Monthly Archives: November 2015

IRO Quiz, Swindon, 7 December

On the evening of 7th December, starting at 1700, the annual Institution of Railway Operators quiz is at the Queen’s Tap Swindon (opposite the station/panel)

If members of the society wish to come and form teams of 4, they will be most welcome. The theme is, of course, railways and the question setter and presenter is SPS member and BR former area manager covering Swindon Panel, Mr Lawrie Hall.

Uffington to Rushey Platt Decommissioning Goes Ahead

Newsworthy not just because it has finally happened after several abortive attempts, but also because it represents the next major stage of Swindon Panel’s transition into preservation.

This is the second part of the panel to be closed (following the Kemble line a year ago) and means that the east position in Swindon Panel is now closed.

The last train to be signalled by the east end of the panel was 1C36, which ran reversible from Uffington to Swindon due to a track circuit failure at Knighton!

1C36 leaving platform 3.

The signalling was disconnected at 0135 on 21/11/15 in a possession that lasts the whole weekend. One-by-one the interlocking power was disconnected at Uffington, Bourton, South Marston, Highworth Jn and Swindon interlockings, and the panel indications failed in sympathy. Areas of the panel that are indicated by remote control go blank when the fail, with the extremities of the failure being indicated by a pair of white flashing lights. The areas of the panel that are indicated direcctly flood red when they fail.

Swindon station floods red.

The remote controlled interlocking areas show their flashing failure lamps.

We were very pleased that the removal of the panel tiles was authorised immediately. This was unexpectedly soon!

Panel tile removal commences.

Some detail of the bases under the tiles.

Unfortunately, after about 20 columns of tiles were removed, a minor wiring issue meant we have been asked to temporarily stop removing them for the moment. The issue is that some fault circuits are still connected, and if we remove the switches that allow the signalman to cancel the fault alarm bell then he won’t be able to cancel it! Hopefully we will be on the road again shortly.

The railway re-opens on Monday 23 November, controlled from the Thames Valley Signalling Centre.

Next Resignalling Stage Approaching

Swindon Panel has entered its last week before the next major stage of the re-lock at re-control to TVSC. This Friday night the Uffington to Rushey Platt (east) end of the panel will signal its last train….. for now!

We are very grateful to Network Rail for their continuing support in preserving the panel assets as they are taken out of use.

In other news, P&DSS were on-site again today measuring up for the crane lift and working out the positions of lorries and outriggers etc. All getting very exciting!

CE Group Dinner – 28 November

The GWS’s Civil Engineering group hold a grand dinner every year, and as SPS has been working so closely with the CE group for the last 18 months an invitation has kindly been extended to SPS members.

The dinner is at The George Inn, Dorchester-on-Thames (near Wallingford), on Saturday 28 November. We will meet at The George at 7pm for a 7.30 dinner. The CE group are arranging some road transport from Didcot Station at 6.30pm. The George normally has at least four good beers: recently seen or sampled 6X, London Pride, Butcombe, Brakspear amongst others.

The cost for a 2-course meal, inc coffee etc, is £20. The cost for a 3-course meal, inc coffee etc, is £25. (Does not include drinks)

We are privileged to be invited to the CE group’s annual dinner – and are really pleased that SPS is cementing its links with the wider Railway Centre.

Please contact us via any of the usual methods if you would like to join in the dinner. There is a menu, which we will send you, from which selections need to be made by 22/11/15.

See you there!

It will soon be Santa time at DRC

Yes it will soon be time for holly, mistletoe, mulled wine and the arrival of hundreds of visitors at Didcot to visit Father Christmas!

Love them or hate them, there are two main attractions without which the wheels of the whole heritage railway sector would struggle to keep turning – Thomas and Santa. Most heritage railways rely heavily on the revenue from these events to keep running for the rest of the year. Didcot Railway Centre makes best use of both attractions by hosting ‘Thomas visits Santa’ days in December where families visit the Centre and all of its attractions, including a train journey on the branch line to meet Father Christmas in the broad gauge transfer shed.

Last year members of Swindon Panel Society gave help to DRC with the manning of these days, and we intend to do the same this year!

Helping out in 2014
SPS members working together with GWS members, children’s entertainers and the Fat Controller in 2014.

While not directly related to Swindon Panel, the commercial success of the Thomas visits Santa days have a direct effect on the progress of the new building in which Swindon Panel will live, and on the success of Railway Centre as a whole, which has a direct bearing on the success of Swindon Panel as an exhibit within it. Our taking part also strengthens our relationship with the Centre and the investment it has made in SPS.

The dates of the Thomas visits Santa days are: Sat 5, Sun 6, Sat 12, Sun 13, Sat 19, Sun 20, Tue 22, Wed 23 December.

Our tasks mainly include ‘shepherding’ passengers into the right places for their meeting with Santa, helping them on and off the trains and above all being happy, friendly, chatty and giving them fun, enjoyable and memorable day. There are no special skills required, and a full explanation of the tasks required is given by the very friendly co-ordinating team at the beginning of the day.

It is also great fun and a rare treat to see steam locos working in the frost and, if we’re lucky, snowy conditions!

Please give consideration to helping out on one of the days above if you can. They are a great help to the Centre and therefore to Swindon Panel Society. Please contact us to volunteer – it is good fun!

And if you’re really well behaved, you might even get to meet Santa yourself!