Issue Number 1237 (Items 1306- 1407 and MR 108_MR119) (e-BLN 32 PAGES) 18 July 2015
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Ave., Epsom, Surrey, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members, an international section is also available.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
BLN 1238 is due on 8 August NOTE 3 WEEK GAP and all contributions must be received by 29 July.
Date Event Visit Type BLN Lead Notes
TBA 2015 Severn Valley Railway Highley, Engine House branch 1230 PS Notify
Sat 18/07/15 ROC/IECC visits 10.30 Romford & Upminster 1236 PS *PHONE*
Sun 19/07/15 East Lancashire Railway Comprehensive railtour 1234 KA FULL
Thur 30/07/15 Spa Valley Railway 16.15 Rare track railtour (below) 1231 GW Open
Sat 1/08/15 Signal Box Visits 09.30 Norfolk Broads area 1234 PS FULL
Sat 8/08/15 25 mile French branch Whole Sud des Ardennes branch 1234 GB1 Enquire
Thur 13/08/15 South Wales Valleys Conducted service train tour 1232 KA FULL
15-16/08/15 SVR signalling weekend Two day practical signals course 1224 NJ FULL
Sun 16/08/15 Rainsbrook Valley Rly. 11.00 Comprehensive railtour 1234 PS Open
Sun 16/08/15 Conducted walk 12.30 Rugby area trackbed walk 1234 PS Open
Fri 4/09/15 Strathspey Railway 12.30 Track and traction tour 1236 KA OPEN
Sat 5/09/15 Caledonian Railway 10.30 Track and traction tour 1236 KA OPEN
Sun 6/09/15 Royal Deeside Railway 10.00 Track and traction tour 1236 KA OPEN
Mon 7/09/15 Rail/Sail & guided walk 09.56 Wemyss Bay/Isle of Bute 1236 GB2 NOTIFY
Sat 19/09/15 Scunthorpe Steelworks 10.30 All day railtour with food 1236 PS OPEN
Thur 1/10/15 *NEW* LU signal cabins 10.00 Metropolitan line boxes 1237 PS OPEN
Sun 11/10/15 East Kent Railway Comprehensive railtour TBA DG Claimed
Sun 11/10/15 Romney H. & D. Railway Comprehensive railtour TBA DG Claimed
Sat 24/10/15 Ribble Steam Railway All line railbus railtour TBA JW Claimed
Fri 13-15/11/15 60th AGM weekend York NRM and events in area TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 15/11/15 60th AGM Tracker Mainline railtour from York TBA KA Claimed
DG-Darren Garnon, GW-Glen Wells, GB1-Geoff Blyth, GB2-Greg Beecroft, JW-John Williamson, KA-Kev Adlam, NJ-Nick Jones, PS-Paul Stewart.
1306] BLS Romford ROC & Upminster IECC, Charity Event visits Sat, 18 July 10.30: (BLN 1236.1205)
There may be a few places available, please ring Paul Stewart (travelling) to check on 077906 52351.
1307] BLS Spa Valley Explorer No2, Thur 30 July 16.15: Prior to their summer Diesel Gala; Tunbridge
Wells West: Headshunt, P1 to P2 crossover, East/West Siding Headshunt, Run Round Loop and Yard
lines (as available). Leaving the station, the temporary embankment landslip deviation is in use.
Groombridge: Up loop in the 'wrong' direction; right hand line of the recently de-vegetated Ashurst
Spur carriage sidings line (the former third side of the triangle and the opposite track to the one done
on our 2014 trip) and crossover in the Down (wrong) direction. Eridge: Bay platform, south end of line
'beyond buffer stops'. Then to East/West No2 siding outside Tunbridge Wells where arrival is expected
to be in the yard, possibly No3 Road. Haulage includes 73140 with a DEMU. £25, or £31 with Day Rover
http://goo.gl/cXBal7 purple timetable. Bookings, cheque payee 'Branch Line Society' or CPA to Glen
Wells, 48 Eastville Avenue, Rhyl, LL18 3TN. Queries: [email protected] 01745797902.
1308] Rainsbrook Valley Railway (Rugby MES) Sunday 16 Aug: (BLN 1234.1029) Plenty of space is
available on this visit, which we hope will be well supported, special running prior to public operation
before Tom Gilby's railway trackbed walk in the area. The extensive additions being made to the
railway (which has increased its site from 4.5 to 12 acres) will be at an interim phase. Some of the
previous normal public run has already closed. A March 'drone' view https://goo.gl/LuLDlF to give an
idea of the project's scale and https://goo.gl/Brpbng coming down to earth. Bookings to Paul Stewart.
1309] Rothesay & Ettrick Bay tramway walk, Mon 7 Sept: See http://goo.gl/xTRTrp for some pictures.
1310] BLS Signal Cabin visits, Thur 1 Oct: With special thanks to our member Rob Davison and London
Underground; 10.00 at Amersham then Rickmansworth, Harrow-on-the Hill and finally Rayners Lane.
Estimated finishing time 13.30/14.00. Limited party size; bookings to Paul Stewart (per back page). A
volunteer to produce a draft report for BLN would be greatly appreciated.
1311] Unusual Track: These are anticipated but should be re-checked http://goo.gl/atct2m etc.
Rutherglen: 19 July, trains from Balloch terminate in P1 via facing X/O at Strathclyde Jn.
Doncaster: 19 July, P4 - West Slow - Flyover - Loversall Jn, 08.18, 08.33, 09.11 & 09.37 to KX.
Chesterfield: 19 July, all southbound XC services booked P1 (X/O north and south of station?).
EMT from/to Nottingham (etc.) services are booked to terminate/depart P2; reports welcome.
No Northern services or use of P3 booked. Buses (except XC) Chesterfield to/from Sheffield.
Bicester North facing X/O south of station: 19 July, trains from Marylebone terminate in P2.
Kelvedon facing X/O: 19 July, 07.00 Norwich, 08.36 Clacton, 06.54 & 07.24 Colchester and
09.09 Ipswich departures are all booked to terminate on Witham Down side (P3 &4).
Kelvedon trailing X/O: 08.57 Witham (P1) to Ipswich.
Maidstone East: 19 July, Ashford International trains terminate at P2 via X/0 at 40m 31ch.
Middlewich diversions: 1 Aug, 10.39, 11.38, 12.39, 13.39, 16.39 & 18.39 Euston arrivals and
08.10, 09.10, 13.10, 15.10 & 16.10 Euston departures. 2 Aug, 14.44, 15.45, 16.44 &17.44
Euston arrivals and 16.08, 17.08 & 18.08 departures (other services reverse at Warrington BQ).
Tonbridge, Hastings Chord: TRACKmaps 5, p10B (Nov 2006) a rarely used direct route built in
the 1980s from the Up Hastings line to Tonbridge P1, avoiding Tonbridge East Jn. NB: there is
an alternative route via the Up Slow. (SSuX) 05.21 ex-Tunbridge Wells and 05.17 ex-Hastings.
Stalybridge P1: (BLN 1236.1212) Confirmed use by 16.20 ex-Liverpool Lime St. on Sunday 5 July.
NET, Hucknall non-preferred platform: SO 09.30 & 19.51 Station Street - Hucknall 10.11 return.
1312] FIXTURES REPORTS: Coventry area, Sat 27 June, Fairfield Lake & Smite Brook Railway: (82/60)
So extensive are the private grounds (the word garden would be inadequate!) that this 1,300m line
settles in almost inconspicuously as its circuit loops the lake and then descends around a woodland
area with spurs off to steaming, loading and shed areas. In a reverse of normal practice in the initial
absence of steam motive power, it was arranged for the available battery electric, a centre cab class 14
lookalike sporting a suitably diminutive BLS 1955-2015 headboard (see e-BLN 1236.1213 picture), to
run shuttles into the only siding (off the platform loop) in sight! About 35 participants formed an
orderly line to travel all of 30yd in one direction or the other (but highly significant at 7¼" gauge)! This
heroic mission accomplished, there began a more extensive tour around the lake mainly to take in the
whole of the platform line, as steam hauled trains began to operate via the platform avoiding, line
AND the steam powered yacht on the lake (is this a BLS first?)! This, rather faster than its railway
counterparts, called Roundtuit, has an engine built by J. Alex-Ritchie of the Steam Launch Machinery
Co. of Wrabness, but a fibreglass hull! The steam yacht and trains made a fine sight as they circled the
lake in brilliant sunshine with participants aboard, some with ice creams in hand. Later full tours round
the upper and lower loops ensued until all had traversed this extensive and delightful line and lake in
full. Thanks to Peter Stevenson (owner) and Kenneth Eyre (operator and liaison) for the great success
of our visit that resulted in a £300 donation to the local Air Ambulance. BELOW: The wood burning
steam yacht on Fairfield Lake overtakes a train. (Jörg Haensel who travelled especially from Germany)
1313] Coventry Electric Railway Museum: (83/60) Situated slightly incongruously on the edge of
Coventry Airport, this site has existed for many years but recently has opened more often to the public
and developed its exhibits and activities. This was a special opening for the Society and the volunteers
certainly understood our interests! Operating both the 7¼" miniature, including the turning circle
recently completed at the entrance end, and the standard gauge demonstration line (no public
running), to which end we all became members for the day. Our hosts explored every possible
extremity. On the miniature a full traversal was made, finally depositing each group at the far end near
the standard gauge operation; some even made a point of detraining at the tiny stop of Middway (yes,
there really are two 'ds'!) and subsequently 'retraining' to claim the 1metre long station which has
never actually had official passenger stops. It was built because, when the line reached this point,
publicity claimed travel between stations and people complained there was no station there! [This also
exempts the tickets from VAT - Ed.] On the demonstration line most of the party clambered aboard the
20 ton LNER Brakevan hauled by Spondon No1 (1935) battery electric; this had previously operated
Society tours at its eponymous power station in the 1980s (and perhaps more surprisingly all four
Spondon electric locos have been preserved). It made a full trip down the demonstration line into the
adjacent field (was this an electric field then?) https://goo.gl/zqCXEc and returned to a different yard
road with much photographic activity and swapping cab rides. A second trip followed and then, after
depositing the brakevan, the loco shuttled to a third road in between those already traversed
(requiring the points to be unclipped and moved with a 'slewing bar' as there was no lever) with
exceptionally tight clearance; another coat of paint and that might have been it! After enjoying the
rides, complimentary teas and perusing the many and interesting exhibits at the Museum, participants
left for the third venue (hence the name Three In(spire)ations Tour for the day after Coventry's three
spires, not to mention Three Spires Jn for the Gosford Green loop.) BELOW: What is missing from this
picture? Spondon No1 at the end of the standard gauge line in the middle of a field. Perhaps it is the
secret NR testing line for the latest invisible overhead line catenary wire system designed to address
the current electrification funding crisis. (Simon Mortimer)
1314] Orchard Miniature Railway: (84/60) This once public line at a Pick Your Own fruit farm is now a
private line without a strawberry in sight! The organiser admitted to making a fruit picking expedition
years ago to pick off the track. It became private on cessation of fruit production with modification of
the railway but has been largely retained. A cadre of just 5/6 members operate and maintain the
complex network of over 800yd, including an automatic electro-pneumatic signalling system operating
both GWR lower quadrant signals with splitting distants and calling on signals (all used appropriately)
as well as MAS with multiple route feathers. The system worked in snow one winter when the West
Midlands rail network signalling was paralysed! Two steam hauled trains were used to carry members
around the complex layout in detail, whilst latterly the venerable battery electric YUK offered DIY rides
in the sidings and depot area, although its battery eventually surrendered and the final traversals were
made with 'people power' (don't underestimate it). Our host Graham Gain's wife offered jacket
potatoes to all the party cooked in a coal fired oven that positively shimmered with heat in the woods
and a constant stream of teas kept the participants fuelled to the end. Some had to leave for trains to
distant parts from Birmingham International, four miles away but many remained to enjoy the rest of
the sunny day, partake of another jacket potato and surf a siding or two! We are indebted to all the
hosts for making this a most varied and interesting day and to our very local member Simon Mortimer
for all the excellent arrangements. We hope you were 'Inspired' to arrange another day out, Simon!
