GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

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Foureyes
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GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by Foureyes » Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:37 am

My attention was drawn in yesterday's (18 Feb 2016) Daily Telegraph to a letter concerning the old system for controlling trains on single-track lines, which ensured that two trains travelling in opposite directions could never meet. The letter was based on the writer's observations on the Guildford-Horsham line, which I, too, remember well. Then I looked at the writer's name: Le Feuvre. Could that be Peter Le Feuvre Mid A 1950-58, I wonder?
David :shock:
PS If it is him, it is nice to know that at least one other Old Blue reads the Telegraph!

Martin
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Re: GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by Martin » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:40 pm

This matter is unhappily very topical after the recent head-on collision of two trains on a single track in Bavaria. For the Guildford-Horsham train (the “Guildford slug”), which I used for many years, the single line Guildford-CH track was divided into two approximately equal sections. Also there was a short section of double track somewhere in the middle (at Cranleigh station?) Each of the two parts of the Guildford-CH track (the Guildford-Cranleigh bit and also the Cranleigh-CH bit) had its own token (a baton, superficially like a field-marshal’s baton) and no train was allowed to enter either of these two sections unless the appropriate baton was in the physical possession of the driver. I was keen on trains in those days and remember seeing the baton being given to the driver. Sometimes there would be two trains on the line going in opposite directions, so one train would wait at the double track section for the other to arrive and then the baton change could take place. (I suspect that the train going west always was shunted on to the side track, at the cross over point to await the other train.) Did the Bavarian railway have such a simple and foolproof system, or if not, what happened there?

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Re: GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by Katharine » Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:30 pm

The system is slightly more complicated than Martin says, as if there was just one token it might end up at the wrong end of the section. There have to be machines at each end of the section which are connected with each other by copper wires. If you want to see the system in action, come to the Ffestiniog Railway and my husband will give you a detailed explanation! You should see also see that whoever collects the token has it double checked by another member of the train crew. This is particularly important at intermediate section where there will be two token machines.
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Martin
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Re: GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by Martin » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:00 am

Thanks very much Katharine. I’ll try and visit. Be well. M

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Re: GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by postwarblue » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:29 am

As an eight-year alumnus of this educational experience, I never gave any thought as to how it was managed, but I do remember two things. Sometimes and unfortunately Cranleigh whose boys had all to use this line were also on board and we were vastly outnumbered. Also the occasional experience of very rather grand compartments in very old carriages which suggests that this line was the past gasp for passenger rolling stock before being scrapped.
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Re: GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by sejintenej » Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:10 pm

postwarblue wrote:As an eight-year alumnus of this educational experience, I never gave any thought as to how it was managed, but I do remember two things. Sometimes and unfortunately Cranleigh whose boys had all to use this line were also on board and we were vastly outnumbered. Also the occasional experience of very rather grand compartments in very old carriages which suggests that this line was the past gasp for passenger rolling stock before being scrapped.
Up to about 1957 I used to change at Guildford (and later at London when the Guildford train was pulled / didn't arrive in time) to the GWR train to Plymoutrh and beyond. The single compartments were noi diferent to those used on the Guildford train.

In March 1960 I travelled from London to Bala (mid Wales) with Hildrew, Lass and one other in just such a compartment. It being a night train two slept in the luggage nets and two on the seats; not comfortable before a couple of days slogging over and camping on the scotch misty, marsh infested, snow and slush covered moors.
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michael scuffil
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Re: GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by michael scuffil » Sun Feb 21, 2016 6:06 pm

Martin wrote: Did the Bavarian railway have such a simple and foolproof system, or if not, what happened there?
The obvious answer is no, it didn't, or the accident couldn't have happened. It would appear that the signalman failed to follow procedure. One train was late, and in the mistaken belief it was later than it was, he overrode the system, which it was in his physical power to do, although the statements from the investigators say that if he had followed his instructions correctly, it wouldn't have happened. The system is clearly not fail-safe. But this is Germany*.

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eucsgmrc
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Re: GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by eucsgmrc » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:03 am

Katharine wrote:The system is slightly more complicated than Martin says, as if there was just one token it might end up at the wrong end of the section.
The basic token system which Martin describes is very safe, but so restrictive that it is virtually useless for anything more than a simple slow shuttle service. If there can be more than two trains on a line, or if you want the line to carry heavy traffic, or if you want the trains to go fast, then you have to find some way to evade those limitations. Imagine the token-swapping at Clapham Junction in rush hour. That's why there are refinements/complications such as Katharine describes. And, as we have seen, refinements and complications can go wrong.
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Peter le Feuvre
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Re: GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by Peter le Feuvre » Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:46 pm

Indeed it was I who wrote to the Telegraph about the Horsham - Guildford train.
There are plans afoot to reopen the line from Guildford to Cranleigh but I doubt if it will ever happen. The chronic red tap which strangles transport initiatives in this country will see to that. Brexiteers are in for a shock when we finally leave the EU and all that so-called Brussels red tape turns out to be British after all
And I no longer read the Torygraph - it has been going downhill for years but the final straw was their abysmal referendum coverage. My present reading consists of the 'i' Mon - Sat and the Observer on Sun - oh, and of course the Eye every fortnight. I am now much better informed.

dsmg
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Re: GUILDFORD-HORSHAM TRAIN

Post by dsmg » Sat Sep 17, 2016 7:23 pm

Spain still has a lot of narrow gauge trains which are nearly all single track. I travel on one regularly and the system is that in one station halfway there is a double line and one train simply waits there until the other arrives and then they pass like strangers in the night. That system has probably been used for about a century and seems to work. The problems here are with the high speed trains as there have been 2 terrible accidents with many deaths in a year. The first it seems was due to the driver using his mobile phone and forgetting to slow down at a corner, obviously with no failsafe method in place. How much work (and in this case lives) is lost due to the blight of this century - the mobile phone?
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