Class 20 - remote control.

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If a train has a class 20 (or two) on the front and another one (or two) on the back, can the driver at the front control the loco(s) on the back, or are the rear loco(s) just dead weight, except for the brakes, until the train needs to reverse? Modern Railways April page 40 shows such a train hauling a class 710 between barrier wagons.
 
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Journeyman

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As far as I'm aware, the only remote control system that allows locos at front and rear to be controlled is the TDM system on AC electrics, using the RCH jumpers on coaching stock. That was only theoretical anyway, and never used as such.

So yeah, any loco at the back of a train as you described can't be controlled from the front.
 

furnessvale

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If a train has a class 20 (or two) on the front and another one (or two) on the back, can the driver at the front control the loco(s) on the back, or are the rear loco(s) just dead weight, except for the brakes, until the train needs to reverse? Modern Railways April page 40 shows such a train hauling a class 710 between barrier wagons.
Maybe I am imagining things, but wasn't there an experiment in the 1980s with merry go round coal from Bickershaw to Fiddlers Ferry involving top and tail 20s due to the number of reversals needed?
 

O L Leigh

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So yeah, any loco at the back of a train as you described can't be controlled from the front.

...unless the train is through-wired for top and tail (T&T) operation. RHTT wagons have this for AAR multiple working as they operate on a T&T basis, and a lot of the Network Rail test train stock has wiring for both AAR and Blue Star. Back in the 1990s, BR ran a weedkilling train that used a pair of modified Cl20s in T&T formation which presumably also had through-wiring.
 

david l

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Yes, using 20058/87 which spent a long time together as a pair. Indeed 20087 still had the equipment box holes in place when on the ELR.
 

randyrippley

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Modern Railways back in the 1970s or 80s had a report on coal MGR trains with 2x20 at the head and 1x20 mid train.
The mid train loco was described as radio controlled, but it wasn't explained what this actually meant
There was a photo of a 20 mid train with the report.
I never saw it referred to again, so may have been an abandoned experiment
 

matchmaker

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The original Edinburgh - Glasgow push pull sets were through wired for Blue Star so in theory any air braked Blue Star loco could have been used. As well as the normal 27s, I can recall seeing 25s and 37s on occasion, but nothing else.
 

norbitonflyer

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Modern Railways back in the 1970s or 80s had a report on coal MGR trains with 2x20 at the head and 1x20 mid train.
The mid train loco was described as radio controlled, but it wasn't explained what this actually meant
There was a photo of a 20 mid train with the report.
I never saw it referred to again, so may have been an abandoned experiment
I recall reading about this at the time. There was a suggestion that there might be problems if two such trains were on adjacent tracks, with the radio receiver in one train picking up signals sent by the other. I assume with modern frequency-hopping (CDMA) technology that wouldn't still be possible!
 

david1212

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Modern Railways back in the 1970s or 80s had a report on coal MGR trains with 2x20 at the head and 1x20 mid train.
The mid train loco was described as radio controlled, but it wasn't explained what this actually meant
There was a photo of a 20 mid train with the report.
I never saw it referred to again, so may have been an abandoned experiment

I recall reading about this at the time. There was a suggestion that there might be problems if two such trains were on adjacent tracks, with the radio receiver in one train picking up signals sent by the other. I assume with modern frequency-hopping (CDMA) technology that wouldn't still be possible!

30 or so years later I'm sure technically this could be done with dual systems to cover the possibilities of corrupted or missed signals in virtually all situations plus a fall back if the communication is lost. Against it would be all the safety testing and approvals required.
 

Wyrleybart

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Modern Railways back in the 1970s or 80s had a report on coal MGR trains with 2x20 at the head and 1x20 mid train.
The mid train loco was described as radio controlled, but it wasn't explained what this actually meant
There was a photo of a 20 mid train with the report.
I never saw it referred to again, so may have been an abandoned experiment

Frankly that would have been a nightmare for operators. My job from 1992 to 1994 was with Trainload Coal trying to make the Trainload Operations work in the West Midlands. Back then it was pretty much exclusively MGR wagons which interacted with the "Daleks" to open and close the doors. The "daleks" were controlled by CEGB staff and were arranged to move nearer to the rails to open the safety catches, open the doors, close the doors, then reapply the safety catches after the loco(s) and sometimes the brakevan had passed by. This didn't always work and various locos received damaged steps, brake cylinders, sandbox etc, while a few brakevans (even with thinned stepboards) received the unwanted attention of the "daleks". I imagine a loco in the middle of a train of MGRs would be vulnerable from that point of view.

As was said, 20058+20087 were an interesting experiment, particularly in the North West where reversals were very much more common that the typical MGR "balloon track". In fact I cannot recall any circuits in the northwest like they had in the Aire Valley, Drakelow, Ratcliffe, Didcot etc.
 

themiller

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As far as I'm aware, the only remote control system that allows locos at front and rear to be controlled is the TDM system on AC electrics, using the RCH jumpers on coaching stock. That was only theoretical anyway, and never used as such.

