Number 1328 (Items 1116 - 1241 & MR 70 - MR 85) (E-BLN 75 PAGES) 11 May 2019
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Respice in praeteritum, praesens et futurum
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society - founded 1955
Membership Enquiries, Alan Welsh [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from member7s2; 8a6n7i7nternational section is available.
Opinions herein are not necessaarivlyaitlahbolsee. of the Compilers or the Society.
…………… BLN 1329 is dated Sat 1 June; MIND THE 3-WEEK GAP contributions by Wed 22 May please
.>>>>> HAVE YOU RENEWED YOUR MEMBERSHIP YET? <<<<<.
1116] This was due 1 May. If you have noctieytye.tSroecnieetyw. ed, please do so as soon as possible to continue
to receive your BLN/e-BLN and membership benefits (cheaper fares, other discounts, participation in
members' only fixtures, a free copy of Minor Railways and PSUL etc). You must be a paid up member
to obtain the members' fares on fixtures and railtours. The easiest, quickest and cheapest way to
renew is on our website. A REMINDER: All members taking paper BLN can have e-BLN free too.
Please review your email preferences (or sign up). We use Mailchimp to email members about new
fixtures as well as the regular e-BLN notifications, and occasionally other news, but only if you have
signed up. To do this, log on to www.branchline.uk and go across the top of the homepage to 'More
options'. Near the bottom click 'My Details', a page with your name, contact and membership details
(please check these are right). At the bottom of this, click 'preferences' to go to the sign up screen for
emails. Preferences can be changed anytime and each Mailchimp email also has a link to update them.
Date Event and details = Please Book Online BLN Lead Status
16 - 18 May Island of Ireland IV; first 3 days (can be booked separately) 1324 MG OPEN
Sun 19 May The Cork Stopper, rare track tour Cork to Tralee and back 1327 MG OPEN
Sat 1 Jun 11.15 Exbury Garden Railway comprehensive railtour 1327 MG OPEN
Sat 1 Jun 15.00 Royal Victoria Park Railway, all available lines 1327 MG OPEN
Sun 9 Jun The Sunday Yicker Crewe 09.30-19.10 NW Class 31/:37: tour 1325 MG OPEN
Wed 12 Jun All day Liverpool Lime Street Saveaway Tracker (Tom Gilby) 1326 TG OPEN
Thur 13 Jun The Conwy Cat Track & Traction tour Crewe to Chester 1326 MG OPEN
Fri 28 Jun 09.00 Blyth & Tyne Signal Box visits; limited numbers (email)Below NJ OPEN
Sat 29 Jun 17.30 The Seaton Surveyor comprehensive tram tour Below MG PENDING
7 and 8 Jul Sun & Mon; Devon service train tracker NOTIFY INTEREST 1326 MH Notify
Sat 13 Jul K&ESR The Andrew Wilson (Brillo) Memorial >NEW DATE< Below MG OPEN
Sat 20 Jul Tour to four freight locations APPLY FOR WAITING LIST 1327 MG APPLY
Sat 27 Jul The return of Thunder Vac 50008 (D408), circular tour 1326 MG OPEN
Sun 28 Jul The Steel City Special, Sheffield Supertram WAITING LIST 1325 MG OPEN
26 - 28 Jul Society rare track tour in south Austria 1318 PG OPEN
Sat 10 Aug Crewe-Portsmouth; WATCH WEBSITE/OUR EMAIL MESSAGES TBA TBA Claimed
Mon 26 Aug Scunthorpe Steeler No19 all day railtour (Bank Holiday) Below MG OPEN
6 - 8 Sep Save the dates; Society Track & Traction railtour in Norway TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 14 Sep Save the date; provisional track tour to East Anglia, re-dated TBA TBA Claimed
MG = Mark Gomm; MH = Mark Haggas; NJ = Nick Jones; PG = Paul Griffin; TG = Tom Gilby; Contacts: See back page.
1117] IMPORTANT MESSAGE: (BLN 1326.922) Your Society works extremely hard and closely with
our industry partners and takes advice and training from an independent rail safety consultant in
striving to ensure that our tours are operated to the highest professional and safety standards.
The 321 participants on our Sun 3 Feb 2019 aptly named 'Looe Brush' tour will be aware of how hard
our Stewarding team worked to ensure the safety of our passengers. The Stewarding team are very
grateful to our passengers that during traversal of the Liskeard connection in both directions every
passenger, including stewards (two per coach), remained seated with no cameras or body parts
protruding out of any window, as had been requested by Network Rail. In fact the video clip on our
busy Facebook group of the train traversing the connection for the second time, filmed off the train
from a public place by Kev Adlam, our Fixtures Secretary, records this excellent conduct perfectly.
While recognising excellent support, we are also extremely grateful to our partners for kindly giving
permission for our participants to optionally remain on board for traversal of Plymouth Laira
triangle while the train was turned due to a TPWS aerial fault in one of the locomotives. It was very
appreciated on the day and resulted in an excellent loose change collection for our good causes.
1118] Committee/BLN Contact Details: Email addresses ending [email protected] no longer work;
please delete them from all address lists. The correct format is [email protected] and all addresses can
be found on our website contacts page https://www.branchline.uk/contact.php (Committee/Officers
and general - go down the page) and https://www.branchline.uk/contact-news.php for your BLN
News Team. Please don't just make one up as some do! For the News Team, please use the 'generic'
regional email addresses - found in every BLN - allowing automatic forwarding for holiday cover,
change of personnel etc. The geographical areas are defined periodically (including in this BLN) but if
you are not sure which one to use, please just send in items and they can be forwarded internally.
X.50] :The Sunday Yicker; Sun 9 Jun, UPDATE:: (BLN 1325.645) This tour is now expected to run with a
Class 31 and, in place of a Class 33, a Class 37 loco 'top & tail'. A few places may remain (see website).
X.51] :Blyth & Tyne Signal Box Visits; Fri 28 Jun:: With thanks to the indefatigable Nick Jones, meeting
09.00 at Newsham Signal Box (NZ 3044 7886), by South Newsham Rd (A1061) Level Crossing, Blyth,
NE24 3NA. Served by Arriva bus X9 from Newcastle, Haymarket Bus Station via Regent Centre T&W
Metro stop and Cramlington village. Lifts might be possible from main line stations - enquire. The plan
is to visit all/most of: Newsham, Bedlington South, Bedlington North, Winning, Freemans, Marchey's
House signal boxes and possibly North Seaton and Hirst Lane gate boxes too. Limited party size, high
viz vest and stout footwear required. MEMBERS ONLY. Please advise if you are bringing a car and how
many lifts you can give or if you require one. Email Nick at [email protected] (note two
underscores). We reserve the right to minimise car use due to limited parking. An on the day cash
charity donation applies (minimum £5 per box) NB: This is still payable by anyone who books but fails
to show or who cancels and can't be replaced. This fixture was agreed after BLN 1328 was printed.
1119] :Simon's Seaton Surveyor; 17.30-20.30, Sat 29 Jun:: (MR p32) Starting from Seaton Tramway
Depot (free parking) Riverside Way, Seaton, Devon, EX12 2UE, (SY 252 902). With thanks to Simon
Mortimer, a summer sojourn by the sea at this 2' 9" gauge, 2¾ mile long, tramway along the lovely
River Axe estuary, mostly on the old branch. It follows public service, but in daylight hours, for full
operational flexibility. The comprehensive itinerary includes Colyton Wall Siding, Colyford siding (bay),
Riverside Depot Roads 1-4 and the recently completely altered approach to the new Seaton terminus
with all FOUR platform roads. A trip not to be missed! Even in peak service or a gala all four lines are
unlikely to be done in normal running, as at least one has an exhibit tram parked for the day. Subject
to availability on the day, trams No6 Llandudno & Colwyn Bay 1954 (re-gauged twice from 15" and 2')
No12 1966 London (Feltham type) and No14 1904 ex-Metropolitan Tramways type 'A', which spent 25
years of its life as a garden shed in Waltham Cross are expected. The main track trip finished by 20.30
for trains at Axminster (7½ miles by road; 17 mins by car) at 21.02 to Exeter and 21.07 to Waterloo.
There is the potential option of additional later tram runs as daylight continues until around 21.30.
Watch our website for fares/bookings when they open (an email message will be sent if you signed
up to them). Refreshments will be available to purchase from Seaton terminus shop before departure;
bacon rolls, salads etc have been suggested. Please book early to assess demand, there is the
possibility of another fixture in the area. Booking online is very helpful, or ask someone to do this for
you, otherwise cheques (payee 'Branch Line Society') or CPA to Mark Gomm per back page with BLS
Membership No/s (non-members welcome), and email address or First Class C5 (minimum) SAE. Please
advise if you can help with lifts from/to Axminster station and how many, or if you would like one.
1120] :The Andrew Wilson ('Brillo') Memorial Charter, Sat 13 Jul:: (BLN 1322.241) Was 4 May. A joint
charter with PLEG, passenger stock on the Kent & East Sussex Railway with much sought after 08888;
its first advertised run anywhere ever? D9504 is expected to 'Top & tail' for reversals. The charter is
named after our friend from PLEG, 'Brillo' who sadly passed away earlier in the year. Requested route:
Tenterden Town (appx 12.00) - Bodiam - Rolvenden Carriage Shed (No2 requested) - Tenterden Town
(approx 15.00). Adult £20, Under 18s (must be adult accompanied) £10. Bookings as item above.
1121]:The Return of Thunder Vac - Sat 27 Jul, UPDATE:: (BLN 1326.779) Hellifield Up Goods Loop,
Kirkstall Up Passenger Loop and the 'Up Sheffield Goods Lines' have now been requested for the tour.
1122]:Scunthorpe Steeler No19, Bank Holiday Mon 26 Aug, 09.30-18.30:: With over 100 miles of
standard gauge track to choose from; a great way to see an operating integrated steel works and
24-hour industrial railway at close quarters set in 200 acres (totally unspoilt by tourism). Subject to
National Rail engineering works, connects with the 09.05 TPE arrival from Manchester/19.09 return
at Scunthorpe, (connections from/back to Birmingham, London, etc.) Meet 09.30 prompt at the
AFRPS platform; due to finish about 18.30. An extensive full day summer railtour. Max 60, first come
first served; supporting the AFRPS volunteers' good work. MEMBERS ONLY £45 (only £5 an hour!);
Under 18s £22.50 (must be accompanied by a booked adult). Includes the usual food and drink at
lunchtime - a moveable feast (‽), a detailed track map, stock list and souvenir ticket. Bookings as
above (1119). All queries and specific line requests in advance only please ASAP to Paul Stewart.
It is hoped to include the new line (BLN 1327.962) and junction realignments at either end. Please
do NOT book if you would be disappointed by NOT having a Norwegian NSB Di8 Loco for haulage.
1328 HEAD LINES (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
1123] Springburn: Up Springburn line (0m 61ch) -Sighthill East Jn&Sighthill East Jn, Down Springburn
(0m 56ch) - (0m 59ch): (BLN 1303.819) CP from Sun 9 Dec 2018. All trains from/to the Bellgrove line
now terminate/start back from Springburn bays P3 & 4. P1 & 2 are now only served by Glasgow Queen
Street (High Level) - Edinburgh, half-hourly EMUs via Springburn, Cumbernauld & Falkirk Grahamston.
1124] Wolverhampton; Portobello Jn - Bushbury Jn and Oxley, Stafford Road Jn-Bushbury (Oxley) Jn:
TCA, both lines in the Down direction only from 02.57 Fri 29 Mar 2019, expected to be for 13 weeks.
A crack in the switch diamond in the Up Stour at Bushbury Jn(14m43ch)has been clamped. (It also has
a single trailing slip between the Down Penkridge and Up Stour lines.) Diversions are via the station at
Wolverhampton, Walsall and Cannock or the Trent Valley Line. There is a 5mph temporary speed
restriction for all (Stafford to Wolverhampton) trains going south through the crossing which is very
noticeable on passenger trains. Chirk Kronospan to Carlisle empty timber wagon workings now use
their alternative path to run round in Shrewsbury P4 then direct to Crewe instead of via Oxley Chord.
1125] Harwich International (excl) - Harwich Town (incl) & Dovercourt station: TCP/A Sat 6 Apr until
Sun 14 Apr 2019 to relay ½ mile of the disused Through Siding (by the bidirectional single passenger
line; it once served the train ferry) from Harwich International to Dovercourt, Station Lane. This new
bidirectional line will access Greater Anglia's new wheel lathe independently of the passenger line.
1126] Croydon Tramlink; Addiscombe - Birkbeck (both excl) & Elmers End: TCP Mon 15 until Sun 21
Apr for the Blackhorse Rd and Addiscombe Railway Park bridge replacement projects (BLN 1323.377).
On Sat 13 & Sun 14 Apr this extended to Sandilands (excl) for track replacement work (BLN 1324.534).
1127] Sheffield Supertram Track Relaying Project, the 2019 schedule:
> Area 1: Hillsborough Corner and Middlewood Road 19 Apr until 2 Jun.
> Area 2: Shalesmoor towards Hillsborough 2 Jun until 18 Jul.
> Area 3: Shalesmoor 2 Jul until 25 Jul.
> Area 4: Hillsborough towards Holme Lane 26 Jul until 9 Aug.
> Area 5: Glossop Road (University of Sheffield Curve) 25 until 30 Aug.
