Tidal Sidings / Celsa (2006-2011)

1. Introduction

Tidal Sidings has always held great interest with me since my acquaintance with the Shunter Gang at Canton Depot. The Shunter Gang were responsible for maintaining ASW's (Allied Steel & Wire) fleet of eight gronks. There was never a dull moment and something was always happening or going wrong with the gronks which couldn't always be attributed to them. However, in July 2002 ASW went into liquidation and closed, with the fleet of remote controlled gronks being disbanded elsewhere on the EWS network.

In June 2006 Celsa reopened the steelworks and the shunting contract was awarded to EWS for both, the supply of remote controlled gronks and drivers. One by one, all of the original gronks returned to Tidal without overhaul and their unreliability led to a rotational pool of up to six of them to provide, two for the contract and one spare. Maintenance was carried out at Margam Depot until its closure in August 2009. With no maintenance facility in south wales all exam work other than A xams together with other repair work was carried out at Toton Depot.

It was very disappointing that DBS did not make a small investment in a repair facility in the old ASW Wagon shops which could have virtually eliminated the need to road gronks to Toton Depot, reduced the pool of gronks and provided a brake changing facility in south wales. I believe this investment would have been self financing by increased reliability, reduced road costs and pool of gronks.

During early 2010, DBS began replacing the original pool of remote gronks with recently modified ones, but their reliability proved no better, suffering from remote installation teething problems. With fourteen road movements to and from Toton Depot and two DIT movements from Margam Knuckle Yard during the year, coupled together with two gronks having shifted cranks, the Celsa Shunting contract was heading towards being commercially unviable.

December 2010 proved to be one of the blackest months of the contract with both 08706 and 08921 Pongo suffering from shifted cranks within three days of each other leaving 08804 to soldier on servicing both the Celsa and Tidal shunts albeit in manual mode following remote problems. However, on January 2nd 2011 08804 failed and 08578 was hauled DIT from Knuckle Yard to Tidal the following night.

On January 13th 2011 an internet forum leaked the news that DBS had lost the Celsa Shunting contract to GBRF for commencement in March. This information was addressed the following day with DBS local management who dismissed it as speculation, yet five days later on the 18th a meeting was called in the Tidal offices by local management to announce the loss of the contract and pull out on Friday 28th January. I contacted GBRF the same day and they informed me that GBRF were the preferred bidder and had not signed the contract. However around 26th January the contract was signed and Tidal drivers together with the Shunter Queen were transferred to GBRF. The changeover from DBS to GBRF ran smoothly with drivers signing on as DBS until midnight when they returned the locos to Tidal Sidings and signed on as GBRF using 08934 until the end of their shift. 08804 and 08888 were moved from Tidal Sidings to ADJ DIT in the early hours of January 29th leaving 08632 to move on 26th February 2011, due to brake problems.

2. Location

2.1 Tidal Sidings is located off a spur west of Pengam on the Great Western Mainline between Newport and Cardiff. Click here to see an overview of the spur from the mainline serving Tidal Sidings, Celsa and Queen Alexandra and Roath Docks.

3. Traffic

3.1 The majority of traffic arriving at Tidal Sidings is scrap loaded in MBA's and destined for Celsa Scrap Bay. The point of loading fluctuates on a weekly basis and loaded trains have run regularly from Masborough, Beeston, Lincoln, Attercliffe, Handsworth, Tyne Dock, Mossend, Barry, Brierley Hill, Shipley, Swindon, Kingsbury, Exeter and Belmont, to list a few. Normally the Tidal Pilot trips the MBA's into either the New and Old Scrap Bays or the Old Meltshop A Bank in Tremorfa Works from the Tidal Sidings and returns the empties to the Tidal Sidings.

3.2 Slab from Port Talbot intermittently arrives at Roath Dock for export, with the empties returning to Port Talbot. The train loco is used throughout, thereby eliminating the need to use a shunting locomotive.

