Signalling in Chester & Surrounding areas

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by markymark2000, 26 Oct 2019.

  1. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    Firstly, can I ask which ROC controls the signals in Chester station?

    Secondly, have any figures been done to find out the cost of closing down Mickle Trafford, Helsby and Frodsham signal boxes to then merge these into the Chester or Warrington control. Signal boxes and semaphores work in areas which have few trains but since May, there are now 3tph between Chester and Halton Curve plus of course the Northern train from Mickle Trafford into Chester. I have quite quite a lot lately that you are stopped just outside Chester and on the trains which stop at Helsby, you seem to stop for longer due to red signals. On the Halton Curve as well, my train stopped there for about 2 minutes before heading onto the WCML.

    Of course some of this is down to general delays but I would say that the communication between signal boxes and between boxes and ROCs mean that trains are getting delayed with them not knowing where trains are or not being able to keep up with the workload of the extra trains. I feel that moving to newer signalling would be best to improve the performance on this line and for such a small line, having 3 boxes seems a bit excessive.

    On this point, of the surrounding areas, has the North Wales Coast now moved into Cardiff ROC and if so, will boxes like Mostyn start to come down in the near future with them not being used anymore?

    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited: 26 Oct 2019
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  3. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Chester has its own PSB, dating from 1985 (similar to the installation at Crewe).
    Over the years it has extended its area to Hooton, Connah's Quay, Wrexham (Llay) and Tattenhall Road, but controls only a mile or so down the Warrington line.
    It also seems to be a very restricted layout with severe approach control on most lines, notably the Warrington one.
    In fairly recent times, Mickle Trafford and Frodsham Jn have been upgraded when you might have expected control to migrate to Chester (or Manchester ROC), but it's not happened.
    There's also Beeston Castle as a semaphore outpost causing a long section between there and Crewe (Steel Works).
    There are probably plans to upgrade the lot, but as usual schemes elsewhere will have run off with the money.
    Halton Jn (Runcorn end of the curve) has been upgraded into Manchester ROC and has a decent turnout of 40mph.

    Cardiff ROC now controls Rockliffe Hall to Llysfaen (Colwyn Bay), so interfaces with Chester PSB west of Connah's Quay.
     
  4. Tomnick

    Tomnick Established Member

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    I doubt that communication between the smaller boxes and the ROCs (or Chester PSB) is a problem. They know where trains are - not only do they have TRUST to see what's approaching any given location, but the fringe box usually simply interposes the train description to an "approaching" berth on the train describer in the ROC (or PSB), and it then steps into the first signal's berth when it passes the last signal controlled by the fringe box (sometimes it'll show the layout and movements around the fringe box too). It's more likely that you were just being regulated for other traffic.
     
  5. ElectroSoldier

    ElectroSoldier Member

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    None of the problems you are talking about would be fixed by building a new ROC at Chester or even tying it into the ROC in control of the out sections either.

    You are held at red into and out of helsby via halton due to bay platform capacity.
    The other end at halton into runcorn you are held there do to capacity on the route

    You cant really fix it either, not without increasing the size of Chesters platforms.
    Any train off the manchester or liverpool lines to go platforms 5 and 6 bays, sometimes, 4a,b but rarely. and 7 is the same. if you get late running, so you need to platform a train when there is already one on then you have problems. its not uncommon to have last running off both lines because of the capacity constraints at the other end for both services.
     
  6. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    Where is Chester Signalling Box? Is it that subtle NR building just off Lightfoot Street?
    Mickle Trafford makes perfect sense in Chester PSB. Frodsham doesn't control much really, so would probably make sense in Manchester ROC with Warrington and the Halton Curve being linked into it. Unless of course Helsby and Frodsham went at the same time and then either Manchester ROC or Chester PSB would work.

    Bay platform capacity at Helsby? This is like mid-day when no trains run to the Port and the trains are just the ones to/from Chester so no points etc. I also find that the normal trains are getting delayed at Helsby and not just Halton Curve ones.

