Number 1342 (Items 3040 - 4173 & MR 233 - MR 242) (E-BLN 97 PAGES) 21 Dec 2019
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Respice in praeteritum, praesens et futura
Published 24 times a year by the Branch Line Society; founded 1955.
Membership queries: Lisa Sheppard [email protected]
186 Anlaby Park Road South, Hull, HU4 7BU. 07873354464
British Isles news from members; an international section is available.
Opinions are not necessarily athvaoislaebolef .the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1343 is dated Sat 11 Jan; contributions by Wed 1 Jan please……………..
MIND THE GAP! There is a 3‐week gap until BLN 1343 (11 Jan 2020) with NO BLN ON 4 JAN 2020.
The BLN TEAM & COMMITTEE WISHciMetEy.MSoBcEieRtyS. A MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY 2020.
Date Event and details = Please Book Online BLN Lead Status
Sat 4 Jan BELOW MG *OPEN*
Sun 26 Jan BLS Scunthorpe No20 Cold Steel Tracker *OPEN AGAIN*
1341 MG OPEN
Merseyrail Underground & Overground Explorer
Sun 23 Feb SAVE THE DATE - Tanfield Railway (MR p9) rare track tour TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 7 Mar The Fenny Crompton, Lancaster to London Paddington 1341 MG OPEN
Sun 8 Mar The Devonian Crompton, London Victoria to Waterloo 1341 MG OPEN
Mon 9 Mar The Park Royal Parkinson, Paddington - Lancaster 1341 MG OPEN
13-15 Mar Save dates; 3-day Yorkshire freight lines track & traction BELOW TBA Claimed
Sat 21 Mar RNLI Kernow Spring Funiculars - Padstow & The Lizard BELOW MG *OPEN*
Sun 22 Mar Minor Railway/s in Cornwall/Devon SAVE THE DATE *NEW* TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 26 Apr Unusual London area railtour in planning - save the date TBA TBA Claimed
30/4 - 3/5 Four day Irish long weekend - save the dates TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 2 May All day 'stand alone' Dublin based BLS Irish Rail tour TBA TBA Claimed
21-31 May BLS railtour in northern Sweden; save the dates 1337 IS Claimed
Wed 3-5 Jun Tom's Comprehensive Kent Connector - NOTIFY INTEREST 1341 TG OPEN
26-28 June The Niedersachsen Explorer 1341 PG NOTIFY
IS = Iain Scotchman; MG = Mark Gomm; PG = Paul Griffin; TG = Tom Gilby; (All contact details are on the back page.)
3040] :Scunthorpe Cold Steel Tracker No20 Sat 4 Jan:: (BLN 1340.2760 has full details) Extra places are
now open for bookings as four brakevans will be available - however the one at the 'keen end' (buffer
stops leaving the platform) will NOT be heated, so plenty of warm clothes are advised. 09.30 prompt
at the AFRPS platform until dark (about 16.30). An extensive full day railtour reaching the parts others
don't reach, with a lunch break at the AFRPS shed. Subject to engineering work, Liverpool, Newcastle,
Birmingham (etc) rail connections are available. It is worth joining the waiting list if it fills again.
BLS MEMBERS ONLY £47, U18s (must be Adult accompanied) £23.50. A detailed track map and buffet
lunch with a hot drink are included. Our tour supports AFRPS's work. Book online please or by post,
supplying membership number/s and an email address, if possible, or a First Class SAE to the Bookings
Officer (back page). Queries/line requests in advance only to Paul Stewart. We will continue to try to
operate these tours twice a year subject to demand; but the situation at Scunthorpe is uncertain
again so, if you might be interested, don't leave it. It is hoped to include the new through line and
junction realignments at either end (BLN 1327.962). Please do NOT book if you would be disappointed
by NOT having a Norwegian NSB Di8 Loco for haulage because this is most unlikely to happen.
X.166] :PTG The Railway of Israel; 14-21 Mar:, http://bit.ly/2Z9jLti not a BLS tour, but our Fixtures
Secretary has negotiated a 10% discount for members, subject to 50 bookings (40 already). When
booking just mention that you are a BLS member and give your membership number (for checking).
3041] :Kernow Spring Funiculars; Sat 21 Mar:, (BLN 1340.2881 report; pictures in e-BLN) By popular
demand, a weekend repeat of the very successful society Wed 23 Oct trips on two significant funicular
railways in Cornwall, which the public are not ordinarily permitted to ride on. Limited to 16 (11 are
already booked from the waiting list). Due to tight timings, private access roads and limited parking, all
must join our chartered minibus at St Austell station car park (Travelodge & Premier Inn nearby).
The minibus departs at 09.30 prompt (connects 05.27 ex-Bristol TM, probably a short HST set) and
returns to Truro by 16.45 (for 17.00 to Paddington, connections to Birmingham New St etc) then on to
St Austell. The tour is organised and hosted by our member Mark Thomas from the Congleton RNLI
fundraising team. We first travel to Padstow Lifeboat Station for the 2ft gauge, 32.24m long 48o
gradient PRIVATE funicular railway opened in 2001; our portable buffet will provide tea and coffee.
It is planned to stop briefly in Truro to buy takeaway sandwiches etc en route to Lizard Lifeboat
Station. Here we make a return journey on the most southerly railway in mainland Britain, the PRIVATE
45m long, 38o gradient, 8ft gauge funicular. The schedule allows time to explore the station and again
our peripatetic buffet will provide tea and coffee. £50 per head includes the minibus, tea/coffee and a
donation to both lifeboat stations. NO FURTHER REPEAT VISITS ARE ENVISAGED. Please book online if
possible, or by post to Mark Gomm per back page with membership number/s & email address or First
Class A5 SAE. Helston Railway is not running. Sun 22 Mar: Minor railway visit/s are possible in the area.
X.167] :13-15 Mar, dates for your new 2020 Diary:: The team behind our 20 Jul 2019 Luca Pezzolu
Express have been working on a 2020 programme to raise more money for the wonderful Martin
House Children's Hospice. After some months of negotiation a formal bid has now been placed for
another charter train operating with interesting traction over more interesting and unusual routes
around Yorkshire. The date for the railtour is Sat 14 Mar with a sensible start/finish time from
Doncaster. In addition the stock will operate as interesting shoulder trains on Fri 13 and Sun 15 Mar.
More details to follow in due course; rail industry support for the project is already in place.
1342 HEAD LINES (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
3042] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant passenger service suspensions: *= new/altered
BLN Start (incl) Reopens Location (stations 'exclusive' if bracketed) bold = closed now
1341.3021 17 Nov 19 23 Dec 19 *Clarbeston Road Jn - Milford Haven
1341.3023 25 Dec 19 2 Jan 20 *Bristol Parkway, Stoke Gifford No1 Jn/Filton No 2 Jn/(Chepstow)/
(Cwmbran)/Ebbw Vale - (Cardiff Central) - Pontyclun - (Bridgend)
1338.2528 25 Dec 19 2 Jan 20 (Market Harborough)/Manton Jn - Corby - (Bedford)
1333.1883 16 Feb 19 Unknown Dolgarrog station (BLN 1338.2630); pictures e-BLN 1337
1325.655 20 Oct 18 17 Feb 20 Reedham Jn - Berney Arms request stop - (Great Yarmouth)
1331.1539 29 Feb 20 *Mid Hants Railway; Alton P3 - (Medstead & Four Marks)
1338.2530 2 Jan 19 24 Feb 20 Blackheath Jn - Bexleyheath - Slade Green Jn/Crayford Creek Jn
1338.2531 15 Feb 20 24 Feb 20 *(Truro) - Penzance and St Erth - St Ives
15 Feb 20
3043] Castleton North Jn - Castleton South Jn: TCA since an unknown date, this unidirectional now
rarely used curve has had some of the pointwork removed at Castleton South Jn. Can anyone please
advise if it is the fixed diamond in the Down Rochdale or the trailing points in the Up and what has
been done? Any details of when this might have happened and the last train would be appreciated.
X.168] NEXT PAGE: In the waiting room at Huddersfield on P2 is the Penistone Line Partnership
Christmas tree which we have sponsored out of real ale profits on our railtours. (Neil Bentley.)
3044] Spooner Row: (BLN 1338.2524 & 2581) ROP Mon 3 Nov after TCP since last timetabled train on
Fri 13 Sep 2019 due to software problems with Selective Door Opening on the new FLIRT Bimodes.
Only the front door is opened at this request stop with a 'Harrington Hump' (E-BLN 1341.X.159 picture).
3045] Sheffield Tram Train; Meadowhall South/Tinsley (excl) - Sheffield Tram Transfer line - Tinsley
North Jn with Rotherham Central P3 & 4 and Parkgate Jn - Parkgate (incl): TCP 19.06 Fri 13 Dec 2019.
All Stadler Tram Trains were withdrawn (and the service ceased) at the manufacturer's request.
Reportedly this is due to a possible 'hydraulic fault'. The last working was 18.31 Parkgate to Cathedral
which left 18.59. Tickets were accepted on Northern Trains and buses in the area. ROP 17 Dec 2019.
3046] Warrington West: (BLN 1338.2574) OP Sun 15 Dec 2019 at 16m 31ch between Warrington
Central and Sankey for Penketh, with two platforms each able to accommodate 7-car trains (150m
operational length). There is disappointment amongst stakeholders that Northern have only been able
to stop two trains an hour each way rather than the intended three (the two to Manchester are
10 min apart then a 50 min gap). No East Midlands Railway services call. At the same time services at
Sankey for Penketh (171,648 passengers 2017-18), only 44ch west of the new station, were reduced
to (SuX) 07.45 & 17.57 to Lime Street and 08.20 and 17.52 to Oxford Road - previously hourly all day
SuX. Presumably the ticket office here has closed and the staff possibly transferred to Warrington
West where the ticket office is open Mondays to Saturdays 05.50 to 00.23 and Sundays 08.06 to 23.46.
3047] Robroyston: (BLN 1332.1840) OP (actually ROP) Sun 15 Dec 2019 at 101m 7ch between
Springburn & Stepps on the Cowlairs West Jn - Garnqueen North Jn line. P1 is on the Down Stepps
line (to Glasgow) and P2 is on the Up (to Cumbernauld and Edinburgh); each platform has a useable
length of 150m (7-car). The new station is unstaffed and has two car parks with 256 spaces (free to rail
users), CCTV, Customer Information Systems, telecommunications, a footbridge with lifts and waiting
shelters with seating on both platforms. All trains call, two per hour (Sundays one), to Glasgow Queen
Street and Edinburgh Waverley. The original Robroyston station at a similar location OP 1 Nov 1898;
CP 1 Jan 1917 (along with many others that day); ROP 2 Jun 1919; CP 11 Jun 1956 [Quick Apr 2019].
1342 BLN GENERAL (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
3048] Committee Cooption: We are delighted to report that our member Helen Cromarty has
accepted your Committee's invitation to rejoin them to work on the review of our Constitution &
Standing Orders (BLN 1341.2885). Helen, of course, was a Committee Member from 2014-18.
3049] PLEG (Preserved Locomotives Enthusiasts Group): Formed in 2003 to provide opportunities to
ride behind rare, non-steam locos and to give publicity to diesel galas at preserved railways, the group
grew to over 1,000 members - a good number are now BLS members as well. However, PLEG will cease
to exist at midnight on New Year's Eve 2019. Your (BLS) Committee has agreed that our website will
host a page about diesel galas and such like which was the most popular one on the PLEG website.
This will be in the same way as we host Richard Maund's PSUL and available to anyone free - including,
of course, our members. The new page is now live; go across to 'GEN' on our website home page.
