Issue Number 1302 (Items 664 - 811 & MR 58 - MR 69) (E-BLN 64 PAGES) 14 Apr 2018
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society - founded 1955
WEBSITE ADDRESS: branchline.uk
Membership Enquiries, Alan Welsh [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from member7s2; 8a6n7i7nternational section is available.
Opinions herein are not necessaarivlyaitlahbolsee. of the Compilers or the Society.
……………… BLN 1303 is dated Sat 28 ApSro;cpieletya.sSeocsiuetbym. it all contributions by Wed 18 Apr
Date Event and details BLN Lead Status
1300 JE OPEN
Sun 15/4/18 09.45-13.30: Crich VERY Comprehensive tram tour
Sun 15/4/18 15.00 Goodluck Lead Mine Tramway, 11" gauge expedition 1300 JE OPEN
20-24/4/18 5 day tour: Finnish freight lines that might be finishing 1290 IS OPEN
Sat 21/4/18 Gwili Railway traditional, track & traction brakevan trip BELOW JE *OPEN*
Sat 28/4/18 The Inverclyde First Aider, WCR Class 37 Crewe - Scotland 1299 JE OPEN
Thur 3/5/18 10.00 Calder Valley line boxes, FULL WITH FULL WAITING LIST 1300 NJ CLOSED
3 to 5/5/18 Island of Ireland Thur - Sat, FULL WITH FULL WAITING LIST 1295 KA CLOSED
Sun 6/5/18 07.30 (Connolly) - 17.45 (Heuston) Dublin Irish Rail railtour 1299 KA OPEN
Sat 12/5/18 The 565 Special - Take 2 (Peterborough call 10.58/17.59) 1298 JE OPEN
Sat 2/6/18 PM: The Arlington Explorer Eastleigh Works track/traction 1297 JE Enquire
Sat 9/6/18 10.30-13.30 Great Bush Railway (2ft gauge) track/traction BELOW JE *OPEN*
Sat 9/6/18 14.30-16.30 Bentley Miniature Railway all line railtour BELOW JE *OPEN*
Sun 10/6/18 The Sopwith Camel with Chiltern Railways to Calvert Tip BELOW JE *OPEN*
Wed 13 Jun 18.00 Crewe Heritage Centre Class 37 photographic event 1301 JE OPEN
Thur 14 Jun The Nosey Peaker, Stafford 08.30 / Crewe 17.00 FULL 1298 JE FULL
Sun 1/7/18 Ketton Cement Works, Rutland, all day track & traction event TBA TBA Claimed
11-12/7/18 Wed/Thur: Two day BLS Cornwall STP Service Tracker BELOW JE *OPEN*
Sat 21/7/18 Middlesbrough Goods, AV Dawson, new track & traction 1297 JE OPEN
Thur 2 Aug 12.45 Spa Valley Railway afternoon rare track excursion 1301 JE OPEN
Sun 5/8/18 Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway standard gauge rides 1301 JE OPEN
Sat 25/8/18 09.30-10.30 Blenheim Park Railway (15" gauge) railtour 1300 JE OPEN
Sat 25/8/18 12.00-16.00 Beeches Light Railway (1' 11⅝" gauge) Oxon 1299 JE WAITING
Mon 27 Aug Summer Scunthorpe Steeler tour No16 (Bank Holiday Mon) TBA TBA Claimed
26-28 Oct 18 PROVISIONAL Yorkshire weekend AGM, fixtures & film show TBA TBA Claimed
IS-Iain Scotchman, JE-Jill Everitt, KA-Kev Adlam, NJ-Nick Jones, TBA-To Be Advised, = book online at branchline.uk
.664] Renew your membership online:. If your 2018/19 subscription is still due you will see a 'Renew'
button on our website Homepage; once you have successfully renewed this will no longer be visible.
If you joined us in 2018, the button will not be visible as your membership extends until 1 May 2019.
Please help your volunteer Membership Secretary by renewing online, and also by renewing as early
as possible. It is a very busy time of the year, and early renewals help spread the workload. Thank you.
Those who have used our online booking system will hopefully find online renewal just as simple and
easy. For those yet to take the plunge with an online transaction and are hesitant in doing so:
The Society does not capture or hold card details as all processing is by WorldPay. This company is a
global leader in payments processing technology and solutions. It operates reliable and secure
proprietary technology, on a typical day, processing over 31M mobile, online and in-store transactions.
It is UK payments leader, processing about 42% of all transactions. Our website is secured with a SSL
(Secure Socket Layer!) certificate with the padlock symbol in the address bar at the top of the page.
It means that information exchanged between your computer/device and the website is encrypted
and cannot be intercepted or read by anyone other than the intended recipient. The Society protects
consumer credit card data in compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.
When renewing online, you simply need to check your details, confirm your email address and which
category of subscription you would like to take out for the coming year. Those that have family or
friends with basic category D membership will be able to easily renew their subscription(s) at the same
time. This year we are asking for a little more information on your communication preferences as in
the next month or two we are introducing an improved messaging system (replacing 'Branch Line'
emails) that will enable us to tailor our communications to you to better meet your specific needs.
For as little as £12 members can view electronic copies of BLN and BLN International, download and
print them. As 'KF' said, "It's the best buy of the year". As well as other Membership benefits, access is
available to members' only website sections. If you prefer a good old-fashioned leisurely read, paper
BLN (and BLNI) can still be posted first class and e-BLN is available to you as well at no extra charge.
665] YOUR SOCIETY NEEDS YOU! With the many exciting developments your Society continues to
make available, there is an increasing need for a pool of members willing to assist the Committee in
the successful operation of these. This can be to work on specific tasks, be available for cover during
holidays or, if it suits after a while, perhaps to take over
specific, well-defined small areas. The most important
aspect is your willingness to make a little time available,
occasionally or regularly. Skills can be learnt under guidance
from others but if you can bring experience/knowledge in IT,
websites, development/administration, stewarding (as
examples) to the table, that would be brilliant. Our aim is to
make workloads manageable with a pool of members rather
than individuals taking on the whole area - similar to the
Editorial Team (and the vital behind the scenes people) who
produce BLN. We are particularly looking to develop a team
to keep the website up to date (which is not complicated).
You would learn new skills and gain valuable experience to
put on your Curriculum Vitae etc as well as serving now over
1,500 members. You would also gain some useful 'inside
knowledge' on Society operations, including our ideas for
the future, and enjoy the opportunity to directly input into how certain aspects develop. Without any
commitment, if you are potentially interested, please contact General Secretary Tim Wallis at
[email protected] or have a chat. (Thanks Dave Cromarty for the voluntary artwork.)
ABOVE: Oct 1978, grain wagons south of Warrington Dallam Yard (seen ahead) which is being visited
by our Inverclyde First Aider railtour on Sat 28 April (next page). The wagon turntable (close up
BELOW) was then in use to supply Dallam Lane Brewery which closed in 1996. (Both Ian Mortimer)
666] Minor Railways 2018 booklet: (BLN 1301.538) All full members should have received their
copy by post, including e-BLN subscribers. If you have not, please notify Dave Monger (back page).
667] Gwili Railway, 'Abigail's Outing', Sat 21 Apr
09.45: (MR p9) Bronwydd Arms Station,
Carmarthen, SA33 6HT, (SN 418 240). A Society
private track & traction charter before the railway's
'Diesel Day' with D2178, a Toad brakevan and
Ruston 88DM No312433 'Abigail' (believed to be its
first passenger working and unusually running
outside station limits). This is also the first passenger
working through Abergwili Junction loop and
platform road; return is in time for the 11.00 service
train. Strictly limited to 15 places, £10 a head (a
Gwili Railway day rover is required for the rest of the day - £12 Adult; £11 Senior; Child £6; Family
[2A+2C] £31.50). The DMU (with real ale served in the guard's area) runs all day, the 11.45 from
Bronwydd Arms will run 'through' Abergwili Junction loop and platform road, the 15.00 will run
'through' Danycoed loop and platform road. Routemaster bus RM308 - subject to availability
(connecting with the 05.55 train from Crewe) leaves Carmarthen 11.00 to Bronwydd Arms
(11.15/16.35) returns to Carmarthen at 16.50 for the 17.01 train to Manchester. Brakevan rides within
Bronwydd Arms station area in between trains from 11.05 until 16.25. The 13.20 from Danycoed stops
at Llwyfan Cerrig 13.25-13.55 to view rolling the stock stabled in the yard; C&W workshops open.
Book via our website (please) or by post to Jill Everitt, per back page, with an email address or an SAE...
668] The Inverclyde First Aider, Sat 28 Apr: A 9-coach Class 37 Track & Traction tour to Scotland
with WCR and St John Ambulance, interesting Baker and 'Quail' track so you will be able to get some
'Red Cross(overs)'. An ETH Class 47 or 57 will assist as necessary. Hot food, breakfast rolls, drinks,
snacks and light refreshments with at least two real ales expected. First Class Plus includes morning
tea/coffee with a Danish pastry, and in the afternoon tea/coffee, savoury of the day and a selection
of fine cakes. All raffle proceeds will be in 'aid' of St John Ambulance (some volunteers will join us).
Validated bid (to be confirmed including times) - .plus any on the day surprises:. Crewe P5 (05.29) -
Down Slow - Down Helsby - Warrington BQ P3 (PU 06.21) - Dn Main - Dallam Royal Mail Terminal
P2 (rev) - Dallam Freight Yard Road 1 (rev) - Dallam Royal Mail Terminal P1 - Bamfurlong Down Fast
to Down Slow - Wigan Dn & Up Pass Loop - Wigan NW P5 (PU 07.14) - Preston P7 (PU 07.35) -
Penrith P3 (Dn Slow) - Upperby Dn Gds - Upperby Jn - Carlisle P3 (PU 09.26) - cross to Lockerbie UP
Passenger Loop and back - Carstairs - Shieldmuir Royal Mail Terminal - Motherwell - Mossend Down
Reception - Coatbridge Dn Goods - Gartcosh - Springburn P1 - Eastfield Loop (rev) - Springburn P2 -
Down City Union - Shields Jn - Arkleston (Paisley) DGL - Paisley Gilmour Street - Barassie DPL -
Falkland DGL - Newton-on-Ayr (BREAK) - Mauchline Jn - New Cumnock UGL - Mossband Jn Up Gds -
Kingmoor Up Avoiding/Arrival - Up Avoiding - Up Goods - Caldew Jn - Carlisle P1 (SD 18.41) - cross
to Tebay Up & Dn Gds on Down side and cross back - cross to Carnforth No1 Up & Dn Gds and back -
Preston P3 (SD 20.42) - Wigan NW P1 (SD 21.07) - Up Goods - Earlestown P5 - Warrington BQ (SD
21.52) - Up Main - Acton Bridge Up Slow - Up Fast - Crewe Coal Yard UF to US - Crewe P5 (SD 22.24).
Standard Class £84; First Class Plus £134; First Class Plus table for two FULLY BOOKED;
Non-members supplement £12, Under 18s (must be accompanied) deduct £5. Please support
this ambitious tour and book at our website, logged in to receive £12 per member discount.
This greatly helps your volunteer committee, or ask someone to do it for you (with your full name
and membership number). Queries/postal bookings (with email address/SAE) to Jill Everitt please.
669] Sales: Please place any orders for collection on the on 28 Apr Inverclyde First Aider railtour by
Mon 23 Apr. In particular the Scotland new TRACKmaps (ONLY £10) and 2018 Platform 5 Combo (£18).
ABOVE: Tinkers Lane station site when under construction. (Photos in this section: Simon Mortimer.)
670] Great Bush Tinkerer, Sat 9 Jun 10.30-13.30 (appx); an ALL line and ALL traction event: (MR p16)
*Tinkers Park, Hadlow Down, Heathfield, East Sussex, TN22 4HS, (TQ 538 241). Thanks to our member
Simon Mortimer, a private Society visit to the 2ft gauge, 550yd, Great Bush Railway with all available
tracks and sampling the entire operational steam and internal combustion (i/c) loco fleet. The plan is
steam on the mainline and short runs using the (thought to be) nine i/c locos with some 'drive
yourself' options on the branches and loops. Their date of manufacture is from the 1930s to 1970s.
Both new platform roads at Tinkers Lane are included. These are not used during the annual Gala as
the field access there is too busy. Also the recently extended higher level loop over the site of Organ
Halt (no longer used by passenger trains), the top two shed spurs, Bottom Field Shed spur, shed
roads, run round loops and sidings. £15 members, £20 non-members with trackplan, stocklist &
souvenir ticket. *Please advise if you can give (and how many)/would like a lift from/to Buxted station
on the Uckfield branch, 3 miles away. Book online (preferred please) or via Jill Everitt with email/SAE.
NEXT PAGE UPPER: Great Bush Railway, left is the slightly rusty, but recently, extended higher level
loop up to the top shed lines, laid on top of Organ Halt platform. Is that the four foot middle far left?
BELOW: The other end of the Great Bush Railway new high level loop when under construction.
671] Bentley Wildfowl Wanderer, Sat 9 Jun 14.30-16.30 (appx): (MR p16) Bentley Wildfowl & Motor
Museum, Halland, Uckfield, BN8 5AF, (TQ 484 159). 6 miles from the Great Bush Railway, the complex
7¼" gauge Bentley Miniature Railway has a public run of 1 mile. Also thanks to Simon, our special
train/s cover unusual track; objectives include Ringmer Jn East-West, which lost passenger trains after
the extension to Glyndebourne Wood Jn opened, where both the platform and bypass lines will be
taken in and the most recent extension to Bentley East (newer inner platform loop). Lunch is available
at the Café here between events. £10 members; £15 non-members. Bookings per previous item.
BELOW: The (very) long straight section on the Bentely East extension. The public run alone here is
one mile. NEXT PAGE UPPER: The remarkably tall spacious rolling stock (for a 7¼" gauge railway) at
Bentley East platform - but be reassured, it doesn't 'fowl' the loading gauge. The new inner loop is left.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Calvert terminal by night (with some of the track available on our 'Sopwith
Camel' Chiltern railtour on Sun 10 Jun). The shot is only slightly 'spoilt' by 56303 moving after arriving
with flyash from Didcot Power Station. ABOVE: 56303 running round (Geoff Plumb 18 Mar 2013)
.672] The Sopwith Camel, Sun 10 Jun:. With Location Trip 1. Trip 2. Trip 3. Trip 4. Trip 5.
