Issue Number 1253 (Items 530 - 626 & MR 45 - MR 55) (E-BLN 33 PAGES) 19 March 2016
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Ave., Epsom, Surrey, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members, an international section is also available.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1254 is dated 9 April, .PLEASE NOTE 3-WEESKoGcieAtPy.. contributions must be received by 30 March.
Date Event Visit Type BLN Lead Notes
Fri 18/03/16 Didcot Railway Centre 10.30-16.00 Internal railtour 1251 KA FULL
Sat 19/03/16 Pontypool & Blaenavon
Sat 19/03/16 City of Newport MES 10.30 Comprehensive railtour 1246 SM FULL
Mon 28/03/16 AFRPS Scunthorpe Steel
Thu 31/03/16 Crich Tram Museum 14.30/15.00 all available track 1249 PS OPEN
Thu 31/03/16 Sherwood Forest Rly
09.30-18.45 Easter Monday tour 1248 PS FULL
Sat 2/4/16 *REDATED* Box Visits
09.00 Visit with rare track 1250 JC OPEN
13.00 Railtour, 15" gauge line 1251 JC OPEN
09.15 Malton - Seamer BELOW 1253 NG OPEN
Sat 2/4/16 East Lancashire Railway 10.00-18.00 DMU tour II 1251 KA OPEN
Sat 9/4/16 Signal Box visits 10.00 Shrewsbury - The Marches 1251 NG FULL
Sun 10/4/16 NEW Chiltern DMU trip Moor Street to Caledonia Yard 1253 KA NOTIFY
Sat 30/4/16 *NEW* Signal Box visits Feltham etc. (see below) 1253 PS OPEN
7-9/5/2016 Rare track in SW Spain Heritage line & two freight lines 1244 GB Enquire
Tue 10/5/16 LU Signal Cabin Visits (3) PS FULL
10.00 Whitechapel - Upminster 1251
Sat 14/5/16 GWR Tracker IV railtour JE OPEN
*NB: ONLY 30 PLACES REMAIN* 1252
20-22/05/16 Island of Ireland Tracker 06.00 Friday to 20.00 Sunday 1250 KA OPEN
Tue 31 May Sutton Coldfield MES 18.30 *NEW* - SEE BACK PAGE 1253 KA OPEN
Fri 3-4/6/16 Scottish Minor Railways Aberdeenshire/Perthshire 1246 TV NOTIFY
Thur 23/6/16 Loco-hauled Trekker Bargain track/traction mini-tour TBA TBA Claimed
24-25/6/16 Tracker in London area, late Friday to early hours Saturday! TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 3/7/16 TPE Tracker Manchester to Cleethorpes TBA TBA Claimed
Thur 4/8/16 Spa Valley Railway Late evening/early evening BVT (No3) TBA TBA Claimed
Fri 4-6/11/16 BLS 61st AGM weekend Southeast England /Kent TBA TBA Claimed
10-17/11/16 Jordan Hejaz Railway Provisional new date (enhanced) 1250 IS OPEN
GB-Geoff Blyth, IS-Iain Scotchman, JC-John Cameron, JE-Jill Everitt, KA-Kev Adlam,
NG-Nick Garnham, PS-Paul Stewart, TV-Terry Velvick.
530] York - Scarborough box visits, Sat 2 April: Redated with places available for those not on our ELR
trip. Thanks to Nick Garnham. Malton 09.15 (08.40 ex-York) to Seamer (signals Scarborough and to
Hunmanby on Hull line) and/or Barton Hill, Kirkham Abbey, Weaverthorpe & Malton. £25 cash on the
day charity donation. Bookings to [email protected] or post (with SAE) to 82 Baron
Court, PETERBOROUGH, PE4 7ZF. Please advise if you have an orange high-vis vest, or if you need to
borrow one. IMPORTANT: also please advise if arriving by car (and how many lifts available) or train.
531] A Unique Opportunity: Chiltern Railways is undertaking a training exercise with the emergency
services on the evening of Sunday 10 April, using a 2-car DMU. Departing Birmingham Moor Street
17.50 toCaledonian Yard Sidings, http://binged.it/1S1lSFu (SP 094852) between the Grand Union Canal
and the railway just north of Small Heath station, where a controlled evacuation takes place, returning
to Moor Street by 22.09. It is hoped that up to 100 Members will be able to take part in return for a
£15 cash donation each on the day to Railway Children. Full details cannot be confirmed at this stage
but expressions of interest are requested ASAP. An update will be provided to those who respond to
Kev Adlam [email protected] on apply first class post with a first class SAE (per back page).
532] Feltham Area Signalling Centre (ASC), Sat 30 Apr: Thanks to our member Jon King, a morning visit
to this 1974 NX Panel that controls a very busy area. Other visits are under investigation, including
London Victoria ASC. Bookings/queries: Paul Stewart (back page), non-members may apply; members
have initial priority. Please say if you have/require a high vis vest/spares. A charity donation will apply.
533] GWR Tracker IV, Sat 14 May: The Class 158 is required for exam; a 3-car Class 150/9 is expected.
534] Unusual Track: Expected but not guaranteed, should be re-checked http://goo.gl/wwSbYv etc.
Hugh Wycombe X/Os: 05.15 (SSux) Moor Street to Marylebone runs via P2 to overtake.
City Thameslink, north Trailing X/O: Sat 19 Mar 09.27-20.57 half-hourly departures from P2.
King's Cross St. Pancras sub-surface P1&2: 19 & 20 Mar, 16 & 17 Apr, new west end scissors
X/Os from/to Euston Square. Met trains reverse in P1 and H&C in P2 (no Circle line service).
Wimbledon P4: Sun 20 Mar, 05.31, 06.12, 06.42 and 07.31 to Waterloo via Point Pleasant Jn.
Midland Metro: (i) St. Paul's X/O: Sun 20 Mar, all trams on departure from St. Paul's stop.
(ii) Snow Hill (St. Chad's) X/O: expected 25-28 Mar (Easter), departures, stop temporarily open.
(iii) Bull Street X/O: Routine use (on dates other than above) is expected to end in May.
Hawkeridge Curve: Paddington - Bristol/South Wales/West Country, in both directions all day
20 & 27 March. Also 24 April (not West Country generally) & 1 May (not South Wales services).
Anniesland, Knightswood South Jn - Dawsholm Jn (Anniesland Single Line): 20 Mar-7 Aug,
certain diverted Queen St HL services (BLN 1249.192); clockwise direction covers the new X/O.
Cowlairs North Jn - East Jn: 20 Mar-7 Aug, as previous entry see (BLN 1249.192).
Cowlairs West - Sighthill West Jns: 20 Mar-7 Aug, as above see (BLN 1249.192).
Coatbridge Jn - Langloan Jn: 20 Mar-7 Aug, Glasgow Central Aberdeen/Inverness services.
Haymarket P0: 20 Mar-7 Aug, 07.13 SSuX from Kirkcaldy (departs for Haymarket Depot ECS).
Dereham - Hoe (MNR): 1-3 April during the Spring Diesel Gala - see 'Connections' for details.
Rainham, new bay P0: (SSuX) from 29 Mar, 16.04 Victoria (Vic) to Rainham & 17.37 return.
Rochester, new bay P1?: (SSuX) from 29 Mar, 06.57, 07.58 & 16.34 ex-Vic 08.34 & 09.21 return.
Sole Street, trailing X/O?: from 29 Mar, 07.37 to Blackfriars (no ECS working shown at the time
of checking but there is a non-stop service through P1 just before departure; reports welcome).
Williton, WSR: (Picture: e-BLN 1234.1030) The realigned and extended passing loop is in use.
535] FIXTURES REPORT, BLS Southend-on-Sea Visits, Sat 5 Mar: The planning for the day, kindly
arranged by our member Rod Bryant, started last November. Despite 'appiering' quite simple on
paper, he was expecting problems. However, it was still quite a shock after months of negotiating to
receive an email very late the day before stating that the rare move on the Pier railway would not be
possible due to a fault. All participants were warned in time and, despite the obvious disappointment,
impressively 18 members still made the pilgrimage to Southend on a bracing Saturday in early March.
BELOW: The cast from 'The End of the Pier Show'…. rather windswept participants with the train in the
rare left hand platform. The battery powered staff railcar is the other side. (All by Rod Bryant 5 Mar
2016). Pictures of the old cars in double track days http://goo.gl/SyuW7y and information/trackplan.
Southend Pier Railway: On arrival at the shore entrance, the Pier Manager met the group and said
that the rare middle loop could not be used for our visit due to a fault with the signalling caused by salt
water. The party travelled on the 10.30 departure in the rear coach hauled by 'Sir William Heygate'.
The other loco, which some members saw, was in the workshops being stripped down. Two trains
never run at once now. At the pier head of the 2,180yd, 3ft gauge railway, arrival was into the rare left
hand platform only normally used to stable the battery powered staff railcar which was in the other
platform. After 30 minutes at the end of the pier, return was on the 11.15 into the left hand (direction
of travel) shore platform, negotiations ensued to see if it might be possible to cover the middle loop…
BELOW: Back at the shore end. Member No13 (right) thought he had escaped having his picture taken!
Cliff Lift: (BELOW) We were met by Cheryl, our operator and guide for this part of the visit; she said
her job did have its ups and downs. Cheryl, a very interesting person, lifted participants' spirits,
providing tickets and any information required. A BLS special followed for the party; incredibly the 4'6"
gauge single track 130ft long track lift (height difference 57ft) had only been operating for a week due
to a major breakdown in January! A return journey was made and we were invited to take as many
pictures as we wished.
Heritage Vertical Lift: Participants could travel up and down between Western Esplanade and Clifton
Terrace as many times as they liked in this small lift which, amazingly, can actually hold 21 people.
Southend Pier Museum: By kind arrangement of the Curator, Peggy Dowie, a special private BLS
opening took place. It is a fascinating museum with old pier cars, many rare and unusual items.
Participants could inspect one of the pier cars internally and a group photo was allowed (normal policy
is strictly no photographs). Some were engrossed in the penny arcade machines, recalling childhood
memories from the 1940s. Everyone signed the visitors' book and £100 was donated to the museum.
Postscript: Rod requested one last chat with the Pier Manager to see if anything could be done to
traverse the middle loop before participants left. To his surprise and shock, he was told that an extra
man was then on site who was willing to manually operate the points for members to traverse the
middle loop! The elated group was invited to travel on the 14.30 train free of charge in exchange for a
donation to Southend RNLI, an offer which everyone gratefully accepted. The train duly made its way
into the elusive middle loop and waited while the pier end points were wound over. Stopping for a
couple of minutes it even used the other platform at the pier head as the battery staff car had been
moved back to its usual platform. A return run was made back to the shore end and a £30 donation
was made to the RNLI station here from the Society. Next was a visit to Old Leigh, by train from
Southend Central via Leigh-on-Sea, then a short walk to the Lynn Tait Gallery to inspect the Pier car in
the curiosity shop with many other fascinating items. To follow was what was believed to be a BLS
first; a visit to a whelk stall. Osborne Bros have been trading since the 1880s and participants were
treated to some delicious seafood, including the famous Jellied eels which one member said was
excellent. Some tucked into whelks by the plate full [On fishplates perhaps? - Ed] and your organiser
sampled a pint of prawns. Hot drinks were available, to conclude our visit to Southend-on-Sea. A
thoroughly enjoyable and successful day was had by all and the rain held off. Many thanks to the
indefatigable Rod Bryant for organising it and not giving up. A case of all's well that ends whelks?
ABOVE LEFT: In the curiosity shop. RIGHT: There is something rather fishy about this picture; Rod
catches a snap of BLS Members before they were 'welk-combed' at Osborne Bros, Old Leigh.
1253 HEAD LINES
536] Bishop's Castle Railway, Bishop's Castle (incl) - Lydham Heath (incl) - Stretford Bridge Jn
(formerly Bishop's Castle Jn) also Eaton, Plowden and Horderley stations and Stretford Bridge Halt:
CA, (operations suspended) from Sat 20 April 1935 while in receivership. First documentation in BLN,
other dates have previously been suggested, this is based on original research from local newspapers.