3.3 Finished product in the form of bar and rod is initially tripped from the Rod & Bar Mill in Castle Works to the Tidal Sidings by the Tidal Pilot and forwarded on one of the trip workings to Llanwern Steel Works for onward movement to Rotherham. However, rumour has it that E05/V35 will recommence to and from Rotherham.

3.4 Internally, the Celsa Pilot moves hot billets on a three hourly basis commencing at 0030 hours from the New Melt shop in Tremorfa Works to both the Section Mill in Tremorfa Works and the Bar & Rod Mill in Castle Works. Some hot billet traffic is also conveyed from the Section Mill in Tremorfa Works to the Bar & Rod Mill in Castle Works. The empty wagons are then returned to the New Melt Shop in Tremorfa Works.

3.5 Scrap billets are also conveyed on an as required basis from the Section Mill in Tremorfa Works and the Bar & Rod Mill in Castle Works to the Old Melt shop in Tremorfa Works for reworking, with the empty wagons returning to the New Melt Shop in Tremorfa Works.

3.6 Oil is being currently conveyed by rail from Teeside to the Minimet Oil Terminal.

4. Shunting Locomotive Diagrams

4.1 There were two diagrams for remote control fitted Class 08 locomotives, rostered twenty four hours per day,seven days per week, utilising one driver per locomotive and one spare locomotive.

4.1.1 Diagram 1 is the Celsa Pilot, whose duties are detailed in Section 3.4 and 3.5

4.1.2 Diagram 2 is the Tidal Pilot, whose duties are also detailed in Section 3.1 and 3.3

5. DBS Remote Control Shunting Locomotive Pool

5.1 Click here to be redirected to the Tidal Soap Opera page which provides a detailed log of all the remote and non remote shunting locomotives that have worked in Tidal / Celsa since the latter re-opened in June 2006

6. Celsa Internal Wagon Pool

6.1 There are primarily two types of wagon that are used to move billet and slab from the Melt Shop to the Section Mill, East and West, and Castle Works.

6.2 BD1- BD22 were converted from BDA's (Bogie Bolster 'D' Wagons) in November 2006 and are used to move billet and slab from the Melt Sop to Castle Works. Normally the train would consist of between seven and eight wagons.

6.3 MB416 & MB461 are the two surviving members of a batch of twenty BDA's that were converted for use by 1989, that were originally sold for scrap by the former British Transport Docks Board, Cardiff Docks in 1983. They are currently being used to move billet and slab from the Melt Shop to Castle Works in conjunction with BD1-BD22.

6.4 SB1-SB10 were converted from SSA Scrap Wagons in January 2007 and are used in conjunction with SB101/14/16/22/24/27/30-38/40-43 to move short lengths of billet and slab from the Melt Shop to the Section Mill, East and West, with occasional use to convey traffic to Castle Works. SB139, although condemned, still exists.

6.5 Three former BDA's 950162, 950192 & 950116 are used to move scrap bar and rod from Castle Works to the Scrap Bay for reclamation. 950116 is currently out of service and may be withdrawn.

7. Maintenance Facilities

7.1 Class 08 locomotives were primarily maintained by the two Tidal Sidings fitters with support, as required from the East Usk fitters. Brake blocks and C xam work was originally undertaken in the old Canton Depot, whilst heavier work was undertaken by Toton Depot. Wagons, both internal and EWS were maintained in the west side of Tidal Sidings.

8. Photographic Opportunities

8.1 There is very limited photographic opportunity within either Tremorfa or Castle Works. However, the road overbridge in Ocean Way, which is adjacent to Splott Junction can provide a modest shot, although the lineside veg is in need of being managed. Lol.

8.2 The line between Tremorfa Works and Castle Works runs through Cardiff Docks and without prior permission, I very much doubt if the docks security would give you access to it.

8.3 There is increased police surveillance within Tidal Sidings due to theft of scrap from MBA's, so watch out, as I was very politely questioned fairly recently.

  Last Updated: 22/09/18