Chiltern Railways, in aid of The Royal British Aylesbury 10.10↓ 13.10↓ 15.33↑ 15.40↓ 18.33↑
Legion. A different rare track excursion on a
3-car Class 165 DMU. Standard Class all day Quainton Road 10.35↓ 13.30↓ 15.10↑ 16.10↓ 18.10↑
rover only £30 Members; £42 non-members
under 18s £15 discount (accompanied under Calvert Waste 14.30↓ 14.50↑ ↓ ↑
Bicester Village. 17.12↓ 17.19↑
18s only); join/leave at any stations. The highlight is Calvert Waste Recycling facility, operated by FCC
Environmental, to whom we are very grateful; each trip also uses Aylesbury North Goods Loop.
Aylesbury 10.10 to Quainton Road 10.35, for almost 3 hours at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
(BRC) event marking the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. Standard gauge steam rides are
expected with the miniature railway, café, shop and museum open. You will need tickets for this event
from BRC when available or on the day. Our DMU picks up at Quainton Road 13.30 and runs to Calvert
Waste Terminal; expecting to traverse the line nearer to the main line. Time and circumstances on the
day permitting, it is hoped to cover the shunt neck. We return to Quainton Road and Aylesbury then
run through to Claydon L&NE Jn, to reverse to Bicester Village (for both platforms and rare crossover)
returning to Quainton Road and Aylesbury. This is expected to be the final chance to cover Claydon
L&NE Junction to Gavray Jn in both directions before closure (from 1 Sep) for East West Rail work.
A souvenir brochure, ticket, track plan also stocklist/map for BRC will be provided. An on train raffle
will raise funds for Royal British Legion. As usual please book via our website if possible or Jill Everitt.
673] BLS 'Cornish STP Tracker' Wed 11-Thur 12 Jul: There is good interest in our latest service train
event organised by Mark Haggas, and it will go ahead. The itinerary has been sent to all who have
expressed interest - if any one decides subsequently NOT to participate, please notify Jill Everitt.
More bookings can be accepted via the website (preferred) or Jill. It is important to know numbers
for logistics and to notify the train companies involved. Full details remain as at BLN 1301.542.
674] BLN Diary: Thanks to our member Lee Nash, a new version is available to logged in members on
our website 'Diary' page. This gives the latest information up to the end of 2018 about railtours and,
if you are still at a loose end, the amazing amount that is available of interest on Heritage railways.
1302 HEAD LINES (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
['Significant' route infrastructure and service changes, past and proposed; openings and closures.]
675] Steeple Grange Light Railway, Steeplehouse - Steeplehouse Quarry: (MR p14) (BLN 1300.MR43)
ROP* Sat 9 Dec 2017 (special event Santa Specials); OP (public runs) Sat 30 Mar 2018 at 12.00, a 150yd
18" gauge branch from a separate platform at Steeplehouse. (*Public rides were previously available.)
676] Bedworth, Puma (was Murco ex-Calor Gas) Oil Terminal (5m 37ch): On the Down side, south of
the station. CG, the last train (with 1,400 tonnes of fuel from Immingham Puma terminal) arr 05.53 Fri
5 Jan 2018 and the discharged empty tanks left at 13.40. It is no longer served from Robeston either.
677] Acton Dive-Under (5m 20ch - 4m 40ch): (BLN 1299.321) Now out of use (OOU) until further
notice. TCA since Wed 24 Jan 2018 midday (last service 10.32 Didcot to Paddington EMU) due to a
collapsing retaining wall. A sleeper with a red light has recently been chained to the Dive-Under line
clear of the block joint to protect it and prevent train movements that could foul the Up Relief Line.
678] Helston Railway (MR p6),
Truthall Halt (SW 6536 2971): (BLN
1285.1452) On 31 Jan 2018 the buffer
stops towards the southern end of
the platform were replaced with a
better set beyond the platform,
extending the running line slightly
from the 18 Mar start of season. The
Halt now has pedestrian access (via a
ramp leading to steps) from the road,
a GWR style pagoda shelter, spear
fencing and a chocolate and cream
running in board. An 'opening
ceremony' was held on the afternoon
of Thur 5 Apr. LEFT: At the northwest
end of the line is Prospidnick Halt
with Truthall Halt (honestly) at the
southeast. The public run is now over
a mile and bottom right are the
outskirts of Helston itself.
679] Wokingham Jn - Blackwater (excl) and Crowthorne & Sandhurst stations: TCP/A Thur 1 Mar due
to failed pointwork at Wokingham Jn which was temporarily plain lined (Reading to Waterloo services
ran normally). A GWR shuttle service ran between Redhill (mostly) rather than Gatwick Airport and
Blackwater (with an ECS shunt via the ground frame worked trailing crossover beyond the station).
Oddly on 5 & 6 Mar, the 22.22 Gatwick Airport to Reading (only) ran through as normal. From 7 Mar
there was a very limited train service supplemented by buses. Normal service resumed on 10 Mar.
680] Tondu Jn - Margam Abbey Works East Jn: (BLN 1296.6 &11) The 'T3' possession taken due to
excessive vegetation from 13 Jul 2017 was lifted from 2 Mar 2018 after completion of tree clearance
(also on the Garw/Ogmore Loops). Freight diversions were booked for the weekend of 3 & 4 Mar when
the main line was closed for work on Port Talbot Resignalling Phase 1. Tondu box opened continuously
with a DBC chargeman present and Cwmffoes Crossing was staffed - but no trains ran! On the Saturday
there was a very heavy snow 'red alert'. On the Sunday the first working, 07.12 Margam to Llanwern,
was delayed 346 minutes by a signalling fault and went main line (as it reopened early at about 11.30).
The UK Railtours Sat 10 Mar 'Valley of the Witch' tour became the first train to use Tondu to Margam
(and at a surprisingly good speed) since 8 Jan 2017. The track was in remarkably good condition with
significant stretches of continuously welded rail and the two level crossings functioned normally.
A member reports a 'record number' of photographers (estimated at over 40) on Tondu footbridge!
On arrival from Bridgend to reverse, the tour stopped at the farm crossing at the end of the Garw loop.
681] Mid-Norfolk Railway (MNR), Black Water Bridge 1701 (TF 991 192) MP 15¼ - North Elmham
(15m 75ch): (BLN 1287.1720). On Sun 4 Mar 2018, an engineers working reached the B1145 Station Rd
Level Crossing, just south of North Elmham passenger station, reportedly the first train since the line
from Dereham CG 23 Jan 1989 (by BR). BLN at the time reported that a significant number of sleepers
were replaced on the branch during 1988 costing £29k (worth £71k now). Track ends 26ch north of the
level crossing (TF 9937 2080) at buffer stops. This is the operational limit of the MNR under its 2001
Transport & Work Act Order and is 16m 23ch from Wymondham station. Please sponsor sleeper/s
(this can be gift aided) https://goo.gl/r3hhNz or 01362 851723 to support the railway extension.
LEFT: 1954 OS one inch map, Black Water Bridge is the
lower purple spot and the top one is the current end
of track past North Elmham level crossing and station.
682] Mid-Norfolk Railway, Hoe, Hall Rd Crossing (13m
61ch) (TF 9910 1678) - (15m 16ch) Worthing (Hoe
Road) Crossing (TF 9911 1909) beneath the lower
purple spot on 1" map LEFT: (BLN 1287.1720) ROP Sat
19 May 2018 11.00 train, (also runs Sun 20 May), a 1¼
mile extension for occasional public trains, special
events non-alighting. It is intended to build a platform
at North Elmham and further extend north to County
School (17m 36ch). CP 5 Oct 1964; CG 23 Jan 1989; the
last tour was Hertfordshire Railtours 28 Nov 1987
Wymondham Willows, an 8-car DMU. Mileages are all
from Wymondham (NR) station.
683] Brent New Jn - Willesden 'F' Sidings: (BLN
1301.559) At 10.28 on Tue 20 Mar 2018 Loco 50008
brought 11 PNA wagons (originating from Chaddesden
Yard on 19 Mar) for loading (the first use of the 'F' Sidings for many years). More wagons arrived later.
The first outward loaded spoil left at 11.05 Sat 24 Mar for Willesden European Freight Operations
Centre; the ultimate destination was Calvert (Barrington is an alternative location for future traffic).
A significant stockpile of spoil was present on 17 Mar. Willesden 'F' Sidings would certainly be a very
interesting location for a future railtour to visit.
684] Welsh Highland Railway, Meillionen Forest Halt (15m 23ch): This request stop TCP 24 Mar 2018
(first date that trains could have called but did not; last day of service 1 Jan 2018) with no public access
available to the platform due to redevelopment of the adjacent holiday park. ROP due Sat 9 Jun 2018.
ABOVE: Wed 7 Mar and the first run of the new Tyne Yard to Killingholme spent ballast traffic, which
terminated at Trent Yard. It went forward in 'top & tail' mode the following day. (Gary Crompton)
685] Limerick (0m 56ch) - Ennis (excl) & Sixmilebridge station: (BLN 1298.208) ROP Wed 21 Mar 2018
after TCA on Sat 27 Jan 2018 because of flooding at Ballycar Lough.
686] Limerick Jn, Keane's Points - Waterford West Jn also Tipperary, Cahir, Clonmel & Carrick-on-Suir
stations: (BLN 1301.558) ROP Thur 29 Mar after TCA 15 Mar 2018 due to flooding near Clonmel.
687] Killingholme siding end of operational section (2m 01ch) - end of line (2m 70ch): (BLN 1298.200)
Status is formally changing to Out of Use for two years (the section has not been used for many years).
It could be restored to operational use if required with six months notice of freight traffic resumption.
On the operational section to the south there has been further traffic (8 - 9 Mar and later) of inward
spent railway ballast in JNA wagons from Tyne Yard for construction of Able UK Marine Energy Park.
688] Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway (C&PRR), Princes Risborough: (BLN 1301.605) South of
the station, after the recent removal of former No1 South Siding, the previous No2 and No3 South
Sidings have been renamed No1 & No2 South Sidings. The Railway's new platform (currently OOU) is
designated P4, its operation length will be 109yd. Its track, known as 'Platform 4 Line', is not yet
connected at the north (Chinnor) end. The run round is 'No5 Line' (but is not a loop as such); instead a
Down direction facing crossover (to the left) will be installed in No4 Line north of P4 to access No5 Line.
No5 Line will continue north past the other end of this crossover to a 40yd headshunt (for locos to run
round). Thus the present temporary passenger line (with 'top & tail' working) will change significantly.
The Princes Risborough Reception Line is the name given to the single track beyond this crossover to
the Thame Branch Siding. The Network Rail (NR) boundary (0m 05ch* = 24m 51ch from Northolt Jn) is
just south of signal ME667 (north of P4) marked by a yellow plate on a sleeper. There is a requirement
in the C&PRR lease of the South Sidings to always have a minimum of 82yd of stabling available for
tampers, failed Chiltern DMUs etc coming off the main line. There is a gate on the C&PRR section, 4ch
south of the NR boundary which will be open when it is safe for NR traffic to enter the South Sidings.
North of the NR boundary, the C&PRR's Princes Risborough Reception Line then joins NR's Thame
Branch Siding (which has 715yd standage) from Princes Risborough Jn; then the Thame Branch
NR/C&PRR boundary gate is at 0m 50ch*. [*Thame Branch Siding mileage from Princes Risborough Jn.]
689] Laxey, Snaefell Mountain Railway - Snaefell Summit and Bungalow stop: (BLNs 1293.2291 &
1299.405) ROP Good Fri 30 Mar 2018 after TCP 25 Sep 2017 (safety issues). Trams ran ECS Thur 29th.
690] Epping Ongar Railway, Stonards Hill (9.0km*) - Epping Forest (9.4km*): (BLN 1298.211) ROP
Good Fri 30 Mar 2018 after TCP from 4 Nov 2017 following the disappearance of trackside signs.
It is understood that they were replaced and fixed more securely on Fri 23 Mar. (*From Ongar.)
691] Seaton Tramway, Riverside Loop south end (4m 01ch) - Seaton (incl) (4m 57ch) (BLN 1286.1609)
(MR p32) ROP deferred until further notice (TCP 1 Oct 2017); work on the new terminus was delayed
by bad weather. Public trams to/from Riverside Loop have not carried passengers off the running line.
692] South Tynedale Railway, Lintley Halt (excl) - Slaggyford station (incl): (BLN 1301.563) ROP
deferred from 30 Mar until Spring Bank Holiday, 26 May due to recent severe local weather conditions.
BELOW: Alston station makes a fine sight looking north from the end of line with disc the signal (Ian
Hughes 26 Mar 2018). There there was a North Eastern Railway train shed here until the mid 1960s.
http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/a/alston/ has many pictures (not an endorsement of content).
ABOVE: They are literally 'new' too; sign at Woodhorn footpath crossing. (Ian Hughes 9 Mar 2018)
ABOVE: Port of Tyne, new high capacity biomass wagons for the Lynemouth traffic. (Ian Hughes 6 Apr 2018)
693] Penhelig: (BLN 199.409) ROP Sat 31 Mar (TCP since Mon 1 Jan 2018) after replacement of the
single wooden platform with a glass reinforced plastic version at this Cambrian Coast line request stop
to improve access and minimise maintenance. New lighting was installed and tunnel works completed.
694] Llandudno Junction: TCP Sat 31 Mar 07.16 (ROP Fri 6 Apr 2018) due to a fire in a taxi office
beneath the stairs by the station entrance. Water leaked on to electrical equipment causing three
explosions starting the fire which affected all power supplies to the station, the stairs and lifts to the
platforms. A lift shaft and some of the station buildings were damaged. The 07.08 Llandudno to
Llandudno Junction left on its 3¼ mile journey on time but was 82 minutes late arriving. After 08.20
trains were allowed to run through non-stop. Special buses ran between Colwyn Bay, Llandudno
Junction and Bangor. The Blaenau Ffestiniog branch train (SuX at this time of year) was affected
(it doesn't take much), with no access to the platform token machine but ran (sometimes late) all day
on 31 Mar. It was replaced by buses from Mon 2 Apr until Thur 5 Apr (incl). At Colwyn Bay, temporary
accommodation was provided for train crew breaks and changes instead of at Llandudno Junction.
