DFR Telecoms Diary


2007 was a year in which most of the telecom time was spent in repairing damaged cables.

Vandalised Cabinet

We suffered from vandalism. The vandals mostly had a go at the lineside cabinets which the DFR uses for Distribution Points (DPs). Covers were wrenched off, wires were cut and in one extreme case the concrete posts supporting the cabinet were broken to leave the cabinet on the ground. The last case seemed to satisfy the vandals as they never did cut the wires in the cabinet. In another case they may well have suffered, as there was a wasp nest in the cabinet. I know, I managed to get stung and have a week of discomfort.

We have also had a group of offenders on community service clearing lineside vegetation. They really managed to put obscure faults on the cable which was only a few inches below ground. At the end of the year we still have outstanding faults waiting to be found and cleared. Luckily the essential operational circuits have been connected using the pairs in the cable core and have missed most of the damage.

Even where we thought we were safely tucked away in four inch duct we have had massive trouble from rats. They have been in the duct chewing away the complete insulation and leaving the conductors bare and of course faulty. If only we could put 500 volts on a pair or two.

Parkend Exchange Equipment

The year was not a complete write off. Parkend exchange was installed and brought into service. It has a very small role at present, just serving a few lines around the station and signal box complex. We await the arrival of the cable from Norchard before we can interconnect the two exchanges in a linked numbering scheme. The cable has arrived at Whitecroft and serves a telephone there for use by the gatekeepers. Thanks here go to Bob Hawker for the invaluable help he has given towards this cable project. I well remember the day when we pushed two large cable drums on trolleys up to Whitecroft and laid out the cables in the rain. Ugh! However, the Parkend junctions now route up to Whitecroft and then loop back to Norchard so that we can keep an electrical eye on the cable. Cabling has started with the most awkward length leaving Parkend exchange and running south toward Whitecroft.

Parkend exchange is proving to be quite reliable despite having been constructed from bits and pieces mostly obtained from the Mid Hants Railway. Chris Barlow from the Churnet Valley Railway came for a day and spent it overhauling and checking the Parkend selectors. This was a real boon as we have found it difficult to find time for such routine strowger maintenance. Thanks Chris, your visit was really welcome, useful and helpful.

We have also provided an interim fire warning system which works when 222 is dialled on the Norchard exchange. A music channel has been added to the PA system so that our Father Christmas customers can be entertained whilst waiting for the train.

Bernard Wade

The worst day for us in 2007 was when we lost Bernard Wade. He had come in the day before he died and said that he was going to do some real maintenance on the Norchard equipment. He had a lovely day, doing the job he was best at. He had been a Technical Officer in charge of exchange maintenance in Gloucester exchange before he joined the DFR. We miss him and his expertise.

We are the "The Electrical and Telecom Group" and as such at least half of our effort goes on electrical matters around the railway. This has been a big year for the electrical side of the group as we lost John Hatton, our top man, to retirement from the railway and have had to adapt to the current regulations which require work to be tested and accepted by qualified staff only. Consequently most large jobs now go to contract and small jobs go to them for acceptance. PAT testing never seems to stop though and only occasionally do the electricians get to assist on telecom works.

Lately, we have been joined by Mike Sewell who is splitting his time between telecoms and electrical. He has also joined the Board and covers security matters, which may well involve us in both telecom and electrical work in the future.

Jason Shirley and Rafe with Digger

For 2008 we look forward to laying duct beside Lydney Park and getting new cable installed over about a kilometre to bypass the existing sadly mangled cable now mostly laying on the surface. Jason Shirley and Rauffe with their gang made a start on the duct laying just before Christmas.

Cable should also be laid between Whitecroft and Parkend and the two exchanges should then be linked in a three digit numbering scheme.

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This page was last updated on
15th May 2009