1128] Sheffield Supertram, Hillsborough (excl) and two stops - Middlewood / Malin Bridge Bridge,
(Area 1): TCP Good Fri 19 Apr, expected to Sun 2 Jun 2019 (incl) to replace rails installed in the 1990s.
Trams turn back at Hillsborough stop outbound platform, trailing crossover in service on departure.
1129] Epping Ongar Railway: (MR p8) From Good Friday 19 to Easter Monday 22 Apr, passenger trains
stopped at Epping Forest 9.2km rather than the normal 9.4km due to further vandalism. The fixed end
of line red light was broken during the night of 18 Apr and the solar cell battery charger destroyed.
Normal service resumed on Sat 27 Apr. Vandalism is a regular occurrence in the forest out of sight.
1130] Cambrian Heritage Railways, Oswestry: (TRACKmaps 3 p31B-Jun 2018) (BLN 1325.MR43; e-BLN
pictures) (MR p7) From Easter Sun 22 Apr 2019 the public run at this standard gauge line was extended
at the southern end from 18m 58ch to 18m 61ch, (miles from Whitchurch, Cambrian Jn, via Ellesmere);
the run is now 65ch. There is a new stop board at Gasworks Bridge (B4579, Shrewsbury Road). The first
test train ran south through the bridge Fri 19 Apr: 'Telemon' 0-4-0 Vulcan DM No295 with a brake van.
PREVIOUS PAGE: Oswesty, Gasworks Bridge (B4579, Shrewsbury Rd) and the newly relocated 'STOP'
sign looking south on 24 Apr 2019 - the other side is green and actually says 'GO'! (Both Chris Parker.)
ABOVE: Meanwhile at Oswestry, six panels of the centre road have been reinstated (right) to form
part of a run round loop. The museum attendant said that Shropshire County Council, as owners, are
considering renovating Whittington Road underbridge to the north of the station and that, while trains
would be prohibited, 'trams' (which includes Parry People Movers) would be permitted to use the
existing A5 and A483 level crossings! A priority is to complete track relaying and refettling to Weston
Wharf so stored stock there can be moved to Oswestry to make space for Weston passenger station.
1131] T&W Metro, St James - Wallsend (excl):TCP 13.00 Mon 29 Apr until 16.00 Fri 3 May (item 1170).
1132] Dyce - Inverurie (both excl): TCP Sat 4 May to Mon 19 Aug 2019;15 week closure for redoubling,
and resignalling. 10 bridges are being refurbished or replaced, 40,000 sleepers laid and 10 miles of rail.
1133] Inverurie (incl) - Huntly (excl): TCP Sat 15 Jun - Mon 19 Aug 2019 in connection with the last
item. On Sat 10 & Sun 11 Aug the closure extends from Aberdeen (excl) - Inverness, Milburn Jn.
1134] Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust, Midsomer Norton: (BLN 1394.1005) (MR p6) This
standard gauge railway opens its next Southern extension on Sat 18 May 2019 lengthening the public
run from 62ch to about a mile up to the filled in cutting north of Chilcompton. The first passenger train
since CA 7 Mar 1966 is expected to depart at 12.00 on Sat 11 May for donors and volunteers (special
non-public event). Further extensions of the line are unlikely at either end in the near future.
1135] Dore West Jn - Dore South Jn: TCA from Mon 6 May 2019 in this direction only due to a crack in
Dore South Jn trailing points in the Up Main line which has been temporarily plain lined. The closure
significantly affects some freight trains from Hope Cement Works, Dowlow and Peak Forest which are
expected to be diverted via Sheffield station, Woodhouse Jn, Beighton Jn and Barrow Hill instead.
1136] Cromer Jn - Sheringham (NR incl) and West Runton: (BLN 1323.280) TCP Sun 31 Mar originally
until Sun 5 May 2019 for reconstruction, lengthening, widening and improvement of Sheringham
station platform costing £1M. Due to a fault in a batch of platform beams the ROP is now expected on
Thur 16 May instead. The Wed 8 May through dining train to/from Cromer may have been affected.
1137] Wickford Jn - Southend Victoria (incl) and five intermediate stations: (BLN 1324.575) TCP Fri
25 May until Sun 2 Jun, a half term closure to accelerate renewal of the overhead electrification wiring.
1138] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant passenger service suspensions: *= New/altered
BLN Start (incl) Reopens Location (stations exclusive when bracketed) bold = closed now
1322.242 28 Sep 18 Unknown CairnGorm Mountain Railway, 'Base Station' - Ptarmigan
1326.918 16 Mar 19 Unknown Llandudno Jn - Blaenau Ffestiniog [ROP to Llanrwst by 2 Aug??]
1323.380 31 Mar 19 :16: May 19 *Cromer Jn - West Runton - Sheringham (Network Rail) revised
1322.247 28 May 19 3 Jun 19 (Kettering) - Market Harborough - Wigston North Jn
1316.2303 2 Jan 19 Late Jul 19 Mid Hants Railway; Alton P3 - (Medstead & Four Marks)
1326.788 26 Jul 19 24 Aug 19 (Lisburn) - (Portadown)
1325.655 20 Oct 18 Mar 2020 ? Reedham Jn - Berney Arms request stop - (Great Yarmouth)
1328 BLN GENERAL (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
[National material, non-geographical or covering multiple areas]
BELOW: IoW W2, 'Yarmouth' at Ryde St Johns Road in summer 1956. It had just arrived with the
evening goods train, probably from Medina Wharf. This is an early railway memory of our beloved
Society Photographer, Geoff Plumb who is in the centre (you didn't need to be told really did you?)
with his sister Gwyneth on the right and brother Barry to the left. (Derek Plumb.)
1139] My First Railway Memories (5): By Tim Cooper. I was brought up close to the railway at Cowes,
largely by a grandmother who was very fond of trains. I am old enough to remember when nearly all of
the Isle of Wight locomotives were still painted in Southern Railway malachite green before the
changeover to British Railways black. I have a very happy, and still vivid, memory of my first footplate
ride when perhaps six or seven years old on No2 'Yarmouth', shunting in the never railtoured Medina
Wharf sidings branch just south of Cowes - yes, they start them young in the BLS!
But the very first memory of all must date from early 1949, when at the age of 2½ and knowing all the
clean IOW locomotives by name, we visited Newport where there was this large un-named engine
which was alien to me. Decades later I learned that it was ex-London Brighton & South Coast Railway
E4 0-6-2T (3)2510 sent to the IOW for evaluation in 1947 and returned in April 1949.
[Editor's note: Of course the complete IOW 55½ route mile passenger network would all have been
operating still then including the Merstone - Ventnor West (CP 1952), Brading - Bembridge (1953) and
Newport, Yarmouth & Freshwater (1953) branches as well as Newport - Sandown (1956), Smallbrook
Jn - Cowes (1966) and Shanklin - Ventnor (1966). The residual Ryde Pier Head - Shanklin is 8½ miles.]
1140] Signal Box Quiz II - Part 2 Answers: (BLN 1327.946) Thanks to Angus McDougall, more signal
boxes whose names give little or no clues as to where they were situated. All were in existence after
1960 (some still are) and the names are believed to be those shown on the box.
●Anglesea Sidings (Lichfield - Walsall) ●Halifax Junction (Ipswich)
●Auckland Junction (Ferryhill - Pelaw) ●Leeds Junction (Shipley)
●Bradford Junction (Chippenham - Westbury) ●Lesmahagow Junction (Motherwell)
●Buckingham Junction (Dundee) ●Londonderry Junction (Sunderland)
●California Crossing (Gloucester Midland line) ●Melbourne Junction (Derby - Burton)
●Copenhagen (London King's Cross) ●Newcastle Crossing (Nantwich)
●Crewe Junction (Shrewsbury) ●Sandbach Junction (Northwich)
●Dalry Junction (Edinburgh) ●Waterloo Loop (Newport, Gwent)
●Eccles Crossing (Formby) ●Windsor Passing Siding (Ynysybwl* branch)
●Geneva (Darlington) ●Wisbech Junction (Peterborough)
*Pronounced 'Un-is-u-bull' [no bull]
1141] Points & Slips: ●●BLN 1327.947] On the Weardale Railway it has been confirmed that, like the
main line, Scotch Island Loop is bidirectional (as it also accesses Wolsingham Works) and will be used
as a passing place on special occasions, such as Galas. It is Ground Frame operated, locked and
released by the key token; there are STOP boards but no conventional signalling. It is not required for
normal passenger service, which is operated by a single DMU (Stanhope - Bishop Auckland). Services
run every weekend now until 2/3 Nov plus 27 & 29 May, Weds 3 Jul until 11 Sep and 30 Oct. The loop
may be used on 11 May (UKRT visiting railtour), 16 Jun (special timetable) & 5/6 Oct (DMU Weekend).
●●948] The criteria for a narrow gauge/miniature railway to appear in Peter Scott's Minor Railways
are on p11 of that publication. The booklet includes permanent ground level lines of 7¼" gauge and
above, but there is no 100yd minimum length requirement (eg Nantwich Methodist Church p13).
●●951] The British Power Signalling Register is, of course, compiled by our member Andy (with a 'd'!)
Overton. ●●1051] CNM is the three letter code for Cheltenham Spa and not Carmarthen (CMN - close
then). The good citizens of Poole are understood to be kicking up a stink over their station's three
letter code which is POO; perhaps they should join forces with the inhabitants of Weeley (WEE)?
●●1024] Regarding the reported 1 Apr 1964 singling of the former Midland & Great Northern Joint
'main' line between Holbeach West and Clay Lake box: Cunningham's Drove to Sutton Bridge was
always single but the double track was cut back to Clay Lake on closure of Cunningham's Drove box in
Sep 1932 (a member thinks he was on a train held at Clay Lake for something coming the other way!).
Clay Lake, Welland Bank Jn and Holbeach East all closed on 5 Apr
1965, so the single line must then have been from Spalding No1 to
Sutton Bridge. Incidentally Holbeach West box closed 22 Feb 1964.
So the original BLN item must have actually referred to the singling
west of Clay Lake and not to the east.
●●1084] Religious Education section: BLN tries to be accurate, but
fell into the widespread misnaming of Easter Eve (or Holy Saturday to
the more spiritually inclined) as 'Easter Saturday'. Easter Saturday is
six days after Easter Sunday, this year it was 27 April. It was not
meant to imply the Shotts line had gone fully electric and a few
workings, expected to include the Motherwell service, are to remain
DMU to move Class 158 units on Fife and Tweedbank diagrams to
and from Corkerhill Depot for inspections /maintenance. Haymarket
Depot is fully committed to Class 170 and the ScotRail short HSTs.
●●MR69] After 40 years at Eggborough Power Station the Leeds
Society of Model & Experimental Engineers, was given six months
notice to vacate and 'clear' the site on 1 May. Their committee has
produced an 'Exit Plan' with future options and also a 'Site Clearance' Plan (a considerable amount of
heavy material as the track runs on about 200 heavy concrete beams). Work has begun to dismantle
the station and the final public running was Sat-Mon 4-6 May inclusive. Their committee is trying to
find land for a new site and is considering possibilities including Drax Power Station and a local garden
centre but both require significant earthworks. Further suggestions are welcome. Key questions are
location, security, planning permission requirements and the site condition. Two members were very
well received early on 5 May doing the station line and by pass; the pneumatically worked elevated
railway 'points' either end were very impressive and efficient - the best our members had seen.
1142] Cheapest Day Return? A Glasgow Queen Street - High Street Off-Peak Day Return is £1.40;
£1.90 Anytime or £1.25/90p with railcard respectively. Stourbridge Town - Junction is £2 Anytime
but £1.30 Off-Peak (Railcard £1.30/85p). However, Lichfield Trent Valley to Lichfield City is a mere
£1 Anytime Day Return; 65p with railcard. Does anyone know or anything cheaper nationally?...YES!
You can travel free between the Heathrow Terminals on the shuttle; which would be hard to beat.
X.52 PREVIOUS PAGE: A donated full size replica name plate for 40022 'Laconia' is available to take
home on our 9 Jun 'Sunday Yicker' tour (pick a square grid) for Rethink Mental Illness. (Dan Hitchens.)
1328 EAST MIDLANDS (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
[Derbyshire (not Buxton/Hope Valley), Notts, Lincolnshire, Northants, Leicestershire & Rutland]
1143] Market Harborough: (BLN 1322.260) The resignalled and significantly remodelled new layout is
due to open on Mon 3 Jun. However, a member is extremely surprised to see that new Route Relay
Interlocking is being installed, as this is not compatible with the European Train Control System (ETCS)
which is likely to be the long term aim for the Midland Main Line. Only last year a WESTLOCK Solid
State Interlocking (ETCS compatible) was installed just to the south at Kettering (which might be
expected to have spare capacity to take over the simple layout at Market Harborough too)! This could
turn out to be similar to Cricklewood (BLN 1326.801) where the depot panel, installed only in 2015, is
to be replaced by a new 'Westcad' (Westinghouse Control And Display) desk at West Hampstead PSB.
1144] Sharnbrook Jn: (TRACKmaps 4, p10A - Dec 2018) Work progresses on requadrupling north. From
Mon 13 May on the present bidirectional Down & Up Slow (56m 62ch) which is the future Down Slow,
new trailing points are due to be installed OOU in the 'normal' position. The other set of points to
make up the future trailing crossover will be laid on the future Up Slow (at present OOU). On the
present Up Slow (56m 44ch) - south of the junction - a new set of trailing points is to be laid OOU in
the 'reverse' position. Both new crossovers are due to be commissioned with resignalling in Jan 2020.