    Halton Curve onto Runcorn, I would agree however checking many rail sources suggested that no trains were near the junction and the train infront had well passed Runcorn towards Liverpool and therefore there wouldn't have been a reason.

    As for Chester itself, it does need a new layout to reduce conflicts but it was never this bad previously. P4 & 5 need a way to link into the line towards Mickle Trafford before the Mickle Trafford - P1/3 points and also P4 needs a link over to the Crewe line (possibly link onto the 'Through' line). Too many conflicts may be the issue at Chester.
     
  7. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    That seems very unlikely. Any competent signaller would be able to cope with that workload.
     
  8. LAX54

    LAX54 Established Member

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    In fact, you could ask any Signaller in any box where a train is anywhere in the Country (almost), and give them a couple of minutes and they will be able to tell you :) right down to the signal number if needed! :) :)
     
  9. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    What else could it be as it was never this bad pre May.
     
  10. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    I don't know.

    But I don't think it's signallers unable to cope or not knowing where the trains are.
     
  11. kentuckytony

    kentuckytony Member

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    The OP complained about "train stopped there for about 2 minutes". I recommend leaning back with a book or closing your eyes for a short nap.
    Two minutes sure beats a lot of car traffic delays.
     
  12. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    An important part of any timetable change that increases services or changes train patterns is a Signaller Workload assessment for the affected areas.
     
  13. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    The bay platforms are not at Helsby (which has never had them and hardly has any terminating trains) but Chester.
     
  14. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    It was more an observation. It's slightly annoying but above all, it shouldn't really be happening for you to keep being stopped near signal boxes (unless you are on token lines etc). You should really have a pretty clear run but that rarely happens anymore from Chester to Warrington or even Runcorn.

    Hence the questioning. I presumed that part of the delays just outside Chester were due to awaiting platforms but the way I took the reply was about Helsby having a bay platform.
     
  15. Eccles1983

    Eccles1983 On Moderation

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    I'm not sure your familiar with the station.

    A train coming off the Warrington lines can go into 1, 3a/b 4,5,6 or 7.

    From the Birkenhead lines electric trains can only ever go to 7.

    Northern drivers do not sign beyond the mid platform signals on the main/3. That's why they mainly use the bays.

    The rest of what you put is beyond me.

    Frodsham, Helsby and mickle Trafford's work load has just increased. With the block sections any delay causes problems.
     
  16. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    Indeed!
    Look at the load the mechanical boxes in Shrewsbury cope with.
     
  17. ElectroSoldier

    ElectroSoldier Member

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    Ive no intention of telling you where Chester PSB is. Its not a fortress to be stormed when your train is late.

    There are indeed no bay platforms at Helsby. the bay platforms are at Chester, the line is between Helsby and Chester via Mickle trafford.
    The delay you encounter can be
    When you come from Helsby to Chester, the signaller cant put a train into the platform while there are no platforms free at Chester or he has already cleared a train to go from Chester to Mickle trafford. trains are booked to call at certain platforms for diagramming reasons, he cant decide to just put the train onto platform 4A or even 7A just to cut out a few minute delay. So you will sit at those signals and wait.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Between the first and second you can see some of the capacity constraints that are there, and its nothing to do with not being all controlled by Chester.
    One line comes from Manchester, the other from Liverpool. They all route through Chester East Jn.

    If you are on train 2D60 which is a train from Manchester to Chester (went to platform 6) You will be sitting on it wondering why you were delayed as there was no trains at Chester you were waiting for. Because by the time you got there he was gone.
    Or You could be waiting at there signal where 1D47 is in the first picture slowly creeping forward waiting for a train to come out of the station and down towards Mouldsworth.

    1H98 is an express to Mancester via Helsby not Mouldsworth
     
    Last edited: 26 Oct 2019
  18. LAX54

    LAX54 Established Member

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    Or.. a late train, passengers taking their time at the station, and ESR slowing a train on another line, or an ESR even, a broken down train at another location delayed a train that is booked ahead of you. signal failure elsewhere, just a slow running train affecting others..all manner of things can cause a minor delay.
     
