Issue Number 1254 (Items 627- 746 & MR 56 - MR 63) (E-BLN 58 PAGES) 9 April 2016
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Ave., Epsom, Surrey, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members, an international section is also available.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1255 is dated 23 April, contrSibouciteitoyn. s must be received by 13 April.
627] YOUR 2016 MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL: The form should be with this issue. E-BLN subscribers will
need to print it. Although due on 1 May, early renewal will assist your volunteer Committee; the
Society's main source of income is membership subscriptions. We are pleased to have your support
and membership during the coming year, and are always delighted to welcome new members, to
help meet the Chairman's Challenge of 1,000 members by the 2016 AGM. It is also hoped that as
many as possible will try e-BLN (subscription only £12 for 24 Editions) now that the 'print your own'
option in booklet or A4 format is available. This is identical to paper BLN but arrives earlier and can
be much cheaper than paper BLN. The enhanced E-BLN (also printable) has many pictures, maps,
plans and extra material. Anyone taking paper BLN may e-BLN free. Comments and suggestions
about your Society and the way it is run can be submitted with the form. Benefits of membership:
24 BLNs per year, advance notice of fixtures and initial priority (some are 'members only'), valuable
member discounts, an annual copy of PSUL (electronically with e-BLN) and paper Minor Railways for
all full members. The Membership Secretary's contact details are on the masthead of EVERY BLN.=.
Date Event Details BLN Lead Notes
Sun 10/4/16 'Caledonia Casualty' trip 17.00 Birmingham Moor Street 1253 KA NOTIFY
Sat 30/4/16 Signal Box visits starts 10.00 Feltham, Victoria & Three Bridges ASC 1253 PS OPEN
7-9/5/2016 SW Spain trip: With apologies, this is cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control.
Geoff Blyth is very grateful for all the understanding and sympathetic emails.
Tue 10/5/16 LU Signal Cabin Visits (3) 10.00 Whitechapel - Upminster 1251 PS FULL
Sat 14/5/16 GWR Tracker IV railtour 10.25-15.29 ONLY 18 PLACES LEFT 1252 JE OPEN
20-22/05/16 Island of Ireland Tracker 06.00 Friday to 20.00 Sunday 1250 KA OPEN
Fri 3-4/6/16 Scottish Minor Railways Aberdeenshire/Perthshire 1246 TV NOTIFY
Tue 31/5/16 Sutton Coldfield MES *NEW* Comprehensive visit 1254 KA *OPEN*
Fri 10/6/16 *NEW* Glasgow Tracker Full day on public services TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 11/6/16 *NEW* Scottish Borders Narrow & standard gauge visits TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 12/6/16 *NEW* Nottingham NET Proposed repeat tour (TBC) TBA TBA Claimed
Thur 23/6/16 Loco-hauled Trekker Bargain track/traction mini-tour TBA TBA Claimed
24-25/6/16 TBA TBA Claimed
Tracker in London area, late Friday to early hours Saturday!
Sat 2/7/16 TPE Tracker - Part 1 Evening Manchester area tour TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 3/7/16 TPE Tracker - Part 2 Manchester to Cleethorpes tour TBA TBA Claimed
Thur 4/8/16 Spa Valley Railway Late evening/early evening BVT (No3) TBA TBA Claimed
Fri 4-6/11/16 BLS 61st AGM weekend Southeast England /Kent
10-17/11/16 Jordan Hejaz Railway Provisional new date (enhanced) TBA TBA Claimed
1250 IS OPEN
IS-Iain Scotchman, JE-Jill Everitt, KA-Kev Adlam, NG-Nick Garnham, PS-Paul Stewart, TV-Terry Velvick.
628] BLS Caledonia Casualty, Sun 10 April: More participants/casualties can be accommodated on this
2-car Chiltern DMU; a most unusual and interesting opportunity. Advance notification essential to Kev
Adlam, preferably email (text 07921 949228). Participants need to report to Birmingham Moor Street
by 17.00, and be able to detrain by ladder safely. The special runs from P4 to Small Heath Caledonia
Yard, La Farge Aggregates branch, where a vehicle collision scenario will be staged on the crossing.
This is the most significant line (furthest from the running lines) used by New Street reconstruction
trains and requires 23 points to be clipped so is not likely to be repeated. After being 'rescued' by the
emergency services, participants can leave 18.45/19.00. They will be escorted to nearby Golden
Hillock Road (Small Heath station, no Sunday trains), for regular buses to the city centre (or park there
before the event and take a bus into Birmingham). £15 pay on the day in cash all going to charity.
629] Sutton Coldfield MES PRIVATE Little Hay Railway, Tue 31 May 18.30: Balleny Green, Little
Hay Lane, near Shenstone, WS14 0QA (SK 122027). http://goo.gl/q76gtQ A summer evening visit;
all available lines at this extensive and complex 2,760ft ground level railway. There are two main
connected loops, a multi-platform station, tunnel and various branch sidings http://goo.gl/q2eEc9
also a 460ft high level circuit. Tea, coffee and biscuits are included. £10 cheques to 'Branch Line
Society'. Bacon rolls only £2; an interesting variety of motive power is expected. Bookings to Kev
Adlam (back page). Offers of, or requests for, lifts (Tamworth, Lichfield, Blake Street stations etc) or
longer distance car shares to Paul Stewart, indicating how many you can take and from/to where.
BELOW: The track layout (Graham Jones); for more aerial views http://goo.gl/3ENxPe (see right hand side).
630] Unusual Track: Expected but not guaranteed, should be re-checked http://goo.gl/wwSbYv etc.
Bishton Flyover Down/Up Reliefs: 25 Jun to 11 Sep SSuO all passenger trains in both directions.
Pont Croesor (WHR): The loop realigned both sides at the north end, opened on 22 February.
Shepherds Well: 9 Apr, Up services start from P2 taking London end trailing X/O on departure.
Barking: 9 Apr, Fenchurch Street services (half-hourly, 09.58 to 17.58) start from P7.
Maindee East - North Jns curve: 9/10 Apr, Newport - Cwmbran services, reversing at East Usk.
Scunthorpe: 9 (after 18.15) & 10 Apr, Cleethorpes services from P2 via country end trailing X/O.
Southampton Central: 10 April all CrossCountry trains run via Laverstock Loop and depart P2.
Norton Bridge: Until 31 May ALL Stafford - Stone/Stoke-on-Trent trains use the new flyover.
Norton Bridge, Little Bridgeford Jn - Searchlight Lane Jn - Down Slow: SuO Until 30 May, Down
passenger trains from Stafford to Crewe due to work on the Fast Line. Other days, some LM
Birmingham to Liverpool trains may run that way. Check the signals at north end of Stafford
station for the indication 'S' (Slow Line) or on P5 a proceed aspect without the feathers lit.
ABOVE: 08604 with Hawksworth auto trailer 231, built at Swindon in 1951 awaits passengers outside
Didcot Railway Centre's refreshment room; the closed Didcot 'A' Power Station chimney is just visible.
631] FIXTURES REPORT: The Didcot Deviations, Fri 18 Mar 2016: The day's fixture started off with a
breakfast roll call before 65 participants (plus an infant - don't ask!) made their way to the Didcot
Railway Centre (DRC) café for refreshments, a pre-departure briefing (as in brief!) and to await some
delayed participants. The previous day had been the warmest of the year but this day felt like the
coldest! It was clear from the start that Kev Adlam, with his BLS Fixtures Team as well as the DRC, had
put a great deal of thought and preparation into the day. Expectations were running high and
participants looked forward to 'reaching the parts that others cannot reach', including some lines
never used by passengers before. It must have been good as even our esteemed PSUL compiler from
Crewe was in attendance.
By way of background, Didcot, 81E was a former BR shed originating in the mid-19th century. Steam
allocation included Halls, Earls and Panniers but with the phasing out of steam in favour of the Diesel
Hydraulics, it closed 14 Jun 1965. The Great Western Society
(GWS) took over the site two years later, moving in by train
'convoy' from their previous base on the Totnes Quay branch
which CA 4 Dec 1967. Despite some uncertainty over the
location's future use a few years ago, the GWS was offered a 50-
year lease. Considering the limited length of the running lines
due to operating within a triangle of NR tracks, the DRC manages
to offer 'main', branch and even broad gauge lines!
(START) Loco Shed Loop, West side Walrus Jn 0m 18ch
Walrus Jn Steam Railmotor Shed 0m 21ch
Steam Railmotor Shed Transfer Shed End of Line 0m 31ch
Transfer Shed End of Line
Frome Mineral Jn Frome Mineral Jn 0m 07ch
Burlescombe Platform Burlescombe Platform 0m 04ch
Clear of Double Slip
Carriage Shed Road 1 Clear of Double Slip 0m 18ch
Clear of Traverser Line Points Carriage Shed Road 1 0m 05ch
Traverser / Carriage Shed Road 6
Clear of Turntable Line Points Clear of Traverser Line Points 0m 07ch
Turntable Middle Stub Traverser / Carriage Shed Road 6 0m 07ch
Loco Shed Road 1 Points
Loco Shed Loop, Turntable End Points Clear of Turntable Line Points .=0m 11ch...
