Sharnbrook Summit

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RichmondCommu

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G'day everyone,

I've recently seen a picture of a class 56 climbing up to Sharnbrook Summit heading north bound with a rake of MGR empties. However the class 56 is running on the fast lines and not the slows through the tunnel. Even though the MGR's are empty this doesn't make any sense to me. Can anyone offer an explanation for this?

Kind regards,

Richmond Commuter!
 
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DarloRich

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Not sure what you mean.

In the diesel era Sharnbrook summit diverging route serves little purpose. It was during the steam era that freight struggled to reach the top.

I've seen pictures of a bankers siding on the fasts just by the road bridge South of Souldrop. Was taking up years ago though.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8035/8002947485_7771ce95d9_h.jpg

I think Richmondcommu means why would the train use the fast line and not the slow rather than anything about getting to the top of the bank.

I asusme the slow was occupied or unavailable for some reasons
 

eastwestdivide

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...or there was enough of a gap between passenger trains on the fasts - it wasn't always as busy as today.
When was the photo dated?
 

edwin_m

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The easier gradient on the deviation line will still benefit diesel-hauled freight, allowing heavier loads to be hauled or the same load to move faster. However in this case the 56 has presumably brought the loaded train southwards so would have adequate power and tractive effort to haul the empties back even via the more steeply graded fast lines. It would use a bit more fuel and go a bit slower.

Without knowing more details it's difficult to say more - your mention of slows in the plural suggests this was before re-signalling in 1988ish. The slows could have been closed for engineering work or the train could have been overtaking an even slower one. Certainly at that time the Midland was far less busy than today so there was probably plenty of opportunity to run a freight on the fasts without getting in the way of anything else.
 

westcoaster

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even today freights use the down fast in between the HST's and 222's. they tend to get looped just north of welligborough station on the down side.
 

eastwestdivide

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even today freights use the down fast in between the HST's and 222's. they tend to get looped just north of welligborough station on the down side.

Well who'd have thought it. Looking at realtime trains, just found the freight path northbound at about xx12 from Bedford, between the two passenger trains (xx29 and xx58 departures from St Pancras), which pass Bedford at xx10 and xx29 respectively.
e.g. this:
http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/H68319/2016/03/31/advanced
(6M32 0947 Neasden Charrington Gbrf to Bardon Hill Gbrf)
which ran DF (presumably down fast) all the way from Bedford to Kettering South, squeezed between those two passenger services.
 

yorksrob

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If you're travelling Northbound, you've got a potential conflict with the southbound line to get back on the Leicester route at the end, so I'm guessing you'd really need to be taken over by something to justify moving onto the Wilmington diversion in that circumstance.

Southbound, you can just use it anyway.

Presumably some of the older diesel loco's carrying heavy freight would have been slower than the express passenger trains in the 1960's/70's.
 

edwin_m

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Presumably some of the older diesel loco's carrying heavy freight would have been slower than the express passenger trains in the 1960's/70's.

In the 70s there wasn't much more than one passenger train per hour, with most of the ironmongery from Edwardian times still present, so no matter how slow it was the freight wouldn't have got in the way much.
 

richieb1971

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Its not uncommon for freights to use the fast lines. Not sure what year the slows were limited to 1 line but any MGR train crossing paths with another freight coming from the other direction would force the 56 onto the fast line.

In some circumstances where the fast is not available most freights sit on Sharnbrook viaduct where there are 4 lines, waiting for the slow to make itself available so a train can use the one remaining slow to go in the other direction (North).
 

70014IronDuke

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Not sure what you mean.

In the diesel era Sharnbrook summit diverging route serves little purpose. It was during the steam era that freight struggled to reach the top.

In the steam era, my impression is freight simply was never routed on the fasts, unless you count the Condor with 2 x Metrovicks. I remember an afternoon down fitted freight was always switched to the goods lines north of Bedford. I dare say unfitted goods were banned under normal working conditions. The idea of needing to stop an 8F with 40 or so? (I don't know what the theoretical limit would have been) unbraked, loaded mineral wagons on the up fast before Sharnbrook station makes me shudder.

As for retaining the single goods line with the 1980s resignalling - my understanding was that it was deemed necessary to allow heavier loads, ie exactly the same reason as it was built for in the first place

Remember, the original route only went over the top because of a shortage of money/men to build a tunnel.

I've seen pictures of a bankers siding on the fasts just by the road bridge South of Souldrop. Was taking up years ago though.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8035/8002947485_7771ce95d9_h.jpg

That's interesting. I'd never heard about banking up Sharnbrook before.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
In the 70s there wasn't much more than one passenger train per hour, ....

ITYWF "much more" = twice as much. there were two trains per hour e/w on the fasts for most of the 70s, certainly up to late 1975. (And with 3 tph in the evening peaks.)
However, at least in the down, they were within about 20 mins of each other, with a 40 minute dead slot.
 

RichmondCommu

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Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to post on this thread. The picture was taken on the 23.4.82 which from what I can gather was a Friday. Unless there had been a derailment on the slows I would have thought it unlikely that there would have been an engineering blockade on a Friday.

