Why can Cambrian line only take 158s?

VideozVideoz

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In the case of TfW, 150s are their mainstay traction. With the 158 fleet being relatively small and a large proportion of it required to cover Cambrian diagrams which can’t use anything else, this doesn’t leave much else.

Not ideal, but it is what it is unfortunately. The 175 fleet wasn’t specified for Wales, and whilst they are excellent units and very suited to what they’re used on, there have never quite been enough of them.
Why can Cambrian line only take 158s? Surely a 150 / 153 / 156 can run on them
 
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PHILIPE

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Why can Cambrian line only take 158s? Surely a 150 / 153 / 156 can run on them

Without trying to be pedantic I thought this was widely known throughout the industry and it's followers. The Cambrian line was used to pilot ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) which is explained in detail here:-

www.ertms.net/

In brief, the trains are controlled remotely by radio between the driver and the signaller through on board GPS systems. To accomplish this TFWs fleet of 158s are permanently fitted with the necessary equipment thus precluding any non-fitted unit from working over the route. There are also 3 x Class 97s (37s) converted for the purpose of working Engineering trains and in fact a pair worked a Pathfinder Charter to Pwllheli during the last couple of weeks. I am not a technical person myself so perhaps somebody else may be explain better.. and correct me if necessary
Surely this should be discussed in the Infrastructure Forum
 

VideozVideoz

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Without trying to be pedantic I thought this was widely known throughout the industry and it's followers. The Cambrian line was used to pilot ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) which is explained in detail here:-

www.ertms.net/

In brief, the trains are controlled remotely by radio between the driver and the signaller through on board GPS systems. To accomplish this TFWs fleet of 158s are permanently fitted with the necessary equipment thus precluding any non-fitted unit from working over the route. There are also 3 x Class 97s (37s) converted for the purpose of working Engineering trains and in fact a pair worked a Pathfinder Charter to Pwllheli during the last couple of weeks. I am not a technical person myself so perhaps somebody else may be explain better.. and correct me if necessary
Surely this should be discussed in the Infrastructure Forum
Well I didn’t know that but your slightly abrupt reply has now furnished me with the knowledge. This forum is meant to be a safe place to post and ask questions. Please respect that and also the fact that not everyone knows everything
 

PHILIPE

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Well I didn’t know that but your slightly abrupt reply has now furnished me with the knowledge. This forum is meant to be a safe place to post and ask questions. Please respect that and also the fact that not everyone knows everything

I'm sorry you took it that way and for which I apologise. I suppose my reaction is because it is a well known fact but, at the same time, failing to appreciate that not everybody may not be aware. The 158 only actually came in before ERTMS when Wales and Borders took over the route from Central Trains when Wales and Borders decided to standard fleet use and restrict the knowledge to solely 158s to Machynlleth and Pwllheli Depots. In Central times, classes 150, 153, 156, 158 and 170s would work over the route
 

VideozVideoz

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I'm sorry you took it that way and for which I apologise. I suppose my reaction is because it is a well known fact but, at the same time, failing to appreciate that not everybody may not be aware. The 158 only actually came in before ERTMS when Wales and Borders took over the route from Central Trains when Wales and Borders decided to standard fleet use and restrict the knowledge to solely 158s to Machynlleth and Pwllheli Depots. In Central times, classes 150, 153, 156, 158 and 170s would work over the route
I appreciate your apology. I’ve travelled on a 158 many times on the Cambrian line but I do remember back in the early ‘00s I was on a 156, hence why I wasn’t sure about why they’re not used now. Must have been central trains back then as I remember them to be unreliable
 

Bikeman78

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I appreciate your apology. I’ve travelled on a 158 many times on the Cambrian line but I do remember back in the early ‘00s I was on a 156, hence why I wasn’t sure about why they’re not used now. Must have been central trains back then as I remember them to be unreliable
Back in Central days 153, 156, 158 and even class 170 turned up. Since ATW took over it has been 100% class 158s. ERTMS in cab signalling took over from Radio Electric Token Block around 10 years ago.
 
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Without trying to be pedantic I thought this was widely known throughout the industry and it's followers. The Cambrian line was used to pilot ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) which is explained in detail here:-

www.ertms.net/

Not everyone knows that.
This forum is fantastic, but more and more people are forgetting basic manners and common courtesy.
 

