Up and Down

6Gman

Established Member
Joined
1 May 2012
Messages
6,477
Describe each line in terms of its most significant / largest population origin and destination? Thus removing arbitrary allocations of "down" or "up" (words that in themselves could have been better chosen, being counter-intuitive for the vast majority of the country that lies North of London) for circumstances such as the lines between Inverness and Aberdeen, or Newcastle and Carlisle, or anywhere running East-West.

The key element here is safety. If the broken rail (or whatever) being reported is on the Up Slow at Madeley why would describing it as the Southbound Slow or London Slow be an improvement?

And, as I've said earlier, the "vast majority of the country" has no relevance - what matters is that the staff involved can identify track correctly.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

30907

Established Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
10,067
Location
Airedale
Describe each line in terms of its most significant / largest population origin and destination? Thus removing arbitrary allocations of "down" or "up" (words that in themselves could have been better chosen, being counter-intuitive for the vast majority of the country that lies North of London) for circumstances such as the lines between Inverness and Aberdeen, or Newcastle and Carlisle, or anywhere running East-West

Names of towns have been used for generations to describe lines of route - some in the public domain (Brighton....). This is increasingly the case in internal use to distinguish between different routes in signalling control areas.
 

Senex

Established Member
Joined
1 Apr 2014
Messages
2,390
Location
York
Here is the page from the Midland's May 1856 working timetable giving an instruction about down and up lines for future reference for clear working. The only surprises here are Derby-Birmingham and up and Sheffield to Rotheram as up (though at that stage that was the way you travelled Midland to London).
 

Attachments

  • Midland down and up lines 1856.jpg
    Midland down and up lines 1856.jpg
    822.1 KB · Views: 36

edwin_m

Veteran Member
Joined
21 Apr 2013
Messages
20,043
Location
Nottingham
Here is the page from the Midland's May 1856 working timetable giving an instruction about down and up lines for future reference for clear working. The only surprises here are Derby-Birmingham and up and Sheffield to Rotheram as up (though at that stage that was the way you travelled Midland to London).
That's a great find. So Derby to Leicester (then to Rugby, ultimately to St Pancras) was Up and the line that was flipped over was Derby to Birmingham! Further evidence that there was no such policy as "up to Derby".
 

etr221

Member
Joined
10 Mar 2018
Messages
407
Here is the page from the Midland's May 1856 working timetable giving an instruction about down and up lines for future reference for clear working. The only surprises here are Derby-Birmingham and up and Sheffield to Rotheram as up (though at that stage that was the way you travelled Midland to London).
What is perhaps most signficant about the document is that it does not mention London: the direction of Up is by diktat - because Mr Allport says so. He may, or may not, have had a reason for his diktat, but, as far as the Company's servants (and anyone else) were concerned, that didn't matter: the General Manager had spoken.

And that is - and for the safety and convenience of everyone, has to be - the case everwhere: Up is the direction that 'the boss' - management - specifies. (He may, or may not, have followed a rule such as 'up to London' when he did so, but just assuming that he did, and what it was, can have - in extremis - fatal results)
That's a great find. So Derby to Leicester (then to Rugby, ultimately to St Pancras) was Up and the line that was flipped over was Derby to Birmingham! Further evidence that there was no such policy as "up to Derby".
Yes, very interesting. Whether it was the 'West' (Derby to Birmaingham, and Hampton) or the 'Bristol and Birmingham' line which is the reverse of might be expected is a matter of debate - resolved by Mr. Allport's decision.

But something I wonder - what actually changed on 1 May 1856, when it came into effect?

And interesting to see the 'Little North Western' so described, officially, by its operator (built by the North Western Railway, it was worked by the Midland from 1852, but not absorbed by them until 1871).
 

edwin_m

Veteran Member
Joined
21 Apr 2013
Messages
20,043
Location
Nottingham
What is perhaps most signficant about the document is that it does not mention London: the direction of Up is by diktat - because Mr Allport says so. He may, or may not, have had a reason for his diktat, but, as far as the Company's servants (and anyone else) were concerned, that didn't matter: the General Manager had spoken.
Yes it's essentially arbitrary, as long as everyone understands it and uses it consistently. For the same reason, where there is ambiguity Up and Down are probably assigned where possible so that most of the trains don't have to change their "designation" en route, or at least didn't at the time they were so assigned. It's also unusual for them to be swapped over time, as obviously did happen here for Derby to Birmingham but would have been increasingly difficult and risky as signalling proliferated and the railway became more complex and safety-conscious.