The loco is 56063 and I was wondering whether the train of empties was returning to the North West Leicestershire coal fields and was avoiding the slows in order avoid running via Melton Mowbray. However if that was the case surely the train would have switched from the slows to the fasts north of Kettering?
 

70014IronDuke

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Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to post on this thread. The picture was taken on the 23.4.82 which from what I can gather was a Friday. Unless there had been a derailment on the slows I would have thought it unlikely that there would have been an engineering blockade on a Friday.

Agreed.
The loco is 56063 and I was wondering whether the train of empties was returning to the North West Leicestershire coal fields and was avoiding the slows in order avoid running via Melton Mowbray. However if that was the case surely the train would have switched from the slows to the fasts north of Kettering?

Yes. In 1982, before the Leicester resignalling, it could have run goods line to Glendon South and Glendon North to gain access to Desborough. There was, and is, no need to run fast line north of Bedford to avoid taking the Corby route - unless, as you note, there is a blockage on somewhere.

EDIt We had a thread on the junctions on this stretch of line about two-three? months ago. Senex is the expert on the track arrangements since Johnson Singles ran the line - worth looking it up.
 
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eastwestdivide

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Just been looking through my phots, and found:
2x31s on Redland stone empties northbound through Market Harborough, 1982-3 ish
47 on MGR coal empties northbound on the fast lines N of Wellingborough, 1985
56 on Redland empties northbound on the fast lines S of Wellingborough, 1985

So it looks like it wasn't particularly rare for freights to be using the fast lines or to avoid the long way round via Corby.
And not so surprising either, with the relatively light levels of passenger traffic (plenty of gaps) and the relatively high speeds that could be maintained by the empty freights (45/60? for those above, and the passenger trains were still restricted to 90 under the semaphores I think).
 

38Cto15E

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We always went on the Down Fast up Sharnbrook with the Tarton Arrow, probably still going 50-60mph over the summit. If you had an enthusiastic driver the Tarton Arrow could be doing 90mph through Harlington.
 

70014IronDuke

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We always went on the Down Fast up Sharnbrook with the Tarton Arrow, probably still going 50-60mph over the summit. If you had an enthusiastic driver the Tarton Arrow could be doing 90mph through Harlington.

What was the Tartan Arrow, please - it must have been when I was out of the loop, I suppose - I''ve never heard of it before.
 

38Cto15E

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I used to be a guard on the train at times in the early 70s. It was a freight train which was half intermodal containers and half 75mph vans,(Hornby have a model, try Ebay) I forget the initials used for those.
The Tartan Arrow ran from Kentish Town, opposite the old steam loco shed, and you can still see a small warehouse type building behind the embabnkment but no access nowadays. What are now the Fast lines used to be called the goods lines.
The train ran to Glasgow Bridgeton via Crewe, usually class 47 hauled, I remember once having a Knottingley 47 with an orange flashing light on the roof for power station use.

It's reporting number Northbound was 4S53, it had a Leicester crew to Wigston South, then another Leicester crew to Crewe, and I do not remember who took the train on from Crewe. At Crewe we used to wait a couple of hours then work the Southbound train 4M50 to Wigston South, I think it was Cricklewood men who took the train on to Kentish town.
The departure time from Kentish Town was 1911 but we tried to get away between 1900 and 1905 then potter along the goods line to West Hampstead. As the 1905 St Pancras-Sheffield express passed West Hampstead we liked to be let out right behind it. This was because a Class 25 with one BG parcels coach was booked to be let out at St Albans after the passage of the Express and go to Luton, but if we were on the Express's tale, invariably Control would give us a clear run.
Finally, I remember on one occasion, that although the 1905 Express was non stop to Leicester in about 85 minutes, by the time the Express was arriving in Leicester we were approaching Kilby Bridge which is around 7 miles from Leicester.Not very far behind it at all. :)
 

70014IronDuke

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I used to be a guard on the train at times in the early 70s. It was a freight train which was half intermodal containers and half 75mph vans,(Hornby have a model, try Ebay) I forget the initials used for those.
The Tartan Arrow ran from Kentish Town, opposite the old steam loco shed, and you can still see a small warehouse type building behind the embabnkment but no access nowadays. What are now the Fast lines used to be called the goods lines.
The train ran to Glasgow Bridgeton via Crewe, usually class 47 hauled, I remember once having a Knottingley 47 with an orange flashing light on the roof for power station use.

It's reporting number Northbound was 4S53, it had a Leicester crew to Wigston South, then another Leicester crew to Crewe, and I do not remember who took the train on from Crewe. At Crewe we used to wait a couple of hours then work the Southbound train 4M50 to Wigston South, I think it was Cricklewood men who took the train on to Kentish town.
..... :)

It sounds almost like a 1970s version of the Condor - but that would have left Hendon at about 18.00, ISTR. Funny, I'd have thought I would have passed this train when heading south from Derby in those years. don't remember seeing it at all.
 
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