Line Side Questions

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RichmondCommu

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G'day everyone,

Two questions for everyone.

I often see what I assume are relay boxes with little horns on top of them. Are these little horns ever used and if so what is their purpose?

Secondly, are the mile posts still used for their original purpose and how well are they maintained?

Kind regards,

Richmond Commuter!
 
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Deepgreen

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G'day everyone,

Two questions for everyone.

I often see what I assume are relay boxes with little horns on top of them. Are these little horns ever used and if so what is their purpose?

Secondly, are the mile posts still used for their original purpose and how well are they maintained?

Kind regards,

Richmond Commuter!

Unsure of the first one without a picture, but mile posts are still used (along with the chainage markers) to some extent for location purposes, although GPS is taking over. No, they are not very well maintained in many cases - obscured, broken, etc. in much the same way as gradient posts are.
 

Trog

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Are you talking about the cuckoo sirens, that the signalmen would use to contact track side staff up to the mid 1980's? They had three different warbles depending on who the signalman wanted to contact him P-Way, S&T or OHL.

Mileposts are still used and legally compulsory, however a lot of the newer ones have been very carelessly erected and can be tens of yards out of position.
 

RichmondCommu

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Are you talking about the cuckoo sirens, that the signalmen would use to contact track side staff up to the mid 1980's? They had three different warbles depending on who the signalman wanted to contact him P-Way, S&T or OHL.

Many thanks for this :) What replaced them? Is there any reason why they have not been cut for scrap, assuming that they have been disconnected.
 

edwin_m

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Could also be a Train Operated Warning System to alert track workers? Waiting on the platforms at Grantham this is often switched on, and emits a short "cluck" every few seconds to prove it is still working. When a train approaches the warbler sounds continuously.

Redundant kit is often left in place on the railway for long periods, partly because of the logistics of removing something like this it make it far more costly than any scrap value. Also something that appears to be redundant may in fact still be in use - even if the horn is no longer needed there may be other circuits still active in the cabinet underneath it.
 

DaveNewcastle

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Could also be a Train Operated Warning System to alert track workers? . . .
TOWS was my first thought too - the 'horns' being contracted into not much more than a rectangular red casing; usually with two of them per post.

They're found on the ECML in the areas of Grantham as edwin_m has mentioned, and around the summit at Grantshouses.
 

D Foster

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Mileposts and gradient posts are still there and still relevant - mainly to the engineers these days.
Both are normally set on the Down side of the line - or at least what was the Down side when they were installed - given that what is Up and what is Down can be changed from time to time depending on which bit of the railway it is decided a line belongs to.

A couple of years ago I also saw some brand new blue "mileage signs" on the old LSWR area. I'm not sure whether these are in fact kilometre signs.

OHLE stanchions are marked in kilometres - plus the number from the first one at the kilometre - so (broadly speaking) 50-0, 50-1, 50-2 etc.

While we were supposed to use the mileage to locate things like blocking points for T3 possessions there was strong objection to using the stanchions - on the grounds that not all of the system has OHLE... It seemed to me that the stanchions were a tad more easy to locate than battered mileposts set deep in jungle growth.
Ours not to reason why though...
 
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tsr

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Mileposts and gradient posts are still there and still relevant - mainly to the engineers these days.

Also used by train crew as part of route knowledge, generally if there are few other defining features. They do feature in various route maps. There are a couple which I've used for announcement timings in the past.

A couple of years ago I also saw some brand new blue "mileage signs" on the old LSWR area. I'm not sure whether these are in fact kilometre signs.

The ones on my routes are in miles (or to the nearest quarter mile, eg 22 II for 2 22 and a half miles from the zero point).
 

G0ORC

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Are you talking about the cuckoo sirens, that the signalmen would use to contact track side staff up to the mid 1980's? They had three different warbles depending on who the signalman wanted to contact him P-Way, S&T or OHL.

Mileposts are still used and legally compulsory, however a lot of the newer ones have been very carelessly erected and can be tens of yards out of position.

This is exactly what they were - we had them, complete with a control panel in Derby PSB and they were used to attract the attention of S&T or PWay staff, a different tone being used for either one.
 

edwin_m

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OLE stanchions on older electrification schemes such as the WCML are identified by miles not kilometres.
 

Trog

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Mileposts on some lines for example the Midland out of St Pancras are also on the Up Side. About the only certain rule on the railway is that every other rule will have exceptions.
 

Harbornite

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Mileposts on some lines for example the Midland out of St Pancras are also on the Up Side. About the only certain rule on the railway is that every other rule will have exceptions.

I assume that's because the Midland Railway were prioritizing Derby rather than London, unlike some of its contemporaries.
 

ryan125hst

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Has anyone got a photo of these cuckoo sirens by any chance?

Also, there's a bit of infrastructure at the south end of platform 1. It's beyond the end of the platform but it's visible from the walkway to platforms 3 and 4. From memory, it's a tall, thin grey cabinet and I'm sure it says something about it being a plug in phone, but I can't remember exactly and I don't think I have a photo of it. Does anyone know what it is and what it's purpose is? Presumably it's for communication with the signalman as with the cuckoo alarm.
 
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D6975

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Wasn't there a thread a while ago about mileposts being replaced with kilometre posts?