PLEG has achieved numerous opportunities for rare haulages while at the same time generating
thousands of pounds, all of which was donated to the railways, loco owners and good causes. Please
note that PLEG has not 'merged' with our Society. We will continue to focus our fixtures on rare track
elements and, as since 1 Apr 2012 where possible, provide interesting and unusual motive power as
well. Since 2012 we have collaborated with PLEG on some very successful projects and we thank Ian
Loveday and the rest of the PLEG Policy Group for helping make these joint initiatives such a success.
3050] My First Railway Memories (20): By Martin Weeks (Member 2869). As with many members'
recollections of first train rides, mine involve travelling with my grandparents. Grandfather had an
interest in trains and, although owning a car, he frequently took me on trains. There is no doubt that
I caught the bug off him; my mother told me that he made me write numbers down as soon as I could
hold a pencil. They lived in a small hamlet called Yews Green which was very close to the triangular
station with six platforms at Queensbury on the erstwhile Great Northern Railway lines from Bradford
Exchange to Keighley (trackbed visible from the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway) and Halifax. My
uncle ran a garage repair business at Lidget Green nearer into Bradford close to Great Horton station,
conveniently on the same GN route. Grandma did uncle's accounts and administration, so we regularly
went from Queensbury to Great Horton by train and back, a distance of only three miles. Some engine
numbers are still imprinted like poetry in my mind especially N1 0-6-0T Nos69464 & 69481 which must
have been regulars. The passenger service on the line ceased in 1955, when I was only five years old.
Another memory is watching the sparks from the engine in the steeply graded 1,057yd Clayton Tunnel
on the approach to Queensbury. Occasional journeys into Bradford also come to mind, when the
(to me) vast Bradford Exchange station was a highlight; CP 14 Jan 1973, it is now demolished. After the
1955 passenger closure, we had to use the sparse West Yorkshire bus service (an old Bristol half-cab)
to connect with the Clayton trolley bus but that's another story! A daily pickup goods train ran for
another 10 years but the line closed beyond (west of) Great Horton Coal Depot from 28 Jun 1965. The
western mouth of Clayton Tunnel was visible from my grandparent's house, so a sudden rush of steam
on the valley side mid morning was the cue for a run down to the old station to take a closer look - no
child safety issues in those days. WD 2-8-0 locos were generally the order of the day and I still have
some lists of locos seen like J6 0-6-0 No64886, 90200 & 90711 which were regulars. Great Horton Coal
Depot (and Bradford City Road Goods) were served from Bradford St Dunstans until 28 Aug 1972.
BELOW: 1959 map, Cullingworth is top left (towards Keighley), Thornton is left of centre, Queensbury
(on the GNR Halifax line) and its famous tunnel bottom are left of centre and Bradford is middle right.
ABOVE: 55 years ago - the RCTS 'West Riding' railtour http://bit.ly/34xyejP a 5-car DMU, at Thornton
(West Yorkshire), 6 Sep 1964, then a freight branch terminus from Bradford. (Angus McDougall.) See
http://bit.ly/2sLx4Uk BELOW: Thornton Viaduct, 21 Mar 2010. (Jon Farman http://bit.ly/2PZB4J9 )
What today has become a much more relevant recollection is that my grandfather took me on a walk
through the 2,501yd long Queensbury Tunnel on the Great Northern Railway Halifax line, now the
subject of much attention including in BLN (BLN 1340.2799). I have no date but I think it was in about
1960 by which time I was 10 years old. I recall the track being in place, getting extremely wet and cold,
having issues with the torch, big holes in the ground, etc but we definitely got through; memory recalls
the vision of spotting the tunnel mouth becoming larger as we progressed. Return was either by bus or
a stiff walk over the top as I distinctly remember a difficult climb up an embankment off the railway.
Mother went mad when she found out and often referred to the stupidity of her father!
We also walked over the nearby 300yd Grade II listed Thornton Viaduct with 20 arches, which must
have been before total closure in 1965 - this is now the route of a highly recommended official local 5¼
mile walk, the Great Northern Railway Trail, between Queensbury and Cullingworth. If only it could be
extended through Queensbury Tunnel. Thornton Viaduct is an 'S' shape for smooth access to Thornton
station, from 11 Nov 1963 a freight branch terminus from Bradford, when the line beyond to Keighley
closed completely to Cullingworth (which itself became a freight branch terminus from Keighley).
In the early 1960s grandfather took me on some railtours from Bradford, mainly organised by British
Railways North Eastern Region; this sowed the seed of track bashing and a couple of tours spring to
mind. In 1964 we went on the 'Cumbrian Scenic Tour' in a Swindon Trans Pennine unit (a specially
formed 8-car set) covering now closed lines such as Skipton to Colne, the East Lancs line into the east
side of Preston station, Workington to Penrith and Low Gill Jn to Ingleton and Clapham Junction (the
other one). It is on Six Bells Junction http://bit.ly/2qEpquz and I still have the souvenir programme,
with a map and timings. [This is a download with e-BLN.] A full return trip on the Ravenglass & Eskdale
Railway was included in the fare. On the return the DMU stopped at Cockermouth where a Jazz
Festival was taking place. They had come on a special train from Carlisle double headed by two Ivatt
2-6-0s (46458 & 46434). After a short serenade we continued along the line which closed a couple of
years later to Keswick and also Low Gill to Clapham which had closed to passenger traffic in 1954 but
accommodated occasional trains until 1966. Speed on that line was kept down to about 30mph.
Another North Eastern Region run DMU tour about 1963 was from Bradford to Whitby possibly out via
Pickering but certainly back via Scarborough including the classic reversals at Whitby Prospect Hill and
Scarborough Falsgrave. I'm still trying to find out more about that one…. [Can anyone assist please?]
3051] A New Year Resolution Suggestion: We need more of these recollections, over the Christmas
break please do submit yours to the BLN Editor (back page) - pictures welcome too. Perhaps as well
as your early railway memories, include what led to your interest in railways/trains developing and
any interesting lines/trains that you travelled on? Items from members of all vintages are wanted!
3052] Quiz: By our member Peter Dawson of 'Support The Oldham Rochdale Manchester line Group'.
❶ Which English station outside London has the most operational platforms?
❷ Name the three companies contracted to operate Vivarail units (converted from LUL 'D' stock).
❸ Which North West freight and passenger system celebrated its 125th anniversary on 1 Jan 2019?
❹ In the UK railway context what have Preston and Boston in common?
❺ How many different classifications of train are described by the Network Rail signalling system?
❻ What do the initials RHTT stand for?
❼ Which now preserved UK railway claims to be the oldest operating railway in the world?
❽ In which European capital city are the principal stations named Atocha and Chamartin?
❾ Which company has its principal locomotive depot at Roberts Road Doncaster?
❿ How many Deltic locomotives were built?
⓫ In which town or city were the Deltics built?
⓬ In which UK town or city is the National Tramway Museum?
⓭ In which town or city was the first street tramway to operate in the UK opened in 1863?
⓮ Using your memory, listed alphabetically, what is the first Network Rail station?
⓯ Using your memory, listed alphabetically, what is the last Network Rail station?
⓰ How many vehicles are there in the current Manchester Metrolink operational fleet?
⓱ In which town or city is George Stephenson buried?
⓲ Which London Underground line opened 50 years ago on 7 Mar 1969?
⓳ Which UK town or city did the first excursion train organised by Thomas Cook in 1841 start from?
⓴ Which English cathedral has a stained glass window sponsored by the former British Railways
……Board, which includes the double arrows logo? [Answers in BLN 1343 in three weeks time.]
3053] BLN back numbers: We are very pleased to report that our member John Hampson is now
helping to fill the 1977-2009 gap in our website archive of old BLNs (which go back to Oct 1955 and
forward to the present). The archive is available to logged in members as a downloadable and
searchable PDF. Go to 'Archive' on the home page banner. To find out what is available for a
particular year put that year in the top right search box. For example '1955' gives: BLN Oct 1955-Sep
1958 Index, the BLN Full Index, BLNs for 1955 as a single document and BLNs from 1955-1964 as a
single document. 1977-80 have been added and more years will follow as the project progresses.
3054] On Railway Hotels, Part 3: (BLN
1341.2913) By Rhys Ab Elis. After my Gleneagles
experience onward progress was by train to
Perth, then to Inverness stopping at Aviemore
to visit the Cairngorm funicular railway in its
local deep snow micro-climate. It is nine miles
from Aviemore by the connecting bus and I was
the only passenger without skis. The Royal
Station Hotel, Inverness was my destination. It
is structurally integral with the station and a
more impressive building inside than out. It has
the sort of grand staircase on which you might
expect, Gloria Swanson for example to make an
'entrance', although Inverness is no Sunset
Boulevard. (ABOVE RIGHT - photos by Rhys Ab Elis) Features include a stained glass window in the
Breakfast Room which contains the Highland Railway armorial device mainly in green and yellow glass.
The Breakfast Room is huge and dismal, but the dining room facing the street has been refurbished
very recently in modern style and is a most attractive, recommended place to eat with a good menu.
Next day Kyle of Lochalsh was reached and the Highland Railway's Lochalsh Hotel. It was a bit of a
surprise that it was open and a very quiet stay. I was one of only two guests stopping, despite the
superb views across to Kyleakin and the Isle of Skye across the Sound of Sleat. This is a narrow sea
channel dividing the Sleat peninsula on the southeast side of the Isle of Skye from Morar, Knoydart
and Glenelg on the Scottish mainland. However, the Sound was 'silent' and didn't live up to its name.
No doubt the place is buzzing in summer (and not just with the midges, either!). The following day it
was the train again, via Inverness to Aberdeen, and a night at the Station Hotel, (BELOW LEFT) the
only survivor of the three once owned by the
Great North of Scotland Railway (GNoSR).
Across the road from Aberdeen station, this
granite faced building has expanded sideways
over the years, absorbing the former
headquarters offices of the GNoSR which were
conveniently located next door. Alas, the
impressive doorway of the GNoSR's HQ,
leading straight off the pavement, is locked
permanently and access is via the hotel's entrance. Within, all is dark stained woodwork and lighter
stained glass. Guests may see the GNoSR's boardroom, which bears a plaque recording its history. On
checking in, it proved to be computerised whoopsie time. They could find no record of my booking,
which was done over the phone (as all the others), ''I spoke to somebody called Sonia''. Long pause
and deep breath ''Oh, that's me'' she said from behind the reception desk. I also quoted the Dinner,
Bed & Breakfast rate I'd been given. Sonia disappeared backstage, the other receptionist gave Sonia an
accusing look, then the manageress appeared. ''There are two members of staff called Sonia.'' (Believe
that if you will...) Yes, they still had a vacancy and charged me at the rate quoted over the phone.
Phew! All's well that ends well … and I wasn't even stopping the night in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The day after, it was first off to Huntly by train
and then back south via Aberdeen, to Perth. I
had a devil of a job trying to find Perth Station
Hotel (RIGHT) in the phone book when booking.
Eventually I rang Perth Tourist Information
Centre, who, with a laugh, gave me the answer.
It's in the phone book under the letter Q, for
Quality Hotel , of course. Why didn't I think of
that? Still, for a touch of slightly faded
Edwardian grandeur you couldn't beat it. My
travels coincided with their 'Are we crazy?'
Special Offer, of £29.99 for Dinner, Bed &
Breakfast. This was clearly a loss leader,
especially compared with their usual charge,
but I would certainly have been crazy not to take advantage. This hotel, unusually, had been jointly
owned and operated by all three of the main line railways serving Perth, the Caledonian, the Highland
and the North British Railways. A vintage enamelled nameplate recording this tripartite ownership may
now be found in the main hall of the (National) Railway Museum in York.
