Issue Number 1274 (Items 225 - 345 &IssMueRN1u9m- bMeRr 12296)8 (E-BLN 51 PAGES) 4 Feb 2017
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members;7a2n8i6n7te7rnational section is also available.
Opinions herein are not necessarily those of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1275 is dated 18 Feb anSdocaileltcyo. Snotcriiebtuy.tions must be received by 8 Feb
Date Event Details BLN Lead Status
Thur 16/2/17 14.30 Old Oak Common Walking depot tour - Crossrail 1274 KA *OPEN*
Fri 17/2/17 10.00 Signal Box Visits Middlesbrough to Crag Hall 1273 NJ FULL
Sat 25/2/17 North Tyneside Steam Railway: 12.30-15.30 Track/Traction 1272 KA OPEN
Sun 12/3/17 Bodmin & Wenford Rly 12.15-16.30 Track & Traction 1273 KA OPEN
Sat 18/3/17 'Bound for Craigy', track & traction, East Coast HST tour 1273 JE OPEN
Wed 19/4/17 Ashover Light Railway 14.00-17.00 Guided walk 1273 JC OPEN
Sat 22/4/17 Loco-hauled tour, Carnforth to Stafford and North Wales 1274 KA *OPEN*
Sat 6/5/17 Scunthorpe Steel Wks 09.30-18.30 internal railtour TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 7/5/17 TPE Charity Railtour NOW: Manchester to the NE TBA TBA Claimed
10 to 15/5/17 Jordan Hejaz Railway booking form with e-BLN 1272 1272 IS OPEN
18 to 21/5/17 Long weekend - Dublin / Republic of Ireland 'mixed' gauges 1265 KA Notify
Thur 15/6/17 UPDATE BELOW DRS loco hauled Northwest mini-railtour TBA TBA Claimed
27 to 30/7/17 Scottish Minor Railways Long weekend of Scottish visits 1272 TV Notify
17-19/11/17 AGM - Liverpool area Long weekend with railtour TBA TBA Claimed
IS-Iain Scotchman, JE-Jill Everitt, JC-John Cameron, KA-Kev Adlam, NJ-Nick Jones, TV-Terry Velvick.
225] Situations Vacant: Mike Newman has had to step down from the post of BLN South
West Regional Editor. Many thanks to Mike for all his time and effort put in to this role with
considerable enthusiasm and energy over the last 24 BLNs 'adding value' to the items, as well as his
earlier stint. We are looking for a replacement (and another Regional Editor to take over the Ireland
section from Julian James for whom East Anglia and the South East is a full workload as we work
towards one Regional Editor per area). It is interesting, rewarding and not onerous work (typically 3-4
items per BLN) and helps you learn and remember more about the area. Like any voluntary post, it is
what you make it. Cover is available for holidays etc and support is available if/when required.
Anyone interested, please contact the Editor (don't leave it to someone else. No volunteers = no BLN
or BLS!) Please temporarily send any South West items to the BLN Editor.
226] Old Oak Common, Thur 16 Feb (revised from 17th), 14.30: Old Oak Common Lane, NW10 6DW.
An 11 min walk from Willesden Junction station (Bakerloo/London Overground) or 15 mins from North
Acton (Central Line) no parking on site or nearby. An afternoon BLS guided walking visit focusing on
the Crossrail development. View the site, learn about Crossrail and have a conducted tour of the new
depot. £10 each (going to 'Railway Children'); maximum 10. Advance booking only, cheques payee
'Branch Line Society' and bookings/queries to Kev Adlam per back page with an email address or SAE.
ABOVE: The new Crossrail depot takes shape at Old Oak Common (see item 227 above); press release.
228] Y Triongl Gogledd Cymru, Sat 22 Apr: A proforma for this 9-coach conventional loco-hauled
tour, supporting the Brush Type 4 Fund is enclosed (e-BLN only subscribers please print just the
booking form, 'draft' is fine). The route has much of interest including, at Crewe, both the
Up Liverpool and much requested Chester Independent lines. It may be your last chance to do the
Up and Down Holywell Jn Goods Loops (both close with the North Wales resignalling project).
Both Bangor through lines and Holyhead P3 are on the tour and more, with the usual possibility of
'on the day surprise(s)'. The FS is often asked for more loco-hauled tours so so please show your
support. A shorter day is possible from Stafford or by joining at Hooton (P0) and leaving at Chester.
227] Bound for Craigy Sat 18 Mar: King's Cross - Edinburgh, depots, track and traction HST and
Class 08s tour, Update: FIRST CLASS IS NOW FULLY BOOKED and Standard Class is filling rapidly.
ABOVE: Amman, Jordan in 1991 (Fred Springer).
229] BLS/LCGB Jordan Tour 10-15 May: (Booking form and details with e-BLN 1272.) Iain Scotchman is
pleased to confirm there are more than enough bookings for our railtour to run. More participants can
be taken and this will help reduce the cost per head; there will be quite a few 'familiar faces' on the
trip including some experienced at travelling in Jordan. Anyone else interested is encouraged to book.
230] Northwest Mini-tour, Thur 15 June: Save the date! A track & traction charity tour, expected to
feature a DRS Class 66/3 or 66/4 'top & tail' with a DRS Class 68 loco. Now starts from Stafford (was
Crewe) raising funds for Railway Children (with the stock used for the annual 'Three Peaks Challenge').
Anticipated to finish at Liverpool Lime Street (to be confirmed); all first class strict limit of 168 only.
1274 HEAD LINES
231] Peatlands Park Railway (County Armagh): (BLN 1242.1814) (Quail Vol 6 Ireland, p16E Feb 2004)
A 3ft gauge 1½ mile circuit with a significant shed branch. ROP Good Friday 25 Mar 2016 (closed for
the 2015 season, last ran 15 Sep 2014); weekends & public holidays 13.00 - 16.00 until the end of Aug.
232] Liskeard Jn - Coombe Jn - Moorswater: (BLN 1271.3130) Prior to the 30 Nov 2016 resumption of
cement traffic (now in trains of 24 wagons), the previous cement train (ex-Westbury) was 7 May 2013.
BELOW: 1958/61 OS one-inch 7th Series map of the Liskeard and Moorswater area, The Plymouth to
Penzance line runs bottom right to top left and the single track Looe branch heads off south.
233] Gloucestershire Warwickshire (Steam) Railway - GW(S)R, Laverton Stop Board: (BLN 1268.2105)
On 26 Dec 2016 the northern stop board was estimated (by our MR Editor) to be at 7m 30ch, further
north than the previously reported 7m 37ch and certainly much more than 3ch (north) beyond the
7½ mile post. The GW(S)R Operations Manager has kindly confirmed that it was moved to just south of
the foot crossing (SP 0683 3622) in time for the 5 Mar 2016 start of season and the line north of it TCP
to remove Laverton Loop. In late Sep 2016 (date unknown) the stop board was temporarily moved
further south, nearer to Toddington, for p-way work. In 2017 the line will be extended north again
depending on trackwork progress. The GWSR has dealt with these temporary alterations with
operations notices, there have been no measurements or sectional appendix updates published.
234] Oban (incl) - Dalmally (excl) and three intermediate stations: Following a significant bridge strike
at Taynuilt at 23.44 on 18 Jan, with extensive damage to one girder; TCP 19 Jan 2017 after observation
of the 05.21 Oban to Glasgow Queen Street crossing. ROP 22 Jan 2017 (with a 20.40 Dalmally to Oban).
235] Manchester Metrolink, Second City Crossing; Exchange Square (0.42km) - St Peter's Square:
(1.29km; which is the new junction with the existing line south of the stop) both excl: (BLN 1271.3132)
Daytime testing and training began on Sun 22 Jan 2017. Trams (singles and doubles) reversed at
Exchange Square and on the crossover between Deansgate and St Peter's Square, facilitated by there
being no services between Deansgate and Piccadilly Gardens due to engineering work. According to
staff, passenger services were expected to start in early Feb. Distances given are south from Victoria.
BELOW TOP: Exchange Square south trailing crossover, used ECS by services turning back. When the
Second City Crossing (2CC) opens to St Peter's Square it will be NRU (all Ian Mortimer Sun 22 Jan).
BELOW BOTTOM: Test tram in Exchange Square northbound platform awaiting departure south to
St Peter's Square (over the crossover above). Background right is a Bury to Piccadilly Gardens service.
PREVIOUS PAGE TOP: South of Exchange Square (behind tram to left) on the 2CC to St Peter's Square.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: South of Exchange Square approaching Market Street heading south.
ABOVE: A double tram approaching St Peter's Square on the Second City Crossing.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: The 'line-up' of test trams at the northbound St Peter's Square 2CC platform
(for Victoria) looking south. If we had any pedantic members they might argue that the line is 'on test'!
ABOVE: Northbound tram approaching Peter's Square (2CC north platform) from Deansgate.
236] Southern Services: (BLN 1272.10-13) Normal passenger services were resumed Tue 24 Jan on the
following lines that have had drastically reduced/no services (ASLEF industrial action) since 6 Dec 2016:
(1): London, Falcon Jn - Clapham Junction (excl) P16 & 17 (East Croydon to Milton Keynes service).
(2): Mitre Bridge Jn - Willesden West London Jn (East Croydon to Milton Keynes service).
(3): Tulse Hill Jn - West Norwood Jn (not on original list; London Bridge to Beckenham Jn service).
(3): Bromley Jn - Birkbeck (incl) - Beckenham Junction (excl) (London Bridge to Beckenham Jn service).
(4): Lewes, Southerham Jn - Seaford & four intermediate stations (Brighton to Seaford service).
237] Hither Green (P3 & 4 incl) - Down Slow & Up Slow - St Johns Jn; Hither Green Jn - Sidcup (excl)
also Lee, Mottingham & New Eltham stations also Ladywell Jn - Courthill Loop Jn North and Courthill
Loop Jn South - Courthill Loop Jn North - Lewisham (P1 & 2) - Lewisham Crossover Jns ('D-C' & 'D-A'):
TCA: Tue 24 Jan 2017 due to the partial derailment at 05.35 of the 03.56 Grain to Neasden sand train
at Courthill Loop North Jn, with significant damage to the track. The lines ROP 03.00 Mon 30 Jan.
Freight trains were diverted via the North Kent (Bexleyheath) or Catford Loop/Medway Valley lines.
238] Powderhall Branch Jn (1m 70ch) - (Edinburgh Council) Powderhall Compaction Plant (2m 12ch):
(BLN 1273.140) On Wed 25 Jan a light engine arrived from Mossend at 11.41 and left with the final
train (a rake of empty wagons). Departing at 13.25, it took them to Millerhill Wagon Repair Depot.
239] Hamworthy Jn - Hamworthy Quay: (BLN 1266.1925) ROG Wed 25 Jan 2017 with the 06.05
aggregate working (loco 59201) from Westbury. The unloaded wagons departed at 15.30,
(see pictures https://goo.gl/XF3CC7 ) for Whatley Quarry. The previous stone train ran on 26 Jul 2012.
ABOVE: Hamworthy Quay branch on the 1956/60 one-inch OS 7th Series with the main Bournemouth
(off right) to Weymouth (off left) line curving across. The single track line top left and the double track
line right of top centre both ran north to meet before Broadstone. After that station there was a split
left to Bath (ex-Somerset & Dorset Railway) and right to Brockenhust via Wimborne and Ringwood.
240] Barking (excl) - Gospel Oak Bay P3 (incl) and 10 intermediate stations: (BLN 1253.554/55)
UPDATE: The Tottenham & Hampstead line was booked to reopen for one day, Thur 2 Feb but only to
run route proving ECS DMUs (no other trains were accepted). It was then to be closed again for up to
8 more weeks for the electrification overhead to be installed. Barking (excl) - South Tottenham (excl)
has been TCA since 4 Jun 2016. South Tottenham - Gospel Oak Bay P3 (both incl) has been TCA since
24 Sep 2016. (All for electrification works.) Tottenham South Jn - South Tottenham East Jn & South
Tottenham West Jn - Seven Sisters Jn remains TCP/TCA as a result after last running on 30 Apr 2016.
241] Ilkeston station: (BLN 1270.3040) (SK 474427) ROP is expected Sun 2 Apr 2017, said to be the
'largest town in Britain without a station' (pop 40,000). Northern (Leeds - Nottingham) with a few EMT,
who manage it, (Liverpool - Norwich) services are to call. It is the fifth Ilkeston station on the site of
the third! (1): Ilkeston (Midland Railway, MR) OP 6 Sep 1847; CP 2 May 1870 (later ROP as 'Town').
(2): Ilkeston (MR Ilkeston South Jn interchange station) OP 6 Sep 1847 (unadvertised until 1 Aug 1858);
CP 2 May 1870. (3): Ilkeston (MR, OP 2 May 1870; Ilkeston Junction from 1 Jul 1879; then Ilkeston
Junction & Cossall from 1 Dec 1890, CP 2 Jan 1967)! (4) Ilkeston (GNR) OP 1 Apr 1878; CP 7 Sep 1964.
242] Cambridge North: OP expected 21 May 2017; a new station (57m 75ch from Liverpool Street via
Clapton) with two through platforms and a bay (P3) each taking 12-cars. P2 (Down Main) is reversible.
243] Wootton Bassett Jn - Thingley Jn - Bathampton Jn/Bradford South Jn, and Chippenham and
Melksham stations: TCP/TCA is expected 8 to 16 Jul 2017 for electrification / SET preparation work.
1274 BLN GENERAL
244] E-BLN 1273: Extra items were an interesting 16 page Heritage Statement about the recently
closed Folkestone Leas Cliff Railway; the 17 Jun 1961 RCTS North Derbyshire Railtour map, itinerary,
timings & report (A4 version) and our detailed (scalable) Scunthorpe Steelworks Railway map with
point Nos, line names etc and the route of our 7 Jan tour. As usual there were DIY print versions of BLN
and BLNI in A5 booklet and A4 sheet formats. Finally a compilation by Martyn Brailsford (with Geoff
Brockett's input) of Bill Lynch's London Underground Microgricing Guides with line diagrams.
