Nortech Supply Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway with Icom Digital Two-Way Radio System

Nortech Supply Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway with Icom Digital Two-Way Radio System

One of the most scenic and historical operations to benefit from an Icom digital two way radio radio system is the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, known as ‘La’al’ Ratty. The Railway is one of the longest and oldest narrow-gauge railways in England. The Railway now has a digital two-way radio system, supplied by Nortech Radio Communications that provides comprehensive coverage for the Railway and its volunteers along the 7-mile track that crosses estuaries and the spectacular Lake District countryside.

Nigel Metcalfe, Owner of Nortech Radio Communications, said, ‘All railway operations require a reliable radio system for Health & Safety. In this case, the Railway is a narrow gauge, mainly single track with seven stations and passing places. There needs to be good clear communication. There’s little or no mobile phone coverage along the 7 mile railway line as it winds through the Lake District National Park.’

Nortech supplied the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway with Icom IC-F5122D Digital mobile radios which were installed in specially designed waterproof cases for all their steam train locomotives.

An Icom IC-FR5100 digital repeater was also configured so that the Signal Box could talk to the trains and vice versa, with all radio communications being voice recorded. In addition, there are also several Icom IC-F2100D digital waterproof handheld radios for the guardsmen/workers.

Nortech faced several challenges in the installation. Nigel said, ‘the route that the Railway takes meanders around many hills and through valleys along its seven-mile route and siting the repeater at one of the railways own stations proved to be the best place to cover the route. The repeater in the railway station itself allowed us to install a higher crank up mast with a heavy-duty Omni Antenna to give us the best coverage possible. Due to the remote location, a battery backup was also installed on the IC-FR5100 repeater.’

He added, ‘All steam trains are open to the elements. The Lake District has variable weather. We needed a safe, secure, waterproof solution for the IC-F5122D mobile radios to be housed in. We developed a robust waterproof box with external waterproof Amphenol Procom connectors with jumper leads inside the box to give the connectivity into the radio/power/loudspeaker. Icom microphones were modified with waterproof connectors & the mic heads were made more waterproof. External waterproof loudspeakers were also installed.’

So what has been the feedback from the customer? Nigel said, ‘The customer is very pleased and the digital system can now record all the voice traffic to comply with their regulatory requirements. We have an excellent relationship with the Railway and any issues that arises. We promptly resolve. We are rewarded with homemade pies & a proper brew. The customer also recommended us to other such railway groups and we have since installed two similar systems on these railways and they are very happy with their new systems.’

Nortech Radio Communications are specialists in the supply, hire, and maintenance of two-way radio communication systems and applications. Based in Carlisle & Kendal in Cumbria, they supply radios and equipment to varying types of businesses, mainly all over the North of England and the South of Scotland.

If you are looking for a two-way radio system for your business, call Nortech on 01228 544678 or email . Alternatively, visit the Nortech website

For more details about the historic Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and to book a trip, visit


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