Diversions - Route Knowledge

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dangie

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Apologies if this has been asked before.

Last week when I saw CrossCountry Voyagers diverted along the WCML through Rugeley Trent Valley because of the problems at Wolverhampton.

Would the Voyager drivers have route knowledge of the diversion or would there be a second driver in the cab with the route knowledge or would it be a different driver altogether? Hope this makes sense. Thanks.
 
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D1009

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Apologies if this has been asked before.

Last week when I saw CrossCountry Voyagers diverted along the WCML through Rugeley Trent Valley because of the problems at Wolverhampton.

Would the Voyager drivers have route knowledge of the diversion or would there be a second driver in the cab with the route knowledge or would it be a different driver altogether? Hope this makes sense. Thanks.
That diversion is used quite a lot, so I'd imagine most drivers would know it. Often with XC and sometimes with other operators, passenger and empty coaching stock trains are diverted over diversionary routes on a regular basis, usually late at night purely for the purposes of drivers route knowledge.
 

Minilad

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Most XC drivers who sign Manchester - Birmingham would have the required route knowledge. If they didn't then they would probably be swopped around off other trains with someone who did. Or a conductor would be provided. Usually the former
 

table38

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As a follow up, I've often wondered how it works with tours.

Can it be difficult to find a driver with the required route knowlege who also signs the specific traction (eg. 37s etc.) ?

What happens (for example) when we get to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen in a couple of weeks - do they take on a pilot, or can the driver just go very slowly ? :)
 

driver9000

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As a follow up, I've often wondered how it works with tours.

Can it be difficult to find a driver with the required route knowlege who also signs the specific traction (eg. 37s etc.) ?

What happens (for example) when we get to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen in a couple of weeks - do they take on a pilot, or can the driver just go very slowly ? :)
Companies like WCRC tend to have enough drivers dotted about with route and traction knowledge. If not, then a route conductor may be hired in. Drivers and Guards are not permitted to work over routes they don't sign without a conductor under any circumstances.
 

hairyhandedfool

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If a driver doesn't know the route, a driver who does know it is required as a route conductor. If the route conductor signs the type of train they are required to take the train over that route.

If a driver takes a route they do not sign without a conductor they are in big trouble!
 

ryan125hst

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So what does a driver have to do to be able to sign a new route and how long does it take? Also, why is it necessary?
 

Harbon 1

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So what does a driver have to do to be able to sign a new route and how long does it take? Also, why is it necessary?
I suppose they'll just have to learn the route (junctions, bridges, signals, speed restrictions, tunnels, stations etc..) and then they can sign it.

With regards to railtours, I think they'll just have a driver that signs the route as second man, as I doubt there are many drivers that can sign the route from penzance to birmingham (the maze-day thing) ;)
 

ainsworth74

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So what does a driver have to do to be able to sign a new route and how long does it take? Also, why is it necessary?
As above really, they need to know the location of all signals, speed restrictions, level crossings, stations and various other bits a pieces. You have to remember train driving can't be done on sight all that much, so you need to know what's a mile down the line and then what's two miles down the line and when to start breaking for that station because if you're doing 100mph and wait until you see it then in all likelihood you'll overshoot it, then if things go wrong you need to be able to tell the signaller and control exactly where you are because just saying "erm I'm somewhere between York and Thirsk" isn't going to be good enough when your train is fouling all the running lines and the emergency services need to know where to go to.
 

Crossover

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So what does a driver have to do to be able to sign a new route and how long does it take? Also, why is it necessary?
One of the members of rail staff will probably be able to field it better than I can but as I understand it, it involves a large amount of learning and travelling along the route to make sure the driver in conversant with it.

As Harbon1 says, it is to learn the route in its entirety (landmarks help with things) so the driver knows braking points, access locations (in an emergency, it would be wise to stop somewhere accessible, rather than in the middle of tunnel for example, if at all possible), low adhesion sites and so on. Bear in mind that by night, it is akin to driving with your eyes shut almost - passing under a recognisable bridge may be the only way you know you need to be braking for a station/speed restriction etc.