537] Lynemouth Power Station - Marchey's House Jn - West Sleekburn Jn and Marchey's House Jn -
Winning Crossing Jn: NRU since before the plant ceased to burn coal on 22 Dec 2015. See NE section.
538] Wensleydale Railway, Leeming Bar (excl) - Northallerton Castle Hills (incl): TCA after running on
29 Nov 2015; severe flooding on 27 Dec at the River Swale Viaduct (3m 31ch/27ch) pending inspection.
539] LU Northern Line, Tufnell Park station: (BLN 1248.33) ROP 4 Mar 2016, (17 days early) after TCP
8 Jun 2015 for both lifts to be replaced. Everywhere else except Holland Park (BLN 1244.1998) is open!
540] Thameslink; Canal Tunnel Jn (2m 16ch*) - Belle Isle Jn (0m 57ch**): (BLN 1241.1735) Full
commissioning of this 53ch link (dug 2004-06) was due 13 Mar 2016, initially for ECS movements and
from 2018,Thameslink services, 8tph each way from the Cambridge and Peterborough lines. BLN 1241
reported, from a reliable source, that the signalling was commissioned from 6 Sep 2015 with the link
available for non-electric traction due to problems with a fixed tunnel overhead and a neutral section.
However, there is no evidence it has been used and on 24 February (but not 8 March), there was a
sleeper across the southbound line. (*from Moorgate via Farringdon; **ECML mileage from King's
Cross.) Is the 1:28 gradient from the ECML Up Slow to/from St Pancras now the steepest on NR?
ABOVE: Just south of the new Belle Isle Jn, the Thameslink Canal Tunnels line ('under construction' on
the diagrammatic TRACKmaps Vol.4 p1R Aug 2013), descends (right) to St. Pancras low level platforms
(A&B); left is the northern portal of Gasworks Tunnel (ECML to King's Cross). (https://goo.gl/Rbp6w1)
541] Princes Risborough (PR), Thame Branch
Siding: (BLN 1196.1511/12) From Saturday 19
March 2016 the Chinnor & Princes
Risborough Railway was due to be
permanently connected to NR. Previously It
was temporarily connected (NB not to the
now OOU Chinnor branch siding) from 7 Sept
to 19 Oct 2013. The track was rejoined on 21
February http://goo.gl/GPYxxr after 25 years
of planning. It is hoped to run services to
Princes Risborough station. RIGHT: The NR
boundary marker on a sleeper (Kev Adlam).
542] Hazel Grove (excl) - Buxton (incl) and seven intermediate stations: TCA 25-28 Mar 2016 (incl);
work on structures and Disley Tunnel and installation of the new A6 relief road bridge at Middlewood.
543] Stafford (excl) - Norton Bridge - Crewe South Jn and Norton Bridge Jn - Stone (incl) - Stone Jn.
TCP/TCA 25 to 28 Mar 2016, Easter 'blockade' for commissioning work in the Norton Bridge area…
544] Norton Bridge, Little Bridgeford Jn (137m 40ch) - Yarnfield Jn (2m 50ch*) (via new flyover) and
Searchlight Jn (138m 55ch) - Down Slow (WCML) i.e. the new 'Down Slow Chord' which avoids the
flyover and converges with the other three tracks at 140m 00ch (no junction): (BLN 1233.933) OA due
29 Mar 2016. *Mileage from Norton Bridge Jn towards Stone; other mileages are from Euston direct.
ABOVE LEFT: Pristine new railway! The new 'Down Slow Chord' from Searchlight Jn, where it
approaches the existing WCML north of Norton Bridge and will be slewed over Easter into the existing
Down Slow, just before Hemaies overbridge (BLN 1245.2070 with map). RIGHT: Looking towards the
new Yarnfield Jn and Stone, the flyover is behind. Again the tracks will be linked up over Easter and
then all trains to/from the Stone line will have to use the flyover. (Both Angus McDougall 7 Feb 2016)
545] Birmingham, Soho South Jn - Galton Jn - Wolverhampton, Crane Street Jn and five intermediate
stations plus Smethwick Galton Bridge 'Low Level' Platforms 3 & 4. Also Galton Jn - Smethwick Jn:
TCP/TCA part at least 25 to 30 Mar 2016 (Easter) for the major relaying and remodelling of Galton Jn.
546] Salford Crescent (excl) - Salford Central (incl) - Deal St Jn - Manchester Victoria (incl) - (Miles
Platting) - Moston (excl) & Ordsall Lane Jn - Deal St Jn & Miles Platting - Ashton-under-Lyne (excl):
TCP Good Friday 25 Mar to Sun 3 Apr 2016,for remodelling (Victoria to Deal Street Jn); see NW section.
547] Todmorden Viaduct Jn - Stansfield Hall Jn ('Todmorden Curve'): TCP 25 Mar to 3 Apr 2016 during
the Victoria closure with no road replacement service provided. The connections (a 10 minute wait)
from Burnley Manchester Road via Hebden Bridge to Todmorden are reasonable, (at a higher fare!)
increasing the journey from 16 to 38 minutes; but returning the journey time is typically an hour.
548] Midland Metro, Snow Hill (St. Chad's) 19.70km (SP 0682 8747): TOP is expected 25 to 28 Mar
2016 (Easter) with use of its new trailing crossover by all Wolverhampton departures while Bull Street
stop is closed for engineering work. Long term OP expected in May with the Grand Central extension.
549] Midland Metro, Bull Street 20.13km (excl) - Grand Central 20.62km (incl): From 23 Apr 2016
tram testing, then driver training, is expected with OP in May (including Corporation Street stop).
550] Manchester, Ashburys East Jn - Romiley Jn and Belle Vue, Ryder Brow, Reddish North,
Brinnington and Bredbury stations: TCP/TCA 2 to10 Apr 2016 for major work on Reddish Viaduct.
551] Marple Wharf Jn - New Mills South Jn and Marple, Strines and New Mills stations: TCP/TCA
2 to 10 Apr 2016 for major work on Marple rock cutting. Rose Hill Marple branch services still operate.
552] Westbury East Loop Jn - Hawkeridge Jn: CP after running 13 May 2016 (see South West section).
553] Tottenham South Jn - South Tottenham East Jn & South Tottenham West Jn - Seven Sisters Jn:
TCP expected (to February 2017) after running on 14 May 2016 then the once weekly train, the 05.31
Liverpool St to Enfield Town EMU, runs non-stop via Stoke Newington due to T&H electrification work.
554] Barking (excl) - South Tottenham (excl) and six intermediate stations: (BLN 1251.353) TCP/TCA
part at least, is expected from 4 Jun 2016 for electrification work with ROP expected in February 2017.
555] South Tottenham - Gospel Oak Bay P3 (both incl) & three intermediate stations: (BLN 1251.353)
TCP/TCA, part at least, is booked 24 Sep 2016 for electrification work; ROP anticipated February 2017.
1253 BLN GENERAL
556] 2016 Minor Railways: Peter Scott's booklet should accompany this paper BLN in time for Easter.
Thanks to our Woking BLN distribution team, e-BLN members will receive it by special mailing. Any full
member who has not received a copy by mid-April is asked to contact Dave Monger (per back page).
Please note: All references to Minor Railways in this BLN are to last year's 27th (2015) edition. Extra
copies £4 each (includes P&P) from Mark Gomm (back page); cheques payee 'Branch Line Society'.
557] Points & Slips: BLN 1250.267] The unusual almost 180o Themelthorpe Curve connecting the
Wroxham - County School line to the Melton Constable - Norwich City branch in 1960 was built under
Light Railway Order (LRO) legislation. What other (if any; we do not know the answer) sections were
built under LROs which were 'isolated' sections of light railway joined to statutorily
constructed railway both sides (with no station/s or pointwork)? The new curve was not quite 180o
degrees, although the two lines became parallel a short distance away from it. BLN 1251.336] A
further sand train recently ran from Middleton Towers to St. Helens for Pilkingtons. Bogie box wagons
are used with the sand being discharged into lorries by grab.
ABOVE: East Holmes signal box at Lincoln, see below (Angus McDougall 5 Aug 2008).
BLN 1252.433] On our Third Rail Centenary Tracker reversal at Hunts Cross was in P2 not P3, the
latter is the normal bay for EMUs. In the picture taken from the Merseyrail tour of the train
approaching James Street station from the 'Stock Interchange/Holding Line', refurbished P3 is on the
left and P2 (not P1) is the more original style and rarely used platform on the right. P1 is actually on
the inbound 1977 'Liverpool Loop' to the left of P2. The 2015 750V Tracker ran through P2 at Rock
Ferry in both directions and did not include bay P4. Item 448] (Re: BLN 1251.389) 'Crewe Coal Yard
Sidings' are secure sidings in Basford Hall Yard the originating, destination and holding point for DRS
nuclear flask trains. They have nothing to do with the former Coal Yard north of the station on the east
side of the line (near where Crewe Coal Yard Signal Box is). The flask trains are referred to colloquially
as 'The Coal' and can be staged between various (not all) nuclear power stations and Sellafield, British
Nuclear Fuels. 454] The disused signal box at Lincoln, Holmes Yard is 'East Holmes'; there used to be a
'West Holmes' box too (but no Sherlock). 455] Some were not amused by the announcement of the
Elizabeth Line name in London. However, an attempt by a Timothy Thornton to start an online
parliamentary petition requesting Her Majesty to 'change her name to Crossrail in the interests of
balance and fairness' was removed for failing to meet the required 'petitions standards'. 464] The
'Panocean' branch in the Ellesmere Port Manchester Ship Canal Railway item text should be 'Pan
Ocean' (it was correct on the plan).
ABOVE: The Royal Ordnance Factory Thorp Arch and its railway system (16 Mar 1945); see below. It
benefits from 200% magnification, Wetherby is left and Church Fenton to the right. (Disused Stations)
Item 486] There was a further freight train over the North Rode to Leek line after 13 Mar 1964. On Sat
6 Jun 1964, our Member No1 organised a brake van trip from Warrington Arpley to Oakamoor Sand
Sidings via North Rode Jn, Leek and returning to Widnes. The locomotive and vans continued past
Oakamoor to traverse the Uttoxeter triangle before returning to take the sand train back to Widnes
via North Rode Jn. This fits with the CG date of 16 Jun 1964 (BLN 10.p1 of 27 May 1964 the pages were
not numbered as there were only two!). 490] The signal box is 'Worcester Tunnel Junction'. 492] The
Royal Ordnance Factory Thorp Arch Circular Railway had a triangular junction at the station end as
can be seen from the detailed track plan above (NW corner). Note that there are exchange sidings and
carriage sidings with four passenger platforms (as shown on the BLN 1252 map). Aerial photos confirm
the layout http://goo.gl/VTyPjP which is a 'white area' on OS one-inch 6th & 7th Series maps. Tonight's
homework is to devise the most efficient route for a railtour to cover every line! The 6¼ mile loop was
single track believed to have been worked clockwise. A workers' passenger service operated until
1957, railtours ran in June 1958 and a final one on 22 Jul 1958 (but only two coaches, most enthusiasts
were 'spotters' in those days and there were not so many of them!); it was lifted c1959.
Item 528] The Lincolnshire Day Ranger is valid on CrossCountry services between Peterborough and
Stamford (which is in Lincolnshire, but was hiding at the very bottom of a tiny route map).
558] 'Coal, You've been fired': (BLN 1246.2184) There are 11 remaining UK coal fired power stations:
1. Longannet (2,400 MW): Closing on 31 March.
2. Drax (3,960 MW) Britain's biggest with six 660 MW units and newest coal fired power station
(and the second largest in Europe after Bełchatów in Poland); it can supply 7-8% of the nation's
power. In 2012 conversion to full firing with biomass of three units was announced: the first
unit was online by July 2013, the second in 2014, with the third planned by 2017.
