Issue Number 1227 (Items 311 _ 431 and MR 19 _ 23) (e-BLN 28 PAGES) 21 February 2015
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, EPSOM, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members, an international section is also available.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
BLN 1228 is due on Saturday 7 March; all contributions must be received by 25 February.
Date Event Visit Type BLN Lead Notes
To be advised SVR signalling Two day practical course 1224 PS FULL
Sat 28/02/15 Scunthorpe Steel 10.30 Brakevan tour 1219 PS Open
Fri 6/03/15 Lakeside & H. Rly. 10.00 Tour & traction 1224 TG Open
Sun 8/03/15 Chasewater Rly. 10.00 Brakevan tour 1224 KA Enquire
Fri 13/03/15 North Norfolk Rly. 11.00 Brakevan tour 1224 PS Open
Wed 8/04/15 Railway walk 18.00 - 21.00 Rugby 1225 JC NOW
Fri 17/04/15 West Somerset Rly. 11.00 Brakevan tour 1224 OPEN
Sun 19/04/15 S & C DesiroTracker NW - S Scotland - S&C 1226
Mon 20/04/15 West Somerset Rly. 11.00 Brakevan tour 1224
Sat 25/04/15 Signal Box Visits 09.00 Clacton & others 1225
Mon 27/04/15 K&WV Railway Re-dated railtour 1207
Fri 1/05/15 Tyne & Wear 13.00 Visit to South 1227
Gosforth Control Centre
Sun 3/05/15 Moreton Park Rly. 12.00 & 14.00 tours 1224 SP Open
Sun 3/05/15 Titley Junction Rly. Standard gauge tour 1226 SP Open
8-10/05/15 Channel Islands Railway weekend 1213 KA FULL
Thur 18/06/15 Pre-Peaks Trekker Crewe to WCML tour 1227 KA Claimed
Sun 28/06/15 Kirkby-in-Ashfield Guided railway walk 1227 TG OPEN
14-15/11/15 60th AGM Weekend Date for your diary TBA TBA Claimed
JC - John Cameron, KA-Kev Adlam, NJ-Nick Jones, PS-Paul Stewart, RG-Robert Green, SP-Stephen Phillips, TG-Tom Gilby.
311] FIXTURES REPORTS, Fame at last: (BLN 1226.222) Our 'BLS 750V Tracker' railtour of 18 January
made the Liverpool Echo which featured a well known character with a green flag http://goo.gl/6b58jf.
It also made the Chester Chronicle, February Railnews and March Today's Railway's UK. Very
commendably, one of the Merseyrail drivers donated £250 to CLIC Sargent (children's cancer charity)
from his wages for the tour and savings from his 'dry January'. The tour has taken total Society charity
donations in the 10 months since 1 April 2014 to over £100k; the Society also is the current UK record
holder for the amount raised on a charity railtour at £41k (the 26 April 2014 'BLS Clyde Race Tracker'
Class 350/4 EMU tour).
BLN 1227.312] Kirkby-in-Ashfield Railway Walk, Sunday 28 June: We continue our series of
conducted walks north of Nottingham with its recent station upgrade and new layout (the two new
NET tram branches are also expected to be open). Meet Kirkby-in-Ashfield station 12.00 on arrival of
11.26 from Nottingham _ day return £5.10 before railcard, (connection from London St. Pancras 09.00
returning there 19.25; advanced tickets start at £9 each way before railcard). An exploration of the
intricate network of lines that evolved south of Kirkby from the Mansfield and Pinxton Tramway,
Midland, Great Northern, Great Central Railways, two BR connections through to today’s Robin Hood
Line (visiting Robin Hood's Cave), mostly on former trackbeds (see map above courtesy of Martyn
Brailsford). A lunch break is planned at Kirkby Wetherspoons and a short bus ride to save a stretch of
street walking. Optional extensions are available. Return on the 16.21 train from Kirkby or earlier by
bus. Queries and bookings to our member and guide, Tom Gilby [email protected], or write
(with SAE) to 69 Regent Street, Barwell, Leicester, LE9 8GY. A map and notes are expected. Please
supply an email address (preferably) or telephone number.
313] WSR Visit, 17 & 20 April: Loco 09019 is rostered for the main runs with class 03 (2133) shunting
the tours at Minehead. Class 04 (2271) is undergoing a major overhaul. A few places remain on the
314] Tyne & Wear Metro, South Gosforth Control Centre, Friday 1 May: Thanks to our member John
Cameron there will be Society visits in groups of five at a time (maximum 15) at 13.00. A charity
donation of £10 is payable on the day. As usual with this type of visit if there are any major operating
incidents the group will have to leave. Queries and bookings to: [email protected] or post with
SAE (two for an acknowledgment) to 10 Friar Gate Court, Derby DE1 1HE. (See also NE England
regional item). Unlimited day ticket for the Metro, most buses, Sunderland to Blaydon trains and the
Shields Ferry is £6.90.
BLN 1227.315] Moreton Park, Sunday 3 May: The party limit has been increased; some places may
still be available, as they are at Titley Junction the same day. The charge there is £15, payable on the
day, including tea, coffee and the famous Titley homemade cakes. See BLNs 1224.9 and 1226.219 and
map (item 218).
316] BLS Pre-Peaks Trekker, Thursday 18 June: As part of our ongoing support for The Railway
Children, we are delighted to announce this rather unusual 'mini charter' single journey. Travelling
from Crewe (approx. 09.30) our train, formed entirely of Riviera first class coaching stock, is a
positioning move for the annual Railway Children 'Three Peaks by Rail' charity event
http://goo.gl/trGZnf. Various attractive proposed routes have been submitted to DRS, our train
operating company, and Riviera, taking us over the Cheshire Plains up the WCML to set down at either
Bletchley or Watford Junction. Participants must alight before Euston so that the train can be prepared
for the challenge teams who join there. Passengers return under their own steam (advance tickets are
available). As the train is formed of top 'n' tail traction from the DRS pool, a reversal point will be
included to ensure all locomotives operate the train. Maximum 150 seats, £40 each; all money raised
will be donated to The Railway Children. The train will be subject to a strict no alcohol policy but it is
hoped light refreshments will be available. Once the route and traction has been confirmed, this
unusual train will be opened for bookings. Please do not attempt to book or notify now!
317] BLS Website Links Page: For those of you who have not looked at our website recently there are
now even more useful and interesting links available: http://goo.gl/8RUjp7. These include various
mines of information such as Peter Scott's MINOR RAILWAYS online, the Enthusiast’s Guide to
Travelling the Railways of Europe, Chester-le-Track, Richard Maund's PSUL, Ian Delgado's Unusual
Track (with updated local track maps), journey planners for National Rail, London Underground and
Deutsche Bahn; Realtime Trains, Open Train Times, Railtours Advertising Rare Route and others. Of
particular note is the interactive map of past and present railways and Railways through Europe
(network maps and interoperability). Suggestions are welcome to the Editor for additional suitable
links to be included on this page.
1227 HEAD LINES: Record of Openings and Closings
318] Londonderry Foyle Road - Strabane - Omagh - Dungannon - Portadown Jct. (all inclusive): (BLN
25 front page) CA with effect from 15 February 1965. It has come to light that the final train on this
75m 31ch line was ON 15 February 1965, the 00.07 special 'Empty Diesel Train' from Londonderry
which also carried passengers throughout, although effectively a continuation of the previous day's
workings. (Amends note N53 on p6 of the e-BLN 1221 Irish Rail Closures supplement _ UTA ex-Great
Northern Railway, Ireland.)
319] Hereford, Shelwick Jct. - Craven Arms excl. (also Leominster & Ludlow stations): TCP (TCA part
at least) extended Christmas shutdown 25 to 29 December 2014 inclusive for replacement of the 1852
cast iron bridge over the River Teme south of Ludlow costing £7.7M, with lifting of the previous speed
restriction. Craven Arms and Church Stretton were only served by Heart of Wales line trains.
320] Ryhope Grange Jct. - Sunderland Docks branch: From 10 January 2015 Londonderry Private
Sidings were reinstated (accessed by south and north facing connections at 1m 07ch and 1m 53ch
from the junction) on the reconditioned branch. On 5 February 2015 light engine 66001 ran from Tees
Yard for commissioning and gauging trials, believed to be the first train on the branch (NRU but not
formally closed) since our Durham Coast railtour of 12 August 2000 which reached 1m 53ch (NR
boundary). See: http://goo.gl/jaVB0F and NE England section. Imported sheet metal rail traffic has
BLN 1227.321] Leamington Spa station - Banbury station (both excl.): TCP during 31 January 2015
expected to Easter at least because of a major Up side cutting landslip (estimated at 350,000 tonnes)
at the approach to Harbury Tunnel (100m 52ch) causing the tunnel wing wall that side to partially
collapse. Earthworks stabilisation work had been in progress for eight months following a previous
landslip in the area on 14 February 2014. The slip (4m in seven days) was due to elevated ground
water pressure. The 100 ft (30.5m) deep cutting was originally entirely dug by hand and was the
largest man made cutting in the world when the line opened in 1852. The last Down train was the
13.55 Chiltern Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone (Banbury arr 14.42). The last Up train
was the 13.40 XC Reading to Newcastle (Leamington arr 14.43); the next passenger train in each
direction was turned back. At Leamington Spa there is more use of bay P1, and following special
dispensation from NR, some rare Down departures from P3.
322] Coventry South Jct. / Small Heath South Jct. - Leamington Spa Jct. - Fenny Compton Jct.: TCG
during 31 January (per previous item), the final train of all was the 12.01 Halewood (Jaguar Cars) to
Didcot Traffic Centre passing Fenny Compton at 20.22 (4 hours 17 minutes late having been held in the
West Midlands). Through freight trains are mostly diverted via the WCML, Acton and the Great
Western Main Line. Aggregate traffic continues to run from the south to Banbury Redland Lafarge
terminal just north of the station on the Down side. MOD traffic continues from Didcot to Fenny
Compton Jct. for Kineton Exchange Sidings (booked daily working SSuX 07.29 from Didcot, 09.29 return
which generally runs once or twice a week and occasional special workings to/from Marchwood
1227 Prospective Network and Train Service Changes
323] Swansea Loop West Jct. - Landore Jct. (Swansea Avoiding Line): On 21 and 22 February
passenger services between Swansea and West Wales and vice versa are due to be diverted this way,
reversing at Landore Jct. Swansea Loop East Jct - Swansea Loop West Jct. is due to be closed for
324] Stainforth Jct. - Hatfield Main Colliery bunker: (BLN 1183.579) CG is expected by December with
closure of the mine along with the UK's other two significant remaining working deep mines at
Kellingley and Thoresby (BLN 1209.782 & 783) following Government refusal of £300M in further state
aid to keep them open until 2018. A short term £8M loan was arranged in January for Hatfield.
325] Reading, Oxford Road Jct. - Relief line platforms (Feeder Lines): (BLN 1219 p436 track plan) OA is
expected Monday 13 April. (Two reversible lines from Reading West station, under the east end of
Reading Viaduct, to the Relief line platforms.) The booked passenger use of the Feeder Relief is the
05.15 Reading (P15) to Bedwyn. The first to use the Feeder Main is the 05.40 Bedwyn to Paddington
326] Ely West Curve (Ely West Jct. - Ely North Jct.): On Saturdays 18 & 25 April all East Midlands Trains
services (Norwich to Liverpool etc.) that normally reverse at Ely station are booked to use this route
instead in both directions. This is due to sleeper replacement work north of Ely station.
327] Rochester station: (BLN 1188.1009) The DfT has published a formal closure notice under the
2005 Railways Act for the existing station, with a consultation period from 5 February to 8 May 2015. It
is proposed that, subject to successful completion of the closure process, the existing station will be
closed when the new station (500m to the north-west) is commissioned, on or after 1 December 2015.