Next day, Edinburgh was the destination, and the Balmoral (formerly the North British) Hotel at
Waverley station. This magnificent pile (postal address 1, Princes Street) was opened in 1902 by the
North British Railway. Part of the NBR's motivation was to give their railway a visible presence on
Princes Street. This is because Waverley station itself is wholly below street level, in a small valley that
once housed the Nor' Loch (a small loch that, by the early 19th century, had apparently become in
effect Edinburgh's open sewer. The name Nor' Loch is perpetuated in the name of a bar in the station).
Thus, from street level, the station is all but invisible until close to, as today. Until the hotel was sold in
1981, one of its functions was to provide all the linen and laundry for the East Coast Main Line sleeping
car trains. Today, there are no East Coast Main Line sleeping cars, of course, apart from diversions.
On entering the hotel's revolving doors, two gentlemen in full Highland dress pounce on your luggage
and you don't see it again until reaching your room after checking in. When booking by phone, I spoke
to the concierge and explained my mission and he kindly offered me a room at half the normal price,
which cheered me. This was especially so as it turned out to be a room with a superb view along
Princes Street giving direct photographic opportunities of the Scott Monument from the 5th floor.
Another member reports staying in a room with a huge oak bed head bearing the name 'North British
Railway'. It appeared to have been allowed to stay as it was too big to remove via the door.
The restaurant had been fully restored to its Art Nouveau splendour, too, but the portions conformed
to the norms of Nouvelle Cuisine, (the bowl is more impressive than the volume contained therein).
NEXT PAGE: The Balmoral Hotel, which was formerly the North British Hotel, in Edinburgh.
(Angus McDougall, 4 Mar 2014.)
Nevertheless, a post stay surprise awaited me. I cannot remember what I put on the comments card,
but it clearly met with approval. A week after I got home, a very large cardboard package arrived in the
post. This contained a reproduction of a book produced by the hotel on its history, based on an
identical publication issued by the NBR when the hotel opened in 1902, with an added chapter on its
post railway history. It resides in my home library, and a suitable thank you letter was sent. The NBR
was under no illusions about their achievement in building the hotel. The railway company
appropriated Mary, Queen of Scots for the frontispiece, so no false modesty there...
The next destination was Ayr Station Hotel. Today it is in a very sad state and in danger of demolition.
It is integral with Ayr station and this is now causing many problems (BLN 1340.2869). But in 2005 the
hotel was still a going concern, another palace of slightly faded Edwardian grandeur, with red and
cream candy stripe wallpaper, big heavy drapes, and that 1914 lift in its Art Nouveau glory. The hotel
opened in 1866, and was rebuilt, probably in 1885, as that date (with the Glasgow & South Western
Railway's armorial device) appears, carved into the red sandstone façade. It closed in 2010 (having
been sold by British Transport Hotels in 1951), by which time it was owned by Malaysian interests with
whom, it seems, Network Rail are unable to make contact. Several million pounds have recently been
spent by Network Rail, shoring up the empty building to prevent loose stone falling on the station and
its passengers. Its future is very uncertain, now. Swallow Hotels owned and ran it during my 2005 stay.
NEXT: The Caledonian Hilton, Princes St, Ex-Caledonian Station Hotel. (Angus McDougall, 13 Feb 2011.)
Next day, back to Edinburgh and the last stop on this tour. This was the Caledonian Hilton at the other
end of Princes Street, formerly the Caledonian Station Hotel and once integral with the Caledonian
Railway's Princes Street station. Externally, it looks remarkably unchanged from railway days. The twin
entrances facing the street once led to the station and the hotel separately; both now serve the hotel.
The platforms area is now an open courtyard behind the building; behind the reception desk was a
clock, still working, which had been rescued from the 1890 fire that badly damaged the station.
The hotel was built between 1899 and 1903 (to designs prepared in 1869!), doubtless as part of the
necessary post-fire rebuild of the station. I was unlucky not to meet the concierge (it was his day off);
he had been employed thus for 40 years, originally when the station was still open (just) - it CP 1965.
Interestingly, I was given a book at reception, on the hotel's history. The panoply of the famous who
have stayed at this hotel included such as Marlene Dietrich, King Hussein of Jordan and Nelson
Mandela. From here it was homeward bound, but I was back in Scotland just a month later. A friend
and I were touring by car, primarily photographing closed railway stations across southwest Scotland.
Two hotels were included in our travels, both once owned by the Glasgow & South Western Railway
(G&SWR), (Dumfries) Station Hotel was straightforward; a homely place, substantially as rebuilt in
1897 (it originally opened about 1865) - it is now a 'Best Western'. The other hotel was Turnberry.
Turnberry was a bit weird. This extraordinary white building with a red tiled roof was opened 17 May
1906 by the G&SWR along with a coastal branch line from Ayr to Girvan that opened the same day
called, naturally, the Maidens & Dunure Light Railway. A station on this line was provided at the back
of the hotel. Turnberry seems to have spawned a village of buildings all in the same white and red
style. Like much of the Ayrshire coast, it has a golf course of some note. Inside the hotel much was of
polished wood. Behind the reception desk sat a twenty something man in full Highland dress. His name
tag read Björn... Our room wasn't ready at 3pm. We went for a walk in the chill March wind, exploring
railway remains in the environs of the hotel. Returning at 4pm we were told our room still wasn't
ready. I pointed out that Gleneagles have their rooms ready for guests at 2pm. Björn looked taken
aback. The system sprang into action, and we suddenly found we were allocated to an 'upgraded'
room with views of the sea and the golf course. Quite what they were doing in the interim, we never
did discover. Unsurprisingly, there weren't many people staying there for the time of year. The hotel
prospered, but its railway did not. Trains from Turnberry to the north ceased in 1930 and from
Turnberry to Girvan in 1942. In 2005 it was American owned (a company called Starwood). Since then,
it has been acquired by Donald Trump. I suspect the original G&SWR directors of 1906 would now be
spinning in their sepulchres at the thought of their 'Jewel in their Crown' being owned by The Donald...
BELOW: Turnberry Hotel on 1 Mar 2014. (Angus McDougall.)
3055] Points & Slips: BLN 1341.2919] Cricklewood: The operating incident was actually (just) on Mon
18 Nov at 00.31 rather than 17th. ●●2925] On the Northern line Mill Hill East station recorded 1.38M
passengers rather than 13.8M in 2017! ●●2930] Don was wrong! Concerning the second photo of the
floods in e-BLN, the River Don is out of the picture to the right; on the left is actually a canalised cut of
the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation. This is navigable stretches of the River Don linked by
canal cuts bypassing more difficult stretches in this area. As access to the cuts is via locks when the
Don is in flood the river overtops the lock gates leading to the canal sections also flooding, as seen.
●●2996] During the Ballybrophy - Birdhill line closure from 9 Nov until 14 Dec over four miles of the
single line was relaid near Nenagh. ●●2999] 'Donegal' with one 'l' refers to County Donegal in the
northwest Irish republic, for example the County Donegal Joint Railways Committee but in Belfast
'Donegall Quay' is an 'L' of a place so has two 'ls'. ●●3007] The line was exclusively Glasgow & South
Western Railway east (not west) of Castle Douglas to Dumfries.
3056] BLS Rail Sales: All the current TRACKmaps are in stock except Ireland, prices including P&P:
●Book 1 Scotland & Isle of Man (Nov 2017) - £10; ●Book 2 Eastern (Oct 2016) - £13;
●Book 3 Western & Wales (Jun 2018) - £10; ●Book 4 Midlands & North West (Dec 2018) - £13
●Book 5 Southern & Transport for London (Aug 2019) - £13. If purchased together then a further
discount applies to postage (enquire). If paying by card, please email for a special link. Contact your
Sales Officer, Graeme Jolley - per back page. Due to illness, the new 15th Baker Atlas is now delayed
until 31 Mar 2020. When a confirmed date for release is received, we will notify you in BLN.
1342 EAST MIDLANDS (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
3057] Lincoln: Extra services (but with some cancelled due to crewing problems) and charters ran for
the Christmas Market as usual, with some service trains strengthened. An unusual extra on Sat 7 Dec
was 21.16 Lincoln to Leeds (22.41), an EMR HST via Doncaster, Hambleton South Jn to West Jn and
Cross Gates. This was the 17.05 HST from London St Pancras that arrives Lincoln 20.26 and then forms
the 20.45 to Nottingham (instead this was covered by a conventional DMU and extended to Derby).
3058] Grantham: As well as a relatively new footbridge with lifts and frosted glass that stops people
looking out, there is a large 'EIIR' wall pillar box on Up P1. A plaque on a P2 catenary mast indicates
that it was the 10,000th mast for the project (they might have done a bit better with more) planted by
Secretary of State for Transport, John Moore on 15 Oct 1986. Presumably Grantham lass Margaret
Thatcher was too busy as Prime Minster at the time (but was known to dislike railways anyway). There
is a two-window booking office, with new equipment which is not capable of issuing platform tickets.
3059] Gainsborough Lea Road: (BLN 1337.2419) The new 120yd long P2 (98m 161yd -98m 41yd) came
into use Mon 16 Dec on the Down Gainsborough. The old P2, 142yd north, closed for later demolition.
3060] Nottingham Express Transit: The Institute of Customer Service has named NET as the top public
transport company, beating off competition such as Virgin Atlantic, Eurotunnel and P&O Ferries.
NET gained an 83% customer satisfaction rating. The average for all companies surveyed was 78;
(71% for the transport sector). For customers recommending the network to others, the rating was 8.5
out of 10 with praise also given for NET being easier to use than other forms of transport, rating the
system 3 out of 10 for the effort required (10 being most difficult) the transport sector average was 5.
3061] Dec 2020 Timetable: The Dec 2020 track access amendment suggests an improved service for
Spalding - Sleaford with none then terminating at, or starting from, Spalding (the crossovers will be
rare!). (SuX) Peterborough has 12 joint line arrivals and 15 departures compared with 11 and 12 now.
At the moment, stopping passenger trains run north of Spalding only between 09.00 and 17.00 from
the days when there used to be a very large number of staffed level crossings on that section before
resignalling and upgrading. Leicester - Lincoln - Peterborough services are shown (at present there is
one trip daily SuX Leicester - Lincoln - Sleaford). There is no mention of splitting Liverpool - Norwich
services but a footnote refers to replacing Liverpool Lime Street with Manchester Piccadilly.
X.169] Spalding on 8 May 1976, the annual flower parade, the one day each year when the station
came to life with special trains came from all over the country. Otherwise there were very few trains
and few passengers. ABOVE: Looking south, the Peterborough line was under threat of closure and
had two return trains a day; the line to March (closed in 1982) had more passenger trains. By chance
your Editor was there too - on the 6-car DMU seen (from Birmingham) and did the evening trip to
Peterborough and back as well (70p return - a special cheap fare - worth £5; it is £9.10p now off-peak).
BELOW: Looking north with a pair of Hastings Units in the busy carriage sidings. Straight ahead is the
direct Boston line (CP 3 Oct 1970 - a very bleak day for railways in Lincolnshire) at this time open as a
single track freight only branch to Spalding Sugar Factory. Left is the still open line to Sleaford.
The final Spalding Flower Parade was in May 2013. (Both Ian Mortimer, 8 May 1976.)
X.170] ABOVE: (BLN 1329.1263; map e-BLN 1300.453 - both BLNs are on our website archive) the new
East Midlands Gateway Freight Terminal; the first train http://bit.ly/2S7ySBJ arrived at 22.47 on
Tue 17 Dec from Southampton Western Docks Berth 109. The following morning the first departure
from the new terminal was at 04.39 http://bit.ly/36QaVmy returning to Southampton. (Mark Bridel.)
BELOW: One of the numerous Kingsbury Oil Terminal to Lindsey Oil Refinery discharged oil tank trains
passing the new Gateway West Jn on the Castle Donington line on Mon 16 Dec. Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal
fired power station is in the background but is not in steam. (Rest of photos Tom Gilby, 16 Dec 2019.)