BELOW: Waiting for the road (with three route feather options available.) (Simon Mortimer)
1315] Millfield Private Railway, Sun 28 June: (85/60) To continue the weekend, not too far away, 20
members met up at the delightful village of Shardlow, Derbyshire (an 18th century Brindley inland port
on the Trent & Mersey Canal and originally the Rivers Trent and Derwent). Here John Cooke, owner of
the complex 7¼" gauge Millfield Railway and his helpers made the group very welcome treating us to a
most enjoyable comprehensive tour using steam and battery electric power. The railway runs along
the (private) bank of the canal in lovely well cared for gardens (including a couple of neighbours')
which were open to the public later in the day; also the railway's annual public running day. An outer
circuit runs around the house and canal side garden, through the coal store (and loco shed) with a
canal side loop by the house. This has a road off to a turntable (that also leads to the loco shed). An
inner cut off runs round the lawn in front of the house. At the far end of the garden is a triangular
junction, leading to a long reversing siding at 'Basin East'. Unsurprisingly this is alongside an original
canal basin, amazingly dug out and brought back into use by the residents round it. After reversal
there, a branch continues round this basin with a carriage shed branch (full of spiders and cobwebs but
luckily there were no carriages or arachnophobes present). There is an engine and stock loading line.
The railway ends at a turntable the far side of the canal basin where our GS moved the dustbins off a
siding that the party was later able to explore on an open wagon (people power again!). In summary,
every inch was covered efficiently, effortlessly and enjoyably (except the engine shed traverser as its
track link to the turntable is of a temporary nature so the organiser had not realised it was there until
afterwards!). Everyone was refreshed with a generous supply of hot drinks, cakes and savouries; £180
was raised for The Shardlow Heritage Centre supported by local historian, John's wife! BELOW: Lines
going off in all directions at Shardlow; the Trent & Mersey Canal is (right) off picture. (Jörg Haensel)
1316] Kirkby-in-Ashfield Railway walk, Sun 28 June: (86/60) A map (BLN 1227.312) will help to make
sense of this report, an area with much incredibly complicated railway history. The current Kirkby-in-
Ashfield station opened in November 1996 as part of the 'Robin Hood Line' (the name being no
reflection of the fares charged - see Others' Doings), interestingly a section of line without a previous
passenger station. Following the Shardlow visit, a band of 12 merry men (no one had made Marian
come along) and a dog (travelling on a rover ticket perhaps?) met there at noon. Firstly, the party
walked an unnamed road once the route of the 1819 Mansfield & Pinxton Railway (4'4" gauge and
horse drawn) converted to standard gauge in 1849 by the Midland Railway as part of their Pye Bridge
to Mansfield line until 1892, when a new route into Kirkby Station (East) was built, which itself was
closed by BR in 1972 by building two new chords! At the end of this road the Great Northern Railway
(GNR) Leen Valley Extension Railway crossed the Midland. This closed in May 1968 and was bulldozed
away; who would have thought that it would be revived 26 years later as part of the Robin Hood Line?
A footbridge over it gives an excellent view towards Kirkby Lane End Jn, near the site of Kirkby East Jn.
A second footbridge crosses the BR 1972 spur connecting Pye Bridge to the GNR line. The other 1972
chord at Kirkby Summit then takes it back to the Midland. Next the GNR East to North curve trackbed,
closed by 1905 due to a dearth of traffic, took participants onto the grassy hillside known as Bentinck
Banks. Here 50 years ago two double track railways, the Mansfield and the Great Central (GCR)
(originally the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire) swept across the valley on viaducts with a colliery
branch alongside, nowadays nothing! There is just a green sloping hillside down the dale to the infant
River Erewash and a slight dip in the tree line opposite. A short stretch of the GCR was found towards
Kirkby Bentinck before descending the GCR Bentinck Colliery Empty Wagon Line (it was!) and its back
shunt into the Empty Wagon Yard towards the massive derelict colliery site (occupying a square mile).
Now it gets a bit complicated! The group followed the Bentick Colliery Midland Empty Wagon Line
which joined the extant Pye Bridge line at Sowters Crossing (137m 67ch from St. Pancras), the site of
Bentinck Colliery Sidings signal box. Participants were now in Portland Park and took the path on the
well defined Mansfield & Pinxton Railway embankment northwards. Shortly came 'Kirkby Cutting'
where the GCR and Mansfield Railway crossed overhead and converged to the east alongside each
other. It is now an almost impenetrable jungle (but not to us as our guide's trusty secateurs were
brought into action against the Greenwood). The double track Mansfield Railway (later part of the
MR) was followed on a falling gradient through the deep cutting with a high solid stone retaining wall
in perfect order to come alongside and join the Great Central, also double track. Further on towards
Kirkby South Jn (where to add to the interest the GNR joined in too) is flooded. Therefore, the party
returned along the Great Central paralleling their outward route at a lower level noting the much
poorer and crumbling retaining walls on this side of the former four track formation here. Then, north
alongside the still operational Pye Bridge line, the divergence right of the pre-1972 route was noted as
the Robin Hood line came in from our right, taking the ex-GNR route. Re-crossing the footbridge we
walked the 1892 Midland route back to Kirkby, to Lindley's Lane, the site of Kirkby (Station) Jn, to the
Midland's Kirkby Station later 'East'. All is redeveloped; not a trace of railway, station or level crossing.
Participants 'Tucked' into an excellent lunch (roasted not 'Friared') and visited the Little John before a
short bus ride, rather sheepishly having to ask the driver for 'Mutton Hill Bottom' a.k.a. the bridge over
the Robin Hood Line at Kirkby Tunnel. Following the edge of a field we came to Grives Lane AHB
Crossing, almost above the buried GCR Annesley Tunnel portal, noting the embankment now on top
of the former GCR cutting and the new Robin Hood Line formation (1995, BR's final ever spur!) around
it. The group returned to Kirkby (East) along the Midland Line that closed in 1970. Arrival back at
Kirkby station was in good time for the 16.21 train to Nottingham. A brief visit afterwards to Warren
House Level Crossing (135m 31ch) on the other side of Kirkby Tunnel, found the infilled rectangular
GCR Tunnel cutting in use as horse-gallops and grazing. Thanks to our guide, Tom Gilby for all his
thorough preparation, maps and notes that made sense of such a complicated and interesting area for
participants on the day and pointing us in the right direction. A seasoned railway rambler was heard to
say that it was the most interesting and thorough such walk he had done.
PS: Ironville Jn - (site of) Pye Bridge Jn - Kirkby Lane End Jn (Kirkby-in-Ashfield): With the collapse of
coal rail freight traffic after the dramatic rise in the Carbon Tax from 1 April, (UK £23.38p per tonne in
the UK, rest of Europe £5.30) the only regular trains on this double track line now are ECS units from
Nottingham at 04.29 MO, 04.39 SO to Worksop, 05.51 and 06.28 SSuX to Mansfield Woodhouse and
from Worksop at 23.18 SSuX and Mansfield Woodhouse at 23.53 SO, with just an occasional freight.
1237 HEAD LINES
1317] Welton Oil Terminal (35m 74ch) between Lincoln and Market Rasen: Rail traffic ceased in early
2011 (by mid April). OG 21 May 1986 it served the UK's second largest onshore oil field (after the Isle
of Purbeck, Wytch Farm). Outgoing local crude oil was carried by rail to Lyndsey oil refinery, at one
time 1,000 tonnes alternate days. Road tankers now transport the residual (reduced volume) traffic.
1318] IOW, Shanklin Cliff Lift: TCP 30 March 2015 due to deterioration of the top station metal access
bridge. ROP expected 21 July after installation of a temporary bridge. Work costing £750k on a new
permanent bridge and long-term repairs to the 150ft tall
two car lift https://goo.gl/vYY74G is due to start in
2016, permanent closure had been considered as an
1319] Thornton North Jn - Earlseat Hall Opencast
Loading Terminal: (BLN 1166.889 & 953) CG first or
second week in June 2015 (ROF 23 July 2012). On the
Methil branch to just beyond Double Dykes LC (0m
59ch); the weekly coal train to Hunterston has
reportedly ceased; none are scheduled. Longannet
Power station (due to close in March next year) has
been generally receiving an average of one coal train
daily weekdays (via Stirling); there is little traffic
between Charlestown Jn and the power station.
1320] Stainforth Jct. - Hatfield Main Colliery bunker:
(BLN 1227.324) CG after final outwards coal train on
Friday afternoon 26 June, to Drax Power Station with
66069. The colliery which was established in 1916 and
'mothballed' from 2001 to 2007 has ceased production
and the shafts are being filled in.
1321] Foxton - Foxton Exchange Sidings - Barrington
Run Round - Barrington Loading Pad: (BLN 1226.271)
(MAP LEFT with thanks to our members Iain Scotchman
and Martyn Brailsford) ROG Tuesday 30 June 2015, DBS
train with 66118 https://goo.gl/O2XK4f from the
Wembley, European Freight Operations Centre. [Is it
about time this location was renamed? During our 2013
visits, there were virtually no operations being
performed here and certainly nothing European.] The
first train of 22 JNA wagons arrived at the pad 07.49
with the initial load of 'inert spoil waste' to partly fill in
the former quarry for reclamation and landscaping. The
empty wagons returned at 11.22 (63 minutes early). This
branch is on the now refurbished Barrington Light
Railway (with an extension towards the quarry). The
trackwork had looked complete on 20 June and the
three level crossings remain 'open' with just road signs
(they were due to have been converted to automatic
crossings). No work had been done on the track from
the junction to the NR boundary where a sleeper was
then chained across the line. The mainline connection
and centre road of the exchange sidings were traversed
by Badger Railtours' The Fletton Avoider railtour on 2
Nov 1991 http://goo.gl/FHdjMi that also visited Ciba
Geigy chemical works at Duxford, Barnwell Oil Depot,
Ely Freight Terminal and Wisbech amongst others. New
double track extends from the works (former inward coal unloading sidings) towards the quarry where
there is a run round loop and new single line beyond at the spoil unloading pad. BELOW: A train at the
Barrington Quarry branch run round loop. (Iain Scotchman)
1322] Lincoln, Pelham Street Jn - Wrawby Jn & Market Rasen station: TCA on Tuesday 30 June to
Thursday 9 July 2015 (inclusive) due to significant derailment (from a heat related track buckle) of the
10.39 Kingsbury to Humber Oil Refinery train at 14.20 on the Up Main line at Welton facing crossover
(35m 71ch) blocking both lines. This crossover has been plain lined during repairs. Freight traffic was
diverted via Scunthorpe and Brigg and passenger services replaced by buses. The loco and first 9
wagons were able to proceed to Immingham at 17.40 on 2 July. A temporary access route had to be
built specially to bring in a large crane to clear the line.