695] West Sleekburn Jn - Marchey's House Jn - Lynemouth Power Station: (BLN 101.551) ROG Sun 1
Apr 2018 (first commercial traffic) GBRf loco 66773 left the power station at 08.56 with the recently
arrived high capacity biomass wagons for the Port of Tyne new biomass terminal (arr 11.03). It left
there 11.33 with 1,600 tonnes of biomass (in the other set of wagons), reaching Lynemouth at 13.48.
A second train ran on 5 Apr; as the main storage bunkers were not ready a whole train could not be
unloaded at once, instead they were emptied 10 tonnes at a time filling the feed bunkers on each unit.
696] Southend Cliff Railway: (MRp34) The 4' 6" gauge funicular is currently OOU with 'technical problems'.
697] Apperley Jn - Esholt Jn: TCP Wed 4 Apr 04.45 due to a 40 tonnes landslip near Springs Tunnel
with a high risk of further major landslip; a falling tree caught the overhead line electrification (OHLE).
A very limited Leeds - Ilkley service ran via Shipley (P2 reverse) and Baildon. ROP Mon 9 Apr.
698] Philips Park West Jn (previously Philips Park No1 Jn) - Baguley Fold Jn - Ashton Moss North Jn -
Stalybridge Jn & Ashton-under-Lyne station TCP/A; Philips Park South Jn (was Philips Park No2 Jn) -
Baguley Fold Jn & Ashton Moss north Jn - Denton Jn: Both TCG/A; all 14 to 29 Apr 2018 (both incl) for
relaying, remodelling of Ashton Moss North Jn and resignalling as described in BLN 1301.599.
699] Liverpool Lime Street: The second phase of remodelling with resignalling is from Sat 2 Jun until
Sun 29 Jul 2018 with similar arrangements expected to last year (details to be advised).
700] Exeter St Davids (excl) - Barnstaple (incl), with 11 other stations and - Tiverton Parkway (excl):
TCP/A Tue 12 to Thur 14 Jun 2018 for flood alleviation work at Cowley Bridge Jn (per GWR website but
schedules may not all be updated - Paddington to Exeter trains and beyond are to divert via Honiton).
701] Maghull North: (BLN 1290.2043) OP expected Mon 18 Jun 2018, the new station (8m 08ch from
the former Liverpool Exchange station) is immediately north of School Lane overbridge, 59ch north of
Maghull station towards Town Green. The station is after the present 'strike in point' for Maghull Level
Crossing so a train to Liverpool calling there results in the barriers staying down for significantly longer.
To reduce the 'barrier down' time down to the present level the 'strike in point' is to be moved south
past the new platforms, requiring a permanent 30mph (was 60mph) restriction for EMUs between
Maghull North and Maghull stations, giving time for the barrier sequence. Signalling alterations are
also needed. With the new station, the Up line headway of 6 min 56 sec between trains is projected to
be 8 min 32 sec. On the Down (60mph restricted) it would be 5 min (4 min now) - test trains will run.
702] Bristol East Jn - Filton Abbey Wood - Stoke Gifford No1 Jn (before Bristol Parkway) with three
intermediate stations; Feeder Bridge Jn - Dr Day's Jn; Filton Jn - Patchway Jn and Narroways Hill Jn
- Clifton Down (excl) with Redland & Montpelier stations: TCP/A. Filton Jn No2 - Filton West Jn No2:
TCG/A all expected Sat 27 Oct - Sun 18 Nov (incl). A 3 week closure of Filton Bank for requadrupling
and resignalling (control transfers from Bristol Signalling Centre to Thames Valley Signalling Centre
at Didcot). The possession is less than that originally envisaged as bidirectional signalling and Bristol
Parkway to Patchway Phase II will not be ready to commission. Details of train schedules awaited.
1302 BLN GENERAL (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
[National material, non-geographical or covering multiple areas.]
703] Why are new stations so expensive? Maghull North (£13M) is an interesting example, as well as
the hidden costs of 'GRIP' planning (the 8 stages were explained at BLN 1289.1921) feasibility and
design, public and industry consultation etc, there are extra costs associated with the level crossing at
Maghull station (earlier item above) and working in a cutting. Providing the necessary safe possessions
while keeping the passenger services running as much as possible adds to the cost; some of the work is
done in relatively short chunks rather than continuously (as would be possible for many other
construction projects). There are two platforms (taking the current Class 507/508 and new Class 777
EMUs). The station will be staffed and this inventory gives an idea of the work and cost involved:
●One double sided three-line 'Next Train' Indicator Customer Information Screen (CIS) on gallows for
each platform. ●LED lighting on platforms, throughout the station, car park and approaches.
●Lighting columns that can be raised and lowered for maintenance throughout. ●'Long Line Public
Address' system on each platform and throughout the station. ●CCTV throughout station. ●Help Point
(information and emergency) with signs on each platform. ●Macemain Shelter or similar for each
platform with seating. ●Minimum of 12 external seats per platform. ●Six station nameboards per
platform. ●Internal station sign posting giving equal prominence to stepped and step free routes.
●Two 16 person (double door straight through) lifts between platforms and footbridge located off the
Liverpool end due to the constrained platform width, with CCTV, communications and assistance.
●Steps from each platform to the footbridge with tactile paving, double handrails in contrasting colour
but no roof. ●Footbridge also without roof between the two lift towers and adjacent steps from both
platforms. ●Link span without roof between Liverpool bound lift and steps tower and exit from station
building above the side of the cutting. ●Station building of simple design, power operated passenger
doors with passive infrared sensors. ●Passenger ticket office window with raise/lower facility or multi
height counter. ●Summary CIS screen in the booking hall. ●Enclosed adapted passenger toilet with
door lock and security features, vandal resistant/sustainable washing facilities and baby changing
facility. ●Staff ticket office facilities, including cash room, mess room and toilet. ●Ecologically
sustainable equipment and facilities. ●Poster frames throughout. ● Station welcome sign and totems.
●Staff parking and 'kiss and ride' drop off/pick up area. ●Car park (free) for 156 vehicles with signage
and sustainable drainage. ●Blue badge car parking bays. ●Passive provision for two electric charging
points for four parking bays. ●Motorcycle parking. ●Secure cycle parking cages/racks. ●Litter bins and
welfare/pleasant environment facilities, 'public realm' plus potential for a station adoption group.
704] Points & Slips: ●BLN 1292.2227] Re: Tod Point 'station' on the pre-19 Jun 1978 line (partly) between
Middlesbrough and Redcar Central, Michael Quick's magisterial tome (which our learned member advises
should be used for passenger stations - rather than the dated 'Clinker' and at times discredited 'Butt' - he is
not on commission!) interestingly 'points' out : First in Bradshaw's Guide Jan 1873; last Dec 1873, labelled
as workmen's service so might have had longer existence, only being included this (one) year by chance.
●BLN 1300.443] On the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway the four day Easter Broadway
(public) reopening train did not call at Hayles Abbey Halt (only normally DMU served) or
Gotherington. ●BLN 1301.634] In an 'about face' the Midland Metro (Black) Country End Grand
Central crossover is trailing, of course. Trams turning back to Wolverhampton without using the
headshunt do so from the arrivals platform in service. ●637] Thorne - Staddlethorpe opened Mon 2
Aug 1869 (The Times, 2 Aug 1869, p6) rather than 1 Aug; your Editor apologises to our esteemed
NER Regional Editor for this mysterious transmogrification. A VIP special ran on Fri 30 Jul 1869.
705] Stationless Passenger Lines (updating BLN 1301.571; *additional items) Measured M Ch
Ebbsfleet International - Calais Fréthun via Ashford Viaduct 101.5 km 79 61
Lockerbie - Kirknewton 74.7 km 64 61
Ebbsfleet International - UK border (for reference) via Ashford Viaduct 63 07
Pewsey - Bruton via the Westbury and Frome avoiders 53.8 km 50 62
Ashford International - Calais Fréthun 32.9 miles 46 32
Settle - Appleby (intermediate stations closed 4 May 1970 until 13 Jul 1986) 40 62
Berwick-upon-Tweed - Dunbar 37 75
Ebbsfleet International - Ashford International 33 33
Portadown - Dundalk (before Newry, formerly Bessbrook, ROP 14 May 1984) 32 76
*Peterborough - Grantham 29 09
Castle Cary - Taunton 27 45
*Sanquhar (ROP 27 Jun 1994) - Dumfries (was 29m 32ch from Kirkconnel) 27 10
Hereford - Abergavenny (Monmouth Road, the present station) 26 23
*Carlisle - Lockerbie 25 66
*Bromsgrove - Ashchurch (direct) until Worcestershire Parkway OP next year 24 06
York - Thirsk 22 16
York - Malton 21 12
*†Bromsgrove - Wadborough via Spetchley (30m 28ch to Cheltenham Spa) 14 49
†Droitwich Road, Dunhampstead & Spetchley CP 1 Oct 1855, leaving (most unusually at the time)
14½ miles without a passenger station from Bromsgrove south to Wadborough. This was the first
major closure of all of the intermediate stations to passengers on an English passenger line and until
20 Sep 1930 (York - Malton) the record holder. It extended to Cheltenham Spa (Lansdown) station
(30m 28ch), when Ashchurch CP 26 Jul 1971 until the latter ROP 1 Jun 1997. Worcestershire Parkway
(with its low level platforms) is due to OP and breaks the original section up next year.
ABOVE: Running round at Broadway on wet Easter Sat 31 Mar; initially ground frame worked until the
signalling is commissioned. The box is new but based on Shirley as an uncommon GWR platform box
and the frame came from Aller Junction signal box which had 42 levels. The rebuilt platforms at
Broadway are longer than those at the original station that closed to passengers 1960. (Richard Putley)
1302 EAST MIDLANDS (John Cameron) [email protected]
[Derbyshire (not Buxton & Hope Valley), Notts, Lincs and South Humberside, Northants, Leics & Rutland]
706] Mountsorrel: On 14 Mar the Conveyor belt that runs from the quarry to the Rail Handling Plant,
next to the Midland Main Line Down side (107m 50ch to 108m 15ch), collapsed. The belt is mostly on
the trackbed of the former Midland Railway quarry branch which it replaced in the 1970s so that more
aggregate could be dispatched by rail in modern wagons. The collapse did not affect rail access to the
sidings but little stone left by rail until 23 Mar, gradually building up to normal (and above) levels.
707] Nottingham Express Transit: (BLN 1298.225) Despite losses of nearly £1M a week, tram ticket
prices have been frozen for the third year in a row, including MANGO Card fares, single, return and
season tickets. However, some local bus operators have brought in small rises and this will increase
fares covering multiple types of transport, including 'Skylink Express' and certain Robin Hood tickets.
708] Retford: The previously 'open' waiting shelters on low level P3 & 4 have been upgraded and
enclosed with new seating and heating. This has much improved conditions for passengers although
the train information screen is outside the shelters, facing the tracks, so can't be seen from inside!
Meanwhile terminating Northern services from Sheffield (other than the PSULs that use P2) are using
low level P4 again and, after an Up Thrumpton loop ECS shunt, starting back from P3 (BLN 1298.228).
709] Immingham Dock passenger station: (BLN 1293.2303) To be clear (as the route was not specified
in the e-BLN caption, so your Doc is not in the Dock this time), the Cleethorpes workers' service ran via
Ulceby Jn, not the Grimsby Light Railway. They became publicly available from 17 Jun 1963 (although
not shown in summer 1963 public timetable) with withdrawal of the direct Goxhill - Immingham Dock
service (instead connections were advertised at Ulceby for Goxhill and Barton-on-Humber).
The Immingham Dock service continued to be advertised until it was withdrawn from 6 Oct 1969 - the
passenger station is on the BR System Map (First Edition 6 May 1968, published by Geographia Ltd).
As an aside, when opened (for goods on 1 Dec 1910; Immingham Dock was being built) Ulceby to
Immingham West Jn was known as the 'Humber Commercial Railway' by the Great Central Railway.
710] Lincoln: Outside the station the new bus station, part of the transport interchange, has large flat
screen displays showing bus and also rail services, with a BR type double arrow logo in place of the bus
stand number. However, the rail and bus services are not always well coordinated: the hourly
Northern services from Retford arrive at XX-04, and most of the hourly bus services go on the hour.
711] Hinkley National Railfreight Interchange: www.hinckleynrfi.co.uk D B Symmetry is planning to
construct this on 556 acres next to the line between Hinkley and Narborough, just west of the former
Elmesthorpe station (SP 468 958). It is part of a much larger industrial and warehousing development
on a greenfield site, including new road links to the M69 Junction 2. The application includes sidings
and a freight transfer area alongside the line between Nuneaton and Leicester, part of NR's 'F2N'
freight route from Felixstowe to Nuneaton. D B Symmetry is in the pre-application stage and will
submit a formal application mid 2019, with a Government decision expected in 2020 at the earliest.
712] Gainsborough Lea Road: NR propose to abandon the OOU points (99m 09ch) just north of P1 and
the sidings beyond; they could be reinstated if required. Plain lining (costing about £200k) will improve
track quality and reduce the risk of derailments. Refurbishing a point end is £150k and renewal £650k!
713] Bennerley: (BLN 1302.572) The points (127m 30ch) to the former Open Cast Disposal Point were
removed with the summer 2007 Erewash Valley resignalling. NR now has a retrospective proposal for a
Network Change to abolish them for 3 years! There is a 'live' private siding agreement with Harworth
Estates; potential future site use is being explored, they can be reinstated with notice of 12 months.
714] Stanton Gate Down Sidings: Similarly these (123m 60ch) and the 'Mapperley Goods Branch' to
the former Stanton Works are to be designated OOU. Reportedly not used for 'about 10 years'; some
of us know that the 12 Dec 2009 Pathfinder 'Pye Bridge Pie-Man' tour sneaked up there (surprisingly).
715] Swadlincote Jn: The connection that was clipped OOU in Dec 2014 at 124m 20ch (but not the
trailing crossover) is proposed for permanent removal with plain lining to improve the track quality.
The cost is about £100k and assets will be recovered including the ground frame. It latterly accessed
the former Nadin's Opencast Disposal Point, ex-Cadley Hill Colliery area and once the Swadlincote loop
line. The Connection Agreement with Harworth Estates terminated 16 Jan 2018 on notice of 3 months.
