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Journal of nicholas (3034)

Saturday June 16, 2007
03:40 PM

Earthquakeville

[ #33535 ]

So, I've spent the day on a steam excursion down (and up) the Folkestone Harbour branch (plus Canterbury and a trip round Kent). As we arrived in Folkestone the vista was most unusual, if not that unsurprising - dozens and dozens of houses had scaffolding round their chimney stacks. Mostly it seemed that the houses under repair were clustered. So I don't know if particular highly localised geology concentrated the effects of the earthquake, or if particular builders (mostly Victorian, it would seem) had more shoddy workmanship, or more vulnerable designs, than others.

And gosh, I think that the loco crew on Lord Nelson were out to prove a point. On the first run up the Folkestone Harbour branch (1 in 30, quite curving, possibly the steepest incline in the UK), the diesel on the back for banking duties was idling. Not just not pushing, but not even moving itself. Just ticking over, being taken for the ride. I'm not sure if it was (intentionally) slacking on the second run, where we'd all got back on the train, but it's quite possible. Also, on the return, when we left Paddock Wood, we were 32 minutes late. We were only 7 minutes late arriving at Victoria. Around Clock House (Greg's back garden) we were probably doing 60mph, uphill, and someone (looking back from the window) said that, again, the diesel wasn't doing anything. At Victoria, the fireman, in his sixties, looked shattered. But I suspect he'd had an excellent day giving it his all.

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  • Sorry to disappoint you [wikipedia.org], but the railway between Longbridge and Bromsgrove [google.co.uk] features a 1 in 37 incline :)

    It's just round the corner from me (the green arrow on the Google map is Rubery), and should you ever want to come and see it, you could always coincide it with one of the Birmingham.pm technical meetings ;)

    • The Lickey Incline is the steepest sustained adhesion-worked gradient on British railways.

      Wikipedia is wrong - shocker! 1 in 30 is steeper than 1 in 37 (Unless you get really really pedantic about sustained. But I can't see why mile or so of the Folkestone Harbour Branch doesn't count as sustained). And in fact, what my travelling companions weren't sure about was whether the line up from City Thameslink to Blackfriars is actually steeper - they thought that it might be 1 in 29.

      • No that's me that got it wrong. For some reason I'd got it into my head the triangle was rotated through 90°. Now that would be a steep incline! I just remembered that the Lickey Incline was suposedly the steepest in the area.

        I blame lack of alcohol on Father's Day!

        Still, you're always welcome to come and see it :)

        • I got my Dad on the case as he a real railway buff, and a big fan of GWR. He believes the Folkestone Branch Line is the steepest working line on the UK mainline, so you were right. However, there was talk of that line closing, which would mean that The Lickey Incline would become the steepest working line. He also pointed me at the Cramford & High Peak Railway [wolvertonrail.co.uk], which was used between 1831 to 1892 and had a 1 in 14, but that only pulled up trucks by means of a stationary engine. I don't know the gradien

      • I always thought City Thameslink to Farringdon was steeper. Well ... gosh.

        But whichever end of City Thameslink you are, it's not really sustained.