Greys

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I know they had special rules for the Weymouth Quay branch as they had to hook a large bell to the front of the trains. (I also wonder whether passengers were allowed to use the toilet over this section as pulling the chain could have made a nasty mess of the roadway <D)
Seen to good effect in the video below. I love the locals' attitude, just driving past the enormous train in the middle of the road.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Vssr2Uf1DM
 

yorksrob

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Seen to good effect in the video below. I love the locals' attitude, just driving past the enormous train in the middle of the road.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Vssr2Uf1DM
That's a great video - although they appear to have used a flashing light rather than a bell as I'd said previously.

Love the manic windscreen wipers on the class 33 (and the comfortable looking TC) :D
 

LE Greys

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Eagle

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Shame they closed it :(
No it isn't, it messed up traffic in the harbour area for ages at a time and was an absolute bugger to maintain (road surfaces aren't really meant to have 75-tonne locomotives on them) not least because of the unusual shared ownership between BR and the council's roads department.

For one boat train a day with very few people using it (it was quicker to get off at Town and walk), it really wasn't worth it.
 

yorksrob

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No it isn't, it messed up traffic in the harbour area for ages at a time and was an absolute bugger to maintain (road surfaces aren't really meant to have 75-tonne locomotives on them) not least because of the unusual shared ownership between BR and the council's roads department.

For one boat train a day with very few people using it (it was quicker to get off at Town and walk), it really wasn't worth it.
I know, but I'd have loved to have gone on it :cry:
 

LE Greys

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I wonder when this changed?

We used to have street running freight trains back in the 1950s. For example at Pier Head, Liverpool underneath the "Overhead". And at Birkenhead docks and the line used to carry coal to Seacombe Ferry was unfenced (though segregated).
Anyway, fencing in the railway has been a requirement since Victorian times, except in special cases such as street-running. Weymouth Quay and all the rest are there either because the rails went down before the legislation (1860s I think) or because they got an exemption as part of the Act that authorised their construction (as in the Weymouth case). Even so, most are supposed to have full protection with cow-catchers and side-plates, hence the Wisbech & Upwell Y6s (a.k.a. Toby the Tram Engine). I'm not sure how other lines avoid this.
 
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Seen to good effect in the video below. I love the locals' attitude, just driving past the enormous train in the middle of the road.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Vssr2Uf1DM
I wonder if there's film available of the pre 33 era with a Bournemouth allocated 03 gasping along with an eight coach set of mark 1s. I went to the Channel islands in 1972 and that was what the motive power was from Weymouth down to the quay. In those days a man walked in front with a red flag and a handbell. I think that it was the late 70s when the 33s were cleared for the quay. At Weymouth the Guard and someone else came through the train locking the toilets - the boat train stock had BR1 locks on the toilet doors.
 

Trog

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No it isn't, it messed up traffic in the harbour area for ages at a time and was an absolute bugger to maintain (road surfaces aren't really meant to have 75-tonne locomotives on them) not least because of the unusual shared ownership between BR and the council's roads department.

For one boat train a day with very few people using it (it was quicker to get off at Town and walk), it really wasn't worth it.

It was great, travelling down the street in a train was one of my favourite bits of the family summer holidays to Guernsey when I was a child. Can just remember steam haulage to just off the tramway, then the 03 to the pier station. The trains were quite full from what I remember, and there would have been several a day with at least two ferry sailings, plus freight and fuel oil trains as well.
 

John55

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GidDay All, I have a nagging question? Why in the UK is the third rail left exposed as it is? What was the reason for not fitting the cover boards like we have here in the US? Was the issue cost? Or was it more along the lines of different safety standards being implemented? I would think in this day and age surely having the rails exposed like they are must create a lot of problems with those who cannot stay off the darn things?

Second part of my question pertains to the choice of over running or under running? I have not seen too much in the way of under running conductor rail in the UK. So what was the reason for going with the over running rail setup? Was it cheaper to build and maintain or just personal choice by the operation companies?


My source for 3rd and 4th rail information http://homepage.ntlworld.com/russelliott/3rd-4th.html

Robert
I have just been looking at some photos of the LIRR and the set up on that railway. I think the problem with the cover boards if used in the UK is the spacing of the conductor rail from the running rail. In the UK there is only 16 inches from the gauge face of the nearest running rail to the centre of the conductor rail. If the cover boards as used on the LIRR were fitted in the UK the axle boxes of the first train would remove the cover boards!

On the LIRR the pick-ups stick out sideways from the bogie a bit like a short aircraft wing and push down onto the rail - in the UK the pick-up hangs down from a shoe beam between the axle boxes.

The Manchester Bury system was like the LIRR system but turned through 90 degrees so the pick up was vertical pressing against the side of the conductor rail..
 

NightStar

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Ahh, So that is why the cover boards are not used. Simply no room for them. The fencing of the Ry seems to be a bit of a buggerment thou. US lines would never go for it. They would just complain about the cost and find some way out of having to fence every mile of track across the country. Although it to me would make good sense in cities and towns were the lines are busy and tresspassing is a problem.


As far as the third rail goes. How many problems are there with people getting on them or animals causing problems? I would think there would be places were this would be a concern out in the countryside?

Robert
 
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LE Greys

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Ahh, So that is why the cover boards are not used. Simply no room for them. The fencing of the Ry seems to be a bit of a buggerment thou. US lines would never go for it. They would just complain about the cost and find some way out of it for sure. Although it to me would make good sense in cities and towns were the lines are busy and tresspassing is a problem.


As far as the third rail goes. How many problems are there with people getting on them or animals causing problems? I would think there would be places were this would be a concern out in the countryside?

Robert
There was a major problem when they electrified Hastings-Tonbridge with Badgers frying themselves by blundering into the rail, which could short out large sections. It got so bad that they removed sections that crossed traditional Badger paths, resulting in gaps.

I think what caused the fencing act in the 1860s was a major collision between a train and a hunt, when a Fox made its escape by crossing a line. The result killed a lot of hounds and derailed the train, although I don't think there were any Human casualties. It still made the national press, and the government had to be seen to be doing something - some things never change.
 

NightStar

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Are there any restrictions for fan trips on third rail supply? Or does most all rollingstock in the UK clear the conductor rails. I would think some diesel units and possibly some steamers would cause headaches with clearance?

Robert
 
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