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Published by membersonly, 2018-04-20 23:59:50


23rd April 2016

Issue Number 1255 (Items 747- 865 & MR 64 - MR 75) (E-BLN 66 PAGES) 23 April 2016


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 1256 is dated 7 May, contribSouctiieotny.s must be received by 27 April.

X.46] 'Tornado' Charity Footplate Ride Auction: With the
Society's reputation for railway charity work, we are honoured
and delighted to report that the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust has
kindly invited Branch Line Society members to bid in a silent
charity auction. The winner will have a once in a lifetime
opportunity. All money raised will go to 'Station to Station' (see
item 786) a not for profit event raising money for local charities
to celebrate HRH The Queen's 90th birthday this year. The prize
is a very special mainline full speed footplate ride on 60163
Tornado. The current tour programme: the date and trip are negotiable. Email
or text bids (minimum £250 pay by card or cheque) to Kev Adlam - back page) closes Friday 10 June.

Date Event Details BLN Lead Notes

Sat 30/4/16 Signal Box visits (10.00) Feltham, Victoria, Three Bridges 1253 PS OPEN

Tue 10/5/16 LU Signal Cabin Visits (3) 10.00 Whitechapel - Upminster 1251 PS FULL

Sat 14/5/16 GWR Tracker IV railtour 10.25-15.29 A FEW PLACES LEFT 1252 JE OPEN

20-22/05/16 Island of Ireland Tracker 06.00 Friday to 20.00 Sunday 1250 KA FULL

Tue 31/5/16 Sutton Coldfield MES 18.30 Comprehensive visit 1254 KA OPEN

Fri 3-4/6/16 Scottish Minor Railways Aberdeenshire/Perthshire 1246 TV NOTIFY

Fri 10/6/16 Glasgow Tracker Full day on public services TBA TBA Claimed

Sat 11/6/16 Scottish Borders Narrow & standard gauge visits TBA TBA Claimed

Sun 12/6/16 Nottingham NET tour 09.00 Newly Extended Tracker II 1255 KA *OPEN*

Thur 23/6/16 Loco-hauled Trekker Bargain track/traction mini-tour TBA TBA Claimed

Fri 24/06/16 Guided railway walk *NEW* 10.30-13.00 Hitchin TBA BD Claimed

24-25/6/16 Tracker in London area, late Friday to early hours Saturday! TBA TBA Claimed

Sat 2/7/16 Turbo Prop Tracker 18.10-22.12 Manchester area 1255 KA *OPEN*

Sun 3/7/16 TPE Class 170 farewell 09.25-18.24 Manchester 1255 KA *NOW*
Thur 4/8/16 Tracker railtour Piccadilly to Cleethorpes *OPEN*

Spa Valley Railway No3 *13.30* Brakevan railtour TBA TBA Claimed

Mon 29/8/16 *NEW* SAVE THE DATE Loco hauled Bank Hol. Tracker TBA TBA Claimed
Fri 4-6/11/16 BLS 61st AGM weekend Southeast England /Kent TBA TBA Claimed

10-17/11/16 Jordan Hejaz Railway Provisional new date (enhanced) 1250 IS OPEN

BD, Bill Davis, IS-Iain Scotchman, JE-Jill Everitt, KA-Kev Adlam, PS-Paul Stewart, TV-Terry Velvick.

[BLN 1255]

ABOVE: 'Tornado' at speed (A1 Steam Locomotive Trust).
X.47] BLS Official Train Driver Sunglasses Offer: (BLN 1254.746) These are still available, as described
in BLN 1254 for a limited period only, all proceeds go to the 'Station to Station' appeal.

747] Sutton Coldfield MES (PRIVATE) Little Hay Railway. Tue 31 May 18.30: (BLN 1254.629) Some
additional sections of track are expected not covered on the previous (otherwise comprehensive)
KEG visit. The siding point that was not working has been repaired; the turntable is also included.

748] Branching out
into DVDs (LEFT) With
thanks to @Felixjaz
for their generosity.
Our first BLS DVD (90
minutes) 'Shildon, Weardale & the National Railway
Museum, 2011 & 2015'; with some footage of the
Society's 60th anniversary fixtures. Only £10 post
free, or order and collect/pay on our Bristol Tracker.
Cheques 'Branch Line Society', to our Sales Officer Dr
Mark Gomm, 84 Mornington Road, STOKE-ON-
TRENT, ST1 6EL. All proceeds to Railway Children.

749] Turbo Prop Tracker, Sat
2 July and TPE Class 170
Farewell, Sun 3 July: A
booking form is enclosed for
these Saturday evening and
all day Sunday charity railtours (with TPE Class 170
DMUs). E-BLN subscribers need to print it please.
There is a significant discount for participating on
both days and much rare track. The train is limited
just to a 2x2 car DMU so prompt booking is advised.

[BLN 1255]
750] The BLS Newly Extended Tracker II, Sun 12 Jun, 09.00: From Wilkinson Street (outbound), re-run
now open for additional bookings. The charter targets crossovers, loop, sidings and non-preferred
platforms on the NET network using one of the new 62 seat Citadis trams, and is expected to finish by
17.00. As the focus is on new infrastructure, it will not proceed beyond Bulwell or use the Phoenix Park
branch. Each non-passenger side of the Wilkinson Street triangle is anticipated in both directions, as is
the centre platform at 'The Forest' also in both directions. Depot and control room visits are included.
There are breaks at Toton Lane and Clifton South where toilets and catering facilities are available. All
proceeds will be donated to the teenage oncology (cancer treatment) unit at Queen's Medical Centre
Hospital, Nottingham. Fares £50 (members only) payee 'Branch Line Society' (cheque or CPA) to Kev
Adlam per back page. The tour is expected to sell out quickly. Tickets are valid all day for public
services. If you expressed an interest in this 'repeat' and can attend please now forward your payment.
BELOW: The three platforms at Clifton South, NET. 'A' straight ahead is the preferred platform, with
'B' to the left rarer. Platform 'C', on which the photographer is standing, is effectively a continuation of
'A' with a break/dip between them to cross the tracks. It is used if necessary at times of disruption, a
challenge to platform collectors. Toton Lane terminus has a similar layout. (Stuart Hicks 9 Jan 2016.)

751] Unusual Track: Expected but not guaranteed, should be re-checked etc.
 West Ealing bay P5: From 16 May, (all SSuX) 07.13, 07.43, 16.46, 17.45, 18.16 & 19.15 from
Greenford and 07.28, 08.28, 17.30, 19.00, 19.30 & 20.17 from West Ealing to Greenford.
 Hayes & Harlington bay P5: From 16 May, (all SSuX) 06.57, 07.15, 18.48 & 19.15 ex-Paddington
and 07.18, 07.48, 19.24 & 19.54 from Hayes & Harlington; Class 387 EMUs are anticipated.
 Norton Bridge, Yarnfield Jn - Norton Bridge (reversible single track) East Chord: From 31 May,
LM trains between Stone and Stafford, southbound only, usually booked via Stafford P1.
 Larkfield Jn - Muirhouse South Jn: SuO 31 Jul-21 Aug, Glasgow - East Kilbride/Kilmarnock trains
reverse on the Down Clydesdale at Polmadie. Up trains X/O at 100m 47ch from Up Fast to Up &
Down Clydesdale. Down trains X/O at 100m 34ch from Up & Down Clydesdale to Down Fast.
 Castlerock Loop (Belfast - Londonderry): Left hand unidirectional running, both sides are in
regular use but expected to close 3 Nov 2016 to be replaced by the new loop at Bellarena.

BLN 1255.752] FIXTURES REPORTS: Newly Extended Tracker, Sun 6 Dec 2015: (see marked map) In
summer 2015 Nottingham Express Transit (NET) held a public meeting to give presentations, meet
their personnel, and answer questions about the two southern tramway extensions prior to them
opening. Our local member Brian Lee attended and was fortunate to meet Mike Mabey, the Head of
Operations and re-establish a rapport. Naturally, Brian enquired about the possibility of a special tram
for the Society and received a very positive response. Phone discussions followed and Brian explained
that we would like to travel over the rare sections of track, crossovers loops and round the Depot etc.
Mike could see no problem that could not be overcome.

The next step, after the two extensions had opened, was a meeting at the NET Depot attended by
Brian, Kev Adlam, and Martyn Brailsford on behalf of the Society. The requested track was all agreed
and Sunday 6 Dec 2015 was set because it was a quiet month on the Society calendar. All proceeds
would go to Nottingham Queen's Medical Centre (QMC) Hospital Teenage Cancer Trust. After the
meeting, Kev said that it was one of the most enjoyable tours to arrange he had been involved in.

On the morning of the tour, the stewards met the crew at the Depot including Daniel (the youngest
tram driver in the UK on qualification) and Jane, our drivers for the day and Dave Clark NET Trainer and
Safety Officer (a long-standing local BLS member) who was in charge. They boarded Citadis Tram 236
and collected the participants (a total of 64) at Wilkinson Street Northbound stop. Departing at 09.00,
the first rare track was the crossover west of the platforms then the tram ran through the Southbound
platform and into the enlarged Wilkinson Street Depot (No5 Road), followed by the Depot Loop Line,
and No16 Road (the most westerly) to exit via the south side of the triangle (Road 5). The tour ran
southbound via 'The Forest' Centre Road and over Nottingham Station (when many were then on
new track) to turn left for the Clifton South branch. This crosses the River Trent by the upgraded 1870
'Wilford Toll Bridge' or 'Halfpenny Bridge' (no prizes for guessing the original toll), originally built to
carry coal from Clifton Colliery. Next a sharp 90 degree left turn, cutting though the ex-Great Central
Railway (GCR) main line embankment then a similar right turn to run alongside it. The GCR drops down
and the tramway joins its route to the Clifton Estate where it veers left; the tramway turns sharp right.

A nifty reversal at Wilford Lane and back to Queens Walk for another efficient reversal covered the
trailing crossovers at each, setting the tone and high standard for the day. It was not possible to run
into the engineers' compound (siding) at Wilford Lane as there was no safety case for this and no tram
driver had been trained on it. To follow was the facing connection into Clifton Centre turnback
siding between the two running lines south of the island platform. Here a handset was used to change
the part time traffic lights on departure. After 'turning back', the connection was taken north back
through Clifton Centre to reverse beyond Southchurch Drive North for the crossover there. Then it
was straight through to Clifton South terminus, non-preferred P1 (left side on approach and relatively
difficult to do in service). By special arrangement, refreshments were on sale here (not normally
available at weekends). There was time for a comfort break, photos, and a look round this 'Greenfield'
Park & Ride with over 1,000 spaces. It is close to the M1 Jn 24 just off the A453 and only 20 minutes
from Nottingham station by tram. NET has over 5,000 free parking spaces in total on seven sites.

Our tram returned to Nottingham Station, reversing onto Station Street trailing scissors crossover,
once commonly used by trams in passenger service but very rare since the extensions opened. The
normal passenger route was taken to Beeston Centre where the most peculiar middle 'long crossover'
(which should be the 'very long crossover') was taken actually on a sharp right curve into the
northbound platform. It is unidirectional for turning back, so we did, running north through University
Loop (which holds ECS for special events etc) to reverse north of the staggered platforms at NG2 for
the crossover. Then it was off to Bramcote Lane to reverse over that crossover followed by a further
change of direction north of University Boulevard for yet another crossover. Intermediate crossovers
crossed over, it was off to the other new 'Greenfield' terminus of 'Toton Lane' (non-preferred south
platform). Running time to Nottingham station 28 minutes, it has free parking for over 1,400 vehicles
near M1 Jn 25 off the A52. The trailing crossover and a reversal allowed access to the other (north) P1.

753] BLS Newly Extended Tracker: 6 Dec 2015, marked up railtour map thanks to Martyn Brailsford.

[BLN 1255]

ABOVE: Toton Lane, on 9 January; 213 is left (Platform 'A') and 233 is in the 'rarer' platform 'B'. (Stuart Hicks)
Restarting from Toton Lane, there was a stop for a group photo at Queen's Medical Centre, then off
again to Wilkinson Street Depot, this time Road No8 and No4 Shed Road. Despite the best efforts of
the NET staff, our tour could not run through the Centre Platform at 'The Forest' Northbound, due to a
build up of leaves and debris in the track at its southern entrance. A break was taken at the Depot for
guided tours of the workshop and control room. Running afterwards to Wilkinson Street meant that
both tracks on both Depot curves had been covered by the tour.
There was more to come, a run
to Bulwell to reverse in the
Northbound platform gave the
new crossover south of the
island platform, not shown on
TRACKmaps Vol.4 p6D (Aug
2013). The NET staff then kindly
agreed to Kev's suggestion of
running into The Forest Centre
Road from the north (giving
overlap with the 5 Jun 2005 BLS
NET tour that had run in from
the south). After returning to
Wilkinson Street the tour
terminated, after over eight
hours, at 17.05. Then NET Control kindly arranged for the next four trams to use Phoenix Park non-
preferred platform (right side on arrival) which most participants took advantage of. Our tickets also
allowed unlimited NET travel for the day. Tour details will soon be on 'Six Bells Junction' website from
Alan Sheppard. Thanks also to our Society Cartographer Martyn Brailsford for the marked up map.