ABOVE: Barrington, unloading wagons; looking down on the (extended) end of line. (Iain Scotchman)
1323] Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR): Normal public services are from Wymondham Abbey to Dereham
(10m 49ch) with occasional gala and special running to Hoe, Hall Road level crossing (TF991168) a
further 2m 30ch. The 'passenger limit' is now given by the MNR as Bridge 1701 (TF991173). Thuxton
station passing loop has been in use since Sept 2010 (left hand running for crossing). On Sat 4 July an
MNR (members only) AGM special ran from Dereham to mile post 14¼ (TF 991175) near Bridge 1702
the furthest north a MNR train has been. North of here, work is progressing on an old long term
embankment slip and trackwork. The immediate aim is to reach County School station making the 17½
mile run the third longest of a UK heritage railway. North Elmham buffer stops is the operational limit
of the Mid-Norfolk Railway under their 2001 Transport and Work Act Order.
1324] Auchencruive Oil Sidings: (41m 41ch Newton Jn - Mauchline Jn line) Temporarily OOU from 6
July 2015 (former ESSO depot, aviation fuel for nearby Prestwick Airport) no traffic for a long while.
This, and the next four entries, represents the Sectional Appendix catching up with the 'real railway'.
1325] Alves Jn (6m 42ch) - Burghead (4m 39ch): This branch is temporarily OOU from 6 July 2015. In
practice it has been OOU since December 2000; the final train was our Society railtour of 16 October
1999. The line was reported to be disconnected at the junction in April 2014 (BLN 1213.1132). The
track remains in situ and there is the serious possibility of resumption of rail traffic, outward whisky,
from the intermediate Diageo Roseisle Distillery (2m 09ch). The branch train staff used to be kept at
Alves Ground Frame, released by the Elgin to Forres section token, but is now held in Elgin signal box
(as some members saw on our 20 June visit). The Alves subsidiary token instrument is controlled from
Elgin and Forres signal boxes; trains on the branch could be 'shut in' to clear the main line for running.
1326] Clydebank Jn - Dalmuir Riverside: Visited by our 23 August 1986 'Clyde Forth' tour, the junction
(in the Down Yoker line) and the residual 48ch branch is OOU from 6 July 2015 (in practice April 1988).
1327] Containerbase Jn - Greenock Container Depot gate (NR boundary): Permanently disconnected
from the network from 6 July 2015. This 2m 29ch branch, in use for container traffic from 16 April
1971, CG 30 September 1991. It had been disused for sometime before this date because the size of
containers handled at the port was too big for the five tunnels on the single track line (which had been
relaid on the middle of the former double track formation to accommodate 8ft containers). The
branch was disconnected from the Wemyss Bay line on 20 September 2008.
1328] Stevenston Down Goods Loop - Misk Branch (NR boundary): http://goo.gl/CE2XVI OOU from 6
July 2015 (in practice for many years); our 'Man of Ayr' railtour traversed it on 28 August 1971 (which
also traversed most of the then newly reopened Greenock container terminal branch - previous entry).
1329] Thoresby Colliery Jn (SK 6366 6644) 17m 17ch* - Thoresby Colliery (SK 6390 6749): (BLN
1209.782) Mining ceased Friday 10 July 2015. There is reportedly about 8 weeks of stockpiled coal on
the surface to grade and transport. CG(all) of this 1m 27ch branch, (NR boundary 1m 18ch) is then
expected. It was once England's most productive colliery mining 100,000 tonnes of coal per week. [Ex-
LNER branch OG 1926, the year Thoresby Colliery Signal Box opened] *From Chesterfield Market Place.
Kellingley Colliery, east of Knottingley, Yorkshire is Britain's final remaining significant deep coal mine;
closure is expected in December. In South Wales Aberpergwm Colliery on the Cwmgwrach branch is
being 'mothballed' again; have any coal trains run since the branch ROG 7 July 2014? (BLN 1213.1136.)
1330] Rutherglen East Jn - Whifflet North Jn (& five intermediate stations): TCP/TCA (also Langloan
Jn - Coatbridge Jn) TCG/TCA was expected 11 to 26 July 2015 (incl.) to replace part of an embankment
between Baillieston and Bargeddie with a bridge over a new section of the M8 to complete its Glasgow
to Edinburgh route. Rail replacement buses are running instead, mostly Dalmarnock to Motherwell.
1331] Keighley - Oxenhope (stations) inclusive and 4 intermediate stops: TCP Thu 16 & Fri 17 July
2015 (Wed 15 July Keighley - Ingrow) for a major filming contract. Replacement vintage bus services
are provided. (Included in Head Lines for novelty value and does not create a precedent!) [K&WVR.]
1332] Tweedbank station (incl.) - Newcraighall North Jn/111 points at Newcraighall South Jn: TCA
due 08.00 Thur 16 July to 20.00 Sun 19 July 2015. (A line closure before opening; is this a first?)
1333] Liverpool, Moorfields station: (BLN 1231.711) ROP P3 (Wirral Line deep level) is now expected
on 24 August 2015 after TCP since 13 April 2015 for refurbishment. This is to be followed by TCP P2
(Down /northbound Northern Line) now delayed as a result, then P1 (Up/southbound Northern Line).
1334] Bermuda Park & Coventry Arena stations: (BLN 1235.1173) OP of both expected in September.
1335] Arcow Quarry Sidings, Helwith Bridge (near MP 241¼): South of Horton-in-Ribblesdale station,
this new railhead is expected to be connected to the Settle & Carlisle Line during a 79 hour possession
between 23 and 27 October 2015. It will serve Lafarge Tarmac Arcow and Dry Rigg Quarries in the
Yorkshire Dales National Park. This enables production to continue and increase despite restrictions on
the use of road transport. NR is delivering the Lafarge funded project and a railway embankment is
currently under construction for the line. Five trains per week are anticipated removing 16,000 road
lorry journeys per year. Arcow Quarry GF will be released from Settle Jn box; there are significant
associated signalling alterations, especially at Blea Moor (where trains will run round in the loop).
1336] Colne Valley Railway & Castle Hedingham station: (BLN 1230.625) (MR p8) Essex, CO9 3DZ
(TL773362) CP of this 1m 17ch standard gauge Heritage Railway (first established 1973) near Braintree
and its 700m long Miniature Railway is still expected after the 2015 operating season due to non-
renewal of the lease by the Australian landowner, Christopher Young. He wants to sell it to build 400
houses on. A new site is not yet confirmed and the railway has made a general plea for help with this.
With apologies, the line is currently unable to accept a repeat of our 20 July 2013 comprehensive visit.
For information and public timetable etc see http://goo.gl/f0LQ5m 01787 461174; well worth a visit.
1337] Norton Bridge, Little Bridgeford Jn - Yarnfield Jn (via new flyover) & Searchlight Jn - Down
Slow (WCML) i.e. the new 'Down Slow Chord' (avoiding the flyover): (BLN 1233.933) OA is expected
after an Easter (24 to 28 March 2016) commissioning blockade and the project is currently on target.
1338] Forres; (former) East Jn - (former) West Jn & Forres station: (BLN 1208.755) CP expected. The
plan to resite the current (1863) station back to its original (1858) location (NJ 0320 5914) with better
facilities and car parking, on the former direct and straight 'avoiding line', is the 'preferred option' and
progressing. Until 1992 it was a yard (and ex-goods depot) accessed from the East Jn (West Jn was
severed on 28 May 1967); its residual siding stub is temporarily OOU at East Jn. The work is part of the
Inverness to Aberdeen line upgrade with resignalling. Forres station is on a tight curve and not DDA
compliant; if the second platform was reopened there (inside the curve) with the passing loop moved
from the east, it would be even tighter. The project would release brownfield land for redevelopment.
1237 BLN GENERAL
1339] Quiz: Which NR line is the shortest now controlled by a single line staff and which trains use it?
1340] The Velocipede Group: http://goo.gl/lF6Sp3 A velocipede (from the Latin for 'fast foot') is
actually a human powered land vehicle of any type with one or more wheels. The rail version (also
known as an 'Irish Mail' in America) is a simple 3 or 4 wheeled vehicle which the rider propels along
the track (of all gauges) using arms and/or legs. It was invented by George Sheffield to get to work by
unofficially riding on the tracks of the Michigan Central Railway in the hours of darkness. One evening
he found a broken rail and, by borrowing a lantern from a local farm, he stopped an approaching train,
preventing it derailing with potential loss of life. The Velocipede Group's website includes regular
newsletters, galleries, downloads and libraries (catalogues and plans), details of books, how to build
velocipedes plus weblinks. There was a national annual rally on the Churnet Valley Railway for the 14th
consecutive year on 28 & 29 May, allowing participants to traverse the 4½ miles from Froghall Jn to
Cheddleton station/yard when other services were suspended. Other events include Statfold Barn (2ft
gauge) on 12 September and some internationally. In other parts of the world, velocipedes, which can
take quite large parties, run on quite lengthy and interesting lines that may be otherwise disused.
1341] Ian Allan (1922 - 2015): The 'Father of Trainspotting' died on 28 June age 92. At the age of 20 he
was a Southern Railway clerk in 1942 when he published his first ABC of Southern Railway
Locomotives. The 2,000 copies at 1 shilling (5p) each quickly sold out and the hobby went on to expand
rapidly. The Ian Allan Loco-spotters' club started in 1943 and had 230,000 members by the end of
steam in 1968. His enterprise expanded into transport book and magazine publishing generally, a
travel agency and many other areas too. These included at one stage the Hastings Miniature Railway,
special mainline trains and the extensive Great Cockcrow miniature (visited comprehensively by the
Society last August). He was instrumental in the return of steam engines to our main lines after BR's
notorious 'steam ban' and supported heritage and independent railways in many ways. At the end of
steam (and after spotting everything there is to spot, or most of it) enthusiasts often turn to collecting
'track'. The BR Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer is published by Ian Allan as is the Rail Atlas of Great
Britain ('Baker') now after his company group took over the Oxford Publishing Company. He thus had a
major role in developing, promoting and nurturing our varied interests, leading to where we are today.
1342] Signal Box Quiz: The NR station on a single line with a passing loop
and three signal boxes is at Nairn. West and East (1891) boxes' lever
frames controlled the points and signals (worked by a single signaller riding
a bike along the platform the 220yd between them; picture right in 1999.).
Both were Grade B listed in December 1986, closed in April 2000 and
refurbished in 2012 as they were deteriorating quite badly and funds
became available for the work. The single line key token instruments were in the main station building;
this was the final example of this Highland Railway practice. Control was transferred to the station
building with colour light signalling controlled by WestCad VDUs. Since then most passenger services
have used the northern (former eastbound) 'Main' platform in both directions (the southern one, the
'Up Loop', is now only used by Aberdeen-bound services if two trains cross here). BELOW (TOP): Nairn
station looking west http://goo.gl/yyT3Ls with the former goods yard to the left behind the goods shed.
BELOW (LOWER): The signalman 'on his bike' (right is Nairn East box) 18 July 1992 (Angus McDougall).
1343] Matters Arising: BLN 1231.1101]
Ballybrophy bay buffers were moved
8m towards Dublin on 29 March. BLN
1234.1131] Circular section point
rodding was once common on all
railways until the 1950s. BLN 1236: Item
1217] The Peatlands Park Railway
(Department of the Environment,
Northern Ireland) layout is shown in the
Quail Track Diagrams Vol. 6 p16E
(February 2004). 1220] Bow Olympic
(Midland): There is an unloading 'pad'
west of the sidings, just north of the
road underbridge, where gravel from
Burngullow was unloaded and has been
slowly removed by road. Spoil loading
appears to be taking place further north
on the same side, involving lorry
transfer from the heaps on the east side
of the sidings. It is reported that these
have been growing faster than the
trains can remove them! Item 1269] The
summer dated Okehampton passenger
service has previously operated
additionally on Bank Holiday Mondays
but is Sundays only this year. 1277] The
crossover north of Skerries station was
removed on 24 May. The Up line is
reversibly signalled all the way from
Skerries Golf Club Crossover (17m 20ch), south of the station, to Balbriggan crossover (about 21m 47ch) for
Down trains using Skerries loop. Item 1289] Cardiff Riverside Siding, latterly used only for stabling the
occasional loco, is the remaining very short stub of the Clarence Road branch and is being removed to
allow laying of the new P8 track. The former 'Riverside platform' here was used by our 'Double Dragon'
railtour on 22 October 1983 (the branch CP to Cardiff Clarence Road from 16 March 1964 and in stages had
CG by July 1968).