3. Eggborough (1,960 MW): normal production ceases 31 March but the station has been offered
a 12 month 'Supplemental Balancing Reserve' contract (BLN 1248.35).
4. Ferrybridge 'C' (500 MW): Just one of the four 500 MW units is still operating; closes 31 March.
5. West Burton 'A' (2,000 MW).
6. Cottam (2,000 MW).
7. Fiddlers Ferry (1,989 MW): Three of the four 500MW units are to close 'by 1 April'; the fourth
unit remaining open under a contract to provide standby power next winter.
8. Ratcliffe-on- Soar (2,000 MW).
9. Rugeley 'B' (1,000 MW): Expected to cease operation in early summer 2016.
10. Aberthaw 'B' (1,560 MW): Currently burning some biomass materials in addition to coal.
11. Uskmouth 'B' (260 MW): Newport (also 'Fifoots Point') closed Mar 2014 but very surprisingly
……reopened in June 2015. It can burn coal and biomass and conversion to full biomass is planned.
559] BLS Northern Tracker, Sun 6 Mar: An amazing selection of rare track (some never railtoured) and
on the day 'Adlam extras'. Thanks to the 200 participants' generosity, RBF benefitted by £12,048.85!
BELOW: Our Northern Tracker in three dimensions. You won't need special glasses to see this, though
you might do afterwards... The photo is a 'Cross Stereo Pair', and thus when looked at correctly, forms
a 3D image. In order to view this image, sit well back from your computer screen or printed page, look
at the join between the two photos and then attempt to go 'cross eyed', focusing your eyes just
beyond the end of your nose as it were. It takes some practice, but eventually the two images will
merge in the middle and produce the 3D image in the centre (you will still see images to the left and
right of the 3D image). Once used to it, yours eyes will 'lock-on' and you can look around 'inside' the
image. Enjoy, but don't strain your eyes! Unfortunately, the technique used for producing the image
cannot be used for moving trains! Once your eyes have 'locked-on', you can hide the side images by
holding your hands up a few inches in front of your face with a gap of a couple of inches between
them. (Geoff Plumb, BLS Official Photographer; tour at the end of Stockport Carriage Siding No 4.)
From Northern rail website http://goo.gl/7RcSr5 (with an interesting picture - this website may finish
when the franchise changes hand on 1 April). From the RBF website http://goo.gl/MnQp4T
560] Third Rail Centenary Tracker Quiz Answers, 7 Feb 2016: (BLN 1252.447) Thanks to Mike McCabe,
our quizmaster, and appearing earlier than envisaged. Congratulations to the winner with 18½/20.
(1) Dingle was the southern terminus of the Liverpool Overhead Railway.
(2) The Liver Building, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building are on Liverpool's waterfront.
(3) The James St. to Hamilton Square railway is in a dead straight tunnel but one station.cannot be
……=seen from the other, even when both are lit, because the tunnel dips underneath the river.
(4) Mollington Street was the suffix of Birkenhead steam sheds.
(5) The Liverpool loop line opened for passenger traffic on 9 May 1977.
(6) The Mersey Railway power station that closed in 1959 was in Shore Road, Birkenhead.
(7) The last regular passenger service from Liverpool Central (HL) ran to Gateacre (CP 17 Apr 1972).
(8) Two Class 503 1938 stock motor coaches ran with 1956 stock trailers and driving trailers because
====the.originals were destroyed in a 12 Mar 1941 air raid at Birkenhead North.
(9) Merseyrail's Waterloo station shares its name with a London terminus (not Liverpool Street!).
(10) The Liverpool Overhead Railway's main depot was at Seaforth Sands.
(11) The last (1968) timetabled BR steam hauled passenger train ran on 3 Aug 1968 from Preston to
……..Liverpool Exchange with 45318. (The final BR steam '15 Guinea Special' ran on 11 Aug 1968.)
(12) The Mersey ferries are named after flowers (Snowdrop, Royal Iris of the Mersey & Royal Daffodil).
(13) Crossens (CP 7 Sep 1964) was the terminus of a local EMU service from Southport via Meols Cop.
(14) Liverpool South Parkway replaced Garston and Allerton stations.
(15) Brunswick and Conway Park are the two Merseyrail stations opened in 1998.
(16) Hope Street runs between Liverpool's two cathedrals.
(17) The Dockers' Umbrella was the Liverpool Overhead Railway.
(18) Class 502 EMUs last ran in regular service on 1 Sep 1980; there was a farewell tour on 6 Sep 1980.
(19) Riverside was the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board terminus mainly used by ocean liner trains.
(20) Toxteth was the area of Liverpool that made the headlines with riots in July 1981.
1253 EAST MIDLANDS
561] Market Harborough: NR held an exhibition on 27 February to outline plans for realignment of the
track to remove the 60 mph speed restriction. From the south end of the present station platforms,
the track will be re-aligned westwards through the car park, picking up the track bed of the former
LNWR Rugby to Peterborough route. North of Great Bowden it will revert to the original Midland
Railway formation. The 1885 deviation and flyover over the Peterborough line will be eliminated. The
work is scheduled between late 2017 and early 2019, prior to electrification north of Kettering. See
this 1885 map http://goo.gl/sMRwq0 (zoom and follow route) which shows the original line as well as
the (then) new flyover route. By 1950 the old route was a siding http://goo.gl/2tlRhY from the north.
562] Market Harborough - Northampton: This former 18 mile double
track line (CA 17 Aug 1981 after a final railtour on 15th) was noted for
having two 'A Road' level crossings. It has been developed as a 14-mile
Sustrans footpath and cycleway, the 'Brampton Valley Way' - National
Route No6 and was walked (16+ miles) in full by 17 hardy foolhardy BLS
members on 2 Sep 2012. Market Harborough station is at the top of this
1930/46 one-inch OS map of the northern section or see
http://goo.gl/gwSOOf (scroll along the line). There are a large number of
structures in situ. From an exploration late last year, starting at the north
end… Bowden Crossing: The keeper's cottage is a private residence.
Oxendon Tunnel: The southbound bore of this twin single-track tunnel is
the path with electric lighting and is dry. Clipston & Oxendon: No trace of
the station that was remote from both villages; its approach track can be
seen and to the south a multi-arch bridge carries the trackbed. Kelmarsh:
The blue brick loading dock survives in the former station area; a three
arch viaduct carries the trackbed north of the station; a girder bridge
spans a minor road to the south. Kelmarsh Tunnel: The southbound bore
is dry and lit (the path route), northbound is walkable but dark, unpaved
and damp; its entrance is covered by a large grille. South of the tunnel the
A14 (opened here in 1994) crosses above the trackbed at a right angle -
fortunately a bridge was built. Between Kelmarsh and Lamport there is an
ornate metal footbridge without any decking or steps. Lamport: A private
residence behind a high hedge concealing the remains of a platform.
Brixworth and Spratton stations: No remains but the sites are well used
car parks for the path. Further on, it follows the Northampton & Lamport
Railway; the original station building at Pitsford & Brampton is a pub with
a fake 'Brampton Halt' totem. Spratton signal box with its original
nameboard has been relocated here. The trackbed can be followed
almost to Northampton station (bus route X7/77is parallel just in case!).
563] Blisworth: Ashfield Land
has proposed 'Rail Central' a
618-acre Strategic Rail Freight
Interchange (SRFI), southwest
of Northampton, with rail-
served warehousing. (RIGHT)
In January a Scoping Report
was presented in January to
the Planning Inspectorate. It
is in the southern split of the WCML and the Northampton line (served by both) and near the M1
motorway to the east, running top left to bottom right on the map (Public planning document).
From In the report, the SRFI would have up to 8M square metres of distribution and storage buildings,
ancillary office accommodation, rail infrastructure, a service depot, HGV facilities, hotel and public
house/restaurant. There would be associated access, ground works, highways, landscaping and other
infrastructure works. Due to the type of proposed facility and the way in which SRFIs are developed
and operated, the application for the Development Consent Order must retain flexibility for design and
layout options. The application is due to be submitted to the Inspectorate in first quarter of 2017.
564] Corby: Patrons of our 17 February North Midlands Tracker could view redoubling progress from
Corby where it is understood there is still to be only one platform to Kettering. From milepost 79¾ to
74 was singled on 29 Nov 1988. Several stretches are complete and ballasted; at other locations,
stabilisation works on embankments and bridges is progressing with only trackbed work finished. From
Kettering North Jn to Kettering station the single Up & Down Slow line is being slewed to the Down
side to accommodate a new Up Slow (re-quadrupling). Completion is scheduled for February 2018.
565] Newark Castle: From 13 March a new trailing connection forming part of a crossover was to be
installed on the Down Main Line at 17m 15ch, the Up line point is due to be installed from 20 March.
They are TOOU and just east of the station/present crossover (East Nottingham Re-signalling Scheme).
1253 GREATER LONDON
566] Clapham Junction: (BLN 1223.1882) The new bridge giving access to the Emanuel School was
opened on 9 February. It is named the Memorial Bridge as it is close to the site of the 1988 collision.
Http://goo.gl/C4rp0u is a description. The nearby memorial stone is about 6" thick with a quarter
circle/quadrant section top. Strangely, the inscription does not mention the number of fatalities (35); it
only gives a tribute to all including the survivors, relatives and helpers. The obverse side has a hand
reaching down to another with a section of ladder in the background, both on a white-painted
background. This montage is cut into a rectangular area near the centre of the stone.
567] Metropolitan Line: From 16 May until late 2018 the service will be suspended south of Wembley
Park from approximately 22.00 MTWO. Additionally the first three trains in each direction TWThO will
not operate. This is to replace the track and improve drainage between Baker Street and Finchley
Road, which is in poor condition and prone to flooding. This section is in twin tunnels rather than the
usual double track 'cut and cover' tunnels on the sub-surface network. (They are still 'cut and cover',
not bored, and at a notoriously shallow depth which results in frequent water pipe fractures under the
road immediately above with increasingly volume and increasing weight of road traffic).
568] District Line: Track rationalisation continues prior to resignalling. From 10 January, the trailing
crossover at Hornchurch was decommissioned. From 24 January the crossover at Gloucester Road
allowing trains to depart from P2 towards Earl's Court was also decommissioned. (Underground News)
It is not so many years since this crossover was used on Sundays by all westbound District line trains
via the otherwise outer rail Circle line platform to permit a staff saving at the station. TRACKmaps
which is diagrammatic (Vol.5, p44A Nov 2008), does not make this crossover look like a crossover at all
although it actually ran between two otherwise straight and parallel tracks.
569] Heathrow Connect: Following the discovery of a structural defect on the underside of some Class
332 Heathrow Express units, the whole fleet was taken out of service from 29 February, other than on
the shuttle service between T4 and T1,2&3. Some were running again on 12 March. As a result, in the
interim (and partially afterwards) Heathrow Express was operated by the Heathrow Connect Class 360
fleet. To help cover that service, GWR ran an hourly DMU service between Paddington and Hayes &
Harlington bay P5, leading to some Paddington to Greenford cancellations to provide the crew.
570] Thameslink: (BLN 1252.456) From 14 March a new trailing crossover was installed on the Up and
Down Charing Cross Lines between Blue Anchor and North Kent East Jn at 3m 69ch.
571] Crossrail: (BLN 1252.455) A two minute film http://goo.gl/6TxsmW of a journey on a narrow
gauge construction train (a temporary Contractors' railway!) from Limmo Peninsular to Canary Wharf.
572] Crossrail 2: (BLN 1270.273) On 10 March the £27bn scheme was given the go-ahead by the
independent National Infrastructure Commission, chaired by Lord Adonis. This was also confirmed in
'The Budget' of the 6 March. He advised it should be 'As a priority', with funds allocated immediately,
as 'The capital is in danger of grinding to a halt'. It is hoped that the line could be operational by 2033.
£160M is needed for the next stage but Lord Adonis has advised that the cost of the scheme is
currently too high. Crossrail 1 is costing £15bn; by the 2030s London's population is expected to
exceed 10M. The next Mayor has been advised to look at other major projects including East London
river crossings and extending the Bakerloo line (BLN 1248.48).