245] Points & Slips: ●BLN 1268.2122] The first passenger carrying train to arrive at Cardiff Central P0
was unexpectedly on Thu 29 Dec (from the east) rather than 3 Jan due to a commissioning delay
finding a single damaged pin on a 96-way connector! ●1272.113] The Cardiff Central P8 'official'
(media) opening ceremony was on 3 Jan but it was commissioned on 29 Dec, and a passenger carrying
test train ran, unusually departing north (the 09.46 to Bargoed, cancelled from Penarth due to
overrunning engineering work). Although reversible like all Cardiff Central platforms will be, it is
normally for south departures south of trains from Queen Street to Penarth, Barry Island and on to
Bridgend. ●1273.143] The first passenger train to use Acton Dive-Under Line on 2 Jan was actually the
15.48 Heathrow Connect service from Heathrow Terminal 2/3 with a BLS member aboard (it was also
the first to use Ealing Broadway P4 when it reopened after the Christmas blockade which finished
late). Class 332 Heathrow Express EMUs are indeed prohibited from using the dive-under (item 164)
due to suspension issues. ●146] A mid-January notice in the 'Brentwood Gazette' extended traffic
restrictions around Brentwood and Shenfield stations from Tue 2 May until Sat 13 May. Road signs
have been similarly revised suggesting this may be the new intended reopening date. TfL Rail is
reportedly to introduce the new Class 345 EMUs on Mon 22 May. 160] In the Toton HS2 Hub item the
'D2N2' designation is from Derby/Derbyshire & Nottingham/ Nottinghamshire. Item ●163] The 34
containers that came from China to the UK by rail were further transhipped at Duisburg on to wagons
approved for the Channel Tunnel, so four sets were used. Between Dollands Moor and Ripple Lane
Exchange Sidings it ran via HS1 in two portions; one on the evening of 17 Jan, the second early
morning of 18th. The destination was London Eurohub (Barking). It arrived Wed 18 Jan at 13.00
(awaiting the media?) with 92015 at the front and 66136 at the rear; both had special livery additions.
●168] The Hendon diversion booked for Sun 15 Jan was cancelled due to a problem with the worksite
temporary fencing but it is due to take place on 5 Feb as described. ●X.5] Our Vossloh Voyager
Railtour, with SWT on Sat 14 (not 7) Jan 2017 raised a final total of £14,646.69 for the Railway Benefit
Fund. The chief executive of the RBF (Jason Tetley) joined us and assisted on the day and has now
become a Society member. In response to queries received, all BLS Stewards on our tours and fixtures
pay the full normal fare. ●223] It is thought that the new Statfold Barn Tramway due to operate this
year is 3' 6' gauge, as the Burton & Ashby (actually Light Railway!) tram is expected to run. On open
days (BLN 1273) there is frequent train operation from 09.30 until 15.30 when the service winds down
with a 'cavalcade' at 16.30. The roundhouse museum is open for viewing with model railways and
historic road vehicles; also sales stands and catering. Plenty of car parking is available and Solus travel
circular route 82 (SuBHX) from Tamworth Corporation St passes (£6 return). Tickets for Statfold Barn
must be pre-booked, no pay on the day; the money goes to charity. ●MR12] On the GWSR the second
platform at Cheltenham Race Course is expected to be in use on Special Event/Gala Days in 2017.
246] London Underground Microgricing Index: By popular request; (for paper and e-BLN):
Bakerloo: WTT No41 (BLN 1272.44) Jan 2017. [WTT = Working Timetable.]
Central: WTT No69 (BLN 1263.1612) Aug 2016.
District: WTT No148 (BLN 1258.1081) Jun 2016 and correction (BLN 1259.1203).
Hammersmith & City: WTT No34 (BLN 1257.997) May 2016.
Jubilee: WTT No14 (BLN 1267.2044) Oct 2016.
Metropolitan: WTT No338 (BLN 1249.156) Jan 2016 (current WTT is No339, May 2016).
Northern: WTT No56 (BLN 1270.3055) Dec 2016.
Piccadilly: WTT No57 (BLN 1272.43) Jan 2017.
Victoria: WTT No39 (BLN 1257.996) May 2016 (current WTT is No40, Aug 2016).
Waterloo & City: WTT No5 (BLN 1108.196) Mar 2010 (current WTT is No6, Sep 2013).
X.14] BLN 1273.X13: The editor's apologies for mixing 'Cwmdu' with 'Coegnant'. On the 28 Apr 1973
Dean Forest Preservation Society tour to Maesteg, loco 9642 ran steam-hauled brakevan trips to
Cwmdu platform. This was southeast on the former Port Talbot Railway (part of the NCB lines towards
St John's Colliery) and not on the Coegnant (always a colliery line) north of Maesteg as implied.
247] New Year Puzzle: (BLN 1273.148) Thanks to various members, another correct answer is that the
hourly Romsey to Salisbury trains run via Southampton then through Romsey station a second time.
A Romsey member reports that this confuses some passengers there. Trains first stop Chandlers Ford
are shown as going to Redbridge (the last station before returning to Romsey) while those first stop
Redbridge are shown to Chandlers Ford (the last stop before terminating at Romsey)! So anyone not
realising the nature of the service wanting Chandlers Ford could end up doing almost the entire loop.
248] Kirkby Thore Trailing X/O: In use still (Armathwaite to Appleby trains) until the S&C reopens.
1274 EAST MIDLANDS (INCLUDES SOUTH HUMBERSIDE)
249] The Ashover Light Railway: (BLN 1273.136 details our 19 Apr guided walk.) George Stephenson
(buried in nearby Chesterfield) established the Clay Cross Company in 1837 to exploit the seams of
coal, iron ore and limestone in the area. Stephenson had noticed these minerals when cutting Clay
Cross tunnel during the construction of the North Midland Main Line between Derby and Leeds
(OP 1840). As well as supplying these raw materials, the company was also involved in turning them
into coke and iron. Naturally, the company's products were distributed by rail from Clay Cross.
In 1918 the company purchased the Overton Estate near Ashover to access rich mineral supplies there.
They chose to build a standard gauge railway to transport these minerals to the Midland main line at
Stretton near Clay Cross. However, in 1921 they applied to alter the gauge to 2ft to reduce costs.
Colonel Holman Fred Stephens (1868-1931) was commissioned to survey the line and the construction
was put out to tender. However, in the end the company built the line itself, using its own workforce.
It is not known if this was because the tenders were too high! The 2ft gauge line partially OG 1924 and
OP 7 Apr1925. It ran 7m 14ch between Ashover Butts Quarry and Clay Cross. (Plan ABOVE: Thanks to
the Narrow Gauge Museum.) The main traffic was limestone and fluorspar from the local quarries,
both of which were used in iron making at Clay Cross; 66,000 tons were carried in 1927.
Costs were also reduced by buying very cheap war surplus stock, including five 4-6-0 tank engines built
by Baldwin of Philadelphia for use on the Western Front and 70 standard WD 'D' bogie wagons.
Due to the hilly nature of the country, the line followed the River Amber through its valley for much of
the route. The only major piece of engineering was a steel girder bridge spanning 45ft over the main
Derby to Chesterfield road at Clay Cross. It had a half-mile long approach embankment to gain the
required 16ft height above road level. Soon after opening, the bridge had a large advertising logo
painted onto it for Pirelli Tyres and soon became known as the 'Pirelli Bridge'.
Passenger use was very much secondary to freight from the outset. The company's application for a
Light Railway Order did not include passenger operations but Parliament made the provision of a
passenger service a condition of the Order! Stations and halts were built at Clay Cross & Egstow
(the eastern terminus), Chesterfield Road, Holmgate, Springfield, Clay Lane, Stretton, Hurst Lane,
Woolley, Dalebank, Milltown, Fallgate, Salter Lane (for Ashover Village) and Ashover Butts.All were
very simple affairs, each with a low platform made (aptly) of ash and a small wooden shelter with a
corrugated iron roof. The line continued a short distance beyond Ashover Butts station to the Quarry.
BELOW: The Ashover Light Railway on the 1947 OS 'New Popular Provisional' One-inch 6th Series.
The orange spots added in 2017 are the extremities. It is shown as a single track railway; on this map
series narrow gauge lines were not differentiated from standard gauge. The double track 'L.M. & S.R'.
line is between Chesterfield (off top right) and Ambergate/Derby (off bottom to the right).
Despite the fact that passengers were not a priority for the company, numbers were high during the
early years. Rambling was becoming a popular pastime for city dwellers and the beautiful Amber
Valley drew large numbers from cities such as Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham, connecting from the
main line at Stretton. 5,000 passengers were carried in the first week of service and, in its first ten
years, the line carried well in excess of 500,000 people. For a while the railway tried to maximise this
source of traffic and produced picture postcards featuring the attractive scenery around the line.
An octagonal café at Ashover Butts was built called 'Where The Rainbow Ends', which became famous
amongst ramblers. The building, prefabricated at the company's works, was moved when the line
closed to a recreational ground in Clay Cross. It is now dismantled (in store) hopefully for future use.
The first four coaches were built using the running gear from 'D' bogie wagons built by the Gloucester
Carriage and Wagon Company (BLN 1273.173). Two remain in preservation; one at the Lincolnshire
Coast Light Railway, Skegness and the other at the Golden Valley Light Railway, Butterley. More were
soon needed and eight surplus coaches were acquired from the 'Neverstop Railway' which operated
at the Wembley Empire Exhibition in 1924 (but clearly did eventually stop!). That was unstaffed, driven
by revolving screws set onto the track and transported 17M exhibition visitors around the site.
Despite initial success, passenger numbers declined markedly in the 1930s, partly due to bus
competition. Winter timetabled services ceased in 1934 and the rest in 1936. The final passenger train
(24 Aug 1947), a Birmingham Locomotive Club excursion with nearly 90 enthusiasts (train hire £9 total,
£323 now) was hauled by Baldwin loco 'Joan' using specially cleaned wagons with temporary seating.
The line remained independent for its whole life, opening after grouping and then rejected for
nationalisation by the British Transport Commission in 1948, due to the non-standard gauge.
Ashover Butts Quarry, by then the railway's main source of traffic, closed in 1950 and goods traffic
ceased over most of the line on 31 Mar 1950. The final train (23 Oct 1950) with a 48hp diesel 'Planet'
loco, conveyed an estate agent to view the railway property to assess what could be sold. A firm of
scrap dealers began lifting the track later the same day. Only a short section at Fallgate survived, to
serve the fluorspar quarry there. This continued until 1969 when road transport was used instead.
The Pirelli Bridge was removed in Sep 1951 but the brick built abutment on the western side survives.
Part of the Ashover Light Railway route was flooded in 1958 with construction of the Ogston Reservoir.
Https://goo.gl/QuKq6N The Ashover Light Railway Society, founded 1996 http://alrs.org.uk/ (an
excellent website), records the railway's existing features, collects pictures and creates an artefact
database. They hope to re-open a section as a tourist railway. [Bibliography: ALRS website, Kingscott, G
'The Lost Railways of Derbyshire' (2007) and Gratton & Band, 'The Ashover Light Railway' (1989).]
RIGHT & BELOW: The two extremities of
the line, (it is shown by the purple arrow
on the right one), a 1953 1:25,000 map.
250] Chesterfield: The Government's preferred HS2 revised route includes: In North Derbyshire it is
now closer to New Bolsover, then follows the M1 corridor. A new spur from HS2 at Hilcote (a grade
separated junction) to NR at Stonebroom (south of Clay Cross) for HS2 and conventional trains to serve
Chesterfield and Sheffield. An elevated line through Long Eaton. A longer route to HS2's Staveley
Maintenance Depot (where up to 800 new depot jobs are anticipated). Www.hs2.org.uk has more.
251] Measham: (BLN 1273.159) Leicestershire County Council has been assessing the recent HS2 route
alterations through the county. It no longer passes through a tunnel under East Midlands Airport and
runs east rather than west of Measham. There are 836 Leicestershire properties within 300m; 110
fewer than before. It now avoids planned housing development southeast of Measham and no longer
requires a significant diversion of the A42. The East Midlands Gateway strategic freight interchange is
not now affected and the East Midlands Hilton will no longer have to be demolished. The revised route
could affect plans to restore the Ashby Canal, making the route into Measham unattractive to boaters.
252] Leicester station calls? The pair of Grade
II listed red phone boxes LEFT (OOU as phone
boxes since 2014) outside the station could be
converted into the city's smallest offices.
Planning applications have been submitted to
turn them into 'office hubs' with work
stations, printers, scanners, plug sockets and
253] Nottingham Express Transit: Reduced
rate tram tickets are now available to
passengers arriving at Nottingham by train
(except for NET day tickets): £1.50 single,
£2.50 return, £12 weekly and £480 annual.
254] Kettering - Corby: (BLN 1262.1509) More electrification work now in progress includes nocturnal
piling for a new signal gantry, and devegetation ready for for mast piling (which starts in late March).
255] Waste Not, Want Not: Since Jan EMT has been donating unused food items from its London to
Sheffield trains to that city's Real Junk Food Project. This is a charity which aims to reduce unnecessary
waste by cooking good quality, unused food (that would otherwise go to landfill) to feed local people.
256] Scunthorpe: The trailing west end station crossover is booked for passenger use by the first
Northern service to Adwick SuX. This arrives P1 from Doncaster 07.17 (SSuX); 07.26 (SO) and from
there returns to Adwick (via Doncaster reverse, not the direct route!) at 07.22 (SSuX); 07.30 (SO).
RTT confirms this as do railway staff. SSux the reversal takes place in Doncaster bay P7; on Saturdays
P3 is used. This provides the ladder of crossovers from P3 to the Down Leeds line after the reversal.
257] Grimsby: One of our railway hotel collectors advises that the ex-Manchester Sheffield and
Lincolnshire (later Great Central) Railway owned Yarborough Hotel (which certainly looks the part)
outside Grimsby Town station reopened as a proper hotel in Nov 2016. For many years it was just a
bar/restaurant with empty upper floors. He stayed a Sun night in Jan for only £39 and recommends it!
