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UK Freight train headcodes - Layout Design, Trackwork & Operation. - Getting You Started. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Wed Jan 25th, 2017 09:29 pm
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Barry Miltenburg
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Hi all

A question for the ex-railwaymen perhaps.

I am keen to run my freight trains on a secondary main-line layout as properly as possible.  The WTTs I have are dominated by E, K and J class freights with the occasional C.  D's are quite rare so I have avoided them.

I get the "Express freight" classes - C, E, F - but I have always had a question about H class trains.

I have always thought that the H class was for non-express trains running between marshalling yards.  I am aware that the GWR had an H class train running through "with a load to its destination" - does this imply that H = single load type?  My photo evidence suggests not.

Can someone shed some light on this for me please?

Many thanks

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 Posted: Thu Jan 26th, 2017 07:13 pm
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Spurno
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(H) Through freight or ballast trains not running under C, D, E or F  conditions.Type in "h class head codes" into Wikipedia for full explanation Barry.
I don't know if copywrite applies to Wikipedia as it's open source hence the short explanation.



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 Posted: Fri Jan 27th, 2017 01:58 am
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Barry Miltenburg
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Thanks for this reply but, with respect, I know this.  What I want to know is what the trains actually conveyed - are they just non-express freights??

Thanks again for your reply

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 Posted: Fri Jan 27th, 2017 12:21 pm
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Gwiwer
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They might convey anything non-perishable.  In some more remote areas freight and passenger trains also carried "sundries" often just a 4-wheel van added to the next convenient train and filled with tea, sugar and other basic foodstuffs.  Milk and eggs were time critical and had to be conveyed under express conditions likewise livestock trains.  Coal, steel, sand, general merchandise and all manner of goods, remembering the railway then was a common carrier and had to accept anything it was offered for transit, could wait and be taken by lower-classification trains.



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 Posted: Sat Jan 28th, 2017 02:52 am
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Barry Miltenburg
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Thanks Gwiwer

It seems that my initial research led me to the right conclusion.  I will run my H class trains with all manner of freight stock remembering that, for the sake of safety, any fitted vehicles that could be marshalled to the engine, were so coupled to increase the braking power.

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 Posted: Thu May 31st, 2018 04:19 pm
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Barry Miltenburg
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Hi all

I thought that I ought to update and finish this post as research over the last 12 months or so has enabled me to come to a few conclusions about the Class H trains.

For a start, it is almost impossible to tell an H class train from an E or F train just from photos (at least I can't tell).  The loco headcode is often then only clue as to the train type.  For modeller, that is a good thing - we can run our F class unfitted train in one direction and then change the brake van to the other end to run the same stock as an H class working.

My collection of Working Timetables have helped AND confused here - I have a number for the Lincoln area in the late 1950's and have used these as a basis for my freight traffic.

There are a surprising number of trains that change headcode during their journey - F becoming H is very common. 

The answer to my question is buried, I believe, in 2 interesting sections of the WTT.  In the general notes, it states that "..trains should be run at the highest possible class...subject to the load and the motive power available...".  Once Control had been advised, if a train could run as an E instead of an F (as a result of more braking power perhaps), timings could then be accelerated.  In the back of the WTT for the Lincoln Area Freight Trains, there is a chart of point-to-point timings along each of the various lines in the area.  C, D and E trains have shorter timings than F and K, then H and finally J. 

Over the congested lines and junctions, it would be vital for crews to be aware of the timings they were expected to keep and the priority that the signalmen would give them.  Changing a train from F to H, in effect, demoted it to a lesser class meaning slower timings and lower status.

My H Class freights therefore, as Gwiwer suggested, would be conveying anything non-perishable that was not a mineral and which could be moved from A to B at the convenience of the railway.  The C and E freights took care of the quick stuff whilst the F class was dominated by empties.  Anything loaded and non-express would go on an H class.  Interestingly, there are a few references to "Relief" workings - run under "Q" notation - Run as Required - and these seem to be Class H mostly.  That suggests that the main train is loaded with as many of the fitted vehicles as possible to run it as quickly as possible (see above) and then anything left over runs as an H on the relief.

To be honest, until an ex-railway sits down and explains it to me (anyone know Bob Essery's address???) I will continue to work with conjecture and guesswork.

At least it's a bit more scientific than Hornby Magazines constant references to "Mixed Goods Trains" - sorry guys, no such Headcode...........

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 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2018 09:04 pm
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Barry Miltenburg
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So just to finish, what does this mean for the steam-age railway goods train?

Well the main thing is the vehicles on the train.  I would suggest that the following DO NOT appear on Class H trains;

Cattle vans
Fruit vans
Banana vans
Milk tanks
Fish vans
Horse boxes
Etc

UNLESS they are empty - difficult to portray although putting livestock vehicles in the middle of the train suggests this.

Mineral/coal/stone wagons certainly do appear on Class H although they would normally travel under J as complete trains of course.

The WTTs I have point to empty stock being moved by design under Class F although a lot of the General Notices advise that trains under loaded can be made up to load limits with empty vehicles subject to the motive power and the conditions on the line.  Therefore your empty wagons can appear on Class H.

Hope this helps - the research has certainly helped me to create more realistic train formations.

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