Monthly Archives: March 2015

Foundation Finished!!

Well done to everyone at Swindon Panel Sunday 29 March, and to everyone involved in the work on the site since last September, as the building foundation is now completed!

A panoramic view of the finished foundation. [James Nelhams]

The site is now completely flat, with very little left to do before brick-laying can commence.

The sleepers used as shuttering around the edge of the site will be removed and recycled and the ground filled back in (lest we should end up with a moat around the building!) The first brick-course will be laid out dry initially to obtain the correct spacing etc, and then cemented in. Contractor brick-layers will be carrying out the brick-laying, so we should see the walls rise fairly quickly!

Remember when it looked like this? This was the digging out of the site in September 2014. [Richard Antliff]

SPS and GWS volunteers also managed to uproot a large tree stump obstructing the walkway from the main platform through the site to where the building doors will be. This had been slowly dug away at over the last few weekends.

A view of the path (minus tree trunk) to where the front doors will be. The path on the left leads to an air-raid shelter (just in case). [James Nelhams]

All this hard work and exciting progress can be viewed at any Swindon Panel Day at DRC, especially on Railcar Day on Saturday 18 April, when our exhibition stand, including photos and ‘demo panel’ will be present. Why not come and visit us? Or better still, join us on the stand for an hour or two!

Soon to be the view from the Bristol Room, through the glass wall, to the west end of the panel. The view will be of the backs of the heads of the group of visitors enjoying an explanation and demonstration of the panel workings! [James Nelhams]

Swindon Panel Decommissioning Deferred Again

Swindon PanelHello

Unfortunately we have to report that we have been advised by Network Rail today that it is highly likely that the Swindon Area Signalling Renewal, and associated decommissioning of Swindon Panel, will be deferred for a third time.

It is not yet clear when the work would be deferred until, this is something that Network Rail will no doubt need to work out. We will report further details as soon as we know them and report as soon as we can on how this affects our plans and expectations for the future.

As you’ll be aware the building at DRC (on which the foundations were completed this week and brick-laying is soon due to commence) is only planned for completion by the end of this year, so provided the delay to the closure of the panel is not too great it should not significantly affect our planned development at Didcot. As we have said before, and seem to now be saying with disappointing regularity, delays to the panel arriving in Didcot are a benefit in that they reduce the burden of finding somewhere to securely store it until the building is ready to receive it.

Huge apologies to anyone messed about by this news, we hope you understand the circumstances that until the day we take hold of the panel we will be governed by Network Rail’s much higher level plans.

Sincere apologies to those who had agreed to give up their time for the panel recovery programme which will clearly now not take place. If you have arranged time off work that can’t be undone please let us know, there are always other tasks in progress and we will make sure you’re gainfully employed.

We understand the news is not what anyone wanted to hear, but while we are frustrated by the delay in obtaining the panel for preservation, we ask all members of the Society and the Swindon Panel family to remember that the staff of Swindon Panel and TVSC are affected in a way far more disruptive to their own lives and careers and we should treat this situation with the sensitivity the circumstances require.

We intend to still hold our AGM on 27 June, and intend to include a members’ BBQ as well (location TBC but most likely at DRC). In the more immediate future, to help you get your Swindon Panel fix, we will have our exhibition stand at the Railcar Day at Didcot on 18th April, so do come and get involved in helping us with that as well if you can. We look forward to seeing you at DRC soon!

Danny, Tom, Tim, Brian, James.

Final Foundation Concrete Pour this Thursday

The final foundation concrete pour will take place this Thursday 26 March!

This concrete pour will be the largest of all the pours and will set the footprint of the new building well and truly into place. No more reinforcement bar, no more walking boards, no more mud. Ahhh Bisto!

CAN YOU HELP? Most of the previous five concrete pours have been carried out by a hardy few volunteers. They are carried out on weekdays by necessity, due to the availability of the specialist staff and tools. This being a larger job than all the rest, we could really do with some help on this last piece of foundation.

The job takes place from about 9.30 until completion, probably about 2pm. Any part of the day that you can help would be great!

Let us know if you can come along and we’ll put the kettle on!

Picture: The last piece of foundation will be invisible forever more from Thursday!