Gloster

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As an old generation signalman who finds the current level of technology baffling, I wondered why locos or sets or sets could not be provided with portable units, as is the case with RETB. A quick skim of Mr W.Pedia’s site suggests that the amount of onboard equipment that would need to be fitted on or under the train is so great as to make this impractical in all normal situations. Am I correct?
 

Tomnick

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As an old generation signalman who finds the current level of technology baffling, I wondered why locos or sets or sets could not be provided with portable units, as is the case with RETB. A quick skim of Mr W.Pedia’s site suggests that the amount of onboard equipment that would need to be fitted on or under the train is so great as to make this impractical in all normal situations. Am I correct?
A portable (or otherwise) RETB unit doesn't need any interface to the train itself, if I'm not mistaken. It just sends and receives tokens, and displays the details to the driver. The only thing to prevent the driver proceeding without the correct authority is, more recently, TPWS linked to the issue of tokens.

ERTMS, on the other hand, needs to know exactly where the train is and how fast it's going to display and enforce movement authorities correctly, which is achieved by a mixture of the train "reading" track-mounted balises and on-board telemetry, so it's rather more complicated in terms of on-train equipment.
 

snowball

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Consequently on what Tomnick says, the problem is not just the total amount of equipment that would need to be fitted but that a lot of it would need to be specially designed and tested for each class of units or locomotives that has not previously been fitted.

So when reading about the proposed spread of ERTMS you keep seeing mentions of "first-in-class" projects.
 

Steve Harris

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Not everyone knows that.
This forum is fantastic, but more and more people are forgetting basic manners and common courtesy.
That maybe correct, but, I googled the thread title and you know what ? The very first link was to a Wikipedia article with the answer.
I have no problem with helping/ passing on the knowledge I have to other people, but I do find it tiresome sometimes (which can lead to abruptness) when the answer to the question posed is easily available with a quick internet search.
I was always taught at school to try and find the info you want by yourself, if that fails then ask. Perhaps you may see that as old school or wrong, but that "rule" has helped me no end in my life. Perhaps an appreciation of that rule could help other members on here appreciate not just their replies but other posters replies too.
 

sd0733

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I worked a 150 today which was allegedly heading to Machynlleth. It Wont work for much longer as more get vinyled up but I was quite impressed when talking to the passengers that we would be swapped that loads knew that the 'green trains' never go past Shrewsbury. The fact that so many knew shows really what a pain it is and how many set swaps are caused at Shrewsbury by such a small fleet being sole traction down there.
 

Bletchleyite

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I worked a 150 today which was allegedly heading to Machynlleth. It Wont work for much longer as more get vinyled up but I was quite impressed when talking to the passengers that we would be swapped that loads knew that the 'green trains' never go past Shrewsbury. The fact that so many knew shows really what a pain it is and how many set swaps are caused at Shrewsbury by such a small fleet being sole traction down there.

Yep, it's an absolute nuisance - the 150 would indeed be swapped at Shrewsbury for the incoming 158 from the west. This only works really because of the single line.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The Signalling system that is used preventing just anything going down there.
Class 197s (the new TfW CAF fleet) will also be fitted with ETCS and deployed on the Cambrian.
Most modern fleets will be converted to ETCS sooner or later, depending where the signalling system is deployed.
All trains on the ECML will be converted (or are already fitted) with ETCS in the next few years.
So class 80x might get on the Cambrian one day.
The Cambrian ETCS system itself has to have a small upgrade, as it is not quite compatible with the Network Rail adopted standard.

One other constraint is that the ETCS 158 fleet is maintained at Machynlleth, so nothing else is likely to go that way.
158s offer better passenger service than the rest of the 15x types which would otherwise provide the service.
Why would anyone prefer a 153 running Shrewsbury-Pwllheli, which could well have been the offer without ETCS?
Older DMU types will not be converted to ETCS.
 

Bletchleyite

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Class 197s (the new TfW CAF fleet) will also be fitted with ETCS and deployed on the Cambrian.

Only the 2-car units, which is a pain as they could really do with 3-car on the Pwllheli portion in summer (as Central Trains used to do).

Why would anyone prefer a 153 running Shrewsbury-Pwllheli, which could well have been the offer without ETCS?