1227 BLN GENERAL
BLN 1227.328] Single tickets to return? The 31
January Mail Online reported that the iconic national
rail tickets are to be changed for the first time in 30
years to improve clarity. Station names, ticket
descriptions, permitted routes, time restrictions and
validity information are to be presented in 'clearer,
larger print without jargon'. A major change is that
advance fares will have just one ticket including all
seat reservation details, rather than separate, often
multiple, reservations which confuse passengers and
are being lost. The days of families travelling on multistage advanced fares playing 'snap' with their
tickets appears to be numbered. The new system has been trialled by Northern Rail (see example from
a Northern ticket machine at Wilmslow which caught your Editor by surprise when it appeared, but
was not much help regarding actual validity!). Code 'B1' means 'SSuX not valid outwards (or return) on
trains timed to depart after 04.29 and before 09.30. The only exception to this rule is that passengers
travelling from Coulsdon South may use an Off-Peak One Day Travelcard after 09.15'. Code B2 is the
same except that 09.30 is replaced by 09.15; B3 is 09.00 the latter two without mention of Coulsdon
329] Chiltern Railways 'open for business': A special Mondays to Fridays timetable (remarkably good
in the circumstances) during the temporary Leamington Spa to Banbury line closure (see Head Lines)
can be found at: http://goo.gl/ruAuDj. There is a great deal of information about alternative routes;
cheap advanced and 'walk up' fares continue to be available see: http://www.chilternrailways.co.uk/.
330] Short seat reservations: During the weekend of the 750V Tracker, two intrepid BLS
correspondents spotted what they believe to be the shortest reservation possible. It was from
Manchester Oxford Road to Manchester Piccadilly (48ch). Worcester Shrub Hill to Foregate Street has
previously been noted at 61ch. These arise as part of a much longer multi-stage through reserved
journey, often on advance tickets; the passenger from Oxford Road may have been going to Penzance
for example. Are they the shortest?
331] WANTED! Our friends at the South Tynedale Railway are restoring the ex-NER wooden
Slaggyford station ready for an extension in 2017 (making the line from Alston 4½ miles long). They are
looking for a design drawing or plan for the under-road equipment of a traditional NER gated level
crossing. Access to parts to copy or use would be useful. Critical is the under-road design so that a
concrete slab can be designed to take all the ducts and channels required. Anyone with information or
on where to access drawings like this please contact Brian Craven: [email protected]
332] BLN 1226 Alteration/Additions: The date at the bottom of the back page (p24) on the printed
BLN index with BLN 1226 should, of course, have been 2014 rather than 2013. This was corrected in
the electronic version. Item (231): It turns out the new aggregate traffic to Chelmsford Lower Yard is
DBS operated, the freight schedules on Realtime Trains (etc) are now anonymous for commercial
reasons. There are some empty wagon workings through to Mountsorrel with loaded trains being
staged at Acton. Item (252): The Aldwych branch was TCP from 21 September 1940 to 1 July 1946
inclusive for use as an air raid shelter and toilets were installed even. Prior to 21 September 1940 at
night when the current was switched off people even slept on the tracks! Many valuable national
paintings and treasures including the Elgin Marbles were stored for safe keeping in the disused
platform section during the war.
BLN 1227.333] Too Many Jims? (BLN 1226.267) This item on Liverpool St. James led one member to
realise that he had probably for years been confusing it with the nearby and still open, Liverpool
James Street. That reminded him of two more highly confusable station names: St. James's Park (LU)
and St James' Park (Exeter), essentially identical names but illustrating how the authorities even in
better educated times could not always agree on the finer points of the use of the apostrophe! A
search of his homemade database further revealed the decidedly confusable St. James Street
(Walthamstow) on the Chingford line, with "St" at both ends, St. James (T&W Metro), Paisley St.
James, James's (LUAS), and James Cook (Cleveland). No doubt the British Isles could once, and the
rest of the world can still, boast more.
334] More new TIPLOCs: (BLN 1226.297) NR TIming Point LOCation codes recently added:
BCSTGJN: Gavray Jct. (timing point at Oxford end of the new Bicester Chord, from 7 September.)
BCSTSJ: Bicester South Jct. (timing point at London end of the new Bicester Chord, from 7 September.)
BERMPRK: Bermuda Park (BEP) (new station between Bedworth and Nuneaton, from 17 May.)
COVAREN: Coventry Ricoh Arena (CAA) (new station between Coventry and Bedworth, from 17 May.)
DOVYDPL: Dovey Junction Down Passenger Loop (timing point - for enhanced service from 17 May.)
EBWVTN: Ebbw Vale Town (EBB) (new station beyond Ebbw Vale Parkway, from 17 May.)
LANBDRN: Llanbadarn (timing point between Aberystwyth and Borth.)
NWCOURT: Newcourt (NCO) (new station between Digby & Sowton and Topsham, from 17 May.)
OXFPWAY: Oxford Parkway (no Computer Reservation System (CRS) code yet) (new station, from 7
PANYPER: Pant Y Peron (timing point between Aberystwyth and Borth.)
RAINHEJ: Rainham East Jct. (Kent) (timing point.)
STKYJN: Stockley Jct. (timing point, not to be confused with Stockley Bridge Jct. STKYBJN)
335] Ian Allan: (BLN 1225.215) Their Manchester, Birmingham and London bookshops remain open.
336] Late running Wi-Fi: David Cameron recently announced that £50M has been released by the DfT
to ensure that Thameslink Great Northern, Chiltern, ATW and South Eastern will all have free on train
Wi-Fi by 2017, funded by fines imposed by the Office of Rail Regulation on NR in July 2014 for late
running! This targets franchises that do not currently have plans to install it and are not due for re-
337] Signal Boxes: Our member Stuart Hicks arranged some RCTS visits and kindly made them
available to our members through BLN. Greenford East station box is a rare example in the year 2015
of Greater London semaphore signalling. There used to be four boxes, the others were 'Greenford East
Loop' and 'Greenford South Loop' at Greenford East and South Jcts. respectively and the fourth was at
the west end of the station. Coded GE, the surviving box was extended on its east side in the mid-
1950s and a larger (76 lever) frame installed when East and South Jcts. boxes closed and control was
transferred. During the visit the only traffic passing (nearby) was the Greenford to Paddington service
but there are various freight and other trains (e.g. HSTs, sleeper sets and steam locomotives from
Southall being turned). A repeat visit is planned in the summer. Leamington Spa signalling centre was
opened in 1985 and is located in an unassuming brick building to the north end of the station on the
Down side but with a view of the track. Its claim to fame is that it was the first signal box to have the
British designed SSI (Solid State Interlocking) system, WestCad installed. This is the system that
required 2 of 3 (or 3 of 3!) different computers to agree before signals or points are changed. As well
as the station area, it controls the junction with the Warwick line and about six miles of the single track
line to Coventry past Kenilworth loop and, following the 2004 Cherwell Valley resignalling, nearly to
Banbury station fringing there with Banbury North. The latter with VDU screens. Northwards it fringes
with two West Midlands Signalling Centre (WMSC) workstations.
(Picture with thanks to Stuart Hicks.) During the visit (before the landslip) there was a continual
procession of passenger and freight trains in both directions. Banbury: Both North and South boxes
have traditional lever frames. The mainline is controlled by colour light signals but loop, siding and
shunt signals are semaphore including upper and lower quadrant. Banbury North: The 1900 box had a
replacement set of levers in 1957 and covers the line to Banbury Jct. (formerly for Great Central line to
Culworth Jct.), about one mile north, and to Banbury station in the other direction. There is an illusion
of vast space as the frame was installed right at the back of the box whilst the old one in the front
remained in use. The weight of this is beginning to show itself with a slight lean towards the Down
relief line! Of its 95 levers, about 50 are still in use and it is the largest GWR/BR[WR] frame now on
NR. There is also a coal fired stove which was lovely and comfortable! The box is staffed 24 hours a day
in three 8-hour shifts and there are normally about 100 train movements on the early turn with about
15 to 20 more on the late turn. There are three block bells [Up Goods Loop, Down Relief and Main
Lines all going to Banbury South] and a fully track-circuited diagram. An unusual feature (these days) is
the permissive working on the lengthy goods loops north of the station, allowing any (reasonable)
number of such trains to be tucked away! Banbury South: The box was built in 1908 and the lever
frame replaced in 1944. It covers to North Box and south to Heyford (MP 75) fringing with Oxford
Panel and to MP 18 on the Chiltern Line where it fringes with Marylebone IECC. The box contains a
fascinating combination of a classic lever frame with a NX panel at the south end dating from 1992
when Aynho Jct. closed. As at North, the main line signals are all now colour lights but loop, siding and
bay signals are semaphores, including the two new ones installed at the south end of P1 & 2 to enable
FGW HSTs to reverse for Reading diversion works. Most points are power worked but the crossover
outside the box from the Up goods loop back to the main line is manual, and is quite a pull - the other
is the point leading into the Up sidings. Many signals are slotted between the two boxes so require
both boxes to work them. The locking room was visited; a fine example of a now dying art (a sort of
Victorian foolproof computer system). Resignalling work has recently started and Leamington and
Banbury boxes are due for replacement in early 2016 by a single panel in the WMSC before eventually
being moved to Rugby ROC.
BLN 1227.338] Quiz: Name the only two stations in the UK you can travel between by six different
train operating companies (TOCs) and the only two stations each served by seven different TOCs.
(Answers in BLN 1228.)
1227 ENGLAND – EAST MIDLANDS
339] Bennerley: The Nottingham Post of 5 February reported that plans are being developed to turn
the spectacular Grade II*, 19th century, Bennerley Viaduct on the former Great Northern Railway
Nottingham to Derby line into a modern cycle and walking path. Crossing over the Nottingham to
Chesterfield line north of Ilkeston on the Nottinghamshire Derbyshire border, it is shown on the plan
with item 244 of BLN 1226. The cycling charity Sustrans who manage the structure is looking at
developing it at an estimated cost of £2M and are undertaking a public consultation. An application to
fund construction of the cycle route is expected to be made early next year. The 1,452 ft long 61 ft
high viaduct would connect with walking routes along the Erewash Valley. Its survival after complete
closure of the railway from 6 May 1968 (CP from 7 September 1964) is due to its construction. Erected
between November 1877 and January 1878 it has 16 lattice work deck spans each 76 ft_7in long made
of wrought iron (unusual then) rather than brick to reduce the weight because of the risk of mining
subsidence in the area. The wrought iron meant it could not be cut up with oxy-acetylene torches but
would have to be dismantled rivet by rivet. The resulting demolition tenders were so high that it has
survived! The only other similar UK viaduct was at Dowery Dell on the former Longbridge to
Halesowen/Old Hill line demolished in 1964. The first Tay Bridge which collapsed in 1879 during a
storm was a latticework wrought iron type structure! Here is a panoramic view of the impressive
Bennerley Viaduct with thanks to Gavin Gillespie….
340] Lincoln: Plans for a funded £25M integrated transport interchange have been announced by the
City Council comprising a new bus station next to the upgraded railway station, a footbridge over the
railway connecting St. Mary's Street and Tentercroft Street and a 1,000 space multi-storey car park. If
the scheme goes ahead it would involve demolishing the existing dated bus station, used by 7M
passengers per year. Both the separate pedestrian and platform footbridges over the railway would be
demolished, to be replaced by a dual function fully accessible footbridge with lifts and clearance for
future electrification! This would access the station platforms, the new bus station and improve links
between the north and south of the city centre. [It will be interesting to see how this fits in with the
ticket gates at Lincoln - Ed.]
BLN 1227.341] Nottingham NET: (BLN 1224.63) The trailing crossover south of Bulwell tram stop has
existed since NET opened on 9 March 2004 but has never been shown on TRACKmaps (Vol
4.p6D August 2013). It is used fairly often by passenger trams when the Phoenix Park branch is closed
for engineering work. The single line north of Bulwell then means not all the extra trams are able
to run through to Hucknall. The potential fourth line from Nottingham to Ripley (BLN 1225.157) could
actually be a continuation of the current Phoenix Park branch. On 6 December Broxtowe Council
reversed their decision of 16 December not to support this proposed extension (after a highway
impact study was included) and will now contribute their £20k to the feasibility study (BLN 1225.157).