1253 NORTH EAST
573] Tyne and Wear Metro: Newcastle Central Metro station was planned to close at 20.00 on 10
March until the end of service 13 March to enable replacement of electrical distribution and control
equipment. This is part of a £6M upgrade, itself part of a £350M programme under which 25 Metro
stations have been modernised at locations throughout Tyne and Wear.
574] Lynemouth: The power station opened in 1972 as a small (420 MW) coal fired power plant, to
supply the adjacent Rio Tinto/Alcan aluminium smelter. Since the smelter closed in March 2012, the
power station has been contributing to the National Grid. It was switched off on 22 Dec 2015 for
conversion to biomass. Inwards coal traffic has ceased and the branch is currently NRU.
1253 NORTH WEST
575] Manchester United, the decider… (BLN 1251.327 & 367) Doubt has surrounded not only the
correct opening date (actually Wed 4 Sep 1935) but also the 'correct' name of this single platform
facility. Bolger's 'An Illustrated History of the Cheshire Lines Committee', published over 30 years ago
in 1984, states the facility was 'actually only ever named United Football Ground'. That was the
case on the single station nameboard in, for example, 1982 (picture BLN 1251) with the BR London
Midland Region maroon 'United Football Ground' sign. BLN 773.207 of 9 Mar 1996 and BLN 791.1123
of 30 Nov 1996 confirm that the change in nameboard, to one saying 'Manchester United Football
Ground', had taken place before the 1996/7 season (thus pre-dating the reference in BLN 809.727).
While this represents what nameboards at the station showed, it is not at all clear that the older sign
showed the station's full name. The Railway Clearing House 'Hand-book of Stations' would certainly
strongly indicate that 'Manchester' has always featured in its proper title. From the 1936 Appendix to
the 'Hand-book of Stations' to the 1956 'Hand-book' itself it has been shown (under general heading
MANCHESTER) as United Football Ground. Locations that happened to be in the greater Manchester
area would be shown there - but if their full name did not include the Manchester prefix (e.g. Miles
Platting) they also appeared under their 'proper' name, with a note 'see Manchester'. Stations which
did include Manchester in their name (e.g. Manchester… Exchange, Victoria and Central) had no such
second entry - and United Football Ground is in that latter category. Likewise, BR's National Location
Code, going back to the late 1960s, has it as 'Manchester United Football Ground'. This suggests that
the official name always included 'Manchester' in the title, regardless of what the BR LMR maroon
nameboard showed! As an aside, the BR 1960 Sectional Appendix only refers to the facility ('United F C
Halt') in a note about working the passenger loop at Trafford Park Junction - it is not listed as a
station/halt location. No reference to it could be found in a Cheshire Lines Railway (sic) Appendix.
576] Metrolink (1): On the 9 March at 08.20 a Bury-bound tram was stuck for about 15 minutes at
Firswood stop because there were 'too many people on board'. The driver asked passengers to move
over to the right hand side, because the left of the tram became wedged against the platform. There
were then problems opening the doors at Trafford Park. Peter Cushing, (no relation) TfGM Metrolink
director explained that the platform edge/door gap is narrow; this was the first incident of its type and
is being investigated. (2): The temporary Oldham Mumps stop (CP 18 Jan 2014) has been removed
completely. All superseded track has been lifted, apart from on the major level crossing just north of
Mumps. The course of the abandoned original ex-NR heavy rail route is now securely fenced.
577] Manchester Victoria: Between 25 March and 3 April the layout between Victoria and Deal Street
Jn is being remodelled with work also on the viaduct between Deal Street Jn and Ordsall Lane Jn in
preparation for construction of the Ordsall Chord. (Location plans and much other illustrated detailed
information is available as a download with this e-BLN, including all the passenger service changes.)
578] Ordsall Chord: (BLN 1250.262) At the end of February much construction work was in progress at
Water Street. Hampson Street closed permanently on 4/5 January (notices varied); it crossed the River
Irwell by Prince's Bridge, just to the north of Liverpool Road's (MOSI) former rail access bridges over
the river. Hampson Street ceased to be a through road for motor vehicles about 20 years ago when cut
by the new road 'Trinity Way', but walkers and cyclists had used it. Meanwhile Mark Whitby's legal
challenge hearing has been expedited to 21 & 22 March. The current works (to December 2017) are
being carried out under an existing Transport Works Order. A very apt Freudian slip was spotted in
Railway Technology Magazine (4 March) referring to 'the much-delayed £85M Ordsall Court' scheme!
579] Central Manchester: The main entrance building to the Museum of Science and Industry is now
named Great Western Warehouse. Nearby on Deansgate is Great Northern Square and Warehouse.
Thus the names of two pre-grouping companies live on in a city where neither was a major player.
580] Vitriol Works Signal Box: Between Moston and Mills Hill stations; from 14 March the Down Main
line section of the trailing crossover (4m 64ch) between the Down and Up Main lines, was to be plain
lined. The equivalent point of the crossover in the Up Main is due to be plain lined from 21 March.
BELOW: Behind the box was Chadderton Power Station sidings seen below during an 11 Mar 1982 BLS
visit, the year the station was finally decommissioned (hence the rust - no traffic.) It was demolished
in 1986; at one time four internal locos worked in the yard. 'Vitriol' is the historic name of Sulfuric
(Sulphuric to older members) Acid which was manufactured at nearby Messrs Hannibal Becker & Co's
Vitriol Works, not thought to have been rail connected. See also http://goo.gl/NjWGyd (Ian Mortimer).
581] Oldham: (e-BLN 1252.X24) Regarding the picture in the previous e-BLN of the final train (a steam
hauled brakevan special) ascending the 1:27 Werneth Incline (CA 7 Jan 1963), trains climbing up the
incline from Middleton Jn were actually on the Down line (and vice versa). The last regular (working
timetable) passenger train up the incline, the 06.40 SuX Middleton Junction to Royton appears to have
been withdrawn from 9 Jun 1958. It was also the final train to serve both Middleton Junction and
Oldham Werneth stations. Because the one remaining service, the 05.50 SuX Rochdale to Manchester
Victoria DMU (withdrawn 7 Jan 1963), was non-stop from Oldham Werneth to Moston, a casual glance
at the BR London Midland Region public timetable in the intervening years could fail to spot it. Our
member suspects that is why the line was shown in the Branch Line Closures' supplement with BLN
100 (of 28 Feb 1968) incorrectly as closing to passengers from 9 Jun 1958; the error was duly amended
in BLN 120A, (Supplement No7), although 'Passengers No More' did not pick up that correction. It ran
at an awkward time for anyone who wanted to do it. Member 161 recalls getting up very early one
morning from an hotel near Manchester Victoria to catch the first train to Oldham (via Failsworth, of
course), doubling-back on the train down the incline to return to the hotel in time for breakfast...
582] Castleton - Heywood: This line OP 15 Apr 1841; the 175th anniversary of Heywood station is on
15 April. The line was horse worked for the initial six years; a steam locomotive was first used on 1
May 1847. The extension to Bury OP 1 May 1848 and Bury to Liverpool on 20 Nov 1848.
ABOVE: Fiddler's Ferry Power Station (Lancashire) and branch in double track days (pre-18 Oct 1987)
with the 1967 signalbox. Picture taken from the LCGB 'Staffordshire Ranger' railtour of 10 Mar 1984 (it
must have been a very long range/r lens!) formed of 2x3-car first generation DMUs. (Angus McDougall)
583] Two 'd' or not two 'd' that is the question…: Fiddlers Ferry Power Station itself has always had
two 'ds'. The name is derived from a former ferry across the River Mersey where a settlement grew up
after the Sankey Canal reached it in 1871. A letter from the 'Clerk to Penketh Parish Council' of 4 Dec
1920 said that from their records and an old resident's memories, the name seems to have originated
from John Fidler, tenant of the Ferry Hotel from 1794 to 1802. In 1920 all the parish records had one
'd' in the location's name. The power station junction signal box (commissioned on 30 Apr 1967 for the
opening of the plant) still has a BR style black on white name board 'Fidlers Ferry' (above did you
notice?) and apostrophe-less, at least when observed from the last (and probably final) railtour 'The
Ferry Go Round' on 20 Oct 2012. Interestingly the box was originally funded by the Central Electricity
Generating Board (remember them?); the present owners, Scottish & Southern Electricity, still pay all
costs even the signallers' wages. The Power Station has always been 'Fiddlers' so, logically, their signal
box should have had the same spelling. When a new signalbox diagram arrived for the 18 Oct 1987
resignalling (including single tracking the branch junction), it had 'Fiddlers Ferry' (as now). The Weekly
Notices & Sectional Appendix have used this name since. The power station control building has two
'ds' and partially signals the layout - no one has ever 'fidled' with its name!
584] 1 for the price of 2: A random member (No2536) returning from Euston to Crewe on the 18.57
(SSuX) Virgin service to Manchester, a nine car Pendolino, was delighted to discover that it is still
Standard Class only (for our younger readers, that is what they used to call Second Class). There were
regular announcements that first class was available for standard class passengers and that the train
was only for standard class passengers (would any inadvertent 1st Class ticket holders be surcharged or
thrown off?!). To be fair it was full and standing but that was no coincidence, it is the first off peak
evening train from London. £37 for first class, 158 miles non-stop in 96 minutes - not bad at all!
585] Blackburn Rovers: Blackburn and Clitheroe stations are 9¾ miles apart; a rail journey between
them usually takes about 25 minutes. However, the 15.20 (SSuX) and the 15.19 (SO) take 2½ hours!
This is because they run via Accrington, Todmorden, Manchester Victoria, Bolton and Blackburn again.
The 17.20 (SSuX) also does this circle terminating at Blackburn. No trains are shown doing the circuit in
the other direction, but the 06.19 (SSuX), 06.21 (SO) and 16.21 (SuX) from Blackpool North travel to
Blackburn (reached a mere 2½ hours after leaving Preston) via Manchester Victoria and Todmorden.
586] Eden Brows (S&C): (BLN 1252.466) NR engineers have agreed a plan to repair a 500,000-tonne
landslip. A structure is to be built under the affected section to support it. The project, expected to
take many months, will also involve major embankment stabilisation earthworks. It is not clear exactly
how long this will take due to the massive scale of the slip; the earth is still moving and the location is
inaccessible. Many repair options were considered; the aim was to develop a long term solution to
avoid a recurrence. Other works are now to be opportunistically carried out while the line is closed.
1253 SOUTH EAST – NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
587] Brentwood - Chelmsford: Our member continued his summer 2015 visits to Great Eastern main
line intermediate stations (BLN 1245.2098) by visiting Brentwood, formerly Brentwood & Warley, with
its GER style platform canopies and, like most of the stations along the four track section of the main
line, now having a new fence along the middle of the centre island platform, making photography of
the fast lines side more difficult. Shenfield, formerly Shenfield & Hutton Junction, though for a long
time without the 'Junction'; has some similarities of layout.
Chelmsford on a curved viaduct location is somewhat modernised at platform level. Your Sub-Editor
has always considered this constricted site has been the reason for the platform level buildings being
the most uninspiring he knows at any UK city (Chelmsford has a cathedral). The viaduct was built for a
third track between the Up and Down, latterly connected to the Up at the Ingatestone end and the
Down at the Hatfield Peverel end. Our correspondent was impressed by the former signal box, a
curious survival perched high up behind the Down side platform structures and invisible from
immediately underneath because of the canopies. It has been described as being some five storeys
high. This GER wooden edifice, disused since 1994, still sports its Network South East era nameboard.
In December 2013 the 'Essex Chronicle' reported a refusal by English Heritage to include it in the
shortlist for potential listing. The GER was an early and enthusiastic experimenter with motor bus
services, commencing services from Chelmsford station on three routes; on 8 Sep 1905 to Danbury,
Writtle and Great Waltham, using open top double deckers built by the GER at Stratford works.
Chelmsford's bus station is adjacent to the station on the Down side, though garaging was removed
recently for replacement by blocks of flats.
