Category Archives: News

All the latest news and developments from the Society

Swindon Panel 2020 Calendar

‘Demonstrating Days’

Swindon Panel will is open to public visitors on the first Saturday and the third Sunday of each month in 2020 as a minimum.

It is expected that lots of additional dates will be added as the year progresses based on volunteer availability and other special events.

On all these days the panel will be open for visitors to view and have a go at operating under the guidance of our volunteer demonstrators. Visitors of all ages are welcome to learn about how railway signalling was operated in the 1960s-2000s era, and everyone is encouraged to have a go, guided by our demonstrators.

The frequency of opening is determined by volunteers who give their time to demonstrate the panel to visitors. You can join in and become a demonstrator.

SPS Members are very welcome to visit the panel on Demonstration Days (please show your SPS membership card at the ticket office to gain entry), but please remember those demonstrators who are rostered are responsible for the panel and its presentation to the public on these days.

At other times the panel is visible, through a large glass wall, but not operating, on all days that Didcot Railway Centre is open.

Special Events

In addition to our normal Demonstration Days, the following special events are also planned:

Saturday 28 March
Panel Demonstrator’s Mutual Improvement Day
[Members only]

Friday 3, Saturday 4, Sunday 5 April
Enthusiasts’ Weekend
[Open to all]

Saturday 27 June
SPS AGM
[Members and guests only]

Saturday 11 July
PIC’s MIC Day
[Members only]

Saturday 12 – Sunday 13 September
Members’ Weekend (including overnight operation)
[Members and guests only]

More details of the above Special Events will be published in due course.

See the Didcot Railway Centre website for full details of DRC events.

Simulator Technical Conference

Swindon Panel will be hosting a technical conference on Saturday 16 November 2019, starting at 10.30am, where we intend to explain all the details of our extensive simulator system.

PRE-BOOKING is required – please see below.

A detailed presentation will be given on the subject of the simulators that drive Swindon Panel, including:

– the interlocking simulators
– ‘outside world’ simulator
– train describer
– JMRI/Panel Pro
– interlocking XML generator
– HTML/PHP control tables interpreter
– PCB designs and operation
– TC64 units
– what went well and what went wrong
– future developments

Some brief details will be given of the wiring of the panel, but only sufficient for understanding of the simulator (otherwise this could take up a whole day on its own)!

No previous attendees’ knowledge will be presumed, apart from the basics of signalling and panel operation, and the basics of computer use, so hopefully the day will be of interest to everyone, but particularly those who are involved in other similar projects, either with clubs or privately.

If you haven’t already seen Swindon Panel in action, we recommend visiting on one of our public open days before attending the technical conference, but if you can’t don’t worry. http://www.swindonpanel.org.uk/activities-2019/

There will be plenty of opportunity to see the hardware and software in action, and to ask as many questions you like of those responsible for creating the system.

No information will be withheld, we will be very happy to share all intellectual property, plans and designs that belong to SPS.

The event is free to attend for SPS members. Please pre-book as below and show your SPS membership card at the DRC booking office to gain access.

Non-members are also welcome, donations towards the continued upkeep and development of Swindon Panel (registered charity) welcome. Please pre-book as below and you will be able to access DRC by your name being on a list at the entrance gate.

PRE-BOOKING IS REQUIRED. Attendee spaces are limited. Please contact us via email or Facebook message with your name, if you are attending from another club/organisation, and how many people will be in your group, to book your spaces.

See you there!

SPS Visit to Gloucester Panel

SPS Visit to Gloucester Panel

Swindon Panel Society is delighted to announce a visit to Gloucester Panel, thanks to its friends at Network Rail (who will be visiting Swindon Panel in return!)

Gloucester Panel opened a few weeks after Swindon Panel in May 1968. It is a WR Integra turn-push panel exactly like Swindon and controlled from Barnt Green in the north (fringe to Saltley, now West Midlands Signalling Centre (WMSC)), to Sapperton on the Kemble line (fringe to Swindon, now TVSC), Berkeley Road on the Charfield line (fringe to Bristol PSB, now TVSC) and Awre on the Lydney Line (fringe to Newport PSB, now South Wales Control Centre).

The north section of the panel, from Ashchurch northwards, was decommissioned from Gloucester Panel and resignalled to the WMSC in 2016.

SPS’s visit will take place on Saturday 2 November. There will be two visits, allowing two groups with eight members in each, 11.30-12.30 and 13.00-14.00.

The panel is a short walk from Gloucester station. As always with signal box visits, it is dependent on there being no incidents going on at the time, and the visit could be curtailed or cancelled at any time. If you have visited signal boxes before you’ll be aware of the etiquette that we are guests in the signallers’ serious workplace, and we have to respect that in how we behave. That being said, at the majority of signal box visits we have been on the signallers have been very lively and engaging!

Photographs are permitted, respecting that some signallers may not wish to be in them.

The operating room is on the first floor and there is no lift, so anyone who might have difficulty with stairs is asked to contact us first so that we can make sure appropriate help can be arranged.

Places are limited to sixteen, and as interest is expected to be high, to try to ensure fairness the following arrangements apply: SPS members are welcome to express interest in attending this visit. If more that 16 members have expressed interest in the visit then names will be drawn from a hat. Places will be confirmed on Monday 23 September.

Register your interest by contacting Tom Lane either by email or via HOPS. All expressions of interest will be acknowledged.