ABOVE: Detail of the new junction, which faces west. On the branch itself the 'Arrival Line' is on the
left and 'Departure Line' on the right. These long, heavy, DB Cargo operated oil trains are impressive
and run seven days a week, usually with a Class 60 Loco. BELOW: A bridge on the new 2¼ mile branch.
ABOVE: The branch end of the Arrival Line and Departure Line which curve round left to join the main
line and (right) the Cripple Siding. The highway style 'Departures Line' black on white sign ahead points
left - presumably to remind train crew to drive on the left? Taken from a public path with a zoom lens,
the falling gradient towards the junction is noticeable. The elevated road middle right is the A50.
3062] Wellingborough: This station has a small VR wall pillar-box on the Down main P1 near the
booking office entrance. The booking office opens until late and sells platform tickets at only 10p each.
1342 GREATER LONDON (Geoff Brockett) [email protected]
3063] South Tottenham Jn - Seven Sisters Jn: (BLN 1337.2425) Since 30 Apr 2016 the unidirectional SO
PSUL Liverpool St - South Tottenham - Enfield Town has run this way only once (Sat 18 Aug 2018).
3064] Thameslink: (BLN 1314.2101) Automatic Train Operation (ATO) in the Blackfriars - St Pancras
core was switched on for final testing and validation during regular services on 11 Dec. The current
peak service is 20tph, but frequency enhancements next year require ATO to operate. Following
extensive testing, GTR is introducing ATO as a 'soft launch' to further validate aspects of the system
before full deployment in 2020, while drivers are trained to use the technology. ('Modern Railways')
3065] Crossrail: (BLN 1341.2920) The latest version of TfL's misnamed 'Tube Map' has the TfL Rail
service between Hayes & Harlington and Reading added on the left hand side. It is depicted as running
in a northwards direction, with Reading seemingly not far from Northolt!
3066] Northern Line Microgricing: Timetable Notice 132/19 http://bit.ly/2Y5VTVD is a temporary
WTT from 30 Dec 2019 until further notice in place of WTT 57 (BLN 1298.233, Feb 2018). It is needed
due to the loss of a train berth on the Kennington Loop to allow signalling for the Battersea extension.
Unsurprisingly, the microgricing impact is almost entirely at Kennington and Morden, with just one
train renumbering affecting Golders Green. However, a correction has also come to light at Edgware.
Edgware P1: The SO overnight departure gap starts 00.50¼.
At Golders Green P3, the southbound arrival SO 00.30 is renumbered to .
Kennington P1 arrivals: The first SSuX evening peak adjusts to 16.43½.
P2 departures: The last SSuX peak adjusts to 09.36¾ and 19.53½.
Morden P2 = P1 arrivals: The SSuX evening peak gap becomes 16.16¾  - 18.48¾ .
P2 departures: The SSuX morning gaps start 08.36¼; the SO overnight gap ends 04.22½.
P5 arrivals: The TWThFO 00.59¾ arrival is renumbered to .
3067] Bakerloo Line Microgricing: (BLN 1328.115) The previous guide was May 2019. Current Working
Timetable (WTT 45) http://bit.ly/2Y5VTVD is dated 15 Dec 2019. It is designed to accommodate the
new London Overground timetable and includes withdrawal of one off-peak train SSuX, which had
already been implemented by a timetable notice. The only significant microgricing change is Willesden
Junction's bay losing most of its trains. [Square brackets] below contain LU train running numbers.
= Known recent use also by LU or LO to turn back in service during planned engineering.
= Known passenger use during disruption.
Connections with Jubilee Line at Baker Street, Queen's Park south slip, Willesden Junction
……crossovers (both ends) and Wembley Central crossover: All are no booked use.
Lambeth North (both), Piccadilly Circus, Paddington & Harrow & Wealdstone X/Os:ECS only.
Kilburn High Road LU turning back 'off the brown' is regularly used by ECS/overnight sleet trains.
Queen's Park P2 northbound arrivals: SuMX 00.35½ ; SuO 00.35½  (each has a train ……
………………………………………………………………. connection on to Stonebridge Park but not back south).
Willesden Junction bay P2 (too short for Bakerloo trains; all are LO to/from North London Line):
…Arrivals SuO 00.58 & 23.47. (Remaining previous arrivals are now at P3, are ECS or continue to ….
…….Watford Junction.) Departures SSuX 05.52; SO 06.00 and SuO 09.01.
3068] HS2: (BLN 1341.2928) A member involved in planning upgrades to Waterloo station a few years
ago wonders if the person proposing HS2 running to the South Bank has considered capacity/transport
arrangements in the area. Then, there was a significant issue of South West Trains delivering more
people into the area than local transport could cope with. If passenger growth had not levelled off in
recent years, this would now be a serious problem. This was one justification for Crossrail 2, which
would divert a fair number of passengers elsewhere, distributing them across central London. The
Waterloo & City, Northern and Jubilee Lines were full to capacity during the morning peak and there
was only limited spare capacity on the Bakerloo. Even this will be taken up if the extension is built.
TfL said that Waterloo to Strand was the busiest bus corridor in London and there was insufficient
road space for even more buses. The various attractions on the South Bank mean that congestion is
not limited to weekday peak hours and pedestrian circulation in the area can be difficult at weekends.
3069] 15 Dec Timetable Changes: The most notable change affecting Greater London local services is
probably the extension of TfL Rail services to Reading (BLN 1338.2547). Additionally the evening Great
Northern service to Moorgate is diverted to King's Cross SSuX. The timetable leaflets show the entire
weekend service as diverted from 22 Feb, but RTT shows all services running to King's Cross until the
end of Dec. This is to allow NR to carry out maintenance and cleaning of the Northern City Line
tunnels. New Southgate and Oakleigh Park have additional calls by Up trains during the morning peak.
On Saturdays Thameslink core gains 2tph (trains per hour) each way by joining existing Peterborough
to King's Cross and London Bridge to Horsham services. This matches the SSuX service pattern.
On London Overground, North London Line peak services increase from 8tph to 10tph. There are now
no booked South Acton reversals. The Watford DC Line has additional early and late trains. SSuX there
are earlier Barking to Gospel Oak trains (05.39 & 05.54) - previously the first train was at 06.06.
Due to the enhanced GWR timetable, Heathrow Express SSuX services are restricted to Paddington P7
until 21.00, instead of using P6 & 7 alternately. Turnaround times will be shorter. The TOC says that
this will last until early 2021. However, it will actually be longer, as they will have to wait until TfL Rail
services are banished downstairs when they are (eventually) diverted into the Crossrail tunnels!
X.171] More news from Cricklewood: NEXT PAGE TOP: (TRACKmaps 4 p8B Dec 2018) On Tue 10 Dec
soil/inert spoil loading restarted in the re-opened North Siding 11 & 12, this is No11. LOWER: Good
progress is being made on the new build South Sidings 'A' to 'E', trackwork has reached halfway. This
shows roads 'E' (left) to 'A' (right) looking south towards St Pancras. (Both Robin Morel, 14 Dec 2019.)
ABOVE: 1960 one inch to the mile map showing the line proposed for reope
railway is top left with Garsdale station incorrectly (at the time) shown as 'c
to passenger traffic in 1959. There were no intermediate stations on the 5¾
ening by the Upper Wensleydale Railway (Item 3073). The Settle & Carlisle
closed to passenger' - a white spot. Hawes is bottom right, which had closed
mile line; Redmire on the Wensleydale Railway is another 12 miles east.
1342 NORTH EAST & YORKSHIRE (Geoff Blyth) [email protected]
3070] How many sides does a Paragon have? (BLN 1336.2308) Hull Trains has introduced the first of
their five new Hitachi Paragon bimodes into passenger service. The £60M fleet is expected to all be
operational by early 2020. Over ⅔ of Hull - London is electrified. Hull Trains offered £150M towards
electrification to Hull and would have ordered EMUs but electrification is out of favour in England, of
course. At least bimodes may be able to run when the wires are down and use diversionary routes.
3071] Outpaced: The Rail Minister has stated that Northern planned to remove two thirds of its 102
Pacer DMUs by the Dec timetable change. Subject to receiving the appropriate dispensation, up to
11 Class 142s and 23 Class 144s will remain in the fleet for a short time to cover delayed delivery of
new trains. The remaining Class 142s are expected to go by 17 Feb 2020 and the 144s by 17 May.
A Northern spokesman confirmed that the last survivors will probably be used in South Yorkshire.
'Gazettelive' reports that the plan was for all Teesside Pacers to be replaced by refurbished Class 158s
from 15 Dec timetable change. Due to interworking it may mean that all Pacers in the North East will
be replaced. Apparently they are to be stored 'near Worksop' which could mean one of the yards?
Railway forums suggest that is an intermediate step while space is created for them at Booths
Scrapyard in Rotherham. Angel Trains has announced that it plans to offer some Class 142s to heritage
railways (it is believed that the Chasewater Railway is having two) and to the emergency services, the
latter for disaster exercises. All proceeds will go to charity. On 16 Dec the (National) Railway Museum
received 142001, 'allowing future enthusiasts to look back on the importance of the Pacer'!
They were built 1980-87, intended as an interim solution to rolling stock shortage, with a lifespan of up
to 20 years. However, we have the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations and a former Transport
Secretary to thank that they are being retired at all. In Feb 2015 Patrick McLoughlin had to issue a
ministerial direction to overrule objections from DfT civil servants over a pledge to replace all Pacers
on the Northern Rail franchise by 2020. The DfT's Permanent Secretary wrote to McLoughlin seeking
confirmation of a decision to scrap the Pacers and make the next operator order 120 new carriages.
The Secretary claimed it would be poor value for money and involve large costs but relatively few
benefits. He also warned it would also limit train operating company flexibility in procuring the best
trains they could. McLoughlin replied: I do not consider that the continued use of these uncomfortable
and low-quality vehicles is compatible with our vision for economic growth and prosperity in the north.
A Surrey member remarked to the writer that the DfT might have taken a slightly more positive view of
the benefits if the DfT Permanent Secretary had to commute to work daily in a Pacer!
There seems to be a deafening silence over the idea of 'transforming them into a community space'
(BLN 1330.1422). Your Regional Editor did a search and has found nothing following the immediate
less than enthusiastic reactions to this bizarre idea. Perhaps the civil servant responsible for this has
been promoted and is now responsible for planning the future transport needs of Rockall…!
3072] Darlington North Jn: A cracked rail (part of the northernmost facing crossover) in the Up Main
line was discovered on the morning of 4 Dec. Following examination, line speed was authorised
through the points in the reverse direction but only 5 mph in the normal direction. To minimise delays,
all Down trains used P1 and all Up trains P4 - the opposite of normal. This involved the use of several
crossovers, as Down and Up trains had to cross each other's path both north and south of the station.
However, the only rare crossover was the affected one. The points were plain lined overnight.
3073] Upper Wensleydale Railway: (BLN 1341.2932) It doesn't take an eagle eye to see that the train
in the e-BLN photo of Hawes station can't go anywhere (yet)! The station site was purchased by the
Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and converted into a museum and tourist information centre
in the early 1990s. The buildings and platforms were refurbished and a short length of track relaid.
A preserved industrial tank locomotive (at the Northallerton end), cosmetically painted in British
Railways (BR) colours and a pair of ex-BR Mark 1 coaches were installed as a static exhibit
ABOVE: (BLN 1341.2932) West of Hawes station towards Garsdale, on other side of the road
overbridge. The former bridge pier can be seen in the tiny Duerely Beck, the bridge would obviously
need reinstating if the line was to be reopened. (Ian Hughes, 22 Nov 2019.)
3074] Keighley: NR is to spend over £4M improving the Grade II listed ex-Midland Railway station.