ABOVE & BELOW: Detail of the interesting former Midland Railway Bagworth footbridge.
716] Bagworth: (BLN 1300.454) Meanwhile, with investment in the Coalville line, the Midland Railway
footbridge at the site of Bagworth & Ellistown station (CP 7 Sep 1964) has been replaced although
there was a long delay after completion before the new bridge opened. The old bridge was then
dismantled and now resides in sections in various locations at the Chasewater Railway. There are long-
term plans to refurbish and reuse it, possibly at Brownhills West and/or Chasewater Heaths stations.
PAGE BEFORE LAST LOWER: The footbridge in 2010 with members of the Orange Army for scale.
ABOVE LEFT: The original Midland Railway footbridge; its modern replacement is just in view top right.
ABOVE RIGHT: They certainly don't make foot bridges like that anymore…. (All David Bathurst).
717] Cromford & High Peak Railway: (BLN 1293.2347) A member also on the 4 Mar 1967 'High Peak'
Railtour agrees with Angus McDougall that the 'Six Bells' website is wrong about the Hillhead Quarry
branch from Harpur Hill, and the tour did venture on it. Although Hopton Incline, part of which had a
gradient of 1:14, was probably the steepest adhesion worked standard gauge line in the British Isles
when open, Sheffield Supertram (standard gauge) now has a 1:10 section at Netherthorpe Road stop.
Do any members know of other such very steep sections on tramways over the years?
718] Signalling changes at Derby: There is a new gantry (signal-less) across the lines south of the station.
719] Corby: (BLN 1301.577) The half-hourly electric service will be operated by East Midlands Trains'
successor from St Pancras (HL) rather than Thameslink, allowing trains to Leicester and beyond to
make fewer stops south of Kettering. Use of soon to be redundant modern EMUs (Class 379?) is likely.
1302 GREATER LONDON (Geoff Brockett) [email protected]
720] Barking - Gospel Oak: (BLN 1299.353) The OHLE was available for full service use from 24 Mar.
Until 30 Sep trains with opening windows, such as railtours in Mk 1 stock, in passenger service on the
Down line between Leytonstone High Road and Wanstead Park are subject to special arrangements to
ensure all windows are closed. This is because of restricted clearance past an OHLE mast at 10m 42ch.
721] Cricklewood: (BLN 1299.350) From 7 Apr Cricklewood South Freight Siding and its connection
from the Up Departure Line, previously out of use long term, were to be brought back into use.
722] Crossrail: (BLN 1301.581) NR announced on 7 Mar that it had completed trackwork, signalling and
OHLE to allow connection of Crossrail to the national network at Pudding Mill Lane; presumably the
junction commissioning was delayed from 5 Feb. ●TfL Rail has confirmed that it will not be able to
operate Class 345 EMUs on the Heathrow branch from the new timetable on 20 May. Instead it will
use the Heathrow Connect Class 360s for a half-hourly service between Paddington and Heathrow T4,
rather than T5 as now. TfL fares will apply as far as Hayes & Harlington, with premium fares continuing
to apply to Heathrow, although some will be reduced. However, these journeys will come within the
daily price cap for users of Oyster and bank cards. From 20 May TfL Rail will also take over the half-
hourly shuttle between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington from GWR using Class 345s. ●Plans are in
place for 12 major property developments over/around the construction sites and new stations.
These are at Paddington, Bond Street (x2), Tottenham Court Road (x2), Liverpool Street (x2),
Farringdon (x2) and Woolwich stations and construction sites at Limmo Peninsula and Fisher Street.
723] Hayes & Harlington: From 9 Apr bay P5 was extended by 28yd at the buffer stops (country) end
from 193yd to its final length of 221yd; the new operating length is 216yd. Cue revisit of microgricers.
724] Heathrow Express (HEX): From Aug operational management of the service will be transferred to
GWR, in a contract that will last until 2028. Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) will retain the commercial
aspects, including marketing, ticket pricing and revenue and new readers will be installed to enable the
acceptance of Oyster and contactless bank cards. HAL will continue to own the HEX service and will be
responsible for managing the stations at the airport. By Dec 2019 internally 'upgraded' Class 387s,
surplus because of the cancellation of electrification to Oxford, will take over from the existing Class
332s. The HEX depot at Old Oak Common has to be vacated by the end of 2019 for HS2 construction
and this will avoid the need for a new depot at Langley. The cheapest way to sample the plush
interiors of the Class 332s is with the £5.50, 90 Day Advance Express Weekend Saver*. Online from
www.heathrowexpress.com it is a one-direction, single, print at home paper ticket containing a QR
Barcode and reference number and has no train time. *Also available on bank holidays. [About 17,000
passengers a day now use Heathrow Express; the effect of Crossrail opening will be interesting to see.]
725] Finchley Central: (BLN 1301.583) A member, who commuted to Angel from Mill Hill East from
1961 to 1965, recalls that in those four years his train home only used P2 at Finchley Central once.
He does not know the reason but remembers it causing a lot of confusion among the passengers!
726] LUL Microgricing Opportunities: https://goo.gl/tz2X6U The 26 Mar edition of TfL's six-month
look-ahead suggested that opportunities are in the offing to bag some particularly elusive LU
crossovers. Willesden Junction south 6 May (by LO); Hampstead 26 - 28 May; Hyde Park Corner 16 &
17 Jun (believed over 12 years since the last time!); Bethnal Green 8 & 9 Sep. As ever, these should be
checked nearer the day as plans can change. The web page is usually updated early each week.
727] LUL Sub-Surface Lines Resignalling: (BLN 1301.589) Over the weekend of 24/25 Mar the new
signalling system was tested successfully between Hammersmith and Euston Square.
728] South Acton: From the 20 May timetable change Realtime Trains shows three afternoon trains
SSuX reversing here and returning north over the crossover in service departing 14.14, 14.42 & 15.42.
729] Lee Spur (Lee Loop Jn - Lee Spur Jn): (BLN 1301.588) Over the May Day weekend all Up trains
from the Deptford direction to Charing Cross will use the Southwark Reversible Line (on a notably
different alignment from its neighbours), as this is thought to be the only available signalled route.
[Track plans are available on our website archive.] The trains will also use the Snow Hill Lines in both
directions eastwards from Metropolitan Jn (to Surrey Canal Jn and from Blue Anchor) and on Saturday
and Sunday all will call at London Bridge P4 & 5. These are not normally used by Southeastern trains,
so should give several opportunities for crossover gricers to add to their collections. On Mon 7 May,
Realtime Trains shows a few Down trains booked to use London Bridge P3 instead and continue on
Line 4. If this happens two more unusual crossovers will be available into and out of P3. At least on the
Saturday and Monday there will be Victoria - Dover/Ramsgate services via Orpington and Tonbridge
and in the Down direction most or all of these will use the fast line spur between Bickley Jn and Petts
Wood, originally provided for Eurostar trains and little used (see 'PSUL') since the opening of HS1.
730] Sutton Area: From 3 Apr control of the signalling between Waddon (exclusive) and Epsom
Downs, Streatham South Jn (exclusive) and Ewell East and Tooting (exclusive) and Sutton transferred
from Victoria Area Signalling Centre to a new Sutton workstation at Three Bridges Rail Operating
Centre. New LED signals prefixed 'TVC' have been installed and train detection is by axle counter.
731] Thameslink: (BLN 1301.580) On 17 Mar the 12.54 Bedford to Three Bridges with 700019, was the
first passenger working under Automatic Train Operation (ATO) with European Train Control System
Level 2, from Kentish Town to Blackfriars (both inclusive). There was another on 16 Mar with media
guests. ATO will initially operate between St Pancras and Blackfriars in May 2019, supporting 22tph,
and be extended to London Bridge in Dec 2019. From the new 20 May timetable the standard off-peak
service SuX through the core section will be 15tph, with additional trains in the peaks and fewer SuO:
ꚚKentish Town - Orpington via Catford Loop ꚚLuton - Rainham via Deptford & Dartford 2tph
….2tph (tph = trains per hour)* ꚚSt Albans - Sutton 2tph each way via the loop
ꚚBedford - Gatwick Airport 2tph ꚚPeterborough - Horsham 2tph
ꚚBedford - Brighton 2tph ꚚCambridge - Brighton 1tph
*Runs SSuX, increasing the Catford Loop service to 4tph, with the existing services from Sevenoaks via
Swanley terminating at Blackfriars daily instead of running to West Hampstead Thameslink SSuX.
732] Underground Journeys: https://goo.gl/dvyYYB is on the Mayor of London's website showing
how many joining and alighting passengers travel daily between any pair of stations entered. However,
it does not explain if this is an average weekday or seven day average figure. The most common
journey is Bank/Monument to Waterloo made by 23,323 passengers per day. The Londonist website
points out that 254 passengers are shown as travelling from Leicester Square to Covent Garden (but
only 158 in the other direction!). They are only a four minute walk apart so it is quicker to walk!
733] Uxbridge: From Mon 9 April the layout within the sidings was to be simplified by the removal of
26 Road and a slight realignment of 25 Road. The access to the east end of the sidings from Hillingdon
was also to be removed. This was via a single slip in the Ealing Broadway direction from Uxbridge.
1302 NORTH EAST (Geoff Blyth) [email protected]
[Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, County Durham & Teesside]
734] Butterwell: (BLNs 1264.1737 & 1289.1942) On 23 March Communities Secretary Sajid Javid
overturned the previous planning permission granted in 2016 by Northumberland County Council
(NCC) to Banks Mining for a large new coal opencast site near Druridge Bay. https://goo.gl/pfRTTZ is
his letter. It would have produced about 7M tonnes of coal over 10 years, some going by rail from
Butterwell Disposal Point. He cited concerns over landscape and climate impacts. Banks Mining had
argued that its plans for the proposed surface mine for coal, sandstone and fire clay would create at
least 100 jobs and boost the local economy. NCC's initial backing for the scheme was controversial,
given the UK Government's pledge to phase out the burning of polluting coal for power by 2025.
Although most coal is (or was) burnt for power generation, some is used in other ways - in cement
works, coking coal for steel production, smokeless fuels and specialist products such as carbon fibre,
some chemicals and pharmaceuticals as well as heritage railways and residual domestic use. Coal will
still be needed for these but imported is often cheaper than UK mined coal, even with transport costs,
and contains less chlorine and sulphur. This decision could be the end for Butterwell Disposal Point.
735] Willington's Wooden Waggonway: (BLN 1286.1642) ABOVE (Press Release). Built in 1795, this is
the world's most complete and complex surviving 18th Century waggonway. It is the earliest known
example built to what became international standard gauge. Its discovery, described as 'miraculous', is
considered to be one of the most significant railway archaeological finds. A public conference was held
at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle on 23 March. Archaeologists and project experts presented
their findings from two-years of research into the unearthing in 2013 of the waggonway - perfectly
preserved under compacted coal waste at the former Neptune shipyard site in Walker, Newcastle.
The site is due for redevelopment and is close to Segedunum, the Roman fort in Wallsend at the east
end of Hadrian's Wall, so two archaeologists from the Newcastle-based Archaeological Practice,
investigated it for Roman remains. This led to the quite unexpected discovery. The local Tyne & Wear
Museums manager recalled: As I (first) walked down to the site, I could see through the fence a sight
that took my breath away. The vision of a virtually complete section of a great system which had
probably not seen daylight for over two centuries was a revelation. Far from being a byway, the
waggonway was an industrial artery, with heavy traffic and connections across the area.
The Willington waggonway discovery and its recognition as a site of international significance had
depended on three 'miracles': (i): The survival of the remains in one of the most intensively developed
Tyneside industrial landscapes. (ii): Their preservation, especially the wooden components, for over
200 years. (iii): The chance rediscovery of the remains before the former industrial land was reclaimed,
which could have destroyed them. Once uncovered, swift action was needed as exposure to the
elements would cause deterioration. They were taken to Stephenson Railway Museum (SRM), North
Tyneside; staff and volunteers sprayed them with water several times a week to keep them wet.
A great gale in January 1794 had caused havoc and wrecked or damaged ships off the Northeast coast.
Timber from wrecked and decommissioned vessels was advertised for sale in Tyneside newspapers.
The research project showed that 62 of the 335 timbers recorded from the waggonway were from
ships and used as sleepers. Other sleepers were fashioned from lightly-worked tree branches.
It is planned to display a section of the waggonway as part of the 'Great Exhibition of the North' at the
Discovery Museum, alongside Stephenson's Rocket. Future SRM development may include a
reconstruction of the waggonway outside to complement the original remains and models within.
736] Darlington: (BLN 1290.2038) Tees Valley Combined Authority has announced plans for a £150M
regeneration of the station and the surrounding area. However, this is actually an aspiration; one of
various development projects across the country competing for investment and support from the DfT.
'Darlington 2025' would feature station remodelling with dedicated platforms for local connections
and future high-speed services. The justification is to enable the station to become 'an integral part of
the HS2 network', even though HS2 Phase 2b will not be completed until 2033 at the earliest [don't
buy any advance tickets just yet then…] and would end at Church Fenton, over 50 miles to the south!
Darlington is said to be a 'bottleneck' reducing East Coast Mainline (ECML) capacity by 25%, for which
the half hourly Saltburn service is blamed. It uses the bidirectional Up Main and also crosses the Down
Main line at the south end of the station. Four times an hour these trains cross the ECML with Up and
Down trains doing so at similar times but the single lead Darlington South Jn can result in knock on
delays. In the plan new platforms would be provided on the present station avoiding line, although it is
not clear if this would be just on the Up side or both sides. If the latter, the main part of the station
might then have little use other than for Bishop Auckland services and to allow for ECML overtaking
moves. A new bay platform for Saltburn trains is also planned east of the new Up platform, keeping
them completely clear of the ECML but no longer running through to/from Bishop Auckland.
However, instead of all the facilities and platforms being on one island platform, access to these new
platforms would require a footbridge (and a very long walk!). This all seems to be a less expensive
version of the originally proposed ECML diveunder for the Saltburn line (perhaps a bit 'over the top').
A 'major upgrade' is also proposed to the Northallerton - Middlesbrough line which now has a 60/70
mph linespeed south of Eaglescliffe. The suggested 125mph seems excessive but the alignment should
allow 90/100mph over much of it. Very little could be done north and east beyond Eaglescliffe though.
