The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

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The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

Post by BillEWS on Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:30 am

I hadn't been to the preserved GCR since back in the 90's and last Saturday(the 22nd) I decided to see what changes had been made over the years.

In spite of very mixed weather I quite enjoyed the day's visit. It was a steady mix of fine sunny spells with quite heavy showers.
The video was meant to be in full HD but I forgot to change the format back from 4.3 that I had used a few days before, so it is in standard TV mode.

I was using my new Canon 600D DSLR camera in video mode. I am really quite impressed with the 600D both in still and vodeo mode.
I had another couple of vists to preserved lines a month or so back. One to the Bluebell Railway is Sussex 'HD' videos up to YouTube in due course.

The Great Central Railway (22nd June 2013)

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Re: The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

Post by JimH on Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:34 pm

Great filming Bill. Enjoyed riding behind a 'Peak' once more, albeit by video. Reminded me of my 9F driver experience course on the GCR several years ago. Rain not a problem for the DSLR?

Jim

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Re: The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

Post by BillEWS on Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:20 pm

Thanks for your commnts JimH. The DSLR got quite wet a few tmes but I had a cloth handy to keep wiping it between shots, as I did with the lense. I lost count how many times I dabed the lens dry.

Never drove a 9F but fired a few and found them easier than firing GWR locos. You could fill the box up well and have reasonable speel of rest before the next round. You seemed to fire continuously on the GWR locos.

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Re: The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

Post by JimH on Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:57 am

I'm paranoid about getting my Nikon D80 wet. They tell me a few drops of water in the wrong place can cause a lot of damage. I've always got a plastic bag ready if the weather looks dodgy!

I cannot compare the 9F with any other loco. The driver experience day was bought for me as a present and was the only railway vehicle I'd driven. It was a brilliant day out but what impressed me most was the amount of power that was available and with a rake of carriages at that. I realised when I had my hand on the regulator that I'd missed my vocation!

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Re: The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

Post by BillEWS on Tue Jun 25, 2013 2:32 pm

I used my older 450D DLSR for 6-7 years and never worried about the rain. I has been ot during some quite ehavy downpours. Obvioulsy, I gave it what sheler I could but it still got quite wet at times. As far as I'm concerned I don'y think it did it any harm, though always dried it off thoroughly after a shower. I can't speak for any other brand of DSLR camera.

I can appreciate your first experience at handling asteam loco such as the 9F's. Most mainline locomtives, be they steam or diesel are far more powerful than the work they are given on a preserved railway, therefore their train crew can generally just get a touch of what maximum power they have. It is interesting that you felt a touch of that during your moments at the controls of the 9F.

I suppose, initially, on pulling away you get that sense of power but you are now allowed to really give the locomotives their heels as a mainline driver would experience on a daily/nightly basis.

Even after more than 30 years I remember being completely impressed with the Class 60's when they first came in and, in the case I remember, when for the first time taking close to 3000 ton of a train of petrol away from Saltley up to Landore Street junction on how easily it started away and lifted the dead weight up the bank without a slip, or at least under complete wheel-slip control.

That was the first time I had taken such a train away from Saltley bank without a banker in what was very icey conditions, around 3 am. That was really impressive. After the initial power setting I used on starting away I didn't even have to move the controller a fraction more throughout the steady pull. It just waltzed up the bank at around 10-12 mph.

One of the heaviest runs we had with the 9F's was getting up the bank from Banbury North to Woodford Halse on the Ex GCR. You usually stopped at Banbury for a breather and got the firebox and boiler well filled and the driver would give it everything to get up to Woodford Halse without coming to a crawl or even a stop, as sometimes happened. Other times you could get the firebox and boiler filled as you approached Banury and then get a clear road at Banbury North to have a continuous attack on the gradient. The 9f's were impressive but had other locos such as Standard 5's and Western Region locos up to Woodford Halse. Never experience taking a diesel loco up to Woodford. It had all gone by the time diesels became more evident.

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Re: The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

Post by JimH on Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:01 pm

When first on the footplate of 92212, I imagined that getting a machine of that magnitude under way was going to take  some elbow grease and I think the driver must have read my mind possibly because I had white knuckles whilst gripping the regulator! He told me to go easy when opening up. The rails were wet and greasy so I imagine he had wheel slip on his mind. In the end, it didn't take much more than a nudge to start moving and of course, when you first move the lever, nothing instantly happens and it was tempting to give it some more but I resisted and then we started to roll. Marvellous.

Reading of your fascinating experiences reminded me of the stories my grandfather used to relate to me. He was a railwayman, man and boy, starting on the Midland Railway at Barrow Hill (Staveley Midland) as a cleaner and progressing through the ranks as the Midland became the LMS then British Railways. He eventually became a diesel instructor and finished his career as shed foreman. That is where I got my interest from and that was all I wanted to do but sadly, when I left school, Beeching had not long since had his wicked way, the railways were contracting and staff levels were in decline. The jobs weren't there any more. Many is the time I'd wished I'd recorded my grandfather's conversations. But, as he said, it wasn't all steam and romance.    

Speaking of 9F's if you've not seen them, there's a couple of interesting videos on youtube - 9f-92212, Alresford to Alton and 92212 Footplate 2.