At The Forest stop, rare use of the centre road (BLN 1226.251) was noticed southbound at 14.30 on
2 February with a pointsman working the elongated points but by 14.45 both outer platforms were in
use again as usual - presumably normal service had just resumed! On the night of 7 January the first
test tram reached the Clifton Centre, this route is now due to open first in the spring followed by the
line through Beeston to Toton Lane (Chilwell) line. From 9 February daytime test running (10.00 to
15.00) began in 'The Meadows' and to Wilford Lane. On opening the new operating routes will be: Line
1: Chilwell to Hucknall and Line 2: Clifton to Phoenix Park.
1227 GREATER LONDON
342] LUL Ticket Offices: (BLN 1200.33) The closure programme started officially on 2 February, with
South Wimbledon and Queensway. However some offices had already closed before this and there has
never been one at Wood Lane.
343] Crossrail: (BLN 1226.253) Crossrail Ltd. has submitted proposals for improvements to West
Drayton station, the main one is a new glass and steel extension which will provide an additional
entrance and a covered walkway between the existing Victorian building and a new footbridge
towards the London end of the station. The footbridge will be equipped with lifts to provide step free
access to the platforms.
344] Croydon Tramlink: (BLN 1217 1361) The Sunday service on the New Addington to Wimbledon
route was doubled to 8tph between 10.00 and 18.00 from 14 December, with TfL reporting a 10%
increase in passenger usage since the enhancement. Work on the additional platform at Wimbledon
will not start until later this year as the general increase in services on the branch cannot be
implemented until the four extra trams are delivered. Underground News states that this will happen
in summer 2016.
345] Docklands Light Railway: (BLN 1224.42) The service enhancements were introduced on 2
February. The additional trains on the Woolwich Arsenal branch operate to Stratford International,
replacing the Stratford International to Beckton service. As a result there is a new Beckton to West
Ham service, reversing in the northbound platform there. Departures from West Ham are: 10.11 to
15.21 SSuX, 08.42 to 19.42 SO and 10.12 to 19.42 SuO. The enhanced Bank to Lewisham service
operates between 21.00 and 23.30 SSuX and as a result services in that direction now serve West India
Quay station on SSuO.
346] Lea Bridge: (BLN 1214.1160) The station re-opening may be delayed, after a meeting on 22
January between Waltham Forest Council and NR, at which a legal implementation agreement was
expected to be agreed, was deferred with no new date set. The local MP says that three Freight
Operating Companies have raised objections about the re-opening. NR is confident that these can be
overcome but it is unclear how long this will take. The Government’s new station fund is contributing
£1.1M towards the cost, but this will be lost if the station is not re-opened by the end of this year.
BLN 1227.347] Liverpool Street: (BLN 1226.257) The Bishopsgate line was of course CG, not CP in
December 1964. On 23 January the Evening Standard reported that planning permission is being
sought to redevelop 10 acres of the former Bishopsgate goods yard with construction of almost 1,500
homes in seven tower blocks of up to 46 stories and creation of a 2½ acre park. The arches of the listed
Braithwaite Viaduct, described as London’s second-oldest surviving railway structure dating from
1839, would be restored. Presumably this proposal would not prevent the construction of an overflow
station for Liverpool Street.
348] West Hampstead: The Railway Observer reports that TfL have applied for planning permission for
a new station building at the cramped North London Line station. This would be considerably larger
than the existing one with more ticket barriers and a retail unit. The pavement outside would be
1227 NORTH WEST
349] Oxheys Up Goods Loop: Situated between 2m25ch and 1m40ch just north of Preston, the loop
was due to be converted to passenger use from 22 February.
350] Manchester Victoria: On 8 February it was noted that 19 ticket barriers had been installed but
not commissioned at the exit from P1 and P2. Our member found at least two ways onto and off the
station which bypassed them and were not yet blocked! A correspondent reported, after a visit during
the week of 9 February, that it was clear the rumour of electric services to Liverpool starting the
following weekend was incorrect. There are no wires in the station yet!
351] Burnley: The Burnley Express of 6 February mentioned the long-awaited direct rail link between
Burnley and Manchester, scheduled to start on Sunday 17 May. It advised the day return fare will be
just £9.80 (off peak?). Initial estimates are that the journey will take 53 minutes reducing to 45 in
352] Merseyrail Tour: Whilst reports have already been posted within BLN for this tour it is interesting
how others outside the Society perceive us and, more importantly, also the way that the Society’s
name is promulgated. Within the Merseyside press the following article appeared. 'A total of £20,000
was raised for local cancer patients via a special Merseyrail train organised by the Branch Line Society,
a UK-based voluntary association for railway enthusiasts. The event attracted 300 people and saw
passengers taken on routes not normally travelled on by the public and shown Kirkdale and Birkenhead
North depots, as well as various sidings and parts of stations that are normally hidden from view. They
were even taken through a train 'car wash'. The expedition, which lasted all day, started and finished at
Hooton station, with stops at West Kirby, Aintree, Liverpool South Parkway and Southport. Tickets cost
£65, all of which went to the Clatterbridge Cancer Charity. Despite the sub-zero conditions and some
disruption on the network caused by ice, spirits remained high and Merseyrail was able to run the train
as planned. The highlight for many of the enthusiasts was watching an 18-carriage train at Hooton on
its way to Chester'. There followed a quote from the Society and the final paragraph then quoted Sally
Ralston, the corporate social responsibility manager at Merseyrail, who added: 'The Merseyrail special
train was our last big event for Clatterbridge, our chosen charity of 2014, and we’re delighted it has
raised such a high sum of money for local cancer patients. Many of our staff have been touched by
cancer and it’s really personal to all of us'.
1227 NORTH EAST
BLN 1227.353] Tyne & Wear Metro: Operated by DB Regio Tyne & Wear Ltd (DB T&W) a DB
subsidiary and part of Arriva UK Trains, on behalf of Nexus; the brand name of Tyne and Wear
Passenger Transport Executive. A member who attended a 12 January Institute of Mechanical
Engineers presentation (in London) reports:
60 stations. 16 buffer stops.
77.5 km* of route (48 miles). 214 bridges.
120 km* of track (74½ miles). 15 tunnels.
146 switch points. 525 operating & 318 infrastructure staff.
South Gosforth control centre has:
o 2 controllers (Nexus and T&W metro). o 1 person responsible for power supply.
o 2 signallers responsible for train running. o 1 customer service helpdesk person.
38.2M passenger journeys annually, broken down:
35% commuter. 6% 'other'.
42% weekday leisure. 5.5M train km* is operated annually.
17% weekend. No Council subsidy required in 2014.
* It was the UK's first 'metric railway'. Remarkably services operate at three minute headway in the
core areas. A 2008 report identified that the assets needed replacing. A £350M funded scheme was
drawn up over 11 years and agreed with the DfT. They wanted some external input and an asset
knowledge case was built up, with a cost benefit analysis of 1 to 8 (a very good figure) for an asset
renewal programme costing £413M. Part of this was letting the concession to DB T&W in 2010. Local
funds will meet about £40M of the shortfall, leaving some £25M to be found. The concession wanted a
step change in operational practices, and has won many awards, recognising what has been delivered
and achieved. DB T&W employ the signallers, power controllers, drivers and customer facing staff.
Plan courtesy of Tyne and Wear Metro:
Current performance targets:
Km per fault are targeted at 12,500 km but are rather worse at about half that.
Stock availability target is 93%, but is actually better.
PPM (3 minutes late to ½ a minute early); 82% is measured at 17 points around the network.
Refurbishment and asset renewal project comprises:
Metro car three quarter life refurbishment project at Doncaster (Wabtec); more structural
corrosion was found than expected and need to comply with Rail Vehicle Accessibility
Track, overhead line, signalling and station buildings all needed work (safe but not fit for
The renewed track (with good drainage) is expected to last 50 years.
Pop, the local smart card; renewed ticket machines and 13 stations gated; all improved
There has been a 45% reduction in infrastructure asset failures, due to a focus on people in key
roles, and a new project management office, as well as the investment programme.
Each station refurbishment costs roughly the same as refurbishing one metro car!
Workforce demographics – many are now approaching retirement.
Staff investment in leadership roles, a high calibre graduate intake and also apprentices.
Fleet replacement (c2025), lower energy usage, probably dual voltage, might be automatic.
They would have TPWS and track
brakes for a high level of
protection that could be retro
Possible extensions: Metro
Centre, Washington, Team Valley
and Doxford Park, street
running? (See plan above)
Integrated ticketing for the
whole journey (e.g. buses, car
parks and possibly national
Resignalling: so far just new
troughing and renewing the fibre
network (cheaper in house).
Overhead line work to follow
(and may use the same staff,
BLN 1227.354] Sunderland Docks: (BLN
1219.1520) See sketch plan left, thanks
to Rodger Wilkinson (who also kindly
drew the Heighington plan in BLN 1226.)
A 25 January visit found that NR notices
had appeared near the Grangetown
Open Level Crossing (where Ocean Road
crosses the branch). These warned of
the restarting of rail traffic in January.
One states 'Please note that Train
(singular) will shortly be running on the
Hendon Branch', although the rest of
the notice warns of Trains. It is topped
with a level crossing sign complete with
a steam loco silhouette. The rusty rails suggested that traffic had not restarted then. A new single track
has been laid from a point south of Londonderry Signal Box (site) through the site of Hendon Jct.
towards the docks. Part of this appears to be on the alignment of lines lifted some years ago. The new
track was ballasted and connected up, although probably not tamped and levelled yet. There is also a
new connection from the north end of Londonderry Sidings onto the single track. There are still three
sidings at Londonderry, but these appear to have had minimal refurbishment work done on them.
North of this connection are some disused and now isolated tracks on the seaward side. Part of bridge
4 has been fenced off and there are red signs warning of a weak bridge. It was not possible on this visit
to see what work (if any) had been carried out in the docks themselves. The connection from the dock
side to where South Dock signal box used to be steeply graded; there was also an open level crossing
before the dock sidings and the former Petrofina oil terminal. Before all traffic ceased when the tanks
used to run from Lindsey Oil Refinery they had to be propelled in rakes of 6 into the terminal and
needed modified brake vans. Very occasional scrap traffic used to run for European Metal Recycling,
and some export steel. Again all the loads were split due to siding constraints. About 700,000 tonnes
of cargo now passes through Sunderland Docks each year.
BLN 1227.355] Teesdale: Work on the first stage of a potential £2M project to turn an old Teesdale
railway line into a walking route, cycleway and bridle path is finally underway. The South West Durham
Heritage Corridor Project, also known as the Teesdale Rights of Way Improvements, has been 'a long
time in the making' as plans to turn part of the former Barnard Castle to Bishop Auckland track bed
into an accessible route originally appeared in an old District Plan. The project, co-ordinated by the
Teesdale Action Partnership stalled in 2010 because of funding difficulties but revived last year when
finance was approved. It has been further delayed by legal and ecological issues as some of the route,
is privately owned while other areas have become a haven for wildlife. Now with the backing of
Durham County Council, work has started on a 575 metre section of the path in the Cockfield area and
is expected to be finished within the next few weeks. Work includes creating a new resurfaced path,
drainage, gates, fencing and habitat.
1227 SOUTH EAST - NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
356] Great Yarmouth: A member recently successfully used the unusual P4 on its only booked
working, the 14.40 SSuX (14.36 SO) from Norwich via Acle; returning as the 15.17 SSuX (15.12 SO) via
357] Gorleston: (BLN 1226.272) The tram route did indeed run to the station here, according to the
LRTA publication 'The Tramways of East Anglia'. Its terminus was at Springfield Road, just north of the
former main road bridge over the railway. There was a branch to Gorleston Beach which apparently
only ran in the summer. It is interesting that the Gorleston section was never connected to the routes
on the other side of the river (which closed later), the Haven [lifting] Bridge being thought to be
unsuitable for trams. The A12 'Gorleston Bypass' road follows the course of the former Yarmouth to
Lowestoft railway almost exactly from just north of the former Breydon Swing Bridge over Breydon
water (CA 21 September 1953).
