Issue Number 1252 (Items 429 - 529 & MR 37 - MR44) (E-BLN 54 PAGES) 5 March 2016
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Ave., Epsom, Surrey, 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 the Society.
BLN 1253 is dated 19 March and all coSnoctireibtyu. tions must be received by 9 March.
--.-PLEASE LOOK AT THE CHARITY RAILWAY PAINTING AUCTION ON THE LAST PAGE (CLOSES 19.00 SUNDAY)---
0.00000000A FREE BLS RAILTOUR FOR ALL OUR READERS (SEE PAGE BEFORE LAST FOR DETAILS)00000000000
Date Event Visit Type BLN Lead Notes
Sat 5/03/16 Southend-on-Sea area 10.30-15.30 Five different visits 1247 RB FULL
Sun 6/03/16 Northern Tracker 09.13-19.12 Manchester Picc. 1250 JE FULL
Sat 12/03/16 Signal box visits 09.15 Malton to Seamer line 1249 NG OPEN
Fri 18/03/16 Didcot Railway Centre 10.30 -16.00 Internal railtour 1251 KA FULL
Sat 19/03/16 Pontypool & Blaenavon 10.30 Comprehensive railtour 1246 SM FULL
Sat 19/03/16 City of Newport MES 14.30/15.00 all available track 1249 PS OPEN
Mon 28/03/16 AFRPS Scunthorpe Steel 09.30-18.45 Easter Monday tour 1248 PS FULL
Thu 31/03/16 Crich Tram Museum 09.00 Visit with rare track 1250 JC OPEN
Thu 31/03/16 Sherwood Forest Rly 13.00 Railtour, 15" gauge line 1251 JC OPEN
Sat 2/4/16 East Lancashire Railway 10.00-18.00 DMU tour II 1251 KA OPEN
Sat 9/4/16 *BELOW* Signal Boxes 10.00 Shrewsbury - The Marches 1251 NG BELOW
7-9/5/2016 Rare track in SW Spain Heritage line & two freight lines 1244 GB Enquire
Tue 10/5/16 LU Signal cabin Visits (3) 10.00 Whitechapel - Upminster 1251 PS FULL
Sat 14/5/16 GWR Tracker IV railtour *NOW OPEN* Bristol area tour, 1252 JE OPEN
20-22/05/16 Island of Ireland Tracker 06.00 Friday to 20.00 Sunday 1250 KA OPEN
Fri 3-4/6/16 Scottish Minor Railways Aberdeenshire/Perthshire 1246 TV NOTIFY
24-25/6/16 Tracker in London area, late Fri to early hours Sat! TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 3/7/16 TPE Tracker Manchester to Cleethorpes TBA TBA Claimed
Thur 4/8/16 Spa Valley Railway Late PM/early evening BVT (3) TBA TBA Claimed
TBA TBA Claimed
Fri 4-6/11/16 BLS 61st AGM weekend Southeast England /Kent
10-17/11/16 Jordan Hejaz Railway Provisional new date (enhanced) 1250 IS OPEN
GB-Geoff Blyth, IS-Iain Scotchman, JC-John Cameron, JE-Jill Everitt, KA-Kev Adlam, NG-Nick Garnham,
PS-Paul Stewart, RB-Rod Bryant, SM-Simon Mortimer, TV-Terry Velvick.
430] Contacting your Fixtures Secretary: Most of you will know that as well as the Society, Kev Adlam
has a young family, home life and an exceptionally busy job. Please use email (back page) for contact if
possible, but if a phone call is necessary 01270 662 396, Monday-Friday only 20.30 - 21.30.
X19] The Rudyard Lake Steam Railway: (ABOVE: (MR p23), a 1¼ mile, 10¼" gauge line on ex-North
Staffordshire Railway trackbed between Leek and North Rode. The family resemblance with the two
heads of the BLS youth section is uncanny. (Kev Adlam who was not responsible for the poses! 21 Feb.)
429] Great Western Tracker IV, Sat 14 May: Thanks to GWR, we are delighted to enclose a booking
form for this innovative 3-car Class 158 Bristol area charity tour in aid of Prostate Cancer UK. E-BLN
subscribers need to print the form. It is all in daylight (other than the Severn Tunnel and Patchway
Tunnels!) and just before the timetable change when scarce rolling stock is available at a pleasant time
of year. Leaving Temple Meads 10.25 with return at 15.29 makes an easy day out with connections
from far and wide. Some sections of the route are thought never to have been railtoured before.
ABOVE: Perhaps the highlight of our
forthcoming Bristol area Tracker is the stub
of the Floating Harbour branch at Temple
Meads. A member recently took this picture
from the Ibis Hotel by the station (train shed
seen right), showing Loco D6757 with a NR
measurement train parked on that very
piece of track. The green 'For Sale' sign,
background left, is on the derelict former
Royal Mail sorting office. This Ibis hotel itself
was built on the site of the Avonside loco
works, according to a plaque on the building
(RIGHT). (Both Ian Mortimer)
431] Shrewsbury signal box visits, Sat 9
April: Advertising of this fixture just missed
BLN 1251 but was in e-BLN 1251 (available
free of charge to anyone who takes paper
BLN). Not surprisingly, it is full, but please
notify to go on the list for a possible future repeat. Thanks to our member Nick Garnham; meet at
Shrewsbury station 10.00 for Severn Bridge Junction and the Marches line. BLS members only. Please
indicate if you have/require a high vis vest or any spares (and how many). Shared cars, please indicate
if you can provide lifts and how many or if you require a lift. A charity donation is expected to apply.
Contact [email protected] 82 Baron Court, Peterborough PE4 7ZF (with SAE).
432] Unusual Track: Should be re-checked http://goo.gl/wwSbYv special thanks to Stephen Ebbs.
Yate South Jn facing X/O (119m 74ch) & trailing X/O beyond Westerleigh Jn (107m 14ch): All
Down trains through Yate are using the Up reversible line until further notice (see SW section).
St. Neots Down Slow to P4: 5 Mar, 19.22, 19.35, 20.22, 20.35 to 21.22 & 22.22 ex-King's Cross.
Margate P1-Up Main: 5 Mar, 04.40, P2-Up Main: 06.04 hourly to 22.04 & 22.30 all to Victoria.
Kings Park first trailing X/O: 5/6 Mar, All Glasgow Central - Neilston reverse in P2 both ways.
Church Lane X/Os (24m 60ch): 5/6 Mar, trains to Ingatestone P2 or starting P1 from/to north.
Ely Dock Jn Facing Crossover: 6 Mar, all services from King's Cross (not 17.15) arrived into P3.
Oxford P1 - Down Main: 6 Mar, all Cross Country departures towards Birmingham New Street.
Woking P1, country end trailing X/O: 6 Mar 14.36 and hourly to 22.36 to Basingstoke.
Cardiff Queen St. Up/Down Cardiff Bay Chord & P2 - Cardiff Bay branch connection: Easter, 26
(from 21.30) until 29 Mar (incl) frequent through services (line to Cardiff Central is closed).
Penarth Curve South - North Jns: Easter Mon 28 Mar: services between Barry Island, Aberdare
and Merthyr, all day in both directions. Also used by Vale of Glamorgan services from Merthyr
to Bridgend and returning to Aberdare! The minimum journey is Grangetown - Ninian Park.
Down Nottingham Slow (Up Direction): TO 13 May, 22.18 (SSuX) Nottingham (P3B) to Derby.
Rainham, new bay P0: (SSuX) from 16 May, 16.04 London Victoria to Rainham & 17.37 return.
BELOW: Now we know why they call it Port Sunlight; our tour heading into Liverpool (The Gricer).
433] FIXTURES REPORTS, Third Rail Centenary Tracker, Sun 7 Feb 2016: The name for this charity tour
marked the 100th anniversary of third rail electrification on the London & South Western Railway
(LSWR)! To explain, Class 508 EMUs started their working life at Strawberry Hill Depot arriving 9 Aug
1979. The route complemented our 18 Jan 2015 Merseyrail 750V Tracker tour, was mostly in daylight,
sunshine even and not a frozen third rail in sight! Most of the 156 participants joined at Hooton where
the tour began in the rare bay P1 with EMU 508112 at the Liverpool end and 508111 at the Chester
end. An 'on the day bonus' was that participants were able to buy provisions at the 'Mtogo' Merseyrail
outlets at staff rates (a substantial discount). Strangely, the station loo was popular for some reason!
Leaving on time at 09.47 the Down Helsby line was taken for the first of numerous reversals of the day
to cover the Chester-end trailing crossover at Hooton into P3. At Rock Ferry South Jn trees were noted
growing out of the disused line to the Docks before calling at P2; the OOU Birkenhead Central station
carriage sidings and shed were seen on the right (facing the direction of travel). A photo stop and
reversal was made in the atmospheric James Street P2, with its period features, now used occasionally
for engineering work and during service disruptions. The latest 'Branch Line Society' nameboard was
revealed and photographed, incredibly, and despite appearances, made of wood! It is pictured on the
first page of e-BLN 1251 and in BLN Pictorial 1251, which has 22 full sized pictures of the tour.
The EMU proceeded over James Street's first Wirral-end crossover and to Birkenhead North,
reversing there in Down P3 to cover the trailing crossover, then again, on the Up line into the rare Up
Passenger Loop (P1). This gave access to the Depot Arrival & Departure Line and the Up & Down
Through Siding. Reversal there was just short of the point for the former 'Bidston Dock Through Siding'
and Depot Roads 'B' & 'C' were taken in turn before returning via P1 back to James Street. There it
was through P2 to the 'Stock Interchange & Holding Line', Paradise Jn and the reversible 'Northern
Line' Liverpool Central P2 then the crossover just south of the platform for a run to Hunts Cross.
For many on the tour the Hunts Cross Connection of Strategic Importance between the reversible
Down & Up Electric into P3 was the 'pièce de resistance' of the day (Bill Bryson would have been very
impressed!). P3 is the preserve of the Warrington Central
line DMUs and, despite the 22.28 EMU from Southport (and
ECS return) being booked to use this platform seven days a
week, we were assured it never does and runs into P3,
exactly the same as all the other EMUs. A couple of 'rusty
rail' workings had run the week before to check the move
would work - thank you Merseyrail! At Liverpool Central P2
a loo stop was made during a 'convenient' gap in the
northbound Sunday trains (the tour would have been quite
impossible to run with the more intense service any other
day of the week).
Then the fun really started! Our Tracker took the facing
crossover at Liverpool Central North Jn to follow the Up
Southport in the Down direction to Leeds Street Jn trailing
crossover where the Down was regained. At Sandhills it
was a reversal in P2 into the Reversing Siding for, guess
what - yes, yet another reversal (there were plenty of
reversals but no setbacks at all on this superb tour). Setting
off north again it was through Sandhills P1 in the unusual
direction (to the puzzlement of some 'normal' passengers
on the platform) then beyond the island platform at Bank
Hall, Bootle Jn crossover was used to join the Down line,
which was just as well as the reversible signalling ends
there! Years ago, Grand National specials used to take it from the Bootle Branch to the North Mersey
Branch to reach Aintree excursion platform. An on time Southport P1 arrival gave our tour participants
34 minutes for (in no particular order) a leg stretch, convenience stop, complimentary hot drinks kindly
provided by Merseyrail and a chance to catch up with acquaintances and friends in the 'other' unit.
ABOVE LOWER: Reversing on the Up Southport, just south of Formby; the route is set to cross to the
Down and return to Hillside. There reversal brought the tour back here gaining two rare crossovers.)
Restarting, 'The only way is Up' as the song goes, at least as far as Southport South Jn for a reversal to
cover Birkdale Carriage Siding No2 to within a few inches of the buffer beam (PREVIOUS PAGE TOP
LEFT). This gave an interesting view of the station from the end of the train (BLN 1251 Pictorial), how
about the (non-electrified) link to the Wigan line from P3 sometime please Mr Adlam? Next on the
itinerary another very clever section, two very rare trailing crossovers on a busy double track line
without any wrong line running! Therefore, it was Up to reverse in Formby P1 for the crossover at
11m 25ch and Down back to reverse again in Hillside P2 for the second one - very impressive. This was
so efficient that by the next reversal in Sandhills Reversing Siding, the tour was 30 minutes early.
Another highlight then was Kirkdale Depot, reached via the reversible Up Ormskirk line in the unusual
direction to give Kirkdale South Jn trailing crossover for a run through the carriage washer and, as is
traditional, in operational mode. Hopefully the next Merseyrail stock will be specified with waterproof
(or at least wash proof) doors! A reversal on the North Run Round Line (an interesting concept for an
EMU Depot) led to full coverage of Roads 19 & 20, all so efficient that we were even earlier still on the
schedule. Very kindly, Merseyrail arranged for a bonus run to the end of Carriage Shed Road 22 where
we waited time. BELOW: Leaving Kirkdale Depot Road 20, looking north; the station is in the distance.
Departure, on time, was round the back of Kirkdale P2. (BELOW: With the station on the right, looking
towards Kirkdale North Jn; note the line on the right (disconnected at the north end) is no longer
electrified.) When this used to be a main line there were four tracks here. The tour left the Depot
heading northwards via, unsurprisingly, Kirkdale North Jn to Walton Jn for a crafty reversal on the
Down line, clear of the junction, to traverse the unusual trailing crossover south of the junction.
Taking the Up line to Leeds Street Jn, the facing crossover was used to the Down line with return to
the Up at Liverpool Central North Jn, through P2 and into the middle road Reversing Siding. On
restarting the tour ran back to P2 (setting down) for the one crossover in this area not yet covered on
this Centenary Tracker to the Up Southport which enabled the Stock Interchange/Holding Line to be
followed at Paradise Jn.
(BELOW: The dramatic contrast between refurbished James Street P3 (left) and more original P1
(right); approaching from the 'Stock Interchange/Holding Line' returning back to The Wirral.)