One modern exception is Oxford to Bletchley, which was historically Down reflecting its origins as a branch from a south to west curve at Bletchley intended to provide service between London and Oxford. When restored for Chiltern and EWR it will be the other way round, which lines up with the modern connections at Bletchley from the WCML and Bedford, and with the use of the ex-GWR station at Oxford. Chiltern's London-Oxford service changes designation on the Bicester curve, but would have to do that somewhere between leaving Oxford as a Down train and arriving at Marylebone as an Up. The line has been practically rebuilt from scratch so equipment designs based on the old designations would no longer be current, and any operating staff who worked the old line would need a full re-briefing for the re-opened one.
 

DerekC

Established Member
Joined
26 Oct 2015
Messages
1,339
Location
Hampshire (nearly a Hog)
Maybe but where does it change?
WLL? ELL? City Widened lines?
Refer to the relevant Sectional Appendix (downloadable free from Network Rail) or more conveniently buy a the Quail Maps volume for the area in question. To answer your specifics:

WLL - Mitre Bridge Curve - DOWN HIGH LEVEL becomes UP WEST LONDON & vice versa - also at Falcon Junction (just west of Clapham Junction) - UP WEST LONDON links into DOWN BRIGHTON SLOW
ELL - curiously there isn't one. Just west of Highbury & islington (Platform 2) - DOWN EAST LONDON (reversible) links into UP NORTH LONDON (reversible) but the Up/Down Directions match either side of the junction. The change happens on the NLL - at Camden Road Junction - DOWN NORTH LONDON becomes UP NORTH LONDON (and vice versa)
City Widened Lines (Thameslink) - Farringdon Junction (no longer actually a junction) at the south end of the Farringdon platforms. UP MOORGATE becomes DOWN SNOW HILL & vice versa.

There must be loads of others in the London area but it's time for a cup of tea!
 

Senex

Established Member
Joined
1 Apr 2014
Messages
2,390
Location
York
One change in relatively recent times (I think) is the Syston & Peterborough line. Originally this was down from Syston throughout. Then when the Kettering & Manton and Melton & Nottingham lines were built the middle section became up as part of the new London-Nottingham route, with Leicester to Melton Jn and Manton Jn to Peterborough remaining down. It's now down throughout from Helpston Jn to Syston Jn—exactly the reverse of the original situation.
 

PeterY

Member
Joined
2 Apr 2013
Messages
851
An interesting thread. I often wonder how lines would be described if they were being invented now. I do find the history of railways fascinating.

I wouldn't want the job of changing mile posts into KM posts and updating the whole system. :idea::idea::idea::D:D:D. Where would zero be.?
 

Fawkes Cat

Member
Joined
8 May 2017
Messages
1,016
I wouldn't want the job of changing mile posts into KM posts and updating the whole system. :idea::idea::idea::D:D:D. Where would zero be.?
Maybe they could follow the lead of the London Underground and start from somewhere no longer on the network. Ventnor?
 

6Gman

Established Member
Joined
1 May 2012
Messages
6,477
I'll throw in another observation.

Up and Down are short (monosyllabic) and distinct words.

North and South when written are less distinct since they share three letters, and in the same position. Northbound and Southbound are lengthy and have only two letters that distinguish them.
 

zwk500

Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
161
Location
Milton Keynes
An interesting thread. I often wonder how lines would be described if they were being invented now. I do find the history of railways fascinating.

I wouldn't want the job of changing mile posts into KM posts and updating the whole system. :idea::idea::idea::D:D:D. Where would zero be.?
Up and Down is among the most natural descriptions of a linear form. Having said that, given the example of the highways agency I'd guess A & B would be chose - with C & D, etc for slows/goods/reliefs, then use 1, 2, 3 for sidings/bays etc. Of note is that A,B,C etc is already in use at Leeds, King's Cross, Paddington and Cardiff (among others). Makes things nice and simple for computers.

Zero would likely be at each major London terminus, changes in kilometrage being unavoidable in any event. The UK's GB's network just doesn't lend itself to a single zero point. I wonder if 'reversed' metrages would still be a thing, and if each branch would reset to Zero at the diverge. It'd also be interesting to see if the kilometrage from London went all the way through to, say, Inverness! I certainly wouldn't want to replace all the mileposts out on the system, but as all works have been planned in metres for many years a significant portion of the network has had it's mileages converted into metres on plans already. Totally different kettle of fish putting that out on the ground, of course.

EDIT: Paddington is Lines 1-6 (Western being different just because) and it's GB's network not the UK's we're talking about.
 

randyrippley

Established Member
Joined
21 Feb 2016
Messages
3,431
An interesting thread. I often wonder how lines would be described if they were being invented now. I do find the history of railways fascinating.

I wouldn't want the job of changing mile posts into KM posts and updating the whole system. :idea::idea::idea::D:D:D. Where would zero be.?
Well....roads were all allegedly measured from Charing Cross, so it might make sense to also make that rail ground zero just to harmonise things.
 

edwin_m

Veteran Member
Joined
21 Apr 2013
Messages
20,043
Location
Nottingham
An interesting thread. I often wonder how lines would be described if they were being invented now. I do find the history of railways fascinating.