_________________________________

A good example I had recently (Monday) was when caught up up in the disruption on the ECML. I was on a GC service from London which they wanted to divert via Lincoln and then on to Doncaster. The onboard crew didn't sign the route so they tried to look for route conductors (we were told they had requested help from EC and freight companies as well as any other GC staff) but one couldn't be found who was free and in the locality, so we got terminated at Grantham.
(Was interesting listening to the passengers opposite going on about "why can't they just drive the train there themselves?" and "can't they couple up to the train behind and go together?"...I decided to not try and explain on either point, though especially on that 180's don't like coupling to 180's...never mind GC 180 to EC HST!!!!)
 

33056

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As a follow up, I've often wondered how it works with tours.
Companies such as WCRC, DRS and DBS have staff with with a comprehensive route and traction knowledge; also, bearing in mind that a tour is known about many weeks in advance it is possible to ensure that staff are available and any necessary refreshing / training can be given beforehand if it is something really unusual.
 

Matt Taylor

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When I did my suburban route learning it took around a week per route. At the start I was given a whole pile of route packs each of which contained detailed maps of the routes showing every line, every set of points, all signals and associated ground signals, level crossings, bridges, tunnels, electric supply substaions, platform numbers, platform lengths, tunnels, line speeds, signal numbers, mile posts plus probably more I have forgotten. Also included is a list of all locations and their potential hazards-such as the fact that at Sunnymeads the guard cannot see the signal and there is no platform 'OFF' indicator or banner repeater.

After a week we are assessed over the route and asked random questions about the things in the packs and have to show a high level of competency. We have to pass over a route at least once every six months to keep our knowledge up to date.
 

Driver Bob

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So what does a driver have to do to be able to sign a new route and how long does it take? Also, why is it necessary?
You are rattling along at speed in the middle of the night in thick freezing fog with the marker lights illuminating the fog in front of you like a white sheet a few feet in front of your windscreen... and that is ALL you can see. Then consider it might take your heavy train up to a mile to stop. There are oil lit semaphore signals to observe. Even the colour light signals can only be seen at the last minute even AFTER the audio/visual AWS indication.

I have been there and done it.

If you can read the road through 'seat of the pants' driving then you will know just where every overbridge is and hear or sense it, even though you cannot see it. You will know where every point is, every variation of noise past bridges, buildings, every jolt in the track. You will then know where every braking point is, every speed restriction, every TRS, where every signal SHOULD be even if you cannot see it.

In other words if you can drive the route blindfolded and know exactly where you are at any given moment, only then do you REALLY 'know the road'.

This of course was how it HAD to be in my day. It would seem that things are not so professional as they used to be! For example... between Evesham and Worcester there are several occupation crossings used by the many market gardens in the area. A few years ago a minibus was in collision with a train on one of these crossings and there was loss of life. I was at Eveshan signal box a few years ago (visiting on duty) when the Signaller , whilst giving the token to a down FGW HST driver, warned the the driver to proceed with caution over a particular crossing. The driver's reply was 'Where's that' ! The Signaller was incredulous and so was I.

Bob.
 

hello

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I suppose they'll just have to learn the route (junctions, bridges, signals, speed restrictions, tunnels, stations etc..) and then they can sign it.

With regards to railtours, I think they'll just have a driver that signs the route as second man, as I doubt there are many drivers that can sign the route from penzance to birmingham (the maze-day thing) ;)
i think you will find plymouth xc drivers sign the route from penzance to birmingham, and i think xc bristol drivers used to sign the route from penzance to derby.

i stand to be corrected
 

Bevan Price

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Out of curiosity - how do drivers learn a totally new railway, such as HS1 or Channel Tunnel, when nobody "knows" the route ?
 

ryan125hst

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When I did my suburban route learning it took around a week per route. At the start I was given a whole pile of route packs each of which contained detailed maps of the routes showing every line, every set of points, all signals and associated ground signals, level crossings, bridges, tunnels, electric supply substaions, platform numbers, platform lengths, tunnels, line speeds, signal numbers, mile posts plus probably more I have forgotten. Also included is a list of all locations and their potential hazards-such as the fact that at Sunnymeads the guard cannot see the signal and there is no platform 'OFF' indicator or banner repeater.

