Preparing For Winter

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by RichmondCommu, 3 Nov 2011.

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  1. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    G’day,

    Given that last winter the railways were an absolute shambles at times I’m interested to know whether any lessons have been learnt in readiness for the next few months. In particular have they done any of the following?

    1. Drawn up plans to use locos to keep lines clear when snow is falling; preferably fitted with mini snow ploughs. The idea being that these locos are run over night so that commuters can get to work in the morning.

    2. Bought as much grit as possible (i.e. a damn sight more than last year) to ensure to ensure that platforms are safe for people to walk on.

    3. Hired in every loco possible fitted with ETH in case they are needed to rescue trains when the OHL is down.

    4. Improved methods of removing snow and ice from the 3rd rail.

    Thanks in advance,

    Richmond Commuter!
     
    Last edited: 3 Nov 2011
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  3. O L Leigh

    O L Leigh Established Member

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    We had service problems at times during last winter, but the issue was not that the lines were impassable due to snow but that the temperatures fell so low that it had a profound affect on the units. Doors froze open/closed and water in the air systems froze causing numerous faults and failures. I had made a number of suggestions for simple fleet modifications that would have helped enormously, but I don't expect any of them will have been taken up.

    That was not a problem on our patch.

    The OLE didn't come down. But even if it had, an ETS fitted loco would have been no use for rescue purposes because it wouldn't be able to supply the units.

    Not my area of expertise.

    O L Leigh
     
  4. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    As I recall the roads were an even bigger shambles as were the airports.
     
  5. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    Would it help if the trains were left running all night to stop equipment freezing over? And would temporary cladding over pipe work be of any use?

    Thanks for your reply.
     
  6. O L Leigh

    O L Leigh Established Member

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    A cousin of mine lives in Amsterdam and told me that both the German and Dutch railways simply didn't bother trying to run a service during the worst of last winter's weather. They just shut the network down (apparently).

    O L Leigh
     
  7. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    Yes they were but I avoided the roads at all costs! I use the train a lot and i'm hoping for improvements this winter!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    In all fairness the railways in the UK appeared to do their best with the resources that they had but I'm hoping that this winter they will be better prepared.
     
  8. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Scotrail will be deploying what has been reported in the press as heated plastic tunnels to keep unit underframes free of ice. I presume that these will take the form of the heated skirts that go around the underframe areas that Scotrail used last year, rather than tunnels big enough to take a full train.

    Network Rail have recently acquired six ex-Virgin Dellner fitted class 57/3s which will be available for use rescuing stranded EMUs on the Southern Region alongside their more typical test train duties.

    I think that some third rail units have recently started to be fitted with de-icing shoes, or something similar. There was a thread on it not too long ago.
     
  9. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    Given the vagaries of the British weather it is not so easy to be prepared to the degree that you would want.

    Whilst I have no doubt that the Railways could be kept running (they usually were in BR days) the costs of that would be considerable and frankly the great British public are not prepared to pay for this, either in taxes or through fares.

    The UK has the Railway it deserves, as well as the public services we deserve. It wants the best but at minimal cost and is not prepared to pay when push comes to shove, as the LibDems found out to their great cost some years back.

    Cost and quality are inextricably linked as the Space Shuttle team discovered.

    I doubt you would want to pay the costs of the fleet of locomotives you would want to be made available, but in any case, temperatures were so low last year, especially during Christmas that even the diesel in the fuel tanks froze. At only a slightly warmer temperature the fuel waxes and that has its own problems.

    I doubt you have considered how you are going to reach the station in such weather, or indeed your place of work, given the fact that the Councils now pretty much give up on the roads and the bus companies withdraw their services.

    As far as the OHL is concerned snow is only a problem when there are very low temperatures after it falls and no train movements, in which case the weight of the snow/ice can cause the OHL to sag and stress the fittings.
     
  10. O L Leigh

    O L Leigh Established Member

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    I drive electrics, so there is no way to run them overnight.