Trains to Bishop Auckland normally use the middle of Darlington P4 (a few start from or run through
P1 - both P1 & P4 being bidirectionally signalled). However, a member recently saw the 08.30 from
Saltburn stand from 09.38 to 09.53 at the extreme south end of P4, signed as '4A'. This was for the
07.12 TPE Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle train (Darlington 09.40/09.41) to overtake it using the
'Down Bypass' line and reach P4B. Such moves, not listed in 'Unusual Track', are not frequent but may
be deduced from the timetable. The Down Bypass Line is protected from unintended moves from the
Down Sidings by the Down Sidings ground frame, which requires an electrical release to unlock it.
Note that most Bishop Auckland to Saltburn services run through P1 but a few are booked through P4.
The Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) has been chosen by Historic England as one of eight new
'Heritage Action Zones' - a national scheme supporting local authorities to unlock untapped potential
in places rich in history and historic fabric. The aim is to refurbish S&DR features such as bridges and
buildings, attracting visitors for the bicentenary in 2025. However, the project has had to bid for this
money against other schemes (outcome expected soon) and probably find matching funding as well.
1302 NORTH WEST (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
[Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Buxton & the Hope Valley]
737] Timetable Changes: Some services are improved (except Levenshume & Heaton Chapel next
item!) but due to infrastructure project and stock cascade delays many changes are deferred until Dec.
From 20 May: ●Manchester - Hazel Grove 3tph (SuX); 2tph to Buxton; SuO Hazel Grove 2tph, Buxton
1tph. Most call at Disley, Davenport and Woodsmoor. ●Manchester - Hope Valley stations - Sheffield
1tph all week; (New Mills Central 2tph SuX). ●Manchester - Rochdale: 6tph (was 4tph) SuX, Calder
Valley services are speeded up through Rochdale where the new south bay (P4) has 2tph all day SuX.
●Preston - Ormskirk 1tph almost clock face (still SuX). ●Carlisle - Barrow some extra services (SuX).
●Knottingley - Wakefield are extended from Wakefield to Leeds. ●Hull - York 1tph (SuX). ●Liverpool -
Blackpool North 1tph EMU reinstated daily. ●Kirkstall Forge 2tph (1tph SuO) each way. ●Buckshaw
Parkway (where this is now a turnback signal), via the Manchester end trailing crossover on departure,
1tph extra to Manchester Victoria (SuX) (note that they are expected to be extended to/from Preston
with eventual electrification). ●Manchester Airport - Blackpool North: 1tph daily EMU via Wigan NW.
●Improvements: Wigan - Atherton - Manchester Victoria; Leeds - Carlisle/Morecambe & York - Selby.
738] Levenshulme & Heaton Chapel CUTS: Northern's new May timetable reduces services from 4
to 3 per hour in each direction. Manchester trains would call at 20, 30, and 40 minutes past the
hour with a 40-minute gap. Both stations are busy and trains often overcrowded. Heaton Chapel is
the busiest two platform commuter station in Greater Manchester with 750,000 journeys per year,
and an average 9% annual growth. Please consider signing this online petition hosted by the Friends
of Heaton Chapel Station https://goo.gl/kpHgKm calling for a fourth train per hour to be reinstated.
739] New Timetable - cont: From May 21 the present SSuX 15.17 & 15.34 from Helsby to Ellesmere
Port and 15.35 & 16.04 return (the later to Warrington BQ, ECS to Manchester Victoria then at 17.10
on to Blackpool North) are replaced with an 18.50 from Helsby. Its ECS is from the 16.41 Manchester
Piccadilly mid-Cheshire Line service that reaches Chester 18.10 and leaves there for Helsby 18.38.
It makes one trip to Ellesmere Port but then returns, in service, to Manchester Victoria via Warrington
BQ. Unusually for such token workings, the present service does not need an early start or late night,
and allows boarding/alighting at the two intermediate stations in one visit to the area. Both the trains
use Helsby P4, the trailing crossover at 8m 52ch and on leaving Ellesmere Port the one at 3m 70ch.
The two early morning shuttles are essentially unchanged. Unfortunately, the only way to do the Up
Main to Up Hooton to Helsby P3 on a service train remains the 05.49 from Warrington BQ. Elsewhere
the Heysham Port daily train (SuX) runs from/to Lancaster only rather than Leeds arriving 15 minutes
later. However, there will now be a 39 minute wait at Lancaster for passengers from Leeds via Skipton.
Returning from Heysham at 13.20, SSuX Leeds can be reached at 16.17 with just 4 changes: Lancaster,
Wigan NW (walk to Wigan Wallgate) and Manchester Victoria. Changing at Lancaster and Preston gives
a 16.39 Leeds arrival via Copy Pit, but anyone wanting an intermediate station via Skipton has 3 hours
57 minutes in Lancaster (Leeds 19.36)! The present through train from Heysham reaches Leeds 15.47!
There will be a Down passenger service over the west side of Parkside triangle, the 17.59 (SuX) Lime
Street to Wigan NW. From Wigan NW the Up side is to be available on the 07.02 (SuX) & 08.06 (SSuX).
740] Denton & Reddish South: Also in the new timetable, that old favourite, the 09.22 FO Stockport to
Stalybridge moves to SO with a 09.45 departure and it remains the only passenger train all week
scheduled to use Stalybridge bay P2 (where it apparently disappears!). Mon to Fri the pair of DMUs
will enhance other services. This may reduce sales of singles to Denton where the train departs 09.32
FO when various ranger/off-peak tickets become available. The Saturday trip is all off-peak, of course.
741] Blackpool: (BLN 1299.365) A member cannot understand the Blackpool South line resignalling;
it seems that a second train cannot pass Kirkham West Jn towards Blackpool South with a train on the
branch as there are no Down signals to keep them apart. The new Lytham signal has an 'Off' indicator,
although there is no way the guard at the rear of the train could see it. There is no 'Off' indicator at
Blackpool South. Any thoughts anyone? Recently there were OHLE gaps out of Preston and through
Kirkham with structures, but no wires, at Blackpool North. At North Pier Blackpool Tram Shop
('Videoscene', railway DVD specialists) has closed after nine years. While our reporter was checking
that it hadn't moved elsewhere at least two more enthusiasts arrived! http://www.videoscene.co.uk/
mail order is not affected and details of new premises are due to be announced 01253 738336.
742] Strike While the Iron is Hot: Some unusual moves have been available during the Northern
Guards' strikes. Rochdale: South bay P4 was used all day 29 Mar, an hourly shuttle (142012 & 142028)
to Victoria P1. Of possibly greater interest, a 'rail replacement walk' to/from Rochdale north bay P2
connected with an hourly Rochdale - Leeds service (a Victoria - Calder Valley - Leeds service also ran).
PREVIOUS PAGE UPPER: The punters are delighted; after all these years of commuting they get to do
Rochdale bay P4 in daylight at last! (All three Tom Gilby.) PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Looking south
towards Manchester with the unusual full 'ground' signal. ABOVE: Close up of the layout south of
Rochdale station showing that the route into bay P4 from Manchester Victoria is actually straight with
the Down Main to P1 the turnout route; the Up main is reached over the facing crossover seen.
Also on 26 Mar, the 12.40 from Wigan NW (bay P3) shuttle ran to Bolton P4. The 14.38 from Piccadilly
crossed to the Down Wilmslow at Alderley Edge North Jn to terminate in Alderley Edge P1 (next item).
Altrincham: An hourly shuttle to Chester crossed from P3 to P4 ECS by reversing at Deansgate Jn.
743] Wilmslow: On Good Fri 30 Mar a local member noted (but sadly did not experience) that the
09.38 Manchester Piccadilly - Alderley Edge Northern EMU, running a couple of minutes late, took the
Wilmslow North Jn (177m 23ch) facing crossover from the Up to Down line to call at Wilmslow P3.
It stayed on the Down Wilmslow line to terminate in Alderley Edge (Down) P1*; a member of station
staff said that this was unusual and no reason had been given to them. Up trains have been known to
call at Wilmslow P3 returning to the Up line via Wilmslow South Jn trailing crossover. The Down
Wilmslow is bidirectionally signalled from Sandbach South Jn (162m 28ch) through Wilmslow South
Jn to Wilmslow North Jn (177m 23ch). The Up side bidirectional signalling starts at Styal Jn (0m 40ch)
on the Styal/Manchester Airport Line, and extends through Wilmslow South Jn to Sandbach South Jn.
*Alderley Edge platform signs show the Down as P1, like the station Passenger Information System,
National Rail Enquiries Website (including live departures) and Realtime Trains; TRACKmaps Aug 2013,
the Sectional Appendix and 'Open Rail' have it as P2; OpenTrainTimes perhaps wisely does not specify!
744] Lime Street: (BLN 1297.144 plans) From Mon 9 April the old P6 (=P5 after 29 July), was returned
to use, operational length 198yd, now widened and 'de-kinked'. Old P4 was taken permanently OOU.
Siding 'B' between P3 & 4 were recovered and the connection between P4 and Siding 'B' secured in the
normal position pending recovery. Points LS77 at the P3 & 4 entrance were secured to access P3 only.
745] Pendleton: (BLN 1293.2316) It has come 'to light' (BLN 817.36/p1) that the fire which closed the
station was probably on 18 Jul 1994 rather than 17th but 18 Jul 1994 is still the closure date (BLN 848.279).
746] Victorious over rare track: On Easter Sun 1 and Mon 2 Apr, due to Metrolink engineering work on
Moseley Street, no services operated between St Peters Square and Piccadilly Gardens. Trams from
Manchester Airport ran via the Second City Crossing and reversed in Victoria middle line as is now
usual. Arriving the route is common to that used by trams from Market Street but departing this was
the first passenger use of the previously rusty spur towards Exchange Square from the middle line
avoiding (to the right of) the scissors crossover. [Track plan on website Archive search 'Metrolink'.]
Meanwhile Metrolink will order 27 extra trams costing £80M, part of the Mayor's 'Congestion Deal'.
NEXT PAGE TOP: An approaching tram from Victoria middle line to Manchester Airport via the Second
City Crossing is about to do the rare 'straight on' link avoiding the scissors. (Ian Mortimer 1 Apr 2018)
BELOW: Looking south from Victoria middle line on a grey day during construction of the Second City
Crossing (which goes off to the right), the rare connection is straight on. (John Hunt)
X.44] ABOVE: Rochdale Town Centre Metrolink where double trams have recently started appearing
at times and reach the end of the platform (as seen here in the preferred platform). Double trams are
indicated on live departures for each stop on the Metrolink website and on the passenger information
screens. Taken from the end of line. BELOW: Double tram for East Didsbury at Rochdale Station stop.
(Both Ian Mortimer, Tue 20 Mar 2018)
747] Manchester London Road: (BLN 1301.567) The Manchester South Junction & Altrincham Railway
(MSJA) was a London & North Western Railway (LNWR) and Great Central Railway (GCR) joint railway
of equal share. (Note that Colonel Cobb's Atlas incorrectly shows the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
rather than GCR.) The pre 1958 MSJA station was sandwiched between Mayfield (LNWR) station and
London Road terminal (LNWR & GCR) 'main' platforms did not have a 'full island'. The northern outer
platform was the Up main (former London Road P10) and was removed to allow the present
Manchester Piccadilly P12 to be extended at the Stockport end. The northern side of the 'island' was
the Down main (former P11) - and the southern side of the 'island' was a dead-end bay (former P12),
accessible only from the west (Oxford Road) end; outside that was a run-round loop. From 15 Sep
1958 these platforms closed to MSJA traffic when it was cut back to Oxford Road station and they
were all swept away in 1958/9.
There is now no track outside current P14 line so the viaduct may have been narrowed with rebuilding
as there are now only two tracks with an island platform (previously four tracks and an 'island'; but it
could have been widened). Most of the new 1960 P13/14 (before the 1989 east end extension) - while
not the actual structure of the pre-1958 station - are on (not 'roughly on') the MSJ&A station site.
PREVIOUS PAGE: 1922 OS map 25" to the mile (revised 1915/16) showing the MSJA station in the
pre-grouping days and how the south platform was actually a west facing bay. There was a siding
connection on via its run round loop and turntable as shown; SP = Signal Post; SB = Signal Box.
1302 SOUTH EAST - NORTH & EAST ANGLIA (Julian James) [email protected]
[Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Bucks, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire & Essex]
X.45] Reading: (BLN 1301.611) LEFT: The
very fine powdered snow described in BLN
1301 that blew on to the platform bridge
at Reading. (Iain Henshaw 15 Mar 2018)
748] Mistley Quay closure mystery: (BLN
1293.2325) There is reason to believe that
Mistley Quay was deleted from BR's Total
Operations Processing System from 13 Apr
1991 (traffic probably finishing earlier).
749] King's Lynn - Hunstanton: A petition
for reopening signed by more than 3,000
featured on ITV in January.
750] Cambridgeshire: The Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership, formerly Greater Cambridgeshire City
Deal, has proposed rural travel hubs at Foxton, Oakington, Whittlesford and Sawston or Shelford.
751] Sat 19 May, extra track at Windsor stations? Thames Valley Police are clearly considering every
possible eventuality for the forthcoming royal wedding, if an AOL news report (and not on 1 April
either) is to be believed, although the results could be rather spectacular! …"If the number of visitors
proves to be a safety issue, Thames Valley Police, in consultation with others like Network Rail and
British Transport Police, could order trains not to stop at Windsor's two stations…..."
1302 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH (Julian James) [email protected]
[Hampshire, Surrey, Kent, West Sussex, East Sussex & IOW - more contributions appreciated]
752] Southcote Jn - Theale: (BLN 1301.612) Drakes No2 (40m 63ch) user worked level crossing closes in
June with relevant third party agreement. It is the only level crossing between Reading West, Theale
and the replaced Ufton crossing (BLN 1271.3188) 2¼ miles west of Theale. Palisade fencing will be
installed across the Down side and a NR access point retained on the Up side. It is a quarter mile west
of the M4 overbridge and the required minimum wire height of 5.8m for OHLE could not be achieved
without significant track lowering (but ground conditions are unsuitable) and/or jacking up the M4.