Turntable Middle Stub 0m 08ch
(Lunch Break) Ash Road
Loco Shed Loop, West side Loco Shed Road 1 Points (via loop east side) 0m 13ch
Clear of Loco Shed Road 1 Points Loco Shed Loop, TT End Pts (via loop east side) 0m 11ch
Loco Shed Loop, East side
Clear of Loco Shed Road 1 Points Ash Road (Lunch Break) 0m 10ch
Loco Shed Road 1, Doors
Clear of Loco Shed Road 2 Points Loco Shed Loop, West side 0m 04ch
Loco Shed Road 2, Doors
Clear Loco Shed Roads 3&4 Points Clear of Loco Shed Road 1 Points 0m 07ch
Loco Shed Road 3, Loco Works Doors Loco Shed Loop, East side 0m 05ch
Clear of Loco Shed Road 4 Points
Loco Shed Road 4, Pit Clear of Loco Shed Road 1 Points 0m 05ch
Entrance Level Crossing Loco Shed Road 1, to Doors 0m 04ch
Oxford Road EOL Clear of Loco Shed Road 2 Points 0m 05ch
Clear of Running Line Points Loco Shed Road 2, to Doors 0m 05ch
Network Rail Access Line Stop Board Clear of Loco Shed Roads 3&4 Points 0m 06½ch
Clear Coaling Stage Line Points Loco Shed Road 3, to Loco Works Doors 0m 11½ch
Clear of Loco Shed Road 4 Points 0m 10ch
Loco Shed Road 4, to Pit 0m 04ch
Entrance Level Crossing 0m 07ch
Oxford Road EOL 0m 34ch
Eynsham EOL 0m 38ch
Clear of Running Line Points 0m 12ch
Network Rail Access Line Stop Board 0m 15ch
Coaling Stage 0m 12ch
Clear of Coaling Stage Line Points 0m 09½ch
Loco Shed Loop, West side (FINISH) 0m 14½ch
Our railtour motive power was green liveried 08604 with the very suitable Hawksworth auto trailer
231 built at Swindon in 1951 giving plenty of room, comfort and visibility. The fixture was in two parts,
the morning run covered the route linking the GWS 'mainline' to their branch down to the Transfer
Shed. This also included the mixed gauge section, overlapping with the broad gauge track at its
platform. For obvious reasons our train was unable to complete the rest of the broad gauge section (!)
but did manage a first for a passenger train by running into the Steam Rail Motor Shed. The rest of the
morning's highlights included a run onto the traverser, almost into the Carriage Shed and over the
turntable. The traverser originally operated at the Midland Railway Works, Derby and was built in
1897. Initially steam shifted this was later replaced with an electric engine and it is now petrol
powered. The 21-metre Ransomes & Rapier (1869 -1987) turntable and pit is on the site of the original
1932 GWR one. Somewhat out of place, it was actually built for the Southern Railway at Southampton
Docks. A leisurely lunch break followed, allowing plenty of time to revisit the café, socialise, explore
the site and 'spot' locos and stock. DRC carried out several shunts to free up access for the afternoon
running by moving stock to the lines already covered. Those lunching in the café were entertained by
an unlikely procession of rolling stock and dead locos passing the windows hauled by 08604.
ABOVE UPPER: View from front of the train running onto the traverser. ABOVE LOWER: …and onto
the turntable; the GWR railcar is a point of reference between the two pictures. BELOW: Lunchtime
entertainment for participants - one of the locomotive cavalcades. (All Neil Greenwood 18 Mar 2016.)
The afternoon concentrated on the now cleared east end of the site. Initially the loco shed lines were
traversed including Line 3 right through, almost into the works building. Then a buffer-to-buffer run on
the 'main' line and towards the real main line, through the gate to the NR boundary.
The stage was then set for a grand finale … the first ever passenger run up the steep incline to and
through the coal stage. The novelty was confirmed by the sudden appearance of what seemed to be
every GWS volunteer on site with their cameras. The loco was not permitted to enter the building due
to a weight restriction, so the tour stopped a coach length short of the end (but was propelled through
the building). The stage is used to coal and water the steam locos. Coal is brought up the incline into
the shed in rail wagons and manually unloaded into small wagons which are subsequently tipped into
the loco tenders.
Our very enjoyable and sociable fixture expeditiously covered a considerable amount of track without
fuss, largely due to the professionalism of the DRC staff and advanced preparation for the tour.
Pointwork had been greased and foliage cleared the day before even to allow travel to the various
buffer stops. Many thanks to all concerned at the DRC (well worth a visit on a public steam day
http://goo.gl/ugarF adjacent to the mainline station) and
particular thanks to the indefatigable Kev Adlam. (Report by
our member Neil Greenwood.) The detailed moves and
mileages (total 4m 60ch) are thanks to member Jim Sellens.
ABOVE: We were banking on Kev Adlam staging an 'on the day bonus'. View from the front of the
train ascending the incline to the coal and water stage. Didcot 'B' Power Station's twin chimneys are to
its left in the background. One of the three remaining 'A' Station cooling towers is to the right of the
stage building. BELOW: The connection (to the right) from the standard to the mixed gauge covered
by our railtour which reversed in this platform giving overlap between the two. (Richard Maund.)
ABOVE UPPER: The mixed gauge looking towards Burlescombe platform and the standard/broad
gauge transhipment shed. ABOVE LOWER: The superbly restored Radstock North signal box (Both
Richard Maund). BELOW: The NR boundary, looking east towards Reading; left are the Didcot Avoiding
Lines with a new (covered) piling tube in the ground ready to take an electrification mast (Kev Adlam).
LEFT: …and finally at Didcot
Railway Centre. Our superb
coach which gave excellent
visibility and comfort for the
all day tour came with a
range of destination boards,
so now we all know where
our Chairman is going! He
did have a BLS Committee to
chair later in the day. (Jenny
1254 HEAD LINES
632] Thameslink; Canal Tunnels Jn - Belle Isle Jn: (BLN 1253.540) Commissioning did not take place on
13 March -The St. Pancras International end junction is now more correctly called 'Canal Tunnels Jn'
633] Glasgow Queen Street (incl) - Cowlairs South Jn - Cowlairs West Jn and Cowlairs South Jn -
Sighthill West Jn: (BLN 1253.612) TCA 20 Mar to 7 Aug 2016 to replace tunnel concrete slab track etc.
634] Dalmeny Jn - Winchburgh Jn: (BLN 1247.2290) TCP 21 Mar to 8 Aug 2016. The 07.13 (SSuX) PSUL
Kirkcaldy to Glasgow Queen St. diverts to Haymarket P0; the 17.33 return is cancelled (previous item).
635] Northern Ireland Railways, Bellarena station: (BLN 1250.290) CP 21 Mar 2016, single platform
(74m 77c) between Londonderry and Castlerock. The new 146m (6-car) Down line platform (P2) was
brought into use (P1 and new loop remain OOU). It is 60m on the Belfast side of Bellarena crossing.
BELOW: The now closed station from the crossing (towards Londonderry) 12 May 2010 https://goo.gl/EeUCtu
636] Blackpool Electric Tramway, Norbreck North stop: (BLNs 1247.2302 & 1248.8) ROP Tuesday 22
Mar 2016, between Norbreck and Little Bispham stops, a 'modern' tram stop with platforms both sides
(but no shelters then). This is the first stop added to the line since completion of the upgrade in 2012.
637] Caledonian MacBrayne, Wemyss Bay - Rothesay (Isle of Bute): (BLN 1244.1989) ROA Good
Friday, 25 Mar 2016 (TCA 1 Oct 2015 for dredging, refurbishment of the pier, fendering and link span).
638] Gourock - Rothesay ferry: (BLN 1244.1990) CA 25 Mar 2016, temporary service from 1 Oct 2015.
639] Claydon LNE Jn - Bicester, Gavray Jn: (BLN 1252.434) RO Fri 25 Mar 2016, a Chiltern 'bubble car'
test train ran from Aylesbury 10.47 (back 13.33) on Easter Monday, 27 March to Oxford Parkway (P1).
BELOW: Easter Monday, 28 March and the Chiltern 'bubble car' comes into view round the curve from
Aylesbury at 11.15 approaching Claydon L&NE Jn (half a mile from the former Calvert Jn on the Great
Central main line per mile post on the left). On the right is the line to Bicester which it will take after
reversing. The 12¾ mile post on the right is measured from Bletchley along the closed 'mothballed' line
through Verney Junction due to reopen as part of East West Rail. (Paul Green from a public crossing)
RIGHT: Looking in the opposite direction towards
Bletchley, the railtour test train (5Z24) reverses in the
Up Goods Loop just past Claydon L&NE Jn before
setting off for Bicester Gavray Jn (to the left). The line
on to Bletchley is through the arched overbridge to
the right. The DMU arrived at Oxford Parkway 11.58
where the rarer P1 (left hand side on arrival) was
used. Departure was at 12.33, returning by the same
route Aylesbury was reached on time at 13.33. The
line reopened on Good Friday, 26 March after TCA
since 19 Dec 2015 for work by Carillion, particularly
at the level crossings which were being tested.