    The problem is that when you compress air the water vapour it contains condenses out. There are drains in various parts of the air systems, but when it gets as cold as it did on certain days it simply freezes. This lead to a number of failures as main compressor governers and other key pieces of on-train equipment became disabled due to accumulations of ice. Likewise the doors were frozen due to snow ingress as they travelled along. You'd set off with a certain number of doors working but, by the time you'd been going 10 minutes most of them would be frozen shut.

    I'm not sure what good cladding would do to prevent the pipes freezing. Even clad pipes freeze solid in winter if exposed to the elements. And the problem is often not that the pipes freeze up but the equipment they supply does.

    I was involved in trying to rescue a failed Cl317 in Stansted Airport tunnel on a morning when there was a foot of snow an the temperature was -11C. The unit had run out of air because the compressor governer had frozen which prevented the compressor running. However, we couldn't get the two units hooked up. My first job was to get down and bash all the ice off both coupler heads with the manual uncoupling bar (and there was quite a lot of it). Then we tried to hook them up but the telltales stayed in which meant we had to split them and bang on again. Unfortunately I had to release the coupler heads manually because the pistons on both units were frozen. We did this several times before getting a satisfactory couple but then we couldn't throw the drumswitches to join the air and electrical connections between the units except by getting between them and doing that manually. Even that failed because one drumswitch wouldn't throw at all because it was frozen meaning there was air on both sides. In the end we were only saved from embarrasment because the air in the tunnel was that bit warmer than outside and the main compressor governer on the failed unit thawed enough to free itself and allow the compressor to run up.

    O L Leigh
     
  11. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    While this is certainly a step in the right direction one would hope that all units would have been fitted with de-icing shoes. Its surely impossible to select which lines will be affected and which will not!
     
  12. O L Leigh

    O L Leigh Established Member

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    Better than nothing, but still not especially helpful. The Delner couplers will only permit mechanical coupling and will not allow the loco to provide ETS or brake continuity.

    O L Leigh
     
  13. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Is it the case then that the 57/3s are only set up to provide train supply to Pendolinos? I had a suspicion that that might be the case with all the different electrical systems modern trains operate off.

    I think (I'm not completely certain) that the Network Rail 57/3s are having modifications made to the height of the Dellner coupler to allow the locos to couple to Southern region EMUs, but I seriously doubt that any modifications would be far-reaching enough to alter all the electrical connections to make them compatible with Electrostars, etc.
     
  14. O L Leigh

    O L Leigh Established Member

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    Perhaps. But if so it is only because they were configured as such.

    Indeed.

    O L Leigh
     
  15. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    Slightly off-topic I know but I was in a meeting recently with a (foreign) Government chappie who was saying that they had taken a decision to standardise their multiplicity of track gauges as a means of bringing about standardisation to the various Railway systems so as to make interworking that much easier.

    Sadly we seem to be going further and further away from operational reality in the UK by simply not specifying one standard coupler head.

    Even Third World Countries see the benefit in this, yet the home of the Railway does not :roll: :roll:
     
  16. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    There was a major industry review after the last 2 winters - earlier this year. Plans include :-

    About 20 km of heated con rails in known Kent and Suusex cold spots
    Fitting de-icing tanks to some of the 377 fleet
    Major upgrade to passenger information and timetable operating systems along with loading up contingency timetables.
    Doubling up on de-icer and grit stocks - getting local authorities to treat station approaches etc as priority areas for gritting.
    A major fleet review - including preventative measures in advance -
    More locomotives and de-icing units.

    And so on.

    Intresting to note I was involved earlier on this year in various meetings in Brussels with the CER (Community of European Railways) where we compared notes on bad weather strategy - epecially in dealing with the many thousands of stranded airline passengers (as we did for the Ash Cloud) - the UK performance was way better than many over there in managing and planning - I wont go into details. Some of our ideas - like the simple Control Directory , contingency planning are now established. Fallout over there was such that all Dutch managers are now allocated an emergency bag and a station to attend in bad weather to improve communications and so on.
     
  17. Maxfly

    Maxfly Member

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    Locos with miniature snow plughs do help but the independants have got to be ready and available if required, am sure that part of the problems with one of the units that got stuck around slochd was that the lococ with mini ploughs does not clear the snow away enough from the line and it builds up at the sides and falls back onto the track more easily.
     