ABOVE: (BLN 1252.469) The Grade II listed 'Arts and Crafts' style 1912 Letchworth Garden City station.
(Angus McDougall 21 Jun 2015).
588] Billericay: Six automatic ticket gates have recently appeared at Billericay although they are not
yet operational. A slight complication is caused by the gate from the Down platform to the car park;
four gates will be provided here. In contrast, Shenfield has only four gates in total as there is no room
for more although Billericay is probably the busiest station on the Southend Victoria branch.
589] Oxford: Online schedules suggest platform renumbering, from the 15 May timetable change:
P1 - New north bay (east side). P3 - Up through (now P1).
P2 - Present north bay P3. P4 - Down through (now P2).
Both bays have booked passenger workings but it will be interesting to see what actually happens in
view of the recent report of temporary disconnection of the future P1 and other work (BLN 1251.376).
1253 SOUTH EAST – SOUTH
590] Folkestone - Dover: (BLN 1252.474) The booklet, 'Early Railway Prints' by Michael Darby, (HMSO
1974), includes an interesting lithograph of the original timber viaduct pictured in e-BLN 1252, with a
brief description of the problems encountered during construction: '…to overcome the problems of
building a fourth tunnel at the approach to the Shakespeare Cliff, a large part of the Round Down Cliff,
estimated at more than a million tons of chalk, was removed by a single blast of 185 gunpowder
barrels on 26 Jan 1843.' William Cubitt, the engineer of these works, could not be as sure of the
structural stability of Shakespeare Cliff as he had been of Abbotscliffe, and decided to build the tunnel
through it with a central pier, and to line most of the inside with brick. It was ventilated by seven
shafts passing to the top of the cliff and eight galleries running to the sea. The latter also served as
passages for the removal of rubble during the building operations.
A member with personal knowledge of Shakespeare Tunnel from when he worked for BR has written
that the two tall bores (see also below) are linked by several cross passages, and each has an adit, i.e.
sloping opening, to the cliff edge. These were used to remove excavated material, perhaps dumping it
to protect the foreshore between Shakespeare and Abbotscliffe Tunnels. Our member also spent some
time at Abbotscliffe Tunnel and has descended the vertical shafts there. There was serious clifftop
erosion; the tops of the tunnel shafts had been on flat ground when the tunnels were bored, but by
about 1970 they were protruding from the slope, as the cliff face had receded. Revisiting about 1990,
the cliff had eroded considerably further, so that the tunnel shafts were protruding significantly.
There was geological faulting in the cliff so the whole area has to be considered 'suspect'. When slam
door trains ran, there were concerns about evacuation if one stalled and caught fire. Some units did
not have end corridor connections, so passengers could not detrain as the slam doors would not open
(out) in the narrow tunnel. [There is a similar problem in the very tight Ledbury tunnel with HSTs; the
guards ride in the rear power car as they have inward opening doors. This delays door release at the
station as they need to walk forward to the appropriate door to work the Selective Door Operation.]
Folkestone Warren is the area of foreshore and cliff about two miles long between Folkestone and
Dover, where the cliff is set back from the cliffs on either side, resulting in the deposition of the
foreshore material. Remarkably, an OS map from the early 1900s shows an exploratory coal mine
(Dover Colliery). There was a halt, apparently for seaside picnics, opened as Folkestone Warren in 1888
but then quickly closed as Lord Raglan objected to the public picnicking on his land. It ROP 1 June 1908
as Folkestone Warren Halt for summer use only and CP September 1915. Then it ROP from June 1924
to 25 Sep 1939. ('Railway Passenger Stations' - Michael Quick.) There was, and may still, be a very long
staircase down from the clifftop; our correspondent descended and had a secluded swim in the sea in
1971. The Folkestone Warren has long been unstable; a technical paper in 1955 reported that the area
'has been for centuries the scene of very extensive landslips'.
In 1844 the railway was opened along this 'treacherous coastal belt with tunnels both ends into the
chalk.' (Shakespeare Tunnel to the east, towards Dover, and Abbotscliffe Tunnel to the west, towards
Folkestone.) During WWII there were major concerns about stability and in 1946 the Southern Railway
started extensive investigations, which led to a massive 1950-54 stabilisation programme. Part of the
problem was pressure from ground water behind the cliff, which tends to burst the chalk face out.
Shakespeare Tunnel is 1,392yd long, and when the line was constructed the chalk through which it
was driven was considered to be exceptionally poor and the civil engineering historian RA Otter says
that 'consequently' twin gothic arched tunnels were designed. They are brick lined, 12ft wide and
separated by a pier 10ft thick. There is a large clearance of 28ft from rail to the peak. The seven
vertical ventilation shafts coincide with the lateral construction shafts driven from the seashore. The
maximum depth to the surface is about 240ft. The Old Dover Road along the clifftop is close to the cliff
edge; it has long been by-passed by the New Dover Road B2011 further inland and of course the A20.
The Old Dover Road (poor old sole) has been moved back in places where its former course has fallen
into the sea as can be seen http://goo.gl/JydMta on the excellent National Library of Scotland maps
which has a slider allowing merge from the 19th century map to a modern map at the same location.
When our correspondent was regularly visiting Abbotscliffe Tunnel working for BR, he contrived to
travel from London to Dover on the 'Golden Arrow', then hauled by an E5000 class locomotive. Once
he travelled down on two successive days and both days had a coffee and a bun on the train. The
second day the waiter recognised him from the day before, and was obviously considerably startled to
see someone apparently travelling from London to Paris two days in a row! Of course, he had simply
left at Dover Marine station without actually joining a ship; there was no difficulty about doing that!
591] Rainham: (BLN 1252.476) From 14 March the trailing crossover at the east end of the station was
due to be removed and the associated signals abolished.
X36] ABOVE: A Society railtour of the then extensive MoD Chatham Dockyard Railway system on 6
Oct 1982 (the first of three at the time) when there were about 13 miles of track. Closure of the
dockyard as a naval base was imminent and very little was happening. The wagon had been specially
lined with wood and chairs screwed down for our trip! The most memorable feature was running over
the lock gate with a tremendous bang due to the dramatic drop in the rail level. Later in the day, some
made a farewell trip on the Elmers End to Sanderstead line which was due to close. The Eridge to
Tunbridge Wells line was also threatened with closure then - both did close of course. (Ian Mortimer)
592] Ryde - Shanklin: (BLN 1251.382) In April the Isle of Wight Council is due to consider the report
into the future of the railway line prepared by former GNER Chief Executive Christopher Garnett
following meetings with stakeholders. The line has annual costs of £4.5M and income of £1M while
operated as part of the South Western franchise. Not surprisingly all stakeholders wish to retain rail
services, and future options for the line would appear to be continuing on the present basis or
conversion to light rail. 'It seems that we are all in general agreement', said council leader Jonathan
Bacon. 'Island Line must remain, and it might benefit from local management, which will provide
better local opportunities for promotion and control, to enable the line to flourish and support the
local economy.' Acquiring ex-LU stock which is expected to become available in the late 2020s, would
not reduce operating costs or improve services, and so Garnett proposes conversion to light rail. Ex-
Midland Metro 'T69' trams have been offered at a 'very reasonable' price, while drive-on-sight
operation would remove the cost of signalling over most of the route. The track layout could be
rationalised, with a passing loop installed to enable the currently uneven 20/40 minute headways to
be replaced by a regular 15 minute service. One of the two tracks between Smallbrook Junction and
Ryde St John's would be transferred to the preserved Isle of Wight Steam Railway, which in return
would agree to receive all engineering materials for both lines, enabling the current Sandown depot to
be redeveloped. Tampers and other plant could also be shared. The DfT has asked bidders for the
replacement South Western franchise to prepare plans for establishing Island Line as a stand-alone
business, but some stakeholders including the Council believe the larger franchise provides a degree of
security. Garnett questions this assumption, and suggests a light rail route could be operated more
effectively outside a franchise let by DfT. However, he emphasises that the line must remain part of
the National Rail network for ticketing and timetabling. It should also be subject to the same closure
regulations as any other line, and DfT should ensure that there is an operator of last resort if required.
1253 SOUTH WEST
593] Hawkeridge Curve: A DfT notice
'Discontinuation of an Experimental
Service' between Westbury East Loop
Jn and Hawkeridge Jn from the 15
May 2016 timetable change appeared
in the 'Times' of 10 March. It was
designated as 'experimental' for five
years from 23 May 2011. If continued
past May it would become an
'established service' and then be
much more difficult to withdraw. The
only service, the 17.06 SSuX from
Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads
http://goo.gl/P8JRQt will instead run
to Westbury to terminate then ECS to
Bristol St. Philip's Marsh HST Depot.
Light loadings have been noted at the western end of the journey since its introduction. The curve will
effectively CP from 16 May 2016 after the last service on Friday 13th (!) which is the day before our
GWR Tracker IV tour from Bristol TM. The curve will continue in use for diversions, for example all day
Sundays 20 and 27 March. ABOVE: 1953/59 OS one-inch map showing the 1942 Railway Executive
WWII built west (Heywood Road Jn) to north (Hawkeridge Jn) 'East Chord' avoiding Westbury station
to its north east. Also seen is the Westbury avoiding line opened by the GWR in 1933 along with the
Frome avoiding line. The freight branch from Hawkeridge (upper left heading west) was to Westbury
Camp an American WWII General depot, G-47, which originally had seven parallel internal lines off the
branch shown and became West Wiltshire Trading Estate, the area shown as 'Moat' on the map.
594] Westerleigh Jn: (BLN 1252.481) A correspondent with knowledge of the area was interested to
read about the reversible working currently in operation, and provides a detailed history of the lines in
the area which led to this manoeuvre now being available to trains in 2016. When the Severn Tunnel
opened in 1886, GWR trains from London to South Wales ran via Bath, the Rhubarb Curve avoiding
Bristol Temple Meads, and Filton. The Badminton line opened in 1903 with intermediate stations at
Badminton and Chipping Sodbury (OP 1 July 1903; CP 3 Apr 1961/CG 20 Jun 1966) providing a shorter
and less congested route between Swindon, Wootton Bassett, Patchway and South Wales. Express
passenger trains, although the 'stars', had to share tracks with heavy (slow) goods and mineral traffic.
In 1908 a connection was made between the GWR Badminton line at Westerleigh and the Midland
line at Yate (see maps). As well as the curve from Westerleigh West Jn, an east curve was laid for GWR
trains from Swindon to Gloucester. A spur near Berkeley Road to the Sharpness line was also laid and
together these enabled London to South Wales traffic to run via the Severn (rail!) Bridge between
Sharpness and Lydney. This was in the event of emergency closure of the Severn Tunnel, and as a
relief for congestion. However, there was a weight and engine restriction on the bridge. Strengthening
work was in progress on it to allow longer, heavier trains to run when it was struck and damaged by a
barge in thick fog on 25 Oct 1960. The bridge, damaged again in February 1961, never reopened.
The GWR lines converged with the Midland at Yate with a flying junction where northbound GWR
trains crossed over the Midland route by a bridge. The arrangement was not used as much as had
been anticipated, and Westerleigh east curve CA in 1927, but reopened in 1942, as a WWII precaution.
It was closed again in 1950, having been dormant for some time. At Yate the line joined the Up
(northbound) line and there was no crossover to the Down line. Stone trains from Tytherington quarry
on the former Thornbury branch used to proceed on the Up line to Westerleigh (West) Jn and cross
onto the Down line towards Stoke Gifford (later the site of Bristol Parkway station).
The maps are thanks to Mike Newman. The Midland route from Yate to Bristol via Mangotsfield CA in
1971, and then all Birmingham to/from Bristol trains ran via Westerleigh and Stoke Gifford. There
were concerns about line capacity which is why the facing crossover was provided at Yate allowing
overtaking moves there. A freight train from the Birmingham direction could be held waiting for a
margin at Westerleigh and a following passenger train could cross to the Up line at Yate and overtake
it, regaining the Down line at Westerleigh Jn using the same crossover that the Tytherington stone
trains once used. As service frequency was not high, our correspondent never saw this arrangement
being used in practice [Others have-Ed]. This is the move that has recently been made by trains
through Yate to Bristol when Westerleigh switch diamond was temporarily plain lined. Finally, the
GWR and BR (Western Region) called switch diamonds 'movable elbows', although the humorists in
the office referred to them as 'musical elbows'.