I wouldn't want the job of changing mile posts into KM posts and updating the whole system. :idea::idea::idea::D:D:D. Where would zero be.?
Recent signalling plans are dimensioned in metres but the distances shown (still known as chainages) are the metric translation of the official mileage from the same zero point as the mileposts. So I assume the same would be done with any lines posted in km, so that it's relatively simple to translate chainages off old plans etc.
 

181

Member
Joined
12 Feb 2013
Messages
377
An interesting thread. I often wonder how lines would be described if they were being invented now. I do find the history of railways fascinating.

I wouldn't want the job of changing mile posts into KM posts and updating the whole system. :idea::idea::idea::D:D:D. Where would zero be.?

If it was done on the same principle as described here, it would seem likely that the answer would be Penzance or Wick.
 

DerekC

Established Member
Joined
26 Oct 2015
Messages
1,339
Location
Hampshire (nearly a Hog)
You can't have a continuous single set of kilometrages (don't like that word) for the whole network from one zero point because there are alternative routes - so to take a simple example you could measure everything from Penzance, but when you get to Cogload Junction you have the option to go via Bristol or via Westbury, and when the routes converge again at Reading you have to decide which measurement to take for the rest of the route into Paddington. And it gets really complex when you have to decide what starting value to use for WCML, for example. You could go from Penzance to Glasgow via Birmingham New Street, but what do you do about WCML south of there to Euston? Do you count backwards or forwards? I think you have to have multiple zero points.
 

etr221

Member
Joined
10 Mar 2018
Messages
407
An interesting thread. I often wonder how lines would be described if they were being invented now. I do find the history of railways fascinating.

I wouldn't want the job of changing mile posts into KM posts and updating the whole system. :idea::idea::idea::D:D:D. Where would zero be.?

Maybe they could follow the lead of the London Underground and start from somewhere no longer on the network. Ventnor?
When the Underground decided that 0km would be at Ongar, it was still on the Network. Apparently the other zero point considered (that would meet the requirements) was Mantles Wood Junction, rejected because it was not well enough defined on the ground, and because it was (and still is) not impossible (however unlikely) that LU would take over more track towards Aylesbury.
You can't have a continuous single set of kilometrages (don't like that word) for the whole network from one zero point because there are alternative routes - so to take a simple example you could measure everything from Penzance, but when you get to Cogload Junction you have the option to go via Bristol or via Westbury, and when the routes converge again at Reading you have to decide which measurement to take for the rest of the route into Paddington. And it gets really complex when you have to decide what starting value to use for WCML, for example. You could go from Penzance to Glasgow via Birmingham New Street, but what do you do about WCML south of there to Euston? Do you count backwards or forwards? I think you have to have multiple zero points.
The principles behind the LU metric redistancing were, IIRC, (1) no negative kilometrages; and (2) minimising the number of 'jumps' in progressive distances. Don't recall if there was view over whether 'jumps' should be positive or negative (or if I ever knew). AIUI, the BR proposal (that I mentioned in first post) was based in similar principles, and foundered on the difficulties that DerekC, and others have mentioned, over deciding a (single) zero point, and how progressive distances should be routed, etc. My own thought is that maybe you don't start at an extremity (hard to decide which) as zero, but fix an arbitrary point somewhere in the middle (Birmingham NS? Crewe? Derby? York?) as (say) km 1000 (or whatever) and measure everything 'up' or 'down' from there.
 

edwin_m

Veteran Member
Joined
21 Apr 2013
Messages
20,043
Location
Nottingham
If you started from a fixed point you could have a rule such as whenever two routes converged (going away from the zero point) the combined route continued the lower of the two distances, or if one converging route didn't have a figure yet then it started "backwards" from zero or decreasing from the figure on the other route at the junction.

But it would be a very large exercise, involving changes to all the positions and distances involved in operating and depicted on probably millions of engineering drawings, so in reality there's very little point in trying. As long as a position can be identified uniquely on the network, as it can be by Engineers Line Reference and "mileage" for that route, then the actual distances can be measured in cubits or leagues for all it matters.
 

hermit

Member
Joined
23 Jul 2019
Messages
96
Location
Isle of Wight
I recall seeing in an ancient railway magazine a photo of an Irish steam train with a large sign covering its smokebox simply bearing the words UP DOWN.

A conundrum for railway enthusiasts until you realised it was a special carrying fans from Ulster to some sporting final.
 

DavidGrain

Member
Joined
29 Dec 2017
Messages
1,033
Do people still talk about Up and Down trains? or does that now just refer to the tracks. I live on the Stourbridge line. A train from Birmingham goes 'down' as far as Stourbridge Junction (the actual junction not the station of the same name) then goes 'up' on the Oxford Worcester and Wolverhampton line to Stourbridge Junction with some trains continuing on Up (south) to Kidderminster and Worcester.