The excitement was not yet over, for at Rock Ferry North Jn the facing crossover was taken to run into
bay P3 (to complement bay P4 used on our 2015 tour). After setting down, the tour returned north to
clear the points for a further change of direction. It then ran south through reversible P2 to rejoin the
Down Chester by taking Rock Ferry South trailing crossover. Arrival back at Hooton P2 was three
minutes early after covering over 95 miles in just under 9 hours! Our ever resourceful FS had arranged
an encore though and those who wished (most) stayed on for a run back via the Hooton north trailing
crossover to Eastham Rake where the tour terminated. Merseyrail kindly allowed return travel to
Hooton on either of the next two service trains (the driver of the first EMU to Chester must have been
quite surprised to see Eastham Rake thronged with passengers at 18.40 on a Sunday evening).
Many thanks to the numerous people involved for a meticulously planned and executed precision
railtour. The abiding message of the day was just how friendly everyone is at Merseyrail - like one big
happy family. It was particularly noticeable how much time staff had (when not on duty) to explain
things and chat to participants in a very genuine way. Nothing was too much trouble. Thanks to the
mastermind of the tour, Kev Adlam, who also managed to sell everything on the train (that was not
nailed down) to participants. In turn our 165 passengers were most generous with their donations and
purchases. Over £1,000 was taken on the day and, with fares, a total of £11,537.67 was raised for the
two Merseyrail charities, shared equally by Claire House Children's Hospice and The Community Link
Foundation. A very enjoyable and interesting day in great company and with lovely sunshine. For
another 22 captioned pictures of the tour highlight and open: Download (BLN Pictorial 1251).
(BELOW: A rather quizzical look from the driver of the 14.28 Southport to Hunts Cross train on seeing a
train full of passengers in the normally empty Birkdale Carriage Siding No2… All photos Mark Haggas)
X20] EDF Tracker Railtour, Sat 23 Jan 2016: http://goo.gl/wAtwzU The full 'Six Bells Junction' report
with detailed timings etc, kindly compiled by our members Alan Sheppard and Jim Sellens is available.
X21] RBF Tracker Railtour, Sat 7 Nov 2015: http://goo.gl/xwgb4D The 'Six Bells Junction' report by
our members Stuart Hicks and Alan Sheppard.
X22] Tyne Tees Tracker, Sun 15 Nov 2015: http://goo.gl/iAJDpB The 'Six Bells Junction' report thanks
to our members Alan Sheppard, Jim Sellens & Stuart Hicks.
X23] S&C Desiro Tracker, Sun 19 Apr 2015: http://goo.gl/anh9MA From 'Six Bells Junction' by Alan
Sheppard. (Our Thameslink Tracker and First Devon & Exeter Explorer were not reported on the site.)
1252 HEAD LINES
434] Claydon L&NE Jn (excl) - Bicester, Gavray Jn (excl): Amending (BLN 1251.340) a possession was
taken from 05.15 on Sat 31 Oct 2015 (extended each night to Oxford Parkway). The TCA block, with
stop blocks at Claydon (13m 00ch) and Bicester (18m 40ch) applied from 01.00 19 Dec 2015.
435] Tottenham Court Road station: (BLN 1247.2295) Central Line (P1&2); ROP 6 Dec 2015 at 16.45
(the day before that planned); TCP since 5 Jan 2015 for station upgrade and Crossrail work. The whole
station was to be closed for the weekend of 5/6 December; ROP early with the Central Line platforms.
436] Blackpool Trams, 'North Pier' (Heritage stop): (BLNs 1250.227 & 1251.347) Despite the
impression given by TRACKmaps vol.4 p49E (Aug 2013) there is a southbound ground level Heritage
stop. It is quite close to the southbound modern (platformed) stop and just south of the northbound
Heritage stop which is in the loop. When the loop is occupied by a static tram for selling souvenirs the
Heritage Trams stop on the adjacent north running line. The northbound modern stop is well north of
its equivalent southbound one as stated and as shown on 'TRACKplan'. Although the Heritage tram
operation announced renaming to 'North Pier & Tower' from 21 Jan 2016, which is the wording on the
stops, the timetable displays show 'Tower & North Pier'. However the 2015 Heritage operation leaflet
uses 'North Pier' in the timetable and 'North Pier/Tower' on the associated website.
437] LU, Caledonian Road station (Piccadilly Line): (BLNs 1248.34 & 1249.157 ) TCP from 14 Mar 2016
to October to replace the two 30 year old lifts has been postponed following threatened legal action
by Islington Council and a petition from 7,000 people who want the station kept open during the work.
438] NIR, Antrim (excl) - Knockmore: (NRU) TCA Mon 25 Jan to Sun 3 Apr 2016 inclusive, thought to
be in connection with the condition of the embankment at Lissue Road between 0m 75ch and 1m
00ch where there is a 5mph speed restriction. Essential maintenance work has also been taking place
since 22 June 2015, including waterproofing and bridge painting at Six Mile Water and hedge cutting.
439] West Coast Main Line, Lockerbie (excl) - Carstairs (excl)/Carstairs East Jn: (BLN 1248.28) ROA 22
Feb 2016 after TCA on 31 Dec 2015 due to Lamington viaduct flood damage (see regional section).
440] Llandudno Jn (excl) - Blaenau Ffestiniog (incl) & nine intermediate stations: (BLN1249.133) ROP
22 Feb 2016, (TCP 28 Dec 2015 and TOU from 16 Jan 2016 due to storm damage) see regional section.
441] Kirkby (Merseyside), Knowsley Freight Terminal: (BLN 1249.141) Re-commissioning of this one
mile branch off the Wigan Wallgate to Kirkby line at 28m 25ch; 1¼ m before Kirkby was due Sun 28
Feb 2016. It is accessed off the single line via 'Dale Lane Ground Switch Panel'; a train can be 'shut in'.
442] London Underground, Paddington P3 & P4 (Bakerloo line): TCP expected Sat 2 Apr to Sun 31 Jul
2016 (inclusive) to construct a 165m passenger interchange tunnel connecting with the new Crossrail
platforms and life extension work on the Bakerloo escalators' (replacing most of their components).
443] Merseyrail, Moorfields P1: (BLN 1246.2179) ROP is expected Mon 4 April (TCP 4 Jan 2016). P1
Up/southbound Northern Line to Liverpool Central/Hunts Cross. Phase 2 of the station refurbishment.
444] Leamington Spa (excl) - Banbury (incl) - Bicester North (excl) - Wolvercot Jn and Kings Sutton,
Heyford & Tackley stations: TCA Sat 30 Jul - Sun 7 Aug 2016 (nine days) for resignalling/remodeling.
1252 BLN GENERAL
445] Future Charity Raffle Prizes: We are proud that 100% of the money paid for our Tracker raffle
tickets goes to the good cause/s being supported and thank you to all those who buy tickets. The
prizes, books of tickets and publicity posters etc are all donated (but generally by the same few people
each time). Any member who might kindly be able to donate a suitable future prize please contact the
General Secretary (back page). Particularly valuable in generating income are prizes that 'money can
not buy' such as driver simulators, footplate rides, railway memorabilia and behind the scenes visits to
signal boxes, control centres, on NR and preserved lines etc. Any sort of prize is welcome though.
446] 2016 Minor Railways booklet: As a membership benefit, we are again pleased to be posting a
copy of BLN Minor Railways Editor, Peter Scott's, 2016 edition, his 28th annual publication to all full
members. Subtitled 'A complete list of all standard gauge, narrow gauge, miniature, cliff railways and
tramways in the British Isles offering public rides' - there are over 520! Those who take paper BLN
should receive their copy with BLN 1253. Those who take just e-BLN will receive a special mailing after
e-BLN 1253. Anyone who has not received it by mid-April please contact the Distribution Officer.
447] Third Rail Centenary Tracker Quiz, 7 Feb: With thanks to our BLS Quizmaster, Mike McCabe:
(1) Where was the southern terminus of the Liverpool Overhead Railway?
(2) Which are the three famous buildings on Liverpool's waterfront?
(3) The railway between James St. and Hamilton Square is in a dead straight tunnel. Assuming both -
--…-.stations are lit, why can one station not be seen from the other?
(4) Which street name was the suffix of Birkenhead steam sheds?
(5) When did the Liverpool loop line open for passenger traffic?
(6) Where was the Mersey Railway electricity generating station that closed in 1959?
(7) Where did the last regular passenger service from Liverpool Central (High level) run to?
(8) Why did two of the Class 503 1938 stock motors run with 1956 stock trailers and driving trailers?
(9) Which station on the Merseyrail network shares its name with a London terminus?
(10) Where was the Liverpool Overhead Railway's main depot?
(11) Which two stations did the final (1968) timetabled BR steam hauled passenger train run between?
(12) What are the Mersey ferries named after?
(13) What was the terminus of a local electric suburban service run from Southport via Meols Cop?
(14) Which two stations did Liverpool South Parkway replace?
(15) Which two Merseyrail stations opened in 1998?
(16) What is the name of the street that runs between Liverpool's two cathedrals?
(17) What was the Dockers' Umbrella?
(18) When were the last Class 502 units withdrawn from regular service?
(19) Which was the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board terminal station mainly used by ocean liner traffic?
(20) Which district of Liverpool made the headlines with riots in July 1981? Answers in April BLN 1254.
448] Points & Slips: In BLN 1248. 41 regarding platform tickets, the link http://goo.gl/VzFIff did not
work even though it appears to be identical. There are some images of old style platform tickets. Our
27 February North Midland Tracker itinerary, released with BLN 1251, (at 142m 67ch) mentioned the
heavy stone rail traffic on the Coalville line from Bardon Hill and Stud Farm Quarries towards the
Leicester end of the line. However, the line beyond Bardon Hill to Burton-upon-Trent is now only open
(specially) when required, for example new LU stock between Derby Litchurch Lane and the Old Dalby
Test Track, railtours and occasional flows of stone traffic that cannot be accommodated south.
Item 325] With thanks to Kev Adlam, a short video of our Royal Deeside Railway trip past the station
to the east end of the line is available http://goo.gl/zCkNQn on our website. It is the middle of the
three at the bottom of the page. 326] Apologies to those of you who thought you were suffering from
déjà vu (again), a chunk of the opening section of the EDF Tracker report was inadvertently repeated
in e-BLN. 334] To confirm that between Carlisle and Appleby a northbound freight and the 05.50
Carlisle to Leeds passenger service were able to run through Eden Brows (single line working) on the
morning of Tues 9 Feb 2016 before it shut at 06.14. No trains have run since and the latest expectation
is a closure of 'many months' (BLN 1251.364). 335] This item was confusing. Incoming FGD gypsum by
rail (from coal fired power stations, a by-product of flue gas desulphurisation), to Newbiggin, British
Gypsum at Kirkby Thore always runs from the south. This continues during the line closure between
Appleby and Carlisle, when Kirkby Thore is the northern limit of revenue earning freight traffic.
Item 339] Helston Railway: By 17 February the line had been extended by one track panel north at
Prospidnick. Passenger services start from the extreme south end of that platform and run south
because stabled rolling stock is used as a buffet and shop; if this is moved further north, the passenger
run could then be extended (future reports welcome).
Item 341] The Epping Ongar Railway TCP between Coopersale Bridge and Epping Forest from 13 Feb
2016 (until further notice) because the ballast and sleepers were covered in leaves so could not be
assessed. A road rail vehicle was to be brought in to clear the leaves but the former London
Underground third rail electrification ceramic pot insulators needed to be removed first to avoid
damaging the vehicle.
Item 389] After mentioning them, quite by chance a rare DRS empty nuclear flask train ran on 15
February at 10.15 from Crewe Coal Yard Sidings to Sharpness (to run round) and Berkeley; the return
loaded train with radioactive material from Oldbury Power Station decommissioning left at 15.30. 393]
'Birmingham White Elephant' is the name a member suggested for the new HS2 station at the city's
airport and NEC; it must be a trunk route?
Item 833] should have been numbered '333'. Item MR29] Although officially 'Folkestone Leas Lift' this
cliff transport facility does have steel wheels on steel rails, operation is by gravity and recycled water.
Our MR Editor's convention is to call these operations 'railways' whatever terminology they might use.
The Scarborough Central Cliff Railway styles itself as a 'tramway'! MR31] The new Brigg station
footbridge was erected in December 2015. There is an average of three passengers using each train
for the six that stop every week. Statistically 50% of the passengers can be expected to use the bridge
for each so it may be a while before it is tested to the extent of having more than 10 on it at once!
449] BLN Pictorial: The Editor, Dave Cromarty is always on the lookout for suitable themes for these
publications sent out with e-BLN (this time, something completely different!). A selection of suitable
pictures is obviously essential with captions - all contributions and ideas welcome. Please contact Dave
at [email protected] Any pictures, maps and tables etc are also welcome for e-BLN itself.
1252 EAST MIDLANDS
450] Robin Hood, Another Line to the Bow? (BLN 1241.1831) Nottinghamshire County Council has
been working for some years to try to secure passenger reopening of the Shirebrook to Ollerton line
with intermediate stations at Warsop and Edwinstowe. To achieve this, funding is required for:
(1): Development and design. (2): Renovation of Warsop and Edwinstowe stations (both in situ and NR
owned, the latter is leased to a private firm). (3): A new Ollerton station adjacent to an 'energy village',
on land owned by the Council and safeguarded (the old site is too far from housing). (4): Upgrading the
track, signalling and related infrastructure to modern passenger standards, (the NR feasibility study
estimates £7M). Alterations would be needed to NR's Tuxford test track; 1¾ miles beyond Thoresby
Colliery Jn (where it starts) to Ollerton. This includes an anticipated new 1¾-mile east extension from
the site of Fledborough station to replace it. NR estimates £5M to £7.5M for this work. (5): An annual
revenue subsidy. The Council has recommended approval for a comprehensive package of funding,
with bids: (1): Central Government for 50% of the development costs. (2): New Stations Fund for the
works on the three stations. (3): Local Growth Fund for the actual works to the track, signalling and
other infrastructure. (4): DfT for the next (post 2018) East Midlands franchise to specify the service.
