Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

hughesp87
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Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby hughesp87 » Sat Apr 25, 2020 11:52 pm

As I embark on a new P4 project, this time of a prototype location, I'm left pondering how the real thing would have been operated safely. Perhaps someone out there may be able to help.

The prototype is Friden yard, at the west end of the Cromford & High Peak Railway, where wagons from the High Peak line were exchanged for those brought in by the daily goods from Buxton. As you can see from the layout plan attached, which in functional terms is a faithful copy of the prototype, High Peak trains entered from the left, pulled in the 1950s by a North London Tank and later by a J94, whilst the Buxton goods would appear from the right, with a Midland 3F or an Ivatt 2MT as motive power. In the middle was the small goods yard and a rather large brickworks belonging to the Derbyshire Silica Firebrick Company, which itself provided a healthy source of local traffic.

Friden V4.pdf
(189.81 KiB) Downloaded 145 times


The line was not signalled. The sections either side of Friden were operated by train staff and ticket, and approaching trains had to come to a stand at stop boards positioned some way short of the loop points, in all something approaching a mile apart. In the centre was the Traffic Inspector's cabin, which was no more than an office where the train staffs and records were kept. All points were operated by trackside levers.

You might think that trains took it in turns to enter the yard and shunt, but there is clear photographic evidence of both locos and two sets of wagons being in the yard at the same time. Indeed on the all too familiar days in the 50s and 60s when enthusiasts' specials ran, it was not unusual for both trains to be positioned one behind the other on the same running line, presumably for ease of transfer of passengers.

FRN013.jpg


All of this begs the question - how was this achieved safely without signalling? All I can think is that operation involved a considerable amount of trackside walking for both shunters and train crew, which must have been time consuming. There is nothing in the Sectional Appendix to the Working Timetable to suggest any written regulation.

Does anyone have any ideas?
Geraint Hughes
Cromford & High Peak in P4
Danish Railways in P87

Armchair Modeller

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sun Apr 26, 2020 9:36 am

Crews would have done things the same way week after week, passed down through the generations. They would have known what they were doing and how to do it with the minimum of effort. Plus a Traffic Inspector, Station Master or whatever would have been in charge to deal with problems or anything unusual.

For a passenger train, a Traffic Inspector and one or two assistants would travel with the train to ensure safety. Facing points would have to be clamped and unclamped en route. The journey would have been planned in advance to take account of possible issues.

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Noel
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Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby Noel » Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:30 am

No absolute block, daylight only operation, and crews who would have been familiar with the operation at Friden remove a lot of the complications of operation. The "Stop" boards will prevent a train arriving when you don't want it, but once the points are set, you can have them arriving simultaneously if you want. The line both ways is pretty much straight https://maps.nls.uk/view/102341340, so, apart from bad weather conditions, the yard inspector can call trains in by flag or hand signal.

Once both are in, each loco shunts from the end it's standing at, assuming there is anything to shunt, although there are some complications
The Friden yard traffic would presumably be virtually all inbound only, and very limited in volume, but which way did the empties go?
Which way did the Firebrick traffic go - presumably to Buxton?
Did the brake vans go back whence they came, or did they work through, and guards just change vans? The latter is perhaps marginally easier, as you just have to get the locos to change ends, but returning the brake vans isn't too difficult. The yard looks as though it is big enough to take the CHP train to clear the loop, or both trains can be put on the same side either at the beginning of the shunt or the end, and one loco put in any convenient siding while the other changes end. It would also be possible to put both vans 'back to back' on one side of the loop and build up the return trains on them.
Regards
Noel

bécasse
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Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby bécasse » Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:10 pm

Friden seems to have been a very shy location so far as photographers were concerned, however enough seem to exist to be reasonably certain of how the place was operated as a "frontier" station.

The short loop on the SW side was effectively the local goods yard and coal wagons can be seen there being unloaded, the main line loop from which it diverged was the line used by trains from and to Buxton (so I will use "B" as a shorthand below) and the north east side main line loop was the line used by trains from and to the Cromford direction (hence "C").

Trains may, or may not have arrived almost simultaneously, but it is likely that most of the shunting work, and the final departures, were all simultaneous. As has been said, there were stop boards in both directions and arriving trains would be held there awaiting permission to enter their respective loops. Traditionally with SLW the first train to arrive at the "home" (ie stop board) would be held at a stand until the second train had first stopped at its stop board and then been called forward into its loop; only then would the first train be finally called forward into its loop. This procedure would only be varied if the first train arrived at the stop board before the second train had started to occupy the section from the previous station, in which case it would be called forward immediately into its loop.