[BLN 1255]
Grateful thanks to all at NET for a superbly planned and efficiently executed comprehensive and most
enjoyable railtour. Particular thanks to Mike Mabey and Tramlink for allowing it; our very enthusiastic
and energetic crew, not forgetting the duty controllers who still had to maintain normal public service
as well as entertain us! As a postscript, members Brian Lee (fourth from the left) and Treasurer, Ian
Mortimer (third from the left), represented the Society for a ceremonial cheque presentation at QMC
tram stop on 2 March (ABOVE). £3,408.50 was raised by fares, the raffle and donations on the tour
and NET donated the same amount. Representatives of the QMC Hospital Teenage Cancer Trust were
very interested in BLS activities, which were explained! See for more details.

ABOVE: Northern Tracker 09.05 at Manchester Piccadilly P3 on Sun 6 Mar. Did the two on the far right
realise they were in the shot? It is not clear if Jim Sellens (right) is congratulating Mike McCabe (left)
on becoming the new BLN Regional Scotland Editor or if Mike is congratulating Jim on the quality of
the tickets he kindly produces for all our fixtures! (Geoff Plumb; who never seems to be in the picture.)
754] Mothers Day Delight!, Sun 6 Mar by Neil Lewis: With everything packed the night before,
including the pre-arranged Mother's day cards and flowers, it was just the (not so) simple matter of
waking up the older child, Ruby (age 10), for the car journey across the snowy Pennines for the eagerly
awaited Northern Tracker charity railtour. Climbing out of Chesterfield it was obvious that the journey
was going to be interesting due to ice on the road. Indeed, on the approach to Baslow, the sight of two
cars precariously positioned on the road confirmed how slippery the cross-peak road was. After a
thankfully uneventful journey, we parked at Stockport to board the 08.24 Northern service from bay
P3a for the short journey to Manchester Piccadilly. After the customary visit to Greggs just outside the
station for tea and bacon butties (food plays a BIG part in a trip with the Lewis family), we made our
way over to the lesser used P12. However, due to over running track possession, our train, formed of

[BLN 1255]

ABOVE: Happy passengers - Kev Adlam.
142001 and 142004 for the day, was routed into P3. Not a problem for me, as I scored my last bit of
track in the station area, the crossover from the Down Fast to Up Fast just after 0m 39ch! With 142001
leading, the tour continued on the Up Fast to Stockport and duly traversed the crossover into bay P3a
(again!) for a leg stretch before the move in to the much sought-after carriage sidings. The well-
presented Pacers, with 142004 now leading out of the bay, crossed over for a reversal on the Down
Slow on Stockport Viaduct to run into carriage siding No4 road (see three-dimensional picture in e-BLN
1253.559) almost to the end of line. After yet more food for Ruby's never-ending appetite, the Pacers
took the Down Fast via the little used
crossover at 183m 17ch and across to the
Heaton Norris line. I gazed longingly at the Up
Goods Loop, which has escaped me on the last
couple of tours booked to do this illusive bit of
track. [Steam specials taking water here are a
good bet - Ed.] After dropping off a member of
the 'Friends of Reddish South and Denton
Stations' at Reddish South (of one train a week
fame, 09.27 FO) and picking up a late arriving
passenger, the train reversed at Guide Bridge
P1 back on to the Down Main to Ashburys and
the Ardwick Branch.
RIGHT: Faye Jacques, from RBF, was on board
the tour to assist, colleague Emma Cooper was
in the other unit. Geoff Plumb.

[BLN 1255]
LEFT: Our Fixtures Secretary looking extremely
pleased with himself; perhaps he found a station
buffet at Reddish South during the very brief
stop there? (Geoff Plumb). However, it was not
his first visit to this rare station as this previous
'selfie' (BELOW) shows. (Anon)

BELOW: 11.20 at Newton Heath Depot, the end of headshunt, taken by a member of train crew. (Geoff Plumb)

It trundled along the Up Ashburys line and really squealing around Brewery Curve, as only Pacers can,
the 1980s built DMU crossed over at Thorpes Bridge Jn to take in the No2 Intake line through the
carriage-wash at Newton Heath Depot to the very end of the depot headshunt, watched by a number
of (bemused?) staff. It was then the No18 South Avoider on the east side, passing the Holding Sidings
to parallel the reversible 'Dean Goods' and exit at Thorpes Bridge Jn, taking the Up Passenger Loop
and its direct connection to Brewery Curve. The tour then tracked east across Manchester to
Stalybridge (P3) via Ashburys and Guide Bridge.

ABOVE: Passing Greenfield in the morning; the special white Pennine ballast is legendary (Russ Clarke).
Ruby acquired a 'Northern Tracker' mug to add to her growing collection of themed 'porcelain', much
to her mother's chagrin. While crossing the Pennines, she also took up position in the rear cab of
142004 until Huddersfield P4 (there are some advantages to being 10 years old!). Here there was a
stop to pick up the essential catering supplies, particularly hot water to supplement the dwindling
flasks. The route from Huddersfield to Wakefield was via the Down Huddersfield, Down Fast and the
crossover to reach the Down Lancashire & Yorkshire. However, as we were reminiscing about the
derelict Healey Mills Yard, Kev gave us some 'bad news'; that due to a 'signalling problem' we had to
take Line 'P' at 'C' Jn (42m 70ch), which passed the remains of the now filled in inspection pits.
Thankfully, and almost as if by magic, a Freightliner driver was on board to conduct us along this
delightful piece of rare track, sadly now the final through line at this once enormous marshalling yard.
The tour continued past Horbury Jn via the Down Slow, and Wakefield Kirkgate Through Road, the
Down L&Y and the Down Midland progressing nicely towards Leeds Holbeck. Another announcement
from Kev! This time, a 'wrong' routing along Stourton Arrival/Departure Line. From here could be
seen the very overgrown, but still intact, connection to the Middleton Railway. Soon it was on to the

next highlight, Holbeck Depot, taking the line (10 middle) between the Stoneblower and Fuelling lines
to reach the final point. After a quick turn-around, the Whitehall Spur was taken, then the crossover at
185m 13ch to reverse on Copley Hill Chord. Our tour then took Line 'E', crossing to Line 'D' just
beyond 185m 50ch in to a busy Leeds P11b. The Northern Tracker used the scissors to the Through
Road, then the reversible Up Hull Main to the Down Hull Main and veered left at Marsh Lane Jn to
the Down Goods Loop. It was then on to Neville Hill Depot via the Departure/Arrival Road, DMU
Arrival, No2 Road and actually THROUGH the DMU Fuel Shed. Making our way through the depot
(with all four EMT Gronks - that is Class 08s to some - on shed) via both carriage-washers, the train
stopped on 2 CET (Controlled Emission Tank Servicing) Road, where the toilet tanks are emptied. Not
by chance, 1 CET road had been used by the PLEG/BLS Class 08 internal charity trips on 13 July 2013.

ABOVE: Line 6 - 1 at Neville Hill T&RSMD at 15.04. The outward trip ran as 2Z97 and returned from
here as 2Z98, booked to depart at 15.25. Photo taken by a member of train crew. (Geoff Plumb)

After a bit of debate about which road we took back out of the depot, the Pacers returned west via
Departure Siding No6, the Local Line and the Up Hull Main, using the Through Road and the crossover
to Leeds P11a for a welcome leg stretch and a break for participants to re-fuel. Having eaten through
our supplies (enough for a large family sized picnic), Ruby and I restocked, ready for the return to
Piccadilly albeit with plenty more track interest to come and of course the raffle! It's worth pointing
out (to anyone who 'never wins') that despite Ruby and my son Archie being official raffle ticket
'drawers' on BLS Tours, I have never won a prize. However, there were some great unique prizes up for
grabs and an auction raising a substantial amount for Northern's charity, the Railway Beneft Fund.
After the break, it was the Through Road again to Neville Hill Up Sidings taking in the ladder after the
Down Goods Loop from the Down Hull Main to Up Hull Goods to the Up Arrival Goods No1, coming to
a stand just shy of the points with No2 road. The tour returned to Leeds covering the Up Hull Goods to
Marsh Lane Jn, through P12, Line 'D' and on to the Down Bradford. Our Tracker later passed the very
rusty looking Hammerton Street Loop (confirmed as OOU by NR), and then veered right on to the
Bradford Interchange Stabling Siding, the easternmost line. During our booked stop here, Ruby, made
an announcement on the public address. After the break, it was over the first crossover from the
siding, then immediately back on to the Up line using the first facing crossover.



Manchester Piccadilly P3 Stockport P3A ...142001… ..5m 65ch..

Stockport Plat 3A Stockport Viaduct, Down Slow 142004 0m 18ch
Stockport Carriage Siding No4 142001 0m 24ch
Stockport Viaduct, Down Slow 142004 5m 52ch
Stockport Carriage Siding No4 Guide Bridge

Guide Bridge Newton Heath TMD, Moston H/S 142001 7m 02ch

Newton Heath TMD, Moston H/S Huddersfield P4 142004 55m 01ch

Huddersfield P4 Holbeck Sidings, 10 Middle 142004 27m 46ch

Holbeck Sidings, 10 Middle Holbeck Depot Jn, Down Midland 142001 0m 42ch

Holbeck Depot Jn, Down Midland Copley Hill Chord 142004 1m 22ch

Copley Hill Chord Neville Hill TRSMD, CET 2 Siding 142001 3m 44ch

Neville Hill TRSMD, CET 2 Siding Leeds Plat 11B 142004 2m 49ch
2m 17ch
Leeds P11B Neville Hill Up Arrival No1 142001 11m 49ch
Neville Hill Up Arrival No1
Bradford Interchange Stabling Siding.. 142004

Bradford Interchange Stabling Siding.. Halifax Reversing Siding 142001 8m 17ch

Halifax Reversing Siding Halifax P2 142004 0m 13ch

Halifax P2 Huddersfield P1 142001 10m 53ch

Huddersfield P1 Manchester Piccadilly Plat 3 142001 36m 03ch

After a short run to Halifax, during which we used our time fruitfully, spotting a Fruit Pastilles road
tanker at the Nestles factory, which Ruby and I drooled over, imagining giant sized sweets; the tour
took the facing crossover in to the Reversing Siding. Unsurprisingly the DMUs reversed and ran on to
the Down Main to reverse again at Halifax P2; the trailing crossover returned it to the Up Main. Now
in the dark, our Northern Tracker headed back to the bright lights of Manchester taking in the Up
Branch, Down L&Y and the Up and Down Bradley Branch. At Huddersfield P1 some participants
alighted. BELOW: After reversing in the reversing siding, the train is about to re-reverse. (Geoff Plumb)

As booked, the tour took Marsden Up
Passenger Loop, and ran west via Guide
Bridge, Ashburys and Ardwick, to Piccadilly
P3 where we had started 10 hours
previously. There followed, for us, a short
trip back to Stockport P1 and the car to the
delights of Chesterfield. An excellent and
very enjoyable day was had, which raised a
fantastic £12,048.85 for RBF. Many thanks,
of course, to Northern, Freightliner, NR, and
not forgetting Kev and his team! The
Mileage table was kindly produced by
member Jim Sellens (total 279m 37ch). The
tour at Leeds.

LEFT: 17.00 at Bradford Interchange Stabling
Siding, alongside the large retaining wall,
the platform lines over to the left. Taken by
a member of the train crew. (Geoff Plumb)

Postscript (he certainly gets out and about a bit doesn't he?).

755] Pontypool & Blaenavon Director 19 Mar: This joint railtour with KEG began as a simple query,
'when do you run to Coed Avon?', sent to the P&B last year just after news filtered though of opening
(11 Sep 2015) of the ¾-mile extension south. Then the casual supplementary, 'who is in charge of
charters on the P&B?' which was replied to within minutes! Dialogue began with Alex at the P&B and
perhaps, as is typical in these digital days, a text and email exchange followed over the months
without speaking until a week before the event, when everything had already been arranged!

Beginning with a plan to run to Coed Avon and other extremities, various track orientated targets such
as the over bridge route towards Big Pit were gradually added. Similarly, starting with one Directors'
Saloon for 30, the second saloon was soon added as numbers approached 60 and Alex suggested a
brake van too as nearly 70 was reached. This resulted in a unique train here, and possibly anywhere, of
a GER Directors' Saloon with a GWR Inspection Saloon and BR (SR) Shark. Despite appearances the
latter was actually the most comfortable option with its working stove! Similarly, refreshments began
with tea and coffee and ended up as a set meal of soup, sandwiches, cake, and tea or coffee. This gave
Furnace Sidings station buffet a thorough pre-season run; it was certainly very efficient and friendly.

