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Descending the Lickey Incline

British signalling of the past (UK, excepting Northern Ireland)

Descending the Lickey Incline

Unread postby Tulyar15 » Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:57 pm

In the MArch 2009 issue of Backtrack there's an article about the Lickey Incline. One of the accompanying photos shows a banking engine following a descending freight down the incline. The caption states that this practice was allowed. Does anyone know when it was discontinued?

In the days of loose coupled freights I daresay a light enine would have been able to stop more quickly than such a freight but with the advent of fully fitted freights it would surely be a bit dubious.
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Unread postby Peter Jordan » Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:03 pm

I've never heard of return bank engines being allowed to follow other trains down the Lickey bank. Sounds like an illicit and unofficial move to me. I'd be interested to see the photo. if you can post it.

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Unread postby ferroequine » Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:39 pm

Peter Jordan wrote:I've never heard of return bank engines being allowed to follow other trains down the Lickey bank. Sounds like an illicit and unofficial move to me. I'd be interested to see the photo. if you can post it.

Peter Jordan


Post Gloucester mas resignalling they were definitely required to be coupled - I have no information for prior to then.
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Unread postby Keith » Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:28 am

ferroequine wrote:Post Gloucester mas resignalling they were definitely required to be coupled - I have no information for prior to then.

Surely they would have run independently? The line would be blocked much longer if you stopped a train to couple them and uncouple again. You're not confusing with trains ascending the incline are you?
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Unread postby Tulyar15 » Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:42 am

Keith wrote:
ferroequine wrote:Post Gloucester mas resignalling they were definitely required to be coupled - I have no information for prior to then.

Surely they would have run independently? The line would be blocked much longer if you stopped a train to couple them and uncouple again. You're not confusing with trains ascending the incline are you?


No. It's definitely descending. It's is clear from the photo that the the banking engine is following a down train. Unfortunately because the photo is in Backtrack I guess I would be breaching copyright if I were to scan it in and post it on this site.
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Unread postby John Hinson » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:34 am

It would seem this might have been legitimate working.

The Blackwell advanced starting signal had a subsidiary arm below it and it displayed a C or W indication according to circumstances.

A paragraph in table J3 of the 1960 Sectional Appendix makes reference as follows:
The subsidiary arm, which is applicable only to bank engines, fixed below the Down Advanced Starting Signal for Blackwell will, when taken off, display a letter "C" or a letter "W" illuminated during darkness. When the letter "W" is displayed the signal is functioning as a Warning signal (Rule 45) and when the letter "C" is displayed the signal is functioning as a Call-on signal (Rule 44).

Table A does not list the line as permissive so it may be presumed they were signalled through an occupied section as "assisting in rear" when of course they were not.

This would be a means of getting the engines back home quickly (but not too quickly one hopes!) for their next job when traffic levels were high.

This would be similar to the arrangements at Euston where the inward engine would follow out a departure as far as Camden when bound for the shed there.

There is also a comment in the appendix:
During any failure of the down line block instruments, bells or track circuits, between Blackwell Station and Bromsgrove South signal boxes, banking engines must not descend the incline more than one at a time unless they are coupled.

This gives a very weak implication that engines were only allowed to follow other engines through the section, rather than follow trains. So maybe what is in the photograph isn't quite legit.

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Unread postby Chris Osment » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:37 am

My understanding is that you are allowed to make copies of "not substantial" parts of publsihed documents for private research. I would suggest that putting a picture on here in support of your question ought to count as 'research' - and once we've seen it you could then edit your message to remove the pic again!
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Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:36 pm

Vol. 2 of An Historical Survey of Selected LMS Stations by Hendry & Hendry has (undated) diagrams for both Bromsgrove and Blackwell boxes and comments on several of the signals and operating practices, although there is no mention of permissive working. Data for the diagram of Blackwell is credited to Mike Christensen. The subsidiary signal the DI mentions is shown as 39, but with no mention of the C/W. On the Up Main, signals at each end of of the platform are shown as having W subsidiaries.

It says that in LMS days, no train was allowed to tackle the Lickey without a banker other than freight trains equal to no more than 8 wagons and passengers with equal to no more than 6 vehicles. Also that until 1941, even down passenger trains not booked to stop at Blackwell still had to stop for a brake test. That sounds to me like a recipe for problems in keeping all the bankers back where they were needed.

So perhaps there was even more of a case for permissive working of bankers following freights in LMS days? I imagine loose-coupled freights permissively with other freights would be a terrifying prospect on a 1:37 though, so I can see why it would be shown as AB in the appendix. Do we know the date of this photo in backtrack?

Another possible explanation (not having seen the photo) is that the banker is proceeding to the rear to the train ready to assist in braking down the gradient, or has uncoupled at the foot of the hill after doing so and the train is pulling away from it ?
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Unread postby John Hinson » Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:25 pm

Mike Hodgson wrote:Vol. 2 of An Historical Survey of Selected LMS Stations by Hendry & Hendry has (undated) diagrams for both Bromsgrove and Blackwell boxes and comments on several of the signals and operating practices, although there is no mention of permissive working. Data for the diagram of Blackwell is credited to Mike Christensen. The subsidiary signal the DI mentions is shown as 39, but with no mention of the C/W. On the Up Main, signals at each end of of the platform are shown as having W subsidiaries.