358] Manningtree: SSuO until 22 March, services to Ipswich are booked to start from P2, travel in the
Down direction along the Up Main and cross to the Down Main at Manningtree North Jct. (60m 00ch).
359] Peterborough - Whittlesea: The Peterborough Telegraph reports that £16.9M is to be spent
providing a bridge and bypass to the south of the A605 King’s Dyke level crossing about 1½ miles west
of 'Whittlesey'. A planning application will be made in summer 2015. The majority of the funding has
already been allocated with £5M from the government Growth Deal, £3.5M from the county council
and £3M from the local transport body. (The newspaper and the OS map use the more modern
'Whittlesey'; the station has always been 'Whittlesea' which is an earlier version of the location's name
as is 'Witesie'.)
BLN 1227.360] Huntingdon: A £1.5bn upgrade of the A14 and part of the A1 has been formally
accepted by the government's Planning Inspectorate. This means the scheme will now be considered
for a 'development consent order' within the mandatory time limits for examining major infrastructure
schemes. The proposals include demolition of the existing A14 viaduct over the East Coast Main Line at
Huntingdon station and construction of a new local access road. If the development consent order is
granted the demolition, and de-trunking of the A14 between Huntingdon and Swavesey, could start in
2016. The new widened A14 Huntingdon to Swavesey bypass is to the south and would open in 2020.
361] Up Sundon Loop: (BLN 1226.270) Commissioning did not take place on 9 February and is now
expected at the end of the year. It is wired from the north end for about 500m so could refuge EMUs.
362] East West Rail: Ground investigation surveys are taking place between Steeple Claydon and
Bletchley. This involves devegetation of the mothballed railway, installing temporary drainage at
locations prone to flooding and drilling bore holes for geotechnical surveys and water table
investigations. Vegetation management, general maintenance and upkeep of the railway corridor is
taking place between February 2015 and spring. Work will be carried out 07.30 to 16.30, Mondays to
Fridays, and may extend to 17.30 in the spring. Some weekend work may be done during daylight.
363] Slough: Up side bay P6 and its associated signalling were due to be taken out of use pending
recovery on Monday 23 February. It had no regular booked passenger workings.
364] Reading unusual move: On Thursday 29 January, the 07.25 Cross Country service from Newcastle
to Southampton Central ran through Reading P15 at 12.15 non-stop, proceeded to Kennet Bridge Jct.,
then stopped at MP34¾ on the Down Relief line and reversed. It then ran across to the Down Main line
to gain access to P7B at the station for its booked passenger call. An announcement was made by the
train staff on approaching Reading, explaining what was going to happen! Our correspondent
gathered from staff that this move had been in place since January and was booked to continue until
April (although Realtime Trains indicates it has since been suspended due to the Leamington to
Banbury closure). The move reduces conflicting movements at the station's still restricted west end
layout at this busy time when the 12.12 to Newbury also comes off the depot and departs from P7
instead of bay P1.
365] Reading - Didcot Parkway: (BLN 1125.188) Work continues piling holes and installation of bases
and masts. In the London direction, on 6 and 8 February, there were a few bases near Twyford West
(Down side) and then mast bases both sides extending from just west of Ruscombe (around MP30) to
about MP27, and then bases (some with masts) from east of the river bridge at Maidenhead to east of
Taplow (around MP20¼ ). Travelling Up from Didcot on 5 February looking at Down main side:
Most masts were in place from Cholsey to Goring, but not through the cutting or stations.
A temporary footbridge is being constructed west of the present one at Goring.
Bases continue towards the river bridge.
Most masts have been erected beyond, along with work on cable troughing.
Beyond Pangbourne, most masts have been erected with many head spans (the majority part
way and roughly every fifth mast is all the way across the four tracks) approaching Tilehurst.
Mast bases in position east of Tilehurst towards Scours Lane.
1227 SOUTH EAST ENGLAND - SOUTH
BLN 1227.366] Lewes, Southerham Jct. - Eastbourne - *Bo Peep Jct.: The East Sussex Coast
Resignalling with its associated track and level crossing alterations between Berwick and Bexhill signal
boxes (both inclusive) and recontrol of the Eastbourne area, postponed from both 25 November 2013
and 14 April 2014 was due to take effect from 16 February. Control was to be transferred to a new
VDU workstation at Three Bridges Rail Operating Centre. Berwick, Polegate Crossing, Hampden Park,
Pevensey & Westham and Bexhill Central signal boxes and the gate keeper's hut east of Norman's Bay
station at Havensmouth Level Crossing are described as 'abolished' and Eastbourne box as 'closed'.
Berwick, Polegate, Hampden Park and Pevensey & Westham retain their trailing crossovers and the
layout at Eastbourne is unaltered, retaining the ability to release a loco from P1 buffers. Bexhill keeps
the west end trailing crossover, but that east of the station is removed. Between Southerham Jct. and
Eastbourne, the Up Main and Down Main are renamed Up Eastbourne and Down Eastbourne.
Greatest permissible speed is 90mph in the Berwick to Polegate area. (*NR signalling documents spell
'Bopeep Jct.' without a hyphen or capital P, which corresponds with the signal box diagram and
nameboard and the 1914 Railway Clearing House map but the NR Sectional Appendix shows 'Bo Peep'.
The TRACKmaps spelling 'Bo-Peep' corresponds with the actual place name! This seems to originate
from Bo Peep Cove near Hastings used by wool smugglers which gave its name to the area in the
367] Polegate: Rail User Express reports that Bexhill Rail Action Group is pressing for Gatwick Airport
management to fund a NR feasibility study into building the Willingdon Chord (bypassing Eastbourne)
if a second runway is recommended (BLN 1226.277). Your Sub-Editor estimates that this has the
potential for a 20 minute journey time reduction between Polegate and Bexhill but the number of
passengers would not justify the additional services necessary via the avoiding line; most want
Eastbourne. (The coast line is also being resignalled without any provision for a chord _ previous item.)
The original electrified direct line from Polegate 'B' Jct. to Stone Cross Jct. (Pevensey) CP after the last
train on 30 August 1967 and CA from 6 January 1969, latterly only used by occasional ECS workings
and parcels trains. Closure enabled abolition of Stone Cross signal box which had to be staffed
continuously. The through route was then retained for engineers' use and occasional other traffic until
the junction was severed at the Polegate end on 8 September 1974. It was then retained for a while as
a siding from the Pevensey end to an electrical substation. At one time if the Ore to Victoria portion of
a train was running late it would be sent directly to Polegate via this line to join the Eastbourne portion
there (rather than at Eastbourne station), local passengers for Eastbourne then changing to the next
local service back after doing the very rare track!
368] Dungeness branch: (BLN 1191.1180) The line has been upgraded to Route Availability 10. Loco
66101 with nine KEA bogie box wagons ran a trial service, 6Z20, from Wembley Yard on 10 February at
06.09 to Lydd (arr 10.10), operated by DBS for Brett Aggregates. See: http://goo.gl/veHlOH. After
running round and loading at the specially built new pad, the train left Lydd at 13.47 via Ashford,
Tonbridge, Grove Park and Lee Spur to the Cliffe Brett Marine branch on the Isle of Grain arriving
17.25. The trial was considered to be successful. Dollands Moor staff will crew these trains. This
branch otherwise has occasional nuclear flask trains for Dungeness 'B' power station. Demolition of
the 'A' station (closed in December 2006) began on 5 February; reportedly it will take until 2097 to
clear the site!
369] Minster - Ramsgate: Transport Briefing reports that Kent County Council has begun a public
consultation on plans to build a new parkway station about two miles west of Ramsgate – to be named
Thanet Parkway. The £14M project would deliver an unstaffed, two platform station, car park and an
access road connecting it to the A256 and the A299 at the Sevenscore roundabout. Passengers would
be able to reach Stratford International in about an hour from early 2019. The Thanet Parkway project
has already been provisionally awarded £10M from central government with £1.5M committed by the
county council. Discussions are underway with other parties to fill the £2.5M funding gap. The
consultation closes on 27 March 2015, with seven events taking place until early March.
BLN 1227.370] Ashford International: Global Rail News reports that £2M government funding from
the Local Growth Fund is to be allocated to provide European Train Control System at Ashford,
essential for Eurostar’s new e320 trains to be able to serve the station.
1227 SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
371] Chippenham: The 115-year-old station footbridge was partly demolished on 24 January with the
rest going on 31st. A new footbridge with ramps gives access from the Cocklebury Road side, though
funding does not stretch to provide access to the Hathaway Retail Park side. Two lifts are due to be
commissioned in June, the £3M cost is part funded under the 'Access for All' scheme.
372] Marsh Barton: (BLN 1206.517) The Express and Echo of 10 February reported that plans for the
new station are progressing. The Local Transport Board is treating it as a priority and investing £3M
into the scheme. The procedure to close the railway foot crossing near Alphin Brook is under way. NR
is carrying out a timetable study to determine the feasibility of stopping trains on opening in 2016/17.
373] Radstock: The Somer-Rail Trust (http://somer-rail.co.uk/) is a new charitable trust formed last
year hoping to reopen the ex-GWR 5½ mile branch to link with the Whatley Quarry Branch (and the
national network to Frome) at the former Hapsford Ground Frame (2m 38ch from Frome North Jct.).
An interesting clip on their website shows the recent state of the line which still has track in places and
is shown on TRACKmaps 3 (August 2010) p12A: http://goo.gl/tcmdH0. The last train ran on 29 June
1988 to clear out wagons at the former Radstock Marcroft Wagon Works which closed that week (BLN
590.71) and was the final source of revenue earning traffic. There are many interesting pictures on the
website and other information. Perhaps anyone who needs the branch should consider joining the
374] Stroud: It has been suggested that a training film was made about single line working, between
Sapperton and Stroud about 1969 to 1971. It wasn't a British Transport Film (BTF) but was made locally
by BR Bristol Area. Hughie Leonard was a name involved in it. Does anyone remember it, or better still
do any copies exist? [A similar training film was made on the Somerset and Dorset line between
Shepton Mallet and Binegar which were disguised as 'Boiland' and 'Averton Hammer' to anonymise
the film. This didn't work as locomotive types only found on the S&D were featured! See:
375] St Austell: (BLN 1218.477) The Transport Minister attended a ceremony marking the completion
(finally!) of the £2.5M 'Access for All' upgrade of the station. A new footbridge with lifts has been
installed at the Grade II listed station and the waiting room and toilets have been refurbished.
376] Wareham: (MR p6) (BLN 1218.1479) On Thursday 5 February South West Trains two car DMU
158 890 ran as 1Z15, the 15.27 Poole to Corfe Castle, where there was a five minute stop for a visit to
the signal box, then it returned as 1Z16 to Wareham (arriving 17.09). Carrying Claire Perry
MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the DfT, local civil dignitaries, stakeholders and invited
guests, it was the first passenger carrying train signalled over this section by the 'new' signalling
system. The press release said that the new system had taken NR and the Swanage Railway four years
to design, install and test and "... is based on long-proven technology used for controlling trains on
single lines and interfaces with a NR state of the art signalling control centre." This is electric key token
working with equipment installed at Wareham station and at the award winning Victorian Corfe Castle
signal box. NR's Weekly Operating Notice of 7 February recorded that it had been brought into use
and is owned and maintained by the Swanage Railway. It would be interesting to know if
communication between Corfe Castle and the new Basingstoke Rail Operating Centre is by bell codes!
The system has cost Dorset County and Purbeck District Councils £3.2M from their Transport
Improvement Fund (contributed by property developers) of which £2.85M went to NR and £350K to
the Swanage Railway for the work - perhaps they should now bid for more contracts! The press report
also notes that the trial train service is set to start during the first half of 2016 and run on 140 selected
days over two years. Previously a date of September 2015 had been set for this (BLN 1209. MR64).
