Monthly Archives: November 2014

SPS at the NRM

What a fantastic day was had by Swindon Panel Society at the National Railway Museum’s Lancashire & Yorkshire signalling school layout!

The layout has four fully signalled and interlocked signal boxes, in very miniature scale, but with full size block instruments and full size regulations!

We took it in turns to work the four signal boxes, with each signal box having their own local nuances and ‘catchers’, just like the real things!

In a very busy timetable that was being operated a very varied selection of operating practices and rules (and bell codes) were used, enough to cause even the most experienced enthusiast or professional signalman to scratch their head! Also, being a model, everything happens much much faster than in real life, so the pace is a lot lot faster – or ‘absolutely insane’ is how several people described it!

As well as the ‘normal’ block signalling between the boxes (all sections are absolute block), with a lot of the sections requiring short-section working, there were also instances of the warning arrangement being used (3-5-5), including displaying a green flag to the model train driver! Permissive acceptance (2-4-2) was also used on a goods running loop between two signal boxes, as well as the rules for permissive working within station limits. Clearing points are also observed on the model layout, with several junctions lying within the clearing point.

Running round in section was also required with their freight train (requiring use of 2-1-3 and 3-2-3!) The freight lives in a siding, worked by a ground frame, released by one of the signal boxes (and it really is a model ground frame electrically interlocked with the model signal box!). The person playing the role of the shunter may have got a bit over-enthusiastic at one point with the number of wagons that could be accommodated for the run-round… So when the time came, and it was found the engine would not fit on the back of the train and be inside clear of the backing signal from which it was now going to depart, the loco driver (radio controlled) pushed the wagons back until the loco was inside clear. This pushed the guard’s van passed the home signal of the next box (which wasn’t off!!) Much laughter followed and the L&Y graciously spared the driver’s career!

There ware also one or two opportunities to practice the emergency regulations as the two-car DMU had a slightly tendency to leave the rails when going over a particular set of points! No need to telephone the RAIB for this though – just reverse back through the trailing points and everything’s re-railed, like all good models!

During the day we were also very lucky to be allowed to visit Borough Market Junction Box.

Everyone had a really excellent time and we thoroughly recommend visiting the layout if you can, and if you get the opportunity to have a go then definitely take it!! Beware of Signal Box ‘B’, that’s extremely difficult!

We were very keen to see how the L&Y team engaged with their visitors, and we learned a lot that we can use when the time comes for Swindon Panel about their commentary and how they pitch their explanations. The L&Y commentators also gave Swindon Panel Society a good plug at the start of each demo to the watching crowds.

At the end of the day we powered up our small demo panel (made by Jon Tillin) which the L&Y team found fascinating. Several members of the L&Y team are ex- or current railway staff in signalling disciplines, and they were keen to ‘test’ our demo panel, and I’m pleased to say they couldn’t fault it!

We hope to be welcoming the L&Y team to a return visit to Swindon Panel in the not too distant future.

Swindon Panel Saturday at DRC and York this weekend

It’s nearly time for…. Swindon Panel Saturday!! Yaayyy!!!

This weekend we are looking forward to our long-awaited trip to the NRM to take our place operating the Lancashire & Yorkshire signalling school layout, as well as visiting Borough Market Junction Signal Box (not normally open) and all the other artefacts – signalling and otherwise – of the NRM.

While all that’s going on we will also have a contingent at Didcot Railway Centre continuing the work on the building! Do come along and join them if you can, even if only for a short time, they’re really very friendly! Tim Miller and Richard Antliff will be there as your points of contact.

See you there – at Didcot or York!

Future Swindon Panel Days at Didcot Railway Centre are:
Saturday 8 November (this weekend)
Sunday 23 November (including EGM)
Saturday 6 December
Sunday 21 December

Extraordinary General Meeting

Notice is being distributed to members that an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the Swindon Panel Society will be held on Sunday 23rd November at the Railway Centre. (This is within the existing “Swindon Panel Sunday”).

The EGM is being convened for the purpose of approving or disapproving an alteration to the constitution. In accordance with paragraph 8(a) of the constitution, amendments may only be made at an AGM or EGM.

The meeting will start at 1pm and will last approximately 15 minutes. All members are entitled to attend the meeting. Following the meeting there will be an opportunity to look round the site of the building works and discuss the progress and plans for the building and the panel. So even though the meeting is relatively short, this is a great opportunity to see the progress that has been made on the site over the last few months.

The proposed change to the constitution has been prompted by a request from the Charity Commission in order to bring our constitution in line with their ideal format and wording for a charitable organisation’s governing document as a final requirement of our obtaining of Registered Charity status.

The obtaining of Registered Charity status opens a lot of doors for the Society, and therefore this is a very important issue. However, we appreciate that most members will not wish to travel all the way to Didcot for such a short meeting, so we are requesting those members to proxy their vote either to another member of their choice, or to the chairman, Tom O’Flaherty (Contact Details). You may instruct your proxy to vote on your behalf in favour or against or ‘as they see fit’. Notification of appointment of a proxy must be made to the Secretary by 1800 on Friday 21 November.

Here are the details of the proposed change:

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Proposal from Danny Scroggins (Secretary) for an alteration to the Society constitution (governing document), which has been requested by the Charity Commission:

2(a) “The objects of the Society are to secure, for the benefit of the public, the preservation, restoration, use and maintenance of the Western Region signalling panel known as ‘Swindon Panel’ (hereafter referred to as ‘the panel’), and the associated equipment and artefacts. To use the same panel and equipment as a working exhibit, demonstrating railway signalling history and practice of the period, and other general railway signalling interest.”

2(b) “The Society shall operate within any restrictions imposed by the host site and the law of England.”
to be DELETED from the constitution but to remain an internal policy of the Society.

2(c) “The Society shall maintain an agreement with the governing body of the host site, for access to, and operation of, the panel.”
to be DELETED from the constitution but to remain an internal policy of the Society.

All of section 2(d) to REMAIN but to be made its own separate section headed ‘Powers’, and subsequent sections renumbered accordingly.

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Minety Level Crossing Recommissioned

After various false starts, the level crossing on the former Swindon Panel area at Minety has finally been brought back into use and the road re-opened.

For the benefit of history:

The equipment was brought into use at 0259 on Monday 3 November 2014, and it is now controlled from the Level Crossing Workstation at the Thames Valley Signalling Centre.

The first train over the crossing was 3S32 0353 Worcester to Swindon at approximately 0310 top and tailed by 37175 and 37219!