Once the trains were safely in their respective loops and the brake vans had had their brakes screwed down, each train could commence to shunt. The train from B would usually have some local wagons, both for the goods siding and the fireclay works, and these would be shunted (by the B-train loco) into their respective sidings, and then those wagons, including filled water-tanks, due to continue to C would be shunted onto the C-brake van in the other loop. Meanwhile the C-train loco would be shunting wagons, including empty water-tanks, from its train on to the B-train brake van in the other loop, in addition to wagons from the fireclay works and the local goods siding loop.

Once both trains were made, and coupled, up the C-train loco would shunt its train with brake van into the other loop* thus clearing the other loop which was then used by the B-train loco to run from the C-end to well clear of the loop points at the B-end. The C-train loco then switched to its loop (inside the stationary B-train loco), and the B-train loco then shunted the newly-formed C-train onto the C-train loco standing in its loop. The B-train loco would then back up on to its train, and both locos would couple on to their trains ready to depart.

Note that both locos and brake vans (and doubtless their crews) turn back, although in case of necessity it would be possible to change them over - although I suspect that normally special LE or LE+BV moves were made when this was necessary. I rather assume that most local goods and fireclay works traffic at Friden was from and to B but it would certainly have been possible to deal with any wagons from/to C within the above sequence. I am not sure where the water-tanks were refilled but photos show that they worked through across Friden so it wasn't there.

Quite an interesting concept for a model, probably more interesting and practical than the incline heads/feet that have traditionally been portrayed on CH&P-inspired layouts. If you exhibit it, your operators will definitely have to keep their wits about them.

* So the two trains of wagons in this loop would have a brake-van at each end of the ensemble while the locos were using the other loop to change ends - an important safety factor.

hughesp87
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Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby hughesp87 » Tue Apr 28, 2020 11:13 pm

A brief note to thank you all for the interesting and thought provoking contributions to date. There is certainly some mileage in the concept that regular crews would have developed their own understanding and methods of working over the years. Certainly in respect of the crews at Middleton Top shed, who ran the daily goods train to Friden, it was the same crew every day for a number of years, and they would no doubt have built up a common understanding with the yard staff at the various locations along the route. Whether the same could be said for Buxton crews, who obviously came from a larger roster, remains a question.

Looking at the working timetable, it seems that the Buxton train was scheduled to arrive at Friden before the High Peak train, and all the photos I have of shunting into and out of the works show the Buxton engine undertaking this task. Presumably the Middleton train arrived later, with most or all of its wagons simply attached to the rear of the Buxton train for onward despatch. As for the brake vans, it looks as though the respective guards kept their own vans, which adds to the complexity of shunting.

This photo of the stop board at the eastern end of the yard shows that the crews would not necessarily have been able to see hand signals from the yard office, so there must have been a goodly amount of leg work involved on somebody's part.

FRN002.jpg


The ultimate aim will be to repeat this basic interchange operation for a variety of different scenarios - 1950s with a North London Tank and Midland 3F, 1960s with a J94 and Ivatt 2MT, and of course the railtour specials which on one occasion even saw the arrival of a 6-car Met-Cam DMU from Buxton!

Finally a nice colour shot of a brake van special about to leave Friden in the 1960s, which gives an idea of the atmosphere I will be trying to create.

FRN60.jpg


All in all a hopefully more satisfying layout to operate than my previous efforts with quarries and inclines. Thanks again and best wishes to all.

Geraint
Geraint Hughes
Cromford & High Peak in P4
Danish Railways in P87

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Noel
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Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby Noel » Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:01 am

hughesp87 wrote:This photo of the stop board at the eastern end of the yard shows that the crews would not necessarily have been able to see hand signals from the yard office, so there must have been a goodly amount of leg work involved on somebody's part.


The Buxton engine is shunting just behind the board - I wonder if the Foreman ever hitched a ride out to the CHP engine?
Regards
Noel

Winander
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Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby Winander » Wed Apr 29, 2020 11:02 am

hughesp87 wrote:This photo of the stop board at the eastern end of the yard shows that the crews would not necessarily have been able to see hand signals from the yard office, so there must have been a goodly amount of leg work involved on somebody's part.


Could they have used a bell? Signal boxes had bells to signal shunting moves IIRC.

I'm looking forward to developments.

best wishes
Richard
Richard Hodgson

bécasse
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Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby bécasse » Wed Apr 29, 2020 11:42 am

Winander wrote:Could they have used a bell? Signal boxes had bells to signal shunting moves IIRC.


There is no visible sign of a shunting bell box in the photo that shows the stop board. Shunting bells were usually provided for communication between the signalman and the shunter both of whom would have worked regularly at the location and therefore been very familiar with what the bell codes in use were and, more importantly, what they actually signified. It was one thing for the codes to listed in both the signal box and the shunting bell box (which they were), quite another to know how they related to activates and movements on the ground.

