Gauging...

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alexl92

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I'm sure everyone's seen the fuss about Scotsman being banned from the Borders Railway due to gauging issues and then suddenly permitted again.

So here's a quick question: Network Rail must have data about the gauge of the Borders Line because Tornado and UoSA have run on it recently.

Do they have to do a fresh survey for every engine that runs on it, or can they simply take the dimensions of Scotsman and compare it to the two similar design of engines for which they already have gauging data and make an informed decision that way?

And if it's not being discussed elsewhere, how were they suddently able to change their mind about it last minute?
 
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DarloRich

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I'm sure everyone's seen the fuss about Scotsman being banned from the Borders Railway due to gauging issues and then suddenly permitted again.

So here's a quick question: Network Rail must have data about the gauge of the Borders Line because Tornado and UoSA have run on it recently.

That only means they were cleared, not every steamer. ( I wonder if that is what the problem was - an assumption that one big green kettle is the same as every big green kettle)

Do they have to do a fresh survey for every engine that runs on it, or can they simply take the dimensions of Scotsman and compare it to the two similar design of engines for which they already have gauging data and make an informed decision that way?

No idea but I imagine for each individual class of steamer the answer will be yes.

And if it's not being discussed elsewhere, how were they suddently able to change their mind about it last minute?

By working overtime to run the FS dimensions through the gauging software I should imagine and sending the blokes out with shovel to move things where the software showed a conflict!
 

jadmor

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Scotsman bears a plate marked RA9, doesn't that define its route availability?
 

gimmea50anyday

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Track gauge, route gauge, platform clearances, axle weight, track height, ohle clearance etc all make a difference.

on whitby branch they sent a deltic to the NYMR with no issues. following track work discovered a 50 (valiant) would be out of gauge! That was merely following a minor bit of tamping. When the shinkansen was delivered to the NRM they had to remove some point motors and lineside phones before they could get it in, so ok Scotsman's clearance wasn't THAT draconian, but these shall bits make all the difference. 33's couldn't fit through the Hastings tunnels hence the slimjim 33/2's, the manufacture of which contributed to the demise of BRCW. The tunnels were later singled so standard gauge stock (CEP's) would fit through.

The most obvious gauging issue is of course the voyagers, built to the smallest gauge known to go almost universally anywhere tilted! Didn't help that at the time Railtrack didn't know what the gague actually was!..
 

Tio Terry

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Borders was subject to authorisation under the Railway Interoperability Regulations. To achieve this it would need to meet the requirements of the Technical Standards for Interoperability (TSI's) and the National Network Technical Rules (NNTR's), these allow variations across Europe for things like platform heights. On that basis NR knows the physical parameters the route can manage, I can only assume they did not have the similar information required for Flying Scotsman so that they could compare the two.

The process is described in Railway Group Standard GE/RT 8270.
 

Taunton

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The most obvious gauging issue is of course the voyagers, built to the smallest gauge known to go almost universally anywhere tilted! Didn't help that at the time Railtrack didn't know what the gauge actually was!..
I always used to think that Railtrack knew perfectly well what the gauging was, but pretended otherwise as they saw it as a revenue opportunity to charge through the nose for "regauging" for any proposal such as new rolling stock etc.
 

edwin_m

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I'd be very surprised if there was a gauging issue on what is effectively a brand new railway like Borders, as the problem is usually with older infrastructure where clearances are a bit tight or not fully known. Perhaps the problem was actually between Newcraighall and Edinburgh, somewhere FS probably hasn't had any reason to go in recent years?
 

LeeLivery

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I find it baffling that they don't know if a train could fit a brand new railway that they, themselves had a massive input in building! If they new 170s could fit, theres no reason why they couldn't and shouldn't have known this.
 

Darandio

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I find it baffling that they don't know if a train could fit a brand new railway that they, themselves had a massive input in building! If they new 170s could fit, theres no reason why they couldn't and shouldn't have known this.

They didn't rebuild Flying Scotsman though, did they. It's not as simple as you make out.
 

The Planner

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But when it was being designed would it have been part of the requirements to make sure it was gauge cleared for kettles? I would seriously suggest it wasnt and I wouldnt expect it to be either. Id bet if you asked someone if East West phase 1 between Bicester and Oxford was clear as another recent new railway you wouldnt get an immediate answer....
 