1145] Longcliffe: The Grade II listed* Brassington railway bridge was badly damaged and later had to
be demolished following a lorry strike on 17 Apr. The Council said that they had to remove the unsafe
bridge over the B5056 the day after the accident to reopen the road. The Council plans to rebuild it
with as many original parts of the structure as possible. Three miles of the High Peak Trail, over the
bridge is now closed and an alternative route is being sought until it can be reinstated. The bridge, part
of the Cromford & High Peak Railway, was built about 1830. [*Described as: Rock faced squared
coursed limestone abutments. Fish-bellied, cast iron beams carrying wooden decking between. About
20 metal railings above. An early example of cast iron for structural use. Listed for its historic interest.]
1146] East Midlands Gateway: (TRACKmaps 4, p13C - Dec 2018) (BLN 1327.959; photos in e-BLN) From
Mon 13 May between Sheet Stores Jn and Stenson Jn the new Gateway West Jn (122m 73ch) is due
to be commissioned and bought into use. It has a new facing crossover (122m 74ch) from Up to Down
Chellaston and a trailing connection from the Down Chellaston line (122m 70ch) to/from the Gateway
Arrival and Gateway Departure. The new branch to East Midlands Gateway terminal is 2¼ miles long.
1147] Nuneaton … that's a relief: (BLN 1327.963) Although not running to Paddington, the P5/6
'middle line', rare for passenger trains and not on National Rail's website plan, is actually the Up Relief.
1148] Lincoln: If you fancy trying something a bit different, on 5 Apr NR opened a temporary pontoon
linking Brayford Wharf East to the University of Lincoln campus while the level crossing is closed for
the new bridge works. The floating platform spans Brayford Pool from the jetty to the shore next to
the current bridge over the water, which is closed to pedestrians during the bridge works.
1149] Derby: On Mon 22 Apr the slightly delayed 07.46 Gloucester to Nottingham took the Up to
Down Tamworth Slow Crossover into its booked P4 to avoid conflict with the 09.39 departure to
Cardiff from P3 (which had come from Nottingham). Ad hoc use of this crossover is probably much
more common than the entries in UT Tracker suggest, due to its operational usefulness.
A consequence of the new Derby layout is that a member has experienced delayed departures to
Crewe. The unit is often 'trapped' in P3B at the north end by a delayed CrossCountry service reversing
in P3A, booked to leave a few minutes before the Crewe departure. If only there was a south bay
platform for the Crewe services! Apparently Abellio are promising longer trains on this line [well some
would disappear if they were any shorter], extended to Nottingham, and later last services. This harks
back to the British Rail Lincoln St Marks - Crewe service, which he used regularly in his youth, with
3-car DMUs, First Class and a 22.15 departure from Derby to connect with the Sleepers at Crewe.
1328 GREATER LONDON (Geoff Brockett) [email protected]
[The City of London and the 32 Boroughs of Greater London]
1150] Bakerloo Line Microgricing: BLN 1294.2393 in Dec 2017 was the last such guide. WTT No44 is
available from http://bit.ly/2Y5VTVD and dated 19 May 2019. The reissue was due to the increase in
frequency of LO (London Overground) services over shared tracks, but the only significant microgricing
change is that Willesden Junction's bay gains a few trains to and from Euston. This guide indicates the
complete booked passenger service over all running lines, crossovers, slips and platforms where not
readily deducible. LU train running numbers are shown in [square brackets].
= Known recent use also by LU or LO to turn back in service during planned engineering.
= Known passenger use during disruption.
●Connections with Jubilee Line at Baker Street, Queen's Park south slip , Willesden Junction
...crossovers (both ends) and Wembley Central crossover (X/O) : no booked use.
●Lambeth North (both) , Piccadilly Circus, Paddington and Harrow & Wealdstone X/Os: ECS.
●The facility available to LU of turning back 'off the brown' at Kilburn High Road is still regularly
...exercised by ECS and overnight 'sleet trains' to remove ice.
●Queen's Park northbound arrivals at P2: SuMX 00.35½ ; SuO 00.35½  (each has connection
...on to Stonebridge Park but not to south).
●Willesden Junction bay P2 (too short for Bakerloo trains; to or from E = London Euston or N = North
...London Line): Departures SSuX 05.52N, 06.04E; SO 06.00N; SuO 08.42E, 09.01N.
...Arrivals SSuX 23.12E; SO 22.59E, 23.29E; SuO 00.29N, 00.59N, 21.59E, 22.59E, 23.47N.
The intended increase in LO frequencies means that Bakerloo services to Harrow & Wealdstone will
now operate at irregular intervals. 6tph (trains per hour) fits much better with the original 3tph than
with the proposed 4tph! However the new LO timetable depends on the new Class 710 EMUs entering
service. Consequently Realtime Trains shows 1tph cancelled, with resultant 30min LO gaps.
1151] A Micro Gricers Guide to London Underground: The updated May 2019 e-version is available
with this e-BLN and on our Website Document Archive. It is compiled by Martyn Brailsford from
data extracted by Bill Lynch and includes line diagrams. Thanks to both and also to Geoff Brockett.
1152] Angel Road: (BLN 1326.813) [32,939 passengers 2017-18.] A formal notice ratifying the station
closure was issued by the ORR on 11 Apr (without a closure date but the last trains are shown as Fri 17
May). The notice was to be displayed there and at other stations in the area for a period of four weeks.
1153] Acton Dive-Under: (BLN 1326.966) A member had reconciled himself to having to find an
occasion to hang around Ealing Broadway early afternoon on a weekday. However, arriving at Reading
late on a recent Saturday afternoon (by boat from Oxford as you do), he decided to have a punt and
travel up to Paddington on the next stopper, the 17.32 from Didcot Parkway, and see what happened.
A quick look out at Ealing Broadway showed the desired route indicator, so he dived back in and did
the line at the first attempt with no waiting about at all. The question then is, why does this happen?
Looking at Realtime Trains he could see nothing to indicate that the train concerned was to run via the
dive-under and no conflicting moves out
of Acton Yard or from the goods lines at
Acton Wells Jn.
1154] Cricklewood: (BLN 1326.801)
(TRACKmaps 4, p8A - Dec 2018) No8
siding that leads into the former Jerich's
warehouse, (RIGHT: Robin Morel 20 Apr
2019) originally the carriage shed, at the
north end of the depot site, has been
cleared of vegetation.
ABOVE: Progress on the new 'A' to 'E' stabling sidings at the south end of Cricklewood looking north
on 23 Apr with the Midland Main Line to the left. (Both Robin Morel.) BELOW: taken from a little
further south it can be seen that the south freight head shunt has now been disconnected.
This is part of site preparation for demolition to
make way for the new Brent Cross West station
here. A crash barrier has been installed in front
of the shed's roller shutter door instead of a
conventional buffer stop. The siding has always
been available and has a curious set of hand
points that are electrically detected normal or
reverse on entry from No12 shunt neck. Its last
use was by a GP TRAMM that delivered
materials for platform lengthening in 2010.
(LEFT - Robin Morel 2010.) Over the Easter
holiday period the new Tamper Siding was
commissioned and the South Freight Siding
removed, with the south headshunt finally severed. The five new south stabling sidings were installed
and these are named 'A'-'E' rather than '6'-'10' as originally intended. They remain out of use until Nov,
but can accept engineering trains (in place of the South Freight Siding) by local arrangement.
1155] Crossrail: (BLN 1327.968) On 25 Apr the new Crossrail Ltd management team announced their
proposals for opening the core section. Following a detailed audit of the programme, they have
produced what is described as a 'robust and realistic plan' to put the project back on track. This has
required identifying and re-sequencing over 100,000 interdependent tasks and takes full account of
exactly what is to be done and how long it will take. As many risks and uncertainties remain in the
development and testing of the train and signalling systems, they have identified a six-month delivery
window with a midpoint at the end of 2020. However even then Bond Street station is not expected to
open with the rest of the line because of 'design and delivery challenges'. As the completion work
proceeds, regular progress reports will be provided, with increasingly specific estimates of the opening
date. The four major tasks that must be completed are:
❶Build/test software to integrate the train operating system with three different signalling systems.
❷Install/test vital station systems. ❸Complete installation of tunnel equipment and test systems of
communication. ❹Then trial run the trains over many thousands of miles on the completed railway
to shake out any problems, ensuring the highest levels of safety and reliability for passenger services.
Each new station has over 50km of communications cabling, 200 CCTV cameras, 66 information
displays, 200 radio antennae, 750 loudspeakers and 50 help points. Presumably, with the exception of
Bond Street, the remaining fit-out and systems installation in the stations and tunnels is expected to
be completed this year. The works are expected to be finished within the previously agreed funding
package. The announcement confirms that TfL Rail services between Paddington (main line station)
and Reading will begin in Dec, with 4tph in the peaks (bringing TfL an extra £110M revenue per year).
In late Apr, platform extensions at West Drayton were nearly complete. Trains formed of 2x4-car Class
387 EMUs currently use Selective Door Opening, with the doors in the front seven coaches opening.
1156] London Overground: (BLN 1321.162) The Mayor of London has announced that only four of the
51 ticket offices originally proposed for closure will do so. At quieter stations, ticket offices will open at
least 07.30 to 10.00 SSuX. The four offices not retained are: ①Stamford Hill & ②Theobalds Grove,
both said to be closed for a number of years after arson attacks; they will not be rebuilt and reopened.
③Brondesbury will close to allow a step free access scheme to proceed. ④White Hart Lane may
need to close as the station is rebuilt. However a correspondent queries the statement regarding
Theobalds Grove, which was closed in early 2018 after water ingress and was extensively (and he
thinks expensively) rebuilt and was all ready to reopen in summer 2018.
1157] London Euston: (BLN 1327.970) The diagram (photo in e-BLN) at the 'Signal Box', a new Gastro
Pub at Euston, is the 1952 resignalling plan but is not a signal box diagram, so size doesn't matter!
Our original correspondent still wonders if it's an original from 1952 or a modern reproduction?
1158] Gospel Oak - Barking: Due to one of the three 4-car Class 378 EMUs failing on Thur 2 May, until
10.00 the service ran between Gospel Oak and South Tottenham (P1) only, with buses beyond.
1328 NORTH EAST & YORKSHIRE (Geoff Blyth) [email protected]
[Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, County Durham, Teesside, North Humberside & Yorkshire]
1159] Whitby: (BLN 1327.986). Alan Williams himself has kindly provided some further information on
the Esk Valley trains for BLN. It is believed Whitby P3 went fairly soon after DMUs replaced steam in
the early 1960s; published pictures show the starting signal in use in 1959 but removed by 1964.
The Danby terminator is also the result of a request for more trains to serve the North Yorkshire
Moors National Park Centre, although it is a ¾ mile walk from the station with Moorsbuses only
running at high summer weekends. The Community Rail Partnership (CRP) has lobbied for the train to
terminate at Castleton Moor instead, where residents have complained about it not stopping, and also
to call at Great Ayton, where there is growing demand. The CRP staffs the 'Music and Ale' train, which
is on a Friday evening to avoid the unfortunately necessary alcohol ban on the last Saturday train.
Whitby line ridership has grown by almost 50% since the service was halved in 1990 and Whitby has
become a popular 'weekend' venue (as opposed to 'day trip', like Scarborough). This justified the
introduction of a year round Sunday service from 2017. Substantial housing development has occurred
at Whitby, which is not in the National Park and hence doesn't have such strict planning rules.
The new Sirius Minerals polyhalite mine, and the Offshore Wind Farm servicing base (around 1,500
new jobs in total), has justified the reintroduction from Dec 2019 of an early morning commuter
service from Whitby around 07.00 to Middlesbrough, and a later evening return service. This latter is
likely to be funded initially from the £7M Section 106 funding secured from Sirius Minerals as part of
their planning permission. Pressure for a better service has grown since Whitby Hospital was
downgraded and the new station at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough opened in 2014.
However, these changes still leave a three hour gap in the timetable in the morning and a four hour
gap in the afternoon. The CRP has the objective of getting back to the pre-1990 service of eight trains a
day, at approximately two hourly intervals requiring two units; the Danby (or preferably Castleton)
and Battersby services are the beginnings of that. However, the North York Moors Railway (NYMR), as
an Open Access Operator, now occupies the five possible train paths between Grosmont and Whitby
previously used by the pre-1990 trains (BLN 1326.829). Some stakeholders in Whitby and the Esk
Valley believe that precedence should be given to Northern as the franchise operator, since the NYMR
does not use its paths throughout the year and the fifth path is only taken on 41 days this year.
This certainly raises an interesting issue; the NYMR makes a very significant contribution to Whitby's
tourist trade. It carries 300,000 passengers a year; 270,000 are estimated to make the trip to Whitby
(compared with 138,500 using Northern services there in 2017/18). Most start from Pickering as that
is the easiest place to access from most of the country. The busiest trains are the early morning one
from Pickering and the late evening back, meaning that most travellers spend the whole day in Whitby.
If these paths went to Northern, the additional trains would surely not generate anything like as much
income in the town. In any case the NYMR safety certificate has just been renewed for a further five
years and their General Manager stated, in an interview with 'Heritage Railways' magazine, that they
have 'firm rights' to run into Whitby. Although this involves additional cost and work, it is estimated
that running to Whitby brings the NYMR an additional £1M annually. They also have 'permissive rights'
to run to Battersby (having to request a path each time). This is mainly for test runs with main line
certified locos which have undergone repair at Grosmont. In the past, runs to/from Battersby have
been part of the Autumn Steam Gala programme, but it is not yet known what is planned this year.