It is possible that the calling-on facility (along with the methods we are discussing) was later withdrawn - I have two plans and the later one shows only a W. No guarantee that is accurate, of course.

However, a 1956 drawing definitely shows the C/W - see http://www.signalbox.org/diagrams.php - although it is very small and you may need a microscope!

I wouldn't really call it "permissive working" as the railway clearly regarded it as "Locomotive Assisting in Rear". Perhaps I should clarify that "Locomotive Assisting in Rear" circumstances listed in the SA are not the same as "Locomotive Assisting in Rear" in the signalman's regulations, which would be better titled "Locomotive at Rear of Train". Engines would have simply been signalled into the section behind a train with the appropriate number of 2-2 bell signals. The thought of doing that for five Jinties . . . they'd probably be arriving at Bromsgrove before you'd finished your campanology! (Big Bertha must have made life a lot easier) And with the option of sending more in behind existing ones, the man at Bromsgrove would need to count carefully before he got to the stage of giving 2-1.

The warning signals on the up line were specifically provided to allow trains to draw down to the starter without applying Rule 39 which would certainly make the signalman unpopular!

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Unread postby ferroequine » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:53 pm

Keith wrote:
ferroequine wrote:Post Gloucester mas resignalling they were definitely required to be coupled - I have no information for prior to then.

Surely they would have run independently? The line would be blocked much longer if you stopped a train to couple them and uncouple again. You're not confusing with trains ascending the incline are you?


No - there were a different set of Instructions in respect of banking. And yes, the train did have to stop at Bromsgove to detach the locos - that is covered in the Instructions.

The fact that it was covered so comprehensively under the new working post mas might also indicate thing were rather different previously, it did happen like that sometimes :shock: .

As for the Section Signal at Blackwell mentioned by the DI there are published photos about which might help to prove (or disprove) what went on perhaps?
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Unread postby Keith » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:38 pm

ferroequine wrote:No - there were a different set of Instructions in respect of banking. And yes, the train did have to stop at Bromsgove to detach the locos - that is covered in the Instructions.

Very interesting and surprising. My memories of Lickey are of being a passenger on what was frequently mentioned as "the last passenger train on BR to be banked" (at least regularly) - the Bristol to Glasgow and Edinburgh sleeper.
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Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:17 pm

signalman wrote:The warning signals on the up line were specifically provided to allow trains to draw down to the starter without applying Rule 39 which would certainly make the signalman unpopular!

John


I understand the point, but I'm not convinced that it helps to comply with the rules.

Under Rule 39, he would have to wait until the train is "close to such signal and has been brought quite or nearly to a stand".

Under Rule 45, "The warning signal must not be lowered until the train has been brought quite or nearly to to a stand at it".

Or does the absence of the "close to such signal" make a subtle difference for a train that is almost at a stand all the way up the hill?
Given that the road is clear as far as 21or 22, would you clear both 23 and 24 together?
I suppose you have the co-acting detonator at 22 as a backstop if the crew get carried away at having made it.
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Unread postby John Hinson » Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:29 am

Mike Hodgson wrote:I understand the point, but I'm not convinced that it helps to comply with the rules.

Hi Mike,

Exemption from bringing the train nearly to a stand would have had to be authorised - but the significant advantage of using warning arms is that it tells the driver to expect the next signal to be at danger. This arrangement was not common but could be found at various places around the LMS's area.

Whereas if you gave exemption to clear the main arm before the train was brought under control (as other companies generally did), you are giving the driver information that all stop signals on that line worked from the box have been cleared (apart from the IB in this particular example) which is not necessarily the case.

The detonators at the IB relate to the earlier discussion on early LMS IB sections and have nothing to do with the warning arms.

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Unread postby Tulyar15 » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:53 am

Mike Hodgson wrote:. Do we know the date of this photo in backtrack?


The photo, on page 315 of the March 2009 "Backtrack" is dated as 11th July 1956 and is credited to T. J. Edgington
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Re: Descending the Lickey Incline

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:12 am

And what about ASCENDING the Lickey?

It seems that in LMS days the extent of the overlap at the IB was variable according the class of train, based on automatic intermediate signalling. The objective was to prevent trains having to stop and (possibly fail to) restart on the bank. There was an overlap of about 300 yards and a second overlap of nearly 1000 yards. The train describers were arranged so that in the case of express or any passenger train following a freight, they automatically brought in the long overlap, but if a freight were following an express or another freight, there was not much danger of having to stop, and the describers brought in the short one. If the passenger train had to stop at the top of the bank, then the overlap was extended right through, in other words no other train was allowed to follow up because otherwise it might stop on the bank.
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