1344] FREE Branch Line Travel Quiz (answer): Return tickets from Scotscalder and all stations further
south to Wick provide a free journey to Thurso and back again in each direction. The three NR stations
where this does not apply from are Georgemas Junction, Thurso and obviously Wick itself.
1345] ECML: A member attended a 'Railfuture' meeting at Newark 20 June. Plans include:
Thameslink: Through services to the Southern via Canal Tunnels and St. Pancras LL (2018).
King's Cross: Increase approaches from 4 to 6 tracks, and resite some terminal platforms.
Huntingdon: Four tracking in the area.
Peterborough: Werrington Jn freight flyover or diveunder instead of the flat crossing.
Newark: Underpass 2020/25 instead of flat crossing; space is limited for the required gradients.
Doncaster: New bay P0 at the northeast end - preliminary work already in progress.
Northallerton: New freight passing loops to the north of the station.
Power supply & loading gauge enhancements: For IEP (26m coaches rather than 23m) £400M.
May 2016 Edinburgh to King's Cross increased to 2tph by extending Newcastle services.
King's Cross is expected to handle 33% more train arrivals and departures by 2019.
2019/20 new services to Huddersfield and Middlesbrough (possibly Sunderland and Stirling).
Note that the Hitchin Flyover took 15 years from being first proposed to opening.
[Incidentally, with the closure of Ferrybridge Power station next year and Drax switching to 100%
Biomass supplied from Liverpool, it is wondered how busy the Doncaster North Chord will be then.]
1346] Thameslink Tracker railtour quiz: 12 July 2015, with thanks to our member Mike McCabe:
(1) Which northern signal box on the Midland Main Line fringed West Hampstead PSB on opening?
(2) Which station is in a scene of Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em with Frank Spencer stuck in a chair?
(3) Which comedian was a noted Luton Town supporter?
(4) What is the former railway trackbed between Luton and Dunstable now used for?
(5) Name one of the four boxes closed when West Hampstead PSB Stage 1 opened in October 1979.
(6) A classic advert features Lorraine Chase. 'Were you truly wafted here from paradise?'….….
'Naah, Luton Airport'. What was being advertised?
(7) What was the maximum permissible speed (line speed) on the main and fast lines between Hendon
and Trent Jn in 1980, which had been the same since at least 1960?
(8) Which two multiple working symbols did the Class 127 DMUs used to Bedford carry in their lives?
(9) Which Class 317 carriage never entered service, and was replaced by one with the same number?
(10) Where did the Class 317s EMUs work next after being replaced by Class 319s?
(11) Between where and where did the longest continuous four track railway in Britain once run?
(12) Which operator has recently taken delivery of Class 319 EMUs?
(13) Which two freight depots did the 'Condor' service commence running between in 1959?
(14) What was the depot code for Cricklewood, immediately before the two letter codes?
(15) What was the name of the diesel fuelling depot, just outside St. Pancras station?
(16) Which mode of transport was an unusual visitor to Somers Town goods yard in May 1969?
(17) Which famous poet was behind the campaign to save St. Pancras from demolition in the 1960s?
(18) Who designed the 'Midland Grand Hotel' at St. Pancras?
(19) How many Class 319 units are there?
There are only 19 questions as the tour was with a Class 319! Answers in three weeks in BLN 1238.
1237 ENGLAND – EAST MIDLANDS
1347] Kettering: Single line working was observed on the Midland Main Line on Sundays 21 June and 5
July between Kettering North Jn and Wellingborough North Jn. Up and Down trains were calling at
Kettering P1. North of Kettering the Up Slow is being extended from Kettering Station Jn to Kettering
North Jn as part of the £103M redoubling to Corby (singled in 1986 after the steelworks closed) and
will result in over 4 miles of quadruple track here. The section was once part of the longest quadruple
track railway in the UK at 74m 77ch from St. Pancras to Glendon North Jn. This is now Euston to Roade
at 60m 24ch to the divergence. Corby redoubling is on schedule for completion in 2017. Embankment
piling strengthening work is being carried out near Kettering between 20 June and 22 July for the
second track. An hourly passenger service now operates on the single line to Corby where the present
station ROP 23 February 2009 replacing an earlier 1879 one which was first closed 18 April 1966 and
ROP 'experimentally' from 13 April 1987 to 2 June 1990 inclusive. Most trains now run to/from St.
Pancras, a couple of early morning and late night workings (and all day SuO) are Kettering shuttles.
Two weekday trains run north to/from Derby and Melton Mowbray via the spectacular Harringworth
Viaduct and Manton Jn. This part remained double track (but is only one signalling section); Manton Jn
was reduced to a single lead type before being replaced as a double junction in September 2013.
1348] Nottingham NET but not yet: (BLN 1235.1136) Nottingham's Phase 2 tram extension will open
'this summer', insisted Alstom during a 1 July media tour of the new system. Driver training is now
complete and the delivery team in Nottingham is about to begin full timetable tests. Drivers have had
to complete a full day of training on the new lines before their opening later this year.
1349] Derby: £200M of work at Derby station to improve journey times on the MML is due to be
complete by 2018, NR has announced, following the postponement by the Government of the MML
electrification project. It is likely to include total remodelling of London Road Jn and the building of a
new platform (P7) on the site of the redundant sidings between the goods lines and P6. The Transport
Secretary said that other plans aimed at improving the MML service would be going ahead as part of
the Government's £38.5bn rail investment scheme; they also prepare for future electrification.
1237 GREATER LONDON
1350] Marylebone Integrated Electronic Control Centre (IECC): With thanks to Stuart Hicks, an RCTS
visit on 15 June (BLN 1233.1014) included some BLS members. The new Windows based signalling
system (one of the most advanced on the network) is only seven months old and fully scalable, even to
a Smart Phone! (Proving signalboxes do benefit from having windows.). This also means that clicking
on any signal will cause all potential routes to flash (platforms in the case of Marylebone). Developed
by Delta Rail Systems, it is initially 'on trial'. The previous system is stored at the other end of the room
just in case! The IECC controls from Marylebone to Claydon LNE Jn (by electric token working with the
latter for the 'Aylesbury Vale Single') and to Aynho Jn (interfacing with Banbury South box). It also
fringes with Neasden Jn and Greenford East boxes. Other interfaces are with LU at Harrow-on-the-
Hill, Amersham and West Ruislip. The signallers normally cover Marylebone to Saunderton (South
Workstation) or beyond (North), but this is flexible should problems arise. The panels show the actual
aspect of the signal instead of simply 'stop' or 'go' as do most other diagrams. Automatic route setting
can be used almost anywhere. The Bicester to Oxford Parkway line has been provided for and will be
included in September. Signallers work 12-hour shifts, three at a time rotating between the panels to
provide cover. Movements at Marylebone are every three minutes at peak times and platform working
there is determined by Chiltern Railways whose control centre is at Banbury. Signalling control is due
to be transferred to Rugby ROC in 2025. (Chiltern's franchise currently extends to 21 December 2021.)
1351] TfL Spreads its Wings: (BLN 1235.1149) All stations between Brentwood and Maryland soon
received TfL Rail signage. However, Shenfield retains Abellio Greater Anglia signage and the Upminster
bay at Romford retains plain white signs. Stratford has the blue TfL Rail colour band on signs on P5 & 8.
Staff on these platforms, and the staff who patrol the subways to give directions to passengers are
now employed by TfL Rail, which has also taken over the ticket offices. These are now very busy
following closure of their LUL counterparts. It is believed all stations taken over by LO now have their
orange signage. At Liverpool Street signs over P1-4 entrances show that they are used by LO services.
1352] Unusual LUL Moves: (BLNs 1235.1144 & 1236.1245/6) Our intrepid reporter has completed
more moves successfully. At Golders Green the northbound loop provides a unique fifth element to
the centre platform. Other ones on the system all have four connections, with two connecting to the
main lines at each end. However here the loop offers a longer approach off the northbound line where
a whole train can recess. This facility is booked to be used by train 132, 17.16 ex Morden (SSuX) and it
was duly routed that way on 29 June. Indeed it waited to allow empty train 52 to leave for 27 road
from the centre platform road and was overtaken by following train 154 on the northbound line. It can
be reported that the packed train did not even stir at the gaining of these rare metals and so it has to
be concluded these regular commuters had all done it before! After his earlier failure at Leytonstone,
train 17, leaving Wanstead at 20.09, used the crossover into P2 on the same date. At White City
services terminating in the centre road and setting off back to central London are relatively common,
but not services terminating from the west or indeed travelling through the centre road. Consequently
train 20 departing from North Acton at 00.07 rewarded two BLS members with the eastbound
connection to the centre road on a terminating service. Loitering until 00.48 saw the last West Ruislip
service operate both into and out from the centre road as it overtakes the last Ealing Broadway train in
P1. For completeness, westbound P4 is blocked with ECS!
1353] Crossrail: (BLN 1236.1251) Taken inside a Crossrail tunnel http://goo.gl/Ma29Z7 using a drone.
The country ends of Harold Wood P2 & 3 are being extended for the new 10-car trains.
1354] London Underground and Overground: (Not the Wombles of Wimbledon Common either!)
Interesting videos by 'Londonist' on the evolution of the Underground system at https://goo.gl/JAjgjb
and on historical and unusual aspects of the LO network at https://goo.gl/HvvdM0 link.
1237 NORTH EAST
1355] Tyne & Wear Metro: (see also BLN 1234.1032) The Nexus website advertised a 'special party'
on Sunday 31 May to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the arrival of Metro cars 4001 and 4002 on the
test track, which is now the North Tyneside Steam Railway (NTSR) and Stephenson Railway Museum.
A member was lucky enough to be allocated a place, meeting at Airport at 10.30 for a 10.50 special
train which left on time with 4001 leading and 4002. The website advertised the 'avoiding line' to Percy
Main. Our member took this to mean avoiding Gosforth Depot, but another enthusiast suggested it
was from Manors to Jesmond. The outward run was 'fast' via Gosforth Depot avoiding line, round the
coast to Percy Main (but not non-stop, as a service train was in front). At Percy Main, the passengers
(not 'customers' as no fare was charged!) detrained for the short walk to the 'other' Percy Main (Percy
Minor?) station on the NTSR. Here an industrial steam loco and two BR Mark I suburban carriages
were waiting to transport participants to the Stephenson Railway Museum. Appropriately Car 3267
from the 1904 NER third rail 600V DC electrification was on display there outside, in its red and cream
livery. After a complimentary cup of tea and a cake the group were able to inspect the other exhibits
inside and outside the museum. A birthday cake was then placed on a table in front of a mock up cab
of a Metro unit No4000. Four of the engineers who tested the units forty years ago then made short
speeches about the early years of car testing. When 4001 was delivered by road it was winched off the
wagon with a little too much vigour and hit the rear of the shed causing damage to its fibreglass cab,
which was hastily repaired with minimum fuss! The 'Newcastle Journal' was initially said to be hostile
towards the Metro, and much of its success came from estate agents advertising properties as 'near to
proposed Metro stops'. The Gosforth Depot Engineer thanked the pioneers for their good work and
persistence; a full fleet of trains still running some 40 years later is a tribute to their dedication.