1274 GREATER LONDON
258] Crossrail: (BLN 1273.164) Planning permission has been granted for the major station upgrade at
Ilford (BLN 1268.2155). Work continued on West Ealing sidings in January, and by Fri 27 Jan they were
officially open and live, (although late staff notices had deferred this until 4 Feb), with a pair of 387s
waiting to depart first thing. Light maintenance was to continue at North Pole depot until the end of
January, but the units will be towed to Reading depot for heavier work. Stations from Acton Main Line
to Taplow (both incl except Slough) transfer to Crossrail management on 10 Dec 2017, although they
will only be served by GWR trains until at least 20 May 2018.
ABOVE: The EMU stabling sidings (Up side between West Ealing Jn and Hanwell Jn); Sun 29 Jan from a
passing train. The Hayes local EMU service does not operate on Sundays. They can each take two 4-car
EMUs. Behind is Plasser UK in the triangle between the junctions and Drayton Green Jn (Stuart Hicks).
259] Waterloo: (BLN 1272.50) The sidings taken OOU in December were to be abolished from 30 Jan,
although the disconnected access points will remain in the running lines.
260] East London Line (ELL): In the early hours of 14 Jan a test train, top and tailed by Class 73/9s and
originating from Tonbridge West Yard, ran over the line from New Cross Gate to Highbury & Islington
and return, it also covering the New Cross branch. This is thought to be the first locomotive-hauled
train over the ELL since it reopened as part of the London Overground network in 2010.
261] Farringdon: (BLN 1270.3057) In possessions on 11/12 Feb and 11/12 Mar, a new double junction
will be installed (OOU) east of the station across the site of the former sidings. This will eventually
provide access to the future City Sidings to be laid on the trackbed of the City Widened Lines.
262] Hackney Wick: To serve local property development, the station is being improved in a project
funded mainly by the London Legacy Development Corporation, with financial contributions from
Tower Hamlets and Hackney councils. A new entrance and ticket hall at ground floor will feature
coloured concrete walls and illuminated glass. Access to the platforms will be via new stairs and lifts
and a new public subway will replace the existing footbridge. Completion is scheduled for Jan 2018.
263] Earl's Court: (BLN 1272.45) From 16 Jan there is a scheduled service over the new crossover
MSuX with train 110, the 00.11½ Wimbledon-High Street Kensington, booked P1 call at 00.29½.
Consultant Rustologists need not apply; the crossover is shiny from its limited use as it is under cover.
264] Docklands Light Railway: (BLN 1261.1404) Plans to double the remaining single track sections
between Bow Church and Stratford have been abandoned. [A chill wind from the fares freeze - Ed?]
265] Camden Town: (BLN 1254.660) TfL is consulting https://goo.gl/YfbNvR on plans for a mixture of
commercial and residential space above and around the proposed second entrance in Buck Street.
266] Heathrow: A member using the airport recently decided to do some travelling between the
stations, which is free on Heathrow Express (HEX) and Heathrow Connect (HC), and found a different
service pattern each day. On 16 Jan HEX was using P4 at T5 station and HC was running to P1 at T4.
On 21st HEX services were the same but HC was running to P3 at T5 station. The T4 shuttle service ran
between P1 at T2,3 station and P2 at T4! Both days trains to/from Paddington used the correct side of
the island platform at T2,3. To clarify (BLN 1273.164), although railcard discounts are not available
from the T5 passenger-operated machines, they can be bought from the arrivals area staffed ticket
office or in advance online. Two of the passenger-operated machines at T2,3 do give discounts.
267] Lewisham: (BLN 1272.52) A further problem occurred at 05.35 on 24 Jan when the third from last
wagon of the GBRf-operated 03.56 Grain to Neasden sand train derailed and tipped over on the
Courthill loop, with the rear of the train fouling the Down Slow Line. The second from last wagon also
derailed, but the last one remained on the track. All Hayes branch and main line services through the
area were suspended initially, but the fast lines reopened at 13.30. This enabled services to resume,
although Hayes branch trains were unable to serve Lewisham. Additionally, trains between Cannon
Street and Orpington/Sevenoaks were withdrawn, services to Tunbridge Wells were altered or
diverted to Victoria and Sidcup Line services were reduced to a shuttle between Dartford and Sidcup.
Freight services from Kent and Hither Green yard were still able to reach Lewisham via Bexleyheath.
Rerailing commenced in the early hours of the next morning using a crane sent from Warrington, but
this proved to be a difficult exercise and extensive inaccessible track damage also had to be repaired.
268] Northern Line Extension: (BLN 1269.2239) The two tunnel boring machines [painted in rather dull
colours perhaps?] will begin operating from Battersea in March. Following a vote by local school
children, they are being named 'Helen' and 'Amy' in honour of the first British astronaut, Helen
Sharman, and British aviation pioneer, Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to
Australia. They will undertake two individual tunnel drives at depths of up to 26m to construct the
5.2m diameter east and westbound tunnels. Each machine can tunnel up to 30m per day, with teams
of about 50 people needed to operate them. The work is expected to take around six months.
As they advance, nearly 20,000 pre-cast concrete segments will be installed into rings behind them.
269] Victoria LU: The new north ticket hall, accessed by a new entrance at the junction of Victoria
Street and Bressenden Place, opened on 16 Jan. This enables passengers to avoid crossing busy road
junctions and leads to the north end of the Victoria Line platforms, which should help to even out
usage along the very busy platforms. Further stages of the station upgrade are connecting the north
ticket hall to the District and Circle Line platforms in the summer, making the station step-free in early
2018 and completing the expansion of the south ticket hall later that year.
270] West Hampstead LU: (BLN 1272.42) The Jubilee Line reversing siding will be recommissioned
from 6 Feb. The new points will be operated by electric motors instead of air-operated machines.
271] Woodford: (BLN 1263.1612) A Central Line micro-gricing guide 'extra' is train 24, 21.50 SuO from
White City, booked via the facing Woodford station west end crossover and 21 road to bay P1 22.38.
272] Leyton: Waltham Forest Council consultation on a redevelopment plan for the Lea Bridge and
Leyton areas includes a proposed new station at Ruckholt Road between Lea Bridge and Stratford and
enhancements to Leyton LU station.
1274 NORTH EAST
273] Tyne & Wear Metro: South Gosforth to Heworth is closed on Sun 5 Feb until 18.00. On occasions
the Airport service has been diverted to run to/from St James via the coast instead of South Hylton,
using the Gosforth depot avoiding line. However, the Journey Planner shows that, to travel from the
Airport to Benton (for example), passengers need to change at South Gosforth from P1 to P2.
This implies that trains may reverse ECS in Stoneyhurst Road siding, south of the station. Buses are to
be provided between South Gosforth and Heworth, as normal passengers want to travel to and from
Newcastle; only BLS members would choose to take the long way round via the Coast! A factor may be
the closure of Benton Reversing Sidings from 22 Feb 2013; part of the former West to North curve.
274] Middlesbrough: A
£2.7M station refurbishment
is due to start in the spring.
NR will repair the station's
roof and stonework; part of
the proposed much wider
regeneration of the whole
surrounding area. This is
specialist work on the Grade
II listed building and is
expected to take two years.
The present station is the
fifth named Middlesbrough.
The first and second stations
were on the original 1830
line, the present branch to Middlesbrough Goods. The Redcar line OP 3 Jun 1846 and left that station
on a dead end branch. The Redcar line passed along the south side of the town providing a central
location for a new station. However, passengers had to make do with temporary premises until the
new station OP 26 Jul 1847. As the town grew rapidly, the NER considered enlarging the station
buildings but this would have been inadequate. In Jul 1871 work began on schemes for a new station.
After examining a site further east (probably Wood Street), the decision was made to redevelop the
existing site but a little further east. Work on a temporary station, still with a substantial island
platform, further east at Wood Street started but not until late 1873. It OP 16 Dec 1874, then
demolition of the 1847 station began. The 'temporary' station was to last nearly three years!
The new (ABOVE) - present -
station OP 1 Dec 1877 and the
Wood Street 'Middlesbrough'
became an excursion station.
Your Regional Editor was not
even aware of its existence
until recently and has no
information on when it was
last used (it was almost
certainly never formally closed
and is not mentioned in
Clinker). The new station was
designed by William Peachey
in a gothic style with an
overall roof, quite common in
major NER stations, 76ft wide and 60ft high, with 12ft high gabled ridge ventilator on top. LEFT: The
fine booking hall hammerbeam roof (Peter Dawson). NEXT PAGE BOTTOM: The current entrance.
The site runs downhill from west to east, where there is a low bridge over Albert Rd. In the days when
a town bus service ran to the Transporter Bridge, reduced height (double decker) buses had to be
used. Sussex Street Level Crossing at the western end was for many years opened to road traffic only
on the rare occasions when a load unable to fit under the Albert Rd bridge required access to the area
north of the station. Your once locally resident Regional Editor never saw it in use. The crossing was
closed when a new road and overbridge further west near the Old Town branch provided a permanent
link with no height restrictions. A series of arches supports the station forecourt and a number of
businesses once operated in the arches. However, the arches are now life-expired and need replacing.
Consequently the car park at the front of the station has closed to motorists and pedestrians.
In spring 2016 NR completed the upgrade of Wood Street car park, further east on the south side of
the railway, to provide alternative parking. NR is also working with the Council exploring ideas to
improve the station front. A feasibility study is looking at options, ranging from basic renewal and
maintenance to more ambitious plans for shop units or a public plaza. The Council is commissioning a
master plan study, focusing on transport connectivity and the regeneration of the surrounding area.
Any station development will require listed building consent, once the plans are confirmed.
ABOVE: The roof was severely damaged in a German daylight air raid on Bank Holiday Mon 3 August
1942. One bomb fell just west of the train shed, causing little serious damage, but another destroyed
some of the buildings on the Down platform. Several bays of the train shed then collapsed, bringing
down parts of the iron arcade between the train shed and concourse, so that the western third of the
concourse roof collapsed as well. The wreckage was quickly cleared and a new roof built over the west
end of the concourse. That end of the train shed was demolished and temporary platform canopies
installed, but the skeleton of the east end was retained to brace the concourse roof. The remains were
removed in 1954, replaced by the present concrete roofs over the concourse and platforms.
1274 NORTH WEST
275] Maghull North: (BLN 1268.2163) Planning permission for the new station, as previously
described, was granted on 18 Jan. Work is due to start in Aug with planned opening in May 2018.
276] Halton Curve: Site investigations for the £17.86M Halton Curve project started in January.
277] Blackburn King Street: (BLN 1273.181) By 16 Jan the Blackburn end of the Down Through Siding
had been removed from the crossover (exclusive) connecting it to the Down East Lancs track for about
240yd; this includes the pointwork to the former Coal Concentration Depot. Until 10 Feb there are
three weeks of drainage, track and signalling work taking place. The total cost of the new railway
bridge over Galligreaves Street and new Blackburn DMU depot is over £10M. At Blackburn Bolton Jn
from 5 Feb, a new set of points is due to be installed (OOU) on the Down Through Sidings at 10m 07ch.
278] Metrolink: On Sun 22 Jan trams from Ashton were, as on a previous occasion, arriving into and
departing from, the Ashton bound platform at Piccadilly, thus using the appropriate facing crossover
immediately east of the station. Trams from Bury were terminating at Piccadilly Gardens and running
empty to reverse over the crossover on Aytoun Street by Manchester Crown Court. Between there
and Piccadilly station a number of small track repair works were taking place, hence the blockage.
279] Manchester Piccadilly: A shadow of doubt is looming over expansion plans after NR's Chief
Executive, Mark Carne, admitted the 'cost-benefit ratio' is being reviewed (even if a Transport & Works
Act Order is granted). This was said to be normal practice. It raises fears of delay or cancellation of
building P15 &16. Experts had said that they were 'vital' to cope with the extra Ordsall Chord trains.
280] Bolton: (BLN 1265.1846) The unofficial Orlando St car park closed on 24 Jan for P5 (OOU since the
early 1990s) to be reinstated. There will be a fully enclosed 'Skylink' bridge connected to the new
adjacent bus station (replacing the one in Moor Lane). Northern plans to modernise Bolton station
with automated gatelines, improved lighting, repainting and a more welcoming general environment.
281] Penrith: (BLN 1271.3170) The barrow crossing (51m 26ch) is due to be recovered on Sun 5 Feb.
BELOW: Recent devegetation work on the Deepdale branch at Preston has revealed the track!
(Simon Holmes). See https://goo.gl/Gcktvd for further information and pictures.
ABOVE: OS one inch 7th Series 1958/61. The former branch to Longridge (and Tootle Height Quarry
beyond) is off top right corner, the Blackpool line is top left. The West Coast Main Line runs top left of
centre (to Lancaster) south through Preston station to bottom middle (to Wigan). The green arrow is
Deepdale, latterly a coal concentration depot, it was the original 1840 'Deepdale Street' passenger
terminus of the Longridge branch. The main line junction is indicated with the pink arrow. From 1850
(when the connecting line from Deepdale Jn west through Deepdale Tunnels opened) until 1885 there
was even a direct connection to the Blackpool line (with a flat crossing of the WCML!). The blue arrow
is Preston (West Lancashire Railway station - Southport line) station; Fishergate Hill Goods from 1904.
282] Preston Deepdale: (BLN 1270.3066): Work has finally begun on Preston Trampower's new tram
demonstration line (10/10 for persistence - and for not running out of money after the six years this
has taken!). Even though plans implied that the original Deepdale branch would not be used, NR is
now clearing trees and vegetation from that line, which still has track in situ. If it is successful, further
plans show the tramway extending to BAE at Samlesbury (SD601299). With apologies to members who
need the line: The test tram line will not take paying customers but will be used as a demonstration.
1274 SOUTH EAST - NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
West and east of Greater London; the Thames is the boundary between South East North/South areas.
283] Aylesbury - Princes Risborough: (BLN 1273.222) It has been confirmed that the two serviceable
Heritage Class 121 'bubble cars' single car DMUs that run on this line in the peaks SSuX (times in BLN
1273 and highlighted in Chiltern timetables) are to be replaced in May provided alternative stock can
be found. One recently underwent significant work to keep it running. The reason they are finishing,
despite Chiltern still being short of rolling stock, is that the company that made the axles, bearings and
spare parts no longer does so catch them on the main line while you still can!