It seems also that late running Northern trains, which may have been held at Middlesbrough to make
a connection, sometimes cause delays to NYMR services (and vice versa). In other examples, Swanage
Railway trains to Wareham, when they run, are less frequent than the NYMR and benefit from double
track with bidirectional signalling through the station. [No conflict with Up trains from Weymouth;
Down SWR trains can use the Up platform to pass a Swanage train in the Down.] The Welsh Highland
has a flat crossing with the Cambrian Coast line at Porthmadog but does not share the line, of course.
All 30½ miles between Rillington (the junction east of Malton) and Whitby was once double track.
New Bridge SB (Pickering) to Levisham (five miles) was singled in WWI to provide rails for the western
front but never reinstated. The Grosmont - Whitby double track (6¼ miles) lasted until 30 Sep 1984.
In the short term NR apparently wishes the NYMR trains to run on/off their line without having to stop
to deal with a token. Separately it is believed that planning is 'well advanced' for Grosmont to be
converted from an intermediate token instrument to a 'token station' in future. This requires an extra
token instrument at Grosmont and also signs, stop boards and Train Protection & Warning System.
However, it would increase the running time of Northern services as the driver would have to carry out
the additional token exchange at Grosmont. It is thought that there are also plans to work the points
at both Grosmont and Whitby as part of the signalling rather than from ground frames. How this
would be achieved is not known. NR sees this as a sufficient capacity enhancement 'for the time
being'. However, it is understood that it would be a considerable time before anything is implemented.
1160] Morpeth: At 01.30 on 7 May it was exactly fifty years since the 19.40 King's Cross to Aberdeen,
consisting of 11 vehicles, derailed just short of the station. Five passengers and a travelling ticket
inspector were killed and 121 passengers injured, 19 of them seriously. The cause was identified as the
driver being distracted by thinking about a trivial memo he had received earlier in the day from the
Loco Shed Master's Office, Gateshead. This had asked for a report as to why an Aberdeen to King's
Cross train he had driven almost a fortnight previously had lost four minutes between Edinburgh
Waverley and Ayton. As a consequence, instead of reducing speed to the maximum permitted 40mph
over the Morpeth Curve, it was estimated to be still travelling at 84mph when the driver belatedly
became aware of the situation and attempted to brake. Unfortunately it was too late by then.
As a result a 'Code of Practice' was issued by the British Railways Board (BRB). It stated that, where
there was a speed reduction of one third or more from an approach speed of 75mph and above, an
Advanced Warning Board must be provided, calculated on the braking distance to the restriction.
An associated warning permanent magnet was additionally to be provided, 200yd before the board.
Unfortunately, while this covered the Morpeth Curve in the Down direction, the criteria did not apply
to the Up line. Here the speed reductions were in gradual stages, but none of these was by as much as
one third at a time. This situation was cruelly exposed on 24 Jun 1984, when the driver of the 19.50
Aberdeen to King's Cross (consisting of 7 sleeping cars and 2 brake vehicles) appeared to have either
fallen asleep because of taking alcohol before the journey or experienced a severe bout of coughing.
In any case, he failed to brake for the curve and the train was still travelling at between 85 and 90mph
(instead of the permitted 50mph) when the inevitable derailment occurred. Luckily there were no
fatalities, but 29 passengers and 6 train crew were injured. Anxious to close this loophole, BRB
changed the Rules so that 'cascading' speed reductions, such as here, had to be taken into account
when determining the need for an Advanced Warning Board and associated AWS magnet. In addition
the specified approach speed was also lowered to 60mph and above for these requirements to apply.
1161] Wakefield Kirkgate: A move ending on Sat 18 May is from Kirkgate P1 going west, across the
whole layout to the Up L&Y fast line to Healey Mills. From Mon 20 May the Wakefield Kirkgate to
Huddersfield service is extended to run from Castleford to Huddersfield so using Kirkgate P2 instead.
On Sun 2 Jun the 08.35 EMT Leeds to St Pancras is due to wait from 09.07 to 09.15 in the bidirectional
centre (non-platform) Kirkgate Through Line westbound for the 08.22 TPE York to Manchester Airport
to pass in P2. A rare crossover at the east end, and the Through Line in the rarer direction. ('Gensheet')
1162] Church Fenton: Due to loss of signalling between here and Colton South Jn on 29 Apr, the 11.59
Sheffield to York terminated at P2. It then took the path of the return 13.27 York to Sheffield (which
the DMU forms) from P2, via the Down Normanton to Up Normanton trailing crossover at Church
Fenton South Jn. Meanwhile the 12.07 Hull to York used the Down Normanton to Up Passenger Loop
strategic link to proceed to York. This link has regular booked use but by just the 16.35 (SuO) Hull to
York, calling Church Fenton P3 at 17.26, and only until 12 May inclusive; from the new timetable on
19 May it is booked for P2. This connection is used occasionally during engineering diversions, for
example the 01.07 Manchester Victoria to York was diverted after Leeds via Castleford 30 Apr- 3 May
with three more trains in the early hours of 3 May only. The other direction is a rarer passenger move.
1163] Pontefract Monkhill: (TRACKmaps 2, p35B - Oct 2016) In preparation for resignalling projects
(presumably re-control to York ROC) the following points were to be removed from 28 Apr:
●The facing points on the Up Cutsyke line (56m 66ch), opposite Prince Of Wales Signal Box. This was
...the former bunker line access at Prince of Wales Colliery (coal production ended on 30 Aug 2002).
●The trailing points on the Up Goole (56m 45ch) at Pontefract West Jn. This is one of the point ends
...for the trailing crossover between there and Pontefract Tanshelf station.
●The trailing points on the Down Goole line (56m 60ch). This is the trailing point on the Goole side of
...Pontefract Monkhill P2, where the Down Goods line from the Down Cutsyke line trails into the
...Down Goole. The Down Goods itself is thus clearly closed too; it was very rusty when a member
...visited Monkhill in May 2010 to do the then new Grand Central service to King's Cross and Bradford.
It is usual practice to remove redundant pointwork and track where the very high cost of resignalling
cannot be justified. This does suggest that the neighbouring Cutsyke Junction SB, with its motorised
boom gates (BLN 1323.409) - now unique since the closure of Urlay Nook - may not last much longer.
1164] Bridlington: The track in the former excursion (bays) P7 & 8 has been lifted*, no doubt saving on
signalling and pointwork maintenance. BLN 1232.875 of 2 May 2015 noted that P7 was OOU (like P8)
and terminating /originating services used bay P6. The Sectional Appendix (but dated 20 Apr 2016)
shows the track and quite complex pointwork to both (and the carriage sidings that trail in on the Up
side) as intact with only P9 shown secured OOU. However, it gives the impression that P7 is available.
Until 1983 Bridlington was an impressive station with eight platforms (four through and four bays) for
the heavy excursion traffic in the days before car ownership became widespread. BLN 1233.997 of
23 May 2015 has a full description of the layout with two excellent pictures, by Alan Sheppard, of the
detail. Sadly, two platforms would be enough for current traffic. The station also had extensive
attractive flora displays, at least in the 1970s. The excellent refreshment room now has an extensive
display of cast and enamel signs. [*Does anyone know when the track was lifted from the bays?]
PREVIOUS PAGE: Bridlington station, bay P6 is the other side of this platform. The former excursion P7
& 8 are either side of the grass covered island platform - their track has been lifted. (Alan Sheppard.)
1165] Willington (T&W): A pub by the east end of the seven arched railway viaduct over Willington
Gut (a stream) was once named 'The Railway' unsurprisingly. The pub went up market, changed its
name to The Bogie Chain [please note that is Bogie with 'ie' at the end] and used a coach (BR Mk 1 TSO
4755) as extra restaurant seating. The pub has now been sold and will soon be demolished to build
new housing on the site with the coach destined for the Aln Valley Railway. BELOW: The coach at
Willington on 19 Apr 2019. (Major Ian Hughes.)
1166] Tiny Intermediate Termini, Ribblehead: (BLN 1327.952) The history of the 07.14 SO Ribblehead
to Leeds (ECS from Skipton), 19.49 SuX Leeds to Ribblehead & 21.45 return goes back to 1976. Cuts to
reduce DMU diagrams resulted in the first service from Morecambe/Lancaster to Leeds starting from
Settle about 07.30 (ECS from Skipton). The following 10 years saw both Settle and Horton signal boxes
closed, so the ECS had to run to Blea Moor to cross from the Down to the Up line, returning to Settle
to start. Following the 14 Jul 1986 restoration of regular local services to the Settle & Carlisle line, the
train started from Ribblehead (which then only had a southbound platform, so only trains to Leeds
could call until 28 May 1993 when a new north platform opened) but it was a year or two before the
late evening service from Leeds was provided, initially ECS to Skipton. Presumably these are all now
franchise specified? On Saturdays the 07.14 still starts at Ribblehead but Mon to Fri it now begins at
Carlisle (05.51). BLN has reported regular use of these services by college students and commuters.
1167] Morpeth - Berwick: The splendid Tudor style Warkworth station building was designed in 1847
by the railway architect, Benjamin Green, for the Newcastle & Berwick Railway. It has inevitably been
converted into a house and is for sale at £450k. The waiting rooms at its south end (a self-contained
annexe) were allegedly used by the Dukes of Northumberland, presumably when visiting their nearby
Warkworth Castle. The 8th Duke gave custody of the castle to the Office of Works in 1922. Since 1984
English Heritage has cared for the castle; a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
On this 51 mile thinly populated stretch of the East
Coast Main Line (LEFT) most intermediate stations
have been closed. Local public transport in north
Northumberland is almost entirely by bus, focused
on Alnwick. The reasonable bus service between
Newcastle and Alnwick is the best way of
accessing the area from the south. It is curious that
the closed intermediate stations were picked off
individually or in small groups. It is not as if there
was a stopping service that was completely
withdrawn. The present morning and evening
round trips SuX between Newcastle and Chathill
(a tiny intermediate terminus) are the last vestige.
Most stations were originally in the middle of
fields, a distance from the villages they purported
to serve. Smeafield was the first to CP, in 1930 -
the only one before World War II - but it continued
in private use. Newham (a hamlet) CP 1950,
Scremerston in 1951 and Lucker in 1953. Christon
Bank, Chevington, Little Mill, Warkworth and
Goswick all CP during 1958, Longhoughton in 1962
and Tweedmouth in 1964. Belford and Beal were
not listed in the Beeching Report but both CP 1968.
As the number of wayside stations reduced it must
have become increasingly uneconomic to serve
those that remained. The present Chathill service
has been criticised for taking line capacity that
could be used by several faster trains. It is not at all
surprising that Scremerston was one of the first;
the village is on the old A1 with the station more
than a mile away, over 150ft downhill and
accessed by narrow lanes. Warkworth was inconveniently far from the village. Beal comprises just a
few houses but is only a few miles from Holy Island (Lindisfarne), which may be why it survived so
long. It seems curious that Belford closed as it served a village much larger than Chathill which
remains open. A 1966 passenger survey revealed 10 passengers a day on average at the former and 11
at the latter, at a time when the service was more frequent and in both directions. Chathill now
averages 9 passengers each day its trains run (SSuX). A ticket easement is that passengers to/from the
north are allowed to double back at Alnmouth in each direction at no extra charge. In Mar 1966 British
Rail proposed closure of Pegswood, Widdrington, Belford, Beal and the Alnwick branch. Barbara
Castle, Transport Secretary, reprieved Pegswood and Widdrington but the others all CP 29 Jan 1968.
There was criticism at the Public Enquiry into the 1966 proposals that Chathill had not been included!
Although it was not listed for closure in the 1963 Beeching Report the Newcastle to Berwick local
service was for 'modification'! As far as your BLN Editor can tell it was never formally proposed for
closure by British Railways! [A risky statement, but some members will know.] It might appear to be
the railhead for Seahouses, with its Farne Islands tourist traffic, but there is no connecting bus route.
Belford station was only a mile out of the village and is on the road to Bamburgh, again a tourist
destination with its magnificent Grade I listed castle. Longhoughton, Little Mill, Christon Bank,
Newham, Lucker, Goswick and Scremerston all closed temporarily between May 1941 and Oct 1946.
ABOVE: Perhaps rather surprisingly this is
the actually Warkworth station building
not an original posh country residence.
(Railway Station Cottages.)
1168] South Yorkshire (SY) Tickets: (BLN
1327.985 final paragraph) The 'SY
Connect+' ticket can be bought from the
FirstGroup (bus) mobile tickets App for
Android or Apple. It is valid on all trains,
trams and buses in SY and buying it this
way may be convenient to some. It is also
available from station booking offices
(and, it is thought, guards) as well as tram
conductors (cash only for now) and bus
drivers (cash, or contactless where
[LEFT: Seen on the 'device' of a well
known Society and Gensheet member
who wishes to remain anonymous - that's
'smart'.] In West Yorkshire, to be different,
the equivalent train and bus ticket is
available only from bus stations and
staffed rail ticket offices but not on trains
X.51] Northallerton: (BLN 1322.280) Four pictures by member Rodger Wilkinson, an Allertonian by birth.
ABOVE: Boroughbridge Road Level Crossing, looking north towards the site of Northallerton Low (and
the possible site of future low level platforms to alleviate congestion at Northallerton station. The
warehouse (R) was built on the site of the loco depot (51J) and had a siding, although it was little used.