Repeat runs were made on Tuesday 29 and Thursday
31 March reportedly for route learning purposes.
(Paul Green from a public crossing.)
640] Weardale Railway, Wolsingham (excl) (7m40ch) - Witton-le-Wear (incl.): (MR p9) (BLN 1246.
MR.200) ROP Easter Sunday, 27 Mar 2016 with the first arrival at 11.15. The station, which recently
had a new platform, will be served by the seasonal 'bubble car' DMU service on selected dates (next:
30 May, 5 & 19 Jun, 3, 17, 27, 28 & 31 Jul, 7 & 21 Aug, 4 & 18 Sep). Stanhope: 10.30, 13.00 & 15.30;
Witton-le-Wear: 11.25, 13.55 & 16.25. There are trains to Wolsingham on other dates. Witton-le-Wear
was last served on 9 & 10 Jul 2011 for a special event, a fair, using a temporary platform. It is located
between Bishop Auckland and Wolsingham (NZ 1507 3123), 1m 14ch from the former Wear Valley Jn.
CP 29 Jun 1953, there was occasional excursion use until 8 Mar 1965. [Weardale Heritage Services Ltd.]
BELOW: Easter Sunday and the first train to call at Witton-le-Wear since 10 Jul 2011 (Press Release).
641] Norton Bridge North Jn (3m 37ch*) - future Yarnfield Jn (2m 50ch*): (BLN 1253.544) TCA from 29
Mar 2016, along with Norton Bridge South Jn, since when all trains between Stafford and Stone are
routed via the new double track flyover line until 28 May at least. The first passenger train to use the
new flyover route was the 05.11 XC Manchester Piccadilly to Bournemouth train then, in the Down
direction, the 05.57 XC Birmingham New Street to Manchester Piccadilly. (*Mileage is from Stone Jn.)
642] Yorton station (25m 14ch): Down P1 (northbound to Crewe) is due to be TCP from 22.00 on 9
April until 08.00 on 15 April 2016 for the installation of a raised section of platform.
643] Liverpool, Moorfields P2: (BLN 1246.2179) The Down/northbound Southport platform is to TCP
from Monday 11 April until Friday 22 July 2016 for refurbishment. (P1 ROP 2 April; TCP 4 Jan 2016).
644] Yarnfield Jn - Norton Bridge East Chord: Commissioning of this reversible single track line (on the
former Up Line) is expected from Spring Bank Holiday Monday 31 May 2016. At early April the first
booked passenger service is the 06.52 LM Crewe to London Euston via Stoke on Tuesday 31 May 2016.
Most of these LM services are then booked via the chord in the Up direction then call at Stafford P1.
645] Fiddlers Ferry reprieve: (BLN 1252.461) On 31 March Scottish & Southern Energy announced that
it is keeping the power station open until at least March 2017 with three units (1,445MW) providing
'ancillary services' to the National Grid. The fourth will, as planned, join the 'supplemental balancing
reserve' for next winter. Industry analysts see this as a complete 'U turn' by S&SE, in anticipation of
higher electricity prices and the station could continue in some form even until the winter of 2020/21.
1254 BLN GENERAL
646] BLN: Depsite a record size BLN items have had to be held over, but please keep them coming in!
647] Society Business: Peter Scott's 2016 Minor Railways was posted on 17 March in time for Easter;
any full members who have not received one please contact our Distribution Officer (per back page).
Special thanks to Peter for the considerable work involved, to Ronald Jackson for preparing the
additional envelopes required and to Dave Monger, Alan Welsh and all the volunteers at our Woking
distribution team. There was a full BLS Committee meeting at Didcot Railway Centre on 18 March.
Pleasingly there have been over 250 new members since 1 April 2012; membership is approaching
In the current financial year alone we have raised over £100,000 in donations to charities/ good
causes. Feedback has shown that only a handful of members use the BLN paper index (but are keen to
retain it). It was agreed that an electronic version will be produced in future and printed on request. A
full list of your committee members with contact details is given on the back page (please retain).
648] IMPORTANT APPEAL FOR HELP: E-BLN and supplements have expanded dramatically, as have
the number of members receiving it. It is hoped to develop a volunteer production/distribution
team (and to run a modernised BLS website), similar to the BLN Regional Editorial system. There
would be a mutually convenient rota, with tasks split rather than just one person doing most of it,
as now. If enough volunteer, only some would be needed for each BLN. Can you help please?...
(1): BLS Website: Following members' requests your Committee is to modernise our website to take
card payments for fixture bookings, sales, membership applications and renewals (not for 2016) and
upgrade all aspects. Help is sought from any member, please, who might be able to assist designing
and running a modern website or has such contacts. (2): BLN Preparation/e-BLN Distribution: We
are also looking for assistance with preparing and sending BLN to the printer, maintaining the email
address lists, assembling various downloads etc and sending out e-BLN. This will be linked in with
the website upgrade. (3): BLN Pictorial: Assistance is sought in preparing these e-BLN supplements.
Anyone who might be able to help in any way, please contact Dave Cromarty (per back page)
without obligation. Dave can advise what is involved and the time commitment which can be varied
to suit. The hope is to have a team performing these tasks with a rota so that the commitment is
flexible and not onerous. The more who volunteer, the less work it would be for each ensuring long
term continuity of your BLN - even if you can only help occasionally, please do volunteer now.
649] Railway Rights of Way: (1) The compiler, our member Rhys Ab Elis, understands that members
would appreciate an opportunity to purchase a 'hard copy'. To express an interest please write to
Rhys at 'Mynydd Mawr', 14 Rhes-Y-Twnnel, Casnewydd, Gwent, NP20 4BT. These will be limited
editions produced to order at commercial copy shop rates, so please advise the maximum (include
P&P) you would be prepared to pay - estimated at £30 plus P&P. For a personal reply, include an
SAE. The CD Rom is £10 including P&P from Mark Gomm (back page); please email to check stock.
(2) With thanks to Rhys and Jerry Holmes, the latest (March 2016) free updates to 32 counties/
regions have recently gone out, another five are pending. Anyone with the CD can request all the
updates from [email protected] (3) Please notify Rhys as above (or via this email)
of any further amendments or new Railway (route) Rights of Way that might be included in future.
650] Points & Slips: E-BLN 1253.535] Curiously the left hand picture right at the end of this item was
taken in Southend Pier Museum and not the curiosity shop. 540] The River Mersey Railway Tunnel has
a section of 1:27 on the Liverpool side, so is steeper than the 1:28 of the new Thameslink Canal
Tunnels line. 557] Re: (BLN 1253.448) 'Crewe Coal Sidings' (rather than Crewe Coal yard Sidings) are
secure sidings in Basford Hall Yard, the originating, destination and holding point for DRS nuclear flask
trains. They have nothing to do with the former Coal Yard north of the station on the east side of the
line (near Crewe Coal Yard Signal Box). The flask trains are referred to colloquially as 'The Coal' and
can be staged between various (not all) nuclear power stations and Sellafield, British Nuclear Fuels.
Item 562] On the former Market Harborough to Northampton line Bowden Crossing should be Little
Bowden Crossing (BELOW LEFT: On 6 May 1981, three months before the line closed). 602] Between
Hull and Gilberdyke Melton signal box is actually Melton Lane (BELOW RIGHT: On 28 Mar 2015) and it
also controls a manual gate level crossing of that name there. (Both pictures Angus McDougall)
651] Northern Tracker Quiz, 6 Mar 2016: Thanks to quizmaster Mike McCabe, (answers in BLN 1255):
(1) What is the marketing name of the Nottingham to Worksop line?
(2) 'Titanic' struck one of these.
(3) A famous bridge in San Francisco.
(4) 'Parker' was this Lady's chauffeur.
(5) This TOC runs trains between Paddington and the West of England.
(6) What was the first name carried by electric loco 87025?
(7) A name (or description) often used to refer to first generation DMUs and preserved railways.
(8) Staff trains run between here and Northumberland Park.
(9) In the Bible, this man's was a Technicolor dream one. Whose and what?
(10) Ashton Park ____ is a closed station the Northern Tracker tour passed through. For a bonus point,
….…what do all the above answers have in common? (Clue: an answer to one of the following below!)
(11) How many minutes does it take to travel by train from Denton to Reddish South stations?
(12) What railway connection had the following football clubs in common? Watford, Hull City and
………Manchester United. For a bonus point: name another one in the UK!
(13) What was the previous name of Manchester Piccadilly Station?
(14) What was the name of the marshalling yard between Broadbottom and Dinting?
(15) How many tunnels are there at Standedge?
(16) One of Britain's last BR steam sheds was _____ Grove.
(17) Whose statue is in the square outside Huddersfield station? Clue: 'Mary, come and listen to this.'
(18) Which was the last place in Britain to operate trolleybuses in public service?
(19) Which signal box had block instruments to Huddersfield and Huddersfield Jn?
(20) Which cake company had a factory on the left approaching Wakefield Kirkgate from the West?