After a week we are assessed over the route and asked random questions about the things in the packs and have to show a high level of competency. We have to pass over a route at least once every six months to keep our knowledge up to date.
I'm guessing that you had to drive the route several times before being signed as well?

Driver Bob said:
You are rattling along at speed in the middle of the night in thick freezing fog with the marker lights illuminating the fog in front of you like a white sheet a few feet in front of your windscreen... and that is ALL you can see. Then consider it might take your heavy train up to a mile to stop. There are oil lit semaphore signals to observe. Even the colour light signals can only be seen at the last minute even AFTER the audio/visual AWS indication.

I have been there and done it.

If you can read the road through 'seat of the pants' driving then you will know just where every overbridge is and hear or sense it, even though you cannot see it. You will know where every point is, every variation of noise past bridges, buildings, every jolt in the track. You will then know where every braking point is, every speed restriction, every TRS, where every signal SHOULD be even if you cannot see it.

In other words if you can drive the route blindfolded and know exactly where you are at any given moment, only then do you REALLY 'know the road'.

This of course was how it HAD to be in my day. It would seem that things are not so professional as they used to be! For example... between Evesham and Worcester there are several occupation crossings used by the many market gardens in the area. A few years ago a minibus was in collision with a train on one of these crossings and there was loss of life. I was at Eveshan signal box a few years ago (visiting on duty) when the Signaller , whilst giving the token to a down FGW HST driver, warned the the driver to proceed with caution over a particular crossing. The driver's reply was 'Where's that' ! The Signaller was incredulous and so was I.

Bob.
Thanks for the information. Does the method, length of time required to learn the route etc. vary depending upon the line? So for example, a small branch line would be quicker to learn than the ECML? Also, does the driver need to drive on every bit of track that they could use (e.g. loops, crossovers, platforms) before they can sign it or do they simply need to understand the speed limits, locations and restrictions of these?
 

transmanche

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Also, does the driver need to drive on every bit of track that they could use (e.g. loops, crossovers, platforms) before they can sign it or do they simply need to understand the speed limits, locations and restrictions of these?
And would the general roll-out of ERTMS change this? (I.e. would it eliminate having to learn speed limits & braking points?)
 

hairyhandedfool

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I'm guessing that you had to drive the route several times before being signed as well?

....

Also, does the driver need to drive on every bit of track that they could use (e.g. loops, crossovers, platforms) before they can sign it or do they simply need to understand the speed limits, locations and restrictions of these?
Not necessarily, in some cases it is not possible to drive over it first. An example of this was Thameslink using St Pancras during the nine month engineering block for St Pancras Low Level work to be completed. Drivers were driven in special trips in a class 47 or given passes to ride in the cabs of MML services (to learn the route from Camden Road Junction/Kentish Town to St Pancras), in neither case could the Thameslink driver take the controls because of the lack of traction knowledge.

....Thanks for the information. Does the method, length of time required to learn the route etc. vary depending upon the line? So for example, a small branch line would be quicker to learn than the ECML?....
Yes it does.
 

Chris M

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Out of curiosity - how do drivers learn a totally new railway, such as HS1 or Channel Tunnel, when nobody "knows" the route ?
As I understand it, on London Underground the first stage is that a few drivers walk the route, learning the location of everything. Then the next stage I believe is that they travel slowly (walking pace?) in a train to familiarise themselves with the different view from the cab compared to ground level. Finally they learn the route at line speed and then begin the process of training other drivers.
How practical this is on longer railways (e.g. the Channel Tunnel is over a days walk) I don't know. Possibly if it is done this way the route is split into sections with driver 1 teaching driver 2 the first section and then swapping over to learn the next section from driver 2.
 
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