BELOW: In Princes Risborough bay P1, there was no truth in the rumour that it was working a through
service to Blaenau Ffestiniog. On 17 Jan the destination blind showed 'Oxford'. The Chinnor & Princess
Risborough Railway now run to the other (west) side of the station behind the blue fence, future P4.
On Tue 17 Jan the 17.00 from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury DMU left with about 40 passengers
(there are seats for 65); the 17.26 return was much emptier and there were only 7 on the 18.06 back
to Aylesbury. There was very little traffic at Monks Risborough or Little Kimble. Of note the conductor
clipped all the tickets in the traditional manner and said that they usually have one or two passengers
travelling especially each day (often from far away like our FS and Editor had this time). In contrast, the
18.24 Princes Risborough to Oxford (next stop Bicester Village) was an 8-car DMU, full and standing
from Marylebone; a large number alighted at Princes Risborough and at Oxford Parkway. Too long for
Oxford bay P1/2, it runs into P3, recesses ECS in the Up & Down Passenger Loop, then forms the 19.26
to Marylebone. The Bank Holiday Mon 1 May shuttles from Aylesbury to Quainton Road (assuming
they run) may be the final heritage DMU ones (see PSUL). The two serviceable units are not allowed to
work in multiple (despite being DMUs!) as there is no corridor connection and the buzzer does not
work through. The Chiltern only £16.60 (railcard £10.95) off peak day return Oxford - Aylesbury (valid
via Marylebone even) is all within the Network (SE) railcard area (£13 minimum fare applies SSuBHX).
284] Loughton: (BLN 1272.70) All three platforms can be used in one visit and two rare crossovers can
be done in eight days! As many will know, on Fridays that are not public holidays nor in public holiday
weeks, trains 115 and 325 perform unusual moves at Loughton. Train 115 (from Northolt) runs into
westbound P4 at 14.27½ to return (in an unusual move) towards central London via a rare trailing
crossover, leaving at 14.35½. While it is sitting there, the following train 325 to Epping, from West
Ruislip, runs into the centre track, normally used for reversing trains from central London every
20 mins (P2 & 3; it is double sided) then unusually continues eastbound towards Debden and Epping,
across another rare facing crossover. As can be guessed, only one crossover can be traversed on any
particular visit, so one Friday our reporter carried out the first move then returned south. A week later
he alighted from train 115 crossed over the western island platform to its other face (P3) for train 325
north, then returned from Debden (at 15.40½) via P1 (so all three platforms were covered too!).
ABOVE: Train 115 reversing in Loughton P4 prior to returning south (Stuart Hicks Fri 13 Jan 2017).
BELOW: View north from Loughton centre road at 14.32 (& 22seconds!) Fri 20 Jan 2017 (Stuart Hicks).
285] Greater Anglia: Abellio has reached an agreement to sell a 40% stake in the Greater Anglia
franchise to Mitsui. Abellio has held the franchise since 2012. Following a competitive tender, the
company won a new contract to operate the network last August. Abellio pledged to invest £1.4bn
over the nine-year term of the new franchise, completely renewing the rolling stock fleet with new
trains from Bombardier and Stadler. We are delighted to have reached agreement with Mitsui, fulfilling
our long-standing objective of running the franchise as a 60:40 joint venture, said Abellio UK managing
director Dominic Booth. With the introduction of Mitsui's knowledge and experience, we look forward
to delivering significant improvements for Greater Anglia's customers, including through the
introduction of a brand new fleet. The sale of a stake in Greater Anglia marks Mitsui's entry into
Britain's rail franchise market, although the company is a minority partner in a consortium with Abellio
and JR East bidding for the West Midlands franchise. (International Railway Journal)
286] Anglia improvements: (BLN 1264.1747) The October Greater Anglia customer report offers new
trains, and more frequent off peak services to Hertford East and Southend from May 2020, along with
33,000 extra seats into London during weekday peaks, an average 10% faster journeys across the
network and Norwich in 90 minutes (Ipswich in 56, Cambridge in 62, Southend in 46). Also promised:
A £60M station investment programme, with Cambridge North, new retail and catering outlets, and
major redevelopments at five stations, along with over a thousand more seats at stations,
16 refurbished or new waiting rooms and waiting shelters at 13 more stations (stations not identified).
New flex carnet fares. A Club 50 railcard with off-peak discounts (for those over 50). Stansted
Express fares reduced from Jan 2017 (done!). Five more 'Bike&Go' stations and 41 'Cab&Go' stations.
PlusBus tickets from all ticket machines. Better pedestrian routes to 20 stations. £3.5M funding for
community rail development. Sustainable railway; 10% less water use, 23% less energy and 90%
recycling at stations. Meet and tweet the manager sessions every month (a little bird tells us).
287] Great Chesterford - Newmarket: In March 2016 our correspondent visited Great Chesterford.
The very impressive yellow brick main building on the Up side is now business premises. The ticket
office (closed by early afternoon) is a modest little red brick building with a hipped roof, adjacent to
the original station building. Presumably this station owes its main building to its early status as a main
line junction, although very briefly, given that it was at the south end of the short lived Newmarket
Railway main line from Six Mile Bottom (CA 1851), due to railway politics. The local population is
recorded as having petitioned the GER to reopen the direct line from here to Newmarket, six times up
to 1892 without success. The reprint of the 1 Mar 1850 Bradshaw names the station 'Chesterford'.
ABOVE: Top left to right, remains of the Newmarket & Chesterford Railway (TL5353) ©JohnSutton licensedforreuseunderthisCreativeCommonsLicence
A new station, Pampisford, was opened adjacent to the site of Bourne Bridge station, closed 14 years
before. In Jun 1989 our correspondent was on a bus on the A11 road which provided good views
adjacent to several miles of the abandoned Newmarket Railway main line northwards from Great
Chesterford, indicated by long stretches of standing trees on the trackbed. He has no clear recollection
as to whether station buildings then still stood at Bourne Bridge. Subsequent dualling of the A11 led to
the demolition of all Pampisford's station buildings. The A11 begins to veer away from the trackbed
from around 1½ miles south west of the site of Balsham Road station.
288] Ely: From 22 May, as well as the current hourly services through Ely to King's Lynn, there will be
additional hourly SuX services from King's Cross terminating in Ely P3 via Ely Dock Jn facing crossover.
Currently there are five SSuX services which are scheduled to use the crossover. All the extra services
are booked to call at the new Cambridge North station; but, of the services continuing through to
King's Lynn, only the first and last trains of the day (06.44 and 22.14 from King's Cross) will call there.
289] Maidenhead: (BLN 1270.3073) The new reversing siding between the Down and Up Relief lines
proved a task too much for the Christmas shut down (item (6) in the report). The new points were
installed but the siding is just a bed of ballast. This is noteworthy as an unconnected siding had been
installed several years ago, using new material including concrete sleepers. This may have been lifted
and put to use elsewhere but the Christmas work certainly was not its connection and commissioning.
1274 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH
West and east of Greater London the Thames is the boundary between South East North/South areas.
290] Rochester: (BLN 1258.1123) The platform surfaces at the old station (CP 13 Dec 2015) have been
made good, at least on the Down side. A barrier has been put up separating that on the Down Platform
Loop (P4) from that on the through track at former P3. The purpose is unclear though the loops may
see some use for temporary stabling of trains. At your Regional Editor's 11 May 2016 visit (BLN 1258);
the platform edges work then did not appear to be for staff access to trains via the passenger doors.
1274 SOUTH WEST
.IMPORTANT: Please send ALL contributions to the BLN Editor (see front page 'Situations Vacant')..
291] Gillingham (Dorset): In early Jan, the barrow crossing remained at the Country end, by the
defunct Southern signal box. However, access is prohibited by waist high galvanized metal barriers/
railing on the ramps, running at the platform side of the edging coping stones. There are small metal
gates, at rail level, permitting access but bolted and secured with a padlock. Originally an access route
from the south side to the main north P1 and car park, pedestrians are now directed to the footbridge
midway down the platform. Gillingham loop is fully reversible (as used by our 7 Nov 2015 RBF Tracker),
so the south side Down P2 'loop' is generally only used when trains cross here. The north Up 'main' P1
has the station buildings and facilities so is the preferred one (both directions) otherwise.
292] Ludgershall: Unusually freight traffic returned recently to this branch, a surviving once double
track section of the Midland & South Western Junction Railway that became part of the GWR in the
1923 grouping. (The heritage Swindon & Cricklade Railway is the other surviving section.) It is 7¼ miles
to the Ludgershall NR/MoD boundary from the current branch junction just west of Andover station,
via the independent reversible 'Branch Line' north of the double track Up and Down Exeter lines.
The actual branch is 5m 64ch (to the NR boundary) from the site of the former Red Post Jn (67m 16ch
from London Waterloo); Weyhill station (1m 57ch) CP 11 Sep 1961 with the other stations on the line.
On 10 Jan 2017 an 07.51 train from Eastleigh East Yard via Southampton, Romsey and the Laverstock
Loop conveyed a single flat wagon to Ludgershall; the loco returned light engine at 11.19 via the same
route. On Thur 12 Jan another engine ran from Tonbridge West Yard at 05.12, (via Orpington, Catford,
Clapham Junction, Hounslow, Chertsey, Woking and Basingstoke) arriving at Ludgershall 10.17.
It departed with one tank (of the military type) at 23.02 the following evening for Dollands Moor and
the Channel Tunnel via Reading, Kensington Olympia, Catford and Maidstone East!
293] Portishead: (BLN 1265.1867) Reopening to passengers, part of MetroWest Phase One, was
scheduled by 2020, at £58M, funded by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. However,
the Partnership now reports that it will cost significantly more due the need to close and replace
Ashton Vale Road and Barons Close level crossings and 'a number of construction issues through the
Avon Gorge'. These are required to improve the signalling and track alignments to allow a half-hourly
50mph passenger service between Temple Meads and Portishead scheduled for 17 mins, compared to
around an hour at commuting times by road. Discussions are underway with NR and the DfT to identify
additional funding. An updated scheme cost is expected in March. It includes a new Portishead station
at Quays Avenue, new footbridges along the route and the reopening of Pill station with double-
tracking. The line CP Sep 1964; was OUU from Dec 1983 but ROG Dec 2001 for Portbury Dock access.
294] Keynsham: The lengthy zig-zag ramp to access the Down platform is now in use, as well as the
previous steps. To the west of the road overbridge, there appears at first sight to be a ramp being
constructed on the Up side but this is troughing being installed, presumed for railway communications.
There is already flat access to the Up platform from the station forecourt/car park.
295] Bristol Parkway: NR held a public meeting in December at Stoke Gifford, near the station
detailing works on embankment stabilisation etc. over Christmas/New Year. Plans were displayed for
the expansion of Bristol Parkway from three to four platforms. The missing P1 will be built to the side
of P2 essentially alongside the existing Down Goods/Reception line. It will be a mirror image of P4 in
that it will start from the footbridge towards the east and extend further than P2 in that direction.
Existing platforms will be increased in length by some 20/30m to accommodate the new Hitachi Class
80x SETs. The track plans shown indicate two separate routes west from P1, towards Filton and
Patchway, but microgricers should have no trouble identifying which a departing service will use!
296] Swindon Stories: On 23 Jan, DB Cargo loco 66027 was observed around 10.45 propelling a rake of
'curtain sided' -cover steel wagons from the goods loop opposite Swindon P1 onto the Swindon Stores
Siding. The wagons were propelled into the large, anonymous covered building with no view for the
driver of the rear, suggesting radio contact with on ground staff. The loco stopped inside the boundary
gates, a little short of the building entrance, and returned moments later with the first five wagons still
attached. These were left on the loop off P1 whilst the loco proceeded to Cocklebury Sidings.
This service was the 06.46 Llanwern Exchange Sidings to Swindon Stores, having recessed in Pilning
UGL from 07.13 to 09.06. It operated the previous Mon 16 Jan, returning as the 17.43 to Llanwern, and
Fri 20 Jan, leaving early at 14.25 (17.25 scheduled). Your correspondent then enjoyed a sojourn to
Stroud (in both directions on hired-in SWT 158882, on its usual turn, including 11.36 Swindon to
Cheltenham and 13.20 return, (First Class seating on a standard-class only working and very effective
Wi-Fi). On his return at 14.20, the full consist had left Swindon Stores and was marshalled behind the
Class 66 in Cocklebury Sidings. RTT shows that it left at 14.45 for Alexandra Dock Jn, via Llanwern.
297] Swindon Town: The Midland & South Western Junction Railway (M&SWJR) route through here
was walked on 23 Jan. It can be accessed from National Cycle Network 45 at what appears to be a
newly built overbridge to accommodate Redposts Drive. With Ludgershall Rd nearby, the planners had
the M&SWJR in mind! To the north-west, the cyclepath only follows the trackbed embankment for a
short distance before dropping down to ground level. A short stretch of trackbed is accessible beyond
and well worth walking as the remains of Rushey Platt station are readily visible, but just the end ramp
and a short stretch of the platform on the through line towards Cricklade. The start of the link line to
the GWR is visible as a lower flat area between here and the overbridge. The embankment beyond has
been largely cut away to encompass an industrial warehouse in Swindon's Rushey Platt Industrial Park.
In the other direction, the cyclepath follows the trackbed exactly for well over a mile through to
Swindon Town station site, with the embankment turning to lengthy cuttings in which drainage is a
significant issue. An industrial estate has taken over the station site, although the M&SWJR HQ
building remains and housing developments mask the immediate course of the railway beyond.
298] Swindon Signage: The platform information display at the east end of P3 has been replaced
recently, with a far superior crystal clear white lettering on black background rather than the previous
yellow lettering. Didcot Parkway has them too; they also detail train formations in diagrammatic form.