So yeah, any loco at the back of a train as you described can't be controlled from the front.
How was the 43 controlled by the 91 (& vice versa) at the other end of the east coast passenger trains during the introduction of the 91s?
 

MarkyT

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Wabtec's Locotrol can do that, among other things:
Wabtec Corporation LOCOTROL® Technologies
Increase train hauling capacity by enabling longer, heavier trains. Improve productivity at yards and mainline using Remote-Control Locomotive operation. Increase efficiency at mines and ports with Tower Control
 

375610

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That's really not true, anyone who went on one of the Class 37 hauled short sets out of Norwich will attest to the locos at both ends of the train working in multiple, the Mk2 coaches being through wired for blue star working.
As far as I'm aware, the only remote control system that allows locos at front and rear to be controlled is the TDM system on AC electrics, using the RCH jumpers on coaching stock. That was only theoretical anyway, and never used as such.

So yeah, any loco at the back of a train as you described can't be controlled from the front.
 

43096

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How was the 43 controlled by the 91 (& vice versa) at the other end of the east coast passenger trains during the introduction of the 91s?
The power cars were fitted with TDM (time division multiplexing) equipment that was compatible with the 91s. The TGS vehicles were also modified with the required jumper cables to connect to the 91. Within the HST vehicles, I believe the TDM signal was passed down the HST’s 36-way cables.
 

jopsuk

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I recall reading about this at the time. There was a suggestion that there might be problems if two such trains were on adjacent tracks, with the radio receiver in one train picking up signals sent by the other. I assume with modern frequency-hopping (CDMA) technology that wouldn't still be possible!
controlling mid train and rear locos via radio link is entirely normal on freight in the USA
 

DelW

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controlling mid train and rear locos via radio link is entirely normal on freight in the USA
On long distance routes in the USA, trains with DPUs (Distributed Power Units, i.e. remote-controlled locos) are the norm. Trains are routinely two to three miles long, and need locos at mid-train and/or the rear, to reduce the force in the couplers.

A typical layout of a long freight would be four locos at the head, two mid-train, and two on the rear. All are controlled from the leading loco.
 

RPI

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Wessex trains used top and tailed class 31's in the past, these were operated in multiple with both locos powering.
 

O L Leigh

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Against it would be all the safety testing and approvals required.

Not really. Against it is the lack of necessity as we don’t run anything long or heavy enough in the UK to require distributed power along the US model. Even the high output ballast renewal train can be managed by a single Cl66.

On the “three Cl20s on an MGR” point, I believe that this was needed for workings to and from Longannet but that the locos were all at the head end rather than distributed along the train.
 

randyrippley

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On the “three Cl20s on an MGR” point, I believe that this was needed for workings to and from Longannet but that the locos were all at the head end rather than distributed along the train.
Maybe they triple headed at Longannet, but that is clearly not what the Modern Railways report was discussing.
They were reporting mid-train radio controlled locos

That's really not true, anyone who went on one of the Class 37 hauled short sets out of Norwich will attest to the locos at both ends of the train working in multiple, the Mk2 coaches being through wired for blue star working.
Or the Glasgow-Edinburgh Mk2 sets, also blue star, or the 33-8tc-33 combinations sometimes used. But they were all wire controlled, not wireless
 
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edwin_m

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On the “three Cl20s on an MGR” point, I believe that this was needed for workings to and from Longannet but that the locos were all at the head end rather than distributed along the train.
When I used the route in 1978-81 the ones out of Seafield Colliery had two 20s at one end and one at the other. As I've never heard of MGRs being through wired I expect there would have been a driver each end.

The exit from Seafield was at the Kinghorn end, so if they had gone via Cowdenbeath then they'd have had to reverse there and if via Burntisland and Inverkeithing north curve they would have had to reverse in the Dunfermline area. I'm not sure which route (or both) they actually used but with a single loco either would have involved a run-round on a fairly busy passenger line. So it probably made sense to have a formation that didn't need to do that, and may also have indicated a surplus of 20s and a shortage of higher-powered classes.
 

Wyrleybart

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When I used the route in 1978-81 the ones out of Seafield Colliery had two 20s at one end and one at the other. As I've never heard of MGRs being through wired I expect there would have been a driver each end.

The exit from Seafield was at the Kinghorn end, so if they had gone via Cowdenbeath then they'd have had to reverse there and if via Burntisland and Inverkeithing north curve they would have had to reverse in the Dunfermline area. I'm not sure which route (or both) they actually used but with a single loco either would have involved a run-round on a fairly busy passenger line. So it probably made sense to have a formation that didn't need to do that, and may also have indicated a surplus of 20s and a shortage of higher-powered classes.