595] Parkandillack: The UK Railtours 'Tre Pol and Pen' tour due to traverse the branch on 12 March did
not as NR identified significant defects in track geometry. Specified freight traffic is still permitted
under a temporary dispensation but there is currently no timescale for track improvements. China clay
traffic has picked up in recent times with branch trains running three or more times a week. They have
sometimes had long consists needing staging and splitting at Burngullow, being worked along the
branch and back in two portions. Most china clay by rail runs to Fowey, Carne Point for transfer to
boats for export. There are also (usually) a couple of workings there from Goonbarrow Junction SSuX.
1253 WEST MIDLANDS
596] Birmingham New Street: P12 reopened on 6 March after refurbishment and P6 was taken OOU
for work. Under the atrium NR have an interesting board display of New Street's history. Minor work is
in progress there and on the plaza to rectify issues caused by the dash to 're-open' the station on time.
597] Daw Mill: (BLN 1208.742) By 9 March, the former colliery site had been cleared, although the
trackwork was mostly still in situ. This includes 1 & 2 Reception/Departure lines with their connections
to the Up and Down Arley lines. The connections to the sidings were also present and at least sidings 1,
2 & 3 themselves. The lines to the former bunker were buried in spoil. The signals here remain lit.
598] Stoke-on-Trent: A multi-million pound plan is being drawn up to transform North Staffordshire's
rail network, including relocating Stoke-on-Trent station. Other measures on the wish list include two
extra tracks and new stations at Britannia Stadium, Chatterley Whitfield and in the Moorlands. Stoke-
on-Trent City Council is promoting the proposals as the HS2 station at Crewe is expected to create
120,000 jobs and lead to 100,000 new houses in the Potteries over the next 25 years, putting a huge
strain on local infrastructure. The authority is to lobby the Government for the extra investment.
599] Water Orton: On 29 February the 17.19 Birmingham to Nottingham was held in the Up Derby
Slow between Castle Bromwich Jn and Water Orton West Jn. Two trains passed, thought to be the
17.22 to Stansted Airport and 16.03 to Edinburgh. Use of this loop is not common - every four years?
1253 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
600] West Yorkshire: Apperley Bridge OP 13 Dec 2015 and passenger use is, reportedly, increasing
much faster than anticipated. Kirkstall Forge has a target opening date of mid-April 2016. Completion
of Low Moor (where progress was observed from our recent Northern Tracker tour) is rescheduled for
July 2016, due to the discovery of a previously unrecorded mine shaft on the site of the proposed new
passenger lift and footbridge foundations. West Yorkshire Combined Authority advise that staff who
were working on Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge are now available to manage the assessment of
technical, operational and economic aspects of the proposed Elland station, between Halifax and
Brighouse. Feasibility work will take six months from inception to seeking approval to proceed to the
next stage (a detailed feasibility study). Meanwhile, the authority is to review options for an East Leeds
Parkway; this will include looking for a location to serve the Thorpe Park development area. The West
Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund includes an allocation for the station which could be a strategic park and
ride for local commuters and have direct trains to Manchester, York and possibly even London.
601] Leeds: West Yorkshire Combined Authority (CA) has commissioned a study examining options for
a City Region Metro. It is considering how transport modes could be better integrated to create a
public system that is easy for people to understand, access and use. This seems to focus on knitting
together existing routes, but consultants will examine possible new services including light rail, tram-
train and 'New Generation Transport' style trolleybus corridors. The study will provide detailed
analysis of the best routes and where there are gaps in the existing network and identify a range of
solutions with costs/benefits. Meanwhile a different study commissioned for the CA has concluded
that the most viable option for a fixed link between Leeds and Bradford and Leeds Bradford Airport is
likely to involve light rail or tram-train technology. With an estimated cost of £70M to £360M and no
funding identified, further work will be required to develop the investment business case for a
preferred option. The study notes that the topography to Bradford is extremely challenging and would
require extensive (and very expensive) tunnelling. An alternative tram-train option could link the
airport to the Harrogate line for Leeds and the Airedale line for Bradford.
602] Ferriby: (BLN 1252.494). This item was based on a Press Release about the resignalling. A
Member wrote in explaining he is puzzled by the '40 track miles to Gilberdyke'. In the days when the
line was four tracks that figure would have been about right. As it is: to Ferriby (connection to Up
Slow) at 7m 32ch. Gilberdyke Jn at 17m 07ch. Route miles therefore 9m 55ch. Track Miles = 19m 30ch.
In addition, Up Slow at Ferriby 7m 32ch to 8m 60ch = 1m 28ch. 19m 30ch + 1m 28ch = 20m 58ch. Say
21 miles for good measure. Melton signal box interfaces with Hessle Road not Hull Paragon.
Editor's Reply: It is pleasing to discover that that a member reads and considers the content of BLN so
well. Being equally surprised by the claim of 40 miles some calculations were made before BLN 1252
went out and interestingly subsequent press reports have reduced the re-signalling figure to '35 miles'.
The signalling interface with Hessle Road is at 5m 11ch and with Selby at 21m 10ch (further on the
Down line). This is about 16 route miles of double track or 32 track miles plus 1m 28ch for the Up Slow
at Ferriby. Looking at pictures of Gilberdyke's signal box diagram it appears to control to about 2m
40ch towards Saltmarshe, another 5 track miles, a very surprising grand total of 38¼ miles. What we
do not know yet is if the new signalling might extend further than the current boundaries at any of the
three interfaces, it would only have to control less than another mile to make 40 miles, alternatively
this figure could just have been rounding up. It is also interesting to see what £34.5M buys (or not)!
BELOW: Gilberdyke Junction (the box's sign has faded since it was renamed from Staddlethorpe West
in 1975). The Pacer from Hull is taking the Goole/Doncaster line; the Selby/Leeds route is ahead. A
single slip on the diamond form a trailing crossover here. (Rob S, April 2015 https://goo.gl/FLDvtJ)
603] Londonderry - Ballymoney: Four user worked crossings closed from 27 February: McLoughlan's
(the Castlerock side of Bellarena between MP 75 - 74¾); Kearney's No1 (MP 56 - 55¾), Henry's and an
un-named crossing (both between MP 55¾ & 55½); the latter three between Macfin and Ballymoney.
604] Dublin CTC: (BLN 1252.495) On Sunday 13 March, between 00.30 and 08.30, the Suburban CTC
system was to be shut down to load new software in connection with the transfer of control of
Drogheda, Dundalk and Sligo Line Interlockings to the CTC system. The Emergency Control Panels for
Drogheda, Dundalk and the Sligo line were also to be shut down as part of the control transfer process.
605] Dublin - Cork: The 2016 ballast cleaning programme began on Saturday 5 March, the first day of
service alterations for works between Hazelhatch and Ballybrophy. Single line working was to apply to
allow train movements over the Up line between crossover points at Newbridge and Kildare that day.
606] Mullingar: (BLNs 1228.435 & 1244.2040) The Signal Cabin was to be permanently closed at 12.00
on Friday 11 March. The portion of former running line between No364 turnout and traps at mileopost
50¼ (Mullingar station) and the buffer stops at 51m 300yd in the Moate direction (Athlone line) is re-
designated as the Down Sidings. Signalling arrangements for entering and exiting the Down Sidings are
unchanged. The rest of the Mullingar to Athlone line between the buffer stops at 51m 300yd and
Athlone East Jn had already been notified as disconnected from the Galway Line. In addition to the
signal cabin closure at Mullingar, the following mechanical signalling alterations were to take place:
Mechanical Signals to be taken OOU and removed: • Down Starting Signal MR19.
• Up Distant Signal. • Up Home Signal.
• Up Outer Home MR15. • Shunt Discs MR12, MR14, MR16 and MR22.
• Down advance Starting Signal MR18.
Points: Crossover Points No23 (a & b) ends were to be disconnected from the cabin and converted to
hand points. Trap Points No13 and No17 that protected No 23 crossover were to be plain lined.
1253 ISLE OF MAN
607] Man at Work: (BLN 1250.292) On the Snaefell Mountain Railway a Tram (believed No5 or 6) has
recently been running hauling an open wagon with ballast about a third of the way up the line towards
Bungalow. There a digger was replacing track ballast. At Laxey ballast scoured by the December floods
next to the main road is also being replaced. Between poles 27 and 37 of the Manx Electric Railway, a
significant side road which crosses the rails has been renewed with a new tarmac surface. Surprisingly,
the rails here reportedly were only laid about four or five years ago. At Lonan, the small blue 4wDM
'Pig' has been shuffling ballast wagons around from the nearby virtual quarry and working on the
landward line towards Laxey Car Sheds. Beyond Laxey some overhead wiring has been renewed.
608] Lamington Viaduct: (BLN 1252.502) The 20 mph Emergency Speed Restriction with reopening on
the 21 February was eased after monitoring to 40mph. Scour protection work continues until May. In
about 2006 the structure was rebuilt and realigned for Virgin's 'Very High Frequency' service. 100mph
was then allowed both ways for non-tilting trains and an 'Enhanced Permissible Speed' in tilt mode of
110mph (Cl. 221 Voyagers), and 120mph for Pendolinos rather than the 125mph given in BLN 124.28.
609] Glasgow Subway: (BLN 1252.506): (1): The 'Clockwork Orange' is expected to be replaced by
buses from 24 June for 'a minimum of four weeks' for work on the Broomloan Depot transfer line. Due
to some dissatisfaction regarding staff redeployment during closure, the RMT union had considered
balloting the 150 staff for industrial action. This was dropped as the majority accepted either
alternative suggested by STP: to accompany the replacement buses/regulate or direct passengers, or
work in temporary ticket kiosks. (2): A Swiss/Italian consortium has been awarded a contract for 17
new 4-car trains (each coach is the same length and size as in the present 3-car sets), with provision for
'unattended operation'. Gangways will allow wheelchair access at Govan and St. Enoch. Half height
platform screens and doors will be provided for safety. Signalling and control systems will also be
replaced. The new trains should start running in 2020; see http://goo.gl/1NWKpL with pictures.
ABOVE: Last time around; the 'Clockwork Orange' liveried new stock for the 1 Nov 1979 reopening
after modernisation. Our 8 Nov 1980 railtour of the above ground Broomloan test track and depot, for
the BLS 25th anniversary AGM in Glasgow. Various fixtures ran over six days starting at Fleetwood on
4th, moving onto Bramley Ammunition Depot (5 November!) including four days of fixtures in Scotland
and even Florence Colliery near Stoke-on-Trent! On the Glasgow Subway arrangements were made for
participants to travel into and out of the depot on the new connecting line that had a triangular
junction with the passenger lines. This replaced the previous arrangement of transferring the 1896
stock by crane (we never did that on a tour!). The track has an unusual 4ft gauge. (Ian Mortimer)
610] Longannet: (BLN 1241.1738): A member visited in mid-February to film some trains, but found
that nothing had run since Tuesday 9 February, which was the FHH 14.29 from Hunterston HL and
20.02 return to Barassie Yard. Subsequently all FHH's wagons left Scotland. Nothing then ran with the
freight paths being deleted on a daily basis. A friendly Longannet security guard told our member that
there was enough coal to last until closure on 31 March. He said that many people had been taking
photos through the fence in recent months, and did not seem to object to that. However, on Friday 11
March a coal train ran from Hunterston HL at 14.25 (back 22.50) to Longannet 17.21/20.00. The word
is that coal trains are expected week commencing 14 March (12 trains) - see 'STOP PRESS' LAST TRAIN
19th. There is otherwise almost no freight traffic between Stirling and Dunfermline, Charlestown Jn.