Passenger trains were key token worked in the days of the BR passenger service which last ran on 1
1227 WEST MIDLANDS
BLN 1227.377] Gobowen - Oswestry: A member visiting the line recently found that the platform and
its access path still exists at Park Hall Halt (OP 5 July 1926; CP 7 November 1966), 67ch from Oswestry
Branch Jct., just south of Gobowen station. It once served the internationally famous nearby
Orthopaedic Hospital. The wooden faced platform is in poor condition but the name board uprights
are in situ. Track remains in place between Gobowen and Oswestry, and per http://goo.gl/iHICqo is
now leased to Cambrian Heritage Railways. The line has been devegetated both ways as far as the eye
can see. From the overbridge the buffer stops are visible blocking the line at the south end of the loop
before Gobowen. There are some pictures of the halt and other information at: http://goo.gl/R9Jzbe.
The Oswestry line has been suggested as a suitable 'self contained' branch for a Parry People Mover
type of operation from Gobowen bay platform although the level crossing over the A5 Oswestry
bypass could be a problem. Like the other such level crossing south of Oswestry it was only ever used
by a handful of non-revenue earning trains. The 1986 OS 1:50,000 'Landranger' map incorrectly shows
both locations with the A5 crossing the branch by overbridges which may have been the original
intention. On later editions they have since been corrected to show level crossings. Presumably the
incorrect map was drawn from 'plans' rather than a site visit?
378] Shrewsbury: The SuX 12.09 and 14.09 from Birmingham International to Aberystwyth/Pwllheli
have been unusually using P3 (although shown as P5 on Real Time Trains etc). This was because the
Virgin Voyager unit for the new Euston service had been stabling in P5 for the duration of its stay SuX
(12.58 to 15.24). Originally stabled at Coton Hill, north of the station, on the Chester line residents
complained of the train being outside their houses with its engines running (so the toilets would work
for the staff); it then stabled in P5 shut down (as station toilets were available). P3 would be a better
stabling location, but is only signalled southbound to the Up Hereford line, which involved bi-
directional working to, and then taking, the facing crossover north of English Bridge Jct. to gain the
Down line (to Church Stretton). The then brand new semaphore signal to allow that move in passenger
service was installed in 2010. However, from 16 February the Voyager was booked to go to
Wolverhampton ECS during the layover! The timings suggest precisely 11 minutes is spent at
Wolverhampton before it returns again ECS to Coton Hill then to Shrewsbury for the return Euston
working although there could theoretically be a 'set swap'! Shrewsbury P3 departures south: Some of
the four daily Heart of Wales Line services are now booked to terminate in P3, layover and depart
south in service at: 09.00 (SSuX), 14.03 (SSuX) and 13.58 SO.
379] Walsall: (BLN 1210.905) The Power Signal Box which was first opened in 1965 was finally
completely demolished during a possession on Sunday 1 February. It was visited by a Society party on
24 July 2013 and closed the following month during a 96 hour Bank Holiday possession. Control of the
area was transferred to the West Midlands Signalling Centre (Walsall Workstation) in Saltley from 27
380] Wolverhampton: (BLN 1214.1200) Re-signalling of the lines controlled from its PSB and transfer
of control to the West Midlands Signalling Centre (Wolverhampton Workstation) is expected from 5
BLN 1227.381] Midland Metro (1): Trackplan: One member has spotted errors with the Midland
Metro map in the centrefold of BLN 1225.177. The current Snow Hill stop should be 19.90 (rather than
16.90) and the end of line 19.92 (rather than 16.92); the new Snow Hill (St. Chad's) stop is correctly
shown at 19.70. Also Bradley Lane and Winson Green Outer Circle stops are single central island
platforms not two platforms.
(2): New Street extension: On a recent journey a member was advised that catenary installation for
the extension is now due to begin in December 2015 and that the opening will be delayed from the
expected late 2015 probably until spring 2016. There is still a significant amount of track to be laid too.
(3): Wolverhampton The Hole Story: (BLN 125.20) The re-laying of Metro track over the city centre
former mine workings has resumed after engineers devised a way of tackling the unstable and
potentially dangerous site. Tram services are scheduled to resume running into the St George's
terminus in March. The workings were uncovered on the A41 Bilston Road between the junctions with
Steelhouse Lane and Hospital Street in November 2014 as work progressed replacing life-expired track.
Up to 12m (40ft) deep, 55m (180ft) long and 20m (65ft) wide they are thought to date back to the
Industrial Revolution. The hole had been filled in with old building rubble then covered over without
being documented or marked on any known map. The rubble was thrown in loose and covered over
but not compacted so over time shifted creating voids. Engineers used a geo-textile membrane and
geogrid to stabilise the ground, in between layers of compacted hardcore and capped with a
reinforced 5m wide concrete slab. Tracklaying had also been delayed by the finding of unmarked
public utility pipes and the original track slab required additional work to ensure it does not
382] Birmingham Snow Hill: Railfuture reports that Birmingham City Council has put forward plans to
improve the station. These will include the removal of the multi-storey car park and the creation of
more office space. Centro supports the reinstatement of P4 (after the Metro is diverted) which will be
a doubled ended bi-directional loop, like the others are. Provision of this extra fourth platform would
allow more Chiltern trains to terminate there and also capacity for extra services (currently six trains
per hour) to a re-instated Up side bay platform at Rowley Regis which Centro are keen to pursue.
383] Birmingham New Street (1): NR has erected a trial 'prototype signal' in the Up direction on P11a
by the escalators. It is non-operational so cannot display any aspect! For 'technical reasons' the normal
white cross cannot be fixed to the face of the signal; drivers have been advised to disregard it and
obey all existing operational signals! (2): (BLN 1219.1549) P1 reopened on 25 January after
refurbishment. All 12 New Street platforms are in use (for more than 1,600 trains daily) for the first
time in well over a year.
384] Kidderminster: The local paper The Shuttle (as in carpet weaving looms not transport!) has
reported that funding has finally been found for the much needed £4.3M station redevelopment.
Worcestershire CC granted planning permission for this in 2010, renewed in 2013. £1.8M is from the
Local Growth Deal Expansion Fund and £2.5M from Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership. The
present station building dates from 1968 when the previous delightful wooden mock Tudor design
which had climbing plants growing up it developed dry rot and was demolished. Passenger traffic was
much lighter then and in decline (basically an hourly all stations DMU to/from Birmingham New
Street with peak extras, no Sunday services latterly, and just a handful running south through
Hartlebury to Worcester in the peaks). Now the basic service is 4 trains hourly to Birmingham Snow
Hill (and beyond) with two running through to Worcester/Malvern and an hourly through service on
Sundays. Over 1.6M passenger journeys per year are made at Kidderminster station. The work
includes new station buildings, improvements to the bus terminal, traffic signals, heritage and
environmental work. Unfortunately the local paper chose to illustrate the item 'online' with an old
view of the station without the new footbridge and lifts and showing two of the former Class 150
units rather than the modern new LM Class 172 units that provide most of the services (there are also
Chiltern loco hauled trains and DMUs and LM Class 170s). The plan appears to be scaled back from
the cancelled 2009 scheme costed at £13.4M which was to have 'matched' the Severn Valley
Railway's adjacent Kidderminster Town station.
(A view of the previous Kidderminster station main buildings on the Down platform in 1963; (by Ben
Brooksbank. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons).
BLN 1227.385] Worcestershire Parkway: (BLN 1219.1554) A £14M loan from the Public Works Loans
Board (with very low interest rates) is being arranged to start construction of the new station.
Worcester News reported that Worcestershire CC has endorsed a financial package to open the station
by May 2017. The total construction costs have been firmed up [never down!] at £21.9M, leaving
£14.4M needed after the £7.5M already confirmed by central Government. A 25-year forecast has
been drawn up taking into account maintenance, administration, debt repayments and other bills. The
station will cost £47M. The council says it aims to make the Parkway break-even by 2042, from car
parking charges (£4M) and train operator access fees (£35.8M). Norton Parkway Developments Ltd.,
controls the land and wants to build it privately. The council has already agreed it will issue a
Compulsory Purchase Order if necessary.
386] A rose by any other name….: (BLN 1226.221) A member who spent many happy hours in the
former Bearley (West) Jct. signal box has been in touch about the Saltley signal box report. What the
local media (railway articles, books about the line and even Wikipedia!) referred to colloquially as the
North Warwickshire Line between Stratford-upon-Avon and Tyseley South Jct. particularly during its
near closure and struggle for survival in the late 1960s and early 1970 is actually the North Warwick
Line, a point he makes very strongly! This name came as a complete surprise to your BLN Editor from
the West Midlands. Geographically it actually runs through West Warwickshire; North Warwickshire is
a local Government area between Atherstone, Polesworth and Coleshill. Cooke's GWR 1947 Atlas calls
the line 'North Warwick' and the current NR Sectional Appendix, like BR, refers to it as the Up (and
Down) 'North Warwick' as shown on August 2013 TRACKmaps. Our member advises that this name
originated because, although not serving the county town, it passed north of Warwick as a West
Country / Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham cut off rather than trains taking the original line from
Bearley via Hatton. It is ironic that the faster trains often took (and again now take) the latter route. In
mitigation your BLN Editor must point out that the GWR were sometimes directionally confused (for
example the naming of their five signal boxes at Honeybourne!) and the original North Warwick line
was independently promoted under the auspices of the GWR as the Birmingham, North Warwickshire
and Stratford Railway in an 1898 act. This was thought to have been so named as it cut-through the
North Warwickshire Hunt area. Now we know why the railway (alive and well, with 2M passengers
annually) is promoted as the Shakespeare Line!
BLN 1227.387] Long Marston: (BLN 1226.247) Motorail who operate the current internal railway
(actually Quinton Rail Technology Centre) have kindly confirmed that the future plans for the site do
not include a military heritage museum. However they are currently working with Adrian Shooter's
company Vivarail on the ex-Underground D78 conversion project (BLN 1226.264). The first coach
arrived on 19 January, for six pictures see: http://goo.gl/mmzQrh and have the railway booked out for
a year's worth of trials and testing. The ABC Consortium is also basing their training school at Long
Marston and another potential secure storage project is under investigation. The railway seems safe
for the foreseeable future.
1227 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
388] Sheffield moves: Any train from the Dore direction to P6, 7 or 8 must use the Down Passenger
Loop (centre running line); trains running into P2 or 5 may also use this line. Trains coming from the
Dore direction continuing beyond Sheffield and using P1 (particularity XC and TPE but not HSTs) may
use the centre line between P1 and 2 thus entering P1 via the crossover halfway down. Any train
coming from the Meadowhall direction to P1 must use the crossover just south of Nunnery Main Line
Jct. Trains using P2, 3 and 4 could also use this route but a local railwayman has not known them to.
389] Meadowhall: Trains from the Barnsley line to Sheffield can use either P3 (preferred) or 4; if they
use P4 then they take the facing crossover on the approach to Meadowhall. On departure from
Meadowhall they have to run via the 'Up & Down Slow Line' behind the former Brightside station
Down platform then take the facing crossover between there and the Brightside loop. There are
currently no regular booked passenger trains that do this, (although there have been in the past, usage
depends on timekeeping).