451] Newark Castle (1): (RIGHT:
press release.) Work is progressing to
return the P1 Grade II listed building
to its original railway use. The light
yellow 1846 brick and sandstone
structure, is being refurbished inside
and out. The original ticket office is
due to reopen on completion in the
spring, with a toilet and waiting area.
EMT is advertising the west end of
the building for lease as a coffee shop
and newsagents. The £500K project is
financed by the Railway Heritage
Trust and the DfT's National Station
452] Newark Castle (2): Control of the level crossing (BELOW LEFT: press release) is scheduled to
transfer from the 1912 Midland signal box to Derby, East Midlands Control Centre, monitored by CCTV.
In a now nationally familiar theme,
local campaigners believe that the box
should be preserved and maintained
by the local community and hope that
NR will agree. This is not feasible in its
present location adjacent to the
running line without even a safe access
route. As an unlisted structure in a
conservation area it can be demolished
but permission is required. NR is
planning to remove the former signal
boxes at Lowdham, Fiskerton Junction,
Staythorpe and Newark Castle and the
former Fiskerton and Rolleston
stations' gate boxes.
453] Lincoln (1): (BLN 1220.1589) At High Street Level
Crossing white painted, square based, steel framed
support towers, on concrete foundation blocks, with
diagonal cross bracing, have been erected each side of
the line. Recently, the basic footbridge top (steel)
section has been installed between them and the steel
stairs (structurally separate from the towers) added. A
walking route now exists from one side of the line to
the other; handrails or other sidewall containment and
groundwork are still required for public use. However,
it has been reported that work has stopped due to NR funding issues. The other long-awaited Brayford
Level Crossing footbridge (delayed work had been due to start in May) is on hold too while NR tries to
secure third party funding or to produce a cheaper design. (ABOVE: NR press release)
454] Lincoln (2): The disused 1873 Grade II listed Holmes Yard Signal Box on Brayford Wharf East may
become a floating heritage centre. The Chairman of the *Mary Gordon Trust is bringing together local
history groups, those interested in the Wharf and campaigners, to approach NR regarding this. *A
charity set up in 1999 to restore the Mary Gordon, a formerly Lincoln based historic pleasure boat.
1252 GREATER LONDON
455] Crossrail: (BLN 1251.354) (1) Abbey Wood: From 22 February the Up North Kent Line was
realigned southwards between 12m 24ch and 11m 7ch, to enable it to serve the south face of the new
NR/ Southeastern island platform. This is the first stage of the station's reconstruction as two island
platforms for Crossrail services. The temporary station building remains in use. On 22nd many OLE
masts were noted, with some spans, on the Crossrail tracks from here to Plumstead. (ABOVE TOP: The
significant realignment of the Up North Kent line at Abbey Wood station (P1) which was commissioned
on 22 Feb 2016, looking east. ABOVE BOTTOM: The new Up platform is right and the old is the other
side of the island, a Down train is calling. (Stuart Hicks 25 Feb 2016)
(2) What's in a Name? The Mayor of London has now announced that
Crossrail is to be renamed the Elizabeth Line (LEFT: Press release). This
is to happen when trains start running through the central section in
December 2018 (The Evening Standard). The Shenfield service will
have three name changes in as many years. In May 2017 its name
changes from TfL Rail to Crossrail when the new units come into
456] Thameslink: (BLN 1251.357) Over the weekend of 20 and 21 February the Sevenoaks to West
Hampstead service was diverted into Victoria. This was the original route when Sevenoaks services
were operated by Southeastern and last year that TOC used Thameslink units for some of its services
in and out of Victoria. However, is this the first time a complete Thameslink service has used Victoria?
457] Sunday Morning LUL Orchestrated Manoeuvres in the Dark: (1) Aldgate East trailing crossover:
This obscure piece of Underground passenger track has two trains per week, both early on Sunday
mornings. On 21 February, the staff member greeted two BLS grandees as he opened the station gates
with the phrase 'first train 07.00'. 'What eastbound, 06.26?' 'Oh you want eastbound, yeah 06.26', so
they survived the first heart stopping moment! He then very obligingly pointed out it went from
westbound P1 and looked surprised by the response that they certainly hoped so! Train 31 duly
arrived from Upminster at 06.19 and its westbound passengers were encouraged to disembark and
either catch local buses or just await the next westbound train, still over half an hour away! One very
confused Japanese lady bound for Heathrow with a large case (and presumably ultimately travelling
back further east than Upminster) was furiously trying to interrogate her smart phone to resolve this
unexpected turn of events. Luckily for her, the member accompanying your reporter had a full grasp of
the operational circumstances, knew how she could get to Heathrow and speaks fluent Japanese!
Train 31 set off towards Upminster at 06.26 and duly crossed to the eastbound line, depositing our
happy (ハッピー) members at Whitechapel. Return was made to Aldgate East on train 33, the second
train to reverse in P1 at Aldgate East and by now a good crowd was gathering, all waiting to continue
further west. Arrival back was in the nick of time for our member to again intercede in stopping the
same Japanese lady returning to Upminster, she looked astonished that he was available having
watched him leave the station only minutes before! After a bit more oriental chitchat and actually
watching train 31 leave over the crossover, the next train was taken to King's Cross. Another member
recalls that this crossover east of the station was (and probably is) signalled for passenger moves east
to west, which might be useful if the curve through Aldgate station was unavailable. If passengers
were not detrained to use the Aldgate East footbridge, they would pass through the station twice! The
Sunday morning west to east reversals is to allow more time for engineering work in the central area.
(2) King's Cross, Piccadilly Line trailing crossover: Here train 230 had already left at 06.57 from P6, so
the last train of the week at 07.12 had to be taken. Train 231 duly arrived from Heathrow T5 at 07.07
and the intervening five minutes provided a comic circus worth of events rarely witnessed on the
Underground, but then how often do trains arrive at intermediate stations and return the way they
came! The station announcer kept on broadcasting the train's reversal, varying the description with
each iteration to try to convey to all this was NOT a Cockfosters service! 'It's going to Heathrow... can I
make this clear.....', but passengers continued to arrive, see a train with open doors, assume departure
was imminent and throw themselves aboard, only to bail off with similar athleticism when they
actually listened to an announcement and realised their error. In fact, some ran from the platform
itself thinking they had chosen the wrong direction, only to wander back in bemusement a minute or
two later to stare at the train still lingering, while others continued to leap aboard and leap off. With
the driver having changed ends and the destination screen reset, departure was at 07.12 prompt and
the trailing crossover briefly saw its second and last passenger train that week.
458] Heathrow T5: A clip http://goo.gl/HhRJes of part of the station built for possible west extensions.
1252 NORTH EAST
459] Hartlepool: EDF Energy has confirmed that it will extend Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station's life
until 2024. It can generate 1,180MW or 2-3% of the nation's electricity; started operation in 1985 and
had a five-year life extension in 2014. This will ensure retention of the branch from Seaton Snook Jn.
460] Bishop Auckland branch - a Live Report: (BLN 1226.269 with track plan) At Merchant Park Jn the
connection to Heighington Merchant Park Hitachi (train manufacturing facility) was scheduled to be
commissioned from Mon 29 Feb 2016. Heighington signals H34, H35, stop boards H39 & H40 (all in the
factory compound), the overhead line electrification, and factory gates on Merchant Park Reception &
Test Track next to the Up/Down Bishop Auckland bi-directional line (4m 1ch to 4m 70ch) are to be
brought into use. This is connected to the Up/Down Bishop Auckland Bi-directional line at 4m 53ch by
points that will be commissioned, with associated signalling for routes to and from the facility.
This is, of course, on the original Stockton & Darlington Railway. Stockton (S&DR) - Darlington -
Shildon - Brusselton - Witton Park (Phoenix Pit) OG (coal) 28 Sept 1825, after an opening special train
the day before. Passenger services, operated by private coach proprietors, from Darlington to the foot
of Brusselton East Incline started in Oct 1826 when the S&DR reduced its tolls on this part of the line to
encourage this. The difficulty of regulating it [open operators?] led the company to buy the operators
out and start a service to Shildon on 1 Oct 1833 and on to St. Helens Auckland* from 1 Dec 1833.
(BELOW: The Stockton & Darlington Railway (shown in black) in 1827, from: https://goo.gl/eBY5iO .)
A member visited the area in March 2015. Heighington station has staggered platforms and an
operational signal box. Facing one platform is the original 1835 station building, latterly in use as a pub
that appeared to have closed recently. Between it and the Up line is a short section of the original,
almost ground level platform; no longer in use of course. It is here that 'Locomotion No1' was first
placed on the rails, having been delivered from Newcastle on a horse drawn wagon which left that city
on 16 Sept 1825. [No date is given for this placement but the journey would probably have taken
several days - Sub Ed.] Newton Aycliffe station is modern and soulless. Next to the operational Shildon
signal box is a low, single storey brick building which, from its awning and recess under this, our
member suggests might be the original station. Comments on this are welcomed. The S&DR line curves
gently left at Shildon box and its truncated remains are now part of the National Railway Museum
'Locomotion', recently explored by BLS/PLEG brakevan trips. The line curving to the right through
Shildon station was OG Jan 1842 to South Church (a mile from Bishop Auckland) and OP 19 Apr 1842.
[*Our Regional Editor does not know why the NER chose to call it 'St. Helens' it is 'St. Helen Auckland'].
1252 NORTH WEST
X24] The Last Train Up the Werneth Incline: The Werneth Incline involved a climb at 1 in 27 for over
three quarters of a mile. It was on the Middleton Junction to Oldham Werneth line and was the
original 1842 route to Oldham. By the terrible winter of January 1963 the only booked traffic was the
5.50am Rochdale to Manchester Victoria passenger train and one or two light engines. At one time the
3.25am mail and newspapers Victoria to Oldham, Rochdale and Bury ran this way. Occasionally
engineering work on the Hollinwood line sent excursions climbing the incline. The LCGB North West
branch organised a brakevan trip on the last day of service, 5 Jan 1963, using the loco on a Middleton
Junction trip ex Horwich works 48546. Several of us travelled on the 5.50am. The Brakevan trip got
stuck in the ice and snow almost at the top. Like others, I bailed out at this stage to take photographs.
A WD was summoned to assist in rear. (Picture and text courtesy of Richard Greenwood.)
461] Fiddlers Ferry Power Station: (BLN 1251.343 & 365) Its closure was announced on 3 February but
a local member reports that the coal stockpile (normally quite large over the years) has been run down
during the last 12 months or so and there is hardly any remaining. He wonders if closure had been
considered for a while. Inward limestone for gas desulphurisation has still run; over 1,600 tonnes
arrived by train at 07.35 on 24 February from Tunstead, the empty wagons left at 12.35. The previous
day 1,000 tonnes of FGD Gypsum were transported to Kirkby Thore for British Gypsum, Newbiggin.
462] Warrington, Arpley Jn - Ditton East Jn: An industry contact advises that, understandably, due to
the power station closure no money is to be spent on this double track 8½ mile freight line other than
essential work. There is little freight, with alternative routes available, boxes have to be maintained
and staffed at Arpley Junction, Monks Siding (a trailing crossover and level crossing but no siding now)
and Fiddlers (sometimes Fidlers) Ferry Power Station with a manual gate level crossing at Litton's Mill.
463] Manchester Piccadilly, 'Two Together' Railcard specials? A member recently returning home
from Piccadilly was completely baffled by the departure boards showing two identical departures at
13.46 both to Alderley Edge and both from P8! It turns out that this was not a duplicate entry as,
during the Crewe line closure (BLN 1248.32), the 13.38 to Alderley Edge and 13.46 to Stoke-on-Trent
departures exchanged paths. The latter was retimed to run in the former's path, including the stops, to
Cheadle Hulme, and then ran a few minutes early before being looped in Macclesfield P3. The former
was retimed to run in the latter's path which was non-stop from Piccadilly to Stockport.
There is also normally a 13.46 from Piccadilly to Crewe via Airport service which terminated at Alderley
Edge because of the line closure. Therefore, there were two 13.46 departures to Alderley Edge (via
different routes) and both happened to be booked from P8 (which has permissive working). This
obviously confused the staff, let alone the passengers, as not only were departure boards showing
'Alderley Edge' for both, but the destination indicator of the one Class 323 EMU in P8 was showing 'via
the airport', as was the platform departure board, but the automatic station announcements indicated
that it was going via Stockport. Just a few minutes before departure another 323 unit rolled into P9
(the adjacent platform) which turned out to be the airport service, so everything was sorted out by the
two train crews (initially just as confused and amused as everyone else) and, although a lot of people
had to swap trains, nobody should have ended up on the wrong one! This simultaneous departure to
the same destination must be, if not unique, then a very unusual event. The four tracks to Stockport
and different routes do make it physically possible of course. These changes did not seem to have
been well publicised, especially the earlier departure of the Stoke service.
Your Editor had a similar experience a few years ago when he went to Evesham to investigate a Down
retimed departure to Great Malvern that started from the Up platform there (a signalled move) due to
Sunday engineering work. On arrival back at Worcester Shrub Hill, there was a London Midland train
from Stratford-upon-Avon via Birmingham Moor Street in the opposite platform. It had reversed there,
as normal, and both trains had exactly the same booked departure time to Great Malvern. Both were
early 'waiting time'. The line round to Worcester Foregate Street is single track and trains can run with
about an eight-minute headway so which would go first? Neither train crew knew, nor did the
platform staff who advised 'watching the signals'. The answer, as expected, was the one booked to
return first, left first, although it was a shame they did not inform the passengers on the other train!
ABOVE: The 7 July 1979 'Stanlow Docker' brakevan tour reversing in the east end MSC headshunt
opposite Ellesmere Port No4 signal box, which survives. This is 'MSC neck' on TRACKmaps Vol.4 p35A
(Aug 2013). The underbridge is for the Shropshire Union Canal, our beloved chairman is prominent!