This tour was slotted in between (significant) winter track works and Easter, the start of operation for
'normals', the weekend after. This resulted in many 'firsts' and much rust removal; most of the railway
had not seen a vehicle turn a wheel for several months. On a dry but chilly morning, 68 BLS members
and two locals who came along to see what was going on and decided (when your organiser described
what was about to happen) to join the trip themselves, piled on board the train. Motive power was
Hudswell Clarke D1344, a 1965 built 0-4-0DH with a 255hp Cummins NHS6 engine from Shirebrook
Colliery. It was saved from the cutter's torch on at least one occasion with only days to spare! The
other loco, 1960 Hunslet Engine Co, Leeds built 5511 is an 0-6-0DM. It is something of a transition in
their evolution, the first mid-cabbed design with the longer bonnet being counter intuitively 'No2 end'.

5511 was put into gear, actually its only gear and the tour set off 'top and tail' up/Up (in both senses of
the word) to Whistle Inn. The pace was such that some furious hand gestures and radio calls soon had
1344 assisting from the rear, and not for the last time on the day. Some PW trolleys were passed
under test on the line, which has a conveniently stiff gradient that match NR test criteria. They are
from a local engineering firm who use the line many times a year for testing and training when there

are no passengers about, a good source of income. The train kissed the buffers beyond the platform at
the summit (1,305ft) of the line and set back to the platform for photos. Then there was a ceremonial
cheque presentation to the P&B in front of the station name board, which was a bit of a stretch and
surely tested the physical if not financial integrity of the cheque! Back down the gradient 1344 drew
the train into the loop (right) at Furnace Sidings pausing to refill the radiator. Some coolant had boiled
off earlier, with a steamy shroud that would have put any of the line's real steam locos to shame.

ABOVE: At 1,305ft above sea level Alex from the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway whistles as Simon
Mortimer, the event organiser, hands him a cheque for £1,235. For the few of you who do not know,
Simon is the one on the left. (Kev Adlam. All pictures by Simon Mortimer unless specified otherwise).
The tour visited Big Pit, gently compressing the loco's buffers against the end of line stops before
dropping back a little for more photos and another posed headboard moment. The headboard spent
most of the trip attached to the GER Saloon as neither loco has a bracket. As we descended from Big
Pit, attention and discussion in the cab focused on the stock blocking the over bridge route and what
could be moved for later on. The train reversed, requiring two staff to 'bar' the points across and much
oil (these being the only points now without a ground frame), over the very rarely used bottom end of
the loop, back onto the main line which had been re-commissioned just a week before. This was
beyond a section of track only re-laid a fortnight earlier with significant layout alterations. Our tour
was the first train over these reinstated sections that are so rarely used that even the driver who had
been visiting the railway since he was a boy said that this was his first traversal! Down the hill we
positively bowled along, probably occasionally reaching double digits before slowing for our fixer and
'Mobile Operations Manager' Alex to descend and use the newly installed ground frames.
BELOW Our most unusual train at Big Pit, end of line. Behind the rear engine, to the right of the yellow
'15' speed restriction sign is the Thomas Ness Tar wagon referred to later in the report (Philip
Cartwright). The loco is in disguise; apparently, it had actually worked in the NCB Staffordshire area!


The railtour was the first train to use the new run-round loop at Blaenavon High Level; a redundant
suffix as the GWR Low Level is now under a block of flats! Leaving BHL some were on new metals, the
¾-mile south extension to Coed Avon. Conveniently, the original line was built for double track but
never had more than one north of Abersychan & Talywain until now; there is a railway track and an
adjacent cycle track! Approaching the 'Stop Board' Alex announced the tour had dispensation to pass it
and kiss the stops before a photo stop at 13.44. A large group assembled at the southern head of steel

and photographed and in turn were
photographed, with the train. The
railway and local council plan to
extend further south, moving the
cycle way to one side, as was done
from Blaenavon HL to here.
LEFT: The tour at the south end of
Blaenavon High Level station leaving
the new loop, to run onto the new
extension. Note the degree of rust on
the tracks, and that the Varteg Road
underbridge ahead has been replaced
for the reinstatement of passenger
services. Originally built for double
track (which was never installed) the
right hand bridge is now used by the
'Pontypool Blaenavon Cycle Track'
which is part of Sustrans Route 492.

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PREVIOUS PAGE UPPER: The south end of Furnace Sidings Loop looking south. The branch up the
incline (right) is to Big Pit and the single line in the middle is to Blaeanavon HL and Coed Avon. Left are
the recently lifted low level sidings where a new carriage shed is to be built; their direct connection to
the running line is (temporarily) severed. The associated connection to the track the tour is on (behind
photographer) was plain lined permanently over winter. Fresh ballast can be seen on other pictures.

PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: The new south end of line, beyond the stop board, at Coed Avon.

It was now uphill all the way to Furnace Sidings, initially an easy grade to BHL for a platformed stop to
visit the museum in the station building. The local railway expert and curator had kindly opened
especially for us, just like everything else! Many scenes from what now seem like another planet were
viewed. The scale and complexity of the railway network, which at its zenith was quite bewildering,
were perused and discussed. It principally carried coal to Cardiff and the world and served some local
ironworks. Now the big haul up the bank including a 1:28 was in prospect and 5511 in the lead took
our 80 tons with perhaps 5 tons of passengers out of BHL. It steadily hauled the tour up the bank; on
the stiffest part of the gradient the train was barely moving but it was confirmed in the cab that this
was maximum speed! 1344 assisted, the tour grinding into Furnace Sidings two hours after leaving.

Then it was 'cut!' as a director would say. Lunch ensued, a queue of keen diners forming out of the
doors as the cold had sharpened their appetites and, not least, that of the crews who had spent much
of the time throwing points and other manual tasks. They did not linger, as the buffet worked through
the queue, returning to detach the saloons and leave the brakevan on 1344. Meanwhile Class 31

D5627 fired up clearing the wagons from the main
yard road (bonus 'cabage' and yardage for some!).

Back at the station, the first party crammed onto
the Shark sharply; it must have had at least 30 on
board. The tour set off through the yard past the
original NCB shed and the distinctive landmark
concrete water tower of the former colliery
washery. Then to the recently rebuilt overbridge
(since our 20 May 2012 visit) to a 25-ton axle load.
Crossing the line to Blaenavon was the highlight of
the day for many; rust was audibly ripped from
the rails as the train docked with a 1939-
manufactured tar wagon from Thomas, Ness
Caerphilly tar works. It looked as though it had
spent most of its subsequent life rooted to this
spot! Most of the lower level sidings here had
been recently lifted (and their direct running line
connection severed) ready to build an extensive
carriage shed, funded by a legacy.

ABOVE: A wheelset on the train showing rust on the wheel tread picked up from the rail during the
rust scraping exercise to the end of the line at Blaenavon High Level (Geoff Noakes).

Returning to Furnace Sidings, a swap was made for another crush load and the initial party chosen in
part for their intention to continue to Newport MES bade a grateful farewell to our hosts who
reciprocated their enjoyment of the day and asked us back, perhaps when they had extended again.
They also volunteered to clear out the whole yard! For many pictures see site.
The second trip repeated the run over the bridge with bonus track in the brakevan and the cab of the
31 shunting the stock for those not needing to make a sharp exit. A future chance to return will
certainly be kept in mind! For those unable to make this tour, the P&B's new extension is now in

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regular use by service trains (BLN 1246.2180). They generally run south through Blaenavon HL non-
stop, reverse at Coed Avon (non-alighting) and call at Blaenavon HL on their return. Thanks to BLS and
KEG member Simon Mortimer for all the splendid arrangements, a very interesting and enjoyable visit. has 54 pictures of the fixture and further information.

ABOVE, TOP LEFT: Coed Avon, the new end of line, the tour is about to pass the 'Stop Board' non-stop.
TOP RIGHT: The afternoon brakevan trip; Furnace Sidings HL Yard through line and the loco shed.
BOTTOM LEFT: Then crossing over the line to Blaenavon HL (paradoxically at the lower level off left).
The Thomas Ness tar wagon from Caerphilly Works can be seen ahead, just to its right can be made
out the passenger running line to Big Pit (the lines not connected). BOTTOM RIGHT: Looking back from
the bridge in the other direction to HL Yard. The lifted (for new carriage shed) Low Level Yard ran from
where the man in a high viz vest is standing, down behind the fence to join the running line distant
left. (Furnace Sidings loop top left; the station is round the corner.) Looking north towards Whistle Inn.
756] City of Newport Model Engineering Society, 19 Mar 2016: 24 participants from the P&B made
the 30-minute journey to the 'Glebelands Miniature Railway', where they were joined by another
three who had travelled especially from Eastbourne, Gillingham (Kent) and Reading. It is not the sort of
place that anyone would stumble across by accident (or find without detailed directions). Glebelands
Park is in a loop of the River Usk with the M4 cutting it off along the south; the Newport to Hereford
railway is to the east. It was surprising how many trains passed during the mid/late afternoon visit and
your reporter was not alone in never having noticed the miniature from a passing 'big' train before. A
range of motive power and trains were available for participants to ride. Even steam was running on
the elevated 3½"/5" circuit. Some fast runs were made around the well laid ground level 7½" gauge
outer circuit, and more gingerly over the inner cut off circuit in the southwest corner.

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ABOVE: Some of the participants at the rare platform. (Steve King).
Rare track was available in the form of the connection to the 'other' ground level station platform line
and, something which no one present had done before, was setting back up the incline to the elevated
steaming bays (or should that be raised steam-ing bays?). These trips reached the end of the
embankment, beyond which it was literally 'light engines only' (as in no driver even). The new bays
themselves were connected by a rather broad-gauge traverser worked by a hand crank and chain.
Participants could have as many rides as they wished before making for the clubhouse for the
promised 'light refreshments'. These turned out to be a positive banquet, and easily enough to feed
twice as many. Fortunately, there was a good turnout of club members for our private running to
assist! Participants socialised and learnt about the well developed plans for railway expansion here
(now 2,000ft) and took in the interesting projected visual display. A very friendly and accommodating
railway; the perfect accompaniment to the P&B trip. Running days: usually (check first) first Saturday
in the month subject to weather. BELOW: The outer loop, passing a narrow gauge wagon (Kev Adlam).

757] The Tramway Village Tracker, Thur 31 Mar: (MR p32) The National Tramway Museum Tramway
Village near Crich in Derbyshire has standard gauge track and full sized restored trams. 41 members
travelled from (as usual) far and wide for 09.00. Amanda from the Tramway escorted and stayed with
the group to make sure the visit went smoothly. At 09.30 participants boarded tram No180 of Leeds
City Transport (1931), on Depot Road No8. This was duly traversed, followed by the connection onto
the northbound main running line. After reversal (including reversing the reversible seats - that is not
tautology; some were irreversible!) it crossed over and reached the Town End Terminus, as far as the
overhead allowed. Re-reversing (participants became used to seat reversing!) it took the Town End
crossover, to the northbound line opposite the Red Lion, which pub some would 'red line' later

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ABOVE LEFT: 'Sheffield's Last Tram', 510 'Roberts Car' built 1950 and withdrawn in 1960! Some familiar
BLS faces await departure! RIGHT: Tram 180 built in 1931 for Leeds, known as 'Showboat Cars' due to
the high levels of lighting! Seen here after leaving the depot with the BLS party and some members of
the public for a 'normal' run. BELOW: View backwards from the top deck of 510 leaving Crich tram
depot. The normal public running line is far left, the other side of the railings. (All Simon Mortimer)

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Members de-trammed and returned to the depot area, where Sheffield Transport 510 (1950) was
waiting in the bright morning sunshine on Road 7. This was duly traversed, repeating the previous
manœuvre back to the Red Lion. London County Council Tramways 1622 (1912) was the third and final
tram, from Depot Road 10. All of the trams seen and travelled on were immaculate and beautifully
restored. One member was especially pleased to travel on 1622, remembering the type in service in
London as a boy and having seen 1622 some years before when it was stored in two halves! After
covering Road 10, the other line at Town End Terminus, known as 'the (access) siding', was traversed,
kindly arranged by special request, to the 'end of wire' with further reversals and seat shuffling.
Although appearing to be a terminal stop it is not used as such now (Picture BELOW). The moves were
a great effort by the tram crews and operations team, as they had to finish for normal running (3-tram
service) at 10.30 and the public were arriving. Participants did not feel rushed either. The conductors,
drivers and depot staff were all in immaculate period uniforms, very friendly, helpful and professional.

With the 'rare track' complete, participants could explore the Tramway Village and enjoy unlimited all
day service tram rides. The excellent museum was explored and some attended a guided museum and
depot tour, a regular feature at Crich. The first service tram was full, unsurprisingly, and most of the
group covered the line to Glory Mine and back. At that terminus the driver indulged us by running as
far up the head shunt as possible, leaving his cab several times to check that the pole was not about to
detach! On the way a memorial to The Sherwood Foresters Regiment was seen, high on the hill above,
a clue to our next destination later in the day. Our warm thanks go to Amanda and all of the Crich
team who went out of their way to make us so welcome and our visit so successful and enjoyable.
758] Sherwood Forest Forager, 31 Mar: (MR p22) The Sherwood Forest Railway is Nottinghamshire's
only public narrow gauge (15") railway. Established by David Colley and his family in 1999 it has been
altered and extended several times since. Following our Crich fixture, 35 members visited for special
'all tracks' tours. On arrival, a generous buffet lunch was provided and gratefully received. Three
groups each travelled on a single coach special train hauled by 0-4-0 saddle tank steam loco 'Pet' (built
K Hardy 1998), driven by David's son Bob. As rehearsed the day before, each group started on one of
the two shed roads (the southern extremity of the line) before covering one side of Loxley station
loop, either side of the low wood decked platform.