652] And Finally … Something to Look Out for: As part of the continual improvement in rail safety,
more stringent visibility precautions are being trialled from the start of April. Amazingly, this is the first
application of ideas initially tested at the original, Charing Cross terminal Jubilee Line station (once
planned to be part of the 'Fleet Line') after CP 20 Nov 1999. There a test 'Harrington'-style hump was
installed to heighten an area of platform providing level access. [Perhaps they should actually be called
'Charing Cross humps' then -Ed?] A 'fluorescent' strip showed passengers where to wait behind until
trains 'reached a complete stop'. Now, new high visibility clothing will be issued to staff, made of 'Polar
Foil', a photo-absorbent material that glows in the dark, to also make work in tunnels and at night
safer and reduce the requirement for lighting. This lightweight clothing will also be worn in the open
with surplus electricity generated by the photo-voltaic cells containing the material stored in portable
capacitors. It uses contactless technology allowing mobile batteries to be charged without wires, and
then can be fed into the National Grid (which certainly needs everything it can get now).
1254 EAST MIDLANDS
653] Corby: (BLN 1253.564) The single platform will be adequate for the proposed half-hourly electric
train service, a second platform would be an unnecessary expense requiring a footbridge and lifts.
When the line from Kettering was originally singled (29 Nov 1988) the former Down Slow was retained
to just south of Kettering North Jn, where it slewed to the Up side. Beyond the junction, the former Up
line became the single line to Corby. No track slewing was needed to accommodate the reinstated Up
Slow (south of Kettering North Jn) which is laid but not yet connected. In December new crossovers Up
Fast/Down Slow and Down Slow/Up Slow (trailing) linking to a short section of newly laid Down
Slow line were installed, for later commissioning, immediately south of the present Kettering North Jn.
654] Kettering: EMU stabling sidings for the new services are now planned to be located at Kettering,
on the Up side south of the station, rather than at Corby.
655] Nottingham NET (1): Phoenix Park stop was closed on Easter Sunday until 14.00 for vegetation
removal. Trams terminated at Bulwell with replacement buses from Wilkinson Street. (2) On 9 March
NET celebrated 12 years of operation with competitions to win free weekly unlimited tram travel
tickets, and items such as a model rubber tram! Additionally, £17 weekly tickets were on sale for £12.
656] Torksey: (BLN 1222.1787) The viaduct/bridge (originally due to open for walkers for Easter 2015)
officially opens on 22 April. The project to make it accessible has been promoted by owners, Railway
Paths Ltd., with funding from the Railway Heritage Trust. The structure is grade II* listed reflecting its
exceptional technical interest; a very early box-girder design, with two wrought iron tubes supporting
the bridge deck beams. Built in 1849, it was strengthened in 1897, by insertion of a steel lattice girder
along the centre line. The eastern approach has cast iron tubular trestles, supporting cast iron trays to
hold the ballast. It carried the Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (later the Great Central)
between Sheffield and Lincoln, a continuation of the current Cottam branch, over the River Trent.
657] Toton: The 26 March 'Generating Finale' railtour ran through the depot from the south, including
fuelling line F2 and well away from the main line. It should have been routed via the western lines
behind the depot furthest from the main line but that would have blocked the whole layout for an
hour. Announcements advised that the move would be possible from the north (plus the crossovers).
1254 GREATER LONDON
658] Barking Riverside: (BLN 1248.51) The Mayor of London has instructed TfL to apply for a TWA
Order. £172M of the £263M cost is to be provided by developer Barking Riverside Ltd., although this is
actually a joint venture between the Greater London Authority and London & Quadrant New Homes.
659] Clapham Junction: (BLN 1253.566) Sir Anthony Hidden, the judge who chaired the enquiry into
the 1988 collision, died on 19 February. An obituary on the Telegraph website at http://goo.gl/BBAPn0
includes quite a bit of information on the accident and subsequent significant safety improvements.
660] Camden Town: (BLN 1244.2012) 95% of respondents to TfL's consultation agreed with plans to
expand the station. The preferred location of a second entrance is in Buck Street, where vacated
school premises should become available in September. However, TfL is also undertaking a viability
study of other options, one of which is reopening South Kentish Town station on the Northern line
between Camden Town and Kentish Town; OP 22 Jun 1907 it CP from 5 Jun 1924.
661] Croydon Tramlink: (BLN 1247.2313) P10b at Wimbledon was noted to be in use on 20 March.
662] Crossrail: (BLN 1253.572) (1) GWML Track Layouts: The following alterations were introduced
from 29 March: A new connection was commissioned from the Up Relief to the Up Poplar at Acton
West. This is to the west of the existing connection, which remains available for use. At Southall East
Jn the trailing connection between the Down and Up Relief Lines was secured OOU until further
notice. P4 at Southall was reduced in width by 0.75m, with the Up Relief Line slewed accordingly.
Southall is a secret member of the 'Platform Zero Club'; the other side of P1 is so designated and was
used by Brentford branch steam railmotor shuttles on 18 & 19 Oct 2014.
(2) GWML Stations: Crossrail Ltd. has applied for planning permission for a new glass and steel
entrance and ticket hall at Acton Main Line. There will also be the usual upgrades of lifts to each
platform, platform extensions and new platform canopies, lighting, signage, information screens, help
points and CCTV. Kensington and Chelsea Council has prepared revised proposals for a station to serve
the planned redevelopment of the Kensal gasworks site in Ladbroke Grove. The Mayor of London has
asked for further feasibility work to be carried out with the intention of resurrecting the scheme,
previously rejected in 2013.
(3) Harold Wood: A temporary ticket office in the car park is in use while the ticket hall is refurbished
and a new footbridge with lifts is under construction.
(4) New Infrastructure: By mid-March 10km of track had been laid of the 50km in the new tunnels, all
of which is expected to be laid this year. Construction of the 'new' Crossrail Old Oak Common depot
has begun; the first part due for completion next year.
663] Crossrail 2: (BLN 1253.572) As part of the Budget announcements the government accepted the
National Infrastructure Commission's recommendations and gave the go ahead for Crossrail 2 to
proceed to the next stage. The government will therefore provide a contribution of £80M to fund the
development of Crossrail 2 and has asked TfL to match that contribution, to ensure that the project
can be fully developed with the aim of depositing a Hybrid Bill by autumn 2019. The National
Infrastructure Commission has recommended that clear proposals are identified to significantly reduce
and phase costs and that a funding package is developed that involves London funding more than half
of the total cost. The government will work closely with TfL to ensure both of these recommendations
are met. One option suggested by the panel is to delay construction of the north-western branch to
New Southgate, which could reduce the cost of the initial scheme by around £4bn.
664] London Overground: TfL has awarded the new concession from 14 November to Arriva, who will
solely take over London Overground Rail Operations Ltd from the joint Arriva/MTL*. Apart from the
already reported introduction of new rolling stock, there will be service enhancements and a new
Boxing Day service between Highbury & Islington and New Cross Gate. This section may also have an
all-night service on Friday and Saturday nights. The contract requires Arriva to achieve an arrivals
Public Performance Measure within three minutes of booked time, rather than the usual five. They will
also be penalised for delays caused by NR, FOCs and other TOCs, to encourage them to pressurise
these organisations to improve reliability. (*Merseyside Transport Limited historically!)
665] Caledonian Road: (BLN 1252.437) Following the 7,000 signature petition and the threat of legal
action, TfL has announced that the station will remain open, with one lift being replaced at a time.
666] South Greenford: By 19 March the station signs read 'South Greenford West Perivale'.
667] More Orchestrated Manoeuvres in the Dark: (BLN 1252.457) (1) Piccadilly Line: On a recent
evening all appeared to be working well on the Piccadilly Line, regular announcements stated a 'good
service' on this and indeed all other lines. To the casual passenger this undoubtedly appeared to be so;
however, to the more observant passenger with a working timetable it was not! Standing at Heathrow
T123 P2 awaiting train 320 at 21.53 it was apparent trains were out of order. This is the only train
booked to traverse the two crossovers from the Eastbound Fast to the Eastbound Local via a short
length of the Ealing Common Eastbound at the west end of Acton Town and forward from P4 to the
Eastbound Fast (TRACKmaps Vol.5 p43B Nov 2008 ). Some trains left early, some late and there was no
sign of 320 at all. While hopes faded of this putting in an appearance, another train drew into P1 and
then stopped there for some time. It was then noted that the train was returning eastbound to
Oakwood, having actually been booked to arrive via the T4 loop. So temporarily, all interest in 320
evaporated and a ride over the east end trailing crossover was enjoyed very much as this has no
booked usage! Alighting more in hope than expectation at Hounslow Central, 320 did turn up 20
minutes late, so it was not surprising that it sailed straight through Acton Town P3. Another time!
(2) Jubilee Line: Changing at Green Park your correspondent, in the company of his well-known
oriental polyglot friend, alighted at North Greenwich around 23.50 to await events regarding train 305
(the 00.36 ex-P2), the only working in the timetable to cover the Stratford-end connection out of the
centre platform here in passenger service. It is booked to arrive ECS from Stratford at 00.31, having
formed a passenger working from Stanmore. This working passes through North Greenwich at 00.08
and our members stood on P3 to check it passing. Standing right at the end of the platform seemed to
attract the Train Operator's attention and surprisingly he opened the platform screen door for a chat!