BELOW: A photo stop at the limit of the morning tour in Stanlow Oil Refinery, looking east. The
crossover at the far end of the train is thought to be near (BR) milepost 5 (Quail Vol.4 p35A Oct 1990).
(BELOW: The afternoon trip at Panocean Siding's gate, this newly constructed branch had only opened
a few weeks earlier. In those days, our BLS Distribution Officer could fit into a small high visibility vest!)
464] Ellesmere Port (1): (BLN 1250:261) Thanks to our cartographer, Martyn Brailsford for rising to the
challenge of producing a plan of the Manchester Ship Canal Railway here. The solid lines are tracks in
situ as in January 2016. The Eastham Paktank (Unitank) branch ➁ is lifted at the junction (east) end.
465] Ellesmere Port (2), All Our Yesterdays, 36 years ago... (BLN 1250:261) A lone member replied to
our plea for information about the routing of the Wirral Railway Circle's 'Stanlow Docker' Manchester
Ship Canal Railway (MSC) morning and afternoon brakevan railtours of 7 Jul 1979 (see below). It must
be left to the reader to decide if this particular correspondent continues to relive the joys of brake van
riding perhaps a little too well from within his darkened room somewhere in central England. The
original advert as printed in BLN 369 of 9 May 1979:
Dear Mr Northern Editor, Sir,
That very nice BLN Editor has kindly sent me your appeal for information in BLN 1250; in those days
lines were 'pink felt tipped' (sounds fun?) rather than 'red penned'. The tour details, posted out on
rather thin foolscap paper, have survived! From the diary (note, we did not have Quails or anything in
those days, just 1" OS maps): Estimated total mileage covered 14¼ miles (measured with string on the
OS 1" map - all the latest 1979 technology then). MSC Loco, 3 brake vans and open low-sided wagons
(hired from BR for the day!). The first part of the railtour started about 11.00 from Ellesmere Port Yard
west end headshunt (noticed on the recent Pathfinder railtour of 30 Jan 2016 to now have trees
growing out of it). It took the Stanlow refinery main run, alongside 'Oil Sites Road', to the 'start of the
curve' northwards; they kindly went further from the initial stopping point at my request. The BR
connection that (east) end of the layout was then 'due to be reinstated'. The morning tour finished
about 12.00. Then there was what is described in the diary as a 'spot of trouble' as some tried to stay
on to do the main line connection off the Stanlow site and on to the MSC via BR. This was supposed to
be an ECS move (we finally did the MSC connection on the recent 2016 tour, probably why you had the
request for this information now). A few did stay on (I was a good boy - in those days). The MSC locos
were allowed to make this move then but only normally 'light engine'. The second part started 12.30
from the head shunt at the west end of Ellesmere Port station, behind Ellesmere Port No2 Signal Box:
(1): Gulf Paktank branch, very rusty and little used in 1979 (in last van; propelled to the buffer stops).
(2): Bowaters North side, inside the gate and to the start of the coal staithes, we were hoping to run
through Bowaters round the circuit (see map) but unfortunately, they refused permission.
(3): Panocean branch which had only opened to traffic a few weeks before the railtour ran.
(4): Eastham Paktank branch - at the end of the longest run; then return to the start for approx 15.00.
The 'approx.' and 'about' are very important, as I did not have OCD (hopefully), unlike some! It says 'a
nice sunny day and a very good tour'; the fare was a whopping great £3.75. I rode back on the ECS
(with permission) then into the MSC shed compound with 10 others (the usual suspects; they still are)
on the light engine. The MSC driver was very friendly. The quayside branch was noted to be closed and
most of the track lifted (see map) but had been covered on the previous 14 June 1975 tour - sadly, I
was on a train to Mallaig that day. The only mini-disappointment on the 1979 MSC tour was not being
on the train when it did the connection, but 36½ years later have finally done it! On the way home, we
looked in on the Ellesmere Port boat museum and the Walsall Arboretum Railway (as you do).
I remain your very obedient servant,
Yours anonymously Member *** (who was 24 at the time of the tour).
The previous tour at Ellesmere Port MSC, an original excerpt from (BLN 272.p68) of 23 April 1975:
ABOVE: The end of the new Panocean branch again (although the track looks distinctly second hand)
looking in the other direction back along the branch. Our Distribution Officer is climbing back onto the
brakevan. In the middle of the veranda a well known very dapper Committee member, formerly BLN
Editor and previous Chairman, the current Editor is far right. All pictures by Ian Mortimer.
ABOVE: The 'ECS' being shunted after the tour, this is the west end of Ellesmere Port station, the Up
platform of which can just be seen under the bridge behind the DMU. In 1979 it would have been for
Rock Ferry where passengers changed for an EMU (out of one of the bay platforms) to Liverpool. Third
rail electrification was extended to Hooton in 1985 when the DMU service then ran through to/from
Chester reversing at Hooton. Electrification reached Chester in 1993 and Ellesmere Port in 1994.
BELOW: A view of the MSC loco shed (light blue) and the Permanent Way Depot (bottom of picture).
466] Eden Brows (S&C) Landslip: (BLN 1251.325 & 364). A 23 February NR update advised that 80 of
their staff, including geotechnical and engineering experts, are carrying out extensive preparatory
work before repairs to the 500,000 tonne landslip here. They are examining all possible long-term
solutions; this is very difficult because of the landslip's size, it is still moving towards the River Eden
and the site is inaccessible. 40 of the 'Orange Army' are building access roads over farmland, setting up
a site compound, removing vegetation and taking soil samples to fully understand the underlying
ground conditions. The embankment, two miles north of Armathwaite, is over 130m long and 70m
wide. The Settle to Carlisle line is likely to remain CP north of Appleby for several months, but when
the single engineering solution is agreed and finalised this preparatory work will enable a swift start to
repairs. An 1870s' landslip at the same location took two years to stabilise!
467] Arcow Quarry: (BLN 1251.329) A footbridge was required for a footpath that crossed the new
quarry branch. Commendably, Tarmac went to considerable trouble to source a suitable Midland
Railway type. The one chosen came from Camden via Doncaster where it was restored and painted.
Interestingly a bridge that was demolished (the Gauber bridge) was meant to have provided the stone
for use in the project but not enough was available so dry stone walling material was used instead.
468] A Non-stop train takes longer: The 23.27 (SSuX) TPE passenger train from Manchester Airport
calls at Piccadilly (23.41/23.50) to reverse then is non-stop to Sheffield but takes 1 hour 50 minutes
for the 79m 37ch journey, a good 36 minutes and 26 miles longer than usual. For those unable to stay
awake to check, the routing is Guide Bridge, Diggle, Huddersfield, Wakefield Kirkgate, Moorthorpe
and Meadowhall. From Sheffield the 03.25 (not the return working of the unit either) does the same
in reverse, arriving at Manchester Airport at 05.12. Perfect for insomniacs on an All Line Rover?
X25] Keswick: (ABOVE: (BLN 1251.369) Looking east towards Penrith, 2 Apr 1966 with 2-6-0 No46458
on the 'Lakes & Fells Railtour' running 79 minutes late, the final steam passenger train between
Penrith (Keswick) and Workington (CA beyond Keswick 18 Apr 1966). Note the island platform
referred to in BLN 1251 on the left. Severe blizzard conditions (even about 15" snow in central
Manchester) had stopped most public transport in Northwest England and any special would normally
been cancelled. However for reasons not entirely understood the route was given special clearance.
Even with service trains running hours late (e.g. the overnight Glasgow to Manchester was over
180mins late), the spirited running between lengthy stops minimised many potential delays but
eventually our luck ran out... Actual departure from Manchester Exchange was nine minutes late at
09.14, but only one minute late at Blackburn, but we then had to wait for the snowplough to reach
Hellifield! Departure from Hellifield was 54mins late, but then we had to wait at Settle for the Blea
Moor/Ais Gill snowplough to reach wherever. By Keswick we were still 79mins late despite very fast
running in poor conditions and departure from Workington was about 82mins late as we had to let the
late running 17.08 clear (then overtook it via the Barrow avoider). Many passengers alighted at
Arnside and returned to Preston on a service train. Eventually, at Manchester Exchange the barriers
were closed as usual overnight therefore it was no surprise that the tour terminated at Victoria P16
then 138mins late at 00.09. (Picture Angus McDougall; words Dave Groves from Six Bells Junction.)
1252 SOUTH EAST – NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
469] Hitchin - Shepreth Branch Jn (3): (BLN 1251.372) Although Ashwell station was renamed Ashwell
& Morden in 1920; it nearly became Ashwell (Cambs) in the early 1980s when the former BR decided
to shorten station names. However, just before new signs were to be installed, a manager in the King's
Cross Divisional Manager's Office, not previously involved in the process, had great delight in pointing
out to his less savvy colleagues that, while the station is in Cambridgeshire, Ashwell is in Hertfordshire!
There followed a sudden volte-face before the public found out about the error. TIPLOC codes (Timing
Point Location) were being allocated then and, Ashwell & Morden is still ASHWELC. Our correspondent
recalls seeing new signs at another station (he cannot remember which) that, when the light caught
them at a certain angle, 'Ashwell' could be seen covered over. Other places were not as fortunate.
Crowborough & Jarvis Brook was shortened to Crowborough even though the station is in Jarvis Brook!
Both Hitchin platforms have GNR provenance buildings in use, equipped with lengthy awnings and
separated by quadruple track. A Royal Mail terminal, no longer rail connected, is on the former loco
shed site, behind the Up platform. Letchworth was the World's first 'Garden City' and one of the first
'new towns'. Its first station was to the south of the present, OP 1903 with a limited service and gained
full passenger service from 15 Apr 1905. The 'Garden City' suffix was added in 1908 and the present
large station was built in 1912 in 'Arts & Crafts' style; it is Grade II listed. Two islands were intended
but only the inner platforms have ever been used. The space for the outer faces is now in other station
usage. OP 18 May 1913, it was renamed 'Letchworth' in 1937 and became 'Letchworth Garden City'
again on 11 Jun 1999 (compare this with BR policy mentioned above!). The station is dominated by
two large lift towers at the south end of the buildings, connected by a large covered footbridge whose
style looks contemporary with Gordon Hill, Hertford North and others. The goods shed exists in
alternative use, but is the best part of a mile north of the station adjacent to some sidings. Letchworth
is the terminus of some Class 2 services from Moorgate which serve all stations via the Hertford loop
to supplement the off-peak service of two trains per hour to King's Cross and two to Cambridge.
Both Baldock platforms have yellow brick single storey buildings connected by a deep subway also out
to the station forecourt. From there the station frontage is two storey but boarded up. It was a
terminating station for some outer suburban trains from King's Cross in the latter day steam era.
470] Banbury: (BLN 1251.374) Cherwell District Council has given NR permission to demolish North
Signal Box, though Banbury Civic Society had objected, calling for conversion to community use. The
Civic Society has held talks with Cherwell District Council and the Town Council; the latter also wish for
the building to be saved. Elevated access from Middleton Road bridge would be needed and NR would
have to maintain the building externally. Relocation has been discussed and found to be exorbitantly
expensive. Civic society chair, Rob Kinchin-Smith considers there is a genuine desire to save the box
and invites anyone wishing to be involved to email him at [email protected]
Meanwhile as part of the Banbury Resignalling Enabling Works the Banbury Down Relief GF points 2B
located on the Down Relief, previously taken OOU, were recovered and replaced with plain line and
part of the track through P1 was relaid over the weekend of 20/21 February. Much work is in progress
on the ground at Banbury with new signalling locations appearing. New 'disconnection boxes' for axle
counters are now installed in many places as most of the track circuits will be abolished.
Most, if not all of the new points have been installed although some connecting rails still need to be.
This all explains a member's observations on 7 January at Banbury. Some at least of the new
crossovers installed (OOU pending commissioning) lacked the rails that lead train wheels for the
diverging roads between the back of the switches and the leg of the wing rails of the crossings. They
were incomplete and far from usable. It used to be the case that track circuit areas in junction work
were too complex to dispense with ordinary track circuits with block (electrically insulated) joints.
Without block joints the leading rails 'short circuit' the section rail and continuous rail (cess side rail
and six-foot side rail) and would 'drop' the track circuits still in use with the present signalling at
Banbury. Therefore, in summary, the wheel 'leading rails' have to be installed on commissioning,
considerably lengthening the possession time. The missing rails would otherwise 'short circuit' the
track circuits that remain in use. Meanwhile, at the site of the former steam shed, southeast of the
station on the Down side, (the site of the new Chiltern Depot) the earth has been cleared and the old
remaining brickworks of the shed are now very clear to see - it looks just like an archaeological dig!
Chiltern Railways have compiled a summary of changes encompassed in the resignalling: 14,000m of
new rail with 11,200 concrete sleepers and 44,800 fastenings on 50,000 tonnes of ballast. There are 24
new points. The project cost is given as £76M. From 8 August the new signalling is due to be controlled
by the West Midlands Signalling Centre (WMSC) at Saltlely, interfacing with Marylebone IECC just
south of Aynho Jn and Oxford PSB just south of Heyford station. As well as Banbury North and South
boxes, Leamington Spa Signalling Centre closes, its area control is due to migrate to the WMSC then.
X26] Sutton Bridge Again: (BLN 1252.378) BELOW: (With thanks to Richard Maund for both plans
below) from the 'Midland Railway Distance Diagrams' (1912) with the Sutton Bridge Dock branch.
Middle left border at 128m 54ch is actually 'Single Line Junc'. Note the separate 'Sutton Bridge Goods';
the original terminal passenger station from 1862to 1867 (requiring some trains to reverse in/out).
X27] King's Kynn Again: (BLN 1250.267) BELOW: A similar map, with the M&GN South Lynn station
bottom left showing how complicated the railways in the area once were. It is worth distributing just
for the splendid 'West Norfolk Farmers Manure Siding' (East Norfolk Farmers need not apply),
beneath and to the right of the name 'South Lynn'. (This is almost as good as the also genuine
'Driscoll's Tool Works Siding' in South Wales.) Let us hope they never had a derailment otherwise, they
would be in the…!
