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RailSoc is now well underway with its 3rd year as a society continuing to organise some fantastic events this autumn term!

Our first major event of the year was a trip to the Crewe Railway Heritage Centre where we had arranged for private tours of the museum and operating sessions in the Exeter West Signal Box. The aim of the signal box visit was to get hands-on experience with a mechanical signal box in a simulated environment and Exeter West certainly fulfilled that. The signal box itself was moved to Crewe, piece by piece in railway wagons, from Exeter after it closed in 1985. The box now operates as a simulator operating just like it was before it closed even using an accurate timetable in real time, just with slightly different view out the window! Four friendly volunteers from the Exeter West Group very kindly gave their day to operate the box and show us how it worked. Everyone was able to have a go pulling the levers and ringing the bells under instruction, for most this was their first time operating a signal box. RailSoc members were also able to take a look at the restored Crewe ‘North Junction’ Signal box which was excellent to see and compare with the older Exeter West.

Exeter West Signal Box

For those on the BCRRE undergraduate railway engineering courses this was a great opportunity to reinforce lectures about signalling with a practical experience. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the BCRRE for sponsoring our member’s rail transport on this trip!

On Wednesday 13 November four university railway or transport societies met at Imperial College London to network and gain an appreciation for how each society runs. To our knowledge, this is the first event of this kind in many years! The societies involved were:

  • Cambridge University Railway Club
  • Loughborough Velocity
  • Imperial College Transport Society
  • University of Birmingham Railway Society

Each society brought forward a round for a railway themed quiz, with competing teams being formed of a mix of members from each society. It was a great evening, enjoyed by all, and we hope this event will be the first of many!

class 68 locomotive

RailSoc members pose for a photo with a class 68 locomotive at Birmingham Moor Street before heading to London Marylebone

This new found inter-university collaboration continued at the end of November when Loughborough Velocity kindly invited RailSoc to join them on a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of Birmingham New Street Station! Both societies then headed to the University of Birmingham to hear a fascinating talk by Andrew Pennington from South Western Railway about the operational challengers of fleet introduction, focusing on the class 442 and class 701 projects. This was RailSoc’s best attended event to date with 25 people counted including students from Aston University studying transport management who had headed over specially!

Andrew Pennington workshop

We also held another of our popular model railway socials where we set up a model railway and played trains for an evening!

Model railway social

To finish off the term we were kindly invited by Vintage Trains to spend an evening riding in their 'Directors Saloon' hauled by a steam engine from Birmingham Moor Street. There was cheese and wine and an opportunity to learn about the work of Vintage Trains based locally at Tyseley Depot. It was a truly amazing experience, what a way to finish 2019!

Vintage Trains
Vintage Trains Director's Saloon

We hope the end of your year is equally as exciting – Merry Christmas everyone!

Matthew Teller
RailSoc Chair