A 153 on the back of a 158 is better than standing on just a 158. Central Trains used to run 3-car on the Pwllhelis for the high summer demand.
 

Gloster

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The mods may feel this should be a separate thread. These are general comments, rather than ones specifically related to any of the above posts.

I do find that quite a number of posts are questions to which the answer could easily be found by a bit of googling. I realise that most posters are not as adept as I am at phrasing searches so as to get the most useful results from google (I had twenty years earning a living as a researcher, amongst other things). I also realise that even an entry on Wikipedia may be beyond some people’s understanding (often mine). So, my attitude is, have a go at finding the answer yourself, but if you can’t find the answer or understand it, then ask here.

I would also suggest that, if someone answers your question, you read their answer before posting a further question. Several times I have had people asking a follow-up question, to which the answer was in my earlier post. I may be a bit terse in my reply on these occasions, as you are wasting your time and mine by failing to read what I wrote.
 

PHILIPE

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I u8nderstand that a driver has to be competent on a ETCS 158 in their own right even if the equipment is not actually in use. This came to light when some working arrangement required a Bristol GWR driver to work one. This means that all TFW 158 competent drivers other than Machynlleth and Pwllheli would require the this required knowledge. Perhaps a driver could confirm if I am correct or not please.
 

Class 170101

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A portable (or otherwise) RETB unit doesn't need any interface to the train itself, if I'm not mistaken. It just sends and receives tokens, and displays the details to the driver. The only thing to prevent the driver proceeding without the correct authority is, more recently, TPWS linked to the issue of tokens.

ERTMS, on the other hand, needs to know exactly where the train is and how fast it's going to display and enforce movement authorities correctly, which is achieved by a mixture of the train "reading" track-mounted balises and on-board telemetry, so it's rather more complicated in terms of on-train equipment.

I have to say I'm surprised someone hasn't come up with a portable version of the ERTMS for steam trains etc particularly as technology seems to be capable of knowing where we all are at any given time and the great majority of us use mobile phones that aren't that large after all.
 

Robertj21a

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The mods may feel this should be a separate thread. These are general comments, rather than ones specifically related to any of the above posts.

I do find that quite a number of posts are questions to which the answer could easily be found by a bit of googling. I realise that most posters are not as adept as I am at phrasing searches so as to get the most useful results from google (I had twenty years earning a living as a researcher, amongst other things). I also realise that even an entry on Wikipedia may be beyond some people’s understanding (often mine). So, my attitude is, have a go at finding the answer yourself, but if you can’t find the answer or understand it, then ask here.

I would also suggest that, if someone answers your question, you read their answer before posting a further question. Several times I have had people asking a follow-up question, to which the answer was in my earlier post. I may be a bit terse in my reply on these occasions, as you are wasting your time and mine by failing to read what I wrote.
While I agree in principle, I often find that I still learn quite a bit just by reading what others have kindly input. After all, this is a forum.
 

Ken H

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While I understand that only ERTMS fitted trains can go on the Cambrian, are the ERTMS fitted trains restricted on where they can go on the rest of the system because of their ERTMS kit. Or is it switched off at Shrewsbury and is, therefore, irrelevant?
 

Bletchleyite

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While I understand that only ERTMS fitted trains can go on the Cambrian, are the ERTMS fitted trains restricted on where they can go on the rest of the system because of their ERTMS kit. Or is it switched off at Shrewsbury and is, therefore, irrelevant?

The fitted units can be used elsewhere, and are used e.g. on the North Wales Coast.
 

XAM2175

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I have to say I'm surprised someone hasn't come up with a portable version of the ERTMS for steam trains etc particularly as technology seems to be capable of knowing where we all are at any given time and the great majority of us use mobile phones that aren't that large after all.
As stated by @Tomnick above, ERTMS requires a far larger amount of train-borne hardware than RETB does, and requires it be much more deeply integrated with other elements of the train. There is absolutely no possibility of making any more than a tiny subset of that equipment portable - and even if you were able to make it portable, it would only work on trains that had been fitted with all the other kit anyway.

There is a pilot project for fitting ETCS equipment to Tornado (and also the new-build P2, later on) as part of the conversion of the south end of the East Coast Main Line to ETCS operation. Experience gained in that process will inform owners as to the feasibility of fitting it to other mainline kettles.
 