  19. ElectroSoldier

    ElectroSoldier Member

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    Indeed.
    Liverpool - Chester trains are class 1
    Manchester - Chester via Mouldsworth are class 2
    Manchester - Chester via Warrington are class 1
    And the same goes the other way, when the Chester - Liverpool train get caught going onto the WCML at Halton waiting because either they are late or another service is late.

    One of the problems at the Chester end is to many services from Manchester. If people changed at Helsby o to the Liverpool - Chester train then it would free up the Chester end, but then there would still be room for complaint as they would have to change trains...
    They cant win no matter what.
     
  20. Eccles1983

    Eccles1983 On Moderation

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    Again I have to question exactly what you are on about.

    The Warrington line (the one to and from Mickle Trafford) and the Main line (Crewe) are the only two lines that use the east junction.

    Liverpool plays ZERO part in the running lines around Chester. The Birkenhead and Fast/slow main lines run through the West/north junctions.
     
  21. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    Demand for bay platforms 5 & 6 will drop in a few years, when the Liverpool-Helsby-Chester services are extended to Llandudno and Shrewsbury. (Demand for space on the through platforms will go up, though.)

    The same signalling (block) and pathing constraints will continue to exist on the Eastern side of Chester, however.
     
  22. driver_m

    driver_m Established Member

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    The people who designed the Chester resignalling in the mid 80s have a lot to answer for in removing the station’s flexibility almost totally, Was it the same team that butchered Crewe? When the Liverpool’s get extended, that may just pass on the pressure to the through roads and there’s an aspiration for a second train over the Halton Curve which will just add to the problems. It needs platform 8 ideally and the PCD reopening for passenger use but that would cause pathing conflicts than. Having said that though. Bay 5 conflicts with 4 even now.

    It’s a shame that Chester is another area where investment is sorely needed to improve its layout, but the Geographical location of it causes problems, out of Liverpool/Manchester City Regions and much business from North Wales which could find hard to justify investing in England with Welsh Tax Payers. .
     
  23. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    What was the pre-80s layout like? I've stumbled across some details of Crewe's old layout in the past, but not of Chester's.
     
  24. jamesst

    jamesst Member

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    If you think 2mins is bad try using Merseyrail. Trying to keep a train to time going in and out of Chester with a 4min turnaround is a minor miracle which only seems to of got worse since Chester took over signalling as far as Bromborough.
    There really does need to be a total redesign of track and signalling at Chester, I doubt that will happen any time soon.
     
  25. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Remember there were 6 manual boxes at Chester, including one in the roof next to the footbridge (you can still see the gap where it used to be).
    The main thing was there were parallel moves possible towards the Warrington and Crewe lines at the eastern end and towards the Holyhead and Birkenhead lines at the west end.
    The "GW" part of the station (P2 is all that's left today) was accessible from Birkenhead (for the through Paddington trains and others via Wrexham).
    There were 2 through lines in the middle of the station, and the "LMS" MPD was where the houses now are in the fork between the Crewe and Warrington lines.
    That meant a number of diamond crossings at each end of the station.
    It was a massive simplification in the 1980s.
    If you go back far enough (before my time), there was an overall roof in the centre of the station, as well as over the GW section.
    In the early 1990s there was actually a plan to abandon the island platforms, which would have reduced the station to its pre-1890s state of one long platform and several bays, much like Cambridge was until very recently.
    It would have brought the Merseyrail line into what is now the P2 bay, instead of having it in the most remote part of the station as now.
     
    Last edited: 27 Oct 2019
  26. sw1ller

    sw1ller Established Member

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    Only stations 6 & 7 have no conflict with the Chester bound trains. With a lot of the trains coming from Holyhead/Llandudno and Birmingham, these stations are never used either because there’s conflict with merseyrail or it’s impossible (6).
    Add that to the increase in service, you have the TFW Manchester and Liverpool service and the Northern Manchester and Leeds service. Then add any Crewe services starting from 5 or 4 which happens a lot more now due to northern occupying P1 a lot recently.
    Then we add the freight moves, the tamper moves that stables there, Virgin empty stock moves from the goods loop at night and the fact that any 175 going onto the depot has to shunt via the east junction to get there (it’s not impossible to go the other way but it’s not how to get to the depot reception road) and you can see the east junction has got very busy indeed.

    the interlocking also takes 43 seconds to reset after a train has cleared the section. That adds up through the day.