471] Reading - Didcot: (BLN 1250.266) A variation on the installation of masts by bolting to the top of
cylindrical piled steel tubes is evident at several locations. Your Sub-Editor has studied them between
Reading and Didcot. The piles have been filled with concrete, presumably after digging out the earth
within to a suitable depth, and the bolts on the columns have been secured in the concrete. The most
likely need for this is where the piles have been unable to penetrate their full length, but sufficient for
adequate holding. Cutting off the unwanted projection above ground removes the vertical fixing bolts
welded around the rim, making other fastening necessary. Piles turned about a vertical axis sufficient
for the vertical bolts to miss the slots in the flanged base of the masts, and large diameter piles for
small section masts, may be other reasons. Some masts have been extended in vertical height by
about 500mm through the fitting of spacer fabrications between pile and the flanged bases of the
masts. (Modern Railways for February put the Christmas electrification output at 176 foundations, 134
masts, 123 booms and 11,700m of wiring.)
1252 SOUTH EAST – SOUTH
472] Windsor & Eton (Riverside): The 'Down Windsor' to the 'Up Windsor' station crossover (once for
running round) and its ground frame at 25m 40ch were to be removed by 22 February and plain lined.
473] Earley: The 'Down Reading' to 'Up Reading' crossover at 65m 61ch (London side of the station),
its ground frame and associated ground signals were to be removed by 29 February and plain lined
474] Folkestone - Dover: (BLN
1251.330) The 'Dover Express' local
newspaper is a fruitful source of
information about the seawall
failure on the Down side of
Shakespeare Tunnel. Reports make
it clear that the original timber
viaduct erected on the beach at the
base of the cliffs, for the line's
opening in 1844, is still there in a
rotted state. (LEFT: South Eastern &
Chatham Railway wooden vaiduct
days about 1910; picture out of
copyright.) When the Southern
Railway (SR) built the reinforced
concrete seawall on the seaside of
the viaduct in 1927, they filled the void and encased the timbers with chalk. The NR view is that the
work was not carried out as they would have wished! They also say that the SR kept few records of the
work and reopening could take up to a year. The local MP has said that a new modern viaduct will
have to be built on piles driven into the chalk, protected by rock armour, possibly not a direct
replacement seawall. Southeastern do refer to a replacement seawall in one statement.
By mid-February (2016), some 25,000 tonnes of rock armour (which appears to be arriving by barge)
had been placed on the beach, with more to come. On a recent visit, no obvious provision for delivery
of this by rail was discernible, though our member was unable to ascertain if any rock had arrived by
rail. Staff at Dover Priory had no knowledge of such traffic passing through. In addition, amongst the
NR 'orange army', piling could be seen to protect the area affected by sinkholes immediately behind
the seawall. There has been some local comment that the dramatic loss of height of protecting shingle
at seawall base may be linked to a change in tide patterns in recent years. It could be speculated that
the massive change to the coastline at the Up end of Shakespeare Tunnel because of the depositing of
Channel Tunnel spoil on an area now known as Samphire Hoe may have had a part to play.
Members wishing to view the site can obtain a clear and comprehensive view from the A20 road
footpath at the top of the cliffs. Stagecoach No61 bus runs every 20 minutes from Pencester Road,
Dover to Aycliffe; alight at Archcliffe Fort. On a connected matter, as someone born and bred in Dover,
our Member has always been puzzled as to why Shakespeare Tunnel was built as two closely parallel
bores with very high pointed arches. No railway history he has seen has addressed this point, although
it has been suggested instability of the chalk it is bored through could be a factor. Any ideas anyone?
475] Alton: The old footbridge is OOU and may be for some time. It was closed for some wood to be
replaced but our correspondent learnt that when work started other problems were discovered. The
new, lift equipped footbridge towards the London end of the platforms has never been so busy…
476] Easter Kent Confusion: (BLN 1251.380) The dates and information (the latter mostly unchanged)
given for the East Kent resignalling were those originally envisaged for Easter 2015 and postponed;
the changes are all due to apply from Easter Tuesday 29 Mar 2016. The delay in commissioning the
signalling has meant that the Sheerness branch is now fully included and Sittingbourne signal box
closes completely. Sole Street Down P2 is being extended by 15m at the London end. Rochester bay
P3 will be commissioned (205m, 8-cars) on the alignment of the London end portion of the future
Down Rochester Loop line. It will be available for trains to/from the Down Chatham line at the London
end only and become a through platform later. A temporary buffer stop will be provided at 33m 39ch
with a new sign at 33m 18ch: 'THROUGH TRAINS MUST NOT ACCEPT ROUTE INTO DOWN LOOP'.
Rainham P1 is also being extended by 108m at the London end. In the new May timetable there is a
booked evening peak hour working into the new 281 yd (12-car) Rainham P0 bay from 16 May; (SSuX)
the 16.04 London Victoria to Rainham and 17.37 return. Terminating and originating Gillingham trains
(which use 'pseudo-bay' P1) are planned to be extended to Rainham. The reversible 'Up Gillingham
Loop' (formerly, and still on TRACKmaps November 2008, the 'Up Platform Loop') at P1 remains with
the new signalling. Gillingham P1, like Sittingbourne P3, has no booked passenger use to/from the
country end. Also at Gillingham, the residual Chatham Dockyard branch is still OOU on the new plans
but is being resignalled. NRU, it TCA 9 Mar 2015 during the signalling work (BLN 1228.436).
477] Sheerness Branch: From 29 March between Sittingbourne Eastern Jn and Sheerness-on-Sea:
'Down &Up Branch lines' 'Down & Up Sheppey lines'.
The single line 'Branch' 'Sheppey Single line'.
Queenborough, 'Down & Up Loops' 'Down & Up Sheppey Loops'.
Queenborough, 'Down &Up Sidings' 'Down & Up Queenborough Sidings'.
1252 SOUTH WEST
478] Cirencester Town/Tetbury branches: (BLN 1251.426) Mention of the exhibition at Cirencester
Town building on 31 May 2016 on the last page of the previous BLN (with map and two pictures in e-
BLN) reminded a member of a final steam railtour from Gloucester Central https://goo.gl/JhSdTx on
Sun 5 Apr 1964. The branch CP with effect from the following day (CG/CA 4 Oct 1965). There was a
Sunday evening service of four return trips (starting at 6.15pm with two additional early afternoon
return road bus trips). This explains the railbus seen at Cirencester in one of the pictures, the final one
from the terminus was at 11.30pm that day. The last departure from Kemble at 12.05am arrived 12.16
and would normally stable the night there. Tetbury was also visited https://goo.gl/Asw0Uw by the
tour, which branch also CP/CA 6 April 1964. Its final public service train had been the previous day as
there were no Sunday trains. An interesting feature of that tour was being able to do the main line
connections onto the two branches at Kemble. In the case of the Cirencester platform, this is still an
engineers' siding alongside and beyond http://goo.gl/oemQke the former branch platform (hint to FS
for a future railtour). The 4-wheel railbuses latterly operating the line would have looked totally lost.
BELOW: The Summer 1963 passenger timetable for the two branches (Richard Maund).
479] Trans-Wilts Partnership Proposed: The DfT has opened a consultation on Community Rail
Partnership status https://goo.gl/OuHncO for the Swindon to Westbury route via Melksham. The
full extent of the route is a surprising 32 miles, taking in Chippenham station and the Melksham Single
line between Thingley Jn and Bradford Jn. It is a fast route, laid to a high standard and often used as a
diversionary route by GWR High Speed services. The long-running campaign to improve services in
West Wiltshire has been remarkably successful in keeping Melksham station served, while gradually
pushing for improved services from the various TOCs operating locally since privatisation.
480] Melksham: CP 18 Apr 1966 and ROP 13 May 1985. It recorded 51,858 passengers in 2014/15,
more than double the 23,930 the year before thanks to the improved service. In 2009/10 there were
only 10,028. A boom 2007 figure of 38,000 was partly due to the Melksham to Bristol fare for a
journey via Bradford on Avon being cheaper than the fare from the latter, where the booking clerks
were happy to sell them! Management could not understand why so many tickets were being sold
from Melksham when its services were then so poor with few passengers actually on the trains. This
was eventually 'corrected' so the Melksham to Bristol fare was higher than from Bradford on Avon!
481] Westerleigh Jn: (see Unusual Track) There have been problems here since 8 February, initially
with a 5mph restriction over the diamond which has moveable switches. This has since been plain-
lined in favour of the Up Badminton line. All Down trains from the Gloucester direction have had to
use the facing crossover at 119m 60ch and the trailing crossover at 107m 19ch afterwards to regain
the Down Badminton line and proceed to Bristol Parkway. This effectively results in single line working
on the (fortunately) reversibly signalled Up Charfield line around the curve. Surprisingly, this
manoeuvre does not appear to be impacting on timings too much. 'Switch diamonds' of this nature are
complex and unique to each location, requiring specialist purpose built manufacture (reportedly in
Germany), as previously at Lewisham (BLN 1219.1514) and Salford (BLN 1178.196). This may result in
the current situation persisting for some time. The Down line was rusty when seen from a recent
railtour. Switch diamonds, also known as 'moveable angles', avoid a break in the head of the rail for
passing wheels and are mandatory at crossing angles flatter than a certain figure.
482] Barnstaple branch: An interesting time lapse cab video of the Exeter to Barnstaple branch in just
over 2 minutes filmed on 17 May 2004 https://goo.gl/UfLr8M some might prefer it with the sound off!
483] Infrastructure Study: GWR has agreed to fund a report into possible improvements in the west's
railway routes. The work will focus on improvements to the existing infrastructure rather than new
routes, and will seek improvements in line speed and capacity to ensure that the region benefits fully
from the new Hitachi AT300 stock due to be introduced during 2018. The report will be undertaken by
NR and will form part of a study by the Peninsula Rail Task Force; a group of five local authorities and
two local enterprise partnerships which is due to respond to the government during the summer.
484] Wellington Rebooted: Campaigning by MP Rebecca Pow appears to be paying off, with Taunton
Deane Borough Council agreeing £40k funding in its recent investment plan to investigate the possible
reinstatement of a station at Wellington in Somerset. It is proposed that, should the potential be
proven, a bid is made to the New Stations Fund. The campaign appears to have the eye of the Minister
too, as she paid tribute to the local MP's efforts, while announcing a further £20M of spending
nationally on the fund. Devon County Council continues to investigate the possibility of a Devon Metro
service that could potentially serve Wellington and a reopened station at nearby Cullompton. A
development of 500 homes near the site of the closed station will add to the population of Wellington,
which is thought to be the largest town on the London to Penzance line without a station at present.
Wellington's original station OP 1 May 1843 with the line, and was rebuilt in 1932 to accommodate
stopping loops on both sides of the mainline. It CA 5 Oct 1964 along with the majority of smaller
stations between Taunton and Exeter, with the loops removed soon after closure. Items salvaged from
Wellington Signal Box were recycled for use at Blue Anchor on the West Somerset Railway.
1252 WEST MIDLANDS
ABOVE and RIGHT: 230001 at Long Marston with a lovely clear sky, all photos by David Guy on 18 Feb 2016.
485] Long Marston Depot: (BLN
1240.1656) This is just within
the South Warwickshire border.
Vivarail led by the former
Chiltern Railways MD, Adrian
Shooter, now have a 2-car prototype unit, 230001 with a middle trailer
car under conversion due to be added (all from ex-LU D78 stock). It
runs on the 'test track', which is the inner loop on the west side of the
depot (part of the former Long Marston Military Railway), that runs
through the exchange sidings. There is a large amount of
withdrawn D78 stock stored on site in the open and more is expected,
as well as quite a few first generation Midland Metro and Metrolink
trams. At its peak there was 45 miles of standard gauge track at the
'Long Marston Military Railway', a strategically located 468 acre site
built in 1940 during WWII. It was run down by the MoD in the 1990s
and sold to St. Modwen property developers in May 2005. By then 30
miles of track remained and the pruning has continued. The plan is to
concentrate the rail facilities and storage on the west side of the Depot
where the mainline connection is and redevelop the east side. The outer rail circuit has now been
lifted in the northeast area of the Depot (from about the 11 o'clock to 3 o'clock position) and the ex-
MoD buildings there demolished, some were very large. A new perimeter fence now excludes this
section from the reduced site and new housing is under construction there. The Honeybourne to Long
Marston branch (all in Worcestershire) has been little used recently but Vivarail expect to soon start
night testing of their prototype on part of the North Cotswold line when no other trains are running.
Sadly, it is not authorised carrying passengers on NR at this stage!
BELOW TOP: A line of Manchester Metrolink T68 trams at the depot in the Warwickshire countryside
BELOW BOTTOM: A recent plan, the original depot area is pink, the disconnected track shown running
top middle to middle right was previously part of the outer loop. It has been/is being lifted and the
three large former MoD rectangular buildings (top right) are demolished; house building is in progress
in this area. Public access is available via the 'Greenway'. The exchange sidings are left, Long Marston
station used to be top left before 'Station Road' and the NR branch to Honeybourne is bottom left.
(John Beale). Compare this with the original aerial picture before the changes on the following page:
ABOVE: The Long Marston site before the recent changes (the outer boundary then is marked in red),
the exchange sidings are left, and the branch from Honeybourne bottom left. The rather strange
projection of the boundary is round an access road, which can be seen crossing the lifted branch to the
former Bird's Scrap Yard, this was south of the depot (not shown). The railways show up better at
200% magnification. Note how the light industrial units block the trackbed to Startford-upon-Avon at
the northwest corner of the depot at the site of Long Marston station. (Public planning document.)