The fleet is now nearly at the end of its latest major overhaul. This has been causing a problem with
running the sets, as overhauled and non-overhauled sets cannot run coupled together, because the
safety systems are not compatible. 86 of the 90 sets have been refurbished. 4001 and 4002 are not
being overhauled due to minor differences
(mainly the doors). 4083 has slightly twisted
frames due to an accident some years ago and
4040 is the remaining one in the poorest
condition. These four sets may be mothballed to
save money as the project was more expensive
than expected due to high corrosion levels but
no decision has yet been made. 74 sets are
required for peak service out of a new fleet
total of 86, so high availability is called for. After
the speeches, the birthday cake was cut and
distributed to all those present. Guests included
retired Metro staff, with drivers from the
opening day, local dignitaries, families and a few
enthusiasts. Returning on the steam special to
Percy Main, participants walked to the Metro
station. Departure was towards St. James, but
crossing to the 'In loop' just before Manors
through P1 and taking the Manors Spur ECS line
through the old BR Jesmond station to Jesmond
Jn, joining the passenger line to South Gosforth
and then back to Airport P2 again. IMAGE (left)
produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-
map service. This Image is reproduced with kind
permission of Ordnance Survey and also the
Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland. The Tyne & Wear Metro Percy Main stop is extreme right
towards the bottom (yellow spot) with the NTSR station to its southwest (pink spot). Top left corner is
the Stephenson Railway Museum ( symbol) at, appropriately, 'Museum' station.
1356] Stockton to Darlington: The line is being proposed for World Heritage status.
1357] Teesport: (BLN 1214.1175) From 3 August 'DBS Rail UK' start a direct weekday container service
to Mossend and in collaboration with WH Malcolm on to Grangemouth. This is thought to be the first
time a rail freight company has collaborated directly with a port (PD Ports) in the Intermodal Sector.
1237 NORTH WEST
1358] Farnworth: From Monday 13 July, to enable the construction of a new platform, the Down
Bolton single was to be slewed across to the Up Bolton trackbed through Farnworth station. There are
associated signalling changes. Anyone who did the normal Manchester to Bolton line before the recent
temporary single line working through Farnworth tunnel (SLW) started on 4 May will not have missed
anything (and that continues to 2 October). This further temporary alignment is new for everyone,
including those who have already done the Farnworth SLW. NB: There are no weekend train services.
1359] Metrolink: The 100th M5000 tram No3100, has recently been introduced into service.
1360] Manchester Metrolink, Harbour City - Broadway (north end of triangular junction), avoiding
MediaCityUK stop: (BLN 1235.1225) TCP from 28 June 2015. Some 'ad hoc' passenger use of the curve
has been observed during service perturbations; such as the first day when contractors dug through a
major cable at St. Peters cutting the overhead power off! It is suspected that depot journeys (in to
Eccles first thing, out again last thing, each day) may well still use the direct route (is this ECS?).
1361] Rochdale: (BLNs 1226.463 & 1230.626). The new subway was nearly finished on 26 June and
looked very smart. There is a Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway style nameboard over its entrance. A
report for a TfGM meeting on 15 July confirms NR has been progressing the £10M scheme to increase
rail capacity at the station including a new Manchester facing bay, for terminating stopping trains to
recess out of the way of regional limited stop services. This scheme was due to be completed by the
December 2016 timetable change (with the aim of a consistent 50 minute Manchester to Bradford
journey time via the Calder Valley) but it is not clear if the TPE electrification delay will now affect it.
1362] Nantwich: The 'Friends of Nantwich Signal Box' group has been trying desperately to secure a
new location for the non-listed 1948 built signal box (OOU since 11 October 2013 when the line was
resignalled). NR announced last year that it intended to demolish it but would donate it and set a
deadline of the end of June for proposals. Members hoped it could be relocated at a cost of over £40k.
Plans to move it to a local Morrisons or to the Nantwich Miniature Railway have failed to materialise
but Nantwich Marina have now proposed it be moved to near the aqueduct off the A534 Acton Road.
1237 SOUTH EAST – NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
1363] East Anglia Franchise: Three bidders have been shortlisted by the DfT to run the new franchise.
A joint bid by current operator Abellio (60%) with Stagecoach (40%), First Group and National Express;
the latter ran it between 2004 and 2012 before Abellio secured the current franchise. In August the
DfT plans to issue invitations to tender to the shortlisted companies who will be required to submit
bids by December 2015. The new franchise is scheduled to begin on 16 October 2016. Bidders will be
asked to show how they will reduce journey times to London (e.g. Norwich 90 minutes) and provide
more reliable services with better connections. They will also be expected to show how they could
achieve the other recommendations of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce. (Transport Briefing)
1364] Colchester: On 1 July, due to overhead wire problems at Colchester station, Down passenger
trains were taking the electrified Down Goods line at Colchester South Jn then through P1 (some non-
stop as they were too long for the platform) with others being cancelled. This applied for about 1½
hours up to 12.30 and is a very rare occurrence indeed.
1365] Brentwood: (BLN 1233.981) The new crossover between the Up and Down Electrics remains
secured OOU. It is expected to be used between December 2016 and February 2017 during an Electric-
Lines blockade when TfL services will terminate at Brentwood.
1366] Shenfield: On 14 June the long redundant and partly lifted Down or 'Hack' siding 1 (closest to
the Down Electric), taken OOU around 1966 with Shenfield re-signalling, was lifted. On 21 June No2 &
No3 were shortened and the buffers re-positioned. Only 8-car EMUs can now stable (i.e. not 12-car).
1367] St. Ives: (BLN 1208.722) Cambridgeshire County Council's service director for strategy and
development has stated that it may be necessary to put rubber pads under every beam of the busway
because joints are moving and the ride quality has deteriorated. There are 6,000 of these and it has
been suggested they should have been 'done properly' in the first place! (Wisbech Standard.)
1368] Sundon Loop: (BLN 1227.361) This new non-electrified Up loop* (for stone trains) was due to be
commissioned and brought into use on 13 July, the day after our Thameslink Tracker railtour passed. It
is 1,742m long, from 37m 00ch to 35m 48ch, between Harlington Jn (9ch south of the station) and
Leagrave Jn and has a permissible speed of 40mph. A 12 acre rail served distribution depot (on the old
Sundon Quarry), accessed off the loop is being progressed.*The first 500m has OHL to recess an EMU.
1369] Banbury: (BLN 1226.1212) A member failed to do the SuO 09.35 Banbury to Birmingham from
P3 on 21 June (it was an empty shunt) and checked with Operations staff who stated an empty shunt
to the Down Goods at North box and then back into Banbury P1 does not need a pilotman, whereas a
passenger departure north over the crossover from P3 would. So he suggests both the services
mentioned should be treated with caution. However, a pilotman was provided for the equivalent move
in 2014 but on that occasion was withdrawn early as the engineering work had finished!
1370] Iver & Burnham: The Crossrail station improvements programme includes new entrances for
ticket gates installation creating 'adequate' station approaches and entrances. (Transport Briefing)
1371] Langley: (BLN 1211.964) In mid-June BBC Radio Berkshire were reporting that HS2 are in
discussion with Slough council and Langley residents about a new depot for the Heathrow Express
(HEX) fleet because HS2 is taking over Old Oak Common. The former oil depot site adjacent to Langley
station (now a temporary electrification depot) is a possibility, but too small in your Sub-Editor's view.
Previously HEX was considering using the country end of North Pole depot, probably also not ideal.
1237 SOUTH EAST ENGLAND – SOUTH
1372] Three Bridges Depot Control Centre: This was to be commissioned and brought into use on 13
July. The three engine road sidings adjacent to the Down Horsham south of Three Bridges station have
been re-named Tilgate sidings. Control has been transferred to Three Bridges Depot Control Centre.
1373] Ramsgate: (BLN 1236.1264) The 2ft gauge Ramsgate Tunnel Railway (RTR) new 1936 tunnel
climbed at 1 in 15 (!!) towards its upper terminus at Hereson Road, 300 yd from the point of
divergence from the LCDR tunnel (which itself climbs at 1 in 75 towards the north portal). The RTR's
tunnel ends at a dead-end of infill at the site of the tunnel portal. A visit later in the afternoon to the
Hereson Road station site found it. All station buildings had gone, understood to have been
demolished in the 1970s. The site was levelled and used as a car sales showroom and yard. However,
at the back of the yard, a concrete wall is the top of the tunnel portal. When the 2ft line was built, its
track was laid on a slightly raised formation in the centre of the LCDR trackbed from the point of
bifurcation of the tunnels to the south tunnel portal. A passing loop was provided in the LCDR tunnel
just south of this bifurcation as it was a large and roomy single bore twin standard gauge. The narrow
gauge RTR opened to passengers in 1936 and apparently advertised itself as the 'World Scenic Railway'
(no false modesty there, then) with various electrically lit exotic location dioramas along the tunnel
walls. Services were suspended during WW2, resuming in 1946. It did not operate in 1957 due to the
stairs collapsing outside the tunnel at the harbour end (with fatalities); that season was taken up with
rebuilding works around the south portal, including the stairs up to the promenade. With falling
passenger numbers in the 1960s the 2ft line became uneconomical and closed in September 1965
after a train crash that year.
1374] Windsor & Eton Central: (BLN 1236.1265) Additional information on passenger services over the
west curve can be found in T B Peacock's Great Western London Suburban Services (Oakwood Press,
1970, p21) where the start of the Windsor to Basingstoke service is given as being one down train from
May 1898 (with another Down, and one Up being added from May 1899), and that it expired 'towards
the end of the First World War'. Bradshaw's Guide reprint confirms that the service was running in
April 1910 (still in the unbalanced two Down, one Up form); see (for example), p44, Reading to
Basingstoke table, the three trains carrying notes c and d. Our correspondent has not yet had the
chance to pin down dates more precisely from public or working timetables at Kew which is very
laborious work. Chris Potts' book (Windsor to Slough: A Royal Branch Line _ Oakwood Press, 1993)
merely confirms the existence, in Winter 1902, October 1909 and 1911 of the through service between
Windsor and Basingstoke but does not assist with starting or finishing dates for this. This branch seems
to get short shrift in the Regional Railway Histories series of books.
1375] Ascot: From 13 July access to the OOU Down Sidings at Ascot was to be removed. The points at
the London end of P3 connecting the Down Platform Loop and Down Sidings were to be plain lined.
1237 SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
1376] Gloucester - Yate: Wickwar: All trace of the station buildings and platforms have gone and an
industrial unit is on the site of the former goods shed just north of Wickwar Tunnel portal where the
main road comes close to the line. Charfield: The northbound station building is extant as is a short
platform section. Two adjacent outbuildings survive; one supports a large water tank of red brick with
Cotswold stone edging and appears to be in poor condition. The station house (a private residence)
constructed or faced entirely in Cotswold Stone is adjacent, behind a high fence. In the nearby village
church at Churchend, there is a memorial erected by the LMS for the 12 victims of the 13 October
1928 Charfield railway accident. Berkeley Road: The main MR station building survives on the Down
side, in a similar style and material to Charfield, set well back from the main line. It is in commercial
use. Frocester: All eradicated but the station house, a substantial building, is in private residential use.
Cam: All trace and even the trackbed has gone. A pub called 'The Railway' marks the location. Dursley:
The former station has long been obliterated and built over. In 1996 a steel footbridge existed over a
section of trackbed, the only evidence that there had been a railway in the village. Berkeley Road:
(Severn & Wye Joint Railway): No remains, the single branch line still curves away to Sharpness at the
junction and is used generally between twice a month and alternate months. Berkeley (S&WJR): The
station house is a private residence. In the former station yard, a gated public footpath leads across
the track passing through the remains of the platform. The goods yard has a siding with a lifting gantry
for nuclear flasks and is the railhead for Oldbury and formerly Berkeley Nuclear Power Stations (BLN
1234.1056). Oldminster Jn: The loop is retained for Sharpness branch trains to run round.