It OP 6 May 1883 (replacing the first one the other side of the road, OP 16 Mar 1847), and is now used
by 1.7M people annually. The Chairman of Friends of the Airedale Line has said that the current state
of the building is not a good advertisement for the area. The work involves: ●Refurbishment of the
station building, footbridge and entrance to make them all brighter. ●Resurfacing both platforms and
improving stepping distances to trains. ●Canopy refurbishment over the access ramps. The work will
be phased to minimise disruption and is expected to take place between April 2021 and March 2022.
3075] Current restrictions: From 15 Dec to 31 Jan 2020 the number of electric trains drawing current
from Innerwick (south of Oxwellmains) and Marshall Meadows OHLE feeder stations (just north of
Berwick-upon-Tweed) has to be reduced at times for the power supply to cope with the enhanced
service. This affects IEP Class 800 or 802 bimodes, some are required to run Chathill (45m 56ch) -
Longniddry (13m 32ch) on diesel. Innerwick is just a couple of miles from Torness Power Station!!
Down Direction: LNER (Sundays only): Drivers of affected trains will be informed before leaving
Newcastle. Approaching the restricted area, they will receive a GSM notification and at once change to
diesel mode dynamically, continuing to Edinburgh in diesel mode. TPE (all days): All services will
change to diesel mode during the Morpeth stop until Edinburgh. Up Direction: LNER (Sundays only):
Drivers will be informed before leaving Edinburgh and change to diesel mode before departure.
They will all change to electric mode during the Newcastle stop. TPE (all days): All services start in
diesel mode from Edinburgh and change to electric mode during the Morpeth stop.
On Day 1, Sun 15 Dec, only two of the four new scheduled TPE services north or Newcastle each way
actually ran. The second northbound train, 14.25 Lime Street to Edinburgh, started at Manchester
Victoria due to train crew issues, then ran out of fuel at Burnmouth (a few miles north of Berwick) and
had to get special permission to continue in electric mode. The return south terminated at Newcastle.
3076] Keeping ahead of codes: Regarding the correction (BLN 1339.2767) to the Wensleydale freight
caption at Northallerton, in 1974 an Up Newcastle train had a 1Axx headcode; 1Yxx is a very recent
introduction. ABOVE is a table of Eastern Region headcode letters used in 7 May 1973 - 5 May 1974
Working Timetable (WTT). Earlier, at least up to the 6 May 1968 - 4 May 1969 WTT, 1Axx was used in
both directions for King's Cross - York - Newcastle - Edinburgh - Aberdeen and the Anglo-Scottish Car
Carriers between Holloway and Perth. London to Hull and West Riding services were 1Nxx, as they
had been when the North Eastern Region existed, and 1Exx towards London. Services to Sheffield
were 1Hxx, and to Cleethorpes (via Spalding and Boston!) 1Lxx; both carried 1Bxx southbound.
King's Cross suburban services then carried route codes on the front of the trains but were signalled
with four digit numbers. A couple of examples were 2B68 (2574) 12.03 King's Cross to Hertford North
& 1B66 (3065) 15.40 Cambridge to King's Cross. Huntingdon trains carried unique 2Bxx numbers
(below 50) in both directions. This system was still used until May 1974 but, sometime after, was
'normalised' for the new Passenger Information System being installed for electrification. Route codes
and four digit numbers then disappeared. Our member cannot recall exactly when, between these two
WTTs, the codes 1Sxx and 1Exx started to be used for inter-regional trains. Since 2018, 1Wxx has been
used for Down East Coast trains running beyond Edinburgh with the exception of Glasgow services.
3077] Sheffield: Clearly with plenty of energy remaining after their energy-absorbing efforts at Hull
Paragon (BLN 1338.2553), NR proposes to install similar buffer stops at Sheffield P2C and P7 bays. This
is planned for 'early 2020/21' opportunistically following track renewal work. Unlike at Hull, there is no
mention of how many years will pass before one can expect a fatality to occur!
3078] As the days lengthen so will some platforms: Woodlesford, Featherstone, Pontefract Tanshelf,
Castleford, Normanton, Pontefract Monkhill & Knottingley are to have longer platforms. At Corbridge
on the Tyne Valley line, P1 (to Newcastle) will also be lengthened from 85.3m to 97.5m. The Penistone
- Huddersfield line is in the same boat, platforms are being extended at Lockwood, Shepley, Honley,
Brockholes, Berry Brow, & Denby Dale. Work began on 20 Nov to extend Huddersfield P2 from 54.6m
to 65.1m. A key part of the work takes place between 25 and 27 Dec minimising passenger disruption.
3079] South Shields: The new interchange opened on 4 Aug, replacing the original Metro station; local
bus services were also brought into the facility. It welcomed its millionth passenger at the start of Nov,
so should achieve the expected 7.5M passengers a year. This sounds a lot but includes bus users too.
These numbers were boosted by spectators and runners for the 8 Sep Great North Run Half Marathon
from Newcastle. Many used South Shields interchange travelling to/from from the finish line on the
sea front, but presumably there were no (honest!) runners running for the Metro to South Shields!
3080] York - Harrogate: (BLN 1340.2802) The £13.5M project to increase the York - Knaresborough
service from one to two trains per hour each way, all day, is funded by North Yorkshire County Council
and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) under a Development Services Agreement with NR. The
present hourly service has attracted strong criticism from local communities and passenger user
groups in recent years. LEP funding requires the benefits to be realised by Mar 2021 so work must be
completed in time for the enhanced service to start by the Dec 2020 timetable change. The plans:
>Key token single line working (requiring the manual exchange of tokens) replaced by tokenless block.
>Extend the Hammerton - Cattal double track about 209m west from Cattal with new power operated
junction points, raising the speed over the Up line divergence from 20 to 40 mph. A 3-aspect colour
light signal with AWS will be provided and simultaneous Cattal arrivals will then be possible.
>New signals to protect Whixley Crossing (11m 8ch). Magnetic locks are proposed for the pedestrian
gates at Whixley and Wilstrop (7m 45ch) Crossings, normally locked and released on user request.
>Removing the pedestrian gates at Cattal and Hammerton station level crossings and diverting users
over the road crossing. This requires wider gates and provision of a suitable footpath.
>Reinstatement of pedestrian wicket gates at Hammerton Road crossing with magnetic locks.
Increasing the speed over the turnout at Poppleton and the line speed to 90mph were rejected as not
being deliverable within the budget and timescales. It is interesting that NR presumably now considers
they can after all accommodate the additional services on the ECML between York and Skelton Jn!
3081] Thorpe Marsh Power Station: (BLN 1337.2441) This was north of Doncaster in 45 acres south of
the line between Stainforth Jn and Skellow Jn and east of the present Thorpe Marsh Jn (for Doncaster
North Chord). It was coal fired, with heavy fuel oil a 'tertiary' fuel and also used for lighting up. The
station was closed after 31 years service (1963 to 1994) - a relatively short life for a big power station.
It was the prototype for the new 'generation' of
'super coal fired power stations' with 500/
550MW generators and had two of the latter.
These new stations (now themselves closing)
caused many small and little used 'standby' old
power stations to close in the mid/late 1970s.
This resulted in our now BLN Editor arranging
Society visits, rushing around to travel on the
interesting and varied railway systems before
their demise. It was said that you had to be very
careful to make sure you turned up at the right
power station on the right day! Thorpe Marsh
Oil Sidings Ground Frame (the Network Change
notice subject) is still extant. Although the notice
didn't use this name, that was its original
function and it had oil discharge equipment.
However, significant use of oil dried up after
prices quadrupled with the oil crisis in the 1970s
and the siding remained unused for decades.
LEFT: The original Thorpe Marsh Jn for the
imposing power station - looking east towards
Hatfield. (Andy Overton, 31 Dec 1984.)
3082] Do ye fancy a wee dram of … Filey Bay? The former waiting room at Hunmanby station, built in
1846, is now holiday accommodation. A member recommends the nearby café about 200m east of the
level crossing, located in the whisky distillery (yes, this isn't a late running April fool!). The Spirit of
Yorkshire Distillery, the first in Yorkshire, is now producing their 'Filey Bay' single malt here, made from
locally grown barley. Perhaps distillery gricing will now become a sideline for our members whose
mission is to have a drink every year in a 'Good Beer Guide' pub in every county in this country.
3083] Trains running after the closure date: (BLN 1341.2936). When the Ryedale [Malton - Gilling etc]
lines closed to all traffic west of Amotherby from 10 Aug 1964 (BLN 1317.2478), that very day a freight
train bound for Coxwold and Kirbymoorside left Malton at 09.40, but didn't arrive back until 16.00.
Similarly, on 14 Aug 1964, an 08.45 freight train from Malton returned at 16.00. A travelling signalman
accompanied the trains to operate the crossing gates and the now unstaffed signal boxes. The trains
collected vans from Kirbymoorside and Helmsley, still containing agricultural feedstuffs belonging to
R Silcock & Sons, empty coal wagons from Coxwold and one or two old stores vans that had no doubt
been sitting around for years. A member saw one at Helmsley marked 'not to leave Thornton Dale' but
it had, as that station was on the former direct Pickering - Seamer (- Scarborough) Forge Valley line!
It is thought that R Silcock & Sons was an animal feedstuffs distributor and the railway was their agent.
The Malton - Kirbymoorside and return pick-up freight on 7 Aug 1964 included six empty vans, of
which three were left at Kirbymoorside and the other three dropped off at Helmsley on the way back.
Their purpose was to load all the remaining unsold stock for return to Silcock's depot (in Hull?). It is not
known on which freight working (10 or 14 Aug 1964) the loaded vans returned.
X.172] Doncaster iPort: Three photos taken on Tue 17 Dec 2019 by Andy Overton. NEXT PAGE: Left,
the 09.33 from Tees Dock is arriving and right is 66779 on the 14.55 departure to Felixstowe South.
The South Yorkshire Joint line is straight on to Maltby and Worksop.
BELOW: 66769 is leaving Doncaster iPort light engine at 14.07. The
terminal is a big success with up to five trains a day now scheduled.
BELOW: 66779 'Evening Star' leaves with
h the 14.55 to Felixstowe South at 14.43.
3084] Route Availability: NR is proposing that Knottingley West - Potters Grange Jn (Goole) be made
available for Class 158 DMUs from Feb 2020. Northern also wants Skelton Jn (York) - Heaton Depot
(Newcastle) available for Class 170 DMUs. At present they run to Heaton under a temporary gauging
certificate with special conditions, as there are several structures with limiting and prohibitive gauge
clearance. Gauge clearance works are required before a permanent gauging certificate can be issued.
1342 NORTH WEST (John Cameron) [email protected]
3085] Flixton: (BLN 1338.2567) The signal box was a Standard Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC)
structure with the 'hip' roof. Our member thinks that the majority of CLC boxes were to this design.
The box controlled the Up and Down Main lines and it worked to Urmston (Up, towards Manchester)
and Irlam Station (Down, towards Liverpool). He suspects that, in 1950, a standard CLC frame would
be in use. About 1950 - 1965 there was a goods yard (with 2 sidings and an Up Bay Platform). The now
trackless bay is still there and well covered with trees. There was a headshunt towards Urmston.
Signalling: Up Distant, Up Outer Home, Up Inner Home, and Up Section Signal (the one that could be
seen from the original correspondent's house). Beneath the Section Signal was Urmston's Up Distant,
Down Distant (beneath Urmston's Down Section Signal), Down Home Signal and Down Section Signal.
This last signal was beyond the station so there was a whole train length for shunting into the yard.
The 1 Oct 1960 Sectional Appendix gives the distance between Urmston and Flixton signal boxes as
1m 117yd. It shows a Down Intermediate Block Section (IBS) 1m 1091yd from Flixton box and an Up
IBS at 1m 554yd from Irlam box. The distance from Flixton box to Irlam Station box was 2m 687yd.