Panel Visit – 9th May

We are delighted to confirm a Society visit to Swindon Panel will be held on Saturday 9th May! Thank you very much to Network Rail for agreeing to this latest visit to the panel in its working condition for the Society.

Photo by Jack Boskett.

We will hold a morning (10am) and an afternoon (2pm) visit, following the same format as previously, starting with a meeting in the Network Rail offices with an update on the progress of the Society and our plans for the next few months, including where you can help! We will have our demo panel and other toys, diagrams and plenty of opportunity for discussion and questions. We will then walk to the panel for the visit, which will include a guided tour of the operating room and panel controls by Danny Scroggins and a conducted talk of the relay room by E10k interlocking expert Tony Cotterell.

Important: engineering work will close the railway between Didcot and Swindon on the day of the Panel visit.

This will be a fantastic opportunity for you to visit, in action, the panel we are all working so hard to preserve, so that you can say “I was there when it was still in operation!” We normally have a good day on our visits, and this one promises to be just as good!

Members who have not attended visit to Swindon Panel before will initially have first priority to attend, followed by members who have attended a visit to Swindon Panel before. In order for us to manage numbers it is necessary to book your place in advance on the visit via our online sign-up form.

We expect a high demand for places on this visit so it is unlikely we will be able to open it to non-members. Non-members, to get in the game, join up here!

Registration is open now for all those wishing to attend. If you have been on a visit to the panel before you will be on a reserve list until 31st March. If there are sufficient places left after 1st April we will confirm your place and let you know. If there aren’t then we will let you know that is the case. After 1st April places will be first come-first-served regardless of whether you’ve attended before.

The usual conditions for signal box visits apply:
– The meeting will start in the Network Rail offices, Holbrook Way, Swindon. SN1 1BD. Please do not go to the panel yourself.
– The panel visit is subject to there being no operational issues or problems going on and may be need be curtailed, postponed or cancelled at any point as operational circumstances require.
– Swindon Panel is accessible from the street so no HVs required.
– If coming by train, Western House is about a 5 minute walk from Swindon station (Directions). If coming by car there is a public car park opposite the building, or various car parks at Swindon station (all pay + display).
– Access to Western House has step-free access, but there are stairs from the ground to the operating room of the panel and unfortunately there is no lift.
– Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult responsible.
– Mobile phones to silent or off.
– Swindon Panel is still a real life operational signal box and we will be the guests in someone else’s workplace, so we need to treat the circumstances with respect and to maintain our good relationship that we make sure we don’t distract or obstruct the signallers in their work. no touching of the panel or interfering with the signallers unless invited!
– Photography of the signalling equipment is allowed, again bear in mind the signallers who will probably not wish to be in the photos but will almost certainly be happy to step back at an appropriate moment to allow you to take a photograph.

Swindon Panel Saturday This Weekend

It’s Swindon Panel Saturday time again!

Meeting from 9ish at Didcot Railway Centre and getting hands-on in the building work.

The building now has four out of the seven sections of the foundation poured, so our work on Saturday will be in preparing the next sections to be poured. This involved laying in the metal reinforcement cages and wiring them all together. It isn’t necessarily difficult work but there is a a great volume of it to do!

As reported previously the reinforcement bar comes in component form and is constructed on site. As we near the end of this work the last pieces will be constructed in-situ in the base of the site. This is what we hope to be doing on Saturday.

There will also be the task of moving crossing timbers into position around the base of the building which are used as shuttering when the concrete is poured.

Finally there is a p-way mutual improvement course taking place at Didcot in the morning, starting at 9.30am, so if any members (of SPS or GWS) wish to attend that and learn a bit about track you’re very welcome!

More generic and domestic details of the day are available on the Swindon Panel Days page.

Hope to see you at Didcot on Saturday!

Happy Birthday Swindon Panel

Swindon Panel is 47 years old today! It opened overnight on 3rd/4th March 1968.

And to celebrate, it had its own panel-shape birthday cake, make by SPS member Cheryl Davis. Thanks Cheryl!

The unsuspecting signalmen receive the cake on behalf of the panel, joined by the local Mobile Operations Manager and FGW staff!

Unfortunately the train describer got a bit cracked in transit.

Danny Scroggins practices his panel engineering skills.