Sharpness: The surviving single platform is heavily overgrown as is the sloping station entrance; the
nearby yard is in agricultural use. It was adjacent to an overbridge facing the former hotel now
converted into flats. Two terraces of railway cottages exist although some are derelict. From the
bridge over the former station site can be seen the remains of the cutting that led to the ill-fated
railway bridge over the River Severn. The station bridge leads to the docks and comes alongside the
remains of the viaduct which carried a single line from the Severn Bridge directly into the docks for
coal traffic out of the Forest of Dean. There was no trace of the second platform at Sharpness station.
1237 WEST MIDLANDS
1377] Malvern Link: The original station house (see below), styled in the local tradition, is probably not
the most earth shattering development Malvern has ever seen, but may be of interest for the
historical record. It was purchased in 1982 by Mark Lambert and his wife. He was former BR Western
Region chief travelling ticket inspector based in London (arriving home most nights on the late
Paddington to Hereford loco hauled train) and retired about 1983/84. An early 1980s BR colour poster
showed Mrs Lambert standing in the doorway of the station house, arms outstretched and a beaming
smile. This was believed to be advertising BR's then 'Golden Rail holidays' (not actually available to
Malvern Link!) and the virtues of visiting old friends. It was displayed nationwide at that time. Perhaps
her husband was based at BRB headquarters and that is how the poster came about? The property is
currently empty but not for sale. Incidentally, the name 'Link' is believed to be derived from the former
need to 'link' an extra horse onto stagecoaches here for the trip up the hill to Great Malvern etc.
In 2011, as part of the Worcestershire Transport Strategy, the County Council decided to improve the
very poor facilities at Malvern Link station (BLN 1184.546) but, to save money, on a reduced scale to
that originally planned and also without the intended 'park and ride' element. Buildings more in
keeping with the Victorian character of the town were constructed. Funding came from the County
Council, NR and the Railway Heritage Trust. The result has been very well received by the community,
who make over 300,000 rail journeys each year. The attractive and appropriate design, the quality of
the work and the positive impact the refurbishment has had on the area persuaded the Malvern Civic
Society to award it the 2015 Architectural Award (in a close run contest) presented on 10 July. BELOW:
Malvern Link station after rebuilding; Station House to the right ©Peter Whatley http://goo.gl/F4prM5
1378] Birmingham New Street (1): The new much enlarged concourse opens on 20 September on the
site of the previous one near the Bull Ring shopping centre as part of a £650M development. Grand
Central (formerly the Pallasades) shopping centre, opens on 24 September, a £150M scheme. Natural
light will filter through a new 114ft high atrium on top of the station for the first time in some 50 years.
(2) A NR notice outside in Stephenson Street advises that the Moor Street pedestrian link will be
closed from 22.00 to 06.00 daily until the end of August, for construction work at the front of the
station. The letters forming 'Grand Central' have now been installed on top of the Shopping Centre
facing the Bull Ring. Most of the cladding forming the roof of the old 'A' end footbridge has been
removed giving a very open feeling and exposing the new ceiling, in the same style as the Concourse.
1379] Cannock: (BLN 1214.1198) An £18M rail terminal has been given the go-ahead by Cannock
Chase Council. It is the former Mid-Cannock Coal Disposal Point sidings site (6m 30ch). The connection
and crossover were remodelled and resignalled along with the rest of the line in August 2013,
anticipating future traffic. Freight company Pentalver (part of the AP Moeller-Maersk group) moved
there because of the rail connection and employs over 300 people (70 more will be needed). They plan
to run up to 6 trains daily directly to and from south coast ports, cutting down on 'empty' trips to rail
depots for containers. The firm says that UK container traffic is growing at 4% annually and if the plan
had not been approved, they would need to relocate. Although there will not be a reduction in the
number of road movements at the site, the terminal will remove 16M road miles (A5 and M6 roads
mainly) per year. There will be new sidings, two rail-mounted gantry cranes, warehouses, acoustic
fencing, offices and roads. This has upset nearby residents and developer St. Modwen who wants to
build 83 homes nearby. They say it will be too noisy and the tall cranes will spoil householders' view!
1380] Stourbridge stations: Can you see what is not quite right on this map before reading the text?
Above is an OS six-inch to the mile map surveyed 1881-83 (revised 1901) showing the railways at an
interesting phase. The first Stourbridge station OP in 1852 with platforms immediately south of what
is now Stourbridge North Jn, its two platforms shown as hatched above (beneath the large 'E' of
'STOURBRIDGE'). It was considered to be too far from the town so was renamed Stourbridge Junction
and became a double junction when (top left) Stourbridge Town OP 1 October 1879 in its original
location by Foster Street underbridge. What is said to be Europe's shortest operational passenger
branch has been shortened twice since. The Town station is now on its third site (OP 19 April 1994).
Although listed for closure in the Beeching report, it is now carrying record numbers of passengers
with 6tph each way for most of the day (4tph SuO). When the branch first opened the junction faced
north (see map) and through trains were run to Birmingham Snow Hill. The route of this very tight
curve can be seen on Google Earth (etc) and partly forms the perimeter of the now Chiltern
maintenance depot. Due to the inadequacy of the original Stourbridge Junction station to cope with
the traffic (it was not possible to lengthen the platforms or provide more), on 1 October 1901 a new
station was built 400yd south with two islands giving four much longer through platforms (shown in
solid black on the map.) The Town branch was altered so the junction faced south; earthworks for this
are shown on the map but no trackwork. SB is a Signal Box and SP a signal post. As can be seen there
were significant sidings at 'the junction' then. The way the Junction station is annotated suggests to
the contributor that the new junction station had opened and it probably should show the new
alignment of the branch. Of course it all depends on how thorough the 1901 revision was!
1381] Midland Metro: (BLN 1235.1174) On 6 July there was very little track not laid in the street
running part of the City extension. Only Fore Street to Cherry Street and a short connection along Bull
Street across Temple Row on the outbound line, and short sections from Stephenson Place across New
Street into Corporation Street on both outbound and inbound lines, were still to be laid.
1382] Stratford-upon-Avon: As predicted 'The Warwickshire Wanderer' Hastings 6-car DMU tour on 4
July, did use P3 which can take 8 coaches. (BLN 1236.1212 has more future P3 opportunities here).
1383] Wilnecote Slip-up coach? On 2 July the 07.05 to Cardiff failed to call at the station and went
past whilst braking heavily. Luckily for the large number of waiting passengers, it stopped just before
the signal a few hundred yards further down the line. With authorisation, the driver changed ends and
drove back into the platform 'wrong line' to make the booked stop with only nine minutes delay.
1237 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
1384] A sign of the times? From 5 July new 'Station Ahead
signs' were to be provided at 17m 20ch on the Up line and
19m 20ch on the Down on the approach to Conisbrough
station. The relevant weekly operating notice states that
'these signs are provided as a reminder only to trains
booked to stop and can be ignored by all other services.
They do not compromise or form any alteration to the
signalling, infrastructure or safety information on this
route.' LEFT: An example of the 800mm (2'7") by 630mm
(2'1") new signs. Our contributor thought crews spent
weeks learning the road; so why are they necessary? At
least they can now concentrate on remembering if they
have to stop or not rather than where the station is (see
Wilnecote in previous item above!). Presumably there have
been some 'misses' at the stations concerned? Sowerby Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Ferriby (Down
direction) are to have signs too. [This item was not deferred from our 1 April edition - Sub Ed.] A rather
larger sign might be needed for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!
1385] EU funding: £17M of EU funding had been secured for capital works on NIR with £10.2M for
Phase 2 of the Derry/Londonderry to Coleraine upgrade (passenger numbers on this line from Belfast
have grown 12% in the last 12 months). There is also £6.9M for the Knockmore to Lurgan line.
1386] Castlerock: (BLN 1234.1178) Work has started to extend the Up platform; from 30 June it was
temporarily shortened to take three cars as part of this. The Down platform, loop and signal cabin will
be taken out of use next year along with the station's fine collection of somersault semaphore signals.
The only remaining ones in Northern Ireland then will then be at Portrush where the signalbox is
normally switched out. Castlerock loop will be replaced by one near Bellarena which will be sited on
the Belfast side of the crossing so that reinstatement of the second platform there will not be needed.
Derry signal cabin is also to close; the whole resignalled line is to be controlled from Coleraine cabin.
BELOW: Castlerock station, loop and somersault signal. The 'Castlerock Luncheon Special' hauled by
No4 ready to return south with a through train to Whitehead excursion platform in May 2006 (RPSI).
1387] Dublin: (BLN 1236.1276) Due to increased employment and economic activity in the area, peak
hour demand for DART services rose 6.1% in the first three months of 2015 compared with 2014 (with
4% overall growth to 9M journeys) and continues. IÉ is carrying out signalling and other work near
Connolly station to introduce a 10-minute peak interval DART service (currently 15 minute) and
possibly at other times of day. Some previously shortened trains have been re-lengthened.
1237 ISLE OF MAN
1388] Douglas Horse Tramway: (MR p32) (BLN 1236.1279) Concerns have been lodged about the
revised proposals for the revamping of the promenade, which includes the relocation of the tramway
from the road to a shared space walkway largely on the seaward side of the Promenade. The new line
would be single track (double at terminals, but with passing loops) commencing almost opposite
Victoria Street, curtailed from its present terminus at Victoria Pier. It would then follow a walkway
between the sunken gardens and the shoreline, crossing over the Promenade on the Derby Castle side
of Summer Hill and following its existing route to the Strathallan terminus and tram depot. Whilst the
overall scheme to redevelop the whole Promenade may take five years to complete, it has been
indicated that the tramway would only close for one year. Critics have asked why the tramway could
not continue on its present alignment whilst the new route is constructed, avoiding a break in running.
A social media campaign has been organised to object to the tramway relocation. The revised
proposals include many of the comments made to a previous consultation, but the £21M scheme is
now subject to further public consultation with decisions being made after comments are received and
after consideration by Douglas Borough Council, Tynwald members and other key stakeholders.
1389] Laxey: At about 10.00 on 7 July Manx Electric Railway Trailer No58 was derailed and toppled
over, sustaining damage one side, whilst using the trailing crossover (ECS) just north of the station.
This was installed last year and is now the usual place where terminating trams from Douglas reverse.
It is on a sharp curve next to the level crossing where the main coast road to Ramsey crosses.
1390] SuOX? (BLN 1193.1381) Due to a shortage of ScotRail Drivers volunteering for Sunday shifts (not
a part of the rostered week) during ongoing pay negotiations, from 5 July Abellio is operating a
reduced Sunday service, with strengthened trains where possible. Drivers have been offered a 2.5%
pay rise and a one-off bonus, with an increase in driver numbers. ASLEF states that ScotRail is trying to
push through new terms and conditions, and evidently objects to this. The effect of this reduction in
trains is widespread and substantial; some routes have bus replacement, including the West Highland
Group. Perhaps folk for Rannoch and Corrour, for which there is no sensible road alternative, will get
special provision of seats on the Serco Sleeper? [Sadly not; sleepers do not run Saturday nights - Ed.]
1391] Uncontrolled emissions: (BLN 1175.1579) The RMT union states that following their campaign,
about 40% of the ScotRail fleet should be fitted with controlled emission tanks by about April 2016,
and the remainder by December 2017 (BBC/Railscot 29 June).