BELOW: Flixton station, an antediluvian method of transportation leaves for Manchester. The loading
dock/Goods Yard shunt neck was left, by the narrow platform end. (John Cameron, 18 Mar 2018.)
At Flixton Yard traffic was mostly domestic coal; one of the local coal merchants who used it was
Corser Brothers. They were Elders at the church our member attended as a boy and delivered coal to
his house. This was in an ancient looking 'Guy' lorry complete with the Indian Chief head radiator cap.
The yard closed on 2 Dec 1963 and he remembers the aforementioned signal disappearing then.
Flixton Signal Box closed on Sun 24 Apr 1966. Urmston had an Intermediate Block Signal 'IB1' instead,
1m 874yd from the box, near the site of Flixton's Down Section Signal. 'IB2' would have been Flixton IB
Signal Section re-controlled. Irlam had an IB1 (the previous IB Section Signal described above) and a
new 'IB2' - Flixton Up Inner Home re-controlled. Our member assumes these signals were colour lights
but is not sure. In summary, Flixton Signal Box had been replaced with Intermediate Block Sections.
Our member has a Nov 1970 Weekly Notice page on which Urmston and Irlam Station boxes no longer
exist. The signalling then became Track Circuit Block, as it is now. The fringe between Manchester
Piccadilly (MP signal prefixes), and Glazebrook East (GE) boxes was (and still is) at Flixton.
3086] Littleborough - no storm in a teacup: Support The Oldham Rochdale Manchester lines (STORM)
complain that when the line is closed between Todmorden and Littleborough, services are invariably
curtailed to Rochdale. This happened on 7 Nov when flooding at Walsden closed the line between
Littleborough and Todmorden so no trains ran at Smithy Bridge and Littleborough. There is a signalled
crossover (14m 40ch) which would allow ECS turnbacks beyond Littleborough (13m 65ch). However, a
Mobile Operations Manger is needed to work the associated Littleborough Ground Frame.
3087] Merseyrail: A new 'Merseyrail Only Railpass' is now available as a weekly, monthly and annual
zonal ticket giving unlimited travel on the chosen areas of the Merseyrail. It requires a passport size
photo and supporting photo ID when first purchased. Weekly prices range from £15.90 for one zone
on Northern and Wirral Lines, up to £33.50 for an all zone 'Railpass' including the City Line. Monthly
tickets are £54.90 to £116.90 and annual £549 to £1,169. Young persons (age 5-18) Weekly and
Monthly tickets are half price. Term Time passes are available and valid SSuX to 20.00, term time only.
3088] Kirkdale: (BLN 1341.2943) NEXT PAGE: A schematic plan provided to participants on our 8 Dec
'Bootle Brush' tour showing the new layout following work for the new Class 777 EMUs. 52 x 4-car
articulated trains are on order (with an option of up to 60 more); each seats 182 passengers with room
officially for 302 more standing. Note that the 'Carriage Shed' (TRACKmaps 4 p40A Dec 2018) has gone.
3089] Ditton: NR wishes to install two new signals (DN821 & DN824) for the freight connection here.
This is the third phase of the Weaver to Wavertree resignalling/re-control to Manchester ROC.
Originally this project was to be carried out and commissioned as one but was later disaggregated into
three separate phases. The first two have been successfully commissioned and are in operation.
3090] Liverpool: London Northwestern Railway has made changes to their Liverpool - Euston services
in the new timetable to improve reliability. A change to calling patterns south of Birmingham means
five weekday services to Euston are accelerated by 30min; on Sundays there are now 18 through trains
(10 to London and 8 to Liverpool), there were none before. Changes to calling patterns on many trains
between Coventry and Birmingham also aim to improve reliability and timekeeping.
3091] Avanti West Coast: Hitachi has been contracted to build 23 intercity trains. They are due to be
assembled at Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham, and enter service between May and Dec 2022. This is good
news for that factory which was running out of orders. There are 10 x 7 car EMUs for London to
Birmingham and Liverpool services, the latter are due to go half-hourly all day in Dec 2022. The rest of
the order is for 13 x 5 car bimodes. All will have 26m long carriages each with more capacity like the
Hitachi GWR IETs and LNER Azumas, but hopefully with more comfortable seats (please). There seems
to be a lack of information about whether they will tilt but it seems likely. The £350M new trains will
also replace the 20 x 5 car Class 221 Super Voyagers which each have 258 seats. There will be 301
seats on a 5-car Bimode and 453 seats on a 7-car EMU (comparing well with 469 on a 9-car Pendolino).
BELOW: (Item 3097) Greater Manchester Rail & Metrolink network - all stops shown are included.
3092] WCML Fares, not just 'First' Class: The competition regulator has accepted proposals from First
Group to cap fares on routes between Preston and Scotland. First has a 70% stake in Avanti West
Coast and 100% in TPE. Both TOCs have agreed to cap fares on 21 overlapping journeys over the two
franchises, and maintain the same availability of cheaper advance tickets where competition arises.
3093] Metrolink: Reportedly trams 3061-3120 cannot venture south of Timperley towards Altrincham
or north of Whitefield towards Bury because the fleet is not fitted with the necessary equipment to
run on NR or into Bury with its Track Circuit Block signalling. (There is a board at Whitefield: 'Signalled
Section Ahead'.) On Metrolink, it is extremely rare to see a 3001 and a 3061 coupled together in traffic,
although our member has seen it twice; a few years ago and again in Nov 2019 on the Rochdale line
(3033/3096). Altrincham - Bury is almost invariably worked by pairs of 3001s; Bury - Piccadilly and
Altrincham - Piccadilly services are normally single or pairs of 3001s. The rest of the network is more
normally worked by single 3061s with some pairs and the 3001s can be seen on any part of the system.
3094] Preston: Shown in TRACKmaps 4 p30C Dec 2018 as 'platform out of use' the east most platform,
served by the bidirectional Up & Down Goods loop but signalled to passenger standards, has now been
numbered 'P7'. Previously there were various signs on Preston station referring to P7 but not on the
platform itself. The current Sectional Appendix dated 2 Apr 2016 shows no platform at all then.
However, the National Rail website station map does admit to its existence and says that there is a
train departure indicator and even has pictures of the platform. On Realtime Trains and suchlike there
are no booked passenger or ECS workings; although when it is used ad hoc P7 is shown afterwards.
Can any reader clarify when the numbering occurred and shed any light on the situation please?
3095] Liverpool Lime Street: (BLN 1324.566) Following your Editor's intervention, the out of date
station map showing the previous station layout now correctly shows the 10 platforms but has two
non-existent tracks alongside the P1 track (which itself is correctly positioned) and non-existent middle
sidings between P2/3 and between P4/5. There are also no station photos with the map as seems to
be the case for new and updated maps now. However, he has been unable to repeat this success at
Malvern Link which still has photos of the old dilapidated buildings that were demolished in 2013!!
3096] Rochdale: To make the town centre a more attractive place to live or visit, an 'integrated
ticketing' pilot is to be trialled (shouldn't that be on the Manchester Airport line?). Rail tickets from/to
Rochdale will be valid on Metrolink between the station stop and the Town Centre terminus. This is by
Smith Street - where the new Riverside development is being built. A new shopping centre and cinema
are due to open at Easter. Phase 2 of the project involves construction of over 200 apartments soon
after. Rochdale Council had requested a similar system to that which allows rail passengers arriving at
Victoria or Piccadilly with appropriate tickets to cross the city centre using Metrolink. Read on…
3097] Tram Trains Manchester Style? Since the new zonal
fares scheme started in Jan 2019 a train ticket from anywhere
in Greater Manchester into Manchester City Centre can also
be used on the Metrolink 'City Zone' at no extra cost. Valid
rail tickets have 'Manchester CTLZ' (Manchester Central Zone
or Zone 1 - LEFT) as the destination. This is also the case for
any train ticket between two stations in Greater Manchester
(only) where passengers have to change between city centre
stations. Metrolink City Zone includes the tram stops at
Deansgate-Castlefield, St Peter's Square, Piccadilly Gardens,
Piccadilly, New Islington, Market Street, Shude Hill,
Exchange Square and Victoria plus the lines between them.
The Greater Manchester boundary stations: Appley Bridge, Blackrod, Bromley Cross, Littleborough,
Greenfield, Hadfield, Glossop, Strines, Rose Hill, Hazel Grove, Middlewood, Cheadle Hulme,
Bramhall, Heald Green, Manchester Airport, Hale, Glazebrook, Patricroft, Bryn, Wigan NW & Orrell.
Combined tickets: These also save money and can be purchased from Metrolink ticket machines. For a
peak return journey from a Greater Manchester railway station to a tram stop outside Zone 1, buy a
combined ticket to include the required Metrolink zones at the station ticket office or on the train if
the ticket office is closed (not available from railway ticket machines). From a tram stop outside Zone 1
to a Greater Manchester railway station, use the ticket machine at the tram stop before travelling:
(1): Press the 'Combined Travel: Tram Bus Train and Railzone' button. (2): Choose 'Railzone'. (3): Press
the button for the rail zone of the destination station. If the zone is not known, press the information
button next to each Railzone, or check the ticket information poster at the tram stop. Simples!
Tickets from outside the Greater Manchester area have 'Manchester STNS' as the destinations, which
refers to Piccadilly, Oxford Road, Victoria and Deansgate - these are NOT valid on Metrolink services.
3098] Ulverston: This fine station (307,416 passengers in 2017-18) is Grade II listed and also hosts
'Buffers' night club, but the renovation work completed by Railtrack is now showing its age. Weeds
grow in the ridge and furrow glazed platform roof which has significant evidence of rusting. It still has a
TPE mural although only Northern now serves the line. The western end of the building, with its
blackened glass extensions onto the platform, is no longer in use and looks abandoned. The booking
office should be open for most of the day but was closed on the day visited, due to staff illness.
NEXT PAGE TOP: Ulverston station on 28 Aug 2008 looking west towards Barrow. (Angus McDougall.)
LOWER: Detail of awning brackets at Ulverston, FR = Furness Railway. (Angus McDougall, 23 Jul 1983.)
3099] Morecambe: (BLN 1340.2813) From the Dec timetable five return Sunday trains from Leeds are
booked (as now SuX) - all via Lancaster. There are four to/from Morecambe and one is a 'boat train'
10.30 Leeds to Heysham Harbour and 13.05 return. For months the (previous) Sunday services have
often been replaced by buses due to non-availability of train crew. A member believes this may change
now they are through trains. It means that Skipton based train crew can operate them, who have
different terms and conditions, including seven day rostering. In the North West train crews are not
rostered on Sundays, with trains historically crewed by working a rest day - which many decline to do.
This has caused numerous cancellations, but the Heysham branch is only signed by North West crews.
4100] Barrow-in-Furness: (BLN 1341.2953) The station (652,246 passengers in 2017-18) is now gated
and, since the summer, in a penalty fare area. The entrance has been tastefully modernised with a
three window booking office (selling platform tickets) and the gate line. The recently completed ramp
from the platform to the waiting room and shop area, now outside the gate line, is no longer used. The
subway can be accessed by lifts as well as the stairs. The customer service room on P1 still has the First
Group wavy dynamic lines. Semaphore signals abound, with the box at the Workington end to provide
access to the extensive sidings. The avoiding line was rusty in both directions when seen recently.
4101] Chester: (TRACKmaps 4 p28A Dec 2018) A passenger on our highly acclaimed 'Bootle Brush'
railtour on Sun 8 Dec was delighted to traverse the Chester station Parcels Line alongside the P1 track.
Firstly it was evident that there was room for a former middle line/siding or even engine release line
between the Parcels line and P1 line. Secondly he wondered how long it has been designated as a
Parcels Platform, and when the last parcels train ran from it? BELOW: From the Oct 1950 Bradshaw.