There is no cost to attend this visit, but please feel free to bring some sweets/biscuits for the signallers on duty.

If there are any questions please let us know.

July & August Opening Dates

The opening dates for July and August are now available:

July:
Saturday 6 (DRC Steam Running Day)
Saturday 13 (DRC Steam Running Day)
Saturday 20 (DRC Star Tugs Day)
Sunday 28 (DRC Steam Running Day)

August:
Saturday 3 (DRC Steam Running Day)
Sunday 11 (DRC Steam Running Day)
Sunday 18 (DRC Steam Running Day)
Saturday 24, Sunday 25, Monday 26 (August Holiday Weekend) (DRC Steam Running Days)

Come and visit us and have a go at operating the panel under the guidance of our volunteers on any of the dates above!

Simulator Room Commissioned

Development of the Swindon Panel “simulator room” has come on a great deal in the last few weeks.

The room has been decorated, desks fitted, shelving fitted, and now the temporary monitors have been replaced with this custom-fitted array of monitors which will make control of the simulator software much much easier. The monitors are ex-TVSC, so have a signalling heritage of their own!


Cables will be tidied into trunking!

The simulator room is located at the back of the Bristol Room in “The Signalling Centre” at Didcot Railway Centre, separate from the panel room. The software has several modes, some of which don’t require intervention from a person in the simulator room, so that it doesn’t need to be manned on public open days, and some which expect a person to be ‘pressing buttons’ in the background, acting as drivers, adjacent signalmen, stations, and everyone else on the railway!

Great work by everyone involved!

Reading Panel HST Nameplate Unveiled

Thank you and well done to everyone who has been involved in the donation of the READING PANEL SIGNAL BOX 1965-2010 HST nameplate from GWR to SPS.

An unveiling and re-dedication ceremony took place on Saturday 11 May, attended by many ex-Reading Panel signalmen, where GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood formally handed the nameplate over.

It is great to see it on display in the panel room, and we are delighted to have been trusted to look after this item of Western Region and signalling heritage.

£1000 Book Sale Donation to Train Describer

THANK YOU very much to SPS member and author of “A Chronology of Railway Signalling 1825-2018”, Peter Woodbridge, who has donated the proceeds from the sale of his book – £1000 – to Swindon Panel Train Describer restoration fund!

Copies of Peter’s book are still available – Peter can be contacted via SPS or via the comments below.

As you’ll see from the photos, it has received great reviews in magazines and has been justifiably placed alongside the three excellent major IRSE publications “Railway Signalling”, “Railway Control Systems” and “Railway Signalling and Control”. High praise indeed!

It is planned that Swindon Panel’s train describer will be the next stage in its restoration and will feature VDU, solid state and Sodeco mechanical units – all three technologies that were used in Swindon’s TD in its lifetime.

Thank you Peter for this most generous donation, and thank you to everyone who has bought Peter’s book and therefore contributed towards the restoration of what will be a very rare, if not unique, installation of a mechanical TD in preservation.

Demonstrators’ Workshop – Follow Up

The SPS Demonstrators’ Workshop in March was a great success, and one of the things to come out of it was the desire to hold a follow-up for less formal sharing of best practice among demonstrators.

The first of these will be held on Saturday 18 May, after the AGM. The exact venue on the DRC site is TBC (as the panel will be open to the public). When the panel closes at 4pm we will move into the panel room.

Attendees are welcome to stay at this session until 7pm, after which everyone is invited to a meal in the Prince of Wales, opposite Didcot Parkway station. No need to book in advance, we will arrange informally on the day.

All demonstrators and prospective demonstrators are welcome to attend this session.

Technical Conference – 16 November

Swindon Panel will be hosting a technical conference on Saturday *16* November 2019 [Date amended], starting at 10.30am, where we intend to explain all the details of our extensive simulator system.

PRE-BOOKING is required – please see below.

A detailed presentation will be given on the subject of the simulators that drive Swindon Panel, including:

– the interlocking simulators
– ‘outside world’ simulator
– train describer
– JMRI/Panel Pro
– interlocking XML generator
– HTML/PHP control tables interpreter
– PCB designs and operation
– TC64 units
– what went well and what went wrong
– future developments

Some brief details will be given of the wiring of the panel, but only sufficient for understanding of the simulator (otherwise this could take up a whole day on its own)!

No previous attendees’ knowledge will be presumed, apart from the basics of signalling and panel operation, and the basics of computer use, so hopefully the day will be of interest to everyone, but particularly those who are involved in other similar projects, either with clubs or privately.

If you haven’t already seen Swindon Panel in action, we recommend visiting on one of our public open days before attending the technical conference, but if you can’t don’t worry. http://www.swindonpanel.org.uk/activities-2019/

There will be plenty of opportunity to see the hardware and software in action, and to ask as many questions you like of those responsible for creating the system.

No information will be withheld, we will be very happy to share all intellectual property, plans and designs that belong to SPS.

The event is free to attend for SPS members. Please pre-book as below and show your SPS membership card at the DRC booking office to gain access.

Non-members are also welcome, donations towards the continued upkeep and development of Swindon Panel (registered charity) welcome. Please pre-book as below and you will be able to access DRC by your name being on a list at the entrance gate.

PRE-BOOKING IS REQUIRED. Attendee spaces are limited. Please contact us via email or Facebook message with your name, if you are attending from another club/organisation, and how many people will be in your group, to book your spaces.

See you there!