1392] Forth Bridge: (BLN 1234.1109) Formal announcement that it had achieved Unesco World
Heritage status was made in Bonn on 5 July. Scotland has five other such sites: New Lanark, St. Kilda,
Edinburgh Old and New Towns, Neolithic Orkney and the Antonine Wall. http://goo.gl/HOkYVr
1393] Craigo: The signal box, (205m 15ch) between Montrose North and Laurencekirk on the Down
side, is now generally switched out, a block section of over 10 miles. Greenloaning box (129m 17ch) on
the Up side between Perth and Gleneagles is similar; an 11 mile block section. The latter is notable in
having what is thought to be NR's final co-acting semaphore signal (almost always 'off') i.e. a higher
arm and lower arm on the same post worked together to improve sighting; in this case due to the
A822 bridge from which it can be viewed. The OOU Up Goods Loop north point is partially plain lined.
1394] ScotRail can manage! (BLN 1235.1180): Joining Lockerbie; from 1 July Dunbar station is
managed by ScotRail. Previously successive (if not altogether successful) East Coast companies ran it.
1395]: Borders Line: A recent ScotRail cab ride https://goo.gl/WssQts from Galashiels to Tweedbank.
1396] Vale of Neath tunnels: A path leads from the current (ex Taff Vale) Penrhiwceiber station
across the Cynon river to the site of the former Vale of Neath (VoN) Penrhiwceiber High Level station,
of which nothing survives. Parts of both the VoN and parallel Nixon's Colliery trackbeds hereabouts
are accessible as footpaths, whilst across the A4059 road the eastward continuation of the VoN can be
traced as an unadvertised forest track toward Quakers Yard (or Cefn Glas) tunnel, which was always a
single-track bottleneck on the once busy Pontypool Road to Neath line. Although hard to find, the
tunnel itself is still walkable, given a torch and stout wellington boots! Some 50yd east of the tunnel,
the formation is blocked by the modern A470 road. Meanwhile, on the former VoN Merthyr branch,
one platform survives at Abernant station, from whence a pleasant walk leads to the mouth of
Merthyr Tunnel, but access to this tunnel is nowadays barred by heavy steel doors.
1397] Swansea - Llanelli: As at Stoke Gifford, there is now an encouraging profusion of electrification
masts in Maliphant sidings, home of the new IEP depot. Connecting the wires to Paddington may still
be a somewhat distant dream! An unusual feature of the mainline Cockett West Jn to Dyffryn West Jn
section (redoubled in April 2013) is a full set of traditional gradient posts on the Up side, indicating
sometimes even quite slight changes such as '1 in 60' to '1 in 62'. Performance recorders will like the
new highly visible 'blue diamond' mileposts. One span of the former River Loughor bridge has been
preserved and mounted alongside the line just past the new one; an extreme contrast in bridge styles!
1398] South East Wales Metro: Considerable media interest has been generated by the Welsh
Government's recent announcement of a planned £600M 'Phase Two' programme in respect of the
Valley Lines, including the £125M already committed by DfT for electrification, and an anticipated
£150M from European Regional Development Funds. (The Ebbw Vale project is 'Phase One', by the
way.) Ambitions include faster and more frequent Valleys services, which will of course require
infrastructure investments far beyond simply electrifying the lines, not least in respect of the
acknowledged bottleneck between Cardiff Queen Street and Central stations. Elements of the scheme
may thus involve a switch to light rail or tram-train technology, whilst it is intended also to work with
bus operators to create a genuinely integrated public transport system, including joint ticketing. On a
less positive note, Cardiff's Central Bus Station, adjacent to the railway station, is to close on 1 August,
with terminal points instead scattered around the city centre for a two-year period, pending
completion of a new Norman Foster-designed bus station on an adjacent site.
1399] Heart of Wales line: Fifty years on, it is hard now to recall quite how and why the (then) Central
Wales line was spared the Beeching axe*: 85 miles of single line between Morlais Jn and Craven Arms
Jn really couldn't have seemed a good fit with the Doctor's prescription. And even a cursory glance at
the map shows how much more logical a railway system might have been bequeathed to modern-day
Wales had the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line (56 miles) or the Merthyr to Moat Lane 'Mid Wales
line' (76 miles) been retained instead. Perhaps a further oddity is that, other than four closures in the
mid-1950s, every station and halt on the Central Wales line has survived. Your Sub-editor travelled the
line recently and found business encouraging, albeit within the
confines of a single 72-seat class 153. Incidentally, there are
several discrepancies, between station nameplates and timetable
names. Llangynllo is rendered correctly in the Welsh (in table
129), but the English reads Llangunllo; Penybont does not
have hyphens (although does in table number 129); and both
Llangammarch and Llanwrtyd retain the suffix 'Wells' (on the
platforms), as does the preserved signal box and one (a replica?)
London North Western Railway style nameboard at Llandrindod.
Llandovery boasts what appears a genuine LMS-style 'hawkseye', and tiny non-DDA compliant Sugar
Loaf has acquired a new Welsh rendition of Dinas-y-Bwlch (or non-hyphenated!). BELOW: Sugar Loaf
'station', looking south and remote even by Central Wales line standards. It is available on request;
four trains each way and even two SuO. The 240 passengers recorded in 2013/14 benefited from a
Passenger Information System. Mainly walkers and campers; rather more are thought to use rovers
and circular tour tickets. Sugar Loaf tunnel is beyond the bridge, round the bend.
Toward the northern end of the Central Wales line especially, it features a most pleasing array of
surviving original station buildings and crossing-keepers' houses, all of course now in private
residential use. [*Could it have been to do with all the marginal constituencies it passed through? It is
said that Dr Beeching wanted to close either the Mid Wales or Central Wales line; it was thought to be
politically unacceptable to close both leaving a vast area devoid of railways. The Central Wales line
served more population and was thought to have freight carrying potential at the time too - Ed.]
1400] Penyffordd: The crossover and sidings here, along with their associated signals, were to be
removed from 5 July. It was a stump of the former curve to Hope West Jn and then Mold (Synthite
Siding) which CG 9 September 1984, the final train ran there on 15 March 1983.
1237 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR108] Ayrshire Railway Preservation Group, East Ayrshire (MR9) (BLN 1101.198): On 2 June the
Group purchased part of the central site at Dunaskin, including the engine shed, wagon repair shop
and preservation-era station building. They have a 10 year lease on other land and buildings that they
occupy. Two of the railway's original Andrew Barclay 0-4-0STs are present; No16 (built in Dalmellington
Iron Co. days) and No10 (built for the NCB). They recently swapped boilers to keep No10 in service.
MR109] Melton Mowbray Miniature Railway, Leicestershire (MR p19) (BLN 1213.MR108): Last
reported in June 2014 with the locomotive sheeted over and one coach stabled in the station on the
east side of the circuit, various members examined this railway either before or after the Society's very
successful trips on the Ketton Cement branch on Sunday 7 June. The railway is a simple 10¼" gauge
circuit, not quite circular with a slight kink on the west side. The aforementioned 'station' is just a few
paving slabs in the grass and two members noted the coach here early in the day, unsheeted, although
a discarded cover was noted later in a covered seating area on the west side. They walked the track,
surprisingly lacking in rust and generally clear of weeds, with no covered section where anything could
be stored or locked away. The coach was untethered, so they took it upon themselves to provide a
testing run or two, noting its remarkably smooth running round the 480yd circuit. It has a general
brown livery with the logo of MELTON MOWBRAY TOWN ESTATE, who own the park and railway.
The members returned later, just in case the shiny track and open, untethered coach might indicate a
loco was arriving. Instead, they found local children repeating their earlier activity with the coach. It
appears this is regular and accepted, hence the lack of rust, so our members waited their turn and this
time self-propelled themselves in turn for an anti-clockwise run, noting the slight grade up the kink in
this direction. One local reported that the loco departed 'a couple of years ago' but was using his own
alternative battery motive power to give children trips on the coach on the sections where his mobility
scooter could run alongside the track. It is amazing that the coach has not suffered the attention of the
wrong sort of youth and been damaged, maybe helped by being next to a children's playground. There
is a mini-golf course inside the railway, with club and balls available from the distant Pavilion Café for a
deposit. The Park is gated overnight aiding the coach's security. Fares for all £0; no tickets are issued!
MR110] Willen Miniature Railway, Buckinghamshire (MR p13) (BLN 1031.MR222): A visit to this 600yd
7¼" gauge, in Willen Lakeside Park, Milton Keynes at 16.30 on Sunday 14 June found the railway not
operating, although the track showed evidence of recent usage. The park's website shows it as running
from April until the end of October every weekend and during school holidays (weather permitting; it
was a fine day) 'from approximately 11am until 6pm'. The station is located near the main car park and
watersports centre (SP 877397) and fares are £1.50 per person. The 'Adventure Ropes Course' built
2005/06 over the return part of the railway's original large balloon was, however, still in full swing. The
station building at 'Willen Halt' was locked up, with no signs to indicate current operating times,
alongside the platform with turntable and run-round loop. There is a short branch to a three-road
shed, an old container although the tracks stop short, suggesting temporary track is laid when items
move in or out. There is a siding off this branch, which was part of the closed section of the balloon
loop; lifted beyond after this enters a wooded and overgrown area. The balloon loop now rejoins the
outward line (where it previously ran alongside) by fixed pointwork - grooves cut in the 'V' are used to
direct the train across rather than a movable point blade (rather like a tramway).
MR111] South Tynedale Railway, Cumbria (MR p14) (BLN 1227.331): Lintley Halt at the (current)
northern end of the railway was the site of a colliery interchange siding. Opposite the platform are
some remains, excavated in 2011. The descriptive display in the halt's shelter explains they are the
remains of the weighing pit and concrete bases that carried an aerial ropeway from Barhaugh Colliery
Sidings across the South Tyne to Barhaugh (or Blackcleugh) Colliery located on the other side of the
valley beyond Barhaugh Hall. The colliery opened in 1909 and the sidings in 1913. By 1925 it employed
14 men, but by 1930 this was down to just 5. The colliery was closed by 1938.
MR112] Melton Mowbray Model Engineers, Leicestershire (MR p22) (BLN 1168.MR164): Rutland's
only entry in 'Minor Railways' was visited by a group of our members on Sunday 7 June; during its
annual public operation at a two-day 'Miniature Steam Rally'. With no admission charge, business was
brisk on the 220yd ground level 5/7¼" gauge circuit; tickets being £1 per single trip or £3 for 5. Paper
tickets were issued with the MES name and logo in at least 3 colours, randomly issued and always
collected before departure, enhancing the railway's green credentials but not ticket collections! There
are 2 platform roads by the sales hut, doing good business in drinks and cake, with trips generally
starting from and terminating on the 'inner' face. All trips included at least one non-stop run through
the platform, usually the 'outer' face, but platform usage varied when one face was occupied longer
than usual. On arrival, a battery powered class 20 D8020 and a steam 0-6-0T 'Sgt Murphy' were
operational. The latter's train was interesting as both loco and stock was 5" gauge, notably looking off-
centre as a result. D8020 was 7¼" gauge as was its stock, so visitors could travel over all three rails on
the circuit. 5" gauge D8148 left the shed with a riding truck for various circuits, looking rather
diminutive against its 7¼" gauge sister, D8020. It did not appear that this would work passenger
services as steam locos 'Paxton and Singapore' replaced the two passenger carrying locos shortly after,
with the former closely observed joining the circuit with passenger stock from inside the loco shed.
This now has 2 roads, a middle road splitting off the straight siding into the shed. The elevated 3½"/5"
gauge circuit, within the ground level run, is seldom used, but a visiting steam loco from Wythall was
being prepared. Unfortunately, it had mechanical problems and, despite being steamed up, could not
run more than a few yards and then intermittently. Even if it had, its riding truck could not have been
used as its structure would have apparently fouled supporting posts around the circuit. There are no
suitable sit-astride coaches for the elevated railway on site anyway, necessary to ensure stability.