4101] Chester: (-continued from above.) Our correspondent muses that, positioned facing east at
Chester, the platform might well have hosted services to Whitchurch via Tattenhall or to Crewe. The
former line closed in 1957. Like many at the time, the 1950 timetable was erratic; there was a SO
1.40pm ex-Whitchurch stopping at all stations. The return 2.14pm from Chester, skipped Waverton
and the delightfully named Grindley Brook Halt. Did any member catch a train from Grindley Brook
Halt‽ It only OP 1937 so had a lifespan of just 20 years which included WWII. An ECS Voyager was seen
stabled in the Parcels Line on one occasion. ABOVE: In difficult lighting conditions 47245 is on Chester
Parcels Line at the buffer stops with our Sun 8 Dec 2019 'Bootle Brush' railtour; a Class 175 DMU is in
bay P1 right on a Manchester Victoria train, there was room for a centre line. (Simon Mortimer.)
4102] Carnforth: The Lancashire County Council (two window) booking office closed from 11 Dec.
4103] Liverpool Overhead Railway: (BLN 1341.2960) The Museum of Liverpool, Pier Head, Liverpool
Waterfront, L3 1DG with FREE ADMISSION has a superb exhibition about this railway with many relics.
See the website also. Set aside a couple of hours at least just for this section and there's plenty more
to see. James Street station is two min walk, Moorfields five min and Lime Street is 20 min walk.
4104] Penrith: Up P1 has a 'VR' wall pillar box. As well as the traditional subway at the north end of the
platforms there is a new footbridge with lifts, sympathetically decorated in local red sandstone, at the
south end of the buildings and canopy. Outside the station there is a metal multi-storey car park on
the Up side. Here is a small heated entrance room, with a single window booking office.
4105] Windermere: Windermere Lake Cruises are the successors (as, at one time, was British Rail's
Sealink) to the Furness Railway who first operated steam ship services. On 11 Dec 2019 the company
launched a new 300-seat passenger boat MV 'Swift'. It was the largest vessel to be launched on Lake
Windermere for over 80 years and will now be fitted out before being handed over after Easter 2020
for crew training. Its size meant smaller sections had to be built off-site then transported to Lakeside
for final assembly over the last six months in a car park by Lakeside station. 'Swift' was carefully
lowered onto the lake for the first time with guests and members of the press watching from the
warmth of The Lakeside Hotel & Spa. Many had travelled by complimentary train on the Lakeside &
Haverthwaite Railway. Like Windermere Lake Cruises' existing flagship 'steamers' MV Swan & MV Teal,
the new vessel has three decks but is slightly shorter in length to access smaller jetties to help support
other businesses in the area. The 'steamers' operate 364 days a year (every day except Christmas day).
4106] Parbold: (BLN 1341 2957) To reassure our readers, green flags and buzzer codes were also
involved in the safe dispatch of trains from Parbold back towards Wigan during the recent line closure!
1342 SOUTH EAST - NORTH & EAST ANGLIA (Julian James) [email protected]
4107] Colchester: Due to relaying work P2, 3 & 6 are out of use from 27 until 31 Dec (incl) with no
trains at all at Colchester on 1 Jan. All through services (thinned out) have to run through P1 and are
expected to use the Goods lines in both directions. Norwich - Liverpool Street services do not stop at
Colchester during this time. Also of note all through trains from Clacton towards London will take the
facing crossover at East Gate Jn then the bidirectional Up & down Avoiding Line to reach P1.
4108] Werrington Jn: (BLN 1341.2966) Changes from Fri 27 Dec between New England North Jn
and Woodcroft Level Crossing are part of the Werrington Grade Separation to allow construction of
the new diveunder here. 1,790m of the Down Stamford line, (only) with signalling and signage from
19m 65ch, north will be slewed up to 20m west of its previous position, returning to its original
alignment at 18m 56ch (Helpston Jn). It seems likely to be the final permanent alignment (??).
A new road underbridge '74L' at 19m 03ch accesses the area between the Up Stamford Line and the
Down Fast Line. Underbridge 74L will pass beneath the Down and the Up Stamford lines only. These
mileages are from Manton Jn (ex-Midland Railway route) so increase going south to Peterborough.
4109] Tweeting from Weeting? (BLN 1340.2961) On 25 Nov the Editor of 'Weeting Village Life' - half a
mile from Brandon - was in touch to report that she had just 'spotted' and photographed DB Cargo
66088 being transported by road (well, you have to start somewhere) and wondered why it was off the
rails! We did tell her. http://bit.ly/38iEO0u is a video of it; there was also a picture in e-BLN 1341.
4110] New Line to Walton: The new stretch of railway line rendered necessary by the menace of coast
erosion at Walton-on-the-Naze was opened for traffic on Sunday, and over 100 passengers made the
short journey to Frinton. The new line connects with the old just outside Walton station. One of the
passengers was Mr Maurice Baker JP who travelled in the first trains to pass over this portion of the
coast from Kirby to Walton some 60 years ago. [From the Chelmsford Chronicle of 7 Mar 1930.
The original line OP Fri 17 May 1867 and many gricers were obviously keen to do the new line in 1930.]
4111] Walton-on-the-Naze: (BLN 1337.2461) 15 Jan 1930 was the date of completion of construction
of the deviation - but not the date that services were transferred to it. The changeover, as reported in
the 7 Mar 1930 'Chelmsford Chronicle', was from Sun 2 Mar 1930, the date for closure of the previous
line and opening or the new. It was, and still is, perfectly practicable to connect and commission such a
new alignment on open ballasted track without OHLE during a single night by slewing plain line! Newly
laid track with uncompacted ballast would then normally require a 15mph temporary restriction.
4112] Hatfield - St Albans: (BLN 1234.1074) Nast Hyde Halt has been reconstructed by a postman
based at Hatfield, apparently over four years. An open day was held on 22 Jun. The original halt had a
platform of wooden construction while the new has a very well constructed brick front wall with a well
trimmed low hedging where platform front (nosing) slabs would normally be, so it is not 'usable' as a
platform. Replica signage and lighting has been provided. The trackbed is now the Alban Way, shown
on OS maps at the location of the halt as the Smallford Trail. A short piece of track - ten sleepers long -
has been laid parallel to the trackbed off the end of the platform. This was provided free by the Nene
Valley Railway track and bridges manager and CEMEX donated six tonnes of railway ballast. [If only we
had a lightweight standard gauge powered trolley that might be allowed to travel over this…]
ABOVE: The former St Albans London Road station looking east; the Alban Way
to Hatfield is beneath the bridge ahead. (Angus McDougall, 26 Jun 2015.)
St Albans - Hatfield, the Alban Way, is a 6½ mile almost complete railway walk suitable for cyclists from
TL 149 061 to TL 232 092. There are interesting features particularly at St Albans; an impressive arched
brick tunnel beneath the Midland Main line, the River Ver Viaduct and St Albans London Road station
buildings (now offices). It passes the site of Hill End station (does anyone have a single ticket to it from
Old Hill in their collection?) opened to serve Hertfordshire County Asylum and Salvation Army Halt.
BELOW: The modern version of Nast Hyde Halt on 2 Jul 2017. (Mark Haggas.)
THIS PAGE: The modern version of Nast Hyde Halt on 4 Jan 2019, the British Railways Eastern Region
colour 'double sausage' roundel below (top right on the tree) is not original as they were not in use
until after the line had closed to passenger. See http://bit.ly/2Z4LHOS also. (Both Geoff Brockett.)
4113] Luton Airport Parkway: (BLN 1333.1935) Of interest to Lorraine Chase and others, the bridge to
carry the Luton DART people mover over the A1081 road has been slid into place by contractor
VolkerFitzpatrick-Kier. The move took just over two hours with the 80m long, 20m wide and 25m high
bridge reaching its destination between 10.00 and 11.00 on Sat 30 Nov. The A1081 is the road that
passes over the Midland Main Line about 300m south of the station. The new bridge does not cross
the railway. The 1,000 tonne structure had been assembled off-site over eight months, and was then
moved around 900m to its final location during the weekend road closure. Due to open in 2021, the
2·1km Luton DART people mover will link Luton Airport Parkway station with the airport terminal. The
two car, fully automatic cable driven people mover is to be supplied by Doppelmayr Cable Car UK Ltd.
(DART = Direct Air Rail Transit and is not just to make those flying in from Dublin feel at home here.)
4114] Basingstoke: (BLN 1341.2975) The southward curving, headshunt away from the Down Slow,
associated with the existing sidings went to the Thornycroft Motor Works until 1967. In TRACKmaps
and the Sectional Appendix it is 'Thorneycroft (Rec. Spur) Sdg' and was noted fully cleared of all
vegetation, including hefty trees reduced to stumps recently. (The original works and subsequent
industrial estate were both spelt without an 'e' - it is now Morrisons.) Quite dense undergrowth had
built up over the years, with numerous tree trunks projecting into the running envelope from the
southern boundary. These have now all gone, with some clean white stumps about a foot in diameter
visible, as well as the boundary fence. The siding is on the alignment of the Basingstoke & Alton Light
Railway. The first station Cliddesden (OP 1 Jun 1901; CP for the last time 12 Sep 1932 - Quick 2019;
Final CA 1 Jun 1936) was where Oh! Mr Porter was filmed in Jul 1937. The line now ends at the end of
the allotments south of the main line (SU 6253 5233). The motor works were a little further south.
On 26/27 Sep 1987 Network SouthEast held a promotional 'Basingstoke Railshow' which included
shuttles to Ludgershall and other specials. There were also shuttles along the Alton line stub, not
advertised in advance and possibly a late addition, within the Open Day Site - did anyone do them?
ABOVE: 1950 map, the present end of line is indicated by the small spot (purple in e-BLN); the branch
to Thornycroft Motor Works is shown with the trackbed continuing south towards Alton. Top left was
the Park Prewett Hospital branch, reportedly open 1913-1954. This psychiatric unit was built following
a report by the Lunacy Commission into serious overcrowding at Knowle Hospital, near Fareham!
4115] Keep in touch - don't lose contact: Thameslink is to introduce contactless payments at Hatfield,
Welham Green and Welwyn Garden City, in addition to the 'Key' Smartcard, KeyGo and paper tickets.
4116] Hitachi Rail Europe, Ashford: (HRE) One of the two charity auctions on our Ramsgate based
12 Oct 2019 'Sandwich Deal' railtour with Southeastern Trains was for one person to enjoy a guided
tour of this Ashford facility. It maintains the 140mph High-Speed Class 395 'Javelins' and our railtour
included a run into the facility's sidings. The winner's visit took place on the afternoon of Fri 22 Nov.
From Ashford station main entrance, the HRE facility is accessed off a public footpath. At the far end of
the depot building, the main reception faces east, so required some detective work to locate. John
Williams, Production Manager Operation & Reliability, had arranged the visit but other commitments
led him to assign 'Dave', one of his trainers, in his place. Dave was well versed in all things HRE Ashford
and carried out the H&S briefing. Despite warning that as a trainer it's difficult for others to get a word
in sometimes, he answered questions knowledgeably.
The 29 Class 395s were introduced from Jun 2009 and their current livery celebrates 10 years of High
Speed passenger services. They can operate at up to 140mph on HS1 but actually spend more time
pottering round on third rail lines. This unique mix of operating requirements, with four types of
signalling to accommodate, requires very complex kit and unusual maintenance needs. They have an
exceptionally high miles per casualty record which allows Southeastern to require 26 sets in traffic
each day. A walk round the depot floor's five roads found one unit, 395014, on planned maintenance
and two others on less rigorous maintenance. Set 14's 6-week stay included refurbished bogies.
