Friday, 31 May 2013

Improving the view from the carriage window

Dear all,
As you are probably aware, I am very interested in improving the view our customers get of our railway when they are riding in the trains.

I believe that our customers expect to see a nostalgic scene evoking the steam age and they certainly get this from our superb stations and well dressed and friendly staff. Where we need to improve is to enhance the view in the station yards and this can be done by sheeting down unrestored vehicles, by repainting those which need to be by the line side and positioning restored stock, mostly wagons, where they can be seen.

I expect everybody who has ridden the railway in the last month will have noticed that the very rusty coach at Winchcombe has been sheeted down and this was the subject of a blog posting last month.

The next job on the list is the steam loco department's mess coach and this was nearly finished in time for the Steam Gala. I hope you agree that the 'after' photo represents an improvement over the 'before'. 

I thought the freight train at the Steam Gala was the star of the show and I'm working to get the restored GWR wagons on the siding next to the steam loco department's mess coach thus evoking the spirit of a real GWR goods yard. I think they'll make a great sight as well as being potentially available for Fire and Drive activities.

As always your feedback is welcome particularly about any opportunities you have identified for improving the railway's presentation.

Kind regards,

Chris Bristow


  1. Ah, so thats why the spare RBr was sold which C&W so desperately wanted to keep for spares - it wasn't pretty enough. Never mind that it went for half the value of its bogies, the parts on it are irreplaceable and it upset the whole of C&W.

    Like all accountants you know the price of everything and the value of nothing.You certainly won't get my vote at the AGM, nor will Richard Drewitt who should have vetoed the sale.

    The current Board concentrates too much on the bottom line and ignores the wishes and aspirations of the peolple building, running and maintaining the Railway. Wake up and smell the coffe. They can vote with their feet. Without the volunteers there would be no bottom line, no directors and no railway.
    Bob Mackintosh

  2. Chris
    Are those random piles of sleepers on the move too? Hope so.

  3. “Chris
    Are those random piles of sleepers on the move too? Hope so.”

    Well my first observation is why is this anonymous post allowed, as a previous edict stated no more anon posts would be allowed?!!!!!!
    In response to this post, that shouldn’t be there, I will as Head of the PWay Department try to elaborate on the “strategic” positioning of sleepers. Unfortunately due to the random nature of the comment regarding randomly placed sleepers I cannot comment specifically on any sleeper position.

    There is a strategic pile of concrete sleepers at Gotherington which has been there prior to the opening to Cheltenham, these will contribute the majority of those required to reach Broadway, feel free if you are able to move them (each weighs around a quarter of a ton) and position, as this will facilitate an early start to Broadway!

    Other sleepers, perhaps those removed from Chicken curve? Are piled at the end of the Defford straight at the time it was envisaged these would return to CC, but luckily we were able to replace with concrete sleepers and new rail, some were re-used in Winchcombe platform 1 in 2012, thus reducing the pile.

    Yes they need sorting, some may be re-useable, sidings, mainline or gardens, AS1 chairs for removal and piling in Winchcombe yard, but that’s another problem!?????? These if you want to move them weigh around 125kg with chairs.

    There are some piles of scrap concrete sleepers about, not so obvious. These have made excellent drain covers, bank slip retainers, etc etc.

    Thus to ward off any sale or disposal of any Permanent Way sleepers or any other equipment, either previously owned, owned, partially owned or future owned by the company, I suggest that either and/or the Pway Hod & Engineering Director is consulted.

    Nigel Black
    HoD Pway

  4. The short answer to Mr. 2 above is "not anytime soon". As Nigel refers to in his reply there are logistical and handling issues to contend with. The chief one is that with the full running season now underway there are very few opportunities to gain a track possession so that a P/Way train can venture out to recover lineside sleepers. Such an occasion will have to wait until the autumn. Can the aesthetic sensibilities of Mr. 2 hang on until then ?

  5. In response to Bob's comment above about C&W.

    For a start Bob has got some of the facts wrong in that the bogies were salvaged from the RBr before scrapping and the copper water tanks were also removed at Toddington and returned to C&W.

    Also, as Bob will know from his previous stint as operations director, the biggest problem for C&W at Winchcombe is lack of space to shunt without having to block up the main line and stop the railway. There is a strategic plan, developed with C&W management as to which vehicles will be required in the future and which will not. Those that will not will be moving on to pastures new. You can't have it both ways. We can't hang on to every piece of stock (just in case) and operate the railway smoothly and efficiently at the same time, we haven't the siding space. As always a compromise has to be found.

    The other point which Chris is addressing is that we are getting more and more comment from visitors about the railway looking like a scrap yard. We need visitors to enjoy their visit and come back again if we are to continue to thrive as a railway and so we must respond to their comment when appropriate.

    Neil, Ops Manager.

  6. Whatever the part Mr Bristow's remit to tidy up the railway played in the decision to dispose of the spare RBr 1972 in the way it was done, slagging off Bob Mackintosh doesn't help the situation. As of now, I don't believe that the GWSR has gained anything from the 'salvage' of one of the bogies from under this vehicle - rather 2 wheelsets worth approximately £6000 in their known condition have been lost. Unless this bogie is returned to the Railway in a sensibly agreed condition, this will remain the case. The vehicle left the Railway in haste at a particularly inappropriate time, when the C & W department was struggling to prepare a third set of coaches and a set of freight wagons for the wartime weekend and the Steam Celebration. Hence the situation that Bob Mackntosh correctly describes.

    I have today participated in a shunt to allow some other vehicles to leave the Railway, which involved moving vehicles from the siding on which the spare RBr formerly stood. The Board must realise that, so long as the track layout in the C & W yard remains the same, practical considerations will demand that we fill this siding with vehicles that we intend to refurbish, but will not be done soon. Inevitably these vehicles will be in more or less dilapidated condition and this siding will always be in full view of the running line. We cannot afford to put stores vehicles containing anything heavy and/or use frequently in this siding, as it is the furthest from our workshop and is inaccessible with any wheeled vehicle. We will NOT put any service coaches in this siding because, apart from it being hardest to shunt, it is exposed to the sun in the same way that the main line is at this location. The enforced stabling of the maroon set here for the past 2 summers is why the Cotswold side of this set is now much more shabby than the Malvern side.

    We have therefore refilled this siding with vehicles awaiting refurbish. We cannot afford to leave it empty because of the lack of alternative space. If any of these are considered to be eyesores rather than, as many people think, examples of what they actually are and the sort of thing you would expect to see outside the C & W workshop on any real Railway, the Board must arrange some sensible solution in discussion with those directly involved. What was done with RBr 1972 is a classic case of how NOT to do it.

    I trust that this issue will be addressed positively between now and the AGM or some hard questions may be asked.

    John Hamer

    GWSR C & W Department

  7. John
    This is from Florida

    Are you aware that RD and I have met with the C &W Management Team to discuss future needs and resources?

    This included agreeing that the receipt from the sale would be spent on commonwealth bogie overhaul


    1. Malcolm,

      Yes I am and this is why I now believe that the overall issues with the sale of RBr 1972 are closed and we must move on.

      The outstanding issue to me is the bogie (Frame No 434) that Andrew Goodman has been allowed to remove and take away to allow him to acquire the valuable serviceable wheelsets I referred to above. As RD knows, AG claimed that this bogie was his as it came from under one of his vehicles. For this to be true, it would mean that our official bogie change and wheelset measurement records are incorrect. The situation with this bogie needs to be clarified and resolved properly and visibly.

      John Hamer