Tio Terry

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But when it was being designed would it have been part of the requirements to make sure it was gauge cleared for kettles? I would seriously suggest it wasnt and I wouldnt expect it to be either. Id bet if you asked someone if East West phase 1 between Bicester and Oxford was clear as another recent new railway you wouldnt get an immediate answer....

East-West Phase 1 was built in accordance with the Technical Standards for Interoperability (TSI's) as all new railway infrastructure is, this is an EU Directive and therefore Law. It needs to comply with the TSI's, and National Network Technical Rules, in order to be authorised under the Railway Interoperability Regulations by the ORR. Same applied to Borders and new stations such as Newcourt and Cranbrooke.
 

gimmea50anyday

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I always used to think that Railtrack knew perfectly well what the gauging was, but pretended otherwise as they saw it as a revenue opportunity to charge through the nose for "regauging" for any proposal such as new rolling stock etc.

Somehow your theory sounds perfectly reasonable!.....
 

ilkestonian

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On that basis NR knows the physical parameters the route can manage, I can only assume they did not have the similar information required for Flying Scotsman so that they could compare the two.

The bit I don't understand is that for Flying Scotsman to have recently run on the ECML as well as other routes in the last month or two, NR must already have the data relating to FS or they couldn't have gauged it to run on those routes.

So if they have route data and they have loco data, how long does it take to feed the two sets of data into the computer?
 

dviner

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But when it was being designed would it have been part of the requirements to make sure it was gauge cleared for kettles?

Not being funny, or anti-steam here - but why should it have been?

Is it more of a case that the infrastructure was built to suit a specific gauge and modern rolling stock is type-certified for a specific gauge. The Flying Scotsman - not being modern rolling stock, and thus not type-certified would have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis?
 

Bald Rick

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With a major caveat of not knowing the facts in this case, a much more likely scenario is that the gauging data showed that the Locomotive was foul to gauge somewhere. Given that the infrastructure was new, and that the loco would have been cleared for other routes, all the data would have been available.

You can, however, get dispensation against gauging 'fouls' as long as it is not too bad. Any train with less than 150mm to spare can get 'special' clearance, but that requires further work and sign off from all sorts of relevant engineers which takes time

My guess is that the loco was foul to gauge, just, but that the necessary work to clear it was needed more quickly than the standard process, so it jumped the queue and some midnight oil was burned.
 

alexl92

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With a major caveat of not knowing the facts in this case, a much more likely scenario is that the gauging data showed that the Locomotive was foul to gauge somewhere. Given that the infrastructure was new, and that the loco would have been cleared for other routes, all the data would have been available.

You can, however, get dispensation against gauging 'fouls' as long as it is not too bad. Any train with less than 150mm to spare can get 'special' clearance, but that requires further work and sign off from all sorts of relevant engineers which takes time

My guess is that the loco was foul to gauge, just, but that the necessary work to clear it was needed more quickly than the standard process, so it jumped the queue and some midnight oil was burned.

This makes most sense to me. Thank you
 

Trog

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I strongly suspect it was probably a paperwork issue, where the Gauging Engineer could only give permission if he could tick all the boxes on some huge great form drawn up by a committee of people with a sketchy knowledge of gauging.

The Gauging Engineer may know it is safe to run train C because train A which is wider and train B which is taller have both been cleared. But because he can not tick a box on the form saying Has a full survey of train C on line X been carried out in the last 66.236 days with a full moon that it did not rain in Dunny on the Wold? he is forbidden to allow the train to run. He therefore has to forbid the move, even though common sense tells him it is OK. The s**t then hits the fan and the matter is moved upwards until it gets to someone with the clout to say ignore the proper process as this is a PR disaster.

The Gauging Engineer is then told he can issue permission based on his Engineering Judgement based on the data he has for other things, but that if it all goes wrong it is his fault. But at least his a**e is covered if he is audited and someone notices that he signed off a form with a blank tick box half way down the back of page 23a.
 

