TfW to operate Class 37s on the Rhymney Line

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JonathanH

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Can someone give me some more information about Tom Clift? He's spoken about a lot on these forums but no one has ever explicitly given background on who he was and what he did. I've also noticed he has a dedicated bench at Cardiff Queen St station.

I'm assuming that he was the manager in overall charge of the Valley Lines under British Rail in the 1990s, and then he was in charge under the Cardiff Railway Company and National Express 'Valley Lines' franchises, but then he was shown the door when ATW took over in 2003?

This is quite a good write up

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/obituaries/tom-clift-1-4956754
 
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Julian Atkins

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I think my first class 33 involvement was the 4th December 2005 'Gala' day, as I have a vague recollection of starting/booking on early that day and being at Canton, and a defective air pipe hose on a 33 was replaced with one pinched off Tom Clift's class 20. My RMT diary states 30 minutes overtime, and 7604 diagram 37411+50031 Hood, but I clearly also worked a train with 37419+37425, and worked another train with this pair in the dark.

The Valley Line crews were quite interesting in those days. You had old senior guys who had fired on steam in the 1960s up to 1965, and who had worked 37s on coal trains and freight for many years then a long break before LHCS on the Rhymney Line; similarly guards, who had worked LHCS before 1965. Some of the younger drivers and guards were the most enthusiastic. Of the drivers, Tom Jackson retired after 50 years service starting at Abercynon in the 1950s on steam. Jeff Jones started at Rhymney in 1964 on steam. Dai 'Chrunchie' Thomas started at Cae Harris, Dowlais, also in the early 1960s on steam.

It was a privilege to work with these elderly gents, and who never failed a 37 on shed. I recall Tom having a dodgy 37 on the run up to Rhymney one evening - packed full of commuters wanting to get home - and something kept tripping on the electrics. At Heath he got the TI (ticket inspector) into the cab to hold the relevant switch down when it tripped (if I have remembered this correctly).

Cheers,
Julian
 

Julian Atkins

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Tom Clift was a true railwayman, and I don't think the obituary does him justice.

We all knew Tom was a bit of a 'crank', but he was also a very good manager and earned the respect and loyalty of the staff who worked under him.

On Rugby special days the most elaborate diagrams would be prepared, stretching resources to the limit on The Valley Lines. We would do anything for Tom; no Union disputes, and most of us would volunteer for extra duties/overtime. He engendered an 'esprit de corps' that was totally lacking latter with Arriva. His particular habit of knowing and referring to every member of staff by their name was just another facet of Tom.

Tom had bought a class 20 to restore. I don't know what happened to it, but a class 25 (?) has been named after him.

Tom did much to perpetuate the success of The Valley Lines, which he loved so much. When Arriva took over, things changed, sadly.

He wasn't just my General Manager, we all regarded him as a friend. That is a very rare quality in railway circles where there is traditionally a conflict between labour and management.

Setting aside his avid support of Rhymney depot when working the 37s and the 'trucks', we all knew he supported The Valley Lines, and his passion to provide a good service for our neighbours and friends was the same. He was always welcome in any drivers cab or guards compartment, and we knew we could address any concerns with Tom knowing he would take action if appropriate.

When Arriva took over and Tom was side lined, there was a resurgence in Union activity, which I myself was involved in.

He had a great touch on things. On problematic Rugby special days he would stay in the Roster clerks and train planning office (Control) until late in the night to see that things went passably to plan.

Knowing my interest in steam, he gave me a proper forged ex-BR (WR) fireman's coal shovel. What more can you say about a remarkable man!

Cheers,
Julian
 

PaulBWilliams

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Thank you Julian. I am guessing The difference with Arriva was the focus on profit rather than service. Tom sounded like the kind of manager that everyone needs, and a great person.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Paul,

I think we were all surprised when Arriva got the franchise. They had a dreadful record of disputes with Guards up north. The first thing they did when they took over in Wales, so far as we were concerned, was to sack the manager in charge of Canton depot, and outsource it to Bombardier.