299] Pasty Time: The West Cornwall Pasty Company (WCPC), a feature of many railway station food
outlets, was recently gobbled up by Samworth Brothers for several million pounds (so was not past its
sell by date then). This is just three years after it was rescued out of administration, despite then PM
David Cameron saying he bought one of their pasties at Leeds Station (during the Pasty VAT War).
Samworth's make Ginsters pasties. WCPC makes all its pasties by hand in West Cornwall and has
33 station outlets and 19 franchised shops in motorway services. Sales last year were £12.5M.
1274 WEST MIDLANDS
300] Telford: Work on a new DfT funded £7M 'unique and iconic' footbridge between the station and
town centre started in Jan. The existing foot and cycle bridge over the A442 and Rampart Way is steep
and does not meet accessibility legislation but continues in use while the new one is built alongside.
301] Galley Common: A new station is proposed in west Nuneaton on the Birmingham line, estimated
to cost £11.4M at 2016 prices, after Warwickshire County Council identified a positive business case.
It would have two platforms with a footbridge, pedestrian/cycle links to Kingswood Road and
Whittleford Road and a car park. The timescale for opening is constrained by capacity issues on the
route and more significantly the lack of rolling stock. If further investment is supported, the GRIP3
would occur by 2020/21 with possible opening in 2023. Stockingford station (CP Mar 1968) was near.
302] Nantmawr branch: (BLN 1272.88) Subtitled: How the apparently rather strange 'circular' route
developed in the area. ABOVE: The main line of the Cambrian Railways (note the plural title) runs top
right (to Oswestry and Whitchurch) to bottom right of centre (to Welshpool, Aberystwyth etc).
The Potteries, Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway (PS&NWR) (later Shropshire & Montgomeryshire
Light Railway) to Shrewsbury Abbey goes off to the bottom right. The Nantmawr branch originally ran
from Llanymynech west, then turned north east via Rhydmeredydd (a public goods station) and the
original Llanyblodwell passenger station. After a period of passenger closure (see below), the latter
became (as shown) Blodwell Junction. This station OP 6 Jan 1904 with the Tanat Valley Light Railway
from Llynclys Jn (top right) to Llangynog (off top left) including a new link between the Porthywaen
branch and the Nantmawr branch, and a new Llanyblodwell station to the west, both as shown above.
The Llangynog branch OG 1 Dec 1903. The post 1896 course of the Llanfyllin branch continued off
bottom left; the first section was part of the original Nantmawr branch. Of note, during the PS&NWR
and Cambrian periods, Llanyblodwell and Blodwell Jn were spelled variably 'l' or ll' at the end with no
obvious logic - 1904 timetable poster '-wel', engineer's plan '-well'. No 'official' version can be adduced
as no source is consistent. Only when the GWR took over did it consistently become '-well'.
The un-named 'Junc' 15ch north of 'Blodwell Junc Sta' is what has been known, variously, as Llanddu
Jn, Nantmawr Branch Jn, Nantmawr Jn (by 1960) and back to Llanddu Jn by 1982. From 1863 to 1896
access to/from the Llanfyllin branch was via an unusual 'reversing siding' north of Llanymynech, west
of the line to Oswestry. This lasted until WWII for wagon storage as the branch shown above from the
east to 'Rock Siding'; a new underbridge was installed in its continuation west (dotted on the map) for
the Nantmawr branch. An abortive third side of the triangle was planned at Blodwell Jn (not shown).
303] Llanddu Jn - Nantmawr Quarry Sidings: (BLN 1272.88) Regarding BLN 1153.106 of 28 Jan 2012:
The first three sentences (about the change in Feb 1992) were dealt with in section (A) of BLN 1272.88.
The second part of the first paragraph in BLN 1153 deals with the closure of Nantmawr as a public
goods depot (and, to complicate matters unnecessarily, that of other stations too). Nantmawr had
been open, as a goods depot, since the line reopened (see below) on 1 Jan 1886.
The second part of the first paragraph in BLN 1153 deals with the closure of Nantmawr as a public
goods depot (and, to complicate matters unnecessarily, that of other stations too). Nantmawr had
been open, as a goods depot, since the line reopened (see below) on 1 Jan 1886. The BR commercial
instructions circular (ABOVE) stated that from 6 Jan 1964 the only traffic to be handled at Nantmawr
would be private siding traffic; all other traffic would be dealt with at Oswestry.
Thus the entry in BLN Station Closure List No13 (a Feb 1973 BLN supplement) was incorrect in
recording the closure of Nantmawr to goods traffic except for private siding traffic from 9 Oct 1972; for
the BR circular at that time simply stated that the Nantmawr 'sidings' entry was to be deleted from the
'Forwarding & Invoicing Instructions book' (BR20456). There was no effective date quoted so it must
be inferred that the change was already operative at the date of the circular. This was, of course, the
case, because the last revenue traffic from Nantmawr had already passed, on 21 Oct 1971.
The reference BLN 717.21 (6 Nov 1993): 'The last traffic from Nantmawr Quarry sidings passed in 1988'
was misleading, and clearly meant to refer to the last traffic from the new (1984) Blodwel Quarry
chute as explained in BLN 1272 (and not even 'Llanddu' as that correspondent incorrectly suggests).
Regarding passenger traffic in the second paragraph in BLN 1153: The Potteries, Shrewsbury & North
Wales Railway (PS&NWR) OP 13 Aug 1866 from Shrewsbury Abbey only as far as Llanymynech
('Oswestry Advertizer' - 15 Aug 1866). Nantmawr goods traffic started that day (and may have been
operating informally since 1864/5). The passenger traffic was certainly suspended from 21 Dec 1866
but goods traffic, probably worked by the contractor, continued into 1867. It was suspended after a
goods train guard was killed on 19 Dec 1867.
Despite what the BLN 1153 correspondent's 'respected sources' may have said (or disagreed about!),
regular passenger service between Shrewsbury and Llanymynech resumed from 14 Nov 1868
('Shrewsbury Chronicle' 20 Nov 1868), when the Nantmawr goods service also resumed. Passenger
services west of Llanymynech did not start until 18 Apr 1870, to Llanyblodwell ('Oswestry Advertizer'
20 Apr 1870) - much later renamed Blodwell Junction - Board of Trade approval was not received until
23 April that year! Llanyblodwell passenger services were halved in frequency two weeks later - not a
good omen for the future!
Third paragraph: The whole railway CA 22 Jun 1880 ('Shrewsbury Free Press' 26 Jun 1880). Contrary to
popular misconception (shared by the BLN 1153 correspondent), the Board of Trade did not direct the
closing of the line but merely asked the company what it intended to do about the alleged dangerous
condition of its railway. The company's response was that the directors gave immediate instructions
for closing the line (doubtless because they could not afford to repair it!). No further regular passenger
traffic ever passed between Llanymynech and Llanyblodwel (and none ever passed to Nantmawr).
Despite the quarry owner's pressure for
reopening of service to Nantmawr, the
Cambrian Railways' engineer reported
unfavourably in July 1880 on the line's
condition. It was not until 26 Jan 1881 that
an agreement came into force where the
Cambrian undertook to reopen and work
(for two years) the Llanymynech to Llanyblodwel section (Cambrian Traffic Manager's Report of
19 Feb 1883 - National Archives files RAIL 92/52 and RAIL 1057/363/1). However, the traffic was not
quarry traffic, but short-term pipe traffic for construction of Liverpool Corporation's Vyrnwy Reservoir
water pipeline; hence this reopening did not include Nantmawr itself. Traffic may have started
immediately (or Jun 1881 may be correct for the start of traffic). It first appears in the Cambrian
working timetable for the latter month, with no references in the monthly supplements for the
previous months of that year. Various secondary sources offer (without provenance) a whole gamut of
dates which can only be discounted. (ABOVE: Julian James.)
Although the Vyrnwy pipe traffic had fallen away dramatically by early 1882, it was not until Sep 1884
that the line closed - because of a bridge failure (General Manager's Report dated 29 Sep 1884 – RAIL
92/531). At last, on 24 July 1885, an agreement was reached between the Cambrian, the Nantmawr
quarry owner (John Parson Smith and later, nearer the turn of the century, the Lilleshall Company
became lessees of the quarry) and the PS&NWR's liquidator for resuscitation of the Llanymynech to
Nantmawr section for goods traffic; traffic started on Fri 1 Jan 1886. Llanyblodwell was not served
until a goods traffic request stop was added from 31 Oct 1887. The agreement ran to the end of 1892,
and thereafter simply drifted on as an informal arrangement, until superseded by a new 99-year
agreement of 1 May 1900 between the Cambrian and the Shropshire Railways' Receiver (RAIL 1057/
1922 and RAIL 1057/594; the correspondent's two secondary sources are both incorrect about this).
This was backed by a 15 Nov 1899 traffic agreement between the Cambrian and Lilleshall Co (that was
very significant in preventing Col. Stephens' later attempts to divert the traffic to his light railway).
LEFT: Monday 27 Sep 1976, an
official brakevan trip returning from
Blodwel Quarry to Shrewsbury
Coton Hill Yard. The Class 24 is
taking the loaded wagons over the
weighbridge at Porthywaen sidings
leaving the brakevan on the
running line. (Paul Stewart).
[BLN 1274.303-cont.] These observations
also correct some errors in the historical
section of the BLN 1106.MR28 report.
Concerning BLN 1153.106 fifth paragraph:
The date of change of the traffic loading
arrangements from Blodwel Quarry was
dealt with in BLN 1272 (B). The final
sentence (asserting that …..an actual line
closure before the 1988 cessation of all
traffic is therefore likely to be a chimera) is
wrong. As shown at (B) in BLN 1272; Amey
Roadstone Construction's Llanddu siding
(OG late in 1891, the quarry then being
owned by the Earl of Bradford) was
secured OOU in 1984 - after when there
was no actual revenue earning traffic
(as opposed to wagon stabling) use for the
remaining stub of the Nantmawr branch.
In the penultimate (6th) paragraph, the
Nantmawr line actually used to cross the
stream (not as in BLN 'station'; this was a
transcription error) at the very end of the
branch for 100yd or so to (SJ 2485 2433)
as confirmed by a BR property record
sheet. This is also shown on most old maps
but not the 7th Series One Inch. LEFT: 1957
OS 1:25,000 scale map, the upper black
arrow shows the stream crossed by the
branch just before its end. On earlier maps
the disconnected line to the quarry (see
top middle) is shown as a 'tramway'.
Blodwell Junction (Llanyblodwel pre-Jan
1904) is bottom left of centre (lower arrow
at the road bridge). Above and to the right
of it is Llanddu Jn. Note that a short stub
of the original Nantmawr line to
Llanymynech is shown as far as the River
Tanat bridge (bottom left corner).
304] Wolverhampton - Shrewsbury: Ticket machines have now been installed at Albrighton, Cosford,
Shifnal and Oakengates stations. Other stations on this line already have them.
305] Midland Metro: Work began in mid-Jan to progress the proposed extension from Wednesbury to
Brierley Hill with vegetation clearance on the disused former South Staffordshire Railway ready for
comprehensive structural and environmental surveys. Construction of the 8.8 mile route with 17 stops
(4 provisional) should start in during 2019 with OP in 2023. It starts from the existing Midland Metro
east of the Wednesbury depot and leaves the former railway firstly to run via Dudley town centre and
later again for Merry Hill (shopping centre), to end at Brierley Hill. The compulsory purchase powers
have lapsed and discussions with property owners are taking place to see if agreements can be made!
NEXT PAGE: The Midland Metro (Wednesbury) is top right; bottom left is Merry Hill and Brierley Hill
terminus. Bottom right corner is Rowley Regis station. Note the interchange at Dudley Port station.
1274 YORKSHIRE (INCLUDES NORTH HUMBERSIDE)
X.15] ABOVE: An internal train on the Stocksbridge Steelworks Railway (Alan Sheppard Jan 2017).
306] Doncaster: (BLN 1273.197) From Sun 29 Jan the Up Slow (recent new name; was Up East Slow
here before 27 Dec) from Sand Bank Jn (155m 32ch - the northern junction for the SET Depot; Up side
south of Balby Bridge tunnel) to Black Carr Jn was to become bi-directional. Non-electrified Doncaster
South Carriage Siding No1 (next to the Up Slow) and No2 (connected to the Up-Platform Loop south of
the station) will also be commissioned. This is as Oct 2016 TRACKmaps p17c (but with old line names).
307] Ripon: After 30 years of campaigning to bring back the city's railway, the Council has agreed to
underwrite an £18k feasibility study. North Yorkshire County Council has included plans to create a
'new' line from Leeds to Harrogate, Ripon and Northallerton, (i.e. reopen the former Leeds Northern
Railway), as part of the strategy to upgrade the East Coast Main Line. The scheme has been listed in
the Local Transport Plan approved by the Council's Executive. It is part of a £210M scheme to create
new North Leeds railway infrastructure, although would not be delivered until after 2030. There are of
course the usual issues of the railway being built over in places. In particular, the A61 bypass now
occupies the course of the line through Ripon. The former station was well outside the city to the
north east so a station further south, nearer the centre, would highly desirable.
.We are looking for a new Regional Editor for this section - please see item on the front page..
308] Dublin Connolly: Restoration work by specialist conservation contractor ACOL Ltd has begun on
the red-brick building part of Connolly station. It was built about 1879 to the designs of the architect
John Lanyon and is a protected structure under the Planning and Development Act 2000. Lack of
planned preventative maintenance over the past 25 years had seen deterioration in external wall and
roof condition, causing recent water ingress issues internally in occupied staff areas. The IÉ Building
and Facilities Deptartment is managing this project and have consulted with Dublin City Council who
have a responsibility to prevent any endangerment to a protected structure. The works involve a
specialist clean including granite wall capping and window sills, removal and repointing of the entire
Annex Building Elevation brickwork including replacing or repair of individual bricks. Further
conservation repairs to timber windows and chimneys will be done throughout February. It is said that
these works will extend the life of the building's elevation by 100 years. (Iarnród Éireann)
309] Commuter cleaned up on new track: Some of the non-railway media in Ireland have reported an
instance of a sleeping office worker remaining on a tram while it passed through the wash at
Sandyford depot. The incident happened on a Monday morning; the passenger attributing the
occurrence to being groggy following a Sunday night out. The driver did not spot the passenger
slumped on a seat in the back - the question is can you count the track if you are 'groggy' and asleep?