I had to stop and think once at Barnt Green (south west from Birmingham) when I saw a sign which said 'Electric trains must not enter the Up Gloucester Slow Line'. This was not Up to Gloucester, it was Up from Gloucester to Derby.
 

alxndr

Member
Joined
3 Apr 2015
Messages
873
Up and Down is among the most natural descriptions of a linear form. Having said that, given the example of the highways agency I'd guess A & B would be chose - with C & D, etc for slows/goods/reliefs, then use 1, 2, 3 for sidings/bays etc. Of note is that A,B,C etc is already in use at Leeds, King's Cross, Paddington and Cardiff (among others). Makes things nice and simple for computers.

In some ways it already is. The other way of describing lines is by using track IDs, that are in the form of DNXX

D denotes the Normal Direction:
1 Up
2 Down
3 Bi-Directional
4 A Merry Go Round Loop (MGR Loop)

N is the Track Name:
1 Main or Fast
2 Relief, Slow or Through
3 Goods
4 Single Line
5 Loop
6 A Terminal Track or Bay Line
7 A Crossover
8 Other
9 A Siding

The XX is normally 00, unless needed to differentiate between lines that would otherwise be the same, so you might have 3700, 3701, 3702...

Do people still talk about Up and Down trains? or does that now just refer to the tracks.
Sometimes yes.
 

zwk500

Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
161
Location
Milton Keynes
In some ways it already is. The other way of describing lines is by using track IDs, that are in the form of DNXX
Yes, although that system isn't quite as neat for operational communication - it's fine in an office environment (if everybody is up to speed with the system), but there's heavy potential for confusion by a mis-type or mis-hear out on the ground.
 

alxndr

Member
Joined
3 Apr 2015
Messages
873
Yes, although that system isn't quite as neat for operational communication - it's fine in an office environment (if everybody is up to speed with the system), but there's heavy potential for confusion by a mis-type or mis-hear out on the ground.
I find it depends on the person. There's some who have barely ever set foot in an office or use written forms of communication, but it's their default over using full words.
 

2192

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
8
Location
Derby UK
[up changed to down at] Camden Road Junction on the North London Line
1. Presumably all the North London line was up to Broad Street terminus when that was open?
2. Presumably on the East London line northbound was up (to Liverpool Street) in the early days when there was a through connection at the old Shoreditch station. I assume it is now up to Dalston Junction (and Camden Road).
3. Southbound is up on the West London line, perhaps because at one time the GWR ran through trains from Slough to Victoria.
4. The South London line (when it ran from London Bridge to Victoria) was down from both ends, changing just west of Peckham Rye.
5. Mileposts cannot be relied on to indicate up or down, as mileposts are not changed if a line has its up and down designations changed, which doesn't often happen, but does sometimes, eg Oxford - Bicester, in which: westbound was up when built (up to Euston), eastbound was up in 1992 (up to Paddington via Oxford), and now back to westbound (up to Marylebone).
6. The London Underground does not use up and down, but eastbound, northbound etc.
 

krus_aragon

Established Member
Joined
10 Jun 2009
Messages
5,446
Location
North Wales
Yes, I've now found the reference (D.S. Barrie, The Taff Vale Railway, p. 28). Up meant up the valleys and Down meant down the valleys.

But also lined up with the directions on the GWR at Cardiff Central, the main link between the Valleys and the rest of the network.
I think the latter is happenstance: the Taff Vale was up and running long before the (GWR-sponsored) South Wales Railway rolled into town, on a different gauge to boot.

(Trivia time: In the early days, the SWR crossed the GWR on the level. That didn't last long!)
 

SteveM70

Member
Joined
11 Jul 2018
Messages
1,127
GWR were (possibly still are) fond of using up and down in Twitter messages (“due to a failed train on the down relief” etc) which was likely baffling for most passengers. They got called out for it and promised to stop doing it and to use language passengers would understand instead
 

S&CLER

Member
Joined
11 Jan 2020
Messages
368
Location
southport
I think the latter is happenstance: the Taff Vale was up and running long before the (GWR-sponsored) South Wales Railway rolled into town, on a different gauge to boot.

(Trivia time: In the early days, the SWR crossed the GWR on the level. That didn't last long!)
The Taff Vale also ran on the right in its earliest days.
 

SargeNpton

Member
Joined
19 Nov 2018
Messages
221
Taken me a while to find this in my archive. I think it's Hebden Bridge about 17 years ago. An example of when mention of Up or Down to the public is just confusing.2003 Hebden Bridge.jpg
 

6Gman

Established Member
Joined
1 May 2012
Messages
6,477
At the time those signs were first installed it may well be that passengers were more familiar with the terms.
 

Top