On arrival, trains power from the third rail outside the depot building and then coast to the exact spot
so that the full set fits snugly inside the building. As a Driver Manager, Dave pointed out that it takes a
while for drivers to get the knack of this, especially as each train's brakes are idiosyncratic! Two sets
were in the building for minor attention before leaving for the evening peak. This demonstrated the
method of them exiting the depot. Initially with the third rail shoes lifted but a 750V DC shore supply
connected, the units move just far enough outside to have one shoe above the live third rail. The shore
supply is then disconnected, the Castell keys ('trapped' key interlocking preventing the shoes from
being live) are unlocked and the shoes can be lowered and take power. Once permission is granted
from the 'Gun Tower' - the movements control cabin outside - the train then slowly leaves the depot.
Once movements in the building had ceased, opportunity was taken to examine one of the two shorter
term maintenance sets. There is a two level gantry at door and roof heights. Going up top first, the
amount of electrical equipment on the roof was notable. There are two pantographs per train and, as
only one is used at any time, cabling along the roof takes 25kV AC from either of them and distributes
it over the set for transforming to the voltage required for the traction packs. There was wear on the
older pantograph. They do not always last long as collisions with birds etc can result in them breaking
apart, severing the air link inside allowing the other pantograph to become operational. Regenerative
braking eases brake pad wear and feeds electricity back into the overhead or third rail if there is
demand. Otherwise, it is routed through large banks of resistors on the roof - 'seagull warmers' Dave
called them - the heat generated is very notable through air distortions when a train is stationary.
A walk through the train from cab to cab allowed a detailed description of each device in the cab. The
high-speed TVM 430 signalling [Transmission Voie-Machine or track-to-train transmission] displays the
safe operating speed to the driver. Contrôle de Vitesse par Balises (English: speed control by beacons)
checks, and if necessary, controls the speed of moving trains on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL).
The 'TRAIN WASH' button doesn't magically create a shower of rain (nature does that well enough at
the moment) but adds extra pressure on the door seals stopping water ingress going through washers.
Time then to brave the elements and walk to the wheel lathe. This was in use, with strips of metal
being planed off the wheels on one 'loose' axle. Max, the operator, showed pictures of these before
attention. The parking brake had been left on (a non-passenger vehicle!) resulting in 'wheel flats' more
like great, deep, rough gouges where the wheel had been dragged along. After five hours on the lathe,
these gouges were almost flattened out, with enough of the wheel depth remaining for the wheel to
still be usable. Max showed the wide number of different gauges they can turn wheels to, with the
differences between some not noticeable to the human eye but hugely beneficial to Javelins with their
need for 140mph operation on CTRL and then slower speeds on more curvaceous, conventional tracks.
These wheelsets were separate from their train so the Lathe Shunter was not in use (drat!). There is
also a traditional Hunslet diesel shunter on site to move larger trains on and off the lathe. One item
expected soon is so long, it only just fits onto the depot access headshunt. Max described how the
lathe benefited rail operations and encourages further business - well, one good turn deserves another.
The visit concluded after just over two hours with a quick tour of the HRE offices; one would never be
bored in the boardroom as it gave a grand view of the sidings. Just before departure, a member of
staff was leaving after working at the depot since it opened 12 years ago. After 35 years in the railway
business, he was not retiring but moving on - railways are for life, it seems!
4117] Grays: Funding has been allocated to build a new pedestrian subway in the town centre as an
alternative to the High Street level crossing. The frequency of closures of the crossing is expected to
'rise' with increased freight traffic on the line from 2020. It is part of a regeneration scheme to serve
the four million annual passengers using the railway station due to the present inadequate facilities.
4118] Slough: (BLN 1333.1936) By 4 Dec the platform extensions were complete and will be available
from the new timetable when the software is revised. Currently the rear two coaches remain locked.
4119] Oxford: One thing that should have opened on Dec 15, or before, is the new ticket gate barrier
line north of the station building, next to P1 & 2 buffer stops. (BELOW) This should ease the pressure
on the existing concourse gates and provides an entrance and exit next to the footbridge leading to P4.
4120] Hunstanton: (BLN 1299.377) Norfolk County Council has agreed to fund and commission a study
into restoring a rail link after lobbying by Hunstanton Rail Campaign and a 5,000 signature petition.
1342 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH (Julian James) [email protected]
4121] Hastings Express: (BLN 1341.2978) These trains now use Cannon Street rather than Charing
Cross to ensure that the journey times are kept below 90 minutes in accordance with the wishes of
Amber Rudd, the former MP for Hastings and Rye. They are generally considered to be a waste of
resources that could be used to strengthen other services, including, in the evening peak, a Hastings
train. It is rumoured that Southeastern has said, when she goes, they go. She has now gone but the
trains are still in the winter timetable. [However, we know it takes a long time to change a timetable.]
Over the nearly five years they have run, they have, in most timetables, been formed of only four cars.
The 16.22 Cannon Street evening train overtakes the 16.14 Charing Cross to Hastings at Tonbridge
while the latter detaches the rear unit to be used on a 'bounce-back' from Tunbridge Wells.
Unfortunately, because the exits at Orpington and Tonbridge are at the front of the train and
everyone from High Brooms southwards has to be in the front unit, it leads to overcrowding in the
front four cars, with the rear four virtually empty. In the first timetable in which the 'Express' ran, it
split at Tunbridge Wells but that was changed to reduce the overall journey time as it still had to wait
at Tonbridge. At Ms Rudd's insistence, the Invitation to Tender for the now abandoned Southeastern
franchise bid showed that Hastings trains should run non-stop between London Bridge and Tonbridge.
4122] Lewes - Seaford: (BLN 1339.2653) A benefit of the recent resignalling which has been included is
an easement of the 10mph speed restrictions at Lewes P3 to P5 (Down East Branch, Up East Branch
and Platform Loop). At one stage this was expected not to happen, but 20mph is now permissible
arriving and departing P3 to P5 at the east end of the station, and also for the bidirectional Down
departure eastbound from P2 (Up Lewes). At the west end, departures to Brighton at 20mph from P4
and P5 are now permissible, but entry from Brighton to P3 to P5 remains at 10mph.
At Newhaven Harbour a new road overbridge is being built on a new alignment east of Beach Road
level crossing to provide access to the new sidings shown in the new TRACKmaps (5 p17A Aug 2019) as
Brett Aggregates. This will be a steel and concrete composite structure of three long spans only one of
which will cross the railway. The steel beams are on site ready for positioning. They have studs welded
to the top flange for casting of the concrete deck once lifted into position, a technique that reduces
the lift weight and permits longer spans, but is not suitable if a new bridge needs early commissioning.
Three end to end spans may have been chosen because the area is liable to tidal flooding or because
poor ground conditions make a few piled foundations preferable to continuous embankments.
At Bishopstone the dilapidated station building and footbridge are shrouded in scaffolding. On 9 Dec
men were at work on the roof of the building, so it is not just protective scaffolding. The steps from
the footbridge to the trackless Down platform were being refurbished. There is stepped access down
to road level from the Up platform on the Seaford Single as well as the footbridge to the booking hall.
Although the booking hall has been out of use for years it is necessary to walk through it between the
road on the north side and the footbridge. It would be good if the offices could have some future use.
4123] Ride to Shanklin less often: The IOW service has been down to one train (hourly) again since
11.30 on Sat 23 Nov until further notice. Ironically, Island Line is not involved in the SWR strike action.
4124] Strood: (BLN 1341.2977) There are P2 passenger arrivals from the Medway Valley, including the
Mon to Fri trains to St Pancras. There is no access from the Up loop to Rochester Bridge Jn, so the final
arrivals every evening are into P2, enabling the trains to then run ECS to Gillingham Depot. The first
departures in the morning towards Maidstone are from P2, because the empty stock has come from
Gillingham. The only passenger trains to run from P1 to the Medway Valley are those from St Pancras.
4125] Cooksbridge: The restoration of all day SuX services from Mon 16 Dec will be celebrated at the
station by the local rail user group on 21 Dec. Previously there was a four hour gap without any calls
from 10.51 to 14.51 in the week and no services at all on Saturdays; this is still the case on Sundays.
4126] Platform extensions: NR is consulting on platform extensions at Betchworth and Chilworth
between Redhill and Guildford; at Sandhurst between Guildford and Wokingham and at Bramley
and Mortimer between Reading and Basingstoke. This is to platform 4-car 80m Class 769/9 trimode
units yet to be introduced. The work variously includes tactile paving, public address and lighting.
Consultation for similar works at Dorking Deepdene is expected. The extensions will be:
Betchworth* P1 (Up Reading, to Redhill) 20m at Dorking end.
Chilworth* P2 (Down Reading, to Guildford) 15m at Guildford end.
Sandhurst* P1 (Up Guildford) 9m at east end, P2 4m at Guildford end.
Bramley** P1 (Up Reading, to Reading) 10m at Basingstoke end, P2 7.5m at Basingstoke end.
Mortimer** P1 (Down Reading, to Basingstoke) move stop marker 10m at Basingstoke end, P2
…………………………..(to Reading)t11m extension at Basingstoke end.
*Work began 4 Nov; scheduled to 30 Mar 2020, **Work is scheduled from 6 Mar until 30 Jun 2020.
4127] Privett: (Closed here to all traffic 7 Feb 1955.) Described as one of the last surviving relics of the
Meon Valley line, this station building with many original features, converted into a large detached
dwelling, is for rent at £3,250 per calendar month. On the ground floor, the ticket office has been
transformed into a large reception room with a vaulted ceiling, a wood burner and doors leading on to
the platform which is complete with lamp posts which have stood the test of time. A ground floor
bedroom was previously the parcels office. http://bit.ly/2P9BCww has 31 pictures, floor plan/details.
1342 SOUTH WEST (Darren Garnon) [email protected]
4128] Treffry's Tramways (BLN 1341-2980) The Treffry Viaduct item prompted your Regional Editor to
find out more about Joseph Treffry and his mineral railways in Cornwall. In the early 19th century, he
owned mines on both sides of the Luxulyan Valley. Treffry originally intended to build a mineral
tramway to Fowey harbour but a dispute with a landowner forced him to develop a harbour at Par
instead. This was built by 1833, and he then constructed the 1m 7ch Par Canal from the harbour to
Pontsmill. Originally intended to serve his mineral rich Fowey Consols Mine, he actually built his first
tramway in 1835, a 1,127 yard narrow gauge line from the shaft heads to the Par Canal at Pontsmill.
Also in 1835 Treffry advised that he intended to connect Par and Newquay by a Tramway or railway as
Newquay harbour was favourable for South Wales traffic. The initial section, a line from Pontsmill to
Colcerrow Quarry, was just under two miles. The first part was the 1:9 'Carmears Incline', about 950yd
long, followed by a longer nearly level section at the head. It opened in 1841; the incline was cable
operated, driven by a water wheel. This short section to Colcerrow was only a start, and the tramway
was extended to Molinnis, near Bugle. The gradients were easier but it was necessary to cross to the
west side of the valley, and the large viaduct was built to carry the line. This 'Treffry Viaduct' was 650ft
long with 10 x 40ft arches, and was 89ft above the River Par. It was Cornwall's first large granite
viaduct. We are indebted to our local member and expert on the area, Maurice Dart, for providing a
wonderful annotated illustration of Railways in the Luxulyan Valley, including the little referenced line
to Cairns Quarry built later in 1855. Kindly redrawn by Dave Cromarty, it is the paper BLN centrefold
and colour coded in e-BLN (NEXT PAGE). Colonel Cobb's Atlas pages 3, 4 & 5 are also worth looking at.
BELOW: Sunday 25 Sep 1988 and our 'Ark Royal Railtour' http://bit.ly/2S3VuTW finally reaches
the end of line at Pontsmill; previous tours had stopped short. (Ian Mortimer)