    On the note about “approach control”. I thought approach control was set by the signalling infrastructure and can’t be over ridden. Where as at Chester, if you’re not going into a bay, you can get either, checked down to approach at a lower speed or have straight greens.

    Also, with regards to the headcodes, don’t think a class 1 or a class 2 has any bearing on importance at Chester. We’re regularly delayed by the class 2’s of northern and merseyrail.

    there’s then the issue of booked platforms........ but I won’t get into that on here. @Eccles1983 will know what I mean by that though.
     
  27. driver_m

    driver_m Established Member

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    You mean platforms!? Not stations?!

    There is a bit of a daft one involving our ECS Voyagers at night where 2 sets go straight after the last VT pass service to Brum. They could couple at at Chester because it has to happen anyway at Crewe, and that platform, if anything. is busier at night, but for various reasons, it almost never happens. It could save a path being used and keep a line clear at night at Chester. Hopefully though, once our service extends to Gobowen and a decision made on what and where the new stock goes, that may change.
     
  28. sw1ller

    sw1ller Established Member

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    You knew what I meant! :D

    I like to wind my old instructor up and call it chester train station. He goes mad at me for that!
     
  29. Tomnick

    Tomnick Established Member

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    Any idea what this is all about? Normally the route drops out behind the train within a second or two, at most, of it clearing each track circuit.

    It is (normally) enforced by the interlocking, yup. It's possibly the use of a restricted overlap causing the route into a through platform being approached released some times but not others?
     
  30. ElectroSoldier

    ElectroSoldier Member

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    In my picture above 1D47 came from Liverpool Lime street. The problems at Chester East Jn are because of the Liverpool trains. Both Liverpool and Manchester want to increase the amount of services over that line too

    Actually the Mickle Trafford line goes to Helsby if you want to get perdantic about it. and the Merseyrail electric lines go to Liverpool, not Birkenhead. I dont know if you noticed, but that big iron loop at the other end of the Chester line is in Liverpool!

    Chester - Mickle Trafford
    Mickle Trafford - Adgerly
    Mickle Trafford - Helsby
    Chester - Hooton

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    1H83 in Platform 1 is the Chester - Manchester via Helsby, Acton Grange (Warrington)
    This service left before the next two arrived.
    1B09 heading to Chester East Jn is from Liverpool via Helsby and Runcorn
    This service had to call at Platform 4B due to bays 5 & 6 being full, it also had to wait for 1H83 to leave
    1D32 is the Manchester - Chester via Helsby, Acton Grandge (Warrington)
    This service cleared Mickle trafford after 1H83 did.

    There is of course no sight of the slow Chester - Manchester service via Mouldsworth which only makes things worse.

    1B09 became 1B12 and left the station over Chester East Jn as 1D32 also went to platform 1 and became 1H84

    In this particular case when the late 1D32 arrives and the passengers get off they will see no reason what so ever for their service to have been held at a signal for close to 10 minutes because by the time they got to Chester nothing was there. just two trains in the bays but they didnt use the bays so why the problem huh?

    The Liverpool - Chester service is causing a capacity constraint because its having to return from Chester and not running through to Llandudno Jn.
     
    Last edited: 27 Oct 2019
  31. Eccles1983

    Eccles1983 On Moderation

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    I know where the lines go. I sign them all. The roads are the up and down Warrington and the up and down Birkenhead. It's irrelevant where they go. That's the actual running line names. That's not being pedantic it's being factual.


    The capacity is not solely down to the Lime Street service. It had about 5 mins turnaround at Chester.

    The Northern Leeds service has a much longer soak time.

    Also you've picked a day where the west end of Chester was shut, as the Crewe line was blocked. It's not representive of day to day running.

    I don't think you know how the station works.
     

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