Author Topic: "Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales  (Read 3568 times)

Steve Smith

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"Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales
« on: January 07, 2014, 08:42:21 PM »
This article was referred to on the Railway Preservation News Forum. The videos give you an idea of what it would be like to travel the Festiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway at 168 mph. Fasten seat belts!

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/ffestiniog-welsh-highland-railways-186mph-6463634

Steve Smith

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Re: "Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2014, 07:35:21 PM »

RANT ALERT: I started this thread with evil intent, namely to mount my soap box and advocate for a narrower trimmed right of way on the WW&F. It’s well known that trying to keep the 2-1/2 miles of line trimmed out to 33 feet either side is a mighty chore, falling mostly, not totally, on the shoulders—aging ones--of a few. (This is NOT to ignore the much appreciated help on that task by all who pitch in.

I don’t know exactly how far out from track centerline the Welch Highland Railway trims its ROW, but the video shows that it’s considerably less than 33 feet. Yet it’s quite apparent from the video that this does not interfere with pleasant viewing from the train.

For much of the trip the WHR runs through open land, of course, but there are stretches up at the higher elevations where the terrain is wooded. I think anyone would have a hard time making the case that the passengers’ viewing experience through that stretch is badly affected by the narrowness of the cleared ROW.

A couple of years ago I made the same point about the ROW of the 15-inch gauge line, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in northwestern England, attaching a couple of photos to illustrate.

One objection that has been raised to a narrower trim width is that it creates a “tunnel through the trees.”  

If your railroad runs though densely wooded terrain, as some of the WW&F line does, you WILL have a tunnel through the trees regardless, the only question being how wide do you make your tunnel.

Fortunately there are considerable stretches of our 2-1/2 miles where the terrain is NOT so densely wooded as to give passengers a hemmed-in feeling. That also applies to parts north of Top of the Mountain where the ROW runs on the side of a steep incline.

Somewhere in an earlier discussion of narrow vs wide ROW, I recall Ed Lecuyer mentioning something to the effect that he and his family had a better experience, with respect to views, when riding the Strasburg Railroad rather than the line out of Steamtown. Even though I have not ridden either one of these routes, I did view them via google satellite, and concluded that Ed’s argument was unfortunately an apples vs oranges comparison: Strasburg is blessed with a route through open farm country to a considerable extent, whereas the line out of Steamtown runs through a good deal of densely wooded terrain. Even if the line from Steamtown were trimmed to ONE HUNDRED thirty-three feet each side, it couldn’t offer the views enjoyed from Strasburg’s line.

Mike Fox objected to the narrower ROW on the grounds that trees could be blown down onto the line. With the huge gobs of time freed up from 33-ft trimming, there would be ample opportunity to inspect the trees and fell any dangerous ones before winds did it. That would have the added advantage of providing some firewood, and perhaps even lumber.

In any case I doubt that trees being closer to the track would be a significant hazard for the train crews and passengers, since surely if there were high wind conditions trains wouldn’t run anyway. The worst case might be some track damage if a dodgy tree were overlooked during inspection and came down in high wind.

It’s true that even with the present setup, sometimes downed trees have to be cleared after high winds. It’s also true that the time spent on this work would rise eventually if the cleared ROW narrowed to, say, seven or eight feet each side of center vs the present 33 feet. But the added time for occasional clearance of wind-felled trees from the track would never be more than a small fraction of the hours spent with the weed whackers under the present system.

I rest my case, and my aching finger tips from all this typing. Mercy, if you but knew how they are smarting. ;D (Now if I can just step down off the soapbox without turning an ankle.)

 

  

 

Stewart "Start" Rhine

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Re: "Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2014, 08:15:48 PM »
Hi Steve,

I understand your point.  The only thing I would add is that a wider clearing is better fire protection, especially for a line operating steam.  Wider clearing = less overhanging branches.   True, there is grass in the clearing but it would be green for most of the Summer.   Fire danger is worse in dry weather and into the Fall and I would rather fight a grass fire than a woods fire with brush, pine needles, dead branches, etc. where the fire can get up into the trees.   My experience in the fire service is where this thought comes from.

