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Author Topic: Real railwaymen (and women)  (Read 3511 times)

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Offline ozzie Bill.

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Real railwaymen (and women)
« on: January 31, 2014, 01:28:47 AM »
This comes from a brief discussion on another thread, which was met with some positive comments.
From reading posts from many folk amongst the membership, it is apparent that there are large numbers of members who work on the rails, or who have worked on them.
It would be fantastic, I think, if some of those guys and girls could put down some of their memories and experiences. Not asking for life's work history or autobiographies (actually don't even want those) but rather just some memories you could share. Maybe funny stories, unusual occurrences, "recordable moments" or just something outside the normal daily grind. I know that most of you consider what you do to be "just doing my job" but to many of us this stuff would be really interesting. It would also build up a small knowledge bank of information, maybe even a history of railways from "everyman's" viewpoint.
What do you think? Cheers, Bill.

Offline Pengi

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2014, 07:00:14 AM »
I'd be very interested in this - terrific idea :thumbsup:
Just one Pendolino, give it to me, a beautiful train, from Italy

Offline Komata

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2014, 07:18:02 AM »
it is realised I trust that, because of their nature some of our stories will be quite long?

Should they perhaps be presented in 'parts' (if applicable)?

Perhaps the Moderators need to give guidelines?



"TVR - Serving the Northern Taranaki . . . "

Offline ozzie Bill.

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2014, 10:16:04 AM »
I don't believe that all the stories need be long. Perhaps the story teller can do their own moderation and keep each experience to a reasonable length. However, there is nothing to prevent multiple postings with different stories, is there?
Looking forward to seeing some great experiences being shared. Come on, whose first, don't be shy. Cheers, Bill.

Offline Komata

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2014, 05:40:33 PM »
OK, I'll go first (got to start somewhere...)

Imagine the following scene:

It's a calm still, Tuesday night in a rural setting, the season is Autumn, and the local rugby club is practicing for their games on Saturday. (For our US readers it would be the local Grid-Iron club having a practice).

A road runs alongside the club's field (which is surrounded with a high chain mesh fence), and, on the other side of the road, directly across from the field is an area of mown-grass, some 60 feet in width, which terminates in a railway track. This track runs parallel to the road and proceeds away into the distance in both directions.

(or, to the left and right if you were standing at the front gate of the playing field and looking towards the grassed-area)

The railway line is part of a small (14-mile long) rural branch line, and because the trains don't run very often, and NEVER in the evening, the rugby club members have, over the years, got into the habit of using the mown grassed area (actually the railway formation) as a very convenient place to park their cars.

The railway's owners have of course been aware of this, and have repeatedly told the club that its members MUST keep their vehicles clear of the tracks 'just in case' a train DOES need to use the tracks - especially during the dairy and meat-export season. There are both a dairy factory and a freezing works (meat packers) in the vicinity - the freezing works using the local station (the end of the branch itself) to send out bulk container-loads of meat.

As it has never happened, the club members have completely ignored the edict and cars are now parked with their noses and tails over the tracks.  That is the scene on this particular evening, when, way in the distance, a headlight suddenly appears around the corner and starts to come down THE RAILWAY TRACK!!

Oh dear. . .

Now, because this is New Zealand, most people are invariably polite (we're a bit like Canada really in that respect), and so, on approaching the field and seeing all the cars with their ends over the track, the locomotive (EMD G-8 NZ Railways Class Db) comes to a stop and the crew get out and walk into the club grounds to ask it the members would please move their vehicles.

'No problem' is the response, and practice is suspended while the vehicles are taken away.

The crew gets back into their loco and drive on.

The loco was responding to an export 'rush' for meat from the local freezing works - a 'rush' which was going to extend over the next seven days - and the locomotive crew told the club members this with the request, again, that the membership keep its cars away from the tracks.

The club said yes, yes, no problem (as before - as usual).

The train returned with the outbound cargo, and peace returned.

Wednesday was the same, but this time the cars were well clear.

There was NO train, on Thursday, but one on Friday evening, with again, cars back over the line. The crew repeated its actions as before and the cars were removed.

Saturday was different.

There were TWO trains that day!

One in the morning, one in the evening!

In the morning cars were everywhere - all over the tracks - completely blocking the movement of the train.

The train arrived!

As before, the crew duly whistled to get the cars removed, and, having done so, got down and, once again, approached the club membership and those 'officials in charge on the day'.