Set availabilty went immediately downhill of the 150s and Pacers.

The offset of all this was due to 150 and Pacer shortages, we were asked to do a Merthyr mid morning trip with the 37 and LHCS most mornings, and an extra mid morning run up to Rhymney and back. On Rugby days we did the odd trip down to Penarth and Barry Island in the evening.

As far as us operating staff were concerned, the only thing Arriva brought to the table was a Swiss type regular timetable, which made no sense to us as it negated all the special timetabling that Tom Clift was so adept at to utilise resources.

Arriva also became far more aggressive in it's management, and things became more polarised. They also instituted new roster diagrams removing all the previously generous layovers. One diagram had us working 6 hours without a break or toilet break from an early morning start. Steve Davis and myself both had bladder infections as a result. It is not nice making an emergency appointment with your GP having to explain you have excruciating pain trying to pass water.

In Cardiff Railway Co days 'Control' were alongside the Roster clerks in Brunel House, pre Arriva. It worked very well. St David's House in Wood Street Cardiff of the Arriva era has now been demolished.

I don't know why the 'new' 37s and LHCS are still 4 coaches - Heath High Level and all the other short platforms are now 6 coach length, except of course Gilfach. A 37 ought to be able to manage 6 coaches easily. We ran 5 coaches for the trains that then went on to Builth Wells for the Agricultural Show (Though Tom Clift often bemoaned the fact that the mainline crews were nothing like as good and quick as the Rhymney crews!)

Cheers,

Julian
 

PaulBWilliams

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When I lived in Yorkshire, we had Arriva running the trains for some time. I think it was them that introduced the railbuses (142s). I never forgave them for that!

I agree with increasing the number of coaches. I’m catching the 37 every day from Bargoed and was thinking they could get more coaches on if the loco went beyond the platform (not sure if that’s allowed though).

They should be looking to increase capacity rather than run as-is. I’m sure a lot of people moved to cars due to the capacity shortages and would come back to rail if more capacity was certain.

Also, rail companies should be earning profits from transporting goods and people, so it should be in their interests to transport more.

Just my thoughts! Feel free to correct me where wrong.
 

61653 HTAFC

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When I lived in Yorkshire, we had Arriva running the trains for some time. I think it was them that introduced the railbuses (142s). I never forgave them for that!

I agree with increasing the number of coaches. I’m catching the 37 every day from Bargoed and was thinking they could get more coaches on if the loco went beyond the platform (not sure if that’s allowed though).

They should be looking to increase capacity rather than run as-is. I’m sure a lot of people moved to cars due to the capacity shortages and would come back to rail if more capacity was certain.

Also, rail companies should be earning profits from transporting goods and people, so it should be in their interests to transport more.

Just my thoughts! Feel free to correct me where wrong.
Whilst they'd be a fitting scapegoat, neither Arriva nor any other private operator is responsible for railbuses as they were introduced by British Rail in the early 1980s.
 

LA50041

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Is there any news on when the second LHCS is due to be out and about?
 

Mitchell Hurd

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Hello there. I'm not sure if there was a date said on here when the 37's and Mk2's are due to be withdrawn but are they scheduled to run during next month?

I'd come in just over 2 weeks but GWR have cheaper Advance Singles to and from Didcot Parkway and Cardiff Central for around mid-August instead of just over 2 weeks time :).
 

Cardiff123

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Hello there. I'm not sure if there was a date said on here when the 37's and Mk2's are due to be withdrawn but are they scheduled to run during next month?

I'd come in just over 2 weeks but GWR have cheaper Advance Singles to and from Didcot Parkway and Cardiff Central for around mid-August instead of just over 2 weeks time :).
The 37+Mk 2's are running on Rhymney until the end of December.
 