753] Ryde Esplanade - Pier Head: During some of the RMT strikes South Western Railway organised an
8 seat taxi to shuttle between these stations. Buses are unable to use the pier. As an aside there are
10mph average speed cameras (and £80 fines) on the 'road' section; the average speed is displayed.
754] Ryde - Shanklin: In a lengthy article London Reconnections explores the problems facing the
8m 31ch long Island Line (it is very well worth a visit). From the fleet and infrastructure perspective
there are issues beyond the well known gauge restriction of the 391yd Ryde tunnel and the general
declining condition of stations, track and trains. The following is extensively from that article.
It is unlikely that any LU tube stock will be available in time. 2023 would seem to be the earliest
(Piccadilly line 1973 stock). By then the Class 483s will be 85 years old. Ryde tunnel is not only low, but
has a tight reverse curve with a combination of single and double track structures. The 2016 Garnett
report didn't mention the tunnel curvature, but noted that Piccadilly line 1973 stock wouldn't be
suitable due to the curvature at Ryde Esplanade station, a matter of physical clearance and gaps at the
door positions. Ex-Bakerloo line 1972 stock was another possibility considered by the Garnett report,
but on current plans it would not be available until after the Piccadilly's 1973 stock is retired, and the
date when the Deep Tube Upgrade might allow its release seems to be receding. Vivarail's 'D78' stock
is sub-surface rather than tube fleet so is far too tall, also there would be door gap and step problems.
Garnett found that Island Line's third rail power supply is no longer robust enough for two four-car
trains to run at once now. The voltage drop along the line is apparently so severe that at Shanklin, the
third rail is only supplying some 350V out of the normal 630V, which explains the poor acceleration at
that end of the line. Two trains per hour appears to be sufficient to handle current peak patronage
levels, but the timetable is inconvenient with headways between trains of 20 minutes and 40 minutes.
The uneven spacing of services is a legacy of the decision to retain a passing loop at Sandown rather
than Brading so that a 20 minute three train per hour service could be operated. (Such a timetable has
not operated since 2007, when it did so on summer Saturdays). Ryde Pier Head station is in need of
refurbishment and the pier supports impose severe maintenance workloads due to the hostile sea salt
environment in which they are located. Luckily for Island Line's operators, South Western Railway,
(SWR) the Pier is not part of the vertical franchise and remains the sole responsibility of Network Rail.
A public meeting in Shanklin on 14 Dec 2017 was overshadowed by the release of the DfT's Strategic
Vision for Rail a fortnight earlier on 29 Nov. The DfT's sudden apparent enthusiasm for rail re-openings
diverted attention from resolving Island Line's current problems. Local press coverage of the public
meeting majored on longer-term aspirations for extending Island Line by reopening Smallbrook Jn to
Newport. This would be achieved by operating over the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, which itself
would need to be extended westwards from its current terminus at Wootton. Several route proposals
for such a reopening had been put forward by consultancy Jacobs in 2001, though at least one (with a
street-running town centre loop in Newport) required tram-type rolling stock, and featured some
heroically tight curve radii. Although Newport is the 'capital' of the Island and the hub of the Island's
road network, it isn't actually the largest town now. Its population is slightly less than that of Ryde.
Other big towns on Island Line, Sandown and Shanklin, each have about half the population of Ryde.
The release of the DfT's Strategic Vision for Rail also led to a renewal of suggestions for reopening the
line from Shanklin to Wroxall and Ventnor. Ventnor tunnel houses a water main which would require
an expensive diversion, and the track bed is built over at Wroxall and Ventnor stations. The local MP
took up the cause of IOW railway reopenings with some vigour in the House of Commons in January,
asking Transport Minister Nus Ghani for a commitment to extend Island Line to Newport and Ventnor
if feasibility studies confirm costs in the £10-30M range. He took an unusual approach in attempting to
curry favour with the DfT by suggesting that such sums were equivalent to typical DfT margins for
accounting error, and that the proposal compared favourably with the 'very poor' returns HS2 offered!
The MP made much less mention of the need to solve the Island Line's immediate problems.
Reinstating the second track for a passing loop at/near Brading would be needed for a 30-minute
headway but is not as straightforward as relaying track. Lineside cabling has been placed on the track
bed, and would have to be relocated, adding to costs. The power supply is at end-of-life stage third rail
and substations require replacement. The track and track bed also need attention to bring them up to
modern standards, with considerable cost financially and service disruption. SWR's consultation ended
on 31 Dec 2017, and it has until 31 May 2018 to submit a costed proposal for the future of Island Line
to the DfT. Regular meetings of a Steering Group comprising Isle of Wight Council, DfT, NR and SWR
are now taking place (but not in public) which will shape the final proposal. According to SWR's
franchise agreement, that proposal must be 'capable of acceptance by the Secretary of State'.
755] The Bluebell Line: (BLN 1302.606) A fairly local, low numbered Society member and his late wife
were passengers on the final BR service train on 16 Mar 1958 travelling the whole line from East
Grinstead to Lewes. He was therefore pleased to be invited to travel on the Bluebell Railway's 60th
Anniversary commemorative train on 16 Mar 2018, accompanied by his daughter. Departing from East
Grinstead at 16.28 the special passed through Kingscote without stopping (as in 1958) and then, a nice
touch appreciated by many on board, it stopped at (the site of) West Hoathly which station the last BR
train had also called at. After a brief halt at Horsted Keynes the train continued to Sheffield Park
where great festivities were taking place. Visitors could experience the railway as it was in the 1950s,
taking tea in '50s style'; mini guided tours in areas not usually open to the public, and, for passengers
born in 1958, travelling at 1958 prices: 4 shillings (20p)! Next day, Sat 17 Mar 2018, there were
timetabled passenger departures south from Sheffield Park P1, probably for the first time in 60 years,
at 11.13, 13.13 and 15.13 to Newick (unfortunately just to the siding!), returning 11.23. 13.23 & 15.23.
756] Sevenoaks - Hildenborough: Over 13 weekends including the Easter and late May bank holidays
services through the 1mile 1,693yd long Sevenoaks Tunnel are diverted with replacement buses
between Sevenoaks and Tonbridge. On Good Fri 30 Mar and Easter Mon 2 Apr Southeastern Charing
Cross - Hastings services were diverted via East Croydon and Redhill. On Sat 31 Mar and Easter Sun 1
Apr, they ran between Charing Cross and Sevenoaks only with an amended service between Tonbridge
and Hastings. Charing Cross - Ramsgate/Dover Priory trains divert via Maidstone East. A shuttle train
service runs between Tonbridge and Ashford International. London Charing Cross - Gravesend services
are retimed as a result. The work is part of the £300M government funded programme to tackle 'delay
hotspots'. Leaks and poor drainage have been a major issue for the tunnel since its construction in the
1860s, and as a result, water build-up has damaged the track, signalling and power supply. The new
gravity drainage system is complete and work moves on to track, signalling and power supply renewal.
1302 SOUTH WEST (Darren Garnon) [email protected]
[Gloucestershire, Avon, Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon, Lundy, Dorset, Channel Islands & Cornwall]
757] Tytherington branch: (BLN 1299.308) On 2 Apr the end of line was confirmed as devegetated to
the stop blocks just before the A38 (ST 6535 8901), where the southeast portal of Grovesend Tunnel
can be seen but is mostly buried. This 167yd tunnel runs northwest to ST 6524 8914 - part of the
continuation to Thornbury terminus. An engine or so length beyond Tytherington Quarry loop there is
still a sleeper across the line corresponding to where the line is shown as 'obstructed' in TRACKmaps
Vol 3 p16B. As part of the branch renaissance there was evidence of recent track work on the quarry's
'outgoing' line with new ballast and plenty of loaded ballast bags for further work. The previous rail
traffic was incoming stone by rail for local distribution and the branch has been formally out of use
since 15 Sep 2013. The last (but not the final!) train was UK Railtours 'Severnside' tour of 2 Jul 2011.
758] Okehampton - Tavistock (BLN 1276.558) The Westminster and Edinburgh Governments have set
out details of the new approach to funding rail enhancements after an overhaul of railway funding
settlements. It replaces the approach of publishing a list of projects for delivery at the start of each five
year control period and seeks to avoid schemes being committed before development costs are firmed
up and reduces the likelihood of embarrassment when committed schemes fail to secure funding.
In a new 'pipeline' approach the DfT has come up with a five stage timeline - Determine, Develop,
Design, Deliver and Deploy* - to systematically review projects and only allow them to proceed when
work has reached an appropriate level of maturity. 'Deliver', after the design stage, would be the final
investment decision. Okehampton to Tavistock reopening is put at the 'determine' stage. Question: Is
this additional to Network Rail's 8 GRIP stages? [*They are keeping quiet about the Descope, Delay,
Delete and Defer stages - 'Pause' doesn't begin with 'D', neither does, conveniently, 'Electrify'.]
759] Parsons Street: This station, the nearest to Bristol City's Ashton Gate football stadium, has had a
makeover from NR. Vegetation has been removed and signage to the football stadium improved.
For a home match with Manchester United on 20 Dec 2017, a GWR HST set stopped showing it can be
done. A station closer to the stadium (Ashton Gate) is proposed on the reopened Portishead line.
760] Swindon: As part of the introduction of Class 387 EMUs, Cocklebury Sidings (77m 10ch) will be
remodelled and electrified. To facilitate this work, the Up Goods Loop (East Loop) past the station has
been taken out of use with immediate effect but is expected to be reinstated in the next 6 months.
761] SWR Dec 2018 Timetable: (BLN 1291.2155) The results of the timetable consultation have been
revealed. Many routes have had the original proposals reversed based on the strength of public
opinion, reverting to a format more in line with that which operates now. On the Exeter line the key
change is that all off-peak trains retain stops at both Woking and Clapham Junction. There is also an
intriguing hourly Sunday Salisbury - Basingstoke stopping service that then runs fast to Reading!
Perhaps the biggest (dc) 'volte-face' affects Weymouth; the twice hourly direct service to London
Waterloo has been retained (it had been advocated that only one direct train per hour would run).
762] Mini-HST A member saw a GWR 4-car HST set (43016, 48111, 48102, 48101, 49101 & 43093) on 09.45
Exeter St Davids to Penzance service on 30 Mar. It is thought that the inaugural revenue earning service
was 06.00 Penzance to Exeter that morning. One set is thought to have failed then with door problems.
763] Dilton Marsh: Up P1 is being extended at the Westbury end to take two coaches instead of one.
PREVIOUS PAGE: At Penzance on 9 Apr 2018, it is not often that a London end HST power car is seen
this close to the train shed! In fact they have not extended the line at the buffer stops end; it is a mini-
mini-HST running as 3+2. ABOVE: Detail of the new doors on the GWR Mini-HST. (Both Craig Kinsey)
1302 WEST MIDLANDS (Brian Schindler) [email protected]
[Great Malvern, Staffordshire, Shropshire, West Midlands, Herefordshire, Worcestershire & Warwickshire]
764] New Street: A journey to join our Sussex Salopian railtour on 24 Mar on CrossCountry's 06.37
(SSuX) Nottingham to Bournemouth service found that it uses the Grand Jn crossover from the Down
Derby to the Down Stour (41m 26ch) - there is no other route to P6 or lower. It also did the tunnel
crossover from the Down Stour to Up Stour to P3A where it then reverses. There are a few other trains
from the Derby line into low number platforms such as 18.36 (SSuX) from Newcastle to P1A, 17.00
ex-Glasgow Central and 21.46 (SSuX) from Reading both to P3 - the latter reverses at Foxhall Jn too!
765] Henwick: The new Turnback line and signalling are OOU until further notice. The safety fencing
and sleeper across the track have gone but there is no evidence it has yet been used. Word down the
line is that the lever pull on the new points at Henwick Signal Box is too stiff by modern standards.
766] Ledbury - Shelwick Jn: The line closed suddenly at 14.35 on Thur 22 Mar due to the deterioration
of a longitudinal timber on the first underbridge (148m 11ch) just east of Shelwick Junction; a 20mph
restriction had been in place since 20th. GWR services booked west of Malvern ran only to Worcester
Shrub Hill and West Midlands Trains turned back at Ledbury (helped by the hourly service crossing
there). Four 9m longitudinal timbers were rotted through. A 'nationwide search' was undertaken for
replacements which were located at Salisbury Sawmills. After repairs the line reopened on Sun 25 Mar.
767] Wolves in WMR's clothes: From Sun 1 Apr, West Midlands Railway (WMR) took over the station
management from Virgin Trains. On 28 Mar the station signs were being updated with WMR logo;
Virgin staff were celebrating (!) by providing individually wrapped cup cakes labelled 'We are Wolves'
free to customers in the P4 lounge. By 4 Apr platform staff wore new black WMR uniforms.
On Sat 24 Mar the platform display board for the
weekly 06.38 (SO) Wolverhampton to Walsall PSUL
advertised it as travelling via Birmingham New
Street (as the station staff also said it would) but the
platform screen showed it as 'Calling at Walsall
only'! (LEFT: David Bathhurst.) This was the last day
of diversion via Soho East Jn and Perry Barr West Jn
(but NOT New Street of course!). Matters were not
helped for those of dubious athleticism, when the
train was then re-platformed from P4 to the
Birmingham end bay P5, on completely the opposite
side of Wolverhampton station. The only footbridge
connecting P4 and P5 is at the extreme other end of
the station. There were a handful of passengers
(which is far more than usual) who showed all the
known traits associated with travelling on such
trains. Quite a few members made the pilgrimage
recently, one bright spark from Newport especially
just to do the curve at Soho by electric traction.
Each time it ran via the Up Soho Curve at Soho
Curve North Jn (but not actually Soho North Jn and
the following new trailing crossover in the Down
Soho Curve, an alternative route).
The train did not run on Sat 31 Mar because Walsall station was closed all Easter for electrification
works and it then reverted to the direct shorter route via Portobello Jn and Pleck Jn from Sat 7 Apr.
768] Round Oak: NR has corrected the end of line stop blocks mileage from 146m 13ch to 146m 16ch.
769] Wolverhampton Steel Terminal: (BLN 1301.632) Foundations are being dug for the new terminal
building next to the new siding alongside the existing building. It will be rail served and new pointwork
off the branch before the double slip was introduced by 28 Mar, leading to two roads at present.