BELOW: Boroughbridge Road Level Crossing looking south. The Up Longlands Loop diverges to the
left under the East Coast Main Line. The Down Longlands Loop is on the right.
BELOW: The 1931 East Coast Main underbridge for the Up Longlands Loop at Northallerton South.
ABOVE: The former Romanby Gates looking north (the Network Rail nameplate and the Sectional
Appendix both now describe it as Romanby Road Level Crossing). The signal box was left, next to the
½ milepost. The wartime avoiding line continued straight ahead. The houses (right) are on the site of
the dairy which had sidings at the high level.
1169] Goole: Following TfL's £1.5bn Piccadilly Line new train order (BLN 1317.2458), Siemens has now
submitted an outline planning application for its £200M factory (BLN 1301.637, with detailed map) on
a 104 acre site at Goole. This includes 80,000m2 of manufacturing and commissioning warehouse
buildings, stabling sidings and a four storey 5,000m2 office building. This will create up to 700 jobs plus
1,700 across the supply chain. It will be constructed in stages; the first phase opens in 2023 and the
factory will be fully operational by 2025. Siemens' UK rolling stock engineering and commissioning
team will be based in Goole, as will the company's Digital Operations Centre, which will collect and
analyse train data for operators. The local MP claims that Siemens is now 'considering even more
ambitious plans for Goole' with a new 'rail village' and a five mile test track, generating another 150 to
200 jobs. Your Regional Editor wonders where the test track might be. He dreams of it using part of
the (Isle of) Axholme Joint, Marshland Jn - Reedness Jn - Epworth line (CP 17 Jul 1933; CA 5 Apr 1965)
southeast of Goole! If built, it would probably comprise part of the Guardian Glass branch, perhaps
extended on the track bed of the Selby line, or a second track alongside the singled Knottingley line.
1170] T&W Metro: There was major disruption from 29 Apr when one train that developed a fault
with its pantograph brought down the OHLE on two different sections of the Coast line in both
directions. Benton to North Shields (both ECS shunts) was suspended while 600m of overhead line
from Palmersville to West Monkseaton was replaced. Trains resumed around 19.00 on 30 Apr. Then
the power supply was reconfigured allowing North Shields to Wallsend to reopen later that evening.
The team moved on to Chillingham Road where 500m of OHLE was down. St James - Wallsend (the
latter has good bus connections to Newcastle centre at least) remained closed until 16.00 on 3 May.
This is unfortunately the latest in a lengthy list of fairly major incidents causing significant disruption to
passengers. Nexus stated 'The trains and overhead power lines are two of the oldest assets Metro
relies on and underlines the need to continue to invest in Metro now and in future'.
1328 NORTH WEST (John Cameron) [email protected]
[Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Buxton & the Hope Valley]
1171] Carlisle: Of interest to those who do dispatch for directionality. As our 'Gourock Growler' tour
changed locos on Sat 27 Apr, the 20.00 train to Whitehaven departed from P2. Many participants will
have observed the barriers in place for ticket checks and general observation of the deportment (on a
Saturday evening) of passengers prior to boarding. This is a regular occurrence. What was probably not
observed, and has never been seen by our reporter before - despite him seeing a few hundred P2
departures - was that the dispatch was done on the right hand side, next to P1. Perhaps it was the
presence of our tour and large number of passengers along the south end of P3 which prompted this?
1172] Lancaster: The non-electrified Down siding (trailing connection) south of P3 is to be removed.
1173] Heaton Chapel: A large 'Heaton Chapel and Heaton Moor' sign is now on the Down platform.
1174] Whitehaven: (BLN 1327.999) It is understood that, when in full production (due 2023), the new
Woodhouse drift mine will produce 3M tonnes of high quality coking coal annually for steel making.
It is the first new deep coal mine in England since Asfordby pit, near Melton Mowbray, was sunk in
1987. There will be six Class 70 hauled coal trains a day (SuX) in total to Port Talbot, Scunthorpe and
Redcar Bulk Terminal (we will become a coal exporting nation again). There is capacity on the
Cumbrian Coast line for four trains a day with the present signalling and passenger/freight traffic.
Britain currently imports 6M tonnes of coking coal per year from Australia and the USA. The mine head
will be on the old Marchon chemical works site near the former Haig Colliery, south of Whitehaven;
some old mine tunnels will be reused. A two mile conveyor belt system will take the coal to the rail
loading point. Coal reserves are estimated at 750M tonnes over a 77 square mile area beneath the
Irish Sea with a mine life of about 50 years; 500 workers would be employed working at a depth of up
to 1,800ft. Anhydrite (Gypsum without water) will also be extracted. Pre-mining costs are £200M with
£165M more to develop and open the mine; EMR Capital, an Australian Equity Company is the backer.
1175] All Our Yesterdays; Settle - Carlisle line: From BLN 125 of 5 Mar 1969...
1176] Lazonby: (BLN 278 of 23 Jul 1975, p121) Surface gypsum extraction in this part of the Eden
Valley was first documented in 1870; commercial extraction began in 1879. At first the only method of
transport was by horse drawn cart tracks. The Long Meg Plaster Company (established 1880) drove a
small underground drift in Cave Wood valley near Salkeld with underground operations beginning in
1885. The following year a 400yd standard gauge branch was laid from the Settle & Carlisle Railway to
the mill building, controlled (along with the associated sidings) by an original Midland Railway box.
A small steam engine shunted trucks with gypsum to the nearby plaster mill, or to the Settle & Carlisle
line. After a change of ownership, and serious financial difficulties, Carlisle Plaster and Cement
Company Ltd closed the mine in 1914-15, and the original signal box also closed (from 13 Mar 1915).
However, the chemical industry found a use for anhydrite (gypsum without water which the original
miners had left behind). It was used in the manufacture of sulphuric acid and ammonium compounds
for fertilizers. Long Meg mine reopened in 1922 as Long Meg Plaster & Mineral Co Ltd for anhydrite
extraction. In 1939 it was purchased by British Plaster Board Ltd, later British Gypsum. By 1961 one
million tons had been sent by rail to Widnes and there were flows by rail to Billingham on Teesside.
In 1972 anhydrite was no longer required for sulphuric acid production so Long Meg reverted to
Gypsum production until it was worked out, closing on 31 Jan 1976. Over 5 million tons had been
extracted from an area of 270 acres. New sidings were provided on the Down side in the early 1950s
along with the 'modern' Long Meg Signal Box, a London Midland region Type 15 design, commissioned
3 Jul 1955. It replaced Long Meg Ground Frame that only connected to the Up line. British Gypsum Ltd
Private Siding CG 30 Sep 1975 (deleted from BR's Total Operations Processing System by 19 Oct 1990).
Long Meg Signal Box closed 11 Jul 1990 when the absolute block section was extended to between
Culgaith and Low House Crossing boxes, then became derelict until it was demolished on 27 Jan 2013.
1177] Mid Cheshire Line: (BLN 1326.844)
The Mid Cheshire Community Rail
Partnership has produced a booklet
'Marvellous Days Out, The Mid Cheshire
Line.' It promotes the use of the line for
leisure use. Each station has a page
highlighting historical interest and
leisure activities available. It is illustrated
with retro style posters by artist Nicky
Thompson. Full size posters are now on
display at Stockport P2 (BELOW - John
Cameron). http://bit.ly/2IZAXfq has the
e-booklet version also with interesting
information about the line and fares etc.
ABOVE: Salford Central P1 looking towards Manchester Victoria with a Clitheroe service turning back
on Sun 21 Apr. The 'STOP' board, on the right is the one BELOW looking the other way - John Cameron.
1178] Buckshaw Parkway: (TRACKmaps 4, p30B - Dec 2018) From 18 May regular timetabled use of
the new 2016 trailing crossover ends. Terminating trains (run SuX) from Manchester Victoria now
turnback in P2 and do it on departure. In the new timetable they are all extended to/from Preston.
1179] Salford Central: On Sun 21 Apr Manchester Victoria was closed. Some services from Clitheroe
were turned back at Salford Central P1, (see PREVIOUS PAGE) taking the crossovers from the Up
Salford to the Down Salford at Salford West Jn in service on departure ( note the 'D' in the theatre
indicator and 'STOP' board to the left). Connecting rail replacement buses ran to/from Victoria.
1180] Bolton Virgins: (BLN 1327.1005) A member travelled on the 05.57 Crewe to Lancaster Class 390
Pendolino on Easter Monday. It did not exceed 75mph after Salford Crescent, although did catch up a
stopping service at Blackrod so may have been on restrictive aspects. It ran slow line from Adswood
Road Jn to Slade Lane Jn and left its Stockport P4 set-down (only) 5 mins early, then ran Fast Line to
Ardwick. Unusually, the train arrived into Lancaster P4 (where some trains returned south from P3).
BELOW: A diverted Virgin Pendolino NOT going at 'full tilt' through Oxford Road. (John Cameron.)
1181] Sunday, a day of rest? Northern continue to struggle to run a full service in the North West on
Sundays (officially attributed to train crew not making themselves available). On Easter Sun 21 Apr the
following services were cancelled all day, in addition to the pre-planned engineering cancellations:
ꞳPiccadilly - Stoke; ꞳLancaster - Morecambe; ꞳPreston - Hellifield; ꞳLancaster - Preston; ꞳOxford
Road - Blackpool N; ꞳSalford Central - Wigan NW & ꞳManchester Airport - Liverpool South Parkway.
1182] Virgin Trains: In their submission to the Rail Review, Virgin Trains propose that reservations on
long distance trains should be compulsory; to avoid overcrowding which they say can be severe at
times while other trains are almost empty. They also advocate dynamic fares, the most popular trains
having higher fares. If introduced these changes would have a huge impact on rail travellers in the
North West (and elsewhere), where Virgin Trains provide 'local' services between Crewe - Warrington -
Wigan NW - Preston - Lancaster and some to Oxenholme, Penrith with their 'long distance services'.
[This also applies on the Wolverhampton - Sandwell & Dudley - Birmingham New Street/International
and Coventry corridor as well as the fast services between Rugby/Milton Keyes and London. Virgin
carries many commuters between Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester Piccadilly and Coventry and
Birmingham New Street as observed by a member on his early morning travels. The same comments
apply about timing flexibility; Virgin appears to be inviting revenue loss to other operating companies.
Often passengers simply don't know what time they are going to reach a station due to delays,
meetings finishing early/late. Will season ticket holders have to reserve a seat twice every day? Some
people make a very short notice journey if a relative or friend is taken ill or if their car breaks down for
example. The system won't allow through reservations when connections are less than the minimum
connection time (for example at Birmingham New Street) but often they can be made. When Virgin
started their 'Very High Frequency' service they advertised it as 'turn up and go', will it then be 'don't
turn up go away'? From reaction so far the idea, which breaches a fundamental principal since railways
began, will be even more unpopular than CrossCountry removing passengers (often paying higher
fares) from their seats part way during a journey to sell additional cheap 'advance' tickets on the day.
1183] Blackpool Trams: A member travelled to Blackpool after noticing that the Heritage Trams winter
gold service had journeys to Starr Gate reversing in service past the normal passenger limit, thus
covering the connection to the northbound platform not done by the recent society tour [we did the
Depot instead!]. However, the Summer Gold timetable has no journeys south of Pleasure Beach.
1328 SOUTH EAST - NORTH & EAST ANGLIA (Julian James) [email protected]
[Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Bucks, Oxfordshire, Berks, Hertfordshire & Essex]
1184] Didcot West Curve Jn - Foxhall Jn: This PSUL can be now done in both directions. As well as the
21.45 (SSuX) Reading - Birmingham New Street to retain CrossCountry staff route knowledge, GWR
has a 03.51 MSSuX Oxford - Reading which also reverses at Foxhall Jn. We are surprised that the latter
seemed to have 'foxed all' our Thames Valley members; it has only recently been reported. It was
booked this way from the May 2018 timetable, but as a late alteration after the Working timetable had
gone to press (just to make our esteemed PSUL compiler's life even more difficult than it already is!).
1185] Tring: On 1 May a member was able to make the unusual move through P4 on the 16.12 Milton
Keynes to East Croydon. This was thanks to https://www.uttracker.com/home.php (Ian Delgado's UT
Tracker website). From Mon 20 May this trains is booked to run through the usual Tring P5 instead.
PREVIOUS PAGE: Tring looking north, Tue 7 May. The 16.12 Southern Milton Keynes to East Croydon
is calling at P4 (left), after using the rare Up Slow long crossover into P4, (the platform normally only
used by local services from Euston turning back from the south). This is to pass the train on the right
(in P5, normally used by southbound 'local' passenger services); it is the 16.07 London Northwestern
ECS, Bletchley to Euston. The ECS is booked to wait in P5 from 16.29 to 16.38. It was the third attempt
by our keen member to do this rare move (previously the trains had swapped platforms) which ends
on Fri 17 May, and then the Southern train is booked to use the normal P5 instead. (Simon Mortimer.)
1186] Bletchley: In preparation for East West Rail, the OHLE on the WCML tracks beneath Bletchley
flyover has been renewed over 350m of the four tracks (distance probably cumulative) on a temporary
basis. Work started at Christmas 2018 and continued during Easter with completion at the May Bank
Holiday. New supports replace the previous direct attachment to the flyover which will be substantially
rebuilt for East West Rail, but long term it is intended to reattach the wires to the rebuilt flyover.