D1009

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To be fair, there have been instances in the not too distant past of steam locomotives coming into contact with lineside structures, which has led to a tightening of the rules. Yesterday someone posted in the class 700 testing thread that they are now out of gauge on the down fast at South Croydon, so it's not just steam engines that are affected.
 

AM9

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Yesterday someone posted in the class 700 testing thread that they are now out of gauge on the down fast at South Croydon, so it's not just steam engines that are affected.

That sounded more like the line gauge has changed rather than the train. That is a worrying situation if the track maintainers can leave a site in a condition where trains with full clearance cannot be guaranteed to pass safely just because the trackwork wasn't done properly.
 

Bald Rick

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That sounded more like the line gauge has changed rather than the train. That is a worrying situation if the track maintainers can leave a site in a condition where trains with full clearance cannot be guaranteed to pass safely just because the trackwork wasn't done properly.

Like, for example, if a tamper doesn't work correctly and over-slues some track for instance? But the Techincial Officer concerned will of course not hand the track back to traffic.
 

Trog

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Like, for example, if a tamper doesn't work correctly and over-slues some track for instance? But the Techincial Officer concerned will of course not hand the track back to traffic.

If the track is not slued properly you go back and do it again. If necessary with a long ruler and the tamper crew sluing to your hand signals, until it is right.

The big problem is if the tamper over lifts, as while sluing and lifting track is easy, lowering it is back breaking work with a shovel. You can try to put it down with a DTS but usually the high spot is the only bit that will not go down. Which is why it is important to keep checking behind a tamper so any problems are spotted quickly.
 

Bald Rick

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If the track is not slued properly you go back and do it again. If necessary with a long ruler and the tamper crew sluing to your hand signals, until it is right.

The big problem is if the tamper over lifts, as while sluing and lifting track is easy, lowering it is back breaking work with a shovel. You can try to put it down with a DTS but usually the high spot is the only bit that will not go down. Which is why it is important to keep checking behind a tamper so any problems are spotted quickly.

Not when it's at South Croydon, the possession takes in more than the line affected, and it's 0400. You hand it back and block the line concerned.
 

Ploughman

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I know of one site that went out of gauge because it was rerailed from 98 to 113FB
The solution was to uplift the track for 200m through a short tunnel under OHLE, skim off the ballast and relay with Shallow depth sleepers.
All ok on the sunday when I left with about a 25mm lift for the tamper.
Tamper went through and overlifted by 45mm, do it all again the next weekend.
 

D Foster

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Track gauge, route gauge, platform clearances, axle weight, track height, ohle clearance etc all make a difference.

33's couldn't fit through the Hastings tunnels hence the slimjim 33/2's, the manufacture of which contributed to the demise of BRCW. The tunnels were later singled so standard gauge stock (CEP's) would fit through.

Please correct me if I'm wrong - or just out-of-date... Weren't the Hastings route tunnels altered from limited gauge conventional double track to gauntleted double track (moved to the middle of the structure) rather than made single line?
Thanks :)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Aren't tampers fun?
We had an incident when some kind of hi-tech PCB "board" thingy in the brain of a tamper failed mid job... Whoever was rushed out to change it seems to have managed to accidentally touch something else - with the result that when the beast started to work again the track would have competed in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's best roller-coaster... Loads of shovels were needed to even begin to sort it out.
The immediate solution to clear the block and get things running again is usually to slap on an emergency speed restriction. (Or - that was the solution).
As pure speculation - it MIGHT be that any gauging problem for FS was got round by putting on a speed restriction through any "suspect" bit of line - so long as it was a relatively short length that wouldn't mess up running times to much. People on the train would probably hardly notice any difference to the working.
:)
 

Jonny

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Please correct me if I'm wrong - or just out-of-date... Weren't the Hastings route tunnels altered from limited gauge conventional double track to gauntleted double track (moved to the middle of the structure) rather than made single line?
Thanks :)

My understanding is that it is single track - just the third rail electrification might make it look like gauntlet track.

See here: (someone else's photo) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Railway_tunnel_under_Forest_Rd_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1070568.jpg
 

D Foster

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Thanks for the picture link :D
Definitely single track.

Gauntleted would require 4 running rails and (where provided) 2 juice rails.

I had only ever heard about plans for the work - a long time ago. No idea when now.

Thanks :D
 
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