BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘signals’

#365daysofbiking Strange signals

September 19th – Returning to Bloxwich station, I alighted at the north end of the platform. Since the electrification of the Chase Line, I’ve been wondering about some aspects of the installation.

I note the metalwork of the light column near this signal control cabinet and the guard rail behind has been heavily insulated and screened. I’ve not seen that before. Wonder what’s in the cabinet that’s so dangerous?

The other columns are not insulated in the same way. Puzzling.

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#365daysofbiking Into the blue

July 23rd – I was in Birmingham for work and was planning on catching the train home. But there was trouble with the signals and all trains I could have caught were messed up.

I decided to ride home – it was a nice evening, after all. I decided to hit the canal near Lancaster Circus, but heading out of the centre I found the new segregated cycleway up the A3 to Perry Barr. It’s absolutely brilliant. I was so enamoured, I kept on it and rode home over Kingstanding.

It’s fast, largely well thought out, has it’s own traffic signals (with repeaters at bike eye level) and was really quite busy.

Some of the routes over major junctions are a bit tortuous, but it’s far better than I’d ever have imagined.

Sad to see it ends abruptly at Perry Barr, but I suppose with the junction being remodelled there it would be folly to continue it yet.

A fine thing, very pleasing to ride.

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#365daysofbiking Radio activity and G force

June 20th – Another dusk departure from work gave me chance to take some pictures of networking equipment causing some bizarre consternation locally at the moment.

A handful of local residents have spent some time in the dafter enclaves of social media and decided these white boxes and antenna on lamp columns, traffic signals and street furniture in Walsall are the rollout equipment for the fifth-generation telecoms network.

For some reason conspiracy theorists are given to believe the fifth generation network will be harmful to health, is a plot to test radiation on the population and an effort to spy on us all. Oh, and it’s somehow all connected with low energy LED street lighting.

Well, these boxes and aerials are far more mundane: They are actually pretty much high speed WiFi like we have in our homes, but designed as a specific, peer to peer network for traffic signals and other on-street infrastructure that benefits from central control.

It’s called Mesh4G and you can see it here.

As signals, junctions, crossings, air monitoring and traffic cameras are updated across Walsall, more of these relay units will appear, allowing traffic folk to monitor, modify and control their equipment without having to leave the office.

Which is interesting to me as a geek, but far more mundane than conspiracies would have us believe.

And I’ll still be waiting ages at the Bull Stake junction in Darlaston…

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#365daysofbiking Semaphore

March 11th – A trip to Droitwich made a pleasant change.It’s not often I come out here these days – the younger folk in the team generally do it those jobs now, but sometimes I like to pay a call for the adventure of it.

Droitwich Station is interesting – the line here hints at a much busier past, with derelict sidings and a large signal box, but today the line is pretty sleepy and rural.

I’m interested to see that here, old mechanical semaphore signals are still in use, which always seem terrifically heath Robinson to me. They are a masterpiece of rods, wires, rollers and mechanical interlocking and it’s a wonder how they keep working so long.

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#365daysofbiking I dream of wires

February 15th – I came back on the train via Birmingham and Walsall, and hit Walsall in a lovely blue half-light.

I love stations at night – a fact I’ve alluded to before – and Walsall, for all the criticism it gets – is actually quite fascinating at night. I love the exaggerated perspective, machinery and lights.

It’s not a bad place to come back to.

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#365daysofbiking Oddly empty

February 5th – Passing through Birmingham New Street Station on my way home, it was rush hour and the place was rammed, as usual.

Being a cyclist, I tend to hang out ant the periphery of the crowd, better to not get in the way.

I looked to my right as the train came in from my left, and realised that at peak time, the station had nobody visible and all the signals were on red.

A few seconds later, people appeared and broke the spell…

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April 4th – I’d had to call into Aldridge after working late and returned via Streets Corner. I noted that the old wall to the 60s shopping precinct on the corner had gone, and excavations were underway.

This is the preparatory work for the next stage of local junction improvements work which will see this entire junction remodelled with new signals, slip roads and crossings.

Peaceful now in the gathering dusk, but a summer of inconvenience and holdups for motorists seems to be on the cards…

Shire Oak has been massively improved, however, so it’ll be worth it in the end.

March 24th – One thing I am liking very much at the moment is the improvement works to the Shire Oak Junctions. At 8pm on a Saturday it was of course quiet, and the asphalt glistened in the light in the damp of a short, passed shower. But the new surface, more intelligent light operation and better lane markings have made a real difference, and queues along the A461 – particularly at peak times are significantly reduced.

When Streets Corner is also complete, I expect the difference will be really noticeable. 

Well done to all concerned.

December 14th – Having arrived at work, I discovered I was needed in Telford, so nothing for it, I headed for the train. At New Street, there were delays and confusion and the usual busy, frenetic chaos.

I stood at the end of the platform, wandering what I was doing there. Every signal light I could see was red.

Some days wear you out before you start.

November 9th – Passing through New Street on a drizzly, cold November evening, I caught the lights and signals of New Street mingling with the city skyline, centre stage the brilliant Brutalist gem, Alpha Tower.

One of the joys of winter is seeing this view, the signals, the reassurance of light, warmth, machinery safely in control and life above going on as normal.

Birmingham is glorious in it’s beauty sometimes.