1187] Iver: By 25 Apr the old booking office building had been demolished and tickets (including
platform tickets!) are issued from a temporary building open weekday mornings only. The toilets are
closed as well. Posters advise of a 'new lift' (singular), 'refurbished ticket hall' and 'ticket gates'. In fact
three new lifts appear to be on the way, to the existing footbridge at the London side with the steps to
Up Relief and island platforms on the country side of it. A completely new booking office and gate line
area will presumably be erected in due course. Completion is expected around the end of the year, our
member was told at the booking office. The OOU electrified Up Iver Loop was rusty (BLN 1327.1017).
1188] Langley: Lower key improvements are under way. A poster indicates that three new lifts, a new
mid platform footbridge giving step free access and a refurbished ticket hall, with new ticket gates and
accessible ticket counter are to come. The only obvious work currently is the new lift towers on the
island platform and Up Relief P4 with nothing yet on the Down Main. One wonders what will happen
to the coffee and snack shop on Up Relief P4 as it is likely to be either inside or outside the gate line, so
may lose business. The current footbridge at the country end of the platforms is actually quite recent.
1189] Steventon: (BLN 1311.1771) NR plans a 110mph permanent speed restriction at Steventon High
Street road overbridge (56m 32ch). Subject to no objections it is expected to apply from early August,
replacing the present cascading differential speed restriction (85mph-60mph) that has applied to
electric traction since 2 Jan 2019. The bridge itself does not prevent line speed running with a raised
pantograph, its proximity to Stocks Lane (56m 58ch) and Causeway level crossings (56m 72ch) to the
west, results in a sub-standard OHLE wire gradient that constrains train speed. NR continues to pursue
the Planning Appeal to obtain planning consent to reconstruct the bridge and has been exploring other
options using new analytics and techniques. These demonstrate that bridge to pantograph gauge
clearance allows full 125mph line speed for all pantograph types. Separate modelling and simulations
by WS Atkins have been undertaken to assess the safe permissible line speed while retaining the steep
OHLE wire gradients. The outcomes have been validated using data gathered from various test trains.
Simulation of the pantograph fitted to the IET Class 800 series, at line speed, has been followed up
using an IET fitted with measurement equipment. This dynamic testing proved the validity of the
simulation results. It supports the speed increase to 110mph through the bridge. The Class 387 EMU
pantograph exhibits consistently higher forces than the IET's. Extrapolation of test results comparing
the known performance of both pantograph/vehicle combinations allows some conclusions to be
drawn. Further simulation work is underway to support operations up to 110mph through the gradient
and bridge. Maintenance inspection of the OHLE is to be increased and asset component replacements
will be undertaken more frequently to mitigate accelerated asset wear rates. Maintaining a 125mph
line speed would create a driving hazard, as the signalling system would provide inconsistent
information to drivers. In this case, lineside signage would show 125 but in-cab equipment on ATP
fitted trains would intervene at 110mph. Consequently, a 110mph Permanent Speed Restriction for all
trains is viewed as the most easily presented and therefore optimum solution for drivers. [All this
because the locals resisted having the bridge rebuilt so much and planning permission was refused!]
1328 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH (Julian James) [email protected]
[Hampshire, Surrey, Kent, West Sussex, East Sussex & Isle of Wight]
1190] Wokingham: (BLN 1324.589) The new gate lines at this station were noted in use by 26 April.
1191] Lymington branch: The remains of the unadvertised private Ampress Works Halt look in fairly
good condition, possibly the stairs are poor but as the old demolished Ampress Works have been
replaced with an industrial/trading estate perhaps South Western Railway might reopen it? The single
simple concrete platform on the Down side (96m 61ch from Waterloo and 76ch north of Lymington
Town) opened 1 Oct 1956 for workers at the Wellworthy Engineering Co, only accessible from inside
their site. It closed in 1989 when the works closed (demolition was by 1998); at the end it was
averaging two passengers a day. Once there was significant season ticket traffic from Yarmouth (IOW!)
which was 'great'. On station signs/tickets it has variously been 'Ampress', 'Ampress Works Halt' and
even 'Wellworthy Ampress Works Halt'. It was shown on some OS one-inch maps in the 1960s.
1192] Bournemouth: A member was on the 09.51 Southampton Central to Wareham on Fri 26 Apr.
It stopped just before the road tunnel into Bournemouth station with the announcement that a failed
train was in the normal Down P3. After some 20 minutes delay, with two Up trains passing (including a
double 442 set on test), the train proceeded via the crossover into Up P2 (the failed 444 set was in P3),
continuing past the holding sidings before crossing to the Down Main to continue the journey. Later in
the day, on the 19.50 from Poole, he was very surprised that, just before Bournemouth, the train
crossed over to the Down Main through P4 to P3, as a Down train arrived at P2 (as in the morning),
then continued through the road tunnel before crossing over to the Up Main to Southampton. If this
arrangement had existed all day (it didn't) it would have been most inconvenient for the regulars!
1193] Orpington South Jn: To comply with modern standards NR has made three minor changes to
permissible speeds through the points south of Orpington following renewal and movement of the
position of the toes of the points by between 5m and 28m. The Up Slow - Down Slow trailing crossover
south of P4 and P5 is now 20mph instead of 15mph. The facing crossover between the Up Fast and the
Down Fast is 50mph rather than 60mph. The same reduction also applies to speed through Down P5.
1328 SOUTH WEST (Darren Garnon) [email protected]
[Gloucestershire, Avon, Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon, Lundy, Dorset, Channel Islands & Cornwall]
1194] Taunton: A major £22.9M redevelopment has progressed with appointment of construction
company John Sisk & Son. Planned improvements include a four storey car park, a new ticket office
and station entrance on the 'Down' side (the opposite side to now; it is thought an Up side entrance
will be retained) plus additional cycle spaces. Passenger numbers (1.46M in 2017/18) are forecast to
double over the next decade. Works commence in autumn 2019 with completion due by spring 2020.
1195] New Timetable: Most services between Paddington and Bedwyn are now operated by IETs
(with a conductor provided 'as necessary'), although this means changing at Newbury for intermediate
stations. [This is not reflected in Realtime Trains as at 7 May so it will be interesting to see what
happens.] As usual trains to Newquay are reintroduced at weekends and weekdays during the school
holidays and on Saturdays there is an additional direct train from Paddington to both Pembroke Dock
and Paignton - presumably these will all be IETs. As usual each year the additional trains to Newquay
result in the local service being reduced to one each way on summer Saturdays. Conversely, on
Sundays an enhanced service operates on the Newquay branch, six trains each way including one
from/to Paddington and one from Plymouth running to Edinburgh! The use of the 'Castle Class', short
HST sets is heavily promoted on the Taunton to Cardiff and West of England services.
1196] Whiteball Tunnel (BLN 1323.378) The works to repair this crumbling tunnel north of Tiverton
Parkway were not completed during the recent 18 Feb to 8 Mar closure. NR has proposed a further
line closure from Sat 9 until Fri 15 Nov aiming to finish the spray concrete that should give the tunnel a
125 year design life. It is understood that, with other works, the passenger closure may be Exeter to
Weston-super-Mare with Exeter - Barnstaple operating and Taunton served from the Westbury line.
1197] Evercreech Junction - Burnham-on-Sea: https://bbc.in/2vzlutK is a delightful 26 minute long
monochrome film on BBC iPlayer by John Betjeman. First broadcast in 1963, it is available to watch for
'over a year'. A unique profile of a working steam branch line with passenger and freight workings.
1198] Rhubarb at Didcot: From Mon 13 May at Thames Valley Signalling Centre, control of Dr Day's Jn -
North Somerset Jn ('Rhubarb Loop') moves from Temple Meads work station to the new Bath Workstation.
1199] Electrification (BLN 1326.871) From 21 Apr, normal passenger trains were able to use the new
OHLE between Wootton Bassett Jn and Christian Malford (Chippenham East). Class 80X IET bimode
sets are permitted to change between diesel and electric traction at line speed. Meanwhile, catenary
equipment has been energised as far west as Patchway Jn on the South Wales line.
1328 WEST MIDLANDS (Brian Schindler) [email protected]
[Malvern, Staffordshire, Shropshire, West Midlands, Herefordshire, Worcestershire & Warwickshire]
1200] Walsall Pleck Jn: (BLN 1227.1056) (TRACKmaps 4, p21A - Dec 2018) Further information has
come to light about the non-electrified crossover here. In fact it is only the DR 1352 Ground Signal
controlled routes from the Down Walsall Slow line to the Up Walsall line and to the Down Darlaston
line that will be 'barred' in the signalling system so these routes cannot be set or cleared. The only
time an electric train might mistakenly have been routed over it is during times of disruption and not
in normal timetabled service. It is an 'unelectrified black hole' in a 'sea of electrification' which could
catch a signaller and driver out if they have to do an unusual move that they are not familiar with.
A member suspects that the hazard is not so much the pantograph leaving one wire but the then
unrestrained pantograph crashing sideways into the wire above the line it is joining bringing it down.
In fact routes to/from the non-electrified Pleck Permanent Way Siding and Up Dudley Siding are not
affected and will still be available over this crossover. Subject to the business case, NR will look to
electrify this crossover as part of the new package of OHLE renewals in this area, including the Up and
Down Darlaston lines, likely to be during CP6 (1 Apr 2019 - 31 Mar 2024). This would be less disruptive
and allow the crossover to be restored to full operation. To electrify the crossover requires changes to
the catenary on site, the signallers' workstation and the
Electrical Control Room at Crewe, as well as all the controlled
documentation such as the Isolation diagrams, drivers' road
learning books etc.
As indicated in BLN 1227, any trains requiring to cross
between the Up Walsall Slow and Down Walsall Slow can do
so at the north end of Walsall station. Diesel trains can also
reverse in Pleck PW Siding.
1201] Washwood Heath Up Yard: (BLN 1328.1054) With the
recent track lifting the three through tracks nearest the main
line (Roads 1, 2 &3) have been left intact, presumably for the
HS2 ballast workings. The Bromford Bridge (east) end of the
yard connections on the River Tame bridge remain. The west
end yard (Washwood Heath Arrival/ Departure 1 & 2 lines)
lines which once went over the hump into the yard also
remain connected. Line 1 has is still used for light engines
running round at Saltley to clear the signal, but line 2 has
been unused and rusty since DBS closed the yard.
This reminds your Regional Editor that, as a young boy, he
once stood on the platform of the nearby Bromford Bridge
Racecourse station (for the adjacent Castle Bromwich
racecourse). The station OP in 1842 as Bromford Forge.
X.52] THIS PAGE: Colwall, Sat 4 May 2019 and the 10.22 Paddington to Hereford calls (ABOVE) at
13.15 with a solitary passenger on the platform. This and the 15.13 return from Hereford were the first
HST workings past Worcester since 15 Feb. Three are expected on Sat 18 May (BLN 1327.1051) and
finally the GWR HST charity tour on 1 Jun. The footbridge has recently been refurbished. (Ralph Ward.)
Bromford Forge (cont.): In 1896 a single platform was added on the Down side (to Birmingham) on the
Down Derby Slow (now the Down Derby Goods) and it was renamed after the racecourse (itself
opened 1894). From memory the station had very few facilities, just a brick waiting shelter with an
adjacent signal box, which was in use from 1917 until 1969. The station CP 28 Jun 1965 after the final
race meeting and the racecourse site was sold to build (the station-less) Bromford Bridge Estate.
1202] Leamington Spa - Nuneaton: On Sun 28 Apr a test run was made with a refurbished 2x2 Car
Class 172/0 DMU (ex-Barking - Gospel Oak line). From Mon 20 May, an 'hourly' service through
Coventry (SuX) links up the two lines with two 2-car Class 172/0 replacing the two 1-car Class 153s.
Kenilworth has a Sunday service from 19 May, one train an hour (not exactly hourly) from 10.00 to,
remarkably, 23.00 but the Leamington and Nuneaton services run separately, 'connecting' at Coventry.
Another Class 172/0 replaces the 2-Car Class 150 New Street - Hereford diagram which ended early
Apr and the other three will be used on Snow Hill services while the existing Class 172s are 'modified'.
By the end of May all West Midlands units that they are keeping past 2019 will have been rebranded.
1203] Coventry - Nuneaton: The new Birmingham end Coventry bay (next to P1 - another Platform
Zero?) is going ahead as part of the station's major redevelopment but a surprise (considering the cost
and signalling alterations) is a new trailing crossover at Coventry Arena to run extra match day trains.
1204] Birmingham Snow Hill: A team of 20 engineers has spent 12 weekends strengthening the 635yd
Snow Hill Tunnel between the station and Moor Street station. Opened in 1852 it was actually built
from the Moor Street end by the 'cut and cover' method to Temple Row where there was a deep
cutting then to Snow Hill station. This was covered over in 1872 making a 4½yd tall brick lined 'tunnel'
and the Great Western Arcade (shops) was built over it. At this (north) end there is still evidence of the
sidings used for transporting milk and mail. Famously, there was a short siding, also this end, with an
underground direct entrance to the Birmingham branch of the Bank of England, used until the mid-
1960s to transport bullion and cash by train but now sealed up. The track was relaid (ROP 5 Oct 1987)
with second hand hardwood sleepers from Woodhead Tunnel (CA 20 Jul 1981) as they were in such
good condition with 'boots' to reduce noise transmission - a member made an inspection visit before
reopening. Maybe the boots could not be attached to concrete sleepers. Wood sleepers were normally
softwood. At first the tunnel was constantly brightly lit but the lights are now only on 'as required'.