The Colas traffic from Boston Docks transferred from Washwood Heath which is required for HS2.
1302 YORKSHIRE & NORTH HUMBERSHIDE (Graeme Jolley; Geoff Blyth for North & East Yorks)
770] Goole correction: (BLN 1301.637 with maps) The Nov 1869 Bradshaw's Guide shows that all
Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) services ran to/from their station, so they did not make use of
the link to Potters Grange Jn when it first opened (2 Aug 1869). However, the Dec 1869 Bradshaw
shows that of the nine inbound weekday L&YR passenger trains, five went to the NER station and four
to the L&YR station. All Sunday trains used the L&YR station. In the absence of any press reports, one
can only presume that this arrangement started on Wed 1 Dec 1869. In those days, timetables usually
changed on the first of the month, regardless of the day of week. The L&YR station CP 1 Oct 1879 date
is correct but it seems likely that the goods depot, wherever it may have been, remained open longer.
771] Goole History (Part 2): (BLN 1301.637 with maps) Selby - Goole CP 15 Jun 1964; and the line CA
Oakhill Jn - Barlow War Department Sidings, about one mile southeast of Brayton Jn. Oakhill Jn Signal
Box (SB) closed 21 Mar 1965 and Beverley Sidings SB 16 Nov 1969. Rawcliffe Bridge Jn - Boothferry
Road SB CA 16 Sep 1970, Rawcliffe Bridge SB having been abolished the previous day. Rawcliffe
Bridge Jn - Engine Shed Jn - Potters Grange Jn thus ROP also 16 Sep 1970 after 60 odd years, when the
Leeds service was diverted that way. Signalling alterations had previously been made to this route to
(re)establish Absolute Block working. (BLNs 153 p54 & 156 p55 & p75) As this involved no station
closures and many travellers wouldn't even notice one wonders if a formal closure proposal was made.
Potters Grange SB was abolished 19 Jan 1975, when its functions were taken over by Boothferry Road
SB, which was renamed 'Goole'. It appears that a temporary physical link had already been established
by this time between Goods Jn in the docks and the shunt spur on the east side of the line at Goole SB.
As Goole Docks were exclusively L&YR, the access had always been from the Knottingley direction.
However, with the decline in outward coal shipments, freight now mostly ran from/to Doncaster. Until
this link was established, there was no easy access from the Doncaster direction. However, this new
link had fallen into disuse by late 1977, possibly because its use required traversal of British Transport
Docks Board lines, whereas the route from Engine Shed Jn was entirely on BR track. On 23 Feb 1978
Mineral Jn SB was abolished and Goods Jn SB downgraded to a shunting frame. Engine Shed SB was
apparently destroyed in an accident on 20 May 1980 and replaced by a temporary box. By Nov 1980
this had been abolished and the junction was controlled by Goole SB. The junction was reduced to
single track, with separate single lines to Potters Grange Jn (the former Up line) and to the docks.
The former Down line 'from' Potters Grange Jn was used to load Renault cars imported through Goole.
This was as a dead end from the Potters Grange end, with no connection on towards Engine Shed Jn.
On 17 Jan 1983 the Knottingley line was singled from a 66m 40ch named Gowdall Lane Jn, east of
Drax Branch Jn, to Engine Shed Jn (73m 52ch). Snaith and Rawcliffe SBs then became just gate boxes.
The Renault car traffic seems to have been relatively short lived and had ceased by the end of the
1980s. The small goods yard north of Goole station CG 4 Apr 1988 and Goods Jn shunting frame in the
docks was abolished 20 Mar 1989. The Society ran two tours in this area within less than a year. Our
13 Oct 1990 Humber Navigator II visited the docks on its rather convoluted [what else?] return from
Hull to Manchester. It was to have traversed the most northerly branch, to Stanhope Dock, and the
most southerly branch, on the south side of West Dock. However, both branches were refused shortly
before the tour ran, possibly because it was a 12 coach 'top & tail' loco hauled train, not well suited to
traversing docks sidings! (Incidentally this tour is thought to have had the most participants  of
any Society tour …. so far.) It did use the link from the sidings on the east side of the line at Goole SB
to Goods Jn and then Engine Shed Jn, possibly the only passenger train ever to do this right through.
The omissions in this tour were rectified by Humber Navigator III on 20 Jul 1991. However, this was
just a 3 car DMU, possibly to overcome the problems with the Humber Navigator II, so very quickly
filled. Due to heavy freight traffic at Hull Docks, with extra freight running that afternoon, Goole was
visited first in the middle of the day. So the tour returned from the docks to Goole station and then ran
to Hull. There wasn't time to return south from Hull by the booked route via Goole, Goods Jn, Engine
Shed Jn, Hensall and the Knottingley east curve, so it ran straight to Doncaster. However, this tour
certainly made up for this omission by doing the line on the south side of West Dock, towards Railway
Dock (Ref 6 on the BLN 1301 maps) and then the Stanhope Dock line (maps Ref 7), with the extremely
choice track continuing over the level crossing with Lower Bridge St. The wisdom of not doing these
lines on the Humber Navigator II was demonstrated when the flange of one of the wheels rode up on
top of the rail - but fortunately dropped down again on the correct side, averting a derailment.
In 2002 Guardian Industries UK Glass Division began construction of its float glass plant in Goole (2018
BLN 1301 map). Rail access was provided by reinstating the former Renault siding and extending it
westwards partly on the formation of the line to Oakhill Jn, then it turned sharp north on a completely
new alignment to the Guardian plant. The branch is nearly 2km long, and has never been railtoured;
the first 500m is Network Rail owned and maintained as a private siding connection and the rest a
private siding owned by the regeneration body 'Yorkshire Forward', which funded the project. The first
freight with industrial sand from Leziate Quarry, Middleton Towers (King's Lynn) arrived 17 Feb 2004.
By April 2004 the line to Stanhope Dock had been cut back to the Lower Bridge St crossing (see above).
It appears that the Engine Shed Jn - Mineral Jn - Goods Jn line fell out of use at some point after our
tours but was left intact. Unfortunately there is no record of when this occurred. A Sectional Appendix
page dated 1 May 1994 showed it as then still in use, but by 2004 a special note against Engine Shed
Jn said: To/From Goole Docks. Connection Secured out of use. Trains may only be run when authorised
by the Route Director Network Rail LNE. So it was presumably available in an emergency if there was
no access to the docks via the link from Goole SB. The 2013 sectional appendix still carried this note,
even though the line had been lifted! A member recollects that it was severed about 2008 at the time
the substantial bridge over the Dutch River was replaced but there is nothing in the weekly notices.
Junction names: Some have changed over the years. For consistency and intelligibility, the names used
in relatively recent sectional appendices are used throughout, irrespective of date. Engine Shed Jn:
This was Goole Jn when first opened in 1869 although the Railway Clearing House diagram names it
West Jn. Based on Ordnance Survey (OS) maps, Goole shed moved from just north of Goods Jn to this
area some time between 1880 and 1904. It was still shown as Goole Jn on the 1904 and 1948 OS maps
though the 1947 London & North Eastern Railway sectional appendix refers to it as Engine Shed Jn,
suggesting the OS were slow at changing names. Finally, on OS maps Goods Jn is Goods Yard Jn.
BELOW: Goole Docks, the former Level Crossing at the north end of Lower Bridge St, (as traversed by
our 20 Jul 1991 Humber Navigator III DMU tour) looking towards Stanhope Dock on 13 Jul 1979.
ABOVE: Shunting in the docks on the same day. (All pictures in this section by Angus McDougall.)
BELOW: Goole Goods Jn 10 Feb 2004, (it is worth comparing with the e-BLN 1301 pictures and maps).
ABOVE UPPER: Goods Jn headshunt (BLN 1301 maps location 13), looking southwest, 17 Jan 2015.
BELOW: These gates are the guardians of the level crossing (SE 7231 2237) on the non-Network Rail
section of the Guardian Glass branch (21 Apr 2007). ©Copyright Gordon Kneale Brooke and licensed
for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
772] Doncaster Sheffield Airport: (BLN 1285.1475) The Airport has outlined plans for a station with an
East Coast Main Line connection (seven miles of new track) in its 20-year vision. Through services to
London and Newcastle are envisaged, each in less than 90 minutes. It would also give 9M people living
within a 90 minute journey time of the airport easier access to the flights, an increase of 6.6M.
An associated 'Aerotropolis' would put £3.2bn into the local economy and create over 73,000 jobs.
773] South Yorkshire Supertram: From 18 Apr 2018 the Tinsley Lines from Tinsley North Jn (2m 61ch)
to Parkgate Jn (5m 59ch), the Sheffield Tram Transfer Line (0m 0ch) to (0m 20ch†) the connection
from Meadowhall South/Tinsley stop and the Parkgate Tram Transfer Line (0m 0ch to wire end - the
tram platform) are all due to be energised at 750 V dc. [†The Network Rail (NR) section OHLE to the
north is controlled by York Electrical Control Room and south by Nunnery Power Control (Supertram).
The Sheffield Tram Transfer Line OHLE itself is fed by both NR and Supertram infrastructure.] Testing
and driver training is now expected to start in the summer with first passengers services 'late autumn'.
1302 IRELAND (Martin Baumann) [email protected]
774] Portrush: Work on the new facilities
started on 19 Mar with the demolition of
the old building.
775] NIR is golden: On 1 Apr Northern
Ireland Railways (NIR) celebrated 50 years
of operation. Some CAF DMU sets have
carried a special crest on the side (LEFT).
Under the 1967 Transport Act NIR was given responsibility for rail services. (NIR was incorporated
under an Act of 21 Apr 1967, but a final decision on the Company name was postponed. From 1 Oct
1967 to 31 Mar 1968 it was an agent for the Ulster Transport Authority). On 1 Apr 1968 NIR became a
legal entity with full rail network responsibility. (BLN 1302.657) On 4 Apr the anniversary was marked
by a steam special from Great Victoria Street (GVS) to the RPSI's Whitehead platform.
Newly restored GNR 4-4-0 No131 hauled the RPSI coaches empty from there to Belfast Central and
was detached so that a GM Class '112' loco could haul the empty train to GVS (PREVIOUS PAGE). The
steam loco was to then couple to the country end. Unfortunately, somebody had forgotten to roster a
driver for the GM! By the time one was found to bring the '112' from the depot and take the coaches
to GVS it was 61 minutes late departing and arrived at its destination 64 minutes late (ABOVE). (No
unusual track was covered except Whitehead NIR to the RPSI station, of course.)
776] Single line Working (SLW): Making a clean start to the 2018 ballast work programme, SLW will be
introduced on 14 Apr when needed for movements on the Up Line between Laois Traincare Depot
facing crossover and Ballybrophy trailing crossover. This is for the Dublin to Cork line speed upgrade.
1302 ISLE OF MAN (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
777] Douglas - Peel: The 11 mile trackbed footpath is to be upgraded, to attract and accommodate
more users: pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and people with limited mobility. The line CP 9 Sep 1968,
but is nearly all intact including Peel station building a 'coffee station' (open 09.00-17.00) and heritage
centre. There are rail artefacts on this interesting and enjoyable walk. A bus can be taken one way.
778] Snowfell Mountain Railway? On Mon 2 Apr the Snaefell Mountain Railway and Douglas Bay
Horse Tramway were suspended. An amber snow and heavy rain weather warning applied to the
mountain. For the horse trams there were concerns about waves breaking over the promenades which
would have made it too dangerous for the horses (even more so if any of the track is moved seaward
to the promenade). On Tue 3 Snaefell services did not run to the summit but the horse trams resumed.
1302 SCOTLAND (Mike McCabe) [email protected]
779] A Refreshing Change: Reversing a trend seen elsewhere, ScotRail has employed 15 new staff and
are to provide at seat catering trolleys on Glasgow to Carlisle via Kilmarnock and Dumfries services.
This was a franchise commitment and presumably starts with the new timetable? The 115 mile journey
typically takes 2 hours 20 minutes or so with 9 intermediate stops (and 10 with Barrhead). Meanwhile
Dumfries Farmers Market on the first Sunday of each month 11.00-15.00, with up to 30 stalls and
plans to expand, has relocated to the P1 'Victorian Pavilion'. This is the magnificent glass roof over the
site of former Stranraer line bay platforms. It is described in publicity as a 'Turnip and Grow' event…..
780] Lucky Strikes! On Thur 29 Mar, to our member's surprise, the 11.19 Glasgow Queen Street P6 to
Stirling departed with 'D' in the signal theatre box via the Down Edinburgh & Glasgow (E&G). The Up
E&G was regained at 1m 49ch. This was because it departed at 11.19½ and at 11.19¾ the 10.30 from
Edinburgh arrived in P2 via the Up E&G reached via the facing crossover at 1m 64ch. Although the
trains are (SSuX) both booked to use conflicting platforms at 11.19, this was not their booked routing.
Later the conductor announced that due to a bridge strike there would be a diversion via Camelon.
(Bridge 46 above the A803 Glasgow Road between Carmuirs West Jn and Larbert Jn was hit at 11.39.)
Reversal in Camelon P1 was a signalled move to cross from the Up to the Down Grahamston line via
Carmuirs East Jn trailing crossover. It is a credit to all involved that Larbert was reached only 8 minutes
late. The bridge strike caused 60 minutes of delay to 7 trains; no other trains were shown as diverted.
781] Stirling: In connection with electrification, the Up Passenger Loop was shortened from 8 Apr until
further notice, available as a siding only from the south with a temporary buffer stop at 117m 74ch.
782] Greenhill: The OHLE from Cumbernauld is complete and energised. It is understood that initially
this is to provide a power supply to the Edinburgh & Glasgow line from the Cumbernauld direction.
783] More at Aviemore: (BLN 1282.1210) The Highland Line upgrade Phase 2 to reduce Glasgow and
Edinburgh to Inverness journey times by about 10 minutes and increase the service frequency to
'approximately hourly', while making freight operations more efficient, will result in trains crossing at
Pitlochry and Aviemore. To achieve simultaneous arrivals at speed from both directions, Aviemore
Loop is to be extended 354yd north and resignalled with LEDs to create the necessary signalling
overlaps. The interesting signal box will close with control (including of Kincraig loop to the south and
Carrbridge, Slochd, Tomatin and Moy loops to the north) transferred to Inverness Signalling Centre,
Highland Workstation. Aviemore (was 'North') box was visited by the Society on 22 Nov 2014 with its
unusual mixture of levers controlling the station and an NX panel for the loops (report BLN 1224.10).