BELOW: Long Marston exchange sidings, looking north. The now singled NR branch from Honeybourne
is bottom left; the double track line on to Stratford-upon-Avon used to run left of the exchange sidings
(when the fence was rather straighter!). Note the buildings obstructing the trackbed (and potential
reopening to Stratford) at the former Long Marston station site top left. (David Guy 18 Feb 2016)
486] Bosley: This village featured in the news in July 2015
when an explosion at the Wood Flour Mill tragically killed four
people; enquiries are continuing into the cause. The village
had a station on the northern section of the Churnet Valley
Railway (CVR) between North Rode and Leek. Basil Jeudah's
history of the CVR (Lightmoor Press 1999) records that the
station OP 1 Sep 1849. The Flour Mill opened in 1855 and was
converted to Wood Treatment in the early 1930s providing
traffic for the nearby station goods siding until around a year
before the line CG 18 Jun 1964 (CP 7 Nov 1960). Traffic was
wagonload of wood chippings with suction hoses used to
empty them. The mill owners were not satisfied with the
railway service and laid a 2'6" gauge railway for ¾ mile to the
Macclesfield Canal but their railway CG 1925. It was operated
by two Bagnall locomotives. The design of Bosley station building was similar to that at Rudyard being
half-timbered and plastered with gothic embellishments; it was demolished in early 1970. The last
revenue train on the line was a sand train to Widnes hauled by 8F 48297 on 13 Mar 1964.
487] Kenilworth: (BLN 1245.2121) The new station was included in the recent LM franchise Direct
Award. A new Coventry to Leamington service calling at Kenilworth is specified as is the related
Introduction of an enhanced Coventry to Nuneaton service (subject to delivery of Coventry bay
platform). A February update from Warwickshire County Council reports construction of Kenilworth is
to start this year for completion 'August 2017' and passenger services commencing 'later in 2017'. This
is compatible with DMUs being released from the Rugeley line electrification completion in December
next year. NR are due to lengthen Kenilworth Loop through the station and enhance the signalling.
X28] Coventry Arena - Railways at their Best: ABOVE: Imagine our member's surprise at unexpectedly
seeing six Anglia Coaches 'Topped & Tailed' by 67020 and 67006 at Coventry Arena on Sunday 28 Feb
2016 when Wasps played Harlequins. This is due to be repeated on Saturday 12 March when Wasps
are playing Leicester and for future home rugby matches. This train (shown as a DMU on Realtime
Trains!) ran additional to the normal service and has replaced the shuttle bus formerly provided from
Coventry station. It left Coventry for Nuneaton at 12.18, 13.20, 14.19, 17.19 and 18.19 and Nuneaton
for Coventry at 12.50, 13.50. 14.50, 16.50, 17.50 and 18.50. In each case it called at Coventry Arena to
set down only before the match and pick up only after. A premium fare of £4.80 return was charged
from Coventry to Coventry Arena (but the rugby fans did get the Class 67s) compared with the off peak
day return of £2.40 on the LM service. They do not come up on the National Rail website, but the
timetable is available as a download at http://goo.gl/1ElDCx (certainly don't expect to see the train
shown there!) There were some impressive turnarounds, the 13.20 from Coventry was booked to
arrive at Nuneaton at 13.50 and, on paper, return at 13.50, but actually arrived seven minutes early.
The LM local service ran normally despite previous concerns that calls at the station would have to be
suspended when a match was on due to the large number of passengers. (Ken Strachan)
488] Midland Metro (1): Tram System to be Ever Ready! On 12 February, Centro announced that the
21 CAF Urbos 3 trams are to be fitted with batteries for overhead free operation. Four additional trams
have now been ordered with batteries fitted. Overhead free running is planned on the four extensions:
(i): Grand Central to Centenary Square: (OP due 2019) Through Victoria Square past the Town Hall.
(ii): Centenary Square to Edgbaston: Through Brindley Place and in Five Ways underpass.
(iii): Eastside: Moor Street Queensway and Digbeth High Street, to avoid the need to lower the road
under the WCML and reduce the headroom required under the proposed HS2 station at Curzon Street.
(iv): Wolverhampton city: Between the bus and railway station tram stops (BLN 1250.280 plan).
Centro estimates the saving from overhead free operation on these four sections at £650k with longer-
term savings from avoiding the need to prepare roads or buildings for overhead lines. The proposed
Wednesbury to Brierley Hill (Merry Hill) extension is also being evaluated to identify potential
overhead free sections. Battery operation was envisaged when the trams were ordered in 2012 (but
the technology was not sufficiently developed then), therefore the contract included provision for
retrofitting. Urbos trams used in Zaragoza and Seville have supercapacitors; however, this technology
was felt to be unsuitable for the steep hill in Birmingham's Pinfold Street. Negotiations are now
underway with battery suppliers. The cost has not been finalised, but the Greater Birmingham &
Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership will contribute £3·15M and industry association UKTram £1M. The
batteries will be fitted on the tram roof and will be recharged from the overhead lines along other
parts of the route. They are expected to require replacement about every seven years.
(2) New Street Testing: Despite its entry in the 'Guinness Book of Records' for the slowest tramway
construction project in history, [maybe another reason for future battery operation; how about track
free operation next?] it has now been announced that overnight testing of the city extension will take
place on 23rd April. This is four months after the line had been due to open to the public. (The Queen
was booked to open it but had nothing to open when she turned up so ended up naming a stationary
tram instead!) Learning from experience, no date for passenger opening has been announced but is
thought to be in June. The latest delay is due to the need for a NR overnight possession at New Street
station when trains are not running for electrical interference testing. The 23rd April is the earliest date
NR has available although far better than the normal 13 weeks' notice required for these possessions.
489] Stoke North Jn - Cliffe Vale Branch: The inward China Clay working is now booked MO 04.51 from
Bescot Down Yard, via Darlaston Jn and Stafford to Cliffe Vale (06.04 - 15.08) and back at 16.17. It runs
from St. Blazey Thursday afternoon the week before and is also staged at Exeter Riverside yard.
490] Malvern - Droitwich: There is a programme of (mostly semaphore) 'signalling life extension
works' in progress in the area, so it looks as if the single track between the Worcester stations is here
for a few more years. Interestingly Worcester was, in November 1973, the last major area BR
resignalled with semaphores. Worcester Shrub Hill had new point rodding and semaphore signal
wiring installed last year, improving their alignments for easier maintenance and to cope better with
temperature changes (BLN 1234.92). Similar work was then carried out at Worcester Tunnel Signal
Box. Now at Droitwich Spa, rather to the surprise of local members, the OOU trailing crossover north
of the station and the entrance to the Down Goods Loop (latterly available only as a very short siding
from the north) are both being restored to use! They are clipped and padlocked and the crossover
Down line point frog has even been plain lined (BLNs 1234.1093 & 1248.89). New concrete ground
supports with wheels and rodding are being installed. This is for two summer Worcester blockades to
allow services from the north to terminate and start back at Droitwich; ECS can be stabled in the loop.
ABOVE: Malvern Link, at 18.31 on 20 February with GWR green-liveried 150232 on the 15.29 from
Warminster about to leave for its final station of Great Malvern. (RN Pritchard)
490-continued.] Worcester Shrub Hill Jn to Worcester Tunnel Jn is reportedly to TCA between 4 and
14 June for 'relocking' work at the latter's signal box, which will be unable to operate normally. This
means no trains between Droitwich and Shrub Hill during this time. The layout and signalling prevents
trains reversing at Foregate Street where, following the November 1973 changes, there are two
separate reversible parallel lines from Henwick. Also between 6 and 11 August reportedly, Worcester
Tunnel Jn will be closed for work. It remains to be seen what passenger services can be operated.
491] The Signal Box Now Arriving at
Platform 1… (BLN 1251.394) Nantwich box's
recent move to Crewe was not its first. It was
second hand from Wem North where it had
been used at a large US Army camp from
1943 to 1946. Then the box was moved in
sections by rail and rolled into position,
opening 25 Apr 1948 with 30 levers. The next
box towards Shrewsbury, Shrewbridge LC,
was replaced by a similar, but smaller box, at
the same time. It is thought this was the box
provided inside the US Army Depot for the
sidings. This box was replaced by an
Automatic Half-Barrier crossing 23 July 1967.
(RIGHT: Safely in its new home in the car
park of RETA (Rail Exchange Training
Academy) near the new station car park in
Crewe and seen by many of the participants
on our 'North Midlands Tracker' of 27
February. (Kev Adlam)
1252 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
492] The Final Day of Passenger Services to Wetherby, Sat 4 Jan 1964: Our Member No1's ramblings
have concentrated on railtours and an industrial fixture. As a diversion, he has delved into his book of
railway expeditions and pulled out a trip from Church Fenton, bottom right of map (©Disused Stations
see http://goo.gl/qFp4pl for maps and pictures) to Leeds (bottom left) via Tadcaster and Wetherby.
He also travelled from Wetherby to Harrogate (top left). Note Tadcaster's Ingleby's Mill branch (BLN
1251.400) and the Thorp Arch Circular Railway http://goo.gl/VTyPjP round a WW2 shell-filling factory.
The restructuring of BR was outlined in two reports: 'The Reshaping of British Railways' and 'The
Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes' both by Dr. Richard Beeching and published by the
BR Board in 1963 & 1965 respectively. In 1963 our member was a teenager travelling the length and
breadth of Britain to try to cover as many branches as possible before the proposed cuts. In 1964 and
1965 many difficult decisions were faced with routes closing at a rapid rate and geographically widely
scattered branches closed the same weekend. Travel then was much slower, and money was very
tight. It was common to go by coach to reduce costs, as for his second railtour, from Manchester to
London for a service train to Winchester. This was for the 'B4 Dock Railtour' of the 9 Mar 1963 from
Winchester Chesil accompanied by long-standing friend Kevin Driscoll, member 329. Accommodation
was out of the question due to cost, so overnight travel was the only option (fortunately quite a few
trains ran at night then).The trip from Manchester to Wetherby was overnight, strange no doubt to
some members, since this was, 'local' in comparison to Winchester. However, by 1964 there was only
one train (SuX) from Church Fenton a day and the one in the opposite direction only ran to Tadcaster!
On this trip another old friend, Gordon Massey, accompanied No1; they both served on the LCGB North
West Fixtures Team. He planned the itinerary and it was decided to go on the last day of service. The
Wetherby line was due to close from 6 Jan 1964, one of the first to do so after the 1963 Beeching
Report. The closure enquiry took only three months to complete and the 4th January was the 'Last Day'.
No objection was received to the proposed closure between Church Fenton and Wetherby (the train
carried a maximum of eight passengers with no regular travellers). The decision to close it with Cross
Gates to Harrogate via Wetherby was made by Ernest Marples, Minister of Transport on 24 Oct 1963.
Wetherby West to East Jns, avoiding the passenger station, had been taken OOU by December 1961 (at
one time used by 50 trains daily). In 1963 the lines were all double track and all the stations were fully
staffed (14 at Wetherby for the 30 passengers a day!). With level crossings, signalling and the required
banking engines 35 staff needed to be on duty to run the trains. The two lines had running costs of
£57K per year with receipts of only £9K (the £48K loss is the equivalent of not far off £1M in 2016).
(BELOW: The front of Wetherby station on Sat 4 Jan 1964, the last day of passenger services, a freezing
cold damp foggy day. All: Ray Hardman, thanks to Paul Shackcloth for improving the picture quality.)
The photographs taken reflect the dreadful weather on the 4 Jan 1964, very cold, damp and foggy for
most of the day. Starting at Stockport station, no attempt was made to check the identity of the steam
loco for the first leg to Leeds City. A hurried boarding to escape the freezing condition was the order of
the day! It was usual in those days to obtain a (free issue) platform ticket to access Stockport booking
office between P3 and P4 (now the waiting room). Departure at 12.42am for Leeds City was on the
infamous night-time York Mail train, used on many occasions subsequently for railway expeditions.
The next leg, the 6.46am direct to Church Fenton was to catch the only train of the day at 7.44am back
to Leeds City via Tadcaster and Wetherby. This was the reason for the overnight journey, no car or hotel
then but thankfully, there was a heated waiting room at Leeds for the 5-hour wait. Leeds station was
open all night and no railway staff were on hand to 'move on' the group of teenage railway explorers!
The 2x2 car DMU departed Church Fenton four minutes late at 7.48am and called at Tadcaster, Newton
Kyme and Thorp Arch arriving Wetherby at 8.16. This was the second station, OP 1 Jul 1902 in Linton
Road, allowing Leeds to Harrogate services to call (it had become the principal route). The first station
in York Road (OP 10 Aug 1847), east of the town on the Church Fenton line then CP. After the 1964
passenger closures both Wetherby stations remained open for goods traffic latterly served as branch
from Church Fenton which CG beyond Tadcaster 4 Apr 1966. Wetherby Race Course station OP c1924,
sometimes known as Wetherby Town in Race Day literature (!) and was last used by race specials on 18
May 1959. Latterly buses took racegoers from the second station site, right up to the 1963 closure.
(BELOW: One-inch 7th Series 1952/61 showing the River Wharfe running through the town and the
racecourse. Harrogate is off top left and Church Fenton bottom right (the station in the right lower
corner was 'Thorp Arch for Boston Spa' - in those days the ROF Thorp Arch and its peculiar circular
railway were not shown. Left of bottom centre is the line to Cross Gates and Leeds. The triangle was
Wetherby South Jn, East Jn and West Jn respectively. The original station was between the B1224 and A
road bridges. On a 1910 map the South Jn to West Jn line was labelled 'Wetherby New Curve'.)
After leaving the train at Wetherby the aim was then to travel over the complete route and obtain as
many LNER tickets from the six stations as possible. The 8.40am train (just a 24-minute wait this time)
took the pair to Penda's Way station (arriving 9.02am). Note that there were only six trains a day (SuX)
from Wetherby to Leeds and four of them ran between 6.51 and 8.40am, two 24 minutes apart.