390] Don Valley Railway: In their 2014 Annual Report, the railway says that the past twelve months
have seen some significant moves forward for the project as they strive to get the underused freight
line from Sheffield to Stocksbridge reconnected to the passenger network. Developments such as the
re-letting of the Northern Rail franchise have provided an opportunity to contribute views to the
consultation as well as having dialogue with the shortlisted bidders. The focus of the coming year will
be on fundraising to get the money in place for a formal study. This will ascertain if a service is viable
and consider what type of rail vehicle is used; it will also look at the stopping pattern of the service and
how the service on the Don Valley Line may extend onto the wider rail network or the Supertram
391] Moorthorpe: On 18 and 25 April the 11.06 York to Sheffield is booked in the Up Goods Loop
392] Railwayana treasure trove: An article in the local press recently drew attention to a local
curiosity. To the unenlightened, it is a stuffy school room strewn with tatty old knick-knacks. To
educated enthusiasts, however, it is one of the rail world’s best kept secrets. Atop a steep spiral
staircase in the clock tower at Doncaster’s Hall Cross Academy is one of Britain’s most fascinating
collections of train memorabilia, yet only a few can lay claim to having cast their eyes over it. The
astonishing assortment of railway signs, signal plates, pieces of track, newspaper cuttings and other
paraphernalia going back to the 18th century is the culmination of several decades of collecting which
began with a set of young schoolboys. Pupils and teachers from Doncaster Grammar School founded a
railway society in the early 1930s, and in 1937 they received a signed photo of engineer Sir Nigel
Gresley, igniting a passion for 'railwayana' which would endure for many years to come. 'We think we
have around 2,000 items, but it’s impossible to count as there is so much,' said Dave Rogerson, a
former teacher and trustee. Over the years, members amassed a selection of rare exhibits including
the original nameplates of the Gresley-designed Cock O’ The North, one of the steam locomotives
designed by Sir Nigel between 1934 and 1936. The society also has a steam locomotive nameplate
from Princess Anne, one of the engines wrecked in the 1952 Harrow and Wealdstone railway disaster.
Interest in the society faded, and it disbanded in the 1970s, but the collection was kept alive by former
teacher, the late Tony Peart. Mr Rogerson, 70, who worked alongside him, said: 'Tony went
everywhere gathering things. He would go to building sites where they were dismantling old railways
and he’d ask them for things. One of the stories he used to tell was that when they were scrapping a
signal at an old colliery in north Doncaster he went and got it and carried it right through the town on
his bicycle.' Due to the size of the collection, it has remained in the clock tower and is only available to
view by prior appointment. So crammed full of items is it that only around six people can be in the
room at the same time.
1227 ISLE OF MAN
BLN 1227.393] Laxey: (BLN 1225.169) Virtually the whole station area is now a building site with the
gardens to the road side of the station now being landscaped and the station area and tracks
resembling a mud bath! Seemingly raised platforms are being installed on either side of the MER
running lines. Nothing has yet been done about the Snaefell railway though as those tracks are
covered in building materials for the site.
394] Navan branch: An interesting 18 minute video clip of Navan station and a footplate ride on an All-
Ireland Football special to Dublin run on 15 September 1991: http://goo.gl/qu1pSq. The next (and
final) football special ran on 15 September 1996 but the last passenger train to run on the branch from
Drogheda (CP 14 May 1958) was an Irish Traction Group railtour on 19 October 1996. The line is well
maintained, some stretches have been relaid with concrete sleepers for the zinc ore trains of which
there are generally three daily SSuX from Tara Mine to Dublin Port (Alexandra Dock Mineral Terminal).
With production beginning in 1977, it is the largest zinc ore mine in Europe and also produces lead.
395] May(be) rare track: The RPSI is running tours over five days in May, the 7th a positioning move
from Whitehead to Dublin Connolly, the 8th a diesel hauled tour from Dublin to Rosslare Strand and 9th
to 11th their South Munster Railtour which is planned to visit Belfast, Cobh, Cork, Dublin, Killarney,
Midleton and Whitehead (in the alphabetical listing used by that Society!) with two nights in Cork.
Whitehead Excursion platform and connection may be included and possibly Dublin Connolly P7 to
Newcomen Jct., though not confirmed. The booking form includes M3 Parkway where loco haulage is
rare and there is a chance that the train will stop in the little used second platform. Following closure
of the Waterford line. the second platform at Rosslare Strand is now also little used. On 12 May a
Heritage coach tour is planned in the Belfast area. Details (with link to booking form):
http://goo.gl/squ46T +44 2893373968 or write to RPSI, PO Box 461, Newtownabbey, County Antrim,
BT36 9BT, Northern Ireland.
396] Georgemas Junction: (BLN 1208.757) Locomotive 66 104 working 6X88 (various paths) pipe train
from Hartlepool, ran as an 01.50 from Inverness on 6 February, derailed all its wheels at about 07.50
while running round the train in the yard, blocking the main line with wagons. The 08.02 Wick to
Inverness (INV) was cancelled (trapped at Wick). The 07.02 INV to Wick terminated at Helmsdale
forming the 12.34 Wick to INV as from there. Derailment sorted, the 14.00 INV to Wick was able to run
BLN 1227.397] West Highland in winter: On Thursday 29 January a member caught the 08.21
Glasgow Queen St. to Mallaig from Dalmuir (via the 08.26 from Drumchapel). He went up for the snow
of which there was plenty and one of the last chances to use the First Group's 'Friends & Family'
employee tickets (a £6 Day Rover!) before the ScotRail franchise changes hands on 1 April. The trains
ran close to time both ways with a slight delay at Crianlarich on the return waiting for the Oban
portion, but sensible intermediate timings ensured an on time arrival at Dalmuir. This allowed a very
slick, unadvertised connection and a 15 minutes earlier arrival back at Drumchapel! For the depths of
winter the trains were busier than expected, about 35 to 40 passengers on average for the whole trip.
About 5 or 6 hardy souls boarded at Rannoch and 3 alighted at Corrour via the single 'local door' that
was opened. It was a little bit busier on the return trip. The on board staff were friendly and helpful,
particularly the two female Mallaig based Conductors, to and from Crianlarich. When asked if they
ever got sick of the scenery, one replied "never!" Here the outward train, a two car Class 156 DMU is
leaving the remote station at Corrour heading north for Fort William and Mallaig. (Picture by our
member Nick Lander.)
398] Glasgow Crossrail: (BLN 1225.1202) Scottish Labour has committed to funding this scheme if it
wins the 2016 Scottish Parliament election (BBC NEWS/Railscot 9 February). Up to 4M passengers a
year could be carried, and according to Strathclyde Partnership for Transport it could create as many
as 130 new jobs over 10 years and contribute £36M to Glasgow's economy. No reference was made to
an airport link!....
399] Glasgow Airport: (BLN 1225.202) The Scotsman 3 February indicates that it is a tram-train
proposal for the rail link and four tram-trains per hour are suggested. The article is full of gloom,
suggesting that nothing would happen until observation of the not yet built Sheffield tram-train has
been possible. Line capacity en route Glasgow Central and at that station is an issue, with possible
reduction of other services. Railway Herald of 11 February reported that a feasibility study 'has
revealed that it would be dogged by timetabling and capacity issues' and 'at best it is likely to equal the
present bus timings'.
BLN 1227.400] Glasgow Queen Street Low Level: (BLN 1224.103) Three reports relate to the
locomotive-hauled history of this subterranean station. On Saturday 15 September 1973,
Correspondent No1 boarded the Up Fort William Sleeper at Tyndrum Upper (Upper Tyndrum since
RETB IN 1988 to avoid radio confusion with Tyndrum Lower) for King’s Cross; traction was a single
Class 27, 5390. The train was routed via Singer to Queen Street LL where it called, producing looks of
astonishment on the punters there; his recollection is that the train was 'set down only' and that it was
not shown on the platform monitors. It continued to Springburn and Falkirk for Edinburgh. In England,
the train ran via the GN & GE Joint and the Hertford Loop; arrival in King’s Cross, in the hands of Class
47 no. 1534, was several hours late!
On Saturday 6 September 1975, Correspondent No2 travelled on the 17.25 Fort William to Edinburgh
and York. The train departed from the then recently repositioned (shortening the line from 13 June
1975) Fort William station and was double headed (27019 and 27032) via Queen Street LL. 27032 was
detached at Cowlairs and the Edinburgh/York portion continued to Edinburgh with 27019. At
Edinburgh it ran round and shunted the stock with passengers onto the rear of more coaches forming
an Edinburgh to York train (hauled by Deltic 55004) arriving in the small hours. The next time he
passed through Queen Street LL diesel hauled was over 37 years later on 13 October 2012; our
'Hunterston Tracker' railtour with 37685 and 37516.
No3; Our PSUL Compiler records, from related work in its first summer of 1963, a daily round trip
03.35 SX/03.45 SO Edinburgh to Fort William, returning at 17.45, ran each summer via the Cowlairs
East curve, carrying the through London sleepers and running separately from the all-year Glasgow to
Fort William train. How far back this practice goes prior to PSUL days he has not sought to trace but it
was certainly there (albeit only northbound) in, for example, the July 1938 Bradshaw's Guide reprint,
so it is suspected to be long-standing. In winter 1963/4, the through vehicles ran via Queen Street HL
and as a combined train over the West Highland. The workings in summers 1964 and 1965 were the
same as 1963. From 13 June 1966, only the northbound Edinburgh train ran via Cowlairs East curve,
the southbound Edinburgh train then ran instead via Queen Street LL, Springburn and Cowlairs West
Jct.; summer only, of course - the winter working remained as before. The following summer (1967)
economies set in; from here on, only on summer Saturdays was there an independent Edinburgh to
Fort William train. The routes on Saturdays remained as in 1966 but on summer Mondays to Fridays
the working was via Queen Street HL, as winter. What he can't tell from the paperwork presently
available is whether (and, if so, until when) there were still two trains from Fort William on Saturday
evenings as there were outwards on Saturday mornings. In other words, the date cannot be specified
from which the Glasgow vehicles started to be detached at Cowlairs from the Edinburgh train on
summer Saturday evenings instead of being run as a separate trains from Fort William. The different
routes on summer Saturday mornings and evenings continued unchanged until the end of summer
1975. The last 'independent' summer Saturday Edinburgh to Fort William ran on Saturday 4 October
1975 the end of a Fort William to London sleeper train running through Queen Street LL (until 19 May
401] Glasgow Subway: (BLN 1224.97) The two shortlisted groups bidding for the £200M contract to
build the trains for the Subway (and automated signalling) are expected to offer driverless trains with
viewing windows at each end (reserved for Society members perhaps?).
BLN 1227.402] Neilston to where? Arriving by foot on Cathcart station at about 16.25 Friday 6
February, the 'next train' was observed to be the overdue 16.00 Neilston to Glasgow Central which
was then 'cancelled'. At 16.26 a Class 314 unit approached and turned off towards Newton; it was not
noted whether there were any passengers on it. Subsequent scrutiny of Realtime Trains gave no clue
as to what happened next, but it probably needed to reverse. Neither cancellation nor arrival at
Glasgow Central was recorded. The previously punctual 16.20 Glasgow Central to Newton was 4
minutes late at King’s Park. Steve Goodman’s 'disappearing railroad blues (1971)' was recalled.
403] Wemyss Bay: (BLN 1226.292) A member advises that the temporary closure of P1 and shortening
of P2 are because of the renovation and repainting of the platform canopies and concourse roof at this
fine Category A listed station. Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd. has recently started a major renovation
of the pier and ferry berth, see: http://goo.gl/tECDcX (which takes a while to load but is a very
interesting well illustrated presentation). When complete the pier and the station will both be in the
same colour scheme for the first time in several decades; traditional Caledonian Railway colours will be
used on the walkway. Due to the pier works, the Rothesay ferries will be diverted to Gourock, where
work to deal with the extra traffic should be finished later this month. This diversion was originally to
have been from 2 March until late Jun e but the work (expected to take 16 weeks) on the pier and
berth have been postponed until later in the year, possibly September. This is due to a delay in the
fender system coming from China (!); a late start could disrupt the busy summer traffic. Major
refurbishment of the terminal building that started in January continues. The 'Royal Scotsman' tour
due at Wemyss Bay on 26 April has been cancelled for unconnected reasons. A benefit of the ferry
diversion is that it will provide a bargain price Clyde cruise! The sailing is substantially longer but the
fares are to be reduced to compensate passengers for the inconvenience; cue the BLS boating
BLN 1227.404] Saughtree: A short distance from Riccarton Jct. and still in Scotland, on the former
Border Counties Railway to Hexham, is this station, with the section of line from Chollerford, OG 24
June 1862 and OP 1 July the same year. The line closed to passengers on 15 October 1956 (Saughtree
also TCP 1 December 1944 to 23 August 1948) and this section CG 1 September 1958. The station
building, (NY565981) set in delightful countryside and now a private house, has been sympathetically
refurbished and extended, the former platform rooms providing B&B guest accommodation. One third
of a mile of track has been relaid, on which sits a Ruston diesel shunter, two wagons and a guard's van.