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ABOVE: Propelling along the recently completed carriage shed branch. The junction is by the 'tunnel'
on the main running line in the background (John Cameron)

The line descends at 1:64 to the valley floor, through a tunnel constructed from rope containers. These
came from the nearby former Clipstone Colliery whose distinctive Grade II listed headstocks still poke
up through Sherwood Forest's trees. The railway runs through an area of former flood dykes, which
were water meadows built in the 19th century and drained in the 1950s. The resultant lush and verdant
landscape was at its best in the bright sunshine that the group enjoyed. At the other terminus,
Weldale, reached by a sharp left curve, both sides of its loop were traversed, via the headshunt. Two
old and immovable (indeed they were!) coaches prevented the buffers being reached, but the
coaches' buffers were certainly reached!
On the return journey, a detour was made along the lengthy and recently opened carriage shed branch
to the doors. Back at Loxley the 'other' side of the loop was used to terminate on the 'other' shed road
where the next group started from. While each group was enjoying their rare track run, the rest were
kept happy riding on the ECS moves that had to take place at Loxley to allow the special to use the
other side of the loop on its return. A 4-wheel battery electric loco 'Anne' (built K Hardy 1993) also
provided haulage. Other diversions included a zip wire which was bagged, to the end of wire of course,
by some participants as well as the children (is this called zippage?), and a look round both sheds at
the locos and stock. Tea, coffee and cakes supplied by Colleen Colley were much appreciated.
All the trips were very efficiently completed, even though normal service train runs were also fitted in.
Their passengers looked rather bemused watching our members traversing shed roads and loops!
David later ran the 4-wheel Diesel Hydraulic Lister replica loco 'Lottie' (built Colleys of Sherwood) on a
loaded full line run. The little loco performed very well even on the steep gradient back up to Loxley.

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LEFT: The Lister, Loxley's island wooden platform
is to the left, behind is the railway's southern
extremity, the two loco shed lines. (Kev Adlam)

When most had left, our two youngest
participants, Archie and Ruby Lewis, were trained
to drive the battery electric loco. Both were
naturals and can now look forward to future
careers driving trains and BLS railtours. Archie also
managed the scratch of the day, driving 'Anne' into
her battery charging dock inside the shed; the
rarest section of track on the railway! Quite an
achievement for a seven year old. The Colley
family made us very welcome and a thoroughly
enjoyable day was had by all. The Sherwood Forest
Railway opens 11.00-16.30
(last train) to the end of November, fare £2.
Special thanks to Derby Member, John Cameron
for this excellent visit and that to Crich earlier.

[BLN 1255]
ABOVE: A recent picture of Shrewsbury's fine Grade II listed 1848 station building floodlit (Kev Adlam).
759] Shrewsbury Area Signal Box Visits, 9 Apr: 13 participants met on Shrewsbury P3 at 10.00 to be
greeted by Phil, the Local Operations Manager and two Mobile Operations Managers, Kev and John.
Shrewsbury is a fascinating area, most of its railways have survived and it was a junction between
LNW, GW (and even the Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light*) Railways. The area has changed
between 'Western' and 'London Midland' control over the years. There is still a variety of upper and
lower quadrant signals and the different Company's signal boxes. It is a Mecca for signal boxes; five
within a one-mile radius with the biggest collection of semaphores on NR. (*Former North Wales Jn.)
Participants were told the true story of the Shrewsbury P4 Wolverhampton-end bracket signal arms
being changed from GWR pattern lower quadrant to standard BR upper quadrant. There was a local
outcry but then it was then discovered that, due to the station canopy, the position of the arms could
not be seen by station staff or train crew! Higher and lower signal posts were tried, but to no avail.
There was even talk of cutting back the canopy but, as the station is listed another solution was
required. In the end, 'OFF' indicators were provided and the upper quadrant arms remained.

ABOVE: Abbey Foregate Signal Box, the former large locking room glass windows were bricked up
during WWII. (All photos Keith Flinders, 9 Apr 2016.) BELOW: Note the six lines heading west (left).

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Abbey Foregate signal box (ABOVE) is a 1914 built GWR brick to roof, hipped roof design, although the
windows have been replaced by uPVC plain doubled glazed units. The 93-lever frame is original GWR
with a number of white (spare) levers and spaces. It works Absolute Block to Severn Bridge Junction,
towards Shrewsbury station and also over the Loop line (the station avoiding curve, now with only
one booked train a week in one direction.). There are actually three double line block instruments:

(1): No1 block instrument for No1 Up Main/Down Main line**.
(2): No2 block instrument for No2 Up Main/Down Bay lines**.
(3): 'Hereford' block instrument for the Loop line to English Bridge Jn.
**Thus there are effectively four running tracks between Abbey Foregate Jn and Shrewsbury station.
Towards Wolverhampton the lines are worked by Track Circuit Block to (since November 2012) the
West Midlands Signalling Centre, Saltley. Train description on this line is by computer and VDU.
Although there is no signal slotting or acceptance as such, Abbey Foregate's No1 Up Main Home (from
P7) semaphore signal (No3) is released by Severn Bridge signal box clearing their No13 signal (a release/
interlocking lever), effectively the starter signal for the No1 Up Main line. If Abbey Foregate clears their
signal first, Severn Bridge are not able to clear theirs and vice versa maintaining a safe method of
operation. There are two GWR electric train route describers which, although no longer working,
impressively still have their brass surrounds highly polished. All the points are mechanical but the
original junction bracket signal just outside the box is now a colour light head with theatre light route
indicator, replacing the former large rather splendid semaphore gantry.

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Severn Bridge Junction box, (LNWR 1903) is the 'Holy Grail' for signal box aficionados and (since 2008)
the world's largest operational manual box. It is in the centre of an extensive triangle of running lines,
so an outsider (and even railwaymen not directly involved with it) could never have expected to gain
access. Luckily for us, rail staff require a safe walking route across the track to the waste ground
behind the box which, on examining signalling diagrams from the 1950s and early 1960s pinned up
inside, once had a small turntable (visible as a circle of buddleia). With point rodding runs and signal
wires disappearing at all sorts of weird angles, participants ascended the internal narrow staircases, up
the two floors, passing the numerous and extensive interlocking bars, to the operating (third) floor.
This gives a most interesting, very different view from usual of the station, railway layout and town.
ABOVE: The northeast aspect never fails to impress. BELOW: One of the two identical signalling
diagrams each end of the box; the layout is much simpler than the 1950s; P3, 4&5 are all occupied.

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The frame is staffed by two signallers 06.00 to 22.00 daily (SuX) on 8-hour shifts and at all other times
one. To this day, each signaller works one end of the frame, there being an 'imaginary line' splitting the
territories in the gap between levers 88 and 91. There were tales of days gone by where duty signallers
('signalmen' then) would not even talk to each other. One told of the signaller on the end further from
the toilet having to request permission to pass through the other signaller's domain to use it! The
frame is 180 levers long; about half are in use including '1' and '180', with quite a few white (spare)
levers but fewer spaces. Some with short handles are 'interlocking levers' and plated as such. They are
the result of previous changes and no longer operate anything themselves but are part of the
interlocking sequence. BELOW: The view from lever No11 along towards No180.

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The alternative would be to relock the whole frame, which would be a mammoth task. The box
interlocking diagram itself was enormous, just like a long roll of music for a full orchestra with lines
(that look just like music staves) for each of the numerous vertical levels of the frame. The number of
levels is one reason the box is so tall. This diagram also showed the detailed shapes of the cut outs and
additions to the vertical and horizontal locking bars that fit into each other to 'lock' different moves in
a fail safe way and must have been a very skilled job to design.

From outside, Severn Bridge Junction box appears to be narrower than normal, but this is just an
illusion due to its tremendous height. The long and the short of it is that the box is 38ft tall, 11ft wide
and 95ft long. The party were told that when the wind is blowing hard, the box shakes. The frame is
the safest place to stand because LNWR practice was to fit the frames to uprights which were part of
the box footings rather than attached to the structure. These large steel uprights could be seen as the
group ascended past the massive locking frame. The box is Grade II listed, so the original windows are
fitted with secondary glazing inside. There is also a false ceiling to reduce the drafts. There were
several varnished wooden signal and point indicators on the block shelf as well as some LNWR electric
train describers, with polished brass surrounds, unfortunately the latter not in use. Also not working
was the famous double-faced clock between the two signalling positions. However, surprisingly, 'Train
Ready to Start' instruments were available for both signallers, used by station staff if their radios fail.
There are identical illuminated diagrams each end of the long operating floor, perpendicular to the
frame rather than above it.

The frame is split into four sections, to accommodate the uprights and allow access to the windows.
The two duty signallers explained how one controls station exits and the other Hereford line arrivals,
although they could do either end if their colleague was tied up with something else. There are local
bell codes for attaching or detaching in the through platforms (for example). P3 is bi-directionally
signalled by 'acceptance levers' with Crewe Junction box. This prevents trains being signalled from
both directions simultaneously. Very unusually this single line has a double line block instrument to
Crewe Junction which can be used for either direction by either box, depending on whether the
'acceptance lever' is 'in' or 'out' of the frame. The interlocking required must be interesting (Victorian
computers at their best)!

Another interesting feature is that Severn Bridge Junction has 13 Absolute Block worked lines. There
are five to Crewe Junction, six to Abbey Foregate and two to Sutton Bridge Junction using seven
double line instruments; possibly unique on NR (except perhaps at Stockport?) Although the Severn
Bridge Junction layout is very compact and there is a general line speed of 15mph (or less), the latter
means all distant signals are fixed and so there are no yellow (distant signal) levers in the frame. It is
still a long (hefty) pull on the Down Hereford starter, which is also around a curve. The group could
easily have stayed here all day and barely scratched the surface. The signallers advised that they
receive three or four visits a year so we considered ourselves very privileged indeed.

Sutton Bridge Junction controls the junction between the Hereford route and the Cambrian route to
Aberystwyth. Until September 1963 it was also the junction for passenger trains to the Severn Valley
line to Bridgnorth and Hartlebury (etc). A headshunt was later retained to serve Shrewsbury Abbey oil
terminal (CG 17 July 1988). Now, apart from the original bridge over the start of that route by the box,
the track bed has been built over. It is another GWR brick built 1913 box, an original 61-lever frame
with several white levers and a few spaces from the reduced layout under control. As with Abbey
Foregate and Severn Bridge Junction, a blast wall had been built around the entrance door, and the
locking room windows bricked up during WWII due to the local armament establishments.The box
works Absolute Block to Severn Bridge Junction and, in the other direction, to Dorrington on the
Hereford route with ETRMS to Machynlleth on the single Cambrian line to Welshpool. Surprisingly it
can be switched out, leaving the signals clear for the Hereford route in both directions.

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PREVIOUS PAGE TOP: Sutton Bridge Junction signal box; left is the trackbed of the former Severn
Valley line to Bridgnorth, latterly a headshunt for the Esso Oil Depot at the former Shrewsbury Abbey
station. To the right of the box is the Hereford line to Dorrington, and off to the right is the Cambrian
Line to Welshpool. The line far right is the headshunt for Coleham Depot. Beyond the bridge is the
trailing crossover used last October by all trains from Shrewsbury to the Cambrian for a few days when
the facing crossover was faulty. The third line (right of the crossover) is the Up Goods Loop (used by
the 'Great Britain VI' on 22 April 2013, which the signaller on duty during our visit had signalled!). This
end of the box shows the very thick WWII 'blast wall' built to protect the entrance and equipment.
Dorrington Signal Box (6m 25ch) was next, merely a section break with a trailing crossover (used quite
frequently for Engineers' trains and single line working). It now has more white (spare) levers than the
number in use, with the station and yard long since closed. Indeed the box is set well back from the
railway following removal of the Down loop. It is an 1872 LNWR/GWR Joint Line design with a low
hipped roof but has new double glazing units. The current frame dating from 1941 also controls an
Intermediate Block Section on each line, useful at times of disruption and when freight traffic used to
be heavier. The box is about halfway along the climb from Sutton Bridge Jn to just beyond Church
Stretton. Dorrington also has a 'closing switch', normally used each night to extend the section from
Sutton Bridge Junction (or even Severn Bridge Junction if the latter is switched out) to Marshbrook
signal box, the next one south and beyond Church Stretton station. Church Stretton had a signal box
that closed abruptly with severe flooding in the year 2000 and was not repaired. Marshbrook stays
open as it controls a level crossing and was not visited but is another LNWR/GWR Joint Line design

ABOVE: The 11.30 Cardiff to Manchester Piccadilly, its far end is at Dorrington's crossover.
Craven Arms Crossing (formerly 'Long Lane Crossing') was the final visit. Sadly, its original life-expired
timber structure was replaced by new plastic cladding in summer 2000, although the GWR equipment
and frame remain in situ. The box is at a level crossing (which may be abolished) north of the station
next to the facing crossover from the Down to Up lines used by trains to the Central Wales Line.