Asked about the ECS move he confirmed it was definitely not passenger, but then the return working
from North Greenwich was staff only anyway. In the limited time available considering they were now
holding up the Jubilee Line, it was conveyed that no-one could access the train here as that part of the
station is closed. Train 305 sped off towards Stratford and it was decided to make further enquiries. A
very friendly staff member on the barriers explained that after the passage of the last westbound
service at 00.19, P2/3 are cleared and sealed, as there were too many drunks and people irrespective
of their condition getting confused. The indicator clearly indicated 'No Trains from this platform'.
Right on cue, after the last westbound train departed an unfortunate staff member could be seen
trying to explain to a man and woman whose only natural direction of travel without holding on to
platform furniture was downwards, that they now had to catch a night bus or at least expire
completely outside! Having caught an earlier train from North Greenwich, it was decided to alight at
West Ham and wait for one of the trains booked to traverse the facing crossover at the east end of
Stratford Market depot. By a twist of fate this brought our members on to train 305 now back in
passenger service ex-Canning Town, it actually arrived with about four passengers from there and duly
progressed to Stratford via the required crossover, weaving back again into P13 over the normally
outbound crossover. The last few late night (actually very early morning) trains are booked to do this
eccentric weave, presumably to confirm the signalling works for all possible moves.
668] Northern Line Extension: (BLN 1246.2198) Two new 650tonne TBMs have been completed at
NFM (Neyrpic Framatome Mécanique) Technologies' factory in France. They will be tested and then
dismantled for shipping to London. Boring is scheduled to start early next year and take six months to
complete. Over 300,000 tonnes of spoil will be excavated, moved on conveyors to barges on the
Thames and taken to Goshems Farm in East Tilbury to raise former landfill sites creating arable land.
Lambeth Council has granted planning permission for a development (helping to finance the railway)
above and around the new Nine Elms station. Permission has also to be obtained from the Mayor of
London. It will be a mixed development of homes, offices, retail and leisure facilities with a new public
square. Construction is expected to begin in 2020 when the station opens, for completion in 2022.
669] Thameslink: (BLN 1253.570) From 21 March a new facing crossover was installed between the
Down Charing Cross and Up Cannon Street Lines between Blue Anchor and North Kent East Jn at 3m
77ch. From 11 April a new trailing point is due to be installed in the Up line at 3m 76ch and a new
facing point at 3m 74ch. All three are clipped and padlocked OOU until further notice. A temporary
extension to the existing canopy has been installed on the country end of P1/2 at London Bridge.
670] London Waterloo: (BLN 1251.356) NR has published a timeline for the station rebuilding:
Feb 2017: P20 handed back to NR; services reinstated. (P20-24 are the ex-International platforms)
June/July 2017: P21-24 handed back for temporary use during August 2017.
7-28 Aug 2017: Reduced services with P1-8 and South sidings closed to enable P1-4 to be extended
for 10-carriage trains. P20-24 used temporarily by passenger services during this period. They will
then be closed again for a concourse to be built in front of the former International Terminal.
10 Dec 2017 Timetable change: 10-car peak suburban services start running from P1-4.
9 Dec 2018: P21-24 open and incorporated into new timetable with additional services operated.
1254 NORTH EAST
671] Seal Sands: (BLN 1250.253) The line beyond Petroplus to the former Seal Sands Branch Jn was
'abandoned' from 29 Aug 2015 but is in situ (BLN 1240.1642). That is other than a 10-15ft section
where the rails have been lifted, west of 'North/South Crossing' Just past the traditional triangular
warning sign (BLN 1238.1455). This is east of Seal Sands Branch Jn and is supported by another report.
In theory track could be reinstated fairly easily if by some miracle commercial traffic were to resume.
672] Boldon, Port of Tyne branch: (BLN 1253.574) A biomass hopper for Lynemouth Power Station is
under construction; its new loop line is at the former East Coal Yard at the port. Traffic should spring
2017. Meanwhile, there has been significant imported coal traffic to Drax. BELOW: Two recent pictures
of the line under construction at the former East Coal Yard (Ian Hughes, Green Dragon Health & Safety)
673] Newton Aycliffe & Teesport: The East Coast Main Line IEP Super Express trains are to be branded
'Azuma', which means East in Japanese ( 東 ). Most of them will be built at Hitachi's Newton Aycliffe
Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility (RVMF) and are scheduled to enter passenger service from 2018.
The 65 trains will provide an extra 12,200 seats in a new, expanded timetable. They have faster
acceleration than the current trains, cutting up to 22 minutes off East Coast journeys. London to
Edinburgh timings of four hours and two hours for London to Leeds will be the norm. Body shells for
the RVMF are delivered by a new direct Ro-Ro service from the Port of Tokuyama-Kudamatsu (SW of
Hiroshima) to Teesport. Each vessel can carry up to 18 body shells, 26m long. Some are also brought
into the port by road. Unfortunately, they are all to be delivered to Newton Aycliffe by road.
The RVMF is equipped with a pair of 80 tonne traversers to move the trains along the production line.
These use a rail mounted bridge to transfer carriages between 33 tracks inside the facility and out to
the test area. The internal unit has a bespoke low profile design and four-metre long hydraulic ramps,
allowing traffic to pass through the traverser pit when it is not in use. Apparently, no two traversers
are the same and their design and implementation is always a challenge owing to their large size. A
request has already been made to the FS by the contributor of this news for a riding visit…!
674] Tyne & Wear Metro: Operation of the system is to return to the public sector for at least two
years after the DfT approved the decision of the North East Combined Authority (NECA) for Nexus (the
Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive) to take back operation of the system. Nexus operated
the Metro from its opening in 1980 until the contract was awarded in 2010 to DB Regio (a Deutsche
Bahn subsidiary). The option of extending the current concession will not be exercised when it finishes
on 1 Apr 2017. Nexus will operate the system in house until at least 31 Mar 2019 and is working on an
outline business case for £400M investment in a new train fleet for introduction in the early 2020s.
NECA stated that for too long now Metro passengers have been let down by DB Regio. Punctuality has
been well below target levels for some time; train fleet reliability is low by UK standards; and customer
communications during system disruption has been 'variable'. Revenue funding of almost £25M a year
for Metro operation will be unaffected by the change. Oddly, Nexus and DB Regio are both dissatisfied
with the structure and the financial and operational performance of the current contract.
1254 NORTH WEST
675] Bridge ReBranding not DafT: The bridge abutments each side of Leyland Road, Middleforth on
the former Penwortham Jn to Preston (the West Lancs) line were noted on 6 March with a painted
white square endorsed 'DfT PJR-2'. This repainting had been seen earlier the previous week but our
member had not then spotted the change from 'BRB' to 'DfT'. On the second occasion, he was catching
the 06.00 Rail Replacement Bus from Preston to Manchester Piccadilly (not wanting to risk the 08.14
train as our Northern Tracker boarder at Reddish South did, sadly missing Stockport Carriage Sidings!).
676] Blackburn Rovers: (BLN 1253.585) A member at Bromley Cross station recently saw a train
advertised to Clitheroe on the departures screen, the platform information display and its destination
indicator. However, he was advised that he was not permitted to use his Clitheroe ticket on it because
it was running via Manchester and Todmorden but would have to await a Blackburn train and change.
Trains to Clitheroe can be advertised there in both directions, which must confuse some people.
677] Manchester Airport: Since 21 March, the first tram from Firswood arrives at 03.40 as many
airport employees start work at 04.00. This could also be very useful for members looking to maximise
their investment of £7 (adult) in an unlimited peak all day tram ticket (or off-peak for £5all day
weekends and bank holidays (otherwise after 09.30). Trams run every 20 minutes (sadly an ECS shunt
at Firswood); 03.48-06.00, then at 12-minute frequency from Cornbrook. Manchester Airport is the
UK's third biggest. It is hoped to reduce the number of car journeys by encouraging some of the 71% of
airport staff who currently drive to work to use Metrolink instead. The £400M Airport line received
£50M of funding from the Manchester Airport Group. It opened to the airport on 3 Nov 2014 and
carried 1.88M passengers in the first year. Airport services extend to Deansgate-Castlefield later this
year on completion of improvement works and subsequently to Victoria via the Second City Crossing.
678] Whitefield: On 23 March a member noticed a tram with the destination 'Whitefield' where he
found, to his delight, that the trailing crossover was in use by departures for Manchester. On the tram
announcements stated that buses were replacing trams between there and Bury because of an 'East
Lancashire Railway derailment'. Reportedly, this was an MPV near the ELR/Metrolink boundary.
679] Metrolink Iced Lolly: In early February, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority agreed
TfGM's budget for 2016/17, including proposals to continue to freeze fares on Metrolink at 2014
prices. This is in recognition of the 'patience of passengers' with all the improvement work in progress.
680] Ordsall Chord (1) Legal: (BLN 1253.578) On 23 March the Court of Appeal in London dismissed all
Mark Whitby's legal challenges to the process by which permission was granted. These were appeals
against the Planning Court judge's decisions. They included two statutory challenges to the Transport
and Works Act order and the Listed Building Consent, and a judicial review of the planning permission.