The strengthening work involved spraying eight tonnes of concrete onto the walls over three
weekends; constructing a 120-year shaft cap to reduce stress, brickwork repairs, pinning and grouting.
It is a shallow 'tunnel' throughout. Before the recent work could get under way, a full ecology survey
was made ensuring the works did not impact bat roosting areas (Railfuture).
1328 IRELAND (Martin Baumann) [email protected]
1205] Foynes: A member also on the Sat 18 May 1991 'Foynes Phoenix' tour (BLN 1325.746 - pictures)
recalls the loco running round. As was customary at that time (now almost 30 years ago!) a good
number of participants (mostly BLS members) crammed into, or depending on the loco type, onto for
this. With single cab locos this involved using the turntable (as at Youghal for example). What made
Foynes even more interesting was the presence of another loco (191) on a freight working which also
gave some participants an impromptu trundle up and down the Oil Terminal branch during the break!
1206] Sligo Quay: (BLN 1327.1069) Taking this sort of thing (previous item) to the extreme was the
7 Mar 1992 'Cobh Rambler'... which did NOT involve Cobh in the slightest! Originating at Dublin there
were security alerts towards Cork and after some deliberation, it went to... Sligo! This appeared to be
a bit of a damp squib but few (no one?) could foretell the forthcoming light engine track fest to come.
On arrival at Sligo there was a murmur to hang around. The loco came off and, instead of running to
the shed, duly stood beside the signal box on the Quay line. The Irish Traction Group high command
bailed on followed PDQ by the infantry and Loco 051, packed to the gunwales, then made its way
down the branch right to the Container Terminal. This was no simple bonus trip, over a period of time
it shunted the Guinness Siding, the Oil Terminal and the Cement Terminal with occasional changes of
personnel and even a different road of the Container Terminal again. Several 'tours' ensued with some
who had not heard the 'murmur' and decided to saunter to the Quay on foot, now forming an 'orderly
queue' there for tours around and ultimately back to the station! Any disappointment at not going to
Cobh that day was well and truly banished! http://bit.ly/2vA4W54 is the Six Bells report of the tour.
ABOVE: Foynes station; No170 on the 18 May 1991 Foynes Phoenix railtour runs around the coaching
stock. (All photos in this section by Simon Mortimer) - compare with Ian Mortimer's pictures of the
tour (BLN 1325.746). BELOW: A battered No191 stands on the start of the Foynes Oil Terminal branch.
ABOVE LEFT: The points are unclipped so that '170' can run round the stock at Foynes. ABOVE RIGHT:
Foynes oil siding from the cab of '191', the limit of shunt due to the oil pipe left across the track.
BELOW: '051' on the Sligo Quay branch with one or two passengers off the 'Cobh Rambler' in the cabs.
ABOVE: '051' on the container terminal middle road during the 7 Mar 1992 Cobh Rambler. BELOW:
Visiting the Cement Terminal (visible in the first picture, previous page), the main branch is right.
LEFT: the end of Sligo Quay
Oil Terminal line from the
loco cab; once the branch
continued on past the
Container Terminal further
along the Quay Road seen
to the right of the building
seen in front - sections of
rail were noted there during
our May 2018 visit here.
BELOW: Taken through a
dirty rear windscreen, the
Guinness Terminal line was
also covered. This was very
appropriate as the Guinness
Book of Records might well
have been interested in the
number of people riding on
ABOVE: View from now leading cab of 051 as the points thrown to obtain the rather rusty Sligo Quay
Oil Terminal branch. BELOW: The Container and Oil Terminals (beyond the Cement Terminal).
ABOVE: Back at the main line junction an orderly queue had formed by the Signal cabin for the next
Quay trip. The main tour is in Sligo station, right. The line far right went to the turntable and sidings.
X.53] Moira: BELOW: Pictures from 3 May 2019 including the Victoria letter
box (LEFT). The signal box closed in 1984 and was moved from by the level
crossing south of the station towards Portadown and Dublin (where the
green location box is in the photo of the crossing from the footbridge). This
was said to be to assist drivers viewing the line ahead. The non-matching
footbridge opened in Aug 2014.The recently relaid trailing crossover is past
the non-level crossing end (north to Belfast). (Martin Baumann.)
1207] Steam trips: The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland is offering
the following steam hauled tours (all are return trips) in the next few
months. The use of unusual platforms or crossovers is unclear but
expected; the Skerries train may see the use of the crossover there. ♣26
May & 7 Jul: Dublin - Wexford and Wexford - Rosslare Strand as two linked
trips (see item 1235). ♣9 Jun: Belfast - Dublin. ♣16 Jun: Dublin - Wicklow
and Wicklow - Bray (two trips). ♣21 Jul: Dublin - Drogheda and Drogheda -
Dundalk and Drogheda - Skerries. ♣4 Aug: Dublin - Enniscorthy and
Enniscorthy - Rosslare Strand. ♣24 Aug: Dublin - Bagenalstown and also
Bagenalstown - Kilkenny. ♣8 Sep & 22 Sep: Belfast - Dublin.
1208] 11 September 2010: Please can anyone confirm the routing
(platforms, crossovers etc) of this IRRS tour using DMU 29002. (Dublin
Connolly - Rosslare Europort - Waterford - Dublin - Kilkenny - Connolly.)
BELOW: Looking north towards Belfast and the new relayed and repositioned trailing crossover.
X.54] ABOVE: Unusually two LUAS trams were at Connolly stop together on the afternoon of Thur 9
May. In true BLS tradition our correspondent waited for the 'non-preferred' one :-) (Martin Baumann).
1209] Lisburn: The annual Balmoral (agricultural) show, a major event in Northern Ireland, is held in
May (15th-18th in 2019). Formerly at the Balmoral showgrounds by Balmoral station, it is now held on
the site of the Maze Prison, Lisburn. Renamed the Balmoral Showgrounds (!), this is about 15 minutes
walk from Lisburn station and generates much extra rail traffic. As many trains as possible will be 6-car
sets. The 06.52 ex-Coleraine, 07.05 ex-Portrush & 08.38 ex-Londonderry run through to Lisburn. In the
evening there is an additional 18.33 Lisburn to Coleraine avoiding Great Victoria Street before calling
at 'that other Belfast station' at 18.50. The 07.35, 09.30, 11.20 & 13.20 from Dublin and 14.05, 16.05,
18.05 & 20.05 Belfast to Dublin call at Lisburn. An extra 10.10 Newry to Lisburn and 17.30 return run.
1210] Londonderry: (BLN 1323.462) There is visible progress on the new station/interchange with the
erection of two signal gantries and the laying of some so far isolated track which will be part of the
future loop. The first and last trains of the day to/from Coleraine are bus replaced SuX 6-25 May.
1328 ISLE OF MAN (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
1211] Horse Tramway: (BLN 1327.1071) On 7 May the Government website advised: The Horse trams
are expected to commence mid to late May. However Public Service will not commence until the Horse
training is complete. The anticipated end of season date remains 3 Nov in line with our other Heritage
Railways, but this date remains subject to the progress of the works on the promenade.
NEXT PAGE; BOTH: Work in progress relaying the horse tramway on 8 Apr 2019. (Jenny Williamson.)
ABOVE: A completed section of the new tramway … well it's a start. (Jenny Williamson 5 May 2019.)
The original provisional start date was 25 Apr; and when services do begin they are expected to only
be between Derby Castle and Villa Marina. Work on the track relaying has progressed, but only slowly,
and there will be no horse tramway service until at least 25 May (which is the start of the TT - Tourist
Trophy motorcycle practice week). Overnight working has now been authorised, to try and ensure that
this latest deadline can be kept, and a few people were even working on Bank Holiday Sun, 5 May.
A very short stretch of tramway is complete just north of the stables. It appears that the tramway will
operate along a designated pink area of the roadway [or will that be pink and brown?] - other sections
nearing completion also have the same pink tarmac. It is hard to be optimistic about any service
commencing before the end of this month, as there is still a considerable amount of work to be done.
Despite reports to the contrary elsewhere, our local agent advises that no work has yet been started
on the building of the temporary marquee shelter for the trams, or the short extensions to the existing
track to access it. Of note the new rails being installed on the promenade will allow Manx Electric
Railway trams to run 'further into town' and/or 'modern light rail vehicles' in both cases 'if required'.
Perhaps a bit ominously, a free shuttle bus (09.30-16.30) began Tue 7 May between the Sea Terminal
and Summerland, doing a loop of Douglas Promenade dropping off on request but picking up at usual
bus stops. This 'MyProm Shuttle' is half-hourly and it is hoped the public will use it to 'park & ride' from
various car parks around Douglas. It is, probably not coincidentally, in effect a partial/total horse tram
replacement bus service and being free (unlike the trams) could abstract some passengers/revenue.
Readers may be interested to know that it is not simply a case of relaying the track and bringing the
horses and trams out to restart the service. The horses have to be 'retrained' (retrammed?) on the
route. Your Regional Editor, when training to drive the horse trams, was surprised to find that any
layout change easily troubles the horses. Even a small patch of tarmac placed in the road which, being
new, was a different colour can cause the horse to wander to the left or right to avoid the 'danger'.
A whole new stretch of rail and road will require the horses to relearn the route. This starts with each
one being led along the road with a handler either side, slowly building up to normal operations taking
a couple of weeks. Similarly, it is not possible to have heavy plant or machinery working alongside
while a tram passes. [Your GS enjoyed a weekend in the Isle of Man in the 1980s with a request to
travel the full length of the Horse Tramway to the Sea Terminal, then not in regular use, arranged in
advance. A specific horse had to be allocated that had previously worked the full length. Younger
horses would simply refuse to go beyond their normal stopping point. On return, a band was playing a
loud tempo on the beach and the horse, while not spooked, broke into a canter for a surprisingly
speedy run! It's a good job they weren't playing the Dick Barton theme tune - the Devil's Gallop!]
1328 SCOTLAND (Mike McCabe) [email protected]
1212] Cowlairs West Jn: (TRACKmaps 1, p7L - Nov 2017) We passed this location on our Gourock
Growler and Sunday Shed tours on 27 & 28 Apr respectively. It was noticed, then confirmed, that the
fixed diamond has been partly plain lined allowing trains to run on the Down Edinburgh & Glasgow
from Bishopbriggs to Glasgow Queen Street (high level) but not from Springburn towards Maryhill on
the Up Springburn line, which was very rusty, unsurprisingly, after the facing crossover at 0m 04ch.
Fortunately the route in the opposite direction (which was part of our Saturday tour) is unaffected.
However, Realtime Trains shows that the North Blyth to Fort William Alumina train on Thu 25 Apr had
indeed run that way without losing time. Closer examination of the record shows, unusually, no
automatic recording of its time at Cowlairs West Jn or Cowlairs North Jn suggesting it was not on the
normal track. The only logical explanation for all this is that special arrangements were made for it
(and on other days) to take the facing crossover (0m 04ch) before Cowlairs West Jn used to access
Eastfield Passenger Loop and the depot from the Springburn line, then cross to the unidirectional
Down West Curve but in the Up direction. After Cowlairs North Jn, crossing to the Down Maryhill line
is a regular move. This was achieved without affecting the passenger service too. Does anyone know
when the fixed diamond was plain lined please; reports of it being restored are also welcome?
1213] Springburn: Our 27 & 28 Apr tours, between them, also covered the strategic connection here in
both directions. It regular timetabled local service from Sun 9 Dec 2018. That is the few chains
between Sighthill East Jn and the junction for Springburn bays P3 & 4. All trains to/from Bellgrove
now only use P3 & 4; none use P1 or 2. All trains using P1 & 2 are from/to the Stepps line. The 06.33
EMU from Edinburgh called at Springburn P2 as booked on Mon 29 Apr (most call at P1) via the facing
crossovers before, then at, Sighthill East Jn and the trailing in the rare direction at Sighthill West Jn.
1214] Stranraer: (TRACKmaps 1, p2A - Nov 2017) On Thur 2 May, The Railway Touring Company's
(mostly) steam hauled Great Britain XII (27 Apr- 5 May; 'from £2,695') arrived at 16.12 from Edinburgh
into the exceedingly rare Stranraer P2 (on the right arriving) as booked, with its passengers, including
various Society members. This was after the leading loco of the pair, the 'B1', had detached at
Dunragit loop with the 'Black 5' taking the train on alone. The light engine followed arriving 16.23. At
16.52, the 14.13 from Glasgow Central via Kilmarnock terminated, as usual in P1, returning on time at
16.59. After shunting/watering both locos, the Great Britain left P2 at 17.19 ('top&tail', the B1 leading)
10 mins late, but an on time arrival at Ayr for a night's stay (not at the Station Hotel we trust!).
When Great Britain VII visited on 30 Apr 2014 (BLN 1212.999) the train with one loco arrived into P1
(no service train was due), the other loco was to pull the coaches out and move them across ECS to P2
to release the first loco so they could leave (from P2) double headed. Unfortunately those on this trip
wanting P2 were to be disappointed as they couldn't move the points and it left from P1 'top & tail'!
ABOVE: the Great Britain XII at Stranraer P2; the out of use section is bottom left of the 'STOP' sign, P1
with its roof is upper right and the two middle sidings are between. (All Julian James, Thur 2 May 2019)
Back in 2019, our on the spot reporters advise that the front passenger vehicle on arrival stopped past
the P2 buffer stop end ramp, so alighting was from the Ayr end door. Opinion is that due to the P2 line
being shortened even a single loco would not be able to run round now (in the unlikely event that the
never used ultra rusty points for the P2 end of line engine release crossover still work!). The P1 road
has also been shortened; the buffers are now within the platform length but beyond the P1 roof.