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ABOVE: Craven Arms Crossing Signal Box looking south to the station. Once, there was a stone
carriage shed on the right (possibly originally a goods shed) where the BR Western Region Emergency
Control Train was kept (secretly!). BELOW: The Central Wales Line token instrument is seen inside.

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Central Wales trains all call at reversible Up P1 in both directions; Craven Arms Jn is to its south. Their
train crews used to operate a local ground frame to access/egress the line and obtain/replace the
token at a platform cabinet. Now the signaller issues and collects the token at the box speeding up the
service. Surprisingly there were just two white levers in the 30-lever frame, although the detonator
placer levers no longer operate. Craven Arms was the only location visited not to have BR standard
plastic block instruments, retaining the varnished wooden GWR type, brass interlocking release
buttons and lamp indicators. There was a 1967 gradient profile of the Central Wales Line showing
where the signal boxes had been (their names crossed through), until rationalisation after the line was
reprieved from closure in 1964. This concluded visits to some fascinating signal boxes, controlling
probably the largest collections of semaphore signals in the country. Thanks to the NR staff who
showed the party round and to the friendly signallers who were more than happy to explain and
answer the many questions. Particular thanks to Nick Garnham for all the arrangements. For most of
the participants, a lifetime's ambition had finally been achieved. (Ian Smith 2447.)

760] The (Birmingham) Caledonia (Yard) Casualty - A bang with a van, Sun 10 Apr: Walking past the
old boarded up BRSA* Club (looking totally incongruous in 21st century Bordesley) overlooking the
former Great Western London to Birmingham mainline, I reflected on a particularly interesting
weekend of gricing that found me on the mean streets of Birmingham. So far that weekend, I had
enjoyed my first run over the re-instated section of the Waverley route (new track) behind Deltic
D9009. Allegedly it was the only one of its class not to have visited that line when it was a through
route from Carlisle to Edinburgh. Additionally, fitting in a 'man of steel' move to Galashiels and back
to grice both Tweedbank platforms (the longest two mile bus ride ever; a minus five minute
connection - don't try this at home!). Then a first trip to North Berwick since 1975 (didn't stay long)
and saw a class of loco associated with my rail fanning youth departing north from Derby (sounding
good). Next was Searchlight Lane Jn (more new track) from passing trains and then meeting up with a
goodly number of fellow 'BLSians' congregating (loitering with intend to grice?) in Birmingham Moor
Street station. (*British Rail Staff Association for our younger members.)

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ABOVE: The 'Caldedonia Casualty' just prior to departure from Birmingham Moor Street, no train,

headboard or person was damaged or injured in the making of these pictures.... (Jim Sellens)

This was to be no ordinary BLS fixture (is there such a thing?). The gathered throng had volunteered
(for a small donation to charities nominated by Chiltern Railways; 'Home Start' and 'The Brain Tumour
Charity'; £645 was raised and split between these two worthy causes) to assist Chiltern Railways in an
Emergency Train Evacuation (detraining passengers and nothing to do with retention tanks). I had
experience of a staged crash once before when I worked for British Rail. This was many years ago
utilising slam door stock at Cannon Street station in London. I decided at the last minute to volunteer
for the Chiltern Emergency Train Evacuation exercise to experience such a situation once again as it
was a small detour on my way back home (and was cheaper than going to York behind a Western).

With safety briefing formalities over the excitable group gathered around the Fixtures Secretary (he's
not the Messiah he's just a naughty boy) and were then allowed onto the platform. A last minute
change had meant the expected departure from P4 was switched to the far end of P3. Two-car class
168 unit number 322 had just arrived to form 2Z56 scheduled to depart at 17.20 which it promptly did.
Passengers were entertained en-route by the Customer Information Screens displaying Great Central
Railway destinations such as Brackley Central, Woodford Halse and Sheffield Victoria, (I wish) and
wondering when the customary raffle sellers and catering trolley would be touting for trade.We had all
been forewarned by advance literature and the briefing at Moor Street that this would be a one way
trip to Caledonia Yard in Small Heath. A close encounter with a transit van would be staged on the
level crossing at the entrance to the Lafarge Aggregates Terminal siding (where inwards stone traffic
has recently restarted) on the western side farthest away from the Snow Hill lines. Once the 'collision'
had occurred most of the entourage, except for a few 'casualties', would be detrained from the train
by ladder then escorted off the premises into the wilds of Small Heath to make their own way home by
bus or on foot; there are no train services from Small Heath station on a Sunday! Interesting
complications included the van driver being trapped in his vehicle and having to be cut out and it was
carrying 1,000 litres of a 'toxic' liquid which, needless to say, started to leak after the 'collision'.

BELOW: A picture showing the remarkable skill of our Chiltern driver - the van was there first! (Jim Sellens)

[BLN 1255]
In less time than it will take you to read this report the train had run up the Down Snow Hill, up the 'Up
& Down Small Heath Goods' and into the approach tracks to Caledonia Yard under the Camp Hill line.
Most passengers noted the various sidings out of use in Bordesley Down Yard as we passed. The
evocative 'Garden' and 'Shed' roads are currently used by the New Street station refurbishment works
trains. In BR days, our friendly Chiltern driver used to drive the yard Class 08 pilot here, (new cars, coal
and scrap traffic). In the early 1960s, with the extensive Bordesley Up Yard (now the A45) and multiple
running lines, there were around 30 tracks across the complete layout. 2Z56 finally came to a halt after
veering off Caledonia Yard Track 7 onto the Lafarge Terminal Siding meeting its nemesis, a blue transit
van parked on the level crossing. All change please, this train is out of service and no raffle! At 1m 32ch
a new record for the shortest distance travelled by a BLS charter on the mainline was declared, though
kissing vans is not the recommended way to reach the parts other railtours fail to reach. (Before
anyone says the previous BLS record holder, on 1 Jan 1986 from York to Rowntree Halt was indeed
only 1m 24ch, but went back again so a total of 2m 48ch.)

When the 'all clear' was given to evacuate passengers off the train, everyone made their way to the
front cab to detrain through the driver's cab door. The ladder turned out to be a rather substantial
metal platform with rungs between the legs down which the walking wounded were led to safety (well
you have to make the effort in case talent scouts are watching; I feel sure an Oscar for best supporting
actor will soon be on my mantelpiece). Does the platform count as a temporary halt whose opening
and closure dates should be noted in BLN? [Is that someone volunteering to do a new BLN section-Ed?]
All these thoughts slipped my mind as I negotiated Bordesley Circus and contemplated more fine
gricing to come in future. Next! (Member 1073.) Special thanks to Chiltern Trains and Network Rail.

761] Thorp Arch Circular Railway, Thorp Arch East signal box - Ranges Platform* also Walton and
Roman Road Platforms* (incl): OP 20 Nov 1941 workers' service (as a reversible single track branch on
this circular railway!). Http:// and have more. The regional
section has signalling diagrams and (e-BLN 1253.557) a full track plan. 'The lines to Wetherby and their
traffic', by D Bertram, 'Trains Illustrated' Feb 1961 has further information about the area's railways.

762] Thorp Arch Circular Railway, Ranges Platform* (excl) - Thorpe Arch East (also River Platform*)
OP 20 Apr 1942 (as a clockwise circular railway with all four 'halts'). On Sun 19 Apr 1942 the 13.40
Leeds to Thorp Arch train made a complete circuit. *Also variously referred to as 'stations' and 'halts'.

763] Thorp Arch Circular Railway & four intermediate 'platforms' (previous items) CP after running on
Fri 15 Aug 1958, i.e. later than'1957' reported in BLN 1253 and after the last railtour of 22 Jul 1958.

764] Bala Lake Railway, Bryn Hynod Halt: (Amending BLNs 1159.MR62 & 1160.482) CP after final
availability for public use on Thur 27 Oct 2011. This remote request halt (SH 9094 3288), the lakeside
of the line 2m 55ch from Llanuwchllyn, was little used and did not meet length and width standards.

765] Motherwell, Dalzell Loop (88m 77ch) - Dalzell Plateworks branch: CG early Dec 2015 when the
final train of inwards billets ran from Tees New Yard. The final plate was rolled at 11.30 on 18 Dec
2015. Dalzell and Clydebank plants are being sold for £1 by Tata Steel, via the Scottish Government, to
metals firm Liberty House. They hope to restart production but rail traffic prospects are unknown.

766] Barry Docks, Barry Container Terminal - Dow Corning Works: (BLN 1178.230) CG/CA after
running on 18 Dec 2015. Loco 60023 took some IRB Polybulk hoppers loaded with silica sand to the
works; 66092 collecting the empties on 30 December for return to France. They may have been the
last workings between Barry Container Terminal (ST 134 680) and Down Corning; (ST 1404 6852) is the
end of the branch. The Polybulks use bottom door discharge but silica sand for Dow also arrives from
France in containers. This continues to the Container Terminal, usually alternate Fridays from/to
Dollands Moor. The container terminal is in Wimborne Road, just east of that road's level crossing, on
the start of the Dow Corning line (past the junction at 8m 04ch on TRACKmaps 3 p30B Aug 2010).

[BLN 1255]

ABOVE: 66741 approaching Boig Level Crossing on the Greenburn branch, 15 Feb 2016 with the first train
for many months. After loading, the coal went to West Burton 'A' Power Station (Steven Brykajlo).

767] New Cumnock, Bank Jct. - (Greenburn Jct.) - Kier Mining Greenburn Open Cast Loading Point:
(BLN 1232.829) ROG 15 Feb 2016, short term coal to West Burton to clear the remaining stockpile.
768] Energetický a průmyslový, Whitley Bridge Jn - Eggborough Power Station - Whitley Bridge Jn:
(BLN 1241.1737) CG after the final freight train, the 05.32 from Lindsey Oil Refinery with 600 tonnes of
fuel oil on 18 Feb 2016. Arriving at 07.48, the empty wagons left at 13.20. The last railtour, Pathfinder
Tours 'Generating Finale', ran on Sat 23 Mar 2016, also the date the station was generating normally
for the final time to use up the remaining coal stocks. 681MW of the 2,000MW capacity is retained as
part of the National Grid's 'Supplemental Balancing Reserve' for winter 2016/17. This scheme provides
3,577MW of power on standby (and not expected to be called on) at a cost of £122.4M. This is not
unreasonable at £1.50 per average domestic bill. If any electricity is generated the costs are also
covered. It is unlikely there will be further rail traffic; any coal is more likely to be brought in by road.
769] Hunterston Jn - Hunterston High Level: CG after final FHH coal train at 06.25, Fri 18 Mar 2016, to
Longannet Power station (BLN 1254.736). The last tour was our 'BLS Hunterston Tracker, 13 Oct 2012.
770] Shipley South Jn - Crossley Evans Scrapyard: (BLN 1251.338) ROG 23 Mar 2016, following the
light engine test run on 13 February. Scrap traffic (DC Rail) to Cardiff Tidal Sidings. Trains are expected
twice a month; 56303 took 15 wagons in on 14 April that were due to leave after loading on 20th.
771] Welsh Highland Railway, Pont Croesor 'Halt': (BLN 1223.337) ROP 25 March; TCP 11 Feb 2016
due to engineering work obstructing the platform access. This was realignment of the north ends of
both sides of the loop, brought into full use from 22 Feb 2016. The railway refers to the stop as a 'Halt'.

BELOW: An unusual view of work in progress on realigning the north end of Pont Croesor Loop;
(Festrail) the previous alignment can be appreciated from picture.

[BLN 1255]

772] Chesterton Jn, DB Cargo unloading siding: OG 2 Apr 2016, with 66094 from Mountsorrel. A new
purpose built aggregate unloading facility (still known as 'Redland Chesterton'), part of the remodelling
for the new Cambridge North station. FHH also have a new unloading siding which has yet to be used.
773] IOM, Snaefell Mountain Railway, Laxey - Snaefell Summit (both incl) and Bungalow station: (MR
p12) (BLN 1254.722) ROP 2 Apr 2016 after TCP during 30 Mar for track repairs after car No3 ran away.
It has been pointed out that, as there is no road to the top of the mountain (2,034ft), the 'stranded'
passengers must have been brought down by railway at least as far as Bungalow. Ian Longworth, the
Director of the IOM railways, has perhaps surprisingly (but pleasingly) stated that it is intended to
rebuild car No3 and return it to service. Its unique electrical parts have been gathered up for reuse.
Single working continues on the Down Bungalow to Laxey line due to flood damage repairs.
774] Leigh East Bond St (SD 6618 0011) - Ellenbrook Newearth Rd* (SD 7272 0179 ): ROP 3 Apr 2016,
7km Guided Busway on the trackbed of part of the LNWR Tyldesley Loop line (CP/CA 5 May 1969) see: (*Nearly 3 miles of trackbed eastward is then part of National Cycle Route 55.)