(2): New Crossovers: From 4 April between Manchester Victoria East Jn and Windsor Bridge South Jn,
four new crossovers were to be commissioned. (i): Between the Up and Down Salford Slow lines at 0m
24ch. (ii): Between the Up Salford Slow line and the Down Salford Fast line at 0m 18ch. (iii & iv): A new
scissors crossover between the Up and Down Salford Fast lines at 0m 24ch.
(3) Improved services: Planned on completion of the Ordsall Chord and associated work:
•Two new fast trains per hour between Manchester Victoria and Liverpool.
•Six fast trains an hour between Leeds and Manchester.
•A new direct service through Manchester Victoria to Manchester Airport.
•Faster journey times from to Hull, Newcastle and the North East.
681] Manchester Piccadilly: Virgin Trains intends to install Automatic Ticket Gates on P4, 5, 6 and 7,
between the concourse and the platforms. Work to install them is due to start in May.
X.40] ABOVE: Manchester, Deansgate Goods (BLN 1253.579) CG 29 Mar 1954 (Angus McDougall, June 1970).
682] Liverpool: Following decisions to improve certain local roads in connection with the new Seaforth
deep-water port, the DfT has agreed funding for the widening to a dual carriageway of the remaining
stretches of the A565 not so far 'improved', between Seaforth and the City Centre. This may impact on
a railway feature in Derby Rd, Bank Hall, and definitely on another in Great Howard St, close to
Waterloo Dock. The first is the parapets of the original road bridge over the now filled railway access
to L&YR Bankfield Goods, near Huskisson Dock, which might be sacrificed for road widening. Building
work is now taking place here on the opposite side of Bankhall St, the filled in site of Canada Dock
station (CP 5 May 1941) and the former LNWR Canada Dock Goods access (CA 3 Sep 1982).
The definite impact, according to a local newspaper, is the bridge carrying the road over the trackbed
(just beyond the western portal) of the former LNWR line through Waterloo tunnel from Edge Hill to
Waterloo Goods, and onwards to the former Princes Dock station. The road, a major thoroughfare
into the city, is to be closed for six months to facilitate the replacement of this bridge. Remarkably,
given the many lost pieces of railway infrastructure over the decades and later regretted, the DfT has
decided to fund the replacement of the bridge rather than fill in the gap (presumably at greater cost)
to allow for possible future use by freight trains!! The work is reported to be beginning in May.
683] Liverpool Loop Line: In a phased programme over six months, NR is to renew all the concrete
foundations and track to maintain long-term efficiency and reliability for 60 years.
684] TPE December 2017 Timetable Plans:
Victoria to Huddersfield 1tph all stations service is replaced by a TPE Piccadilly to Leeds service.
Liverpool to York 1tph 'express' calling at Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield and Leeds.
Liverpool to York 1tph as previous with extra stops. (One of the two runs to Edinburgh after 2019.)
Airport via Piccadilly (post-Ordsall Chord via Oxford Road and Victoria) to York; 2tph, one to
Newcastle with more stops anticipated than the Liverpool to Newcastle 'express' service.
Piccadilly to Leeds 'semi-fast' (Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden & Slaithwaite) 2tph one on to Hull.
ABOVE: The new Transpennine Express Livery on 1 April, Manchester Piccadilly P12 (Ian Mortimer).
TPE is now also responsible for providing most services at nearly all Huddersfield to Leeds stations; it
is still not quite clear how this is to be achieved. The current proposal is for two trains to leave
Manchester Piccadilly about ten minutes apart. The first will be a 'slow' train calling at two of the four
stations between Stalybridge and Huddersfield and then most of the stations to Leeds. The second
calls at the other two stations to Huddersfield then at least Deighton, Mirfield and Dewsbury,
overtaking the 'slow' train at Batley or Morley and then to Hull via Leeds and Selby.
The proposed timetable, with 6-car trains gives the chance to press for Marsden and Slaithwaite and
also Mossley and Greenfield to be linked outside of the peak periods even if not all the time. It will be
better for passengers if Marsden and Slaithwaite are directly linked with as many other West Yorkshire
stations as possible. There is also concern not to lose the first early train to Manchester because the
Franchise Train Service Requirement seems rather too flexible about this.
The last train from Piccadilly will run later. The proposal using the current timetable is for the 23.21
equivalent to call at Mossley and Greenfield (travelling via the Ordsall Chord). The main drawback to
the current proposals would seem to be at Stalybridge. Currently there are 3tph to Huddersfield at
xx.45, xx.49 and xx.15. The proposal is to reduce this to 2tph and then only about ten minutes apart.
685] Barrow-in-Furness: (BLN 1244.1992) On 21 March 66430 & 66431 top and tailed a Kingmoor to
Barrow Cavendish Dock working of 18 MBA & JNA wagons for loading with slate waste/aggregate to
Drigg. The train then ran via Sellafield. Different wagons were used this time; MBAs in theory can hold
much more but because of the state of the track only 20 tonnes was loaded into each. Significant slate
was stockpiled at the dock; the three return trips slated to run during the last week in March all did.
ABOVE LEFT: The new Northern livery on a poster. RIGHT: A flyer cover from the RMT Union making
the point that the new Arriva franchise is state owned. The holding Deutsche Bahn AG is a private
joint-stock company, (HQ in Berlin) with the Federal Republic of Germany being its single shareholder.
686] Keswick Railway Footpath: (BLN 1251.369) For latest information on the reconnection, including
a map showing alternative routes http://goo.gl/iAoTlJ with a 3½ minute video or 01539 724555.
1254 SOUTH EAST – NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
687] Cambridge Science Park: (BLN 1241.1765) This back reference was about approval of a second
planning application. Now a third has been approved, the major alterations being a straightening of
the access road and moving the car park. The 450-space car park will be next to the railway line, to
make it easier to turn the car park into a multi-storey if residents' fears over a lack of parking
materialise. NR says this initial limit on the amount of car parking spaces will encourage sustainable
trips to and from the station, via walking, cycling and public transport. Residents and campaigners say
this is a missed opportunity to create a park and ride facility. Much new local housing is being built.
688] Ingatestone - Chelmsford: (24m 65ch -24m 65ch) The two points on the Down Main of the facing
and trailing crossovers at Church Lane (Margaretting) were relaid on 3 April and secured OOU. After
the equivalent Up Main points had been relaid the crossovers were due to be re-commissioned from
11 April. Margaretting church is over a mile from the village though both are alongside the railway.
689] Reading Final Layout Diagram: (Next page, can be rotated with 'picture tools' ) With thanks to
our member Ian Delgado (see 'Scotland' regarding his website). Magnification may help according to
which device it is being viewed on. Interestingly, as previously noted in BLN, the station loops off the
'Mains' are outside the Mains and the loops off the 'Reliefs' are inside the Reliefs! The through
platform line designations:
P7: Down Westbury P10: Up Main P13: Down Relief Loop
P8: Down Main Loop P11: Up Main Loop P14: Up Relief Loop
P9: Down Main P12: Down Relief P15: Up Relief
690] Reading: Gantries and portals for the overhead electrification lines have been erected within the
lengths of the platform canopies at P8 to P15. They spring from the top of canopy supports and thus
are invisible at platform level. However, the solution that will be chosen for the length through and
between the escalators and stairs is not yet clear; the distance is such that two supporting positions
will be required on each track and the deck above will require some obtrusive fixing to be provided.
691] Maidenhead: The crossover at the London end of bay line P5 is to be replaced by a single
convergence with the Up Relief line. The spur at the London end of the bay platform line is to be
recovered. By 22 March when visited by your Regional Editor, the spur access remained as trap points;
an interim phase as the banked formation east of the station is being widened to extend the bay line.
692] Windsor & Eton Central: (BLN 1250.269) Your Regional Editor's first daylight visit this year to
Slough confirmed the orientation of the Windsor Branch siding as entered by facing moves from the
bay or Down Main at Slough. It thus allows stock changeovers on the branch without the arriving train
blocking the Down Main while the departing train leaves and without the branch having a service gap
693] Heathrow western access: Plans to build a £500M rail tunnel from Slough to Heathrow airport
have been put on public display. If it is approved, the tunnel will take five years to build and is
predicted to give an £800M economic boost to the local area. The tunnel would start at Langley and
connect to Heathrow Terminal 5. Journeys from Slough to the airport would be reduced to seven
minutes and from Reading would take 26 minutes. The public consultation, which runs until April, is
asking businesses and residents to offer their views on the project, which will require extensive site
access at a number of locations around Richings Park, Colnbrook and Poyle. (BBC News)
ABOVE: Former trackside view; there is original platform brickwork
below the new office extension. The apparently oversized platform
canopy (now covering the extension) has not been enlarged it was
always that big! BELOW: View from the front, a very grand entrance for
a station latterly served by 4wheel railbuses! (First three Bill Wilson 28 Feb 2016 www.gensheet.co.uk)
694] Maldon East & Heybridge: (CG/CA 13 Apr 1966) The former goods yard long occupied by a timber
yard (Sadds, then Brookes) has recently been cleared with Brookes moving to a new site adjacent. The
goods shed went some years ago, although in the footprint of the building there are a couple of rails
from an overhead crane, perhaps original rails but at right angles to the track direction. The land will
be used for various retail stores. This site clearance has left the original, Grade II listed, station building
visible from the 'rail' side for the first time in many years. The platform awning is still in place although
the platform area is now walled-in to provide additional office space for the tenant of the station
building. The former branch from Witham is now mostly the 'Blackwater Trail' http://goo.gl/oL2nQO
and easily accessible on foot from Witham station. Langford and Ulting station platform is still in situ.