MR113] North Bay Railway, North Yorkshire (MR p21) (BLN 1139.MR103): One of our original and
historic seaside miniature railways, this line opened on 23 May 1931 and until December 2006 was
owned and operated by Scarborough Borough Council. It is now operated by the North Bay Railway
Company Limited, who also run the nearby water chute as well as the boats on the lake and a climbing
frame type attraction adjacent to the main station 'Peasholm'. Here there is a ticket office, shop and
separate building housing a café/bistro. The locomotive shed and workshop is nearby, inside the
unusual locomotive turning loop. The 20" gauge railway then runs for around 1,300yd to Scalby Mills
with some excellent views over North Bay. There is a long passing loop at the now closed Beach
station. At work on Tuesday 9 June was the locomotive built new for the railway in 1931 by Hudswell
Clarke (the first diesel-hydraulic locomotive in the world) 4-6-2 Neptune, numbered after its year of
completion. It was turned out in a smart dark green livery and is a good likeness of a LNER pacific. The
train was formed of 5 covered bogie coaches. The adult return fare was £3.50 for which a 'till receipt'
style ticket was issued. On this day a half-hourly one train service was in operation from 10.00 to 16.30
with departures at xx.00 and xx.30 from Peasholm and xx.15 & xx.45 from Scalby Mills. A request to
look around the shed was met with a very friendly escorted visit by the General Manager. Inside were
sister locomotive 1932 'Triton' (in LNER apple green), 4-6-4 'Robin Hood' (red) and 4-6-2 'Poseidon'
(blue); all steam outline and built by Hudswell Clarke. Unfortunately, over the years there have been
three head-on collisions (in 1932, 1948 & 1967) due to driver error when a two train service was
running. To protect against a re-occurrence, a system of staffs with trips on the locomotive was
developed. Today this consists of three staffs: Peasholm - Beach, Beach - Scalby Mills and a 'long
section' for one train working: Peasholm - Scalby Mills. These are placed in a locking system on the
locomotive (similar to a ground frame release), which is then detected. Without any of the staffs in a
locomotive running over a metal ramp mounted on the sleeper ends at Beach station will cause a
brake application and the train to be brought to a stand. The engine has to be shut down and restarted
to reset the system. This system was well demonstrated during a trip two days later when an
inadvertently incorrectly inserted (but an otherwise correct) staff on 'Neptune' brought the train to a
swift halt in Beach loop. The engineer had to reset the system before the journey could be completed
some 20 minutes late. However, it was interesting to see such an automatic train protection system in
use on a seaside minor railway, which, if anything, is better than NR's TPWS! This railway is well worth
a visit to see and experience these superb locomotives, as well as enjoying the sea views. The nearby
chair lift was disused with cables removed but with the pylons still in place. See http://goo.gl/1FrOiY
for an interesting series of pictures on the railway. BELOW RIGHT: Scarborough North Bay Railway in
summer 1969 http://goo.gl/wkIGAh LEFT: The 6'6" gauge North Bay Clift 'Lift' (BLN 1236.MR100) in
September 1995, http://goo.gl/KF1f2Y it CP 12 months later and the area is now landscaped.
MR114] Black Country Living Museum, West Midlands (BLNs 1203.243 & 1209.MR70): This 3ft 6in
gauge tramway has been out of use since last running on 24 November 2013 due to the state of the
track. Concerted efforts are now being made to replace the worst sections and it is hoped to reopen
the tramway to passengers later this summer.
MR115] Delabole Slate Co Ltd. Delabole Quarry, Cornwall: A warning if you are considering visiting
here; an attempt to view the locomotive failed on 9 May as the Museum is closed at weekends.
MR116] Summercourt Scrap Yard, Trefullock Moor, Summercourt, Cornwall: On 11 May 2015 the
Finnish 1,524mm gauge 2-8-0 No1103 was viewable inside this yard, minus its tender.
MR117] King Edward Mine, Troon, Cornwall: Visited on 11 May 2015. The site was closed due to
ongoing development work, but the 4wBE ex-South Crofty was visible outside the entrance building.
MR118] Great Polgooth Mine, St Austell, Cornwall: Visited on 14 May by special arrangement. The
4wPM, a converted motorised lawn mower, was covered with a tarpaulin but the rails were shiny.
MR119] Poldark Mine, Wendron, Cornwall: On 14 May, 0-4-0ST P1530/1919, which has returned from
Statfold Barn, was stood in the car park, carrying only its BR Registration plate.
1237 OTHERS' DOINGS:
A service to members Please mention the Branch line Society when booking/enquiring, details must be checked with the organisers.
1401] RAF Sleaford - Cranwell Branch, Tue 21 July 19.30: Legionnaires Club, 6 Watergate, Sleaford,
NG34 7RZ http://goo.gl/h83ViI doors open 19.00; an illustrated talk about this 5m 14ch branch CA in
1956 https://goo.gl/dkd6a4 . Guests welcome at a nominal £2; NOTIFY [email protected]
1402] Property Section: (LEFT) The
Old Station, http://goo.gl/JXjLO1
Hampton-in-Arden which OP 5
August 1839; a remarkably well
preserved Midland Railway station at
the former 'Derby Jn' of the
Stonebridge Railway to Whitacre (CP
in 1917) alongside, and visible from,
the LNWR line. It is 550yd northwest
of their (present) station; accessible
on foot for external viewing. Ground
floor office to buy £179,950 (or rent).
1403] Gloucestershire Warwickshire
Railway, Diesel Gala, 24-26 July: (MR
p7). Tickets (with discount for advance purchase) http://goo.gl/GV6zQP 01242 621405 include, at
Toddington, the North Gloucestershire Railway (11.00 to 16.00) and standard gauge shed visits;
Gotherington Loop and Cheltenham Racecourse 'Driver for a Tenner' south beyond the platform.
1404] Fifield Private Railway, Sat 1 Aug: (see BLN 1236.1298) This did happen in 2014, (pictures on the
web page) but might not this year; there could be a portable miniature railway instead. Intending
participants are advised to check first, advice of what happens appreciated. http://goo.gl/MjNal5
1405] KEG Frimley Lodge Park Miniature Railway, Saturday 22 August, 11.30: Stuart Road, Frimley
Green, Farnborough. (SU892560). The postcode is misleading; 2 miles from Farnborough/Farnborough
North station (lifts available). A 1,000yd long 7¼"gauge complex line in wooded grounds with recent
track changes including relocation of the non-passenger early return curve at Frimley Lodge. KEG hope
to cover this, all platform roads, the bay, shed lines, crossovers and loops (not the steaming bays due
to weight restrictions). £10 pay on the day. Simon Mortimer [email protected] 07835739940.
1406] Lincolnshire Signal Boxes: Written by a local signalman and covering the county's remaining
traditional signal boxes such as at Lincoln, Swinderby, Uffington and Stallingborough, giving a
privileged look inside at a job little changed since the first boxes opened. By Dafydd Whyles, 96 pages,
RRP £14.99 (Amberley Publishing) £9.61 and free UK delivery https://goo.gl/cmSjJn from 'Wordery' (of
Norwich). Also Lincolnshire Signal boxes by John McGowan: Original prints of now closed signal boxes
(southern section of the 'Joint Line'). See http://goo.gl/Y1jj37 for his exhibitions and open days etc.
1407] Robin Hood's Secret: A special Sunday Day Return fare Nottingham to Mansfield Woodhouse
line stations for £3 adult, £1.50 child (no railcard discounts). This is not available online, even via East
Midlands Trains' own 'best fare finder' or (reportedly) from ticket machines but only from train
conductors or ticket offices. The offer (which started on 4 February 2011) http://goo.gl/jAKPjg is
shown on the EMT section of National Rail. The Mansfield to Nottingham off peak day return is £6.30.
Sunday trains started in December 2008 but without funding to run north of Mansfield Woodhouse.
There are now 8 trains each way and on 28 June they were noted to be well filled using a smart 2-car
class 158 DMU. In the summer the first runs to Skegness and the last returns from there giving 6 hours
at the seaside (Mansfield to Skegness day return £25.10). EMT also have summer promotions on the
25 July to 5 September SO 07.53 HST Derby for £24.50 to Skegness (10.26) where there will be two
trains in at once so use of P4. Also from Nottingham (08.24) at £24, return on any train within a month
(normally £30.50 / £29.80). EMT offer advance fares on the 25 July to 5 Sept SO HST from St. Pancras
(06.28/21.03) via Derby (08.25 /19.20) and Sheffield (09.25/18.43) to Scarborough (11.08/17.03).
ABOVE: Spot the mistake on this newly re-liveried Virgin East Coast HST! (Doncaster Signalman.)
Middleton Railway 18 & 19 July 2015: The Hunslet 150 Gala and employee reunion includes 'intensive'
passenger (and freight) running also on the Balm Road branch http://goo.gl/KY6wBo 0845 680 1758.
Vale of Rheidol Railway: Rare track at Devil's Bridge station 'Driver for a fiver' or footplate rides for
£3, on Kerr Stuart steam loco Wren No3114. Dates: 21-23 and also 27-30, 3-31 August (all incl.)
excluding in August, Saturdays 1 & 8 and all Fridays and Sundays (i.e. this happens during their green
and yellow timetables). See: http://goo.gl/AJFHQw also http://goo.gl/dP3mN 01970 625819.
Distribution: Dave Monger, 6 Underhill Close, GODALMING, GU7 1NU. [email protected] 07592 585230.
Branch Line: Nick Garnham, [email protected] Subscribe: [email protected]
Fixtures Secretary: Kev Adlam, 53 Kemble Close, Wistaston, CREWE CW2 6XN. [email protected] Twitter: @BLSGeneralSec
General Secretary: Tim Wallis, 10 Sandringham Road, Stoke Gifford, BRISTOL, BS34 8NP. [email protected]
Chairman: John Williamson, 'La Marguerite', Croit-E-Quill Rd., LAXEY, Isle of Man, IM4 7JD. [email protected]
SALES: Mark Gomm, 84 Mornington Road, STOKE-ON-TRENT, ST1 6EL. [email protected] 01782 769960 (daytime).
NEWS TEAM: Wales: Paul Jeffries, 54 Heol Erwin, CARDIFF, CF14 6QR. [email protected]
South East England, East Anglia & Ireland: Julian James, 58 Nelson Road, WORTHING, BN12 6EN. [email protected]
London: Geoff Brockett, 155 Onslow Gardens, South Woodford, LONDON, E18 1NA. [email protected]
Midlands & South West England: Brian Schindler, 15 Sudeley, Dosthill, TAMWORTH, B77 1JR. [email protected]
Northern England & Isle of Man: Graeme Jolley, 3 Laurel Cottages, Rencell Hill, LAXEY, Isle of Man, IM4 7BJ. [email protected]
Scotland: Bob Watt, 18 Kilmailing Road, GLASGOW, G44 5UJ. [email protected]
Minor Railways (British Isles): Peter Scott, 93 Josephine Court, Southcote Rd, READING, RG30 2DQ. [email protected]
International: Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ. [email protected]
E-BLN (Distribution problems and for image submission etc): Dave Cromarty, [email protected]
Editor/Head Lines: Paul Stewart, 4 Clarence Close, MALVERN, WR14 3HX. [email protected] 01684 562862 or 07790652351.
Printed by Deva Enterprises, Waters Edge, The Drive, Ifold, LOXWOOD, West Sussex RH14 0TD, tel: 01403 752837, [email protected]
or [email protected] . Published by the Branch Line Society, 10 Sandringham Rd, Stoke Gifford, BRISTOL, BS34 8NP. ISSN 1354-0947