ABOVE: Aberthaw Cement Works, loading the second train of ash for Longannet 18 Apr 2016 (see below).

[BLN 1255]
775] Aberthaw Lafarge Cement Works (5m 36ch): (BLN 1253.617) ROG Friday 8 Apr 2016, ash from
Aberthaw 'B' Power Station to Longannet for 'Scotash' who make construction,
road repair/building materials (as alternatives to aggregates, cement and grouts). The 2,000 tonne trial
train of about 27/28 powder tank wagons was loaded by compressed air pipeline from road tankers
shuttling from the nearby power station. Departing 15.12, and staged at Carlisle over the weekend, the
train reached Longannet Power Station (BLN 1254.736) at 10.19 on Mon 11 April for unloading. This
ash will be used in the new Aberdeen western peripheral road! Weekly trains on Fridays are expected.
Aberthaw Cement Works was last recorded as receiving traffic for a while from Nov 2011 (ironically,
twice-weekly fly ash trains from Drax Power station.) There was outward cement in late 2008/early
2009 to Uskmouth for construction of the then new gas fired power station. Some stored wagons were
taken to Dollands Moor on 1 Feb 2008 as a one off; the first movement at the sidings for many years.

ABOVE TOP: 66519 backs on to the train, the Vale of Glamorgan line is in the background looking
towards Bridgend. ABOVE LOWER: The empties for the first train arrived at Aberthaw on Wed 6 April
including this unusual rather ashen looking wagon. (All three pictures: Tim Hughes)

[BLN 1255]
776] Norden station (5m 40ch*) (excl) - River Frome bridge (9m 31ch*) (SY 9081 8617): OP 8 Apr
2016, special event; three day Spring Steam Gala. Public Swanage Railway services ran to half a mile
short of Worgret Jn (9m 77ch*) for the first time. (*From Swanage buffer stops.) There is another train
on 5 May and seven with limited accommodation on 8 May (class 08s & brakevans) for the Diesel Gala.

777] London, Camden Jn - Camden Road West Jn: TCG/TCA after 06.30 on 9 Apr 2016, expected until
8 May for emergency viaduct repairs between Kentish Town Road and Camden High Street where two
of the arches have temporary supports and there has been a 5mph speed restriction. This closure of
the Primrose Hill route has resulted in some 80 freights a day running through Gospel Oak.

778] Alton (NR) incl - Farnham (excl) & Bentley station: TCP/TCA 13 Apr 2016 (after the 20.44 to
Waterloo) expected until 9 May 2016 due to an unstable embankment at Wrecclesham near Farnham.
That day at 14.52, a 20mph emergency speed restriction introduced on 1 April had been reduced to
5mph. The 19.35 from Waterloo ECS was trapped at Alton where it arrived 21.07 (28 minutes late).

779] Holybourne Oil Sidings & Alton (NR) - Farnham: (see above) TCG 13 Apr 2016, after the 20.17
departure with 485 tonnes of crude oil for Fawley Esso; inward empty tanks run round at Alton station.

780] Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre, Roundhouse Halt (incl) - Springwell Branch MP 150
(end of line): (MR p.8) (BLN 1254.MR58) TCP expected after running on 21 May 2016 (Rail Ale Festival)
for building repair and upgrade work per BLN 1254; public rides will not be operated until early 2017

781] Lea Bridge station (6m 25ch): (BLN 1246.2181) ROP expected Sun 15 May 2016 (with the
timetable change), but due to engineering work the first booked trains are at 20.18 to Stratford and
20.21 to Hertford East. Commissioning for operational use is expected earlier from Sun 24 April.
Situated between Stratford and Tottenham Hale there are two 8-car platforms. Half-hourly EMU
services are provided mostly between Stratford and Bishops Stortford (Hertford East on Sundays).
Some pictures etc. (Previously CP 8 Jul 1985 when averaging two passengers a
day.) This is the first new London station on NR (as opposed to LO) since Mitcham Eastfields in 2008.

BELOW: The previous Lea Bridge station on its last day of service, 8 July 1985. Then there were four
trains between Stratford and Tottenham Hale in each direction, morning and evening peak only SSuX.

(See also David Brennand.)

[BLN 1255]
782] NIR, Antrim (excl) - Knockmore: (BLN 1252.438) TCA 25
Jan 2016, extended 4 Apr to 2 Jun 2016.

783] Patchway station (excl) - Severn Tunnel Junction station
(excl) and Pilning station: TCP/TCA is expected from 12 Sep to
21 Oct 2016 for installation of the overhead conductor in the
catenary holes.

784] Londonderry - Antrim (excl) & six intermediate stations:
TCA (except test trains) provisionally after service on Wed 2
Nov with closure of signal cabins at Londonderry, Castlerock
(including the fine semaphore signals and loop - picture e-BLN
1237.1386) and Coleraine. New signalling and Bellarena Loop
will be commissioned, controlled from VDUs at Coleraine
station building. ROA Tue 22 Nov 2016. The delay until
November is because planning permission is required to alter
Bellarena level crossing.

785] Portrush - Coleraine, Dhu Varren & University stations:
TCA 3-22 Nov 2016 (previous item).


786] Station to Station, Sat 11 & Sun 12 June: To celebrate
HM The Queen's 90th Birthday, (on 21 April) 'probably the
biggest event in the recent history of the rail industry', a
variety of events are planned throughout the country. As well
as celebrating our Queen's birthday, it is to highlight local
public transport. Railways should be, and are becoming, the
centre of communities, with stations much more than
somewhere to join or leave trains. They are places where
people can meet, chat, have a cup of tea etc. See For details, event locations and
contact details, also local press and social media. There is still
time to arrange more events at your local station.

787] Points & Slips: BLN 1254.724] Planning permission, with
numerous conditions attached, was granted for Highland
Spring's new Blackford rail loading facility (LEFT) on 16 March.
It will be able to store over 100 containers and will 'remove 100
lorries a day off the roads'. Incredibly, sales of the bottled
water exceed £100M per year and production is due to double
here over the next 12 months.

The new railway sidings and facilities: orange is existing tracks
which will be unchanged (north, to Perth is at the top). The
existing trailing crossover (off the plan top) will be used by
trains arriving from the south to set back. Stirling is to the
bottom. The Down Refuge Siding is unchanged. Blue is the Up
Siding - to be lifted. Red track is the new loading siding with its
run round loop, the red shaded area is the road yard. Yellow
with a dashed black line is the roadway for the overhead crane
to run on (rubber tyres). Green is landscaping and barriers.

[BLN 1255]
In BLN 1253.538] The Wensleydale Railway between Northallerton Castle Hills and Leeming Bar has
remained closed, while funds are raised for a scour survey of the River Swale Viaduct after the 17 Dec
2015 flooding. Note (amending BLN 1221.1674) the first publicly available trains in recent years over
this section were 'excursions' run on 22 Nov 2014. In that item 'publicity' should have been 'publicly'.

Item 640] On the Weardale Railway, the new platform at Witton-le-Wear (with hyphens) is the
'temporary' one completed in 2012 east of Low Lane level crossing. OP was deferred due an objection
(as it was built on the opposite, i.e. south side of the line, to the original, planning permission was not
automatic). Full planning permission was granted by July 2013, but the platform had to be resurfaced
prior to its Easter Sunday 27 Mar 2016 opening (see NE section).

Item 664] The current London Overground operator is the joint Arriva/MTR. This is nothing to do with
Merseyrail! MTR is Hong Kong rail operator: 香港鐵路有限公司 'Hong Kong Railway Corporation Ltd.'
It was the Editor's error (and not the Greater London Regional Editor) rather than an April fool.

Item 736] It is pleasing to report that rail freight traffic continues at Longannet; after 'Coals to
Newcastle' we now have Power Station Ash being carried by rail to a power station, passing through
three different countries in the process (see Head Lines). Radcliffe-on-Soar should have been Ratcliffe-
on-Soar Power Station.

Item 739] 'Caernarfon' station was 'Caernarvon' when CP 5 Jan 1970. The latter name, the town's
Anglicised spelling, was superseded officially in 1974. MR56] A feasibility study reported on 13 April is
positive about restoring rail services to Wadebridge in as little as four years, with significant economic
benefits. A 'steam only' project is costed at £17.4M and a 'commuter service' at £45M. Cornwall
Council funded £10k of the £15K report

BLN 1255.788] Northern Tracker Quiz Answers, 6 Mar 2016: Thanks to our quizmaster, Mike McCabe:
(1) The marketing name of the Nottingham to Worksop line is the Robin Hood line.
(2) 'Titanic' struck an iceberg.
(3) The 'Golden Gate' is the famous bridge in San Francisco.
(4) 'Parker' was Lady Penelope's chauffeur.
(5) Great Western TOC runs trains between Paddington and the West of England.
(6) 'Borderer' was the first name carried by electric loco 87025.
(7) Heritage is a name/description used to refer to first generation DMUs and preserved railways.
(8) Staff trains run between Seven Sisters and Northumberland Park.
(9) In the Bible, Joseph's Coat was a technicolor dream one.
(10) Ashton Park Parade is the closed station which the Northern Tracker tour passed through.
…….Bonus point: all the above answers are names of types of Rose (the answer to question 16).
(11) To travel by train from Denton to Reddish South station takes 10,075 minutes (almost a week).
(12) Watford, Hull City and Manchester United football clubs all had dedicated railway stations.
……..Others: Derby County (Ramsline Halt); St. Johnstone (Muirton Halt 1936-1959). Wembley Stadium
……..(Loop) served other events; Ashton Gate & Wadsley Bridge were originally public stations.
(13) Manchester London Road was the previous name of Manchester Piccadilly station.
(14) Mottram marshalling yard was between Broadbottom and Dinting.
(15) There are four tunnels at Standedge; on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and three railway tunnels.
(16) Rose Grove was one of Britain's last BR steam sheds (until Sunday 4 Aug 1968).
(17) Harold Wilson's statue is in the square outside Huddersfield station.
(18) The last place in Britain to operate trolleybuses in public service was Bradford (until 16 Mar 1972).
(19) Clayton West Junction signal box had block instruments to Huddersfield & Huddersfield Junction.
(20) J. Lyons' cake company had a factory on the left approaching Wakefield Kirkgate from the West.

789] Old Dalby 'branch': Originally a BR test facility, this passed to BRB (Residuary) with privatisation,
the DfT taking control when the former was wound up. NR acquired the line in 2013 (BLN 1174.1455)
as part of the Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC).In December 2014 the Old Dalby Test
Centre was renamed RIDC (Melton), as in Melton Mowbray. Recently NR advertised two contracts here.
One is for the supply of operations safety managers and line controllers (£4M-£10M). The other is for
inspection, maintenance, site repairs and provision of technical expertise (£2M-£5M).The test centre is
located 6½ miles along the former Midland Railway line from Melton Mowbray to Nottingham. The
13-mile test track originally almost reached Edwalton, (CA beyond 120m 29ch from 4 Nov 1968, but
cut back to 118m 20ch from 16 Dec 1980). It is for testing and validating infrastructure, trains, and
equipment. There is a Control Centre, maintenance shed and sidings. Electrification of different
sections is at 25kV overhead, third and fourth rail DC. There are tunnels (unlike at RIDC's Tuxford
facility near High Marnham; the latter used for training, commissioning and testing of track plant and
machinery). Melton has a noise test site and a conductor beam to test trains up to 125 mph.

After a lean period, the 'Old Dalby test track' has been very busy in recent years, to the point where it

has sadly not been possible to accommodate railtours. Pendolinos and Javelins were tested when

commissioned and recently Hitachi's Super Express Train, part of the Intercity Express Programme. The

track and overhead were upgraded specially. The line has been leased by LU since 2007 with Serco

contracted to operate and maintain it. 4km of the 7.5km long Up line was fitted with 630/750V fourth-

rail DC electrification for Bombardier's new 'S' Stock trains (note the increased track layout between

the Quail October 1990 track diagram and that in the latest TRACKmaps August 2013 edition).The twin

DC voltages allows testing at existing or upgraded supply. Every LU train underwent at least 500 km of

fault-free running before LU accepted it. That is 125 return runs on the line each (96,000 km of basic

testing). If a fault is fixed, testing restarts for that train. One unit, not yet used in passenger service,

which had completed 500km of fault-free running, has been handed over to Thales engineers at Old

Darby to test its new Seltrac signalling system for the LU Sub-Surface Lines. (To be continued…)

790] Lincoln: Work continues on external station refurbishment requiring extensive scaffolding. About
half the roof has new purple slates. Some stonework such as coping stones, trimmings,and chimney
caps been replaced. This was 'precipitated' by bits of decorative stonework disintegrating and falling
onto the forecourt pavement by the main entrance and taxi rank. On the new High Street pedestrian
overbridge, lift shaft cladding is installed; the metalwork and staircase has been painted brown gloss.