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Re: The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

Post by BillEWS on Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:53 pm

I had almost the reverse experience in that I never planned to be on the railway and got the job of Engine Cleaner whlie on the dole, having just left working in a Variety Theatre doing stage lighting that was closing down.

It never entered my mind that 'cleaning' was the first run up to becoming a driver and learned of this when being sent to the Rule Learning School and asking why I had to learn rules relating to train working and was both floored and scared at the thought of becomnig a train driver. However. Once I started getting into the job I found it very interesting and just wanted to learn more and more and once I was passed out to work with the driver really took to it. I enjoyed going to many places that I had either visted as a child or had only heard of.

I wasn't long on the job when a driver allowed me to sit in the chair (of a diesel hauled freight train) and experienced what you had of moving a train for the very first time.

When I got the job I was told it would only last about six months as the railways in northeast Scotland were all going to close. I got about 18 months of it and as closure got closer we were allowed to move under voluntary redundancy. They also allowed All-Line promotion which meant I could go anywhere in the UK where my seniority counted. Before that you could only move within your own Region. At the time my seniority didn't count for anything anywhere within the Scottish Region. So I ended up over 500  miles away from home in what was Berkshire then and what was like another World to me. But again once I found suitable digs for myself and my wife we started to settle in quite well.

Likewise. I sarte din an all diesel depot and found myself having to work on steam locos, which was a bit like going back a hundred years but was challenging. That was in 1964 so I only had to do two years on a mixture of steam and diesel before steam was done away with. However, I am pleased that I had that experience and it set me up for handling the eventual move up to driver in 1974.

Again, under redundancy I moved to Marylebone Depot where my seniority counted and had a fantastic 6-7 years at that depot. They were a great bunch of guys to work with and I was also very The only down side was that it was all DMU's, which ca become very boring when there is nothing else to break the routeen. I got back to Didcot in 1981 and except for about eighteen months at Reading depot, after yet more redundancy, I remained at Didcot until I retired.

Thanks for the links to the 9f's. I will check them out. I have seen a few both Didcot and on the Toddington line. I also enjoyed your comments about your grandfather who sounds like another great railway character and so much like many of his kind I met over the years. Many thanks.

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Re: The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

Post by Quork on Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:44 pm

Thank you for those deep insights! It's good to see how the fascination with railway work is so much out of this world anywhere around Earth. It reminds me of a sentence I often hear from older colleagues and which I heard even more often while in training: "I'm at the railway for 20/30/40 years now and yet it doesn't feel anywhere this much." That's something people from outside the railway very often can't understand. Imagine a 9-o'clock-till-17-o'clock-bureaucrat on the verge of retiring say he doesn't know where those 45 years went...! What's extraordinarily exhausting however is, when it's the own family which blathers all about "Go on, get a real job, 'cause this will surely bore you in ten years and after ten years without progress it's hard to develop further...", neither understanding the persistance of the railway virus, nor that ten years being a driver is anything but years without progress; even leaving the obvious daily amount of experience aside, you have technological progress all the time (and today more than ever), you have development of railway rules on a yearly base (apart from the blood-written rules after virtually every incident, there's the big topics for the next years: ETCS/ERTMS, interoperability etc), and also while being a driver, you can learn so many new things. Get foreign licenses, learn languages, become a part-time trainer, learn new routes, etc. etc...
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GCR Video

Post by johnsinden on Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:56 pm

Thanks for the Video Bill - it brings back fond memories for me. I was a young lad in the Army stationed near Loughborough in the early 1970s and was able to make regular visits to the line.  Amazing to see the changes that have been made since then.  In those days it was single track only to Leicester.  Now it's dualled all the way, they've added on the Mountsorrel branch and the Swithland sidings.  I hear that the latest project has been given the go-ahead, and funding is available.  There used to be a bridge spanning the Midland Main Line at Loughborough (Midland)station and which carried the old Great Central Line from Marylebone to Nottingham and Sheffield.  After its closure in the 60s the bridge was removed.  For the last 40 or so years GCR have been trying to have the bridge re-built, and I believe that funding is now available.  It will link the northern and southern sections and will result in a line which will stretch from Ruddington to Leicester, making it the longest stretch of preserved railway in the UK.

Cheers,

John
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Re: The Great Central Railway Video (June 22nd 2013)

Post by JimH on Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:37 am

Thanks for sharing that with us Bill. Fascinating stuff. You should write a book, I wish my grandfather had. He, incidentally, applied for a driving job at Grantham but when he went for the interview, they told him he would loose his seniority and the move would have put him back several years, so he remained where he was. I think he was disappointed though, not to have had the experience of driving an east coast pacific. Barrow Hill was predominantly a shed that serviced the many coal mines in the district but also Staveley Coal and Iron Company. They had an extensive internal railway system and men and engines were seconded from the depot to the works for some quite lengthy periods, around six months at a time I think. I know he worked passenger trains on occasions and would often be away on lodging turns. I always looked forward to the Sunday mornings when he was 'on shed' and would allow me to visit the roundhouse and if there was anything in steam in the yard, he would take it from one end to the other whilst I stood there on the footplate gob smacked. Likewise, when the diesels arrived, he would tell me to climb on and off we'd go. I wished I'd had my Nikon D80 then!

Good news about the GCR bridging the gap campaign John. Also, creating a connection with the network would be a great advantage for them.

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