310] Derry/Londonderry: (BLN 1231.787) Multi-million pound plans (but at present unfunded) to
redevelop Waterside station by 2020 have been boosted after the site was recently bought back by
Translink. The Infrastructure Minister has also asked again for an hourly train service to be introduced
to Belfast this year. The station was identified as the preferred site for a £26M transport hub after a
public consultation. It includes plans for park & ride facilities and improved public transport to the city
centre. The project will consist of new station accommodation, an enhanced park and ride scheme
with approximately 100 spaces and additional facilities to promote sustainable and active travel
options in the region. (BLN 1231 estimated the construction cost for the station at £9.3M.) Translink
and Derry City and Strabane District Councils are involved and the project is at the design and planning
stage. Work is due to begin at the old Waterside railway station site in about 18 months. (BBC News)
311] Lisahally: (BLN 1272.99) The Londonderry and Coleraine Railway originally had its works here.
East of the loop a siding existed, possibly laid in 1878, and was shown as worked by the tablet in the
1934 Appendix. It was still shown in the 1956 RCH Handbook but without public facilities. During WWII
a platform was provided and an unadvertised passenger shuttle ran from Londonderry. Lisahally Wharf
had a 2'0"gauge line with rolling stock which was definitely in place in 1943 with lines into the Naval
Base. The Royal Train was stabled at Lisahally on 3 Jul 1953 (BLN 1260.1136 with pictures in e-BLN).
1274 ISLE OF MAN
312] Laxey Station: During recent gales, a large beech tree here fell across the tracks, bringing down
the overhead wires, at the terminal end of the Snaefell Mountain Railway, damaging the attachments
to Pole 1,000. The tree roots had been much weakened by an infestation of Giant Polypore fungus
(Meripilus giganteus). The MER were allegedly going to have all such trees surveyed in autumn 2015.
PREVIOUS PAGE: Laxey Snaefell Mountain Railway
terminus on 15 Jan looking south towards Douglas (all
Jenny Williamson, hopefully with her hard hat on?).
LEFT: Pole 1,000 at the start/end of the Mountain
Railway has seen better days, looking north. ABOVE:
The root cause of the problem pictured in Aug 2015.
313] Manx Electric Railway: Preparations have been
made for Barroose Lane Rd level crossing (Scarffe's
Crossing at Pole 193 - 3m 69ch from Derby Castle) to
be relaid. There is a temporary bridge across the tracks
for people wishing to buy free range eggs (newly layed
too) from Gelling's Farm shed. BELOW: A special treat
for members who collect unusual railway crossings…..
LEFT: For connoisseurs of unusual signs (at the
crossing above) all Jenny Williamson Jan 2017.
314] Horse Tramway: (BLN 1273.199) In a Dec
Tynwald debate about the reconstruction of
Douglas Promenades, the Infrastructure
Minister tried to overturn the Jul 2016
resolution that the Tramway should be retained
as a single track for the whole length of the
Promenade. The new motion was for the twin
tracks between Broadway and Summerhill to be
renewed in the current location. Members voted 'neigh' so that failed, with some attempted
amendments. On 17 Jan, Tynwald was asked for a combined vote on this motion, which, if the vote
went against it, could have resulted in the whole tramway closing. An amendment was proposed,
adding: and a new single tram track is to be laid on the roadway between the Sea Terminal and the
War Memorial. After a short debate, the amendment was approved by the close vote of 17 for, 14
against. The revised motion was then nodded through by an overwhelming majority, with only two
Manx Legislative Council members against. The resolution does not specify exactly where on the
roadway the Horse Tramway is to run south of the War Memorial. It is believed that there will be a
further attempt to gain approval for it to be on the seaward side.
BELOW: William meets William at the Strathallan Sheds during our tour of the tramway. William
Graveson (BLS Committee member, the former BLN Editor and BLS Chairman is the one on the left!).
315] Dyce, Raiths Farm: On Thur 26 Jan DBC ran a NR Engineer's train (from Inverness Freight Sidings
at 09.04); arriving at 12.36 - the loco returned immediately arriving at Inverness 127 minutes early!
It would seem likely that this unusual working is connected with the Aberdeen to Inverurie redoubling.
316] Forth Bridge: At 03.35 on 16 Jan a routine track patrol discovered a broken rail on the Down Fife
line over the Forth Bridge at 9m 71ch and blocked the line while a new piece of rail was fitted as the
break was not suitable for clamping or welding. Both lines are bi-directionally signalled between
Dalmeny Jn (9m 00ch) and (11m 16ch) immediately south of North Queensferry station - not as shown
on TRACKmaps Dec 2007. All services ran on the Up line through P1 at Dalmeny station. Down trains
took the facing crossover at Dalmeny Jn to the Up line and then the trailing crossover at 11m 13ch to
regain the Down line. There were a few cancellations, rescheduling and replacement road transport.
317] Exhibiting Stability: The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) has recently been
renamed the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) and now includes the Clyde Auditorium and the SSE Hydro.
The rebranding reflects emphasis on live entertainment rather than exhibitions. NR has indicated that
Exhibition Centre station will not be renamed as that could cost a six-figure sum. (In 1982 the former
Manchester Central station became 'GMEX Centre' then reverted to Manchester Central in Jan 2007.)
318] Edinburgh: Visitors report hardly any use of the new Edinburgh Gateway station. It is possible to
buy a combined train and tram ticket to Edinburgh Airport via the station. Although a limited range of
combined bus and train tickets can be purchased from a machine at the airport, there does not appear
to be any way of purchasing a tram and train ticket there. No information about the station is evident
at the airport, so it is not surprising that it is little-used. Between Edinburgh city centre and the airport
the tram is no quicker and is more expensive than the express bus* which runs round the clock
(the tram has no service from midnight to 05.00). The airport bus stop is right outside the terminal
building; the tram terminus is not. (*Bus £4.50 single, £7.50 return, tram £5.50 single, £8.50 return;
train Edinburgh to Edinburgh Gateway then tram only £4 single, £7 return railcard discounts available!)
319] Shotts: NR has agreed a £49M contract with Carillion Powerlines Ltd for electrification of the line
(it once had a poor slow local service and was seriously under closure threat) between Holytown Jn
and Midcalder Jn by 2019. This is 74km of electrified track and includes vegetation clearance, erection
of stanchions and overhead wiring. There will be two new station footbridges, three platform
extensions and the complete redevelopment of Livingston South station. Two bridges, over Station
Road in Shotts and the A71 in West Calder, were demolished over a 54-hour period between Friday 6
and Monday 9 January with intensive work planned for weekends throughout the rest of the month to
begin reconstruction. This is part of an intensive 16-week programme of clearance work on the line.
320] Thought for the day live: What do Bristol and Shotts not have in common?
Glasgow Queen Street LL - Bathgate - Edinburgh (4tph).
Glasgow Queen Street HL - Falkirk High - Edinburgh (4tph).
Glasgow Central HL - Carstairs - Edinburgh (1-2tph).
Glasgow Central HL - Shotts - Edinburgh (2 tph). (A total of 11/12 tph in each direction.)
There will soon be four fully electrified Glasgow to Edinburgh routes with through trains.
321] Robroyston: (BLN 1269.2289) On 19 Jan Glasgow City Council approved funding of up to £10M
towards the new £18.9M station west of Stepps on the Cumbernauld to Springburn/Queen Street
electrified line, expected to open in late 2019. There are two park & ride car parks, a drop-off facility
and an access road. It will help accelerate the building of almost 1,600 homes. Planning permission in
principle is already agreed, and the development of over 400 homes on the northern side of the line
has begun. The £10M of advance council funding will be repaid on completion of the houses through a
Section 75 legal agreement. The financial justification for this project is that the housing development,
on completion, will bring an extra £14.2M to the area's economy every year.
ABOVE: Glasgow, Kelvindale station, a DMU to Anniesland approaches from Maryhill (Nick Lander).
322] Perth: (BLN 1273.208) Noting the point about the guard giving 'right-away' here, there is still a
slightly unusual practice that survives. For trains departing P7 (the Inverness-bound platform), the
starting signal P153 is around the corner and - depending on the length of the train - may not be visible
to the conductor (or platform staff if present). At most large stations where this applies there is a
platform 'Off' indicator, but Perth has none (nor any other kind of repeater). Conductors/platform
dispatchers are not allowed to give right-away until they have confirmed that the signal is clear.
At Perth the conductor contacts the driver (who can always see the signal) on the intercom and asks
for verbal confirmation that the signal has cleared, before the conductor then gives 'right away'.
'All Our Yesterdays', 80 years ago, LMS Sectional Appendix (Scotland) 1937 (2):
323] Helmsdale: The Down outer home signal, which is fitted with a ringed arm and orange and green
spectacles, repeats the position of the inner home signal in order that drivers may regulate their trains
on the heavy gradient as required. Trains which will have no difficulty in starting from the inner home
may pass the outer home signal at danger.
324] Passengers travelling by freight train (1937): Passengers may travel in the brake van of freight
trains, when there is no convenient passenger train service, provided: (1): That the passenger making
application travels at their own risk, and signs the special conditions printed on the tickets used for the
purpose. (2): That the passenger pays the ordinary first class fare. (3): That the train is timed to stop
at the stations from and to which the passenger desires to travel. [Yes please! When BR Scottish
Region allowed brake van 'permits' they still charged the first class fare for the distance. Some
interesting hand written paper tickets resulted from ticket offices, on production of the authorising
letter, Markinch to Auchnutty Mills return anyone? Complimentary tea was often included!]
325] Broomhill (1937): A level crossing with a portable or folding floor passes through the north end of
Broomhill platform. Down passenger trains must, as far as practicable, be stopped short, and Up trains
clear of the opening passage, to prevent passengers alighting over the pathway.
326] Taucher's Distillery Private Platform (1937): The distillery people (sic) will provide such lights as
necessary when the platform is used after sunset. [Inverness-Aberdeen line west of Keith; OP 1949-64]
327] Arbroath Harbour Branch (1937): No railway engine, or train, wagon, or carriage moved by horse
haulage shall pass through or across the streets of the burgh, without having a pilotman in front of it
to see that the line and crossings are clear. Every engine or train using the branch at night shall exhibit
a red head light and a red tail light. [What colour tail light would the horse exhibit?]
328] Mostyn: (BLN 1272.117) The level crossing referred to is 'closed', although shown on Swift's 1975
diagram, a correspondent notes that it was certainly OOU by 1990. Does anyone have a closure date?
329] Prestatyn: (BLN 1272.116) A correspondent feels that the former Down Slow, as retained from
1967 to 1992, did not constitute a 'passenger loop', since it was not possible to cross back to the Down
Fast until Rhyl No2 box. Trains calling at Rhyl between about 23.00 and 06.00 were then booked to use
it, allowing Rhyl No1 box to close overnight. [What is the maximum length a 'loop' can be then - Ed?]
330] Pyle Branch: The line between Waterhall Jn and Pyle Branch Jn was originally a broad-gauge
private line of Mr CRM Talbot, connecting his Bryndu Colliery with the South Wales Railway. Converted
to standard gauge from 1872, and used only for wagon storage after 1948, Cooke shows it as removed
by 1958. A short public footpath today marks the site of Apple Tree crossing, north of which a housing
estate has been built over the formation, but walls of the Croft Coch Road overbridge survive, not far
from the former Ogmore Vale Extension line bridge. Toward Pyle, the course of the line is obliterated
by an ASDA store and the access road (Heol Mostyn) of an industrial estate. At Pyle, the original South
Wales Railway station was until recently the Crown Inn, its windows similar to those of Brunel's
surviving Bridgend station building. The Crown Inn is now reported to be empty and facing possible
demolition. A nearby footbridge over the main line is dated 1883, but is in poor condition.
331] Margam - Tondu: (BLN 1274.209) There were three driver training light engine runs in total:
(1): 29 Dec, 13.19 Margam to Tondu Llynfi Goods Loop and to Margam with 60092; (2): 2 Jan, 10.18
Margam to Tondu Llynfi Goods Loop to Bridgend Bay P3 to Tondu Garw Loop(s) and back to Margam
(pictures in e-BLN 1273) and (3): 5 Jan, 10.18 Margam to Tondu Llynfi (main) and back to Margam with
60001. On Sun 8 Jan there were 9 diverted freights, 7 from Margam to: Llanwern (two), Dee Marsh,
Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Hardendale and Tilbury and two from Llanwern to Margam. The Garw
loop(s)/Ogmore & Garw main (terminology varies but it is the run-round facility that is the remains of
the Blaengarw line) were used for run-rounds. Services were not diverted on 15 Jan. In the e-BLN
picture of 60066 returning to Margam, it has been decided that the massive 'rat' is actually a cat!
332] Blaengarw: (BLN 1273.210) This 5m 44ch (from Brynmenyn Jn) ex-GWR branch with four
intermediate stations CP 9 Feb 1953. To the north, the GWR boundary was originally at 5m 74ch.
Blaengarw ceased to handle public (non-NCB) freight traffic with closure of the goods depot from
22 Mar 1965 ('officially'). The goods yard (everything there except the facility to run-round and to
enter the NCB sidings) and the signal box had actually been removed from 3 May 1964 (!).
The remaining Blaengarw station site (the part of the layout not transferred to the NCB in 1948) and
the second (former Up) track from Blaengarw south to Ffaldau Colliery northern inlet* were all sold
and transferred to the NCB with layout changes from 10 Jul 1965. BR ownership and their now-single
(former Down) line then terminated at an 'end-on' junction and gate (5m 16ch) which remained the BR
boundary. (*The former Up line was lifted south of this northern inlet to the 4m 56ch crossover.)
In addition, land and adjacent sidings which had served various local collieries** then became the
Garw Valley Central Washery (therefore located at Blaengarw). [**Glengarw Colliery closed in 1959,
International in 1968, Ffaldau in 1983, and finally Garw (also known as Ocean Colliery) closed in 1985.]