Bevan Price

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The mods may feel this should be a separate thread. These are general comments, rather than ones specifically related to any of the above posts.

I do find that quite a number of posts are questions to which the answer could easily be found by a bit of googling. I realise that most posters are not as adept as I am at phrasing searches so as to get the most useful results from google (I had twenty years earning a living as a researcher, amongst other things). I also realise that even an entry on Wikipedia may be beyond some people’s understanding (often mine). So, my attitude is, have a go at finding the answer yourself, but if you can’t find the answer or understand it, then ask here.

I would also suggest that, if someone answers your question, you read their answer before posting a further question. Several times I have had people asking a follow-up question, to which the answer was in my earlier post. I may be a bit terse in my reply on these occasions, as you are wasting your time and mine by failing to read what I wrote.
People probably ask questions here because they feel they are more likely to get an accurate answer from helpful people with railway experience and/or knowledge. Whilst Wikip. has its uses, some of the entries seem to come from "know it all" types whose knowledge is "less than complete", and sometimes inaccurate.
 

_toommm_

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While I understand that only ERTMS fitted trains can go on the Cambrian, are the ERTMS fitted trains restricted on where they can go on the rest of the system because of their ERTMS kit. Or is it switched off at Shrewsbury and is, therefore, irrelevant?

The Machynlleth/Pwllheli trains interwork (or did before COVID) with the Holyhead services at Birmingham International. I remember seeing on here that this was a major strain on the Cambrian services and potentially part of the reason why there couldn’t be an increase in services on the Cambrian without a timetable recast.
 

Stuwhu

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That maybe correct, but, I googled the thread title and you know what ? The very first link was to a Wikipedia article with the answer.
I have no problem with helping/ passing on the knowledge I have to other people, but I do find it tiresome sometimes (which can lead to abruptness) when the answer to the question posed is easily available with a quick internet search.
I was always taught at school to try and find the info you want by yourself, if that fails then ask. Perhaps you may see that as old school or wrong, but that "rule" has helped me no end in my life. Perhaps an appreciation of that rule could help other members on here appreciate not just their replies but other posters replies too.
If you get that annoyed, just ignore the question.
 

6Gman

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I'm sorry you took it that way and for which I apologise. I suppose my reaction is because it is a well known fact but, at the same time, failing to appreciate that not everybody may not be aware. The 158 only actually came in before ERTMS when Wales and Borders took over the route from Central Trains when Wales and Borders decided to standard fleet use and restrict the knowledge to solely 158s to Machynlleth and Pwllheli Depots. In Central times, classes 150, 153, 156, 158 and 170s would work over the route
This is an important point. Even if 150s and others could have "portable" equipment fitted at (e.g.) Shrewsbury there would be traction knowledge issues.*

Further, if the diagram finished up at Machynlleth and was due maintenance the lads would scratch their heads and say "Not seen one of these for a while".*




* Having been Depot Editor for those two depots they were the most conscientious and helpful crews I ever worked with, as were the other staff at Machynlleth so I'm sure they would adapt remarkably. But adding 150s or 153s to the traction and maintenance knowledge would be no small thing.
 

XAM2175

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As a further illustration of the train equipment modifications for the Cambrian route, this illustration from an Arriva report in 2011 shows the additional components installed to a Class 158 52xxx car for ERTMS:
ertms_158.PNG
(showing the car side-on and the locations of equipment, namely:
  1. GSM-R Data antenna & GPS on roof over the inside-end vestibule,
  2. Eurocabinet, European Vital Computer, fans, GSM-R rack, and Juridical Recorder Unit installed in the saloon adjacent to the inside-end vestibule,
  3. GSM-R Voice antenna on the roof over the outer-end vestibule,
  4. Driver-Machine Interface and GSM-R radio installed in the cab,
  5. Dopper radar installed under the cab,
  6. Odometry sensor installed on the bearing box of the inner axle of the outer bogie,
  7. Balise antenna and Balise Transmission Module installed near the inner end of the outer bogie.)

And this pair of photographs from an RDG Guidance Note show the cabs of a Class 158 unit (at left) and a Class 97 locomotive (at right) with the ETCS Driver-Machine Interface screen retrofitted to the dashboard:
ertms_cab.PNG
 

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