Penda's Way OP 5 Jun 1939 with two 120ft wooden platforms (allegedly built in one day unlike modern
practice), to serve a growing suburb of Leeds. It was then a 1¼ mile walk to Scholes where again LNER
tickets were plentiful. The 10.41am train was taken to Harrogate arriving 11.14am. Beyond the former
Crimple Jn the line is still part of the current Leeds to Harrogate route, this is after that line makes the
now seemingly strange right-angled bend as it joins the Wetherby Line from the former Pannal Jn spur.
Harrogate was left at 12.40pm back to Wetherby arriving at 12.52pm where a hasty retreat was made
to the waiting room in order to stay warm for another five hours. This was to catch the 'last train' at
6.27pm to Leeds City (completing the line south of Penda's Way). If ever there was a case of suffering
for your hobby that was it. Fortunately, the station porter felt sorry for No1 and his companions and lit
a fire, for which they were very grateful! The last train was, as might be expected, well filled by locals
taking a final ride. Many detonators had been placed on the track giving a very noisy departure; a ritual
that appeared to accompany other last trains, as branch line closures increased at an alarming rate.
Goods traffic continued south of Wetherby on the line to Cross Gates for about four months; it CA 27
Apr 1964. Wetherby South Jn to Harrogate Crimple Jn CA from 6 Jan 1964 with passenger closure.
In preparing this text, notes from expeditions between 1964 and 1967 made very interesting reading in
the quest to ride the lines proposed for closure; it was a very different world then over 50 years ago.
Sadly, Dr Beeching closed railways so quickly, that some rather choice track escaped, but like most
things in life, it is always best to remember the many achievements rather than the disappointments.
LEFT: Wetherby in the fog, the south signalbox from
the station platform. ABOVE: From the other side with
the station beyond, taken from the A661 overbridge
north of the station. The signal on the platform shows
that the Harrogate route was the principal one; the
other signal is for the Church Fenton via Tadcaster line.
See http://goo.gl/0azOfj (one-inch 7th series 1952/62).
(ABOVE LEFT: Wetherby East Jn box with the original 1847 station beyond in the fog (CP 1902 but
survived for goods traffic until 4 Apr 1966). RIGHT: Looking the opposite way from Wetherby East Jn, is
right, the double track 'third side of the triangle' direct line to Wetherby West Jn and Harrogate (CA by
Dec 1961 but still in situ), the curve round to the left is to Wetherby South Jn and the passenger
station. Church Fenton is behind the cameraman.)
493] Doncaster (south of): The Up Sidings (155m 62ch) and signalling will be OOU from 28 February.
494] Ferriby: The £34.5M re-signalling of 40 track miles to Gilberdyke starts this month with a March
2018 scheduled commissioning date. Signal boxes at Melton Lane (Ferriby, interfaces Hull Paragon
panel), Brough East (only refurbished in 2005), Crabley Creek, Broomfleet, Gilberdyke Junction (was
'Staddlethorpe West') are all to close as well as gate boxes at Welton, Cave Crossing and Oxmardyke.
495] Signalling: The Dublin North Emergency Control Panel (ECP) was fully commissioned on 6
February. It is adjacent to Connolly station Loco Shed. When 'switched in', it will control all signals
bearing the signal prefix 'DN' extending from Killester to south of Malahide including the Howth
Branch. Suburban CTC remains the primary control point for the Dublin North Interlocking.
496] GNR(I): (BLN 1251.406) The Great Northern Railway Board (as it was then) issued its winter public
timetable to take effect from 1 Oct 1957 (in place of its more usual September issue, which was
covered by a supplement to the May 1957 timetable). It had no services on pages 26 to 35, but two
supplements covered those pages: Supplement No1 applicable until 13 October, and No2 from 14 Oct
1957. For that first fortnight, Dundalk - Clones and Clones - Cavan were, essentially, the pre-existing
services, with retimings. The (winter) four round trips between Portadown and Clones became three
between Glaslough and Clones, while the Belturbet branch was cut from two mixed round trips to one.
There were no train/bus connections at Glaslough, interchange was effected at Monaghan instead
(there being no suitable 'approved' https://goo.gl/75PIRq road crossing). Our member does not have
the working timetable, but strongly suspects that Dundalk - Clones (at least) was mainly steam hauled
(also the Belturbet mixed!) but that Glaslough - Clones - Cavan had a fair smattering of DMUs (there
was a degree of DMU working - 'Dsl = Diesel train' according to the May 1957 working timetable).
1252 ISLE OF MAN
497] IOM Railways: In a recent report, it was revealed that during 2015:
Steam Railway: Carried 100,653 passengers, an increase of 1.2% or 1,232 over 2014. This was based
on passengers boarding at Douglas and Port Erin on timetabled passenger trains only.
Manx Electric Railway: 72,182 passengers, 8.8% or 5,832 more than 2014. This was based on
passengers boarding at Derby Castle and Ramsey on timetabled passenger trams only.
Snaefell Mountain Railway: 52,055 passengers, up 8.4% on the 48,029 recorded in 2014.
All figures are for 2015 timetabled services and do not include passengers carried on Dining Car
Services, Special Events, private charters and between intermediate stops. Questions have since been
raised in Manx internet forums and the local media on the island as to why, if increases in passenger
numbers can be achieved by the Government run railway, Douglas Corporation has failed to do the
same with the horse tram operation (BLN 1250.293).
498] Manx Electric Railway: (BLN 1249.186) The significant track renewals, including a road crossing at
Port Jack just a few hundred metres from Douglas Derby Castle terminus, are now more or less
complete. Work has now begun on renewals at a road crossing some half a mile from the terminus at
Onchan. The December flooding and bad weather since has played havoc with the loose stone surface
only laid last year at Laxey station; this will need extensive repairs before services restart in March.
499] Snaefell Mountain Railway: (BLN 1250.292) Repairs have begun to the railway 'up' (actually the
'Down' direction!) the mountain. However, just outside Laxey station before the car sheds roads join,
the main line remains badly damaged. A local member dog-walking on the 23rd February found deep
(2-3ft) trenches each side where water has scoured away the ballast and debris still covered the tracks
over just this short area. A tram outside the shed had a wagon being loaded with ballast.
500] Manx Northern Railway: A Manx Northern 'Cleminson' coach (No42) left the island a few years
ago along with the frames of 'Tynwald' (Beyer Peacock 0-4-2T), for Southwold. Their departure caused
some concern but, being privately owned, there was little that could be done to stop them going to
the UK. Apparently the coach (and, it is believed, the Frames for 'Tynwald' as well) has now left
Duncan's Southwold yard and been transported to the edge of Thetford Forest in Norfolk for a
summer fair http://goo.gl/zaAI5A steam rally. The event is over three days in July, so the coach and the
remains of No7 have to sit in the field until then. Once the rally is over - what then? It is a cause of
concern to the various enthusiast groups on the Isle of Man that, although sheeted over, they will
continue to deteriorate. In any case, there seems very little if any chance of repatriation to the IOM.
X29] The Coalburn to Muikirk Line: (BLN 251.412) ABOVE LEFT: Glenbuck viaduct piers ABOVE RIGHT:
Galawhistle Trackbed BELOW LEFT: Galawhistle in the opposite direction. BELOW RIGHT: Trackbed at
Bankend. (All Angus McDougall 27 Nov 1978). See http://goo.gl/5HjcTA one-inch 7th Series (1952/61)
map. Muirkirk is bottom left, zoom in and immediately east of the station a track bed goes off the
north side of the line at Auldhouseburn Jn, to, in order: Glenbuck and Spireslack then Galawhistle and
Bankend before Coalburn, southwest of Lanark. The One-Inch 'Popular' Edition (1921/31) shows more
track on the line http://goo.gl/PHWO1c There was a separate mineral branch from Auldhouse Jn to
Glenbuck Colliery (OG 1889 to 1919), the latter less than a mile from Galawhistle Colliery as the crow
flies. The middle section on to Spireslack Colliery never opened and was abandoned 2 Feb 1011. .
X30] Spireslack: (BLN 1251.411/12) The colliery was once rail served, see above. (BELOW: A dramatic
picture taken in 2015, after Open Cast Coal mining. It has been described as a 'Geologists Playground'
due to the various rock layers exposed on the right and is due to be landscaped. (Bob Watt)
501] Diverted Diversions: (BLN 1250.294) Kilmarnock to Barassie was used for nocturnal freight rather
than the Annbank line during closure of the Lamington Viaduct because curtain-sided containers were
vulnerable to break-ins. This was at Blackhouse Jn (Ayr) when trains stopped to return the single line
token from Mauchline Jn to the token machine (Modern Railways February). This article recalls similar
nefarious behaviour directed at evening Grangemouth to Daventry trains in the Wishaw area. Trains
from the former Gushetfaulds, Glasgow Freightliner Terminal had similar trouble between Cambuslang
and Newton. This was resolved by not letting the trains into the area without a clear road through.
502] Lamington Viaduct: (BLN 1248.28) Repairs have been completed, costing £4M and taking seven
weeks. It was load tested with pairs of Class 66 and 90 locos on Sunday 21 February the line being
reopened at 16.20 with an initial 20 mph Emergency Speed Restriction, later eased after monitoring to
40mph. The structure had been rebuilt/realigned around 2006 (before the Virgin Train 'Very High
Frequency' service started). This allowed 100mph in both directions for non-tilting trains and an
'Enhanced Permissible Speed' of 110mph for a Class 221 Voyager, and 120mph for a Class 390
Penolino (both with tilt systems operational) rather than the 125mph given in BLN 124.28.
The first passenger train over the reopened structure was on Monday 22 Feb 2016 at 02.08; the 20.58
(SUN) Euston to Inverness sleeper. The first southbound train was the 06.00 Coatbridge to Daventry
intermodal working. A RAIB investigation is being held as a train was allowed to pass over the viaduct
after the initial report of a dip in the track at 07.35 on 31 Dec 2015. Signallers imposed a speed
restriction then maintenance staff watched an Up train pass at restricted speed, and lifted the
restriction. Unusual track movement was later noted at 08.40 when a Down train passed at speed and
the viaduct was closed at 08.57.
503] Oban overnights: (BLN 1251.413) With regard to past Oban sleepers, the public summer 1950
timetable has a 19.30 Euston to Oban/Forfar and 17.55 Oban/19.18 Forfar to Euston splitting and
joining at Stirling. The summer 1963 timetable has 19.25 SuO (19.40 SSuX) from Euston and 18.20
SSuX (18.35 SO) from Oban. By summer 1964 there was a 19.40 FSX Euston to Oban/Perth (FO a
separate train at 19.20 to Oban only) and 18.20SX Oban to Kensington and 18.35 SO Oban to Euston
with a portion from Perth (20.15) joining at Stirling.
In 1965 the Oban to Euston sleeper was advertised to continue until the closure of the Callander to
Crianlarich line (due to be withdrawn 1 Nov 1965). In that final autumn 1965 timetable the sleeper
service was to have been weekdays until 17/18 September; then it reduced to 19.40 (FO) from Euston
returning at 17.35 (MO) from Oban (one round trip a week). 'The Callander & Oban Railway' (Charles
Fryer - 1989) mentions that they did not run after the line was blocked by a rock fall in the early hours
of Mon 27 Sep 1965. Although the sleeping car would have been at Oban for the 17.35 departure later
that day, trains were diverted via Arrochar (the present Oban route). That means the car would not
have been able to connect at Stirling to attach to the Perth to London sleeper. It is therefore very likely
that the car actually returned from Oban ECS and that the last sleeper working at Oban was the Friday
night/Saturday morning 24/25 Sep 1965 inbound. However, the service did continue well into BR days.
504] Oban Electro-Diesels? Sounds like a 'pie in the Sky(e)' railtour from the past! But Class 73s have
worked the diverted sleepers 'top & tail' between Taynuilt and Oban, as the run round facility is OOU
with more use of the rare platform. A sleeper at Oban https://goo.gl/2MD4ai on 20 February.
505] Glasgow Buchanan Street tunnel: Glasgow City Council has recently awarded a contract for the
430yd tunnel to be infilled, part of work to develop the ongoing 'Sighthill Transformational
Regeneration Area'. The final passenger services through the tunnel were on Sun 6 Nov 1966 including
services diverted between Edinburgh Waverley and Queen Street High Level due to engineering work.
506] Circling Glasgow: (BLN 1212.p283) A member reports that the SPTE website advises that the
Glasgow Roundabout day rover ticket is available from all staffed stations run by ScotRail. At
Edinburgh Waverley, the clerk asked a colleague. After a short conference, some instructions were
found, the code entered and a ticket appeared, printed on standard national orange ticket blanks. As it
is valid on the Glasgow Subway, enquiry was made at St. Enoch ticket booth. At no charge, a 'transfer'
subway all day ticket was duly issued to work the smartcard gates and his Roundabout ticket was
stamped to indicate this had been done. Included was a trip to Larkhall (BLN 1231.729), where P1 did
have signs of use; Realtime Trains shows departures (SuX) at 06.00 & 18.03; it is evident that the 17.55
arrival forming the 18.03 frequently uses P2. All trains are booked for P1 on Sundays. Allanton loop,
between Chatelherault and Merryton (BLN 1218.1487), did not appear to have had any use for a while.
507] Glasgow Queen St: Work on station remodelling will also take place whilst the tunnel is closed for
20 weeks (20 March - 8 August). Areas will be cordoned off. The platforms are to be extended south
(Central here we come?), but will be covered over until the concourse can be dealt with. OLE is also to
be erected. Most timetables have been re-issued and are on the ScotRail website, paper copies are
due to be available from 6 March. Some trains from Motherwell via Hamilton and to Motherwell via
Carmyle will terminate and start at Anderston, presumably using the reversing siding at Exhibition
Centre. Diverted main line services seem to be accommodated at Central HL with minimum disruption.
508] Wemyss Bay: (BLN 1244.1989) The Rothesay Ferry is expected to run from Wemyss Bay again for
Easter if the weather behaves; anyone wanting the temporary Gourock to Rothesay ferry had better
be quick! The renovation of this fine station (well worth a visit) should be complete by the end of April.
