Mount Pleasant Halt
and Chelfam Station
I wasn't able to go on any of the several visits that the CRS has made to Woody Bay and the Lynton & Barnstaple railway but last week I managed to get there and enjoy the short but scenic narrow-gauge ride. Afterwards I found my way to Chelfham Station where great progress has been made by L&B volunteers in restoring the site and buildings. The other attached photos show how the station now looks - and the adjacent, superbly restored, viaduct. It looks really promising for an eventual extension of the restored line from Woody Bay to Chelfham and, perhaps, beyond.
Very frustrating and I felt that you, and any other website viewers, would have been similarly cross to have missed the early runners. If it was a public service, it would have been unforgivable. But, as it was 'just for fun', there's not much that we can say about it. As you say, better luck next year, if they come this way again.
Here are my pictures (just for you, not to pollute the website or world with any more buses!)
All the best, Peter Murnaghan.
and Chris Bellett replies.
I attach the relevant picture.
It is probably a silly question & it has nothing to do with the South West but I hope you may know the answer!
Keith Jenkin has passed your email below onto me concerning the level crossing at Swineshead and I'll try to answer your question in laymans terms, but must stress that the operation of level crossings is a very complex subject to easily describe.
The photograph you have attached may appear to show a dangerous situation but I can assure you its perfectly mormal at the type of level crossing concerned. The crossing is known as an 'Automatic Half Barrier Crossing' or AHBC for short. If you look closely at your photograph you will note that there is only a single barrier closing off the nearside of the road. Its the same arrangement on the hidden side of the crossing behind the trees. The level crossing works automatically and is triggered by approaching trains, normally without any interlocking with the railway signals. The signals can therefore normally show a proceed aspect (green in the case of your photograph) even though the level crossing barriers are initially in the raised position. An approaching train triggers the level crossing closing sequence when approximately 27 seconds from the level crossing, known as the 'Strike-In' point, and the level crossing opens again automatically once the train clears the level crossing.
There are, however, complications introduced where a station intervenes within the 'Strike-In' distance and in those cases a signalling control known as 'Stopping/Non-Stopping' selection is provided and operated from the signalling control centre. If 'Non-Stopping' is selected then the signal will clear to proceed and the level crossing will operate as described above. However, if 'Stopping' is selected the signal will not clear until the train involved is entering the station platform and the level crossing closing sequence will then be initiated and the signal will clear to proceed just as the train comes to rest in the platform. As a mitigation in the event of the stopping train overrunning the station and onto the level crossing a treadle operated by the train wheels is provided to immediately trigger the level crossing lower sequence. You can see that treadle in your photograph just by the lefthand rail at the bottom of the platform ramp.
Of course, like all barrier crossings, road lights are provided to warn road users prior to the lowering of the barriers. If a long or slow moving vehicle is going to pass over the level crossing then the Road Traffic Act mandates that the vehicle driver should stop and contact the signalling control centre first to obtain permission to cross, and that would only be ganted if the nearest railway stop signal in each direction was held at danger (stop) by the signalling control centre.
All the controls I have described resulted from a very serious accident that occurred in 1968 at HIXON level crossing in Staffordshire. The MOT (as then was) accident report is a long but interesting read and if you want to see how things developed well worth the time. A copy of the report can be downloaded here: https://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/docsummary.php?docID=74
AHBC level crossings are currently out of favour for new installations, so I doubt we will see any new ones installed, and existing ones are gradually being replaced by those using more modern technology and fully interlocked with the protecting railway signals. We do have one AHBC left in Cornwall at Gwinear Road.
Hope that all helps your understanding of the Swineshead situation shown in the photograph. Please ask away if anything I have written doesn't make sense.