PaulBWilliams

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A switch of loco ...
37421 is on the 2R20 1701 Cardiff Central to Rhymney this evening.

Also the brake van is at the back rather than the usual front.

Does this signal the use of the second rake of coaches and maybe then the start of the second service?
 

PaulBWilliams

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A switch of loco ...
37421 is on the 2R20 1701 Cardiff Central to Rhymney this evening.

Also the brake van is at the back rather than the usual front.

Does this signal the use of the second rake of coaches and maybe then the start of the second service?
I’ve just been told via Facebook that apparently there were problems with 37418 this morning. Also that they expect another couple of weeks before they have enough trained to run the second service.
 

Bikeman78

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Today I had my first ride on this since it started. Almost every seat taken at Cardiff Central and packed solid from Queen Street. There were people standing in the aisle all the way down the carriage. Definitely more busy than 10 years ago. The guard made an anouncement every few stops explaining how to open the doors from the inside. Timekeeping was good, only one late into Ystrad Mynach.

As I predicted, the number of enthusiasts was minimal. I counted six definites but there might have been a few more. In the context of the overcrowding it's a drop in the ocean. That train was sometimes a two car unit before it reverted to loco haulage. There was a member of security staff at every set of doors. I'm not aware of any injuries or fatalities during the previous 11 year stretch of loco haulage so, in my opinion, this is over the top. However, they do open and close the doors which helps with timekeeping. They seem to be quite happy to have the windows wide open so long as you don't lean out.
 

krus_aragon

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There was a member of security staff at every set of doors. I'm not aware of any injuries or fatalities during the previous 11 year stretch of loco haulage so, in my opinion, this is over the top.

I can't blame the current operator for doing that, given some recent events involving train windows.
 

hobbm013

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There was a member of security staff at every set of doors. I'm not aware of any injuries or fatalities during the previous 11 year stretch of loco haulage so, in my opinion, this is over the top.

Im pretty sure I read somewhere TfW could only get permission to use the Mk2s in passenger service if Security personnel were provided to deter window hangers. Sure I read this somewhere although please do correct me if I’m wrong
 

Cardiff123

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Today I had my first ride on this since it started. Almost every seat taken at Cardiff Central and packed solid from Queen Street. There were people standing in the aisle all the way down the carriage. Definitely more busy than 10 years ago. The guard made an anouncement every few stops explaining how to open the doors from the inside. Timekeeping was good, only one late into Ystrad Mynach.

As I predicted, the number of enthusiasts was minimal. I counted six definites but there might have been a few more. In the context of the overcrowding it's a drop in the ocean. That train was sometimes a two car unit before it reverted to loco haulage. There was a member of security staff at every set of doors. I'm not aware of any injuries or fatalities during the previous 11 year stretch of loco haulage so, in my opinion, this is over the top. However, they do open and close the doors which helps with timekeeping. They seem to be quite happy to have the windows wide open so long as you don't lean out.
If this train is as packed as that, and no doubt the second set will be once that starts soon as well (1746 off Cardiff) TfW will find it difficult to justify withdrawing these loco hauled services in December if the 769s are not ready to take their place in January.
There's no point promising 4 car 150s instead in January if the 769s are not ready, because we know it's far too easy to substitute with 2 cars instead of 4.
 

krus_aragon

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If this train is as packed as that, and no doubt the second set will be once that starts soon as well (1746 off Cardiff) TfW will find it difficult to justify withdrawing these loco hauled services in December if the 769s are not ready to take their place in January.
All they'd need is PRM-compliant coaches, or a derogation.
 

Dai Corner

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FGW had Mk2d with accessible toilets, so that's been done before, don't think anyone's fitted Mk2s with power doors though.

I think you can get away without power doors if you have someone supervising each one.

There's the visual announcements to consider too. Perhaps a set of pre-printed notices with someone to hold up the right ones at the right times? Or even a whiteboard? :lol:
 
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