791] Newark Castle: (BLN 1252.451/452) Track work for the new trailing crossover is progressing east
of the station. It is about 100 to 150yd east of the existing trailing crossover which is just at the bottom
of the Up (P1) Nottingham platform slope. This new crossover will allow longer trains to reverse; they
are currently constrained by the present crossover and the starting signal (before the level crossing at
the west end of the station). The newly refurbished main station building on the Nottingham platform
has no apparent 'sign' of life except a 'To Let' sign for any would be commercial usage such as a café.

792] Ilkeston: (BLN 1236.1241) Preliminary works including mine investigation and stabilisation are
complete. Phase two of station construction was due to start on 4 April. Preparation includes access
improvement, fencing, establishing the contractor's compound and site clearance. This is expected to
take several weeks, followed by platform foundation piling. There will be two platforms, a new
replacement footbridge and two car parks, all with the usual facilities. This should take up to seven
months and the station is expected to open late autumn (!). Hourly Northern Nottingham to Leeds
services and some EMT trains are due to call. 160,000 passengers are expected in the first year.

793] Chesterfield: NR's plans for East Midlands services include a potential £20M fourth platform at the
station, including associated track and signalling alterations. More capacity is needed between Derby
and Chesterfield, constrained at present by the mixture of stopping and non-stop services.

794] Crossrail 2: (BLNs 1254.663 & 1245.2096) There were about 21,000 respondents to the latest
consultation: is the report. Not surprisingly, there was quite a high level of
concern over the siting of shafts. Whilst a majority of respondents supported most of the station
proposals, there was a high level of opposition to some of them, particularly King's Road Chelsea and
Wimbledon. Respondents were in favour of stations at Turnpike Lane and Alexandra Palace rather
than Wood Green and of the original proposal for a station at Tooting Broadway rather than at
Balham. Presumably reflecting this, the 'yourlocalguardian' website reports that from 29 March
further ground investigation was carried out in the Tooting Broadway area.

795] Crystal Palace: (BLN 1243.1915) Photographs of the impressive subway:

796] Farringdon LUL Sidings: (BLN 1249.53) These are still being used for engineers' vehicles but were
de-electrified in February 2015. E-BLN 1250 had a picture of the sidings. (London Railway Record - LRR)

797] District Line: (BLN 1253.568) In pre-resignalling rationalisation on 7 March, the facing crossover in
the scissors connection from the Westbound Local Line to Acton Works sidings was removed. (LRR)

798] Paddington (Hammersmith & City): Over the weekend of 6/7 February a trailing crossover was
installed west of the station. It is clipped and padlocked out of use until the line is resignalled. (LRR)

799] Metropolitan Line: (BLN 1253.567) LUL has taken delivery of a concrete mixing and distribution
unit from Italian company Blend Plants for converion of the ballasted Baker Street to Finchley Road
section to slab track. The dismountable mixer (on an intermodal wagon) is powered by electricity from
LU's battery locos, with an on-board back-up diesel generator. It is described by the manufacturer as
the largest single-wagon rail concrete mixer in Europe and possibly the world. (Railway Gazette)

800] Croydon Tramlink: (BLN 1254.661) The enhanced service to Wimbledon started on 4 April, with
services increased from 8tph to 12tph between approximately 07.00 and 19.15 SSuX and 08.30 and
19.15 SO. This is achieved by extending trams on service 4, which formerly ran between Elmers End
and Therapia Lane, on to Wimbledon and brings P10b into full use (but not the overrun beyond yet).
This seems normally to be used for service 4, which has a 14 minute layover there, with service 3 to
New Addington using P10a. BELOW: Dundonald Road 7 April, the new service to Elmers End, the
livery is genuine and despite initial appearances, not graffiti! (Stuart Hicks)

[BLN 1255]
801] London Tramlink: Above is an original track plan (as usual, not to scale) of the current system and
proposed 'Dingwall Road Loop' which is thanks to our Society Publications Officer and Cartographer,
Martyn Brailsford. This complements the previous BLN series of similar tram system plans.
802] Barking - Gospel Oak: (BLN 1253.554/5) Due to electrification works, weekend services ceased
from 9 April until June next year. The line user group has suggested that surplus Class 315s from TfL
Rail's Liverpool Street to Shenfield operation, (when replaced by new Crossrail trains), are deployed
between Barking and Gospel Oak. This would cover the gap from completion of electrification in June
2017 and the introduction of new trains in May 2018. TfL has rejected this as not financially viable
803] Stratford Jubilee Line: (BLN 1254.667) Regarding the use of the facing crossover east of the
Depot last thing at night, a former LU track renewals project manager advises: It was always desirable
to use all routes at least once a day. It was never clear if this reduced the risk of an unusual route
letting the controller down (most likely through obstruction of full movement of the switches) when
needed in emergency and there was already something else going wrong. Except when tested, two
things would not go wrong at the same time (hopefully!). There is also driver route knowledge. On
Southern this is evident through the varying number, timetable by timetable, of trains between
Southampton and Brighton running via Eastleigh instead of Swanwick. Some years there have been
several on a Saturday to ensure all the drivers know that route in a set cycle; other years only one on
Mondays to Fridays (avoiding the GWR Great Malvern to Brighton, with its bad timekeeping record).
Another reason for routing the last few eastbound Jubilee Line trains via the westbound line from
Stratford Market to Stratford was to adopt right-hand running over that stretch, so that trains coming
out of service would have a non-conflicting route into the depot. All three Stratford platforms (P13-15)
are used for arrivals but the Depot Arrivals Road is only connected to the eastbound line so the trains
would otherwise conflict. Freeing up westbound access to Stratford Market depot appears a very
sound policy, especially as trains are likely to be a few minutes late towards the end of the traffic day
with crews approaching their booking-off times. Probably all the factors above explain the routing


804] Weardale: A member visited part of this line from Bishop Auckland in March 2015.The branch to
Wearhead CP 29 Jun 1953 and the intermediate stations CG (public) 1 Nov 1965. Freight traffic
survived to Eastgate Cement Works, the last train ran on 17 Mar 1993. The line to Crook CP and CG
(public traffic) 8 Mar 1965 and CA 16 Sep 1965. Etherley station, formerly served by Crook services,
(and renamed Witton Park by the Weardale Railway in 1991) is a huge building, [Witton-le-Wear
station is 2¼ miles west - Ed] surviving as two houses at the lower end of the village. The platform has
been removed and the single track of the Weardale Railway runs past. Half a mile west, the impressive
Witton Park viaduct's substantial arches span both the River Wear and diagonally a minor road bridge.

[BLN 1255]
ABOVE: Witton park viaduct from The Durham Cow website (2013). Contrary to appearances, the

metal bridge behind carries a minor road over the River Wear rather than another railway.

Wear Valley Junction (NZ167318) See (CP 8 Jul 1935). This was essentially a
passenger interchange station; originating business must have been minimal at this remote site. It is
located along a track off a minor road (Low Lane) from the A689 to Witton le Wear (note no hyphens
in the actual village name). A steep gradient leads to an occupation crossing over the Weardale
Railway. Just before this crossing, a private drive (formerly the station entrance) leads to a short
terrace of much altered former railway houses, now private residences. The station layout was unusual
in that the Down platform was situated south of the junction, serving trains on both lines, but the Up
platform was north of the junction; passenger trains from the branch had to reverse into the platform.
The station building was similar in appearance to others on the line, with steeply pitched stone
slabbed roofs, tall projecting chimney stacks and stone embellishments to the external walls. However,
it was demolished by the time of the RCTS 'North Eastern No 2' railtour (below right) on 10 Apr 1965.

LEFT: Wear Valley Junction
station, straight ahead is the
line to Crook, the Wearhead
branch is off left. Trains from
there to Darlington would
have to reverse into the Up
platform (on the right) to call.
From 'Disused Stations' -
Weardale Railway Project web
site. There is a notable right
angle bend and change of
mileage here in the present
Weardale single track line.

BELOW: Note the absence of
the word 'Junction' on the
signal box nameboard. Some
anecdotes about the Wearhead branch. This is the same box as picture above,
looking in the opposite direction as the train leaves the Wear Valley branch towards Bishop Auckland.

Next to the station was a crescent shaped
engine shed with a turntable and nine
stabling points. Built in 1876, it served the
many mineral trains working in the area.
(BELOW: A rare view of the half roundhouse
at Wear Valley Junction in about 1930 from
'Disused Stations'. Roger Griffiths)

[BLN 1255] At Witton-le-Wear the original station is demolished and in March 2015 there was a
skeletal steel frame for a new platform on the opposite side of the line, erected by the Weardale
Railway. With a NER style back fence, it ROP on 7 Mar 2016 (Slips & Points). West of the platform, the
line crosses the minor road through the village on an oblique-angled level crossing, with adjacent
single-storey crossing keeper's house and a red brick hut with a genuine NER 'Witton-le-Wear'
nameboard. Harperley was the remotest branch station, half a mile from the nearest road and no
public vehicular access. It OP in 1861 as a halt for nearby Harperley Hall. The northbound platform
survives, by a boarded crossing its buildings and house are demolished.

X.48] Many a true word is said in Jest: (RIGHT:
Actually in Penrith on 19 April not in 'Jest' or even
at Jester…)

805] Liverpool: £340M is to be spent over the
next three years on the area's railways, £229M is
from NR and £111M from Liverpool City Region.
Lime Street closes for work during autumn 2017
and 2018.
Liverpool Lime Street: Additional and longer platforms, new track and resignalling for an extra 3tph
(e.g. TPE to Glasgow from 2019 and Halton Curve to Chester); retail space increases by 3,000 square ft.
 Merseyrail: The final phase of slab track renewal on the Wirral line, including the underground loop
as a single project (which is quicker overall and more cost effective) between January and June 2017.
 Huyton to Roby: Completion of four tracking, allowing fast trains to overtake stopping services.
Halton Curve: Upgrade to a bidirectional line (now unidirectional into Liverpool) for an hourly service
to Chester via Runcorn and Helsby from 2018. The business case was due to be considered this month.
 Re-signalling: 16½ miles from Edge Hill to fringe Winsford (177m 02ch), work begins in the summer.
Edge Hill, Allerton Jn, Speke Jn, Halton Jn & Runcorn boxes close, control moves to Manchester ROC.
Newton-le-Willows: The station is to be transformed with a new booking hall (south side of station),
bus interchange and extended car park. Access is to be improved with a new subway, lifts and stairs.
 Maghull North: A new station between Maghull and Town Green Stations on the Ormskirk branch.

806] Skelmersdale: Lancashire County Council are spending nearly £5M on a feasibility study into rail
links to Manchester, Liverpool and Preston. They would like to see direct trains to Manchester Airport.

807] Blackpool Tramway: Progress continues on the Talbot Road extension. Blackpool Council intends
to purchase and demolish Wilkinson's building to build a tram terminal, opposite Blackpool North
station entrance. The £22M double track extension leaves the Promenade tramway by North Pier;
four turnouts and two crossovers were installed (track plan BLN 1243.1923) with the 2012 tramway
upgrade. The local 'Talbot Gateway Central Business District' has lead to significant investment with a
hotel, residential, office and retail outlets. A business case for the line is to be presented to Transport
for Lancashire and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership in the next few weeks. Subject to no unforeseen
problems, construction work is likely to begin in 2018. The line will run along Talbot Road with a stop
on Talbot Square to the junction with Dickson Road where it leaves the road for the new terminus.

808] Rochdale: From 18 April new facing points were installed (OOU) in the Down Main line at the
Manchester end of Rochdale station(10m 16ch); part 'Rochdale West Jn' for the new bay platform.

809] Littleborough: On 9 April trains from Leeds were terminating here and returning, in passenger
service, via the ground frame operated trailing crossover at 14m 40ch between Littleborough Viaduct
and Summit West Tunnel. On recent Sundays there has been single-line working from Todmorden but
this is not possible on Saturdays with more trains. There was a notice at the foot of the P2 steps, and
another in the booking office, that Leeds trains were going from P1. Although on departing to Walsden
at 14.50, there were two passengers on P2 not aware of the changes (or did not believe the notices!).

[BLN 1255.810] Metrolink: On Sun 17 April all the city centre system was closed; trams terminated at
Central Park, Deansgate-Castlefield and Piccadilly with no service on the Bury line. The official reason
was 'improvement works'. A member of staff said that remedial work was being carried out to various
sections, and that trams (seen at Exchange Square and Piccadilly Gardens) were needed for testing.

From an unusual track perspective, the main focus of interest was the Ashton service, which was
terminating at Piccadilly. As had been hoped, arriving trams were using the crossover from the
inbound line to the outbound platform, which is a signalled move so no staff were in attendance to
supervise this. A local member took a return trip to New Islington and, as it turned out, unnecessarily
purchased a ticket to do so. This was because he was not aware that the 'City Zone', within which any
rail ticket from a GM station can be used, had been extended out to there, presumably when the line
opened. The giveaway was that his tram ticket was from 'City Zone to City Zone'! There had been
speculation that this crossover, and its opposite number on what is a scissors arrangement, would
close when the turnback siding further east opened, but clearly there is still a need for them.

