NYMR takes top honours in HRA Awards
14/12/14Trust Board Meeting
Unfortunately the continuation of the 5th December Trust Board meeting, due to be held on Friday 12th December was postponed yet again because of non-availability of certain Trust Officers. Similarly the joint Plc and Trust Boards review of the strategic plan that was to precede the Trust Board meeting was also postponed. This is not the place to pass comment on how we have allowed ourselves to get into this position but whatever the reason important business is not being dealt with in a timely manner.
There are two issues that particularly concern me; one is the lack of a report from the Events Committee and the other is the report from the Carriage Committee. Both from completely different areas but both needing urgent attention.
The problems in C & W are well known and need no repeating here but the issue with the Events Committee seems to be an inability to decide definitely on the date for the Spring Steam Gala. Why is this important you might ask? Well many intending visitors like to book their accommodation many months in advance to be sure of getting the accommodation of choice. At the moment this is not possible and when the date is finally released there will be a mini-stampede to get booked in. Some will be disappointed and won’t thank the NYMR for its tardiness.
Winter Engineering Work
Another of Infrastructure Director, Nigel Trotter’s regular progress reports appeared on the NYMR website this week. Of particular interest, given the points I was making earlier about C & W maintenance, is the progress being made with the concrete apron being constructed outside the C & W workshop in Pickering. Evidence of at least some investment in new facilities for this hard pressed team.
At Summit, rail cropping and welding to remove dipped joints proceeds apace and Nigel gives some details of the French system of rail welding.
Many years ago (about 40 odd to be more precise) I worked for what was then British Rail Western Region in ‘plain line relaying’ for a spell. Every weekend I was out and about on relaying jobs and my role was to provide the technical assistance to ‘de-stress’ the newly laid rail. The theory of continuously welded rail (CWR) is that if you can make the rail ‘stress free’ at a set temperature then you can safely do away with the gaps between individual rails. Steel is a very good conductor of heat and so the ‘stress-free’ temperature has to be quite high otherwise the rails would buckle in hot weather. Unfortunately relaying is rarely undertaken when the rail is at this temperature so a mechanical means of stretching the rail has to be employed. I was required to take the average rail temperature along the length of rail to be de-stressed, calculate the stretching needed and then instruct the relaying gang to produce a gap between the rails to be joined. The gap was then closed by stretching and when the two ends were within a set distance they were welded together by a process then known as Thermit welding. All very similar to the process shown in Nigel’s photographs which can be seen HERE What used to worry me was if I got the calculation wrong and we couldn’t close the gap! Fortunately this never happened but on a cold Saturday night in January when the rail temperature is around the freezing mark your calculated gap on a 600’ length was about 24” (600mm). Telling the ganger to cut two feet off the end of the rail and then pull them to stretch out the two feet just cut off, would bring a questioning look in to their eyes! It was easier with gangers that I had worked with before and whose trust I had earned but with a new one well...
However I digress...
The Branch Line Train
There has been some debate recently about bringing back into use some of the non-BR standard coaches that have languished about the railway for many years. The idea is that a rake of non-corridor stock would be an attraction for our visitors on Gala weekends and allow them to get a taste of what rail travel was like on rural branch lines in the 1930s and 40s. I well remember, as a child, being taken to the seaside at Hornsea by my grandmother in stock like this. It was compartment stock, never terribly clean because I was always chastised for getting my clothes dirty with smuts from the engine! We would board the train at Botanic Gardens Station in Hull from where trains ran to both Hornsea and Withernsea on the Holderness coast. As far as I know this is an experience that cannot be replicated anywhere now.
Possible suitable vehicles would be the two ex Hull and Barnsley Brake 3rds No 40 and No 58 from 1907 and 1908 respectively, the NER 6 wheel luggage composite No 1111 dating from 1890 and the much more modern LNER, Thompson designed, CL No 88339 which was built in 1947. Somehow we seem to have forgotten our responsibilities towards heritage and despite efforts by a small band of dedicated volunteers these vehicles could easily be lost unless someone starts to take a strategic interest. A first step would be to develop some covered accommodation for these and the many other vehicles that are left out in the open through all weathers with the consequent deterioration.
Seeing these four run again is probably a ‘pipe dream’ but somebody does need to provide some effective leadership to our beleaguered C & W department and give them the tools to do their work without having one hand tied behind their figurative backs as they are at the moment.
Some really good news just in from Philip Benham, our Managing Director:
You will be pleased to hear that NYMR have taken the top honour in the 2014 Heritage Railway Association awards. I quote from Robin Jones (Heritage Railway):
Following the ground-breaking opening of a second platform at Whitby station, the terminus of the original Whitby & Pickering Railway built by George Stephenson, which is now shared with Network Rail’s Esk Valley line, the NYMR – Britain’s most popular heritage line with around 350,000 visitors annually - has been awarded the HRA Annual Award (Large Groups) for an outstanding achievement in railway preservation.
This is the second occasion in recent years that we have won the award - the first being for the start of Whitby operations in 2007.