There is a platform bench and platelayers' hut. See: http://goo.gl/rJkosh and http://goo.gl/zU6L36. Its
final 1956 generous 'service' is shown above.
405] Craigentinny sinkhole: Traffic was stopped on the ECML at about 15.30 hours on Saturday 31
January after observation of a sinkhole, 13ft long and 7ft deep, which had opened up at a boundary
wall (Scotsman/Railscot 1 February). A restricted service resumed at about 18.00 using one unaffected
line. NR engineers attended overnight. Trains were certainly running normally by Tuesday 3 February.
406] Borders Railway: (BLN 1226.296/7) Tracklaying, which started on 9 October, was completed on
this 30 mile route to Tweedbank in just over four months on 12 February. Keith Brown, Cabinet
Secretary for Infrastructure, arrived by rail at the station, on the first train to reach the end of the new
line behind 66614 (there have to be some perks of the job!). He clipped the final rail into place with a
'golden clip' alongside Hugh Wark, NR's Borders Railway project director. Tweedbank is an island with
two platforms each able to take 12 coaches and a locomotive; the promised tourist steam trains and
other specials will have to work 'top and tail' in the absence of run round loops. Redbridge Viaduct
public 'Black Path' over the River Tweed has now reopened after being prepared to receive the
railway. The line is forecast to cost £294M to build and benefit the economy by £33M per year; it has
seven new stations. About 1.5M tonnes of material have been excavated and 95,834 sleepers and over
1,000 rails laid. The Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank journey time will be 55 minutes and the day
return fare about £10. Over 600 parking spaces are being provided, 241 of these at Tweedbank which
is a 'park & ride'. The project is on course for a June handover and OP on 6 September 2015.
407] Pontypridd Bay P3 yet again: (BLN 1226.246) Our local Sub-Editor replies: Despite the
appearance, the southern part of the ex-Down Main P6 at Pontypridd (south of High Street
underbridge) HAS had to be significantly narrowed in order to provide enough width for the new bay
platform. P6 closed in June 1970 and later the adjacent highway (at a much lower level than the
railway) was much widened, with a new retaining wall for the railway formation created a few yards
further back and taking part of the former trackbed. With all the passenger services at the time able to
be accommodated by bi-directional working over just the former Up Main platform, this was of no
particular concern. Enhanced services made it essential to restore a second platform in 1991 and
Regional Railways found it cheaper to build one from scratch on the former Up Goods Line, rather than
reinstating P6. The new bay P3 track does begin adjacent to the old south-end inlet bay P7 but the arc
of the new curve swings it away from that to come in alongside the narrowed P6. The site of the
former P7 buffer stop can still be seen.
408] Cwmgwrach branch: (BLN 1226.302) A video clip of the NR track recorder:
409] Cardiff Central: With their usual disdain for the needs of public transport users and providers, the
Rugby Union authorities arranged for 73,815 thirsty fans to flood out of the Wales/England encounter
at the Millennium Stadium from 21.55 on Friday 7 February, a large proportion converging onto Cardiff
Central station. The last CrossCountry departure, the 21.50 to Birmingham New Street, was retimed to
22.10, whilst ATW, FGW and charter operators managed to supplement the normally meagre late-
evening timetable with extra departures scheduled to Frome (22.04), London Victoria (22.09),
Cheltenham Spa (22.22 & 23.00), Paddington (22.26, 22.32 & 22.45), Newport (22.29, 23.31 & 00.20),
Bristol TM (22.35, 22.55 & 23.10), Swansea (22.53 & 23.28), Crewe (23.05), Coryton (23.08), Ebbw Vale
(23.35 & 00.40), Bridgend (23.40 via Barry, 23.56 via Pencoed), Aberdare (23.43), Abergavenny (23.45),
Bargoed (23.47), Treherbert (23.59), Carmarthen via Swansea (00.07 & 00.30), Barry Island (00.07 &
00.18), Rhymney (00.11) and Pontypridd (00.20). Some booked services were extended beyond their
normal destinations: the 21.55 (retimed to 22.18) Crewe to Holyhead, 22.04 (retimed to 22.15) Bristol
Temple Meads to Bath Spa, 22.01 (retimed to 22.08) Caerphilly and 23.16 Ystrad Mynach both to
Rhymney, and 23.26 Pontypridd to Merthyr Tydfil. Reference to Realtime Trains showed that
punctuality was not great, but it will also indicate the complexity of the empty stock movements
needed to facilitate all the above! The Frome service left 55 minutes late and was cut short at
Westbury, and with the penultimate Newport and Ebbw Vale departures heavily delayed, their 00.20
and 00.40 slots were cancelled, meaning that the last train out was, as on a normal week-night, the
00.30 to Hereford, by which time the queues had miraculously cleared. With units ending up out of
place and train crew shift patterns affected, there were inevitable knock-on effects on the start of
Saturday services, but great credit is surely due to all of the railway and BT Police staff involved. At
least there is plenty of ECS nearby at Canton at that time of the evening!
BLN 1227.410] Severn Tunnel Junction: Preparations begin soon for a £6.7M station upgrade. The
main work is to start in June with a new ticket office and replacement footbridge, with funding
through the Access for All programme for ramps, tactile paving on the platforms, and additional
411] Machynlleth (BLN 1226.300): There are no planned six-car workings on the Cambrian main line.
However, in the event of a rolling stock swap being needed, the replacement unit is placed at the
Shrewsbury end of the Up platform and the incoming two units run in behind, their order being
reversed at Dovey Junction if necessary, so that the unit needing to be detached is at the Aberystwyth
end. The signalling and station staff and train crews have this down to a fine art and can achieve the
swap with no more than a minute or two’s delay. Even if it is a bit of a nuisance to passengers, it is very
impressive to watch!
412] Afon Wen: To access this former LNWR / Cambrian junction station site (SH 4446 3717), a
member reports following a narrow lane for a quarter mile from the A497 to reach the station
approach, which leads over the eponymous stream and climbs toward the station site, only to find
there a padlocked gate blocking the way! Nothing daunted, retracing steps to the lane he found this
to continue as a track leading south to the coast beneath the Cambrian line and accessing the Wales
Coastal Path, which features a modern footbridge over the Afon Wen (White River) with a public
footpath then paralleling the railway and leading to a low wall of large rocks, built as a sea defence by
the then Aberystwyth & Welsh Coast Railway circa 1865-67. Climbing over the rocks, at last a good
view can be had of the station site, where a substantial length of platform survives, along with a house
(perhaps once the Station Master's) and an English-only BR trespass notice.
413] Wern: Listed by Clinker as 'Wern Siding' (CG June 1957), this was sited some two miles west of
Porthmadog. The entrance can be spotted between walls on the main road to Criccieth, still forming
an access footpath for NR staff to reach the line. The only significant usage would have been
agricultural traffic for the Wern estate, and stone from a local quarry.
414] Wrexham - Chester: (BLN 121.1557) In connection with the redoubling of 5m 34ch of this line
before Saltney Jct.; from Monday 23 February 2015 the existing single line between Rossett Jct. (206m
48ch) where the new double track will start and Balderton Level Crossing (209m 67ch) (exclusive) is
due to be slewed onto the new track formation that has recently been installed OOU. Points CR740 at
Rossett Jct. will continue to be secured OOU but in the opposite lie (right hand switch closed instead of
left hand switch closed). This gives a new temporary slew before the level crossing for those so
interested to do.
BLN 1227.415] Long Welsh names: (BLN 1226.299) The 33 letters of Rhoose Cardiff International
Airport exceeds by one by the evocative sounding Aberdare Commercial Street Platform. With a mere
24 letters was Porthcawl Golfers Platform (perhaps its survival was handicapped by not being
available to non-golfers?). On the subject of Welsh names, we are advised there really was a Heol-Y-
Sheet Crossing Junction Signal Box, complete with nameboard 62ch south of Pyle Jct. on the
Porthcawl branch! Local opinion in the Pyle area is that the road named Heol-y-Sheet goes back to
Roman times when it was part of their main route across South Wales. Since being cut off by
construction of the M4 it is now just a long cul-de-sac. There is no word in the Welsh language that
sounds even vaguely like 'sheet' so its origin is a mystery!
1227 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR19] West Somerset Railway, Somerset (MR p6): In his work as rail inspector, accident assessor and
chairman of many rail enquiries, Major Anthony Gwyn Burton King OBE helped make modern rail
travel safer for millions. But his own love was the world of steam and when he died he knew that part
of his final journey to his funeral service would be aboard a West Somerset Railway train. When he
moved down to Somerset in retirement he made sure his home was close to the line. He could hear
the steam trains pass from his last home at Bicknoller. He had discussed his funeral with friend Mrs
Deborah Brown. She had asked him: "I suppose you will want me to arrange a ride on the train" and he
had replied: "Yes please". So on 12 January 2015 a hearse from Co-operative Funeralcare of Taunton
took Major King to Bishops Lydeard station, where a special train awaited him. His coffin, draped in the
flag of the Royal Engineers, was placed reverentially aboard the luggage van and mourners climbed
aboard. Two standard bearers awaited him on the platform - Roger Prince for the Royal Engineers and
Desmond Wilson, who carried the standard of the Royal Army Corps and Royal Corps of Transport.
One of the floral tributes was in the shape of a locomotive. The train was hauled by GWR 4-6-0 Odney
Manor for a short journey to Williton and when it reached its destination the driver blew the whistle as
a fitting farewell. Major King was then taken by road to Bicknoller where his coffin was carried from his
home to the nearby village church, preceded by the standard bearers. A bugler sounded Last Post as
he was finally laid to rest. Major King was honoured for his work in investigating such tragic incidents
as the King's Cross underground fire, the Southall rail crash and the Taunton sleeping carriage fire. He
was made a Freeman of the City of London for his contribution to rail safety and the life of the city.
Mrs Brown described him as "a wonderful person, a true gentleman" who loved the West Somerset
MR20] Snibston Colliery Railway: (MR p7) (BLN 970.MR90) Both the Leicester Mercury of 15 January
and Steam Railway 437 (30 January) reported that the Conservative led Leicestershire County Council
had, on 14 January, approved closure of the Snibston Discovery Museum (opened in 1992), based at
the former Coalville coal mine of the same name, which ceased production in December 1983. The
museum has been costing £740k per year to run, and with the Council needing to save £110M over the
next five years, they considered that this level of expenditure can no longer be justified. The Friends of
Snibston campaign group had been trying to set up a charitable trust to run the museum but this plan
was described by the Council as "fundamentally flawed". The Council, who had consulted publicly on
the plans in 2014, intend to sell off some of the land for housing and (depending on the level of
Government funding) develop a smaller mining heritage museum at the site. They have a legal
obligation to preserve the 1832 listed pithead gear of Snibston No2 Colliery and claim to have looked
after it. The plans out to consultation included the Colliery Railway on its present route. However, a
Society member who visited on 31 January 2015 was told by museum staff that they expected the line
will be lifted and the museum demolished. The Museum contains a number of railway locomotives and
other artefacts and a spokesman was quoted as saying "Leicestershire County Council holds the items
in trust on behalf of the public. New homes will need to be found for these collections or alternative
options will need to be explored". The museum is open daily, and has special events scheduled to the
end of June at least - the proposed closure date has now been announced as 31 July. Train rides
operate on occasional "selected days" (normally during school holidays) but this cannot be relied on
and there is no formal list of days of operation or timetable but it was due to run in half term on 17
and 19 February. A phone call is advised first: 01530 278444.