611] Alloa - Dunfermline: The 'Longannet Taskforce' is working to soften the impact of the power
station closure (230 job losses), part involves the possible restoration of a passenger service. This went
before Holyrood's public petition committee in late January, and it was agreed that it should be part of
the Taskforce's agenda. Transport Scotland said that the proposed extension of the Stirling to Alloa
line through to Dunfermline does not feature in the current investment programme, but is being
considered as part of the wider, strategic transportation assessment and appraisal for the Longannet
Taskforce. The third Taskforce meeting was on 29 February. Good progress was reported but Holyrood
was unable to firmly commit to provide any additional funding for the area's economic recovery plan.
612] Queen Street Closure: (BLN 1249.192) A one-way system of passenger entry/exit using North
Hanover St and Dundas St will be operating. The remodelling work is the start of a 30 month project.
Consort House (corner of West George St and Dundas St) is to be demolished, as is the extension to
the Millennium (previously North British) Hotel. This makes room for a new station building, which will
have a large, glazed frontage to George Square. The concourse will be further south to allow platform
lengthening. Not much of the present station will remain, except the listed roof over the platforms!
ScotRail allowed Queen Street drivers to lapse their route knowledge to Glasgow Central via the
Rutherglen and Coatbridge line, so 'DB Cargo UK'* drivers are having to conduct them while Aberdeen
and Inverness trains are diverted. (*The new name for DB Schenker from 2 March - no, not 1 April!)
613] Millerhill/Powderhall: (BLN 1244.2044) Planning permission has been granted for the light
maintenance depot, for the Hitachi Cl. 385 trains. The depot appears to be a similar size to Eastfield,
being principally for stabling and cleaning. It will be on part of the Up yard, alongside the existing
infrastructure depot. An 'energy from waste' incinerator is to be built on the former Down yard, but is
not expected to be rail-served. It will burn domestic waste from Edinburgh and Midlothian, delivered
to the site direct off the refuse lorries. This will result in the end of traffic on the 2m 12ch Powderhall
branch. A light engine is booked to arrive at 'Powderhall Compaction Plant' from Millerhill (SSuX) 09.41
(and 07.50 SO ex-Mossend) to haul the rubbish to Oxwellmains tip (departs 10.25 SSuX, 08.24 SO). The
empties are due to arrive back at 14.24 (12.00 SO) with the light engine departing 15.37 (13.08 SO).
614] Larkhall branch: (BLN 1252.506): As surmised, Allanton loop is NRU. However, from 15 May
timetable change, the 05.24 & 05.31 (SSuX) and 05.19 & 05.25 (SO) Motherwell Derby Carriage Sidings
ECS to Larkhall, all reversing at Haughhead Jn, are shown to use it. This presumably keeps the loop in
use as they do not cross trains in the opposite direction. Larkhall P1 is only booked for the 06.00 SSuX
to Milngavie (inward working is ECS), 16.46 (SO) Dalmuir to Larkhall and 18.03 return to Milngavie and
P1 continues to be timetabled for all Sunday services. P2 has the station entrances; stairs near the
south end of the platform and a very long quite steep ramp facing north at the middle. The road
paralleling the railway is Caledonian Road. Union Street, one road to the east is Larkhall's main street.
X36] The Duchal Moor Grouse Shooting Railway: (BELOW) The lovely moors above Kilmacolm (which
then still had a passenger service to Glasgow via Paisley Canal - CA 10 Jan 1983). A photo-stop on the
27 Aug 1979 BLS 4-hour tour (the track went further on most of the lines but eventually became
impassable). No grouse were harmed during the tour although there were a couple of derailments.
The 2ft gauge line appeared on OS maps, see https://goo.gl/oXbyFp for more details. (Ian Mortimer)
ABOVE: The railway included two triangular junctions; the engine shed is far right. OS 1:25,000 (1949/55).
615] Cardiff Scrum: The Welsh Rugby Union continues to schedule fixtures with zero consideration for
the needs of travelling supporters. The recent home international match against France on 26
February did not finish until 21.56, with the 74,000 crowd then spilling out onto the streets and
adjacent Central station. Queuing arrangements outside there involve separate queues forming for P0
(Newport and Ebbw Vale), 1 & 2 (Up main line), 3 & 4 (Down main line), and 6 & 7 (Cardiff Valleys).
Construction work on the former bus station site currently restricts the space available. GWR and ATW
provided what they could by way of additional services, with five extra trains to Newport, three to
Swansea, two each to Bristol Temple Meads, Cheltenham Spa and Rhymney, and one each for
Paddington, Holyhead, Shrewsbury, Hereford, Gloucester, Ebbw Vale Town, Carmarthen, Merthyr
Tydfil, Aberdare, Treherbert, Pontypridd, Coryton, Barry Island, and Bridgend, with the last departure
as late as 00.58. In consequence of the effect on rolling stock location and train crew hours, some
timetable alterations were inevitably necessary the following morning. CrossCountry declined to
participate, with their last Birmingham train departing immediately after the final whistle! Cardiff
Queen Street station, as usual on event days, was closed for all but Cardiff Bay interchange purposes.
616] Meliden: (BLN 1251.417) Proposals for the Grade II listed goods shed include a commercial
kitchen available for the local community to prepare produce for sale, a café, workshops for local
craftspeople, a heritage centre and a bike hire facility. Adjacent will be allotments and an orchard.
617] Aberthaw: (BLN 1249.140) Latest indications are that the resumption of cement traffic to
Westbury will be in June; a test train is still expected in April. The connection has been upgraded, with
a new ground signal provided, and is to be controlled from Cardiff ROC rather than by ground frame.
Wagons should be the Tarmac 4-wheel PCA fleet from Hope, loaded at night from road tankers.
1253 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR45] Great Central Railway, Leicestershire (MR p7):
After three years of planning and fundraising,
contractors started on site in mid-February on the
project to construct a bridge over the Midland Main
Line (MML) at Loughborough and link the two sections
of the railway together. (LEFT: Public planning
document) A traditional Victorian style 'turning of the
first sod' ceremony took place on Friday 12 February
at 13.00 carried out by Nicky Morgan, MP for
Loughborough. The new bridge will be just over thirty
metres long and carry a single track over the NR
(MML). The first phase of works on site involves
clearing vegetation and constructing a site compound.
Planning permission for the bridge was obtained in
2014. The project was originally to be managed by NR
as part of the electrification of the MML. However,
following the 'pausing' and 'restarting' of the
electrification, the GCR will now drive the project
forward itself, with NR providing support. Besides the
bridge, reconnecting the two railways involves
reinstating an embankment and repairing other
bridges, which have survived. The GCR is preparing to
submit a planning application for these works, which
will proceed as funding permits. Total cost is £8M
http://goo.gl/OvBnvI and it is hoped to complete the
project in 2019. Clearance and embankment work was seen on the northeast side from our North
Midlands Tracker tour to GC(N) on 27 February. See http://goo.gl/WhDKhA also.
MR46] Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, Devon (MR p15) (BLN 1251.MR30): The planning applications to
extend the railway to Blackmoor Gate and Wistlandpound Reservoir are now completed. The two local
authorities, Exmoor National Park and North Devon Council, have registered the applications, and the
public consultation period was open until 4 March 2016. Overall there are seven separate planning
applications and full details can be found on at www.lynton-rail.co.uk the railway's web site.
MR47] Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Derbyshire (MR p8): A progress report (dated Monday 21
February) on the railway's Yahoo group, stated 'The movement of the miniature railway started today
as ground clearance and preparation was undertaken ready for timbers and track to be laid'. This
would be the short 5" gauge line outside the station at Wirksworth.
MR48] Leiston Works Railway Trust, Suffolk (BLN 1177.MR22): The Leiston Works Railway (LWR)
group has applied for planning permission to reinstate the line, which was abandoned in the late
1960s, to run between Buller Road and Main Street and connect with the award-winning Leiston Long
Shop Museum. This was once the home to the foundries of Richard Garrett & Sons Ltd. Members of
the LWR have been negotiating for some time to take over the land, some of which is in Leiston
conservation area, on which the track once stood. Parts have been unused for decades and have
become overgrown with vegetation, with some tipping of unwanted household items. The remainder
was incorporated into the garden and car park of the pub. The group's aim is to rebuild the line and to
run railway vehicles drawn by horses or locomotives, including the historic steam shunting locomotive
Sirapite, which was used on the railway from 1929 to 1962 and has been restored to working order at
the Long Shop. It would be able to pull a brake van, about to be restored by LWR members, allowing
visitors to experience an industrial railway for themselves.
Hoopers Architects, for the LWR, said the scheme would include educational written, graphic and oral
information for visitors. It would replicate the works railway as it appeared in the first half of the 20th
Century and have trains running along it, initially on approximately 15 days a year. There will be no
earthworks, embankments, cuttings, bridges, viaducts or tunnels. Suffolk Coastal council will make the
decision on the project - and at the same time has received a separate application from landowner and
developer Seaprop Ltd for six homes on a former paddock and part of the pub garden at the rear of
the Engineers Arms in Main Street. Although the two plans are not connected, they are described as
being 'in tandem' because the railway runs through the site. The railway land is to be given to the
restoration project free of charge and in good faith. However, the rail line will be very close to
properties and, on those days when it is in use, alternative arrangements will have to be made for
parking and road access to the homes. Leiston Town Council has recommended refusal of the homes,
although it supports the rail project. The council felt 'very strongly' it was 'a complete over-
development which would be unacceptable even if it had not been in the middle of the town’s
conservation area', removing an important green space.
MR49] Drusillas Railway, East Sussex (MR p16) (BLN 1166.MR140): Both the 2016 leaflet and the
park's web site contain this cryptic message: 'Don't miss the opportunity to visit Thomas for his tenth
and final year at the Park. You can jump aboard 363 days during 2016 and the Fat Controller will be
popping in too (check our website for dates)'. It is not clear whether this means the 2ft gauge railway (a
circuit of 370yd) is going to close or whether alternative rolling stock will replace Thomas. However, if
you need the track - a visit sooner rather than later might be a good idea!
MR50] Volks Electric Railway, East Sussex (MR p16) (BLN 1224.MR2): The £1.65M restoration project
supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund with contributions from Brighton City Council and support
group Volks Electric Railway Association http://goo.gl/nXUKxK has started. Car No3 is being restored
in-house in a new temporary restoration shed funded as part of the overall project. Cars 7, 8 & 9 are
ready to operate during 2016. The funding will also provide a permanent conservation workshop and
store with viewing gallery plus a reconstructed Aquarium station including a new visitor centre.
MR51] Hampton & Kempton Waterworks Railway, Greater London (MR p17) (BLN 1243.MR173): The
passenger carrying capacity has been increased from 18 to 30 per train by the addition of a 'new' 12-
seater 4-wheel coach, rebuilt by members of the Metropolitan Water Board Railway Society (MWBRS),
helped with a grant from the Heathrow Community Fund. The MWBRS members are busy re-aligning
the track at the departure end of the Hanworth Halt and installing a siding close to the station. A new
booking office is to be commissioned for the opening of the 2016 season on Saturday 19 March. There
is steam running each Sunday until November http://goo.gl/aXv48I fares: £2.50 Adults, £1 (5-16).
MR52] Burnley & Pendle MRS, Lancashire (MR p19) (BLN 1182.MR58): Members of the society, which
operates the 7¼" gauge railway in Thompson Park, Burnley, are asking for help after the River Brun
floods in December damaged the track. They are appealing for volunteers to assist in time for Easter.
MR53] Wirral Heritage Tramway, Merseyside (MR p32) (BLN 1246.MR203): A special event 'primarily
aimed at the tram enthusiast' is being held on Saturday 16 April to celebrate 21 years of operation.
MR54] West Lancashire Light Railway, Lancashire (MR p19) (BLN 1186.MR103): The Railway has
received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project. The 2ft gauge railway,
located at Hesketh Bank, midway between Southport and Preston, was started as a hobby by six
Southport and West Lancashire teenagers in 1967. As the Railway approaches its 50th anniversary, it
has grown to become a charitable trust with over 150 volunteer members, and is seeking to develop
so that it is sustainable into the future. The former brickworks site on which it is located is now
proposed for redevelopment for housing, mixed uses and a new linear park.
