Saturday, 24 August 2013

Consall - a new locomotive, 'staff & ticket' working, and a wedding train!

I've done quite a few turns as rostered signaller in Consall box now, including today. The public timetable for today on the Churnet Valley Railway showed only one train running, up and down the valley between Leekbrook Junction and Froghall. However, the rosterer was looking for signallers at Consall and at Leekbrook, so clearly there was another train scheduled to run as well, not only up and down the valley but up onto the Moorland & City line to Cauldon Lowe. When I arrived at Cheddleton early this morning I was handed a working timetable and from this discovered that that second train was a 'wedding special', and it was to be hauled by a locomotive new to the railway; the North York Moors Railway's Lambton Tank, no.29, assisted by resident class 33 diesel 33102 'Sophie'.

As ever, click (twice) on any picture for a larger image.

No.29, the Lambton Tank loco on its home railway, the North York Moors. The loco came from the Lambton Colliery, County Durham

The 'service train' for public use, running up and down the valley, would be hauled by our other resident class 33 diesel, 33021 'Captain Charles'. With the Cauldon Lowe line in use as well as the CVR 'valley' line, we would need to operate 'Staff & Ticket' procedures (more of that later). I collected the Consall Signalbox 'ticket box', and drove down to Consall, where I unlocked the signal box, powered it up and checked all was well, prepared the train register, and studied the working timetable to acquaint myself with the day's train movements. I usually write out a list of the day's movements at Consall derived from the Working Timetable.

The first train to arrive was the public service train from Cheddleton, and I retrieved the 'combined staff' from its driver. In the 'box I used the key there to separate the staffs into the 'Consall to Leekbrook' and 'Consall to Froghall' staffs, inserted them into the instruments in the 'box, and switched the 'box 'in'. I handed the Froghall staff to the driver and the train departed for that station. The next movement would be that train returning from Froghall, so I put the kettle on and made a cup of tea.

Consall 'box this morning; working timetable, list of movements (derived from the WTT), 'Staff & Ticket' box, cup of tea!

Consall today was back to its quiet, peaceful self after the recent (but profitable!) frenzy of the Peppa Pig event. The wedding train wasn't due to run until about mid day and in truth we could have left the 'box switched out while only the service train was running up and down the valley, but having it switched in meant there'd be no delay when 'two train' operations commenced.

 Consall yard and station, from the 'box this morning

The first 'two train' movement was the returning service train, but with both our class 33 diesels on the front. At Consall, 33102 'Sophie' detached from the front of the train and pulled forward. I dropped the up starter signal behind it as it proceeded down the line as far as London Bridge (so clear of the track circuit protecting  the points at the up end of the loop) whereupon I was able to reverse those points, pull off the relevant signal, and 'Sophie' ran back into the station but this time on the loop line, so it could pass the train in the main platform and proceed back to Cheddleton. Once 'Sophie' was gone, I could clear the Froghall section, normalise the loop points, hand the driver of 33021 'Captain Charles' the Froghall staff, pull off the up starter, and see that train off on its way to Froghall.

Next, the service train returned from Froghall, and the wedding train with 'Sophie' on the front and the Lambton Tank on the rear (facing backwards) arrived. I signalled the service train into the main line platform, and the wedding train into the loop platform in the usual 'two train' method at Consall.

The Consall frame, set for the departure of both 'up' and 'down' trains. Both 'up loop' and 'down main line' starter signals are 'off'  (allowing the trains to pass them), the 'up' loop points are reversed while the 'down' loop points are normalised so the road and the signals are set for both trains to depart.

Just after the above picture was taken, 'Sophie' departs towards Froghall with the wedding train, about to pass the up loop starter signal and heading towards the points at the 'up' end of the loop. The service train is still in the main line platform, about to depart to Cheddleton

 Moments later, the Lambton Tank on the rear of the wedding train comes into view

About half an hour later, the wedding train returned from Froghall, with the Lambton Tank leading

The wedding train would leave Consall for Leekbrook Junction, where it would leave the Churnet Valley Railway metals and take to those of Moorland & City Railways up to Cauldon Lowe. Meanwhile, the service train would leave Consall for Froghall, then return to Consall about half an hour later, and then proceed to Leekbrook Junction. Do you see the problem? If the wedding train took the 'Leekbrook' staff up to Leekbrook and then proceeded to Cauldon Lowe, the Leekbrook staff would be marooned at Leekbrook, and not be available at Consall for the service train to use to enter that section, as there is no interim train returning with that staff from Leekbrook to Consall.

That's where 'staff & ticket' proceedures come in.

Instead of taking the staff to Leekbrook from Consall, the wedding train takes a ticket authorising it to travel on that section. I issue the ticket in Consall 'box, and retain the Leekbrook staff in the 'box. I hand the driver the ticket, and show him the staff so he knows no other train has it. He then proceeds to Leekbrook. I place 'stop blocks' on both 'down' starter signals (as a reminder to me, so no train can inadvertently be signalled into the section while it is occupied by the wedding train). I also phone the Leekbrook signalman advising him that the wedding train is in the Consall - Leekbrook section under the authorisation of the ticket. I inform him of the ticket number and the time that I issued it.

When the wedding train arrives at Leekbrook, the signalman there cancels the ticket, and phones me to advise he has done so, and that the train is out of the Consall - Leekbrook section. I can then remove the stop blocks from the down starter signals, and authorise the service train to proceed to Leekbrook with its driver in possession of the staff for that section.

Stop blocks on the down starter levers, 3 and 12, in Consall 'box during 'staff & ticket' working

 A close up of the stop block on lever 3, the down main line starter

The 'staff & ticket' box for Consall. It is kept locked and can only be opened with a key attached to the Consall - Leekbrook staff, so a ticket can only be issued when the signaller has possession of that staff.

 A blank ticket for the Consall - Leekbrook section

Similarly, a ticket is issued by the Leekbrook signalman to return two consecutive trains to Consal.

Both 33s at Consall. The wedding train, on the left in the 'down' main line platform and heading for Leekbrook has 'Sophie' pushing from the back, while the service train, on the right in the 'up' loop platform is heading for Froghall hauled by 'Captain Charles.

 The 'wedding coach' in the wedding train. The rest of the train comprised a kitchen car to prepare the wedding feast, and guard's brake coach.

 On the front of the wedding train is the Lambton Tank. The lady fireman is the delightful Diana.

Here's a video (taken on my very old spare camera, so not so good quality) of the Lambton Tank departing Consall this afternoon for Cheddleton, the last leg of the day for the wedding train. It's worth listening with headphones - the Lambton has a nice chime whistle and once past the Black Lion pub demonstrates that she's got a bit of a bark on her!


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