ABOVE: Approximately the driver's eye view approaching from the station's former level crossing.
BELOW: Four pictures taken shortly after track lifting at Maldon East demonstrating its massive scale.
(Julian James, with thanks to Bill Wilson for improving the picture quality www.gensheet.co.uk ).
The station building at Maldon East station is an impressive example of Victorian railway architecture.
The reason is that during the 1847 election a candidate to be the local MP was David Waddington, (a
vice-chair of the Eastern Counties Railway). Many local people found employment on the construction
of the railway and in an investigation into the election afterwards it was discovered that that some
were not actually fit to do the work they were paid for. The station Jacobean style station had a large
booking hall, waiting rooms and ticket office on the ground floor. The upper floor contained the
station master's apartments which were reached by a winding staircase from the booking hall.
Originally, the single platform was partly covered by a glass roof but this was removed after an
explosion of an engine boiler caused significant damage. A second bay platform was added in 1889
1254 SOUTH EAST – SOUTH
695] Glynde - Berwick: On 14 March NR reported an embankment slip near Ripe necessitating a 5mph
speed restriction, with a slowing down and thinning of services. This continued until 2 April.
X.41] Not so Sharp Doc in the Dock: (e-BLN 1253.X36) With your Editor's apologies the picture in e-
BLN was actually of our Sharpness Dock railtour of 21 Aug 1982 and not Chatham Dockyard (there
were some similarities over 33 years on and, to be fair, the two trips were only three months apart!).
However, only one of our many readers realised the mistake and that was Ian Mortimer, the
Sharpness photographer. The text is correct regarding the Chatham trip, and below is a picture of that
(Angus McDougall, 6 Oct 1982). One obvious difference is the steam haulage! The crane was also
steamed specially for our visit. The young man in the wagon had been 'on call' before leaving Cardiff in
the small hours for an early morning BLS trip at Strood Coal Depot prior to the Chatham railtour.
696] Southampton: At Eastleigh on 17 March a member joined the slightly late 19.05 SSuX Winchester
to Southampton Central stopping train. Approaching Northam Jn he was surprised to see a class 450
arriving in Northam Depot Reception Sidings in the Up direction from Southampton Central. As his
train had not stopped, he realised it was going to go across and use the reversible Up Line through
Southampton Tunnel, which indeed it did, arriving in P2 a few seconds early. He is not sure if this was
good regulation however, as the 18.03 SSuX Weymouth to Waterloo was waiting to depart P1, which it
did over three minutes late, presumably as a direct result. His return was on the slightly retimed 23.05
SSuX Romsey to Romsey via Southampton and Eastleigh (three minutes late because of Engineering
Work) which used the new Up Loop (Up Slow) after Southampton Airport Parkway into Eastleigh P1
even though not booked to do so. This seems to happen a lot, even by some trains not stopping there.
697] Raynes Park: On 20 March, being aware of a 'rare' crossover available at Raynes Park, a member
caught the 06.55 SuO Southampton to Waterloo from Eastleigh, which was booked to be diverted via
Chertsey. First surprise was continuing Slow Line after the Farnborough stop then crossing to the Fast
Line at Brookwood. Secondly, the train ran via Twickenham rather than the expected Brentford, then
slow line from approaching Barnes, and Windsor Reversible from West London Jn into Waterloo P14.
After a short break, he caught the 09.39 SuO Waterloo P16 to Ascot (engineering works termination),
which ran via the Up Windsor Line to West Crossings before running down the Down Windsor Fast.
He can only presume the road was set before the 09.37 to Portsmouth via Chertsey had cleared the
more usual routing running from P15. After a bus from Clapham Junction to Raynes Park, the 10.52
from Raynes Park P1 was taken as far as Epsom, using the required rare crossover.
698] Rochester: (BLN 1251.380) The OOU points in the Up Chatham Main approaching the old station
where the Up Platform Loop diverged were to be removed and plain lined on 3 April. Demolition of the
signal box (closed at Easter) was to start on 4 April allowing completion of the new Down Loop (P1).
699] Medway services: From 29 March, after resignalling, M-F peak hour services changes included:
06.57 Victoria to Gillingham terminates at Rochester (bay P1?).
07.34 Rochester to Blackfriars starts from Sole Street (via London end trailing crossover?).
07.58 Victoria to Gillingham terminates at Rochester (bay P1?).
08.27 Gillingham to Victoria starts from Rochester (bay P1?).
09.15 Gillingham to Victoria starts from Rochester (bay P1?).
16.04 Victoria to Gillingham is extended to Rainham (P0).
16.34 Victoria to Gillingham terminates at Rochester (bay P1?).
17.43 Gillingham to Victoria starts from Rainham (P0).
1254 SOUTH WEST
700] Moorswater: Recent vegetation clearance on the branch has leant weight to speculation that
cement traffic will resume, possibly from 7 April and with a different train operator. Should freight
services restart as suggested, there are now some very pleasant views of trains on the branch to be
had. Our correspondents are poised for further developments!
701] Blackmore Vale: Some station adoption groups along the West of England line have come
together with South West Trains (SWT) to form the Blackmore Vale Line Community Rail Partnership,
based in Sherborne. The partnership brings the train operator together with members of Friends of
Templecombe Station, Friends of Crewkerne and a new group at Gillingham station. SWT have an
impressive recent track record of working with local rail user groups in South Somerset and Dorset,
most recently financing a repaint of the heritage footbridge at Templecombe station whilst local
volunteers were involved in the painting. SWT has also funded the re-painting of Crewkerne and Yeovil
Junction station buildings and work is underway at Sherborne. Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs)
have driven both improvements to the station environment and it seems to passenger numbers across
the South West in recent years. CRPs often join forces with volunteer-led station adoption groups who
work to ensure the railway environment is clean, attractive and appealing to the travelling public.
702] Plymouth, St. Budeux's WWII Connection: (BLN 1019.516; a list of annotated wartime strategic
railway connections.) A correspondent has provided interesting research regarding the question of
when the St. Budeaux GWR-SR spur was brought into use between St. Budeaux East (later Ferry Road)
and St. Budeaux (later Victoria Road). The Plymouth GWR District Superintendent, in correspondence
from August 1945 - gave 21 March 1941 (a Friday), although he stated that the work was completed
that same day. Sunday 2 March has been quoted elsewhere (e.g. WWII Railway Study Group) and
might have been the day the work was done. It is of course difficult to untangle at this late date.
703] 'Devolution': Not to be confused with the 'West of England' mentioned above, the Chancellor's
budget speech included approval to proceed with the process of devolving power to a West of England
mayoral authority, covering an area roughly coterminous with the former County of Avon. One of the
powers proposed for transfer to the new authority (from existing unitary authorities so not strictly
devolved at all) is strategic transport planning. This includes a consolidated budget settlement covering
several years, with the aspiration that schemes such as inter-operator and inter-modal smart ticketing
might proceed without hindrance. As the affected local authorities are already collaborating on the
package of railway related measures (Metrowest), it remains to be seen if the powers and funding
available to the new mayor will expedite this programme of improvements and proposed reopenings.
704] Bath: (BLN 1251.391) Further to the unusual platform operations here from 2 to 10 April,
engineering work between Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads will result in Down trains terminating
at/starting from Bath. To facilitate this the Down and Up Main lines between Bathampton Jn and Bath
Spa will be worked as two independent single lines. This unusual situation may see trains passing on
the 'wrong' line or departing in the same direction on the opposite lines, but only Monday 4 to Friday 8
April. The first weekend only P1 was in use and the second only P2 is due to be.
705] Bath to Bristol Blockade: During the nine-day railway closure for clearance and electrification
work FGW and the local authorities have gone to considerable trouble to keep passengers moving. As
well as a frequent basic service, extra buses will be on standby and non-emergency roadworks are
banned on the A4, A37 and A420. Road hauliers have been asked to use alternative routes. Some
traffic lights and pedestrian crossings are being actively managed and synchronised with the help of
CCTV, box junction marking repainted and enforced (as well as parking and bus lane regulations).
706] Tytherington branch rising from the ashes? A recent spate of S&T work, devegetation and level
crossing refurbishment is thought to be in connection with a proposed reactivation of the branch for
inbound ash traffic for blending at the quarry site. The quarry itself is derelict and partially flooded.
This may be connected with construction works at Hinkley Point nuclear power station (in Somerset of
course), which, while considerably delayed, sees continued preparation of ground works. It is not
known if traffic will leave by rail once blended. No date has yet been given for traffic resumption.