Stewart   


John Kokas

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Re: "Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2014, 10:49:21 PM »
Steve,

As part of the PA contingent, I can speak to the Strasburg and Steamtown comparison directly.  Although true that Strasburg runs through mostly flat farm country and Steamtown through the Pocono Mountains, the view one has today from the Steamtown runs pales in comparison when it was the active Lackawanna mainline.  I rode this line numerous times when I was a kid and the ROW maintenance today is almost nonexistant compared to what it was.  Vegetation has grown in 75-100 feet on each side from what it was and the area around Mt Pocono down to Stroudsburg was quite open with fantastic views, almost none of which can be seen today.

I for one would encourage keeping the ROW as wide as practicable from both a maintenance and fire perspective but also for the views provided.  Regarding the mowing issue, IMHO we need to focus on being able to mechanize the process as much as possible.

Thoughts anyone?

Moxie Bootlegger

Steve Smith

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Re: "Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 04:23:31 AM »
Thanks, Stewart and John for reminding me about FIRE! Having ridden the fire car on one or two occasions, I should have remembered.

The rate at which the Museum has been acquiring machinery in the last year or so gives hope, I think, that keeping the ROW clear will eventually be aided by machines of increasing reach and capacity, so that the job requires significantly less labor and time in the future. Meanwhile, Mike's ROW MOW has taken the first step and shown the way.

James Patten

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Re: "Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2014, 12:01:37 PM »
That was part of the idea in acquiring the backhoe - finding a mower attachment for the arm that would replace the bucket, then finding a way to high-rail it.

Steve Smith

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Re: "Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2014, 07:12:59 PM »
Hi-railing it would limit its lateral range. Is there concern that the Kubota will likely tip over if it strays too far from the track in certain areas? Some of the terrain IS awfully rough, no doubt about it.

The video that inspired my rant was made at WHR. but I shouldn't have started this thread in the WHR section. Seem to recall an earlier thread on grass trimming, and equipment for same, and it was in a section devoted to the WW&F rather than WHR.

I should have hunted for it, but I never seem to have much luck with SEARCH. Oh well, that's the lot of a komputer klutz.  

Mike Fox

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Re: "Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2014, 12:25:25 AM »
Not to worry SS. The designers at ROWMOW 1 Mfg have been thinking of the tipping issue and have the solution already. Hy-railing setting and a work setting. Hy-rail, the machine can travel on the tracks. Work setting would allow the rail wheels to act as a guide while the tires roll along the ties, providing stability for the reach. This still will not reach to the edge of the ROW, but will certainly help.

One other reason for the open ROW is moisture. A tree tunnel is constantly damp, accelerating the rate of rot for the ties.
Mike
Doing way too much to list...

Steve Smith

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Re: "Hi-Speed Rail" in Wales
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2014, 03:25:27 AM »
Well if a narrower tree tunnel is constantly damp, that ought to be an advantage re the fire danger.

Maybe something between what the WHR and the R & ER have, i.e., rather narrow, and the considerably wider ROW the WW&F has, would be the optimum ROW width. I suppose the general climate of the particular area the RR runs through has an influence. (Anybody know the ROW width for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic?) Certainly other factors come into it, such as number of volunteers available and the financial resources for acquiring equipment to help with the job.

I think it was Bill Reidy who suggested a different approach from grass cutting. Correct me if I got his idea wrong, but I thought it was to  concentrate on keeping the saplings, tree shoots, or whatever you want to call them, from developing, rather than focus on grass. That would have the advantage of avoiding lots of mowed, dry grass waiting to be ignited by sparks.

Pertinent to Bill's idea, this question from a city boy: Are lightweight powered sapling pruners manufactured?