These worthies tried to use the local Tannoy (loudspeaker) PA system to get the attention of those at the ground, to ask them to move the vehicles, but were only partly successful.

What to do?

The crew returned to their engine, then sounded the locomotive horn long and loud. They then VERY CAREFULLY AND SLOWLY moved forward, horn still sounding.

Not surprisingly they met a car across the tracks. They kept on going forwards - very slowly!

The car resisted, then moved aside - now somewhat worse for wear. A Second car - the same (and bear in mind the horn was still sounding). A Third car. .

By now all games at the rugby field were suspended and pandemonium reigned.

People suddenly realised that this time the railways were 'playing for keeps' and rushed out to move their cars.

There were protests of course, but as the protesters were in the wrong, the locomotive driver, politely, told them to refer the complaint to NZR Head Office. He was merely doing his job, and as they had left their cars on the railway tracks (illegally) it was not his responsibility.

The path duly and rapidly cleared, the train went on its way, and, in due course returned. For some strange reason there were no vehicles across the tracks.

Saturday evening and the BIG Game started, was played to its conclusion without a train in sight.

The local team having won, the inevitable after-match function started, and at 1 O'clock in the morning, what turned-up? You guessed it - the Train.

This time there were, once again cars astride the rails and parked in all sorts of locations fouling the tracks.

The long-suffering locomotive crew did as before and went into the club rooms where the party was in full flight.

This time however the locomotive crew were told in no uncertain terms by inebriated party-people that they should _______ off and come back some other time!

The crew made no comment at this, and walked back to their locomotive followed by the jeers and derision of the inebriates.

Nothing was said between the Driver and Locomotive Assistant (LA) (the Diesel equivalent of the old Steam Fireman), but the LA was not surprised when, still without comment, the driver put the controls in reverse and the Db set back some 100 feet from the first vehicle blocking the tracks.

The driver than put the Locomotive in 'full forward' setting , and after observing that the LA 'might like to hold on as the ride may be just a little bumpy'. went towards the car.

The impact wasn't very noticeable, neither was the second, third or fourth, since domestic autos are not exactly heavy or thick-skinned, and by the time six cars had been 'cleared', there weren't actually any others in the way. The suddenly very sober party-goers had driven all the rest off (Strange that).

The train continued on its way and carried out its assigned task at the local railway yard.

Inevitably the local Police had by now been called and they had a very amicable conversation with the driver of the locomotive, but as no law had been broken and the Driver had been scrupulous in his observance of what was required, nothing further was done.

The train left the station on its return trip and this time the locomotive was accelerating as the service approached the rugby ground. It did NOT slow down when it connected with the back end of the single late-model (and very-expensive) sedan which had been left somewhat carelessly across the track, but it DID give a short 'toot' (of victory?) just after the impact as it headed away from the scene.

For some strange reason, the NZR subsequently had no further problems with the rugby-club concerned in respect of cars being left across the tracks - and NO complaints or claims for damages were ever received at NZR head Office in Wellington. Make of that what you will.

Hope you enjoyed this - and yes - far-fetched though it may possibly seem, it actually DID happen - but just not recently......

Next.. :)
"TVR - Serving the Northern Taranaki . . . "

Online port perran

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2014, 08:02:24 PM »
Thank you for that.
Hopefully a few more interesting tales can be told.
If it looks right then it most probably is right.


Offline willike1958

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2014, 09:16:32 PM »
Very nice idea. I'll have to think about the stories though as many of them are perhaps not repeatable in polite company. In the meantime, here is a link to a great website of photos of real working railwaymen (and one railway woman if I've counted correctly) put together by an ex-colleague covering a period of some 40 years or so years: http://richard-armstrong.smugmug.com/Other/People/22917813_QTB2Tq#!i=2969868781&k=VLcQsCR . There are even three picture of yours truly in his yoof, which unfortunately is now quite some time ago.

Offline ozzie Bill.

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2014, 02:00:23 AM »
Excellent Komata, thanks. Bill.