After Garw/Ocean ceased production on 6 Dec 1985, the last train of stockpiled coal left on 8 May
1986; the line to Tondu Middle went OOU - but was visited by weedkilling/engineer's trains and
railtours. The Monmouthshire Railway Society's Cynheidre Curler (25 Oct 1986) reached 5m 16ch, the
final tour that far - just short of Garreg road crossing. The British Coal (ex-NCB) section past 5m 16ch
was lifted by Nov 1989 (BLN 622.93A) and BR's line south to about MP5 was dismantled by Oct 1991.
Most was recommissioned 23 Sep 1991, (driver training began 21 Oct; first outward coal train 26 Nov)
between a loading pad north of Pontycymmer% (around MP 5 from Brynmenyn Jn) and Tondu Middle
to move 500,000 tonnes of stockpiled coal from other locations brought in by road (such as coal
reclaimed from International Colliery's tips). The pad and weighbridge are shown on the 1992 Quail
but the end of line was about 5m 0ch not the 5m 16ch shown (this error continues through four
editions on to the latest Aug 2010 TRACKmaps edition p29B). North of Pontycymmer to Blaengarw did
not ROG. [%Now spelled with one 'm' and even spelt 'Pontycwmmer' in past railway documents.]
The final coal train ran 6 Mar 1997 [Rail magazine]. The final train was Hertfordshire Rail Tours'
'Garw Guru' as far as the Pontycymmer loading pad on 5 Apr 1997. Thereafter, at an unknown date,
the line was cut back (and lifted) between the loading pad and the Garw Valley Railway site just south
of Pontycymmer station (about 4m 45ch). The rest of line from Tondu is now mostly in situ (but with
gaps) to 4m 40ch (from Brynmenyn Jn itself 0m 55ch from Tondu), the north end of the Garw Valley
Railway shed. It was taken OOU from 2 Aug 1999 (and is now deleted from the Sectional Appendix)
past 0m 48ch (from Tondu), the 'Garw Loop(s)' headshunt where there is a sleeper across the track.
333] Arriva Trains Wales: ATW continues to be pilloried via local media and social networking for its
overcrowded commuter services and antiquated fleet. Revelation that the company's profit ratio of
6.9% is much higher than the average for 'regional' franchises has attracted further criticism in political
circles, especially when it is noted that the franchise has received a £1.6bn total subsidy. Ultimately
the shareholder is the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. This has prompted fresh calls
for the next Wales & Borders franchise to be a 'not for dividend' model, comparable to Welsh Water.
334] South Wales Metro: The Welsh Government has purchased the site of the former South Wales
Forgemasters plant at Walnut Tree Jn, prompting speculation of more car parking as Taffs Well station
becomes a 'park & ride' hub for the planned South Wales Metro. The site includes the surviving former
Rhymney Railway loco shed. It is understood that negotiations are under way for the government also
to purchase the former Hoover plant at Pontlottyn, possibly also for 'park & ride'.
1274 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR19] Severn Valley Railway, Shropshire (MR p7): A member visited this railway on Boxing Day,
26 December 2016. A journey was made on the 11.59 from Bewdley - departing from platform 1 to
Bridgnorth. The train was formed of 3-car DMU 52064/59250/51941 and 2-car 56208/50933. Arrival at
Bridgnorth was in the less usual platform 2. The return trip was on the 14.20 departure from platform
1 - hauled by GWR 2-8-0 2857 with the LNER teak set. This train was very well loaded with few seats
remaining and arrival back into Bewdley was in platform 2; platform 3 being occupied with stabled
locomotives. Trains were passing at Hampton Loade.
MR20] Churnet Valley Railway, Staffordshire (MR p8): The Churnet Valley Railway has purchased the
leasehold of the Cauldon Low(e) - Leekbrook Junction branch from Moorland & City Railways (MCR).
The MCR will invest the money from the sale in acquiring the out of use Leekbrook Junction to
Stoke-on-Trent (Glebe Street Junction) line from Network Rail.
MR21] Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Derbyshire (MR p8): This line was visited on New Year's Day,
1 January 2017, when three return services from Wirksworth at two hourly intervals were being
operated. As usual these connected well with EMT services at Duffield. Trains were formed of class
101 DMU 50170/59303/50257. Being New Year's Day, complimentary seasonal refreshments - mince
pies and a glass of Bucks Fizz were on offer.
The new booking office at Duffield is coupled with a small shop and is much better than the previous
accommodation there. Ticketing has been changed and the Edmondson tickets have sadly gone, to be
replaced by computer produced examples about 2in x 3½in. The adult day rover fare for 2017 is £13.
At Shottle, the wooden base of the new Down platform is largely in place. It will initially be only one
coach long, although it could be extended in the future. Our reporter was told it should be ready for
the two train gala services later this year (the first is 18/19 March - trains to Wirksworth are shown as
crossing at Shottle but not calling). Access will be via the field behind to the road that crosses the line,
so changing between passing trains there will be tricky!
MR22] Welsh Highland Railway, Gwynedd (MR p29) (BLN 1270.MR237): Two members kindly advise:
Hafod Ruffydd: The halt, probably nothing more than a nameboard, was located on the north side
of a minor level crossing 1,220yd (about 55ch) north of the present Meillionen Halt (SH571499).
The correct spelling was Hafod Ruffydd - the mis-spelling ('Ryffydd') only appeared on some Bell
Punch- type tickets. The halt was not in the timetables or publicity when the railway was leased by the
Festiniog Railway (summer seasons 1934 -1936); it disappeared from there after 2 October 1933.
Bet(t)ws Garmon: It is thought the station site is still owned by the railway, but fenced off for safety
reasons. However, there are no current plans to restore it, although its future is still the subject of
debate in Welsh Highland circles. In its active life it was spelled Bettws, which was the accepted
spelling at the time (1927 OS map). Note that from 11 July 1927 it was downgraded to a request stop.
Quellyn: (SH553557) This temporary terminus was located just south east of the Castell Cidwm main
road overbridge beside the north end of Llyn Cwellyn. The only visible sign is a widening of the
formation. The building photographed by the previous contributor is almost certainly the former
weighhouse of Glanyrafon quarry, near the south end of the lake between Snowdon Ranger and Rhyd
Ddu. The 1877-8 site can be seen (with no building) on the large scale OS plan https://goo.gl/9bdp7z
or https://goo.gl/vpkpF8 at the widening at the road bridge (the current A4085) at Castell-Cidwm.
Thus it was between the present Snowdon Ranger (SH564551) - (which had previously been Snowdon
and Quellyn Lake in its time) and the current Plas-y-Nant.
Nantmor: Photographic evidence confirms that the present halt is on the same site as the original -
on the south side of the road and the same side of line as now, (SH598460). Renamed Aberglaslyn,
it was made a 'definite' stop (previously a request stop only) from 9 July 1934 - the date the FR started
their service over the line that they had just leased.
Pitt's Head: This was north of the (now A4085) overbridge (SH576515). The likeness is generally
ascribed to Pitt the Younger, rather than his father. Like Hafod Ruffydd, it did not appear in timetables
or publicity during the period the railway was leased by the FR (summer seasons 1934 to 1936) and
disappeared from them after 2 October 1933. The pillar, south of the bridge, observed by our member
was one of a pair which were to have been the abutments for an occupation cattle crossing - for which
the span was never installed. Water tanks, at that era, were at Snowdon Ranger and Beddgelert.
'Inside Motion' (Nov/Dec 2016, an interesting e-newsletter for staff, volunteers and supporters of the
Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways and available free to all: https://goo.gl/oEDHKw ) reported
that work had started on the new station building at Caernarfon. The first stage was the removal of
the toilet block to the former Age Concern building on the other side of St Helen's Road that will form
the temporary booking office and shop for the duration of the 2017 season, with the new building due
to open for business in Spring 2018. The 'temporary' station buildings that have given sterling service
over the last few years have been cleared and track panels lifted so that work can begin to re-site the
main sewer visible exiting the wall below Segontium Terrace so that it is not obstructed by the
extended track layout of the new station. Building work on the station itself is due to being in March.
ABOVE: Poole Park Railway - 0-4-2T 'George' (Exmoor 2010) heads a train on 6 May 2012.
This view clearly shows how fencing the railway would disfigure the park (Peter Scott).
MR23] Poole Park Railway, Dorset (MR p15) (BLN 1233.MR65): 'The Times' for 9 January (p8) included
a report that this 10¼" gauge miniature railway is to be temporarily closed for up to a year while the
640m of track is fenced off and upgraded, estimated at £0.5M (upgrade) and £50k for fencing. This is
the result of the Council implementing the Health and Safety Executive's Passenger-carrying miniature
railway guidance on safe practice (October 2001; 28 pages), despite an almost incident free period of
operation since 1949. A petition https://goo.gl/tao6zW to keep it open was reported as having
attracted over 6,000 signatures, but your reporter, adding his name the following day, was No9,383!
By 17 January the Council had relented, permitting the current operator, Chris Bullen, to leave the
track in place. However, it then gave him 24 hours to clear all his equipment from site following the
end of his tenancy agreement, prior to the retendering of the concession for the railway. Dozens of
people watched as the engine shed was emptied on 18 January. Chris Bullen is intending to submit a
bid to continue running the railway. He said six volunteers have helped remove 15 tonnes worth of
equipment, with Dave Forrest Transport agreeing to take it away and store it at their depot free.
MR24] Penrhyn Quarry Railway, Gwynedd (MR p29) (BLN 1270.3022): Track work started in the
station area on 4 January. The point leading to the platform (used at opening) is being moved (north
towards St Ann's Hill) to give a longer section of single track between it and the connection to the
shed. This will be the new station area for 2017. The new platform will be on the shed side; passengers
will no longer have to cross the line to board and the train will not have to enter public areas.
BELOW: Penrhyn Garden Railway: (5"gauge) Situated in the 'Joys of Life Country Park' near Bethesda.
A view of Stokerton station before public running commenced on 18 December 2016 (Rod Bryant).
MR25] Penrhyn Garden Railway, Gwynedd: A member visited this 600yd long 5" gauge ground level
railway on Sunday 18 December, for a Christmas running day. It is located at the Joys of Life Country
Park near Bethesda. The railway had been allowed to go derelict and for the last 12 years a small band
of volunteers have been restoring it to its former glory; in 2016 the return loop and passing loop at
Moles Hill station were brought back into use. Public running started at 13.00 with two steam and one
battery loco in use on passenger trains. The afternoon saw good weather and most trains were full;
the site is private but the Joys of Life Model Railway Club welcomes visitors by arrangement outside
the public running days. 2017 open days are Sundays 9 April, 11 June & 20 August. On 22/23 July loco
owners are invited to bring their engines (5" gauge only!) to sample the railway without the pressure
of passenger operation! The railway is a short walk from the Penrhyn Quarry Railway - also running a
regular service 11 June, 20 August (10.00-16.00) and many other days https://goo.gl/Fd7uCJ this year.
MR26] Canal Central Miniature Railway, Shropshire (MR p22) (BLN 1263.MR158): This location was
visited on Sunday 20 November 2016 when the café was open and busy. The hump backed bridge
referred to is over the recently reopened Montgomery Canal, along which the horse-drawn boat trips
(a separate business, though co-operating with Canal Central) operate. Beware that the lane over the
bridge crosses the Canal twice, and the other approach is even more fraught, with a hand-operated
lifting bridge over the Canal, followed by a ford of a stream deep and fast moving enough to inflict
disabling damage to the underside of your correspondent's car engine! The café staff advised that the
7¼" gauge railway is envisaged as reopening sometime in 2017, but certainly not early in the season.
Poor weather has created a backlog of maintenance work around the site as a whole and there had so
far been scarcely any progress with provision of the intended rolling stock storage shed.
MR27] Bournemouth Cliff Railways, Dorset (MR p34): A visit was made to Bournemouth seafront on a
beautiful clear sunny, but chilly, Bank Holiday Monday, 2 January. Fishermans Walk Cliff Railway
(BLN 1102.MR216) was not operating at around 11.00; both cars being parked opposite each other
half-way up/down the line. East Cliff Railway (BLNs 1257.MR96 & 1262.MR145) suffered from a bad
landslip during the night of 23/24 April 2016. The site appears to have been stabilised and debris
cleared, but the lower station buildings have been demolished. Both tracks were fully intact and seem
undamaged. Neither car was present. West Cliff Railway (BLN 1049.MR52) was operating at 12.00.
ABOVE: Bournemouth East Cliff Railway: This view shows extent of the cliff fall in April 2016. A Road
Train passes the site on 2 January 2017 (Peter Scott). Compare this picture with e-BLN 1257.MR96.
MR28] Fenn Bell Miniature Railway, Kent (Supp 2) (BLN 1265.MR188): The full circuit was completed
in mid October and was used for the first time by passengers on 28 October 2016 for Halloween trains.
This was also the first time Bell Wood station (the second station at the far end of the circuit) was
used. Trains will only stop here for special events. Both Halloween and Christmas were extremely
successful with the Christmas trains carrying 1,065 passengers over 9 days. There is still much to do,
including new trackwork at Fenn Street - the main station - also a turntable, loco and carriage sheds.
This will be undertaken as and when time and funds permit. The railway will reopen again at Easter.
MR29] Mountsorrel & Rothley Community Heritage Centre, Leicestershire: Progress during December
has seen the base of the quarry transformed. The railway museum building has been cleared of tools
and the eastern siding has been buried in quarry dust, which was to be packed down in the New Year
to give a solid surface. The west siding still remained to be done. The quarry heritage building
(the small metal building) has changed dramatically. The walls have been clad with ply and painted,
and the floor has also been painted. This leaves the building ready for display boards and artefacts,
which were to start arriving on 5 January. As well as the track laying in the base of the quarry, the
fencing and gates have also gone up. 'MOT' (Ministry of Transport granular sub-base) has been spread
over the quarry floor to bury the narrow gauge track. Up top the new trail is fast approaching
completion, work is advancing on the den building area and the Nunckley Trail is being re-chipped.