Incidentally, it is important to note that Friden fell roughly midway up a 4-mile continuous stretch of 1 in 600 gradient from the Cromford direction which concluded at Newhaven Tunnel. Guarding against runaways would have been an important part of the operating methods used there.

Winander
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Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby Winander » Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:01 pm

I actually meant a proper bell (like a church bell, only smaller) rather than a telegraph bell. I have seen photographs of them hanging outside signal boxes, possibly in the pre-grouping period, so no reason why an office wouldn't have them.

Just a suggestion.
Richard Hodgson

Armchair Modeller

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:10 pm

Interesting that you find quarries and inclines boring. Just what I was thinking of modelling!

Just in case yo are unaware of these two sites with photos... I guess the NG line would be off limits for you

http://www.geoffspages.co.uk/specials/friden.htm

http://theatreorgans.com/hammond/keng/k ... 0Curve.htm

Image

Armchair Modeller

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:49 pm

This page gives a few clues about operation from someone who had cab rides, so first hand experience

http://www.goingloco.neave.com/highpeak/part5.html

hughesp87
Posts: 104
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:25 pm

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby hughesp87 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 9:01 pm

It's not that I find inclines boring - more a case of "done that"! For many years I exhibited Middlepeak and must have completed a few thousand incline operations, many with a running commentary for interested onlookers. Having said that, both top and bottom were locations for only one loco, and quite specialised motive power at that.

What Friden offers is the opportunity to portray the interchange between the High Peak and the rest of the network, together with a major industry, the brickworks. More variety of rolling stock too.

Good luck with your incline model, and if I can be of any help, please give me a shout.

Geraint
Geraint Hughes
Cromford & High Peak in P4
Danish Railways in P87

bécasse
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:26 am

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby bécasse » Sat May 02, 2020 8:49 am

I had a look but, as far as I can see, I don't have any working timetables for the CH&P for the period after the line west of Friden became a "proper" railway. When I worked the potential shunting sequence quoted a number of posts back, I assumed that the two trains arrived and departed at much the same time. Subsequent comments (and more careful analysis of photos) indicate that the Buxton train arrived first (and possibly departed later?) than the High Peak train. How much the arrival and departure times differed could have quite an effect on the shunting sequence and, although freight working timetables were notorious for their approximity especially on freight only lines, knowing what a typical WTT stated would be very helpful in working out the most likely shunting sequence.

Could you either post a copy (a smartphone photo is often sufficient) or give details of the times at Friden and the stations either side?

Armchair Modeller

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sat May 02, 2020 9:36 am

Have a digital copy of the WTT for 1888 from somewhere. Things were very different then though. In those days there were through trains from end to end, with local trains Bonsall-Hurdlow and quarry trains at Ladmanlow. There was a code of whistles for trains and telephone circuits between major stations.

bécasse
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Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby bécasse » Sat May 02, 2020 12:01 pm

Armchair Modeller wrote:Have a digital copy of the WTT for 1888 from somewhere. Things were very different then though. In those days there were through trains from end to end, with local trains Bonsall-Hurdlow and quarry trains at Ladmanlow. There was a code of whistles for trains and telephone circuits between major stations.


I have one for that period too (not sure that it is the same year but it may be) but of course it doesn't help with the working of Friden as a "frontier" depot because it wasn't one then.

Armchair Modeller

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sat May 02, 2020 1:20 pm

No. I am obviously not as focussed as you ;)

Sorry!

hughesp87
Posts: 104
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:25 pm

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby hughesp87 » Sun May 03, 2020 11:15 am

David,

Examination of the working timetable for 1963/4 shows the Friden Goods leaving Buxton at 09.00, arriving at Parsley Hay at 10.00, leaving at 10.27 and finally getting to Friden at 10.40.

The High Peak goods (Target 75) left Middleton Top at 09.00, with the last scheduled call at Longcliffe (09.47 to 10.30) before arriving at Friden at 10.55.

Departures were for Middleton at 11.10 and for Buxton at 12.30 (SO) and 1.40 (SX), which implies that the Buxton engine is doing the majority of the shunting and the crew taking their meal break at Friden before returning to their home shed.

Regards,

Geraint
Geraint Hughes
Cromford & High Peak in P4
Danish Railways in P87

bécasse
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:26 am

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby bécasse » Wed May 06, 2020 9:55 pm

Thanks to the TT information that Geraint kindly supplied, I have had another go at detailing the working at Friden, see the attached file.

FridenCHPworking.jpg

hughesp87
Posts: 104
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:25 pm

Re: Operation of an unsignalled interchange yard

Postby hughesp87 » Wed May 06, 2020 11:00 pm

David,

Fascinating! Thanks very much for this. I will study it at my leisure and push some pieces of paper around the layout plan!

Best wishes,

Geraint
Geraint Hughes
Cromford & High Peak in P4
Danish Railways in P87


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