BLN 1227.MR21] Bowes Railway, Tyne & Wear (MR p9) (BLN 1191.1136): The infrequent public brake
van trips (running between Springwell and Wrekenton) last ran on 3 March 2013 (illustrated on their
blog page for that date). Following that, all operations had closed down by 1 June 2013 with staff laid
off (blog page for 1 June 2013) but opened again as a static museum in that September. The museum
site is owned by the local authority and is still open. Note that no Santa trains operated in December
2013 or 2014 (despite hopes they might in 2014). The railway is presently preparing a Safety
Management System to allow passenger brake van rides to recommence, although it will be a while
before this is completed.
MR22] Lynnsport Miniature Railway, Norfolk (MR p20) (BLN 1092.MR106): This 7¼" gauge railway is
owned and operated by the Kings Lynn Model Engineers and is located alongside the Lynnsport
Leisure Centre (which is itself partly over the trackbed of the former Kings Lynn to Hunstanton line).
However, the railway may be affected by development plans for the area. West Norfolk Council wants
to build a total of 550 new homes in the Marsh Lane and Lynnsport area over the next five years.
Planning applications could be submitted at the end of January for 60 homes in Lynnsport and 130 in
Marsh Lane. An earlier application has been submitted to build a road to serve the development's
planned five sites, which will include a mixture of privately owned and rented homes. Dale Gagen, a
Council project officer, said the development would bring improvements to facilities in the town. The
Lynn News report of 12 December 2014 concluded by stating "The council is spending £4.3M on the
new road along with £2.5 to £2.7M on sports facilities. This will include extra hockey pitches, a 3G pitch
and four tennis courts at Lynnsport. The miniature railway will also be moved".
MR23] Broughton Hall, near Eccleshall, Staffordshire: The Daily Telegraph of 20 January 2015 reported
that owner John Caudwell, one of the country's richest men after he sold Phones4u, has obtained
planning permission to build a (non-public) three mile line around his Grade One listed Jacobean
manor home. Planning permission was granted by Stafford Borough Council last month, including a
large outbuilding to store the stock in. The track will wind through the estate's 28-acre formal gardens
and open parkland. Mr Caudwell's agent Albert Maiden said: "To enhance the enjoyment of the estate
Mr Caudwell wishes to construct a light private narrow gauge railway that travels through both the
formal gardens and open parkland. This is a private residence so it will be for the enjoyment of family
and friends only and will not be open to the public". According to the plans, the railway will echo the
design of a similar attraction at nearby Weston Park, close to Stafford. An outbuilding to house the
train when it is not in use will also be built, along with a cattle shed for 18 cows. Eccleshall Parish
Council confirmed it had not received any objections to the proposals. Councillor Peter Jones said: "Mr
Caudwell obviously seems to be a bit of a light railway enthusiast. Broughton Hall used to be a nunnery
so the grounds are quite substantial so this will not affect anybody in Eccleshall. It's a private estate so I
think it's fine if he wants to build something like this". Planners at Stafford Borough Council passed the
railway plan with conditions. Case officer Sarah Lawson said: "The proposed track would serve as a
modest and appropriate addition within the context of the site. The proposed sighting of the facility
behind substantial screening would serve to reduce the impact of the development in terms of the
amenity in the wider area. The development is deemed acceptable subject to conditions". The
application approved by Stafford Borough Council, states: "The gauge of the railway track will be 12.25
inches on 900mm long 100 x 100mm timber sleepers bedded on 150mm deep compacted crushed
stone with timber edgings to retain stone set at 1.5 metres wide". For an aerial view of the house and
proposed railway layout see: http://goo.gl/VXISpc.
1227 OTHERS’ DOINGS:
This is provided as a service to members and details must be checked with the organisers.
BLN 1227.416] Crossrail Exhibition: At London Transport Museum from 1 February concerning the
construction of this massive £16bn project increasing rail capacity by 10%. Including a 5m high walk
through cross-section, it enables visitors to experience construction deep underground. The tunnel has
a computer simulation of a giant boring machine in action. Visitors can learn how Crossrail is
burrowing under London, play with interactive tunnelling games (!) and hear first-hand experiences of
those who work underground.
417] Auction: In aid of Swindon Panel Society (BLN 1209 p212) for winner's chosen 30 minute FGW
HST cab ride, closes 21.00 on 28 February. See: http://goo.gl/G0NwZN bids to:
418] London Midland Great Escape: This day rover ticket is available until 1 March:
419] Sprat & Winkle trip, 7 March: (BLN 1224.120) The Andover to Redbridge (Southampton) railway
often referred to as the Sprat & Winkle, OP 6 March 1865 by the LSWR and made Romsey a junction. A
new signal box was then built which closed in 1982 and is preserved in operational order. The line
from the former Kimbridge Jct. to Redbridge remains open but that to Andover up the Test Valley CP
from 7 September 1964 and much forms part of the Test Way long-distance footpath. The Friends of
Romsey Signal Box are having Open Days on 7 and 8 March, 10am-4pm (entrance free). Signposted
access from Romsey station and local roads. There is a guided minibus trip from Romsey signal box at
13.00 (back 17.00) on 7th (also 8th if demand), viewing locations of railway interest. £10 per head
details and bookings for either date, please contact Dick Hewett, [email protected],
420] Hogwarts Express: Warner Bros. Studio Tours, Leavesden, WD25 7LR (north west of Watford)
opens 19 March, much enlarged. Featuring the original GWR engine 5972 Olton Hall used in the Harry
Potter films and coach, recreating its original film set, P9¾ and quite a bit of railway interest (also for
Harry Potter fans and children too). Advance booking only: http://goo.gl/mdQKkA or 0845 084 0900.
421] ScotRail Club 55: This is on again (possibly for the last time with the change of franchisee on 1
April) for any return journey in Scotland (also Carlisle or Berwick-upon-Tweed); outward travel until 31
March (return within a month) £19 standard £35 first class - £2 discount with railcard. Similar
conditions apply to previously, not East Coast or Sleepers. Some peak restrictions but can be bought
on the day or in advance.
422] The Tunnelling Looper, 18 April 2015: (BLN 1223.1945) This event is postponed to further notice.
423] East Lancashire Railway, Small Engines Weekend, 18 & 19 April: http://goo.gl/TSUsR4 0161
7647790, Intensive timetable, 6 small diesel and 7 small steam locomotives. Visiting locos including
Bellerophon. Rawtenstall bay platform is likely to be in use. Saturday ideal for those on our S&C tour.
BLN 1227.424] Pinnock Tunnel, Sunday 26 April: Par to Fowey and return on the ex-GWR single track
route CP 8 July 1929 (public); 29 December 1934 (Workmen's trains); CG 1 July 1968; now the Imerys
private Haul Road. Fowey Land train (open sided trailer) £5 (age 3-12 £2.50) first trip 12.00, to book
425] Wolverhampton railways: Exhibition at the historic Bantock House Museum, Finchfield Rd.,
Wolverhampton, WV3 9LQ with free admission. 'The history of local railways' featuring Stafford Rd
Works, lunchtime talks at 12.30; 3 March (GWR lines), 7 April (LMS) and 5 May (Stafford Rd Works).
426] Southfield House Private Light Railway, Saturday 13 June: Thanks to our member Stephen
Phillips and by kind invitation of the owner, Mr Dudley Ramsden. Kentrail Enthusiasts Group (KEG) visit
at 12.00 to this 7¼” gauge very extensive (over a mile long), intricate and recently extended private
railway at Southfield House, Kenwick Road, Louth, Lincs. LN11 8NL. Bookings/queries to
[email protected] or write (with SAE) to 'The Lakes Cottage' Whitestone, Hereford. HR1 3NE.
01432 850572. Pay on the day £5 per person in cash to KEG which includes refreshments.
427] Continental Railway Circle, Thursday 25 June: With thanks to our member Adrian Palmer, 13.30
to 17.30 near Windsor (connecting preserved bus Maidenhead station 13.00, back 18.00, which must
be booked) visit to a continental themed private railway, including footplate rides (and limited driving
opportunities!). Ex-Finnish Railways 1524mm gauge HR1 class Pacific 1016 and standard gauge Peckett
1756 Hornpipe. Bookings with a cheque (£10 per person) payable to Continental Railway Circle. Please
advise if bus connection is required; provide a telephone number and/or email address to A. K. Palmer,
46 Heathside, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 9YL. [email protected] 01932 850624. No dogs (except
assistance) or under 18s; bring your own food and drink. Full details supplied with acknowledgement.
428] Pedals & Steam, 27 September: Ludlow-Bridgnorth sponsored cycle ride for Railway Children (59
or 85 miles); stunning and challenging rides partly near the SVR http://goo.gl/zGCPxr 01270 757596.
429] Tyseley Loco Works Open Weekend, 27 & 28 June: 10.00 to 17.00; £15 adult, pay on the day only
(under 15s free; must be accompanied). Train rides etc. see: http://goo.gl/ntkmYm 0121 708 4960.
430] Anglia Plus One Day Pass: Generally after 08.45 SSuX, with easements (http://goo.gl/WiL5a6)
also all day SSu and Bank Holidays. Unlimited rail travel (except XC) within: Cambridge, Ipswich,
Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Sheringham, Norwich and Ely area as well as specified local
bus services. Adult £17.70 (with up to four children at £2 each); railcards £11.70 (two together after
09.30 on SSuX); three days in seven £35.40, (railcard £23.35) accompanied children still £2 each. Other
versions are available. Cambridge to Sheringham off peak day return is £17.70. Ipswich to Ely £17.20.
431] Baltic Railway Magazine: Featured in BLNI, this is becoming more difficult to obtain. Anyone else
who wants details (or knows anyone who might be interested) please contact Paul Stewart as below.
Distribution: Dave Monger, 6 Underhill Close, GODALMING, GU7 1NU. [email protected], 07592 585230.
Branch Line: Nick Garnham, [email protected]; Subscribe: [email protected].
Fixtures Secretary: Kev Adlam, 53 Kemble Close, Wistaston, CREWE CW2 6XN. [email protected]. Twitter: @BLSGeneralSec
General Secretary: Tim Wallis, 10 Sandringham Road, Stoke Gifford, BRISTOL, BS34 8NP. [email protected].
Chairman: John Williamson, 'La Marguerite', Croit-E-Quill Rd., LAXEY, Isle of Man, IM4 7JD. [email protected].
SALES: Mark Gomm, 84 Mornington Road, STOKE-ON-TRENT, ST1 6EL. [email protected]. 01782 769960 (daytime).
NEWS TEAM: Wales: Paul Jeffries, 54 Heol Erwin, CARDIFF, CF14 6QR. [email protected].
S.E. England, East Anglia & Ireland: Julian James, 58 Nelson Road, WORTHING, BN12 6EN. [email protected].
London: Geoff Brockett, 155 Onslow Gardens, South Woodford, LONDON, E18 1NA. [email protected].
Midlands & South West England: Brian Schindler, 15 Sudeley, Dosthill, TAMWORTH, B77 1JR. [email protected].
Northern England & Isle of Man: Graeme Jolley, 3 Laurel Cottages, Rencell Hill, LAXEY, Isle of Man, IM4 7BJ. [email protected].
Scotland: Bob Watt, 18 Kilmailing Road, GLASGOW, G44 5UJ. [email protected].
Minor Railways (British Isles): Peter Scott, 93 Josephine Court, Southcote Rd, READING, RG30 2DQ. [email protected].
International: Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ. [email protected].
E-BLN (Distribution problems and for image submission etc): Dave Cromarty, [email protected].
Editor/Head Lines: Paul Stewart, 4 Clarence Close, MALVERN, WR14 3HX. [email protected]. 01684 562862; 07790652351.
Printed by Deva Enterprises, Waters Edge, The Drive, Ifold, LOXWOOD, West Sussex RH14 0TD, tel: 01403 752837, [email protected]
or [email protected] and published by the Branch Line Society, 10 Sandringham Road, Stoke Gifford, BRISTOL, BS34 8NP. ISSN 1354-0947