The plan is to develop the Railway into a strong, quality heritage attraction as part of a proposed River
Douglas Linear Park. The extended railway would carry visitors within the Park, linking the visitor
centre and arrival point to riverbank footpaths, Becconsall Old Church and the future England Coastal
Path, on the way passing through attractive woodland and alongside a lake. The current HLF award is
to fund a Foundation Project to pave the way for the larger development project. The HLF finance will
support the development of a Business Plan and Management Structure for what would be a larger
and more complex operation. It will support key work with other stakeholders and enable links to
schools and colleges to be strengthened to promote the planned facilities as a valuable resource for
As well as extending this line, the Trust is seeking to develop a Narrow Gauge Railway Heritage
Centre for the North West where the many uses of narrow gauge railways can be displayed and
interpreted. The Centre would be combined with a Learning Facility, which schools and colleges could
use for a variety of work, potentially as a base for some courses. The Learning Facility would also have
a role in keeping alive heritage skills, which are as important in conserving our history as artefacts
themselves. The other key aspect of the development project is the creation of good visitor facilities
for the Railway and Park. There would be the opportunity to present aspects of the interesting local
history of the area, including the former brickworks and maritime activities: port, boatyard, fishing and
MR55] Rudyard Lake Steam Railway, Staffordshire (MR p23) (BLN 1249.MR14): The Fixtures Secretary
and family (two pictured in e-BLN 1252.X19) made a half-term visit to this Railway on Sunday 21
February. As already recorded in BLN, the Leek and Rudyard Railway Limited now operate the 10¼"
gauge line, (ex-NSR trackbed). 0-6-2T No8 King Arthur (Exmoor 324 of 2005) was in service hauling four
coaches. Adult fares were £4.50 return; £6 day rover. The three mile return trip is most scenic and
affords wonderful views of the Lake. A Diesel Gala www.rlsr.org is planned for 16/17 April, a Steam
Gala 17/18 September and 'Top & Tail' Weekend over 1/2 October. Guest engines are expected for the
Diesel and Steam Galas. Does anyone know if unusual track might be available at special events here?
.Please mention the Branch Line Society when booking or enquiring. A service to members, all details must be checked with the organisers.
618] Mid Norfolk Railway Dereham to Hoe, 1-3 Apr: http://goo.gl/cGIOcN 01362 851723. This is
available, as well as unusual traction, as part of the Spring Diesel Gala. £5 discount per ticket for
advanced bookings. The following EMT services call additionally at Wymondham (20 minutes walk
from Wymondham Abbey MNR): Friday 07.52 & 08.35 from Nottingham, 06.47 Liverpool and 18.57
Norwich; Saturday 07.45 & 08.34 ex-Nottingham, 06.49 from Liverpool and 18.57 from Norwich.
619] Nottinghamshire Local History Association, Railways in the Nottinghamshire Coalfield: A seven
week railway history course by David Amos. Eastwood Library 10.00-12.00 and Sutton-in-Ashfield
Library 13.30-15.30, Tuesdays 5 April to 17 May. £5.60 each session, £39.20 whole course (subsidised)
but free for those on certain means tested benefits. Limited places, book [email protected]
01773 760030 079143 73745. A summary report after the course would be appreciated for BLN.
620] L&CI, Irish Visits, 7 & 8 Apr: (BLN 1251.420) The Thursday visit to Inchicore Depot is confirmed
for 10.00-12.00; then Dublin Centralised Traffic Control 13.30-15.30. On Friday the party travels on
the 09.35 Enterprise service to visit Drogheda Depot 10.15-12.00, returning on the 12.10. An afternoon
visit is under investigation with a loco-hauled trip to Belfast or Cork as alternatives. Queries/bookings
to our member Stuart Smith [email protected] 07887998557 (party limit now increased).
621] Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway: (BLN 1243.1891) The obscure Invergarry station, under
restoration, in outstanding Great Glen countryside. 2016 open days first Sunday of the month May to
Sept 11.00 - 16.00, guided site and historical tours at 12.00 and 14.00. Note the 5 June Sunday follows
our Scottish visits. Http://goo.gl/bd2PRn queries [email protected] also walk or cycle 4½
miles of the former Fort Augustus branch http://goo.gl/YCdke9 (green and blue sections, NB south is
at the top of this map and north at the bottom) part of the 'Great Glen Way', a very special experience
622] Scunthorpe Steel Works Railway: For anyone unable to make our Easter Monday railtour, the
Appleby Frodingham Railway Preservation Society is running brakevan tours (minimum age 10 years)
of about 90 minutes by donation on 21 May, 25 June, 23 July, 20 August & 17 Sep 2016, starting 16.30.
Our Hull member/AFRPS volunteer, Alan Sheppard (BLS Scunthorpe railtour Route Director) intends to
be present for those not clashing with BLS fixtures etc. Track requests might be possible, contact Alan:
[email protected] There are standard 2½ hour railtours (in coaches) with live commentary about
steel making at Scunthorpe including an AFRPS shed visit and opportunity to buy refreshments on 7 &
21 May, 4, 18 & 25 June, 2, 9, 23 & 30 July, 13, 20 & 27 August and 10, 17 & 24 September at 13.30. All
trains depart from the platform just inside 'Gate E', Brigg Rd, Scunthorpe, DN16 1XA, a short walk from
the station and has free parking. To book any 0165 2657053 or e-mail [email protected]
623] Fawley Hill Railway, 21/22 May: (MR p7; BLN 1214.MR116) Fawley, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 6JA
(SU 756859) 'Vintage Extravaganza' (vehicles pre-1966) http://goo.gl/gP2IA celebrating Sir William
McAlpine's 80th birthday. Annual public steam rides on the unusual, steeply graded standard gauge
railway, various events and museum admission etc. Tickets http://goo.gl/QJLE7p 01491 574873.
Advice is to be there early to be sure of riding, opens 10.00. Pay on the day available, but very busy.
624] Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, 'The Snowdonian', 11 Jun: Optional Friday evening visit to
the FR's Boston Lodge works. Depart Porthmadog Station at 08.50 Saturday on the 'Snowdonian
Limited', non-stop by WHR to Caernarfon hauled by an NGG16 Garratt; Hog Roast lunch at Dinas, then
Works visit and see NG15 loco being rebuilt. Back through Porthmadog station for the FR behind
steam engines 'Linda', 'Lilla' & 'Hugh Napier'; afternoon tea at Tan y Bwlch arrive back at Porthmadog
19.20. A buffet car will be available throughout; photo-stop opportunities. Nearly 80 miles of 1'11½"
gauge travel in total. £180 per head all inclusive (tickets sell very quickly) 01766 515835 to book.
625] Great Welland Railway 29-31 July: (SO 8020 4088) to (SO 8042 4064) Woodside Farm, Welland,
Malvern, WR13 6LN. Welland Steam & Country Rally http://goo.gl/gAu0fc is well worth visiting and the
only chance to ride the standard gauge line (steam). Demonstration narrow gauge lines are expected
and there has been a steam crane previously. Pay on the day or advance £12 adult £10 senior/child.
The Society had an excellent visit in 2014 (two standard gauge and two narrow gauge lines running.)
626] GWR Share Issue: (BLN 1251.423) The share issue aiming to raise £1.25M to extend to Broadway
is now open; it is worth mentioning the significant benefits. Shares are £1 each. 100-499 shares gives
three free round trip vouchers per year, (after extension 14 miles each way), 500-999 gives four and
1,000-2,999 five vouchers. 3,000-4,999 gives free unlimited travel for the shareholder and (any) two
accompanying guests, while 5,000+ gives unlimited free first class travel for the shareholder and three
accompanying guests. An adult round trip is £16 (day rover) for the Cheltenham Race Course (three
words!) to Laverton section. See http://goo.gl/sSFY9L for application form http://goo.gl/5rwzsZ or
write to: Buy GWR Shares, GWSR plc, The Railway Station, Toddington, Gloucestershire, GL54 5DT.
X37] ABOVE: King's Cross during the Lamington closure, 86401 on sleeper empties (Stuart Hicks 19 Feb 2016).
X38] STOP PRESS 1: Longannet Power Station: It is understood that the final inward coal train is likely
to be on Saturday 19 March, 06.28 from Hunterston LL, arriving there 09.18 with the empties leaving
at 11.19 (Hunterston LL 13.51). All coal then on site is expected to be burnt before closure 31 March.
X39] STOP PRESS 2: Coldfield MES, Tue 31 May 18.30: A summer evening visit to cover all available
lines, elevated and ground level. Tea, coffee and biscuits included. £10 cheques payable to 'Branch
Line Society'. Hot food will be available to purchase. A variety of forms of motive power expected to
be used. No party limit. Bookings to Kev Adlam (below)
X39] ABOVE, Guess the Location: While 200 members were Tracking round the North on Pacers our
e-BLN distributor/BLNP Editor was enjoying the luxury of a 'real' train on a long branch line but where?
Distribution: Dave Monger, 6 Underhill Close, GODALMING, GU7 1NU. [email protected] 07592 585230.
Branch Line: Nick Garnham, [email protected] Subscribe: [email protected]
Fixtures Secretary: Kev Adlam, 53 Kemble Close, Wistaston, CREWE CW2 6XN. [email protected] Twitter: @BLSGeneralSec
> > > > > > > > FIXTURES SECRETARY TELEPHONE: MONDAYS TO FRIDAYS ONLY PLEASE: 20.30-21.30 01270 662 396 < < < < < < < <
General Secretary: Tim Wallis, 10 Sandringham Road, Stoke Gifford, BRISTOL, BS34 8NP. [email protected]
Chairman: John Williamson, 'La Marguerite', Croit-E-Quill Rd., LAXEY, Isle of Man, IM4 7JD. [email protected]
SALES: Mark Gomm, 84 Mornington Road, STOKE-ON-TRENT, ST1 6EL. [email protected] 01782 769960 (daytime).
NEWS TEAM: Wales: Paul Jeffries, 54 Heol Erwin, CARDIFF, CF14 6QR. [email protected]
South East England, East Anglia & Ireland: Julian James, 58 Nelson Road, WORTHING, BN12 6EN. [email protected]
London: Geoff Brockett, 155 Onslow Gardens, South Woodford, LONDON, E18 1NA. [email protected]
East & West Midlands: Brian Schindler, 15 Sudeley, Dosthill, TAMWORTH, B77 1JR. [email protected]
South West: Mike Newman, 19 Plover Close, Worle, Weston-Super-Mare, BS22 8XB [email protected]
North East England: Geoff Blyth, 26 Trafalgar Way, Queens Park, Billericay, CM12 0UT [email protected]
Scotland: Mike McCabe, Lawrenceholme Barn, Oulton, Wigton, CA7 0PH [email protected]
IMPORTANT: MIKE'S EMAIL ADDRESS HAS AN 'UNDERSCORE' IN IT i.e. _ THIS IS NOT A 'SPACE'
Northern (West) Yorkshire, Humberside, & IOM : Graeme Jolley, 3 Laurel Cottages, Rencell Hill, LAXEY, IOM, IM4 7BJ. [email protected]
Minor Railways (British Isles): Peter Scott, 93 Josephine Court, Southcote Rd, READING, RG30 2DQ. [email protected]
BLN Pictorial and E-BLN (Distribution problems and for image submission etc): Dave Cromarty, [email protected]
Editor/Head Lines: Paul Stewart, 4 Clarence Close, MALVERN, WR14 3HX. [email protected] 01684562862 07790652351.
Printed by Deva Enterprises, Waters Edge, The Drive, Ifold, LOXWOOD, West Sussex, RH14 0TD 01403 752837 [email protected] or
[email protected] Published by the Branch Line Society, 10 Sandringham Rd, Stoke Gifford, BRISTOL, BS34 8NP. ISSN 1354-0947.