Offline 1936ace

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2014, 09:16:38 AM »
Well it all started when I missed out on a job as a postie so I joined the then state rail authority of nsw as an electrical apprentice. I broke tradition as all of my family had work at south Maitland railways but it closed as the last operating steam loco hauled service in 1983 so I had no choice really. I remember all the fun stuff most would be banned now I think it's now called harassment
Standing at the bench in the apprentice college one summer afternoon making square things found you could here a scream followed by an all might roar
What followed was chariot racing workshop style. The fitters would team up and grab an unsuspecting labourer or apprentice and chuck them in the swarf bin trolley and charge around the workshops funny now but not for the poor lad in the trolley
One day came to work when I was a electrician at broadmeadow to find a loco sitting in the car park where I usually park. I looked up to see a massive hole in the roadhouse the fitters were loaf testing and forgot to have the brakes on and the diesel hydraulic loco took off through the wall
I think it was the best years the stories and the frienships I formed were great
After I while and a transfer I worked in the engineers office then position was made redundant so they made me a station master never worked as one before and had a branch and signal box and coal mine private line and staff to look after. Had no idea what I was doing but I did look great in the sm uniform complete with brass pocket watch( just like the station master on oh dr bee bing)
Anyway I joined the fire brigade so that ended that but do years later I'm in a Sydney station that looks after the rail tunnels funny how it all works out
Bart

Offline willike1958

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2014, 05:26:00 PM »
‘Twas a cold and snowy morning in early 1985 when Driver Tunnicliffe and Secondman Williams were called out over the tannoy by the Healey Mills foreman to clear the reception sidings of MGR hoppers that had been stored there for something like a whole year as the miners’ strike dragged interminably on.  Driver and secondman, anticipating a long morning ahead of them take their snap and a can of water, then set off across the footbridge to 08773, clamber aboard, start it up and head off to the reception sidings.

During the year of the strike, hump shunting at Healey Mills had ended and the powers that be had decided to rip out the retarders without further ado and start lifting sections of the yard piecemeal.  Consequently, the only way to liberate the hoppers from the reception sidings was to draw them over the hump and down the slope a handful at a time and then push them back up into the only reception siding connected to the rest of the network.

Arriving at the reception sidings, all starts well. A first shunt with short rake of hoppers makes it safely over the hump and down towards where the retarders used to be. We stop, the points are pulled and back up the slope we go to place the wagons. By now the can of water is boiling nicely and we drop in a couple of tea bags. Then, back down towards the void where the retarders used to be and back up the slope to couple up to a second short rake of hoppers.

We couple up again and set off again back down the slope with a bit more gusto this time.  “Take t’brake, lad”, says Driver Tunnicliffe and t’lad duly applies the brake only to find the locomotive accelerates. “She’s picked up her wheels, lad”, says Diver Tunnicliffe, transforming himself into the master of the bleedin’ obvious. “Take brake off, lad, and apply it again”, says Driver Tunnicliffe looking daggers at me. Both Driver and said ‘lad’ turn and look over their shoulders to see only cinders and ballast where the track to the retarders used to be.

“Bloody ‘ell, lad”, shouts Driver Tunnicliffe as 08733 bites the dust and its trusty crew are thrown out of their seats  and against the bulkhead as boiling tea splashes around the cab.  We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and clamber down to the ground which is much closer to the cab when we got on board.

End result: One 08 buried in the ballast at an angle of 20°; One driver with a couple of cracked ribs; One scalded and contrite secondman with a story to tell.

See photo below.




Offline scotsoft

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2014, 05:36:49 PM »
oops  :doh:

Offline Croxy

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2014, 06:55:34 PM »
Oh dear...thanks for the story and the photo!

 :ouch:
If you like it run it......

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2014, 08:11:42 PM »
Oh dear. Presumably a biggish job to recover the loco ?
If it looks right then it most probably is right.


Offline dr deltic

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2014, 10:00:30 PM »
Have spent 28 years on the railway, passing out as a driver 23 years ago last October.
Had an amazing time so far, with last 19 years as a Traction Inspector, Driver Team Leader,Production Manager and now having joined a new company am back as a driver again! More money and less trouble! Spent 4 years with Royal Train duties for Res, commissioned new build trains and project managed testing in UK and worked out in Germany during process whilst with Freightliner Heavy Haul. Have enough tales to write a good book to be honest from working unfitted trippers to being stuck on the Royal Train in Salford for 37 hours after the IRA bombings. Loved most of my time except the period when EWS took over from Res and systematically destroyed the finest company I ever worked for. New adventures await tomorrow however, so its off to bed for me folks!

Offline ozzie Bill.

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Re: Real railwaymen (and women)
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2014, 04:38:04 AM »
Hi  Doc and thanks for posting. Any chance you can relate one or two of those experiences, please? cheers, Bill.

 

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