Full bidirectional signalling of Aviemore loop with banner repeater signals will speed up services and
help keep freight moving; the 80mph Down direction line speed will be extended closer to the station.
A departure signal will provide a signalled passenger route from the Strathspey Railway; the railway is
commissioning a mechanical signal to provide a signalled passenger route on to its line. The Strathspey
access points (now ground frame worked) will be motorised, as will the Engineers Siding points.
Up Loop standage increases to 697m (with 703m in the Down Direction); on the through running line
(P1 Down side) it will be 703m (with 697m in the Up direction) and 160m in the new Engineers Siding.
The present Down Refuge Siding/Dock line (Down side north of the station) has been partly removed
and will be recovered with the points; the shorter new version will be accessed further north with the
new point in front of the existing box. A 78 hour line closure is expected for main commissioning in the
last week of Mar 2019. Initial signalling and enabling works take place between Mar and Aug this year.
784] Pitlochry: (BLN 1295.2555) The Up sidings (disused for many years) were decommissioned from
17 Dec 2017. The loop is to be resignalled with LEDs providing signalling overlaps for the simultaneous
arrival of trains from both directions at line speed. Banner repeaters will be installed; freight trains not
crossing will be able to use the through line at line speed. Pitlochry Signal Box closes with control
transferring to Stanley Junction Signal Box. The currently unidirectional Pitlochry station loop will
have full bidirectional signalling with a 40mph permanent speed restriction in both directions. The new
signalling will allow for reversible sub-route release to allow for turnback moves in either direction.
Track Circuit Block working will be provided between Dunkeld and Blair Atholl replacing the Scottish
Tokenless Block Working. The shunting Key Facility at Dunkeld (North), Pitlochry and Blair Atholl
(South) will go. Pitlochry Loop (P2 Down side) will have 209m standage (182m in the Up direction);
the through running line (Up P1) 209m in the Down direction and 182m in the Up. P1 is to be extended
north by 141m to 248m and P2 by 88m to 245m. Commissioning will be with Aviemore (see above).
785] Elgin: On the afternoon of Sat 31 Mar 2018
the Pathfinder Tours 'Easter Chieftain' railtour
ECS was to have stabled in Keith branch
platform but the track was considered to be
unsuitable (even though the Royal Scotsman
stables there). Instead the train found itself in
Elgin Yard from 14.24 until 16.44, notably on a
different line from that covered by Pathfinder's
15 Feb 2015 'The Great North of Scotland
Reviver'. That tour did include Keith branch
platform. Later, en route to Inverness, the Easter
2018 tour did the bidirectional Forres Loop (P2)
in the rare direction to cross an Up passenger
train. LEFT: In Elgin Yard. (Matthew Chambers)
786] Auchenback: This new station with a car park and bus station will be on the 3¾ mile electrified
double track line between Neilston and Patterton, on the southern outskirts of Barrhead. It was first
mooted as part of the Glasgow City Region Deal but wasn't expected to open until at least 2021. Now,
as part of new plans to boost public transport, work is expected to start on a 'pop-up' station before
Apr 2019. It is opening on a temporary basis and will be made permanent if successful. Auchenback
residents now have to walk for up to 40 minutes to Barrhead station on the north side of the town.
787] Yoker: Reinstating and maintaining diversionary route knowledge for Yoker based drivers on the
mainline and Bellshill routes to Motherwell is being considered by diverting a few off-peak services.
788] Motherwell: Control of the Coatbridge and Mossend area was due to to move from Motherwell
to the new Whifflet workstation at West of Scotland Signalling Centre (Cowlairs) over Easter weekend.
789] Rutherglen East Jn: Part of local renewals, new points are being installed, OOU until 16 Jul 2018.
790] Whifflet: Trains terminating here (2tph SuX) now run empty to Wishaw via Mossend North to
East curve, Holytown and back again, taking about 30 minutes on a tight schedule! The Wishaw area
resignalling in Aug includes a fully signalled reversing facility, so they could then run in service in both
directions. The seven minute reversal at Wishaw is in southbound P2, but departure north is currently
signalled by a shunt signal. Previously Whifflet ECS workings have reversed in sidings north of
Motherwell but pathing difficulties prevents them running to Motherwell station. To ensure right time
departures from Whifflet it would be better if the ECS turned back closer to Whifflet, perhaps in
Mossend Yard. Alternatively, running from Whifflet to Wishaw in service removes six minutes from the
schedule required to make sure there are no passengers on the train. They could go out of service at
Wishaw running ECS back to Whifflet. (ECS due to the signalling limitations at Wishaw and the absence
of Driver Only Operation equipment for a Glasgow-bound service to depart from the south bound P2.)
791] HSTs: (BLN 1301.649) ScotRail is introducing 26 refurbished HSTs, in 4 and 5 coach formations,
between Edinburgh/Glasgow to/from Aberdeen and Inverness, to replace all the Class 170 DMUs.
The first will be introduced from the May timetable, with steady state operation after May 2019. Many
new HST stop boards are required at stations, off platform and reversing location as a result of the HST
train length. All are needed to be in place by May but most were actually installed by Dec 2017.
1302 WALES .NB: (Paul Stewart) covering. [email protected]
[Plus: Chester - Shrewsbury - Hereford - Newport, with flexibility to most appropriately place any item]
X.46] Guess the location BLN 1301.X41: BELOW: This was part of Stanner station, the first one in
Wales on the Kington to New Radnor branch. The road is the B4594. There are similar style buildings
remaining at New Radnor station. The branch CP 5 Feb 1951; Dolyhir - New Radnor CG/A 31 Dec
1951; Kington - Dolyhir CG/A 9 Jun 1958. The aggregate that is dispatched by rail from Moreton Park
(at Moreton-on-Lugg) now largely comes (by road of course) from Dolyhir Quarry. (Rowland Pittard)
792] North Wales: On 26 Mar NR commissioned the new digital signalling system with axle counters
between Shotton (just after) and (almost) Colwyn Bay, part of its £50M North Wales railway upgrade.
About 147,000 hours were spent on the signalling element of the project and (only) 106 miles of new
cable was required to be installed. Shotton to Colwyn Bay is 30 miles and the line is controlled from
Cardiff 156-186 miles away! Also interestingly, 96 previous signals were replaced with just 54 new LED
digital signals, (but better spaced for modern traffic needs). Tyn-y-Morfa level crossing was also
upgraded to a manually controlled barrier with CCTV supervision. The North Wales railway upgrade
project also includes the installation of new track at Flint, Rhyl, Mostyn and Abergele by the summer.
New line names/infrastructure changes from 26 Mar 2018: Saltney Jn - Llysfaen (Llandudno Junction
box fringes): Up Main and Down Main are now the Up Holyhead and Down Holyhead respectively.
Axle counters are in use beyond the London North Western/Wales route boundary at 188m 40ch, with
Track Circuit Block on the Chester side. Rockcliffe Hall facing and trailing crossovers (188m 74ch) are
now OOU. The new Flint Jn at 191m 00ch (before the station) has facing and trailing crossovers with
bidirectional running on the Up Holyhead to the country end of Rhyl Up P1 (209m 10ch). The Down
Holyhead is bidirectional from Flint Jn through Rhyl P2 (the Down passenger Loop, renamed Down
Rhyl Passenger Loop) and through the Down Holyhead, both to 201m 22ch where the two lines join.
At Holywell Jn (195m 76ch) only the Up and Down lines remain. Mostyn East Jn (198m 42ch) is a new
facing crossover also immediately accessing the new bidirectional Up Mostyn Goods Loop with a
Down facing connection clipped OOU (poor track) to Mostyn Exchange Sidings. A trailing connection
from these sidings then accesses Mostyn Docks. The Up Mostyn Goods Loop ends at Mostyn West Jn
(199m 23ch) with a trailing crossover to the Down Holyhead. Talacre facing crossover (MP202)/siding
access is OOU. Before Rhyl a new trailing crossover (207m 71ch) is followed by the retained trailing
crossover (208m 70ch). Trains from the Chester direction can turnback in service in either platform.
The disused Grade II listed boxes at Holywell Junction, Mostyn (No1) (closed 9 Jan 2017), Tyn-y-Morfa
(gate box), Rhyl No1, Rhyl No2 (closed 28 Jan 1990, now boarded up) and Abergele & Pensarn will
survive. Prestatyn, although not listed, has been reprieved by last minute community group pressure
and a Facebook petition. NR has agreed to this as, fortunately, it is set back from today's running lines.
It could be developed as a railway heritage display with only a 250yd extension of the Dyserth to
Prestatyn footpath (on the old branch formation) needed to reach the box.
793] A Capital Ticket: Arriva Trains Wales has introduced a £4.50 'Explore the Capital' ticket
(34% discount with railcards; £2.25 accompanied children 5-15) offering one day's unlimited off-peak
train travel in the Cardiff and Penarth area. It is available at ticket offices or on the train if there is no
ticket purchasing facility where the journey starts. Travel is not allowed before 09.30 or between 16.00
and 18.30 Mon-Fri (excluding bank holidays). Cardiff Bay, Coryton, Eastbrook, Llanishen, Penarth and
Radyr stations (all inclusive) are the boundaries. Microgricing opportunities around Cardiff Central,
Queen Street and Radyr are available (see Ian Delgado's Unusual Tracks on our website). Alternatively
go for the most miles in one day or the most trains in one day record! You can visit the Cardiff Model
Engineering Society's Heath Park Miniature Railways & Tramway, an easy walk from Heath stations.
The Society was founded in 1948 and moved to Heath Park in 1987. The site has two railway tracks,
a unique electric tramway, two model railways, and extensive refreshment facilities. Entry is £1.80 per
person and all rides are £1.80 each. Future 2018 opening dates pre-Santa, all 13.00 to 17.00, are Sun
29 Apr, Sun/Mon 27/28 May, Sun 24 Jun, Sun 22 Jul, Sun/Mon 26/27 Aug, Sun 23 Sep and Sun 14 Oct.
794] Port Talbot: Thanks to Ian Delgado's Unusual Track website. From 23-27 Apr the 11.10 ex-Swansea,
12.45 & 16.45 ex-Llanelli (all to Cardiff) are booked to call at Port Talbot Parkway P2, take the facing X/O
at Port Talbot East (202m 10ch) to the Up Relief (was Up Goods) and wait at the end (signal PT127) for 4/5
mins. The 15.10 Swansea - Cardiff should do this, but waits 10 minutes at Port Talbot Parkway P2 instead.
795] A South Wales Tour - Part 2: (BLN 1301.651) The next day in Mar 1982 our two members were
back at Cwmgwrach, specifically the junction of the Aberpergwm Colliery NCB (National Coal Board)
branch with the Vale of Neath Line (33m 14ch) - see BLN 1301 OS map - now the NR boundary on the
Cwmgwrach branch. This was in good time for the 07.25 arrival of the BR trip from Swansea Burrows
Sidings. The crew were (as usual in those days) friendly and our duo enjoyed a Class 37 cab ride. The
loco hauled the empty wagons it had brought in over the river bridge, ran round then propelled them
into the exchange sidings from where they were immediately removed by the NCB loco. After waiting
a long time chatting with the crew no further movements were in prospect, so they left at 10.30.
Brynlliw Colliery (SN 594 012) was next, a branch south off the Swansea District Line at Grovesend
Colliery Loop Jn. This ran through a quaint wooden gateway near the mainline marking the BR/NCB
boundary. The branch was immediately west of, and alongside (but at a higher level to), the former
Pontarddulais to Swansea Victoria line used by Central Wales Line passenger services prior to their
diversion via Llanelli from 15 Jun 1964. A 1½ mile single track section was still open then from a Sep
1974 BR connection at Grovesend Colliery Loop Jn to Gorseinon Coal Depot (and was railtoured both
in this form and from Pontarddulais). Brynlliw was one of several mines in the area still NCB steam
worked attracting large numbers of visitors with an understandable reluctance to take 'passengers'.
Our duo discovered that the loco had finished for the day anyway (there was very little work by then -
the landsale yard had closed) and no BR trip was expected. [The landsale area of collieries was where
coal was sold directly to purchasers to take away, sometimes with its own internal rail branch.]
The remains of Graig Merthyr colliery exchange sidings were next on the agenda, on the opposite side
of the Swansea District Line. At closure in Jun 1978 it was the oldest working pit in South Wales. Your
BLN Editor arranged a 'farewell' steam hauled trip, one of his first for the Society, on the branch on 30
Sep that year, riding in some dirty 16 ton BR coal wagons with nothing to hold on to! Sadly by 1982 it
was lifted, the loco shed demolished and the 'duff' sidings disused. The duff (fine usually anthracite
coal, not necessarily of poor quality) stockpile had all gone by rail to Carmarthen Bay Power station.
At Briton Ferry the extensive Thomas Ward's (ship breakers) scrap yard rail system was inspected
before broadly driving alongside the fascinating former Port Talbot Railway route to Maesteg (at a
time when that town had no passenger service, of course). Arriving 14.00, after a short wait, the then
recent (1978/9) direct northwest to south east NCB connection, laid at right angles literally on top of a
previous line between the NCB system and BR branch, was completed. This was on an NCB loco which
pushed some loaded wagons out to the exchange sidings. (The original connection, done previously,
with a reversal on the Port Talbot Railway bridge above the Llynfi Valley Line, was disconnected.)
BELOW: Ian Mortimer's 18 Sep 1980 view of the new Maesteg NCB connection looking East/South east
(maps next page). The 1957 opened Maesteg Central Washery is middle left, bottom left corner is the
line towards the NCB/BR exchange sidings. That off middle right is to St John's Colliery headshunt (part
ex-Port Talbot Railway) with some stocked coal visible. As can be seen, the new NCB connection was
literally laid over the link between the Washery and the Port Talbot bridge above the Llynfi Valley line!
BELOW: A 1980s 1:50,000 map, the new direct connection arrowed, greatly simplifying the layout.
St John's Colliery is top right; the spot is the site of the present Maesteg station (OP 28 Sep 1992); just
above it and the NCB line to St John's Colliery (ex-Port Talbot Railway) is Maesteg Central Washery.