I don't know for sure but I think some class 20s were used singly on trip workings in Fife and in the lowlands. I wonder if the third 20 was a trip engine which was used to assist the pair. AFAIK the only radio controlled MGR operations were the trials with 20058+20087.

Almost all the remote options in this thread involve an electric or electropneumatic connection along the train whether it be the "blue star" cable per EDB-GLQ shuttles, whether it be TDM or whatever other means. AFAIK the 20s have been the only trial in the UK with wireless remote control of locos on the mainline.
 

O L Leigh

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Maybe they triple headed at Longannet, but that is clearly not what the Modern Railways report was discussing.
They were reporting mid-train radio controlled locos

Yes I am aware of that, as the reference to different areas of operation clearly show that these were not different parts of the same trial.

When I used the route in 1978-81 the ones out of Seafield Colliery had two 20s at one end and one at the other. As I've never heard of MGRs being through wired I expect there would have been a driver each end.

The exit from Seafield was at the Kinghorn end, so if they had gone via Cowdenbeath then they'd have had to reverse there and if via Burntisland and Inverkeithing north curve they would have had to reverse in the Dunfermline area. I'm not sure which route (or both) they actually used but with a single loco either would have involved a run-round on a fairly busy passenger line. So it probably made sense to have a formation that didn't need to do that, and may also have indicated a surplus of 20s and a shortage of higher-powered classes.

Thanks for the extra info. Additional reading suggests that the reversal was done at Townhill Jn, which I believe is somewhere near Dunfermline. The train would have been worked in tandem (two loco crews) rather than in multiple with communication by radio telephone, although a breakdown in communication resulted in the fatal injury of a driver whilst working this train. There is also a suggestion that the cost of the second crew put up the cost of the coal and that these workings were soon passed to pairs of Cl26s, which presumably had to run around the train somewhere.

All that said, there is a photo on the RMWeb discussion about MGR workings in Fife that shows triple-headed Cl20s on a Longannet-bound MGR.
 

edwin_m

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I have vague recollections of an experiment in radio control of a class 47 (or maybe a 56) in the 1970s, which had a flashing light mounted on the cab roof.

There are, or at least were last time I looked, remote control shunters without cabs in the Mountsorrel aggregates terminal.
 

alangla

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Did Northern Spirit/Arriva Trains Northern not have some Blue Star wired Mk2s for working on the S&C with top & tail EWS 37s that had been modified with remotely operated fire extinguishers or am I misremembering?
 

D7666

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Joining up several different comment upthread,

IIMU this :

QUOTE
Modern Railways back in the 1970s or 80s had a report on coal MGR trains with 2x20 at the head and 1x20 mid train.
The mid train loco was described as radio controlled, but it wasn't explained what this actually meant
There was a photo of a 20 mid train with the report.
I never saw it referred to again, so may have been an abandoned experiment
UNQUOTE

was BR trying out one makers product - possibly the US GE Harris product, well known and in use at the time in US, and probably the one that a.n.other mentioned upthread.

Knowing BR, they probably either did not want to pay for the product or product licence, rather than a technical or operational test failure, so went their own way with RTC developing what was fitted to 20058+20087, which probably took them quite a while, or the business needs changed.

I have wondered if\how\where\when the remote control 47(s) fit in - the underlying concept of remote controlling a mid train helper or rear end banker by radio from a lead loco cab is not that different to remote controlling any loco by radio from a trackside control console.
 
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randyrippley

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I have vague recollections of an experiment in radio control of a class 47 (or maybe a 56) in the 1970s, which had a flashing light mounted on the cab roof.

There are, or at least were last time I looked, remote control shunters without cabs in the Mountsorrel aggregates terminal.
Steelworks tend to have radio controlled shunters as well, simply for safety
 

D6130

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Did Northern Spirit/Arriva Trains Northern not have some Blue Star wired Mk2s for working on the S&C with top & tail EWS 37s that had been modified with remotely operated fire extinguishers or am I misremembering?
They did indeed.....and IIRC, they were later transferred to ATW for use on the WAG express, although I'm open to correction on that.
 

D7666

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Digressing, even further, if mods allow, 700s EMU, at the point of publishing ITT (invitation to tender) were specified for radio remote control - for depot shunting only. This was requirement was descoped before actual orders were placed.
 

Wyrleybart

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I have vague recollections of an experiment in radio control of a class 47 (or maybe a 56) in the 1970s, which had a flashing light mounted on the cab roof.

There are, or at least were last time I looked, remote control shunters without cabs in the Mountsorrel aggregates terminal.
I believe there were four locos so fitted 47277 47373 56073 and 56074, but there were issues between BR and ASLEF over manning, or more specifically non manning of trains. The BR plan was for driver Bloggs to drive his train to the power station, switch to automatic then toddle off to the cabin for his snap. The power station would remotely drive the train through the discharge hopper, then a suitable refreshed driver Bloggs would climb back aboard and take his train over. ASLEF were having none of it.
 
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