811] Crewe: At Locomotive Storage Limited's Diesel Depot and Down Holding Sidings from 8 April,
Roads 4-6 were taken OOU (until 15 April) for construction work. Roads 1 to 3 and 12 are in use.

812] East West Rail (EWR): (BLN 1246.2217) NR has announced a preferred corridor for the central
section. In July 2015 NR shortlisted routes between Bedford and Cambridge via either Sandy or
Hitchin. The Hitchin options have now been ruled out and work will concentrate on an alignment via
Sandy. NR says it will publish details of its methodology and conclusions so far in May, after which
analysis and public consultation will take place to select a specific route. With government having
committed to the EWR western section between Bicester and Bedford, the remainder of the line to
Cambridge opens up many new journey opportunities between East Anglia, Oxford and Bristol.

EWR would also support plans for a new station in south Cambridge and the scheme now appears to
be a prime candidate for inclusion in the next Initial Industry Plan, due for publication in September
2016 to inform investment choices in CP 6 (2019-24). Additionally, George Osborne has written to the
National Infrastructure Commission chaired by Lord Adonis to ask him to look into connectivity on the
Oxford to Milton Keynes and Cambridge corridor. The letter asked for the review to look into the
priority improvements and assess the economic case for those that deliver the most economic growth.
(Maybe this letter was written three years ago and has only just been delivered – Regional Editor.)

813] Reading: (BLN 1254.689 - the track plan there would be very useful in understanding this item.)
The line designation map of the re-modelled Reading in BLN 1254 has reminded a member of what he
thinks is a unique route signalling feature in the new layout. Down trains using the Up Feeder Main
(UFM) encounter a signal on approach to Oxford Road Jn that has two route position indicators
('feathers'), one on the left and one on the right. With neither illuminated, trains will proceed out to
the Down Westbury (DW), briefly via the Down Feeder Relief (DFR). With either the Left or Right
position indicator illuminated, the train will proceed to the Up Westbury (UW), then pass through
Reading West P2, and then presumably crossing over to the Down Westbury. The left position
indicator takes the train straight to the UW, and the right goes, briefly via the DFR, then, again briefly,
via the Down West Curve to the UW. Are there any other places where such differing position
indicators end up with such a similar result? Could be quite a problem for planning a Reading Tracker!

814] Getting a bit carried away? The strictures on not taking any luggage on escalators for safety
reasons have been toned down at Reading and other stations to prohibitions on 'heavy luggage',
whatever that may be. The illuminated moving, but very much two-dimensional, female figures urging
passengers to comply, whilst grinning inanely, seen at Reading and King's Cross have been abandoned.
They have also seen use at hospitals by the hand solution dispensers, the females there dressed as
nurses. The new circulating arrangement at King's Cross was originally presented as permitting ticket
holders to wait at high level and cross to their platform by the footbridge when called, avoiding
conflicting routes, a plan effectively kicked into touch by the prohibition of luggage on escalators!

[BLN 1255.815] Hatfield Peverel - Witham: After Chelmsford (BLN 1253.587) our member moved on
to Hatfield Peverel where the main station buildings, partly of GER provenance with later extensions
all in yellow brick, present a neat and well maintained appearance. They are on the Up side. A high
concrete footbridge connects Up and Down platforms, the latter with only a modern, minimalist
shelter. Witham has two island platforms with pre-modern lift towers, connected by a lattice sided,
covered footbridge. There is still a good GER ambience to this station. The northernmost platform face
is used by services to and from Braintree, there being no access from Down Main P3. Our member
recalls that in June 1959 he and friends went by train to Colchester loco-spotting. Having become
bored with Colchester, they went to Witham with its branches to Maldon (BLN 1254.694) and
Braintree. The two of them could only afford to travel on one of the branches. Maldon was being
worked by a two-car DMU but Braintree had a Waggon-und Maschinenbau GmbH Donauwörth railbus.

This suggested to them that Braintree was the more likely line to close and our member never reached
Maldon by train! (The five railbuses entered service on 7 Jul 1958 on these branches and Cambridge –
Mildenhall and Audley End – Bartlow – Marks Tey. Later the same year DMUs returned to the Maldon
and Braintree branches as the railbuses could not cope with passengers' luggage. Bishop's Stortford to
Braintree & Bocking CP 3 Mar 1952. Your Regional Editor had a similar dilemma as a child when left at
King's Lynn for the day with a rover ticket, but only time to travel to Wymondham and Hunstanton.
March via Wisbech became a lost opportunity. [Part of the line at least is proposed for reopening - Ed.]

816] Shenfield: (BLN 1250.265) The Down Sidings were taken OOU on 28 March, as well as the two
country end middle sidings and the Chelmsford Loop. The latter runs from P5 to the Down Main. In
the heyday of its use, the Chelmsford Loop was used in each direction by an hourly Shenfield to
Chelmsford shuttle formed of one three car unit. It can be accessed from the Up Main via a facing
crossover and the shuttle always used P4. The current report suggests these tracks may yet see use for
engineering trains or plant during engineering possessions in connection with the remodelling.

817] Oxford - Kingham: (BLN 1229.555) A member amplifies use of the four 'stations' on the Oxford to
Worcester line served only at peak times: Combe, Finstock, Ascott-under-Wychwood and Shipton*.
On 29 March, at both Combe and Ascott-under-Wychwood, several people left the going-home train, a
5-car class 180 which now runs from Paddington through to Great Malvern. However, our member
was the only one joining at Combe, after getting soaked walking from Hanborough. After getting
soaked again walking from Ascott, he was the only one joining the later (19.12) train, a 10-vehicle
InterCity 125, at only-slightly-better-served Shipton; nobody alighted. The remaining sparsely served
station (Finstock) is a 3.3km walk from Charlbury, but only two of the three walks can be fitted into
one evening peak, to the frustration of station collectors! (*Shipton has more services on Saturdays.)

818] Folkestone - Dover: (BLN 1253.590) The project to rebuild the line has been costed by NR at
£44.5M and engineers say they are targeting December to reopen the railway to trains. Work to
protect the existing structure and cliffs has been underway since the start of the year and preliminary
construction of a new viaduct started at the end of March. It will be 235m long, supported on 134
concrete columns sunk into the beach; designed to last 120 years and protected by rock armour.

NR's Steve Kilby, who is leading the project, said: 'The railway at this location was originally built on a
timber viaduct and our modern, concrete viaduct will follow the same principles; although it will be
hidden behind a wall of rock sea defences. We will also put a new footbridge back where the old one
was, so people can continue to enjoy Shakespeare beach. In addition to rebuilding the railway, we are
also defending almost 750m of the sea wall with more than 90,000 tonnes of rock'. Since Christmas NR
and Costain have been installing more than 375m of sheet piling to protect the 750m sea wall driven
into the shingle. The extent of the damage means reconstruction will be on a much wider scale than
the work undertaken at Dawlish, encompassing a longer section of railway, a very different type of
failure, twice the tide heights and a much higher wall (10m). Work on the beach has stopped as
planned, so NR can apply for permission to the Marine Management Organisation. (Network Rail)

BLN 1255.819] On the level: A member visited Maidstone West on Easter Monday when buses
replaced the service to and from Strood. Trains ran to and from Tonbridge using the rare trailing
crossover south of the station. He caught a 2-car class 466 train as far as Yalding, where he noticed
that the automatic level crossing had its barriers and road warning lights monitored by the train crew.
This seemed most unusual for southeast England, he being more familiar with this practice on the
Heart of Wales line. Wikipedia advises that this is the only Southeastern network signal to display a
flashing white light as the proceed aspect at the AHBC, although TRACKmaps shows this as an ABCL.

820] Rochester: (BLN 1254.698) The OOU points in the Down Chatham Main at the country end of the
new station where the Down Siding converged were to be replaced by plain line on 17 April.

821] Getting wind of a new station? A planned development of 2,000 homes at Burpham, [No doubt
the locals prefer 'Bur Fam' rather than 'Burp Ham - Ed?] Surrey includes a proposal for a new station
about midway between Clandon and London Road (Guildford). The housing development is adjacent
to the A3, further north, and not the railway. The station would have up to 1,000 car parking spaces.

822] Meldon (Dartmoor Railway): For the 2012 season, the station (199m 35ch) was advertised as
'Meldon Quarry'. For the very limited 2013 operations and the 2014 and 2015 seasons, advertising has
recorded 'Meldon Viaduct'. Publicity for the Sulzer Weekend in January and advance publicity for the
2016 season simply shows 'Meldon'. It is unclear yet whether this is advertisers' shorthand or another
change of name. Its nameboard was not changed until 4 Jul 2015 which shows why chronologists set
little store by such evidence. Operations have been equally as varied (BLNs 1120.778 & 1174.MR225):

 2012: Meldon Quarry - Sampford Courtenay.
 2013: (very limited) season, Dartmoor Railway Supporters Association ran mainly Okehampton -

Meldon Viaduct (sic); with trips to the Coleford Jn property boundary on two days that year.
 2014 & 2015: Meldon Viaduct - Bow (no alighting/joining at the latter) as 'Granite Line'.
 2016: Okehampton-Meldon (sic); may run east of Okehampton on a couple of 'themed days'.

Any correspondence that confirms the official Meldon changes of name would be welcomed.

823]: Severn Beach: (BLN 1251.387) Weekly operating notices record that imminent works to connect
the new Severnside SITA to the branch line near Holesmouth Jn were postponed. When eventually
completed there will be a new electronic ground frame at 12m 70ch, controlled by St. Andrews
Junction Signal Box. (Note access to the sidings will be to the south; in ICI Severnside Works days the
connection was to the north at the Severn Beach end.) 'Shut-in' facilities will be provided. A recent visit
by a correspondent recorded considerable work still to be done to effect rail access, though the
incinerator was running (presumably commissioning and testing, burning rubbish brought in by road).

824] Berkeley Loop Jn - Berkeley South Jn: (BLN 1253.594) The item on Westerleigh Jn mentioned the
relationship of links between the MR and GWR, the Badminton Line and the Severn Bridge; which have
a complex and inter-related history. There was no motivation to build a southbound connection from
Berkeley to the MR Gloucester - Bristol mainline when the branch initially opened in 1875, and its
eventual opening by the GWR in 1908 was largely due to the Badminton line and connections at
Westerleigh providing a viable route for Forest of Dean coal to Swindon and further east.

The link had been proposed earlier; with GWR Traffic Committee minutes dated 7 Jun 1899 noting:
'Powers included in the Great Western (South Wales & Bristol Direct Railway) Act of 1896 for the land
required for the proposed Berkeley Road Loop and the junctions with the Midland Company's Bristol &
Gloucester Line and the Sharpness Branch of the Severn & Wye Joint Line will expire in August next.'

It urged service of a 'Notice to Treat' regarding the land required. Diversionary use of the connection
did occur, but not until January 1923 during winter Sunday Severn Tunnel maintenance. The GWR's
South Loop never carried regular passenger service and CA 21 Jan 1963 (the last train may have been
on 28 Feb 1960 and the track was lifted by 7 July 1963) along with the official withdrawal of the Lydney
- Sharpness service, which actually ceased abruptly with damage to the Severn Bridge on 25 Oct 1960.

[BLN 1255]
825] Sharpness branch: A correspondent's recent visit to the area indicates that the Vale of Berkeley
Railway's plans to operate services seem ambitious. Local opposition and land ownership issues aside,
the more practical challenges of reviving tracks laid in the dock roadways would limit the groups'
activity to the western (ex- British Waterways Board) part of the docks. Despite the final nuclear flask
train to Berkeley (for Oldbury) running on Mar 8, there are expected to be occasional movements of
low-level waste requiring retention and maintenance of the line and loading gantry by NR.

ABOVE: D9553, At the Vale of Berkeley Railway, Sharpness on 20 March (Rob Davidson)
826] Cirencester Town: (BLN 1252.478) A correspondent travelled on the final day of service Sun 5 Apr
1964. Such was the strength of feeling at the withdrawal of service that police involvement was
required to quell disturbance, with an effigy of Dr. Beeching being suspended from a lamp-post. The
modern era of internet petitions suddenly seems remarkably benign in this context!

827] Henwick: (BLN 1239.1591) The frog of the point to access the lengthy Up Refuge Siding at 121m
72ch was recently seen to have been plain-lined and might have been so for some time. The siding,
formerly used for Worcester Foregate Street ECS turnbacks (before the signalling there was changed
to allow this in the platform), could even take a full length HST. It is thought that it will be reinstated.
828] Coventry Arena: (BLN 1254.707). Today's Railways UK (May) gives a figure of 650 passengers
using the 28 February loco hauled Coventry to Nuneaton specials for the rugby matches and 2,000 on
12 March. The cost (to London Midland and Ricoh Arena) of running them is put at £40K but income
was only £10K. The Ricoh Arena website has since changed to warn of limited capacity of one train an
hour in each direction on match days with double capacity; presumably a 2-car class 153 DMU then.

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