Leicestershire County Council have kindly loaned a working diesel loco and the Ellis coal wagon from
the now closed Snibston Colliery Museum. These arrived on Tuesday 20 December 2016 and were
unloaded via the new loading siding. It is hoped to use the loco for shunting demonstrations in 2017.
1274 FIXTURES REPORT: 335] The
Cliffe Hopper; Friday 7 Oct 2016:
See also: https://goo.gl/Uflwty
Initially with my wife working
nights I was on childcare duties
first thing. Living between Preston
and Blackburn meant the 07.17
was required from Preston to
Crewe but my wife doesn't
normally reach home from nights
until 07.30! Anyway lucky man
that I am, my good lady arranged
for a friend to relieve me of
childcare duties at 06.45….giving
30 minutes. Tight sectional
running times, but just achieved!
LEFT: Crewe P12 in the morning
before departure (Peter Glass).
Things only got better from then on as I was fortunate enough to join our railtour ECS (the 04.25 from
Carnforth Steamtown to Crewe) waiting in Preston P6…..thus saving me from a fate worse than…..
a Pendolino. After our stewards' briefing (some had come from far and wide specially, including the far
south, leaving home in the early hours, and all pay full fare for the privilege) we were rewarded with a
spirited Preston departure at 07.20 behind 37668, which performed flawlessly up the West Coast to
Crewe. My normal commute is a Class 319 (07.30
Preston to Liverpool); this was a far more
enjoyable start to a Friday! A short wait outside
Crewe on the Down Fast allowed the National
Measurement Train to depart from P12, then we
arrived 9 min early with time for a photo of the
two locos (33207 on the rear). It was also great to
see the time and effort someone had spent
programming the Customer Information Screen to
show the charter train and loco numbers, hats off
to the Virgin staff involved! RIGHT: The souvenir
ticket, designed and printed by Jim Sellens.
ABOVE: The end of line on the Cliffe Vale branch - Geoff Plumb 7 Oct 2016.
BELOW LEFT: Cliffe Vale China Clay unloading facility (Kev Adlam, early morning before the tour).
These tours are always a great opportunity to
catch up with railway industry colleagues
whom I have worked with over the years,
particularly as one of the Freight Managers for
the London North Western area played a
significant part in assisting with the smooth
operation on the day. A right time 08.35
departure from Crewe across Crewe South Jn
(relatively unusual from the far west P12) then
in to the Up & Down Potteries Loop saw me
following a well-trodden track from my days at
East Midlands Trains, but a far cry from the
usual Class 153. The gradient up through
Harecastle Tunnel gave 37668 a good work out
as we pottered along to Stoke-on-Trent.
The first new track and traction highlight came
after the reversal in Stoke P2; 33207 providing
the motive power down the much sought after
Cliffe Vale branch, only the second tour ever
to do the line.It still receives china clay from
Cornwall by rail but typically just one train a
week now on a Monday, tripped from Bescot.
ABOVE: The tour traverses Aldridge crossover. The proposed passenger station with its single platform
would be on the left this side of the (A454) bridge in the background. However, the crossover would
need to be moved further west closer to Walsall to accommodate the Class 350 EMUS (Rich Hickman).
The loco buffers were compressed on the buffer stops and reached via a different track route from the
'other' tour that had done it (this was not by accident or chance either). Our slow and steady progress
from Stoke North Jn gave much amusement to a group of workers in the adjacent DHL depot,
assembled on their break in the car park. Needless to say on our return some 40 minutes later they
were still there….clearly enjoying the very rare sight of a Class 33 and passenger train on the branch.
The slower than anticipated run to Stafford via the flyover gave time for bacon butties and brews
before taking in the jointed track of the Rickerscote Up Slow (uncommon for a passenger train).
The 20 minutes accumulated late running was recovered by Wolverhampton. Running to Darlaston Jn
saw my next bit of new track, round to Pleck Jn. After passing through Walsall, I didn't realise we
would be proceeding on to the Sutton Park line, another required one for me. Now as I grice track at
Baker (not Quail) level, I faced the quandary of how to mark Aldridge trailing Crossover on my map
providing much entertainment amongst the party; claiming I was marking it up way too big in Baker!
Anyway I still need Aldridge to Park Lane Jn (c'mon Kev) and, frustratingly, I flagged it several times
when the XC Nottingham to Birmingham services ran this way in Feb 2014 for the Water Orton block.
Again the trip to Aldridge and back saw more bemusement from a group of NR staff on vegetation
clearance, as we passed them once and then again in the opposite direction a few minutes later. It was
nice to see our local 'Tame' (think about it!) Mobile Operations Manager (Rich Hickman) receive warm
applause, waves and smiles for making the crossover move happen safely, scoring an exceedingly rare
move for all onboard. This location does not exist on TRUST hence the apparent timetabled run to
Park Lane Jn and back in the schedule (the giveaway was the one minute shown to do the 8½ miles!).
Back through Walsall via the Up Fast for the second time it was in to the Up Dudley siding, (thanks to
Rich again who proved to be a very mobile MOM reaching there before our tour) as far as a tree
protruding from the four foot. BELOW: South of Pleck Jn our tour was the first train to use the
Dudley Reversing Siding since the final coal train on 29 April 2016. On the right A freight heads north
on the Down Walsall line (Rich Hickman).
Another reversal and back through Walsall again for the Chase Line to Rugeley 'B' Power Station and
the 'Hopper' part of the tour. Passing Rugeley at 125mph on the West Coast Main Line does not do the
size and scale of the former power station justice. Being able to get much more up close and personal
is something I really enjoy on our tours, particularly when you visit such industrial locations. It was also
great to see the Society making a donation to the 'Millie Bea's Walking Wish' in recognition for being
granted access to the site. The tour proceeded via the inlet road and run-round line to the end of the
line (where else!?) actually a good distance south of the WCML.
BELOW: Rugeley Power Station end of line, looking north, (the West Coast Trent Valley Line is in the
distance but not visible) - Geoff Plumb. See https://goo.gl/rRtJYJ for more of Geoff's railtour pictures.
ABOVE: Looking west from the end of the branch; the loco crew is changing ends (Geoff Plumb).
BELOW LEFT: The 'Cliffe Hopper' arrives from Walsall and is about to take the Rugeley Power Station
branch (off left). The trailing crossover to the left of the engine was taken on return after reversing in
Rugeley Town station P1. BELWO RIGHT: On the branch travelling in (both Rich Hickman).
Our train passed the Rugeley Power Station Society of Model Engineers' lengthy 7¼" gauge elevated
line, where we had a very enjoyable evening visit on 20 Jul 2016 but is sadly closing down after 31 Mar
2017. Back on the standard gauge, return was via a different route through the Limestone Unloading
and Gypsum Loading line, then the Hopper House provided more enjoyment than seeing Kev on his
knees, well just about. This was only the second ever tour to do this branch (the first on 6 Jul 1991 was
our 'Donnington Farewell' but that stopped short of the unclipped second set of run round points.)
The power station closed on 8 Jun 2016 and is being demolished; few on board had thought there
would ever be a farewell tour four months after! This was entirely down to Kev Adlam's drive,
determination and energy; he made no less than six site visits to sort our tour out, thank you Kev!
ABOVE: The winner of the charity auction for the third nameplate on the tour actually worked at the
Power Station. To the right is an A3 colour flyer designed by Tim Wallis for our railtour charity raffle.
After doing the rare trailing crossover at Rugeley Power Station Jn [someone is developing distinct
Quailing tendencies; resistance is futile - Ed!] it was time for another run down the West Coast behind
37668 to Stafford Royal Mail Terminal 'P7' - the first passenger train over the new extended Stafford
Goods Loop and 18 minutes early. After some sweet talking from our NR Freight Manager an early
departure was secured, to then be one of the first Down passenger trains over the new single track
reversible Norton Bridge East Chord. This 'unusual direction' gave the new crossovers each end.
Next a lateral move along Sideway Loop with a final bonus for the day of arriving at Stoke P1 to set
down. This was much to the bemusement of the passengers on the platform who were not expecting a
train to arrive from the south. In fact some tour participants then changed their minds and stayed on
to Crewe do the trailing crossover at Glebe Street Jn on departure! Retracing our tracks and crossing
the layout south of Crewe station again found us back in P12 about 20 minutes early around 16.15.
This secured me enough time to bid my friends 'adieu', a quick couple of photos and an earlier
connection to Liverpool than planned for an evening out. The packed Class 350 London Midland EMU
on a Friday afternoon did not quite have the same level of appeal, but gave me time to reflect on
another superb and excellently organised BLS tour. Many thanks to everyone concerned. (Railman.)
Please mention the BLS when booking or enquiring.……..1274 CONNECTIONS……….Details must be checked with the organisers.
336] Rugeley Power Station Society of Model Engineers: The last dates when rides will be available on
this nearly 2,000ft long elevated 3½"/5"/7¼" gauge (elevated 7¼" track is unusual) line in woodland
(and see the power station) are 12, 19 & 26 Feb, 4 and finally 31 Mar after which the railway will cease
operating (due to the power station closure). Visitors welcome but must pre-book; please email the
date you would like to visit to: [email protected] for advice of the security requirements
and access procedures. Http://goo.gl/qxqJYH includes the railway layout diagram (see 'gallery').
337] Sheffield/Barnsley, Sun 5 Feb: The Meadowhall route is closed all day; Aldwarke Jn - Sheffield
trains divert via Rotherham Central, Broughton Lane Jn and Woodburn Jn. Barnsley P1 has booked
departures (north X/O) to Leeds: 11.37, 13.11, 15.37, 17.11, 19.11, 21.16 & 23.12. The 08.32 from
Leeds is shown as arriving in Barnsley P2 (facing north X/O) at 09.23 and returning from there 09.26.
The 09.19, 13.19, 17.23 & 19.19 ex-Huddersfield are shown arriving P2 (so via the third Barnsley X/O.).
338] Weardale Railway: (MR p9) (BLN 1273.215) Loco 31465 is working 11/12 Feb with five return
trips between Stanhope (first departure 09.30) and Scotch Isle Loop (6 miles) each day. On 25/26 Feb
there are four return trains (Class 47 'top & tail') Stanhope (first dep 09.00) to Broken Banks (15 miles)
- just west of Bishop Auckland - no alighting or joining. Adult: £15 round trip, £20 day rover and £36
weekend rover; Senior £13.50, £17 & £30; Child £7.50, £10 & £16; Family £30, £40 & £75 both events.
339] c2c Senior One Day Rover: Over 65s, proof of age required, £5 east of Upminster / Rainham;
£9 all c2c stations (including Stratford & Liverpool Street), c2c services only. Mondays to Fridays
only (not Bank Holidays); after 09.30 (Rainham is excluded with the £5 rover from 16.00 until 18.59).
340] Swindon & Cricklade Railway Walk, Sun 26 Feb: (MR p6) Sponsored walk (7 miles) raising funds
to buy a special events marquee for the railway. Taw Valley Halt 10.00 (free parking at Mouldon Hill
Country park) walking the trackbed to Cricklade and back. Tour of the engine shed available at Hayes
Knoll with a free drink and cake at Blunsdon on return. Sponsorship form https://goo.gl/tZL9hK or
contact Bill Daly (also for queries and to register) [email protected] or 01793 778110). Raise
over £400 to receive a free driver experience (age limit 18; under 18s: two free special event passes).
341] Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours: 5 Mar until 4 Nov, weekends and bank holidays, daily in school
holidays generally 10.00 to 17.00 between Pleasure Beach and Cabin, every 20-30 minutes with two
trams running. Gold Days: 25/26 Feb, 25/26 Mar, 15/16 & 29/30 Apr, 28-30 May, 24/25 Jun, 15/16 Jul,
26-28 Aug, 25/26 Nov six heritage trams run between Pleasure Beach and Fleetwood. 23 & 24 Sep:
Anniversary Spectacular - with rare track and surprises expected; watch the website/social media.
342] Elsecar Heritage Railway, Guard's Van Rides: Every Sunday until 19 Mar, 12.00, 13.00 & 14.00
https://goo.gl/3uc4TV Elsecar Heritage Centre, Wath Road, Elsecar, Barnsley, S74 8HJ, (SK386998),
(MR p9) 'Winter Warmer' Adults £5, Child £2.50; includes a hot drink and the stove will be lit!
343] East Midlands Rambler, Sat 13 May: Vintage Trains, pannier tanks. Tyseley Warwick Rd (09.15/
21.15), Coleshill Parkway (10.10/20.43) free parking - Nuneaton (10.30/19.50) - Coalville - Burton -
(break) - Castle Donington - Leicester (18.00/19.20) return direct. £59; see website or 01217084960.
344] Torbay Express 2017: Covers the NR connection to the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway,
usually Kingswear P2 (on the left approaching) and the rare Goodrington P2 (loop). Steam hauled
from Bristol TM, Taunton and various intermediate stations via Westbury or Weston) 18 Jun, 2 & 23
Jul, 20 Aug, 3 & 9 Sep. For special offers/bookings https://goo.gl/d92JFF or 01453 834477 / 835414.
2016 prices held; 10% off 18 Jun if booked by 31 Mar, £20 off table for 4, special family ticket available.
345] Towcester Museum: 163-165 Watling St, NN12 6BU (SP 6935 4861). An exhibition celebrating the
150th anniversary of the Stratford-upon-Avon & Midland Junction Railway. A large scale model of
Towcester station (where the four lines converged) and Lucus Bridge; railway aertefacts and a DVD
presentation etc. £1 adults children free. 10.00-16.00 (SuMX) until end Feb at least 01327 352662.
X.16] Crossrail Exhbitions: https://goo.gl/Adfzqa Two major public exhibitions give a unique insight
into the project. More than 500 archaeological finds discovered during construction will be displayed
from 10 Feb until 3 Sep 2017 at the Museum of London Docklands. No1 Warehouse, West India Dock
Road, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4AL. Admission is free and there are also 10 other galleries to see.
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden, Piazza, London, WC2E 7BB (normal admission charges
apply) has an exhibition of station design and public art on the Elizabeth line. This includes station
models, architectural and art samples. Take a tour of the new stations. Experience the journey from
street to platform at some of the future stations in a new short film. Build Custom House station.