NEXT PAGE UPPER: P2 towards the buffer stops/out to sea showing the first passenger coach position.
NEXT PAGE LOWER: P2 end of line looking back at the station, P1 roof can be seen right of the engine.
PREVIOUS PAGE UPPER: Stranraer P1 and the adjacent siding have been shortened; the tour would
not fit in P1 (also a service train arrived and departed during the visit). Looking towards the end of line.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: From P1 under the roof looking towards the shore/Ayr, P2 is to the left.
ABOVE: Looking back along the causeway from the station to Stranraer - it is further than it looks!
Most of the trackwork in the picture, other than the single line in/out of P1, is very little used.
1328 WALES & THE MARCHES (Chris Parker) [email protected]
[Also: Chester - Shrewsbury - Hereford - Newport, with flexibility to most appropriately place items]
1215] Cardiff Central: (BLN 1323.476) Following the statutory consultation the electrification proposals
are an established Network Change but are extended to the buffer stops of both Brickyard Sidings.
1216] Conwy Valley line: (BLN 1327.1094) Repair work is well under way with NR teams designing
flood culverts, constructing embankments, removing washed out material and refurbishing level
crossings. Community drop in sessions have taken place at Llanrwst and Blaenau Ffestiniog with
project team members on hand to provide an update on the programme and take public questions.
Target date for reopening Llandudno Jn - Llanrwst remains 2 Aug and to Blaenau by late summer.
1217] Penhelig: (BLN 1327.1100) A member points out that the A493 road rather than the railway is
sharply curved here, passing under the line at both ends of the station - giving the cramped location
between tunnels an unusual if not unique symmetry! (NEXT PAGE BELOW: 1956 OS 1:25,000 map; the
'Halt' is now Penhelig station, upper middle right. The 'Aberdovey' Harbour branch shows well, where
the first 'Aberdovey' passenger station was (final CA 4 May 1964). The present station is far left.
1218] Don't be Mardy about no railway at
Maerdy: BBC News reports that following a pub
discussion, a group of local enthusiasts, led in
true Valleys style by a 12 man committee, is
proposing to create a three mile heritage line
between Maerdy and Tylorstown (CP 15 Jun
1964; CA 19 Jul 1986 after coal was wound at
Tower Colliery instead from 30 Jun 1986) on the
former branch from Porth. They are under no
delusions as to the cost but believe that the only
major infrastructure needed is 'rebuilding a
small bridge'. Although they describe the
trackbed as 'horribly overgrown', most of it is in
fact part of the National Cycle Network and was walked by Railway Ramblers in 2013. However it was
certainly true that only one of the several bridges crossing the Afon Rhondda Fach had been removed.
A visitor centre at the former Maerdy Colliery (National Coal Board name 'Mardy') is proposed with
reopening of the shaft creating an underground mining experience longer term. The group is appealing
for people with experience of grant applications, civil engineering or finance, or simply to help with
'hard slog'. ABOVE LEFT: The typical National Coal Board branch from Maerdy to Mardy Colliery is not
proposed for reopening (Ian Mortimer 8 Apr 1974).
1219] Jovial Pacers: A little known TfW franchise clause stipulated that Pacers operated by them must
be adorned with external banners. They are now decorated by various combinations of the following
bilingual slogans created by someone with a sense of humour: Dechrau Taith Newydd/The Start Of A
New Journey; Mae'r Trenau Yma'n Dod I Ben Cyn Bo Hir/These Trains Will Terminate Soon Mae
Taith Yr Hen Trenau Ar Ben Cyn Bo Hir/The Journey Is Almost Over For Old Trains. Some carry the same
on both sides, others a differing one. Thankfully we have been spared any repeat of the old Swansea
road sign howler: Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd/I am not in the office at the moment!
1220] Cardiff Bay: (BLN 1327.1099) A local member visited the station building on 26 Apr by chance
when an open day took place. A Barry based developer is installing extensive internal partitioning to
produce office suites. The target market is apparently people who would like slightly quirky premises
(and with excellent rail access perhaps!) A previous proposal was that it should house the Royal Army
Medical Corps Museum (!) but after very considerable publicity this idea seems to have quietly faded
away. The controversial 'car wash' extension plan has also been dropped completely, although there
will be a freestanding single storey coffee shop to the east of the building. It is unclear how the current
developments will fit in with TfW's proposals to extend the Cardiff Bay line further into the Bay (using
line of sight tram style running), although the listed building will presumably continue to be protected.
1221] Leckwith Loop: (BLN 1323.481) All trains to and from west of Cardiff via the South Wales Main
Line were also diverted via this bidirectional single track route and Ninian Park on 21 and 22 Apr.
1222] Briton Ferry: (BLN 1327.1092) The lifting of the main line connection at the west end of the yard
also brought the removal of the out of use (since 4 Mar) facing crossover between it and Court Sart Jn.
1223] Llanelly† & Mynydd Mawr Railway (L&MMR): A member and companion explored this in detail
on 27 Apr, an operating day on the heritage L§&MMR at Cynheidre. The whole 13 mile line (Llanelli -
Cross Hands) has been converted into a tarmacadamed footpath/cycleway apart from a short on-road
section just south of Tumble/Y Tymbl. South of the South Wales Main Line, the only surviving L&MMR
building is the North Dock electricity powerhouse. Dated 1900, it resembles a church with a castellated
tower. Recently, it was used as a nouveau cuisine (big prices, small portions - less is more) restaurant
called 'Sospan' but this closed about Feb 2019; a menu was still on display. An overbridge survives just
north of Sandy Jn but with reduced headroom due to strengthening works. There is no trace of any
platform here, or at any of the other stopping places served by the L&MMR's unadvertised passenger
service. [†Llanelly in the name of the original railway; §Llanelli in the 'modern' heritage railway.]
Furnace and Felin Foel Halts were both sited on the north side of level crossings over minor roads.
At the former, the (unlit) signal light south of the crossing remains as does a road sign for an ungated
crossing depicting a 4-6-0 steam loco without tender (something which in reality can only currently be
seen at level crossings on the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway). At Horeb, the trackbed widens
at the site of a former siding by an underbridge which bears one of several blue plaques along the line
advising that this is the original route of the Carmarthenshire Railway (CR) of 1803 (to 1844) - a horse
worked line of 'about' 4ft gauge, the predecessor of the L&MMR. The eponymous 1832 chapel stands
next to the station site but has long been closed and abandoned. At Cynheidre, at least four other
BLS members were attending the aforementioned operating day (see MR 85). Brake van trips ran,
hauled by 4wDH Sentinel 10222/1965, to the present north end of the line, perhaps 500yd north of
the heritage line's Cynheidre platform. The footpath and cycleway continues alongside the running line
on the original trackbed. Much progress with track laying had been made in the 16 months since our
member's previous visit and the heritage L&MMR is said to own 71ch of trackbed north from
Cynheidre platform and overbridge. The next section to be relaid may be on the original L&MMR
trackbed (rather than ex-National Coal Board property) as the public path takes a 'wobble' to the left.
The isolated Cwm Blawd seems to have only served a few upland farms, about ¼ mile south of the
nearest public road. Here the path takes the L&MMR's direct route of 1883 which left the original CR
route on a loop which was later abandoned. The remains of a farm access road cross the trackbed
hereabouts; this may have been the original access to the station/goods siding. The ironwork of an
underbridge looks sufficiently ancient to be of 1883 and possibly even 1803 (CR) vintage. Approaching
Tumble/Y Twmbl, the trackbed has been made into a minor urban road which the path makes use of,
becoming the sole occupant again north of the steeply graded main street. Now crossed on the level,
the former underbridge here has been obliterated. The goods depot, siding and lock up were on the
north side behind Eglwys Dewi Sant/St David's Church. The path ends at Carmarthen Rd, Cross Hands,
which the line formerly crossed on a bridge. The trackbed beyond is lost under redevelopment as a
retail park etc. on the site of Cross Hands Colliery. Just beyond, the overgrown site of Waddell's
private line linking Gors-gôch Colliery to the end of the L&MMR was noted, on or adjacent to the
western extremity of the Mountain Branch of the ex-GWR, originally Llanelly (sic) Railway & Dock Co.
1224] Electrification: This is making glacial progress, as at 2 May: ●Patchway: A new accessible
footbridge was being installed (the fourth in recent years, the third being the temporary one to allow
the second one to be removed as not OHLE compliant; it had replaced the first which was in disrepair);
●Severn Tunnel Jn: Masts extend some way through the station and beyond on the Gloucester route;
●Magor: The infrastructure looks ready for the installation of wires, except over Bishton flyover, which
may require an aeroplane or helicopter to traverse it? ●Beyond Bishton: All three visible tracks (our
member's train was on the Down Relief) have wires installed to almost MP156¾; ●Maindee East Jn to
Newport: Most of the masts are in place; ●Maindee Junctions: The west curve has masts round to
where the east curve comes alongside, but there are none on the Hereford Loop (east curve).
1225] Welsh rain forest: The 'green corridor' effect extends to the Hereford Loop (Maindee East Jn -
Maindee North Jn) and Panteg Up Goods Loop where foliage was fouling the loading gauge on 2 May.
1226] Cwmbargoed & Port Talbot: (BLN 1319.2817) The final Freightliner Heavy Haul Cwmbargoed to
Port Talbot Grange coal train ran on 26 Apr hauled by 66517. The traffic flow has not ceased but
whether it has gone to another rail freight operator or lost to road is unknown. There is hope though,
as DBC workings from Cwmbargoed to Margam and Hope Cement Works continue at present. A few
hours earlier, just after 03.30, a rail incident of much more concern to local residents occurred when a
train derailed on the Port Talbot steelworks internal system, described by the BBC as 'between the
engineering shops and the locomotive repair shops'. A torpedo wagon ended up on its side and its load
of molten metal came into contact with cold water resulting in a massive explosion which was heard in
Bridgend, 14 miles away. Fortunately the 2-man crew escaped with minor injuries. A full investigation
is in progress. The site reopened at 07.00 that day but with production from blast furnaces 4 and 5,
and rail traffic in the immediate vicinity, suspended pending further investigation; a major blemish on
a safety record which has greatly improved since an explosion in 2001 caused 3 fatalities.
1227] Hereford: As of 2 May the ladies' toilets on the island platform were reported as out of use due
to flooding (fortunately your Regional Ed is not qualified to make any further comment) while a points
failure prevented access to the north 'Salop bay' P4 (only 3 coaches long); the latter is likely to be of
longer duration presumably. It still has one booked train a week, 19.59 (SO) Hereford to Birmingham
New Street, but in the new timetable from 25 May this is then retimed to 19.39 and departs from P3.
1228] Non-slip trains on Merseyside: TfW's new Wrexham/Chester - Liverpool Lime St service via the
Frodsham Single ('Halton curve') from 19 May will normally be operated by Class 150 DMUs but 158s
and 175s may be used on a contingency basis. Of note the new service has some cheaper fares, for
example the Chester to Lime Street Anytime Day Return £7.80 (railcard £5.15) all day, even weekends,
via Birkenhead Central (so Merseyrail only - 4 direct trains per hour in 42 mins) but no Off-Peak fare.
The TfW Anytime is cheaper at £7.50 (railcard £4.95) but only valid via Runcorn [or the 04.55 (SO) to
Crewe then a West Midlands Trains connection to Lime Street!]. The basic service is one train an hour
taking around 50 mins. However, TfW has a £6 (railcard £3.95) Off-Peak Day return (with morning and
evening weekday peak restrictions). To travel 'any permitted route' requires a £24.50 (railcard £16.15);
Cheshire Day Ranger, only valid Off-Peak but by either route! From Wrexham the fares appear to be
the same and 'any permitted' via Shotton HL and Bidston or Chester and then either Liverpool route.
NR has issued a Vehicle Change Notice because the Sectional Appendix shows the entire route as
cleared for Class 150s and surprisingly 175s, (as they were used for route learning) but not 158s.
Class 150s are being fitted with wheel slip protection (158s and 175s have it - BLN 1322.354) as well as
accessible toilets etc. to make them compliant with Persons of Reduced Mobility legislation.
1229] Penyffordd: (BLN 1310.1704) The expected rail traffic resumption at Padeswood Cement Works
may be drawing closer as there have been light engine workings from Bescot or Shrewsbury to Dee
Marsh on most days in recent weeks, apparently for route learning. (N Wales Coast Railway website).
1328 MINOR RAILWAYS (Peter Scott) [email protected]
[Those qualifying for Peter Scott's MR publication, except IOM. Not National/Local Authority, Light
Rail or Tram Systems. Pre-heritage/preservation (historical) items usually go in the regional sections]
MR70] Brighouse and Halifax Model Engineers, West Yorkshire (see MR p25) (BLN 1286.MR144):
A dedicated member visited on Sunday 14 April - the first 2019 operating day. Noted was the recently
completed station canopy and new Platform 2, which was in use along with two new short sections of
track for the 2019 season in the station throat area. The normal platform for departures is 1, with a
double circuit, then using the new connection by the station onto the original circuit. The site opened
at 13.00 - with running due to commence at 13.30 - but such were the large numbers, even with the
cold Yorkshire weather, running started at 13.00.