509] Millerhill: From 27 February, the fuelling point and roads 'Charlie, Davie, Eddie & Freddie' (NR's
Scottish phonetic alphabet; we trust J is 'Jimmie'!) close to build ScotRail's new cleaning and servicing
depot. No rolling stock was in the few residual sidings here on 30 Dec 2015 (UKR 'Waverley' railtour).
510] Cross to go to Edinburgh? From the May timetable change Virgin Trains East Coast are extending
some London to Newcastle trains to Edinburgh, giving 42 extra trains per week (mainly SSuX) between
the English and Scottish capitals. This is a step towards the eventual aim of a half-hourly service.
511] Class 385: A mock up of part of one of these Hitachi units has been unveiled at Waverley station
and was displayed until 4th March. The first six units will be built in Japan, and the other 64 at Newton
Aycliffe. They will operate between Glasgow and Edinburgh, North Berwick, Stirling, Cumbernauld,
Alloa and on South Glasgow suburban services. Delivery is between 2017 and December 2018.
X31] (ABOVE:) The Forth Bridge taken from the rear a loco-hauled train recently. (Kev Adlam)
512] Beware Broughty Ferry: (BLN 1217.1417) This A-listed station, said to be Scotland's oldest railway
station still in operation, (OP 6 Oct 1838) sprang a surprise on your outgoing Sub-Editor on 9 February.
The Down platform is easily accessible on or off the train, but boarding a Class 170 (158s have an
additional step at the door) on the Up side involves a gap of about 18 inches. The station is unstaffed,
and use of an on train access ramp would be too steep; fortunately, the unit floor was just bottom-
height, so was entered by propelling in! After that, it was a matter of standing up. Broughty folk are
evidently coping with it. With the recently enhanced service, passenger numbers have increased
dramatically from 5,362 in 2010/11 to 41,246 in 2014/15. (Some may head north to continue south.)
The Conductor came to help and said that taxis are readily provided when requested by disabled folk.
It is not clear how able-bodied but short-legged (to be polite) folk get on (as it were).
513] Bow Street: Plans are being drawn up to reopen the station. It CP 14 Jun 1965 along with other
local stations between Aberystwyth and Welshpool on the Cambrian line including Carno which is also
proposed for reopening (BLN 1249.197). Bow Street, 4½ miles north of Aberystwyth, is to form the
basis for a transport interchange and park-and-ride facility for that town next to the A487. Wales'
Transport Minister has awarded a £170k grant to fund the design work to the stage of a planning
application, and the local authority is seeking additional funding sources to cover purchase of the
necessary land and construction work. NR and the Welsh Government are being kept informed.
BELOW: One-inch 7th Series map 1948/55 showing Bow Street station top right on the line from
Shrewsbury outside Aberystwyth. The latter is shown as a 'prinicpal station'; the line to Carmarthen
via Lampeter and Pencader heads south, here following the coast. The 'triangle' between the two was
not connected to the Carmarthen line but was used for turning engines, as there was no turntable. The
Vale of Rheidol, 1' 11¾" gauge Vale is shown on its original route into Aberystwyth; after 16 April 1968
it was diverted directly into the former Carmarthen line platform. Devils' bridge is off bottom right.
514] Rhyl: (BLN 1249.196) Improvements now completed at the station include an upgrade of existing
buildings to provide better passenger facilities, with refurbished toilets and ticket office, a new waiting
shelter, information screens, benches, signs and a ticket machine. The footbridge and entrance canopy
have been improved. The £2.6M cost came from the Welsh Government (£1.1M) and the European
Regional Development Fund (£1M) via the Wales Station Improvement Programme; NR funded £0.5M.
515] Cardiff Central: (BLN 1249.198) A member reports an unusual manoeuvre on 18 February when
the 18.11 departure to Cheltenham Spa, which normally originates from Maesteg, was instead formed
by detaching the rear unit from a Treherbert working. It therefore departed from Up Valleys P6 over
the crossover to the Up Relief. This was taken to Alexandra Dock Jn, currently the first available access
to the Up Main, as the Rumney River Bridge Jn relief to main crossovers are OOU. The new crossovers
at Cardiff East have yet to be commissioned, so there is presently no access from P2 to the relief lines.
516] Conwy Valley line: (BLN 1249.133) The line between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog,
closed since 28 Dec 2015 by serious flood damage, reopened on 22 Feb 2016, a week earlier than
anticipated. NR and contractors Alun Griffiths Ltd had to overcome challenging conditions in repairing
damage at over a hundred separate locations, including bridges and embankments, and replacing
some 1,200 tonnes of washed-out ballast. As there was further work to be done, a six-mile long
20mph speed restriction was in force until 27 February with a temporary timetable. Buses replaced the
05.30 & 07.26 from Llandudno Junction, and the 08.35 from Blaenau and trains took longer than usual.
517] Early lines: (BLN 1249.211) Disputing the status of the Penrhyn Railroad as the oldest railway in
Wales, a correspondent cites Dendy Marshall's celebrated 'History of British Railways to 1830' which
quotes contemporary accounts and maps of a 'waggonway' between Neath and Aberavon, built as far
back as 1695 by Sir Humphrey Mackworth. Given, however, his admission that the said waggons ran
upon 'wooden railes', BLS experts may wish to debate the merits of this claim.
1252 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR37] Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust, Midsomer Norton station, Somerset (MR p6): The
Trust is seeking to run trains during the school holidays as well as at weekends and bank holidays. It
has also applied to Mendip District Council to extend the trackbed another ½ mile to the Chilcompton
(tunnel) infill. At the moment, trains are limited to running between April and the end of October. This
prevents the trust from offering Santa Specials in the run-up to Christmas and, if Easter falls in March
(as this year), providing a service during the Easter holidays. Permission is being sought so that rides
could be offered on any day during the school holidays between 10.00 and 17.00, on up to ten other
half days, up to ten evenings and on three weekends in December. The extended opening hours would
mean commemorations could take place to mark the last train out of Midsomer Norton Station 50
years ago - two events are planned with 5 & 6 March as an early event (see 'Connections'; these are
now advertised) and the official commemoration later with visiting engines in steam. In a report with
the application, the Trust says the extended hours would respond to requests from visitors and groups
visiting the station out of normal opening hours and who would like a ride. The Trust is also hoping for
permission to extend the track, which will run as far as the old Chilcompton Tunnels. Trust spokesman
John Baxter said: 'The tunnels are now under hundreds of tons of rubble but a train would go as far as
Chilcompton with a future plan to create a loop and small station so that people could get off'.
MR38] Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, Gloucestershire (MR p7): (BLN 1249.MR12)
Winchcombe loop is being realigned and extended at the south end with the opportunity taken to
similarly extend the Down platform (P1) which cannot accommodate a normal length train. Like
Toddington, both platforms are fully reversibly signalled. The Railway had a very good year in 2015
(very welcome with the expense of the Broadway extension), a record 88,500 passengers were carried
on the 12 mile length line on 172 days; this year services operate on 187 days, the most ever. To help
accommodate the growing numbers first class accommodation has been downgraded and is available
to all; first class tickets are no longer sold. At Laverton the loop is confirmed as disconnected but has
yet to be lifted for removal to the new Broadway station under construction.
MR39] Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Derbyshire (MR p8): An 18th century building, which may be the
oldest in the world to house a working ticket office, has opened at Wirksworth. The former tannery
was built around 1750 and has been renovated by volunteers. Leigh Gration, the railway's commercial
manager, said the stone building was originally used to store raw animal skins before they were sent
away for processing. The line was built in 1862 and, by the turn of the last century, the building was
used by an animal feeds dealer. The doorway through which feed was delivered directly by rail is now
the booking office's main entrance. Coincidentally, this mezzanine floor level is at platform height.
Volunteers have renovated the tannery, installed internal partition walls, heating, lighting, a counter
and disabled access. The building cannot claim to be the world's oldest ever ticket office. That
accolade belongs to the Red Hall in Bourne, Lincolnshire, built around 1650. It became a booking office
(BLN 1224.75 & 76) originally for the Bourne & Essendine Railway in 1860 until Bourne CP 2 Mar 1959.
MR40] Gwili Steam Railway, Carmarthenshire (MR p9): The early February edition of the railway's
email newsletter states about the southern extension: Hopefully, in the not too distant future, the level
crossing [Bronwydd Arms] will be replaced. At the moment it looks as if it will be towards the end of
February but no dates have yet been confirmed, so watch this space. Once this is done, the final push
for the extension can be started and we can get it open hopefully before the main season starts.
MR41] South Lakes Railway, Cumbria (MR p14) (BLN 949.MR148): A visit was made to this 7¼" gauge
railway, which runs in the grounds of South Lakes Wildlife Park near Dalton in Furness, on Sunday 7
February 2016. Admission to the park was free on this day as the owner wants people less well off to
visit to see the animals in the off-season. The park was packed after midday! On arrival at the railway
station, it was pleasing to see the train being prepared for the day's service. In use was petrol
American outline 4w-4wPH SLCR No5 2011 in yellow livery. The train was running every half-hour, from
11.00 with fares £1 for a single trip. The new station loop is now used anticlockwise. The previous day
steam power was in use with a new locomotive recently purchased from a private line in Devon; 0-4-2
Thomas 100 built by Stewart Read, named Leviathan and in blue livery. The other steam loco was away
for repairs and due back shortly. The land train was operating from the new main entrance to the far
end where the Maki Cafe/miniature railway station is. It was brought new from the Suzhou Player
Machinery & Equipment Manufacturing Co Ltd, China in 2014, but it has had problems as it is very
wide and heavy for the road it runs on so has to be driven with care. Rides operate from 11.00 every
30 minutes. One of the new attractions in the park is a walk through vulture enclosure, with a couple
of large vultures and some smaller ones. A word of warning: do not try to take a 'selfie' against a large
vulture - it thought the camera was edible and the owner got a nasty peck on the leg; be warned!
X32] (BELOW: Chester Zoo monorail rare track! What looks like a shunter or maintenance vehicle on a
shed branch off the main run (Rich Hickman, 28 Feb 2916). A video https://goo.gl/tBacg1 of the run.)
MR42] East Lancashire Railway, Greater Manchester (MR p8): Flying Scotsman was relaunched into
traffic here in January 2016. Although being unsuccessful in obtaining a pre-booked ticket to travel
behind the locomotive, a member decided to visit the railway on Saturday 16 January to see the
locomotive back in action. On this day it was booked to work ordinary services from Bury at 09.00,
11.30, 14.00 & 16.30, with a further special Pullman Dining service that evening. On arriving at Bolton
Street station there were notices advising that all ordinary services were fully booked, but he made a
hopeful enquiry about availability and to his delight was told that there was one last ticket, which had
been returned by a non-attendee for the 14.00 service, and which allowed travel behind the other
locomotives in traffic during the day. Each trip behind Flying Scotsman operated Bury to Rawtenstall,
Rawtenstall to Heywood, Heywood to Bury and these stages were advertised as non-stop. This did not
always happen, as all services on the day were delayed by some 20 minutes or so due to early morning
problems with frozen loco water supplies, then continuing speed restrictions as a result of the recent
flood damage. Our reporter's service was delayed by restrictions south of Summerseat station
outwards and then a stop in Bury's P3. The 11.30 service did run non-stop through Bury's 'back' P4.
Notes of interest were that unusually for large tender locos on this line, Flying Scotsman travelled
tender first to Rawtenstall and had Brush type 2 diesel 31 466 in EWS livery at the rear of the train
outwards, and behind Flying Scotsman on return. The diesel supplied lighting, and judging by the
temperatures in the carriages, electric heating. At Summerseat, views looking east from Brooksbottom
Viaduct have changed dramatically as the part of the eponymous Mill, recently in use as a
pub/restaurant, which straddled the river mostly collapsed in the floods and the walls that remained
have since been demolished. The bridge, which fronted that part of the Mill remains in damaged
condition, while the main leisure complex part of the 1773 built Mill still stands on the north bank.
Flying Scotsman was running in what our reporter would describe as a charcoal black matt wartime
livery with a red/yellow LNE on the tender and same coloured number 502 on the right cab side, 103
on the left, and 60103 on the smokebox. This contrasted with the other locos running: SR 34092 City of
Wells with full Golden Arrow adornments and LMS red liveried 'crab' 13065. Around 16.45 diesel 0-6-0
09 024 propelled the Pullman stock of the evening dining special into Bury's P2.
MR43] Alexandra Park Miniature Railway, Hastings, East Sussex (MR p16) (BLN 998.MR133): The
group who previously operated this 3½"/5"/7¼" multi-gauge railway chose not to renew their lease
from Hastings Council when it expired in October 2015. The railway was then taken over by Daniel
Radcliffe, operator of the well-established Hastings Miniature Railway, in November. He explained:
'We took over the operation of the railway in November last year. Once this was agreed we set to work
on the site. We decided to remove near enough everything except bridges and buildings and start
again. The track has been completely replaced [with just 7¼" gauge], most of the fences changed, and
a new engine shed and turntable built. Further plans include turning the middle area into a family
picnic area, continuing the perimeter fences round the site and a mid way station, (for use on planned
Christmas specials). We also are looking into opening the railway up for private children's birthday
parties'. The official re-opening took place on Saturday 13 February at 11.00. The railway will be open
every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year, bank holidays (excluding Christmas Day) and Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday's during the school holidays. Rides are £1 per person. Dan said: 'Due to the
amount of work undertaken, and that the site came with no engines or rolling stock, the railway at
present is not in a financial position to purchase and operate steam trains. The whole site has been
transformed, all in a 12 week period, a job that could not have been done without the help of family
and friends, and the support of the local community'.
MR44] Waterford & Suir Valley Railway, County Waterford, Republic of Ireland (MR p27) (BLN
1215.MR138): Public service was extended from Carriganore to Gracedieu from 13 July 2010. This
extended trip was however reduced to Saturdays only for the 2013 season. This schedule remained
the same for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Although referred to as 'Gracedieu', the actual terminating
point is slightly short of the former junction of that name, and is adjacent to the toll plaza for the