  18. millemille

    millemille Member

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    You think wrongly.

    The electrical/pneumatic brake conversion is simple and the equipment can fit into a space the size of a suitcase and has been fitted.

    The mechanical coupling is the difficult bit due to the different relative heights of the couplers.

    There "might" also be an issue where a certain build of popular EMU's have a coupler height that is significantly different to that which is shown on the assembly drawings and that the engineers/manufacturers undertaking the cl57 conversion didn't ask anyone on the ground, so to speak, about this....
     
  19. sonorguy

    sonorguy Member

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    As Chief Planner has alluded to the actual performance last year compared very favourably to what happened on the continent, despite what the Daily Mail would have you believe. The travel chaos over there was at least as bad if not worse than over here.

    The problem is although we complain about it over here no-one is prepared to pay the huge extra costs that having a fully prepared transport network would entail, given that these events might happen on average once every 10 years or so.
     
  20. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Oh, ok then, that is certainly very good to hear. The technical side of auto-couplers really isn't my strong point :oops:, so thanks very much for the additional information.
     
  21. newbie babs

    newbie babs Member

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    I suppose it depends on how much or if any snow we have and where the accumulation occurs.
    It`s not only snow that could cause disruption though.
    I spent a few winters in Germany and we had freezing rain one year, as fast as it was landing on the trees the branches were braking off, so if we had this type of rain, many lines could become blocked with trees and branches.

    Do overhanging branches get cut down before winter, near railways lines ?

    Lets remember though that snow, rain, hail or wind, its not the drivers fault the trains run slow or not at all, its the elements that conspire to keep us on our toes. Drivers have a hard enough job driving through the weather.
     
  22. Hydro

    Hydro Established Member

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    Network Rail have Snow Treatment Trains in development for the Southern Region, to be ready for this winter. Two locos, top and tailing two wagons, used like an RHTT. Rather than water going down, heated deicing fluid will be laid onto the conductor rail. Snowploughs will be coupled front and rear if necessary.

    Most of the EMU (Electrostar and Desiro) fleet are getting heated juice shoes, heated couplers and a few are getting extra shoes to lay deicer.

    The GLVs have been overhauled and are getting ready for action, they and the MPV fleet will be standing by for deicing and sleet brush duties.

    Don't know what's happening with the rest of the country, but expect the usual MSP/ISP patrolling/route proving and ice breaking AC duties.

    The 57's are having their Dellner heights modified to couple to units, don't know about any brake translation kit though.
     
  23. Oswyntail

    Oswyntail Established Member

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    There were two periods of intense weather last winter. The first (November IIRC) caught services napping because it was MUCH earlier than usual/predicted; the effect of the second was much less because all the measures required were in place (in contrast, as said, to Heathrow and roads). I am sure that, as in most aspects of British life, the lessons will have been quietly learnt and absorbed into best practice. However, what we do have to learn is that a) sometimes unpredictable events or combinations occur and b) overall things are never as bad as the media would have us believe.
     
  24. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I believe that the entire railway industry is already prepared well ahead of time this year.

    Despite only being November, they've already crossed their fingers and closed their eyes to pray for mild weather.

    ;)
     
  25. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Snow is only really a problem for trains, it gets in the motors of older trains and in couplers and compressors as OLL explained brilliantly. Infrastructure suffers with ice, either on the con rail or in points.

    As Chiefy P says, there is lots of con rail heating installed in Kent and Sussex, principally at and near stations, which *should* make quite a difference this year. It better had do as it cost enough.

    There is still discussion about whether third rail stock could/ should be fitted with sleet brushes to keep the snow and ice off the con rail, as is done with LUL. Frankly if it's good enough for LUL it should be good enough for the national network but then I'm no expert.

    I know that in my area, winter plans are all signed off, contingency timetables are loaded in the system, and we're watching the weather forecast. It gets cold in three weeks apparently. If I'm right I claim glory, if I'm wrong, this post is deleted....
     
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