unfitted freight

76026
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:02 pm

unfitted freight

Post by 76026 » Tue May 12, 2020 8:18 am

The posts on 9Fs on oil trains and on banking are making me green with envy- wish I'd woken up to railways a few years earlier.

It's also made me wonder when the last unfitted freights ceased- around Brizzle and nationally.

Someone (can't remember who) told me that somewhere in the country there was one last unfitted train that continued to run fo a while after all others had cease. I've a vague sense it had specialised wagons but the traffic wan't expected to flow much longer, so there was no will to shell for converting them to air braking or replacing them. Does this ring any bells?

Rivercider
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Nov 24, 2019 9:02 pm

Re: unfitted freight

Post by Rivercider » Sat May 23, 2020 1:36 pm

One late example of unfitted freight was export coal via Swansea Docks in MDOs (unfitted 21t mins) until early 1987.
They were still used as the wagons were unloaded by coal hoists one at a time,each wagon was uncoupled separately, and any vacuum pipe work would have been in the way.

cheers

Rivercider
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Nov 24, 2019 9:02 pm

Re: unfitted freight

Post by Rivercider » Sat May 23, 2020 2:09 pm

The elimination of unfitted trains was a gradual process, with parts of BR becoming unfitted bit by bit. The SR was first I think in around 1975?
The British Steel strike of 1980 rendered many unfitted coal and steel wagons surplus to requirements, many were then scrapped.
The air braked Speedlink network had built up from the late 1970s, and the traditional vacuum braked Other Wagon Load network lasted until about May 1984. After that there were still many unfitted wagons in engineers use, particularly bogie rail carriers, and some unfitted services continued to run until the late 1980s, including a Gloucester New Yard to Tavistock Junction (and return) service which ran a couple of times a week. West of Taunton had become fully fitted around 1984 I guess.
So by the late 1980s unfitted trains around Bristol would have been very rare, though I don't recall when the last one ran.

cheers

76026
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:02 pm

Re: unfitted freight

Post by 76026 » Sat May 23, 2020 8:49 pm

Thank you for supplying the answer to my question. Good to know that I hadn't imagined there being a particular reason for retaining unfitted wagons. Suitably cheered I went looking online for photos, and found yours on the 'Retired Section Swansea Docks' website. Great shots- you clearly found some rather good vantage points.

Rivercider
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Nov 24, 2019 9:02 pm

Re: unfitted freight

Post by Rivercider » Tue May 26, 2020 10:34 am

Thanks for the comments about the Swansea Docks photos.
Because of the sheer volume of freight traffic in South Wales there were also other quite late unfitted revenue earning traffic in the 1980s.
Coke from Nantgarw to Barry Docks for export in HUO (24t hops) to about 1982/3
Steel coil from Llanwern to Newport Docks in coil-C and coil-J wagons to at least 1985.
There was also coal in HUOs to Sponodon in the East Midlands which lasted much longer (late 1980s), also some other traffic between Grimsby and Immingham in private owner wagons.

cheers

buxton4472
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2020 3:08 pm

Re: unfitted freight

Post by buxton4472 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 12:13 am

Talking of South Wales, during the miners' strike in 1984/5 Nantgarw coking plant managed to dispose of the vast majority of its stockpiled blast-furnace coke to Llanwern steelworks using (amongst other wagons) coke hoppers (the ones that had wooden boards around the tops to increase capacity for coke being less dense than its parent coal. From memory, these were unfitted. This disposal had the blessing of the NUM lodge chairman at Nantgarw. Working at the area laboratory attached to the coke ovens site, I could see as many as four trains a day leave the plant for Llanwern. I believe these hoppers were also used to supply Pensnett from Cwm coke-ovens, but I cannot remember when this traffic ceased.

76026
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:02 pm

Re: unfitted freight

Post by 76026 » Mon Jul 06, 2020 9:34 pm

Thank you for this. I hadn't exactly forgotten about coke, but it's a while since I've heard or read anything about it. Sometimes we used the domesic variety instead of coal when I was a nipper.

Surprising that coke was moved from a plant to a steelworks with the NUM's blessing during a strike. I wonder why?

76026
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:02 pm

Re: unfitted freight

Post by 76026 » Fri Feb 26, 2021 7:14 pm

A conversation yesterday has spurred me to reopen this topic, with a question I've not considered before: were all freight trains through the tunnel required to be vacuum fitted? My guess would be yes- the idea of descending into the tunnel without brakes pinned down seems adventurous, and the prospect of ascending out of it against brakes seems unwelcome too.

I guess that the first vacuum fitted wagons didn't appear until some years after the tunnel opened- so in the interim period, presumably freight into Wales went via the Severn Railway bridge or via Gloucester?

the green mile
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Re: unfitted freight

Post by the green mile » Sun Feb 28, 2021 9:14 am

An acquaintance of mine has supplied the following:

There was an account of going through the Severn Tunnel in a Locospotters annual either 1960 or 1961 and it discussed the procedure. At the bottom of the incline in the tunnel there were some marker lights which the engine would whistle and the guard would prepare to release the brake gradually. At the start of the climb there were a further set of lights and the engine would give another blast at which point the guard having presumably passed the first set would fully release his brake ready for the climb to keep the couplings taut. There was an emergency wire that ran the length of the tunnel and if a train broke in two the guard had to cut the wire which blocked anything going into the tunnel. I think the entire length of the tunnel was one block.

I can vaguely remember a reference to brakes being pinned down prior to entering the 'Hole' as we referred to it. The 'tell-tale wire' was definitely still in place up to the time I left the railway a decade ago, and probably still is.

Roy

the green mile
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Re: unfitted freight

Post by the green mile » Sun Feb 28, 2021 10:05 am

A further update to clarify, which seems to contradict the earlier answer. Down unfitted freights had their brakes pinned down at Patchway then released beyond Pilning before entering the tunnel at 1 in 100. So in answer to the initial question, there was no restriction on unfitted freights.

Roy

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