I've also noticed that a lot of junctions have lost the white nameboards with the name of the junction on them.
 

Hellzapoppin

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On the Western we had lineside plug points which were an access to an ETD line, we just carried a small phone handset and literally plugged it in to use, we recovered most of those as most staff have mobile phones now, it could be a similar thing. I suspect the cabinet is a Telecom Distribution cupboard and contains comms cables, if so it'll have a ridged roof and a long number on a (yellow) plate just above the door but lots of kit is found in similar cabinets. Hope this helps.
 

edwin_m

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I assume that's because the Midland Railway were prioritizing Derby rather than London, unlike some of its contemporaries.

The Midland didn't prioritise Derby for the purposes of either milepost zero points or the selection of up and down directions, at least not after all the mileposts were re-positioned in the early 20th century.

As explained by the article below, the Midland implemented a logical scheme for defining its mileposts starting from a zero at St Pancras. Derby to St Pancras is still the up direction and the direction of decreasing mileage.

Confusion may arise because branches which diverged from the direction of increasing mileage were measured from a zero at their junctions, and the most famous of these was from Derby to Bristol and Bath. This route was also "up" towards Derby, possibly because departures from Derby towards London were originally from the north end of the station, but this arrangement was convenient as directions lined up with the LNWR at New Street and the GWR in the Bristol area (though not the parallel GWR tracks between Gloucester and Standish).

http://www.midlandrailway.org.uk/occasional-papers/midland-mile-posts/
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
On the Western we had lineside plug points which were an access to an ETD line, we just carried a small phone handset and literally plugged it in to use, we recovered most of those as most staff have mobile phones now, it could be a similar thing. I suspect the cabinet is a Telecom Distribution cupboard and contains comms cables, if so it'll have a ridged roof and a long number on a (yellow) plate just above the door but lots of kit is found in similar cabinets. Hope this helps.

Seen those on other regions too. They were orange sockets with a spring-loaded lid, externally a bit like those shielded 110V sockets that builders use, labelled "Plug Point" but this would probably be too small to see from any distance.
 
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Mugby

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I remember being told many years ago that the reason why the Bristol line is Up to Derby and the zero milepost is at Derby was simply because that's where the headquarters of the Midland Railway were.

If zero had been at the other end, it may have been in the middle of nowhere!
 

D Foster

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Mileposts on some lines for example the Midland out of St Pancras are also on the Up Side. About the only certain rule on the railway is that every other rule will have exceptions.

:roll::roll:Trust the Midland to be awkward!!!!

As said - "About the only certain rule on the railway is that every other rule will have exceptions".
 

alxndr

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Has anyone got a photo of these cuckoo sirens by any chance?

Is this one? Very much before my time, but it behaves as described in one of the old transport films I have.


Also shows a phone in use.


 

Trog

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:roll::roll:Trust the Midland to be awkward!!!!

As said - "About the only certain rule on the railway is that every other rule will have exceptions".

On reflection the mileposts on the GWR mainline are also on the up side, but that is perhaps less of a surprise.

The plug in phones in use in the 1980's were rather cheap orange plastic phones with a clear plastic dial. There were two problems with these firstly the dials were rather weak and tended to break off. The other was that the phones were not approved for use on the BT network, and if you knew the right codes or asked the operator nicely you could get through to an outside line, which was illegal. So in true railway fashion they started issuing out the phone in the catalogue that was approved. This was a line mans test handset with almost as many buttons as a typewriter.
 
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edwin_m

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I remember being told many years ago that the reason why the Bristol line is Up to Derby and the zero milepost is at Derby was simply because that's where the headquarters of the Midland Railway were.

The link I posted above yours suggests this was a myth. Derby just happens to be where the line leaves the main line from London.
 

3141

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Mileposts and gradient posts are still there and still relevant - mainly to the engineers these days.

A couple of years ago I also saw some brand new blue "mileage signs" on the old LSWR area. I'm not sure whether these are in fact kilometre signs.

I think those newer ones on the South Western have been there for at least 12 years. They're in miles. Many of them are just a yard or two away from the earlier yellow milepost, though others are exactly aligned. I observe them as I travel towards London from Overton, but east of Woking it's still mainly the old posts that you see, frequently in poor condition or missing.
 

D1009

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TOWS was my first thought too - the 'horns' being contracted into not much more than a rectangular red casing; usually with two of them per post.

They're found on the ECML in the areas of Grantham as edwin_m has mentioned, and around the summit at Grantshouses.
There used to be a similar system at Wootton Bassett on the Badminton line, but I haven't heard it for a long time and suspect it's been removed.
 

Hellzapoppin

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I remember working on a cable fault in the Wotton Bassett area years ago and the TOWS was switched on, as we were walking down the track a head appeared from out of the line side bushes and in a broad Irish brogue asked " has youse any idea where that fookin goose is, I've been hearing the fookin ting all fookin morning and I can't find the fookin thing anywhere" One of the funniest things I've ever heard in my career. Brilliant.
 

alxndr

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There used to be a similar system at Wootton Bassett on the Badminton line, but I haven't heard it for a long time and suspect it's been removed.

TOWS is still in place and operational at Wootton Bassett, both at the junction and on the Badminton line around by the relay room.
 
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