(BLN 1253.594) Thornbury branch stations CP 19 Jun 1944, and the goods station at Thornbury CG 20
Jun 1966. Tytherington Quarry to Thornbury was then retained for rounding only; the whole branch
was 'officially closed' from 30 Sep 1967, although the last train ran 24 Nov 1967. Our member is sure
that track was then lifted in parts, if not throughout. A roadstone quarry opened at Tytherington, and
a rail connection was made, ROG 3 July 1972 (commissioning date). During the branch closure, Iron
Acton Bypass (B4058) had opened; where it crossed the formation of the branch the road was on a
broad curve and built with a camber. A level crossing was going to be necessary there - see 1975
diagram in BLN 1253. The local authority insisted that when the railway was reinstated, the road
camber had to be retained and, as the railway crossed the road at a right angle, there was a short but
steep switchback section on the line. Latterly the Tytherington branch has been CA since 15 Sep 2013.
1254 WEST MIDLANDS
707] Coventry Arena: (BLN 1252.X28 with picture) Imagine our member's surprise at unexpectedly
seeing six Anglia Coaches 'Topped & Tailed' by 67020 and 67006 (shown as a DMU on Realtime Trains)
here on Sunday 28 Feb 2016 when Wasps played Harlequins at home. London Midland and Wasps are
behind the introduction of the service. It ran additional to the normal service and replaced the shuttle
bus formerly provided from Coventry station, providing 1,000 seats before and after the match (485
passengers travelled from Coventry and 132 from Nuneaton). The train left Coventry for Nuneaton at
12.18, 13.20, 14.19, 17.19 and 18.19 and Nuneaton for Coventry at 12.50, 13.50. 14.50, 16.50, 17.50
and 18.50. In each case, it called at Coventry Arena to set down only before the match and pick up
only after. A premium fare of £4.80 return was charged from Coventry to Coventry Arena (but the
rugby fans did get the Class 67s) compared with the off peak day return of £2.40 on the LM service.
Special joint tickets were issued on the day from railway booking offices giving passengers one free
drink and a discount at the Arena bars. They ran again on 12 March and do not come up on the
National Rail website, but the timetable is available as a download at http://goo.gl/1ElDCx (certainly
do not expect to see the train shown there!) There were some impressive turnarounds, the 13.20 from
Coventry was booked to arrive at Nuneaton at 13.50 and, on paper, return at 13.50, but arrived seven
minutes early. The LM local service ran normally despite previous concerns that calls at the station
would have to be suspended when a match was on due to the potential large number of passengers.
708] HS2: Civil Engineering contract lots for the Midlands part of HS2 have now been announced:
Lot N1: Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel to Delta Jn/Birmingham Spur (£900M-£1.5bn).
Lot N: Delta Jn to West Coast Main Line Tie-in (£800M-£1.3bn).
709] Galton Jn: (BLN 1253.545) This was completely re-modelled during an Easter blockade from 25 to
30 March and commissioned on 31 March. Line speeds remain unaltered. The switch diamond in the
Down Stour was removed and replaced by new points in the Down Stour 20yd nearer to Birmingham.
They are part of the connection from the Up Stourbridge line to the Down Stour. On the Birmingham
side of these new points is a new trailing crossover from the Down Stour to the Up Stour for trains
from the Langley Green direction towards Smethwick Rolfe Street. The facing Down Stour points
connecting to the Down Stourbridge line have been repositioned 143yd (6½ch) closer to Birmingham.
Therefore it remains a full double track junction with a crossover instead of a switch diamond. The
PSUL services between Galton Jn and Smethwick Jn will cover all the alterations in both directions.
During the work ATW services started (earlier) and terminated (later) at New Street (P4C) rather than
International as they were diverted via the Soho Loop, Bescot and Portobello Jn to Wolverhampton.
710] Bescot: (BLN 1253.535) On 25 March during diversions from the Stour Valley line for the relaying
of Galton Jn, the Up and Down goods loop was in use for diverted (and all other) Down trains due to a
track circuit fault. The fault prevented the main line from being set towards Bushbury Jn.
711] Heath Town Jn: Also noticed from a diverted service passing here between Wolverhampton and
Portobello Jn was disconnected track on the former Midland Railway route to Walsall, buried in
undergrowth. Latterly it accessed the large Wednesfield Road Goods, but once also Wolverhampton
Low Level and Wednesfield Tube Investments (Weldless Steel Tube Co). Your Editor well remembers
seeing the Wednesfield Road Class 08 trundling along the single track branch several times most days
with pipe wagons in the late 1970s as it passed New Cross Hospital where he worked at the time.
712] Midland Metro: (BLN 1253.534 & 548) Between 25 and 28 March due to engineering work (re-
cementing round some track and pointwork) Bull Street stop was closed. All trams both inbound and
outbound used the inbound line from St. Paul's with single line working to/from Snow Hill (St. Chad's).
The latter was temporarily opened for this but its new trailing crossover was not used (staff reported it
was not operational). Outbound trams took the crossover past St. Paul's to regain the outbound line.
713] Stafford: The former Salop branch siding (133m 61ch) north of the station on the Down Side, the
remains of the LNWR line via Newport and Donnington to Wellington, has been disused for some
years. It once served Universal Abrasives private siding and once stabled MGR coal wagons. It was not
included in the Stafford resignalling last August. More recently stop boards have been erected and a
rail removed from each side of the track.
714] Motorists steamed up? On 21 March a lorry carrying Standard 4MT loco 80072 crashed on the
M5 northbound in roadworks between J5 for Droitwich and J4A for the M42. Severe delays resulted.
X.42] Heath Robinson Special? (BELOW): On 29 March 66847 ran light engine from Cardiff Canton to
Newport than made two return journeys to Worcester Shrub Hill via Malvern before returning to
Canton. This night picture of it passing Malvern Link's Down (Hereford) platform shows the laser
equipment fitted and in operation. It was thought to be route gauging for the forthcoming Worcester
blockades with possible diversion of the Margan to Round Oak steel trains via the Hereford to
Worcester line. There are generally two and often three return trains (SuX). (R.N. Pritchard)
1254 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
715] Low Moor: (BLN 1245.2123) Previous advice was that Manchester trains would not stop at the
new station and that any spare time in the schedules which prevents an improved service for
Littleborough was not due to Low Moor. It is now believed the station could be served by a Halifax to
Manchester Airport service (a new Northern Connect service) instead of Greater Manchester being
able to make a stronger case for alternative Littleborough or Mills Hill calls. Grand Central has applied
for permission to call at Low Moor, due to its excellent parking and access.
716] New IÉ Timetable: (BLN 1250.289) The ten minute DART service due to start on 10 April has been
postponed until further notice; management blamed 'trade union intransigence'. In turn, the unions
claimed that the 20 additional drivers being trained would not be available until June and no extra
duties would be taken on until progress has been made on productivity issues and an outstanding pay
claim. Management have pointed out that Irish Rail's financial situation is still precarious, with
borrowing being necessary to pay wage bills and €1.4M of extra savings will now be needed to
compensate for the lost (increased) revenue this year. Existing schedules on DART, Drogheda/Dundalk
commuter, Maynooth/M3 Parkway Commuter, Sligo and Rosslare Europort lines will continue
unchanged. There will be some minor changes to Belfast Enterprise services from 10 April:
Mondays to Saturdays: Eight trains to Dublin from 06.45 to 20.05 and to Belfast from 07.35 to
20.50 taking between 2h 05min and 2h 15min. See http://goo.gl/d6CVRY
Sundays: Five trains to Dublin from 09.00 to 19.05 taking between 2h 10min and 2h 20min and
five to Belfast from 10.00 to 19.00 all taking 2h 08min. See: http://goo.gl/AVmvyu
717] Londonderry: (BLN 1231.787) Plans to reactivate the original Waterside station have been
abandoned and Translink have now requested tenders for the design of a new station on the site of
the current siding and car park adjacent to the original station. No timescale has been quoted.
718] 1916 Easter Rising Centenary: IÉ launched its 1916 commemoration programme at Pearse
Station on 25 February. In 1966, the State named 15 stations after the executed leaders of 1916 for
the 50th anniversary of the Rising; all are still open. The list and previous names where applicable:
o Dublin Pearse station (after Padraig and William Pearse; formerly Westland Row).
o Dublin Connolly station (James Connolly; formerly Amiens Street).
o Dublin Heuston station (Seán Heuston; formerly Kingsbridge).
o Cork Kent station (Thomas Kent).
o Limerick Colbert station (Con Colbert).
o Dun Laoghaire Mallin station (Michael Mallin).
o Waterford Plunkett station (Joseph Plunkett).
o Galway Ceannt station (Eamonn Ceannt).
o Dundalk Clarke station (Thomas Clarke).
o Drogheda MacBride station (John MacBride).
o Sligo MacDiarmada station (Seán MacDiarmada).
o Bray Daly station (Edward Daly).
o Wexford O'Hanrahan station (Michael O'Hanrahan).
o Kilkenny MacDonagh station (Thomas MacDonagh).
o Tralee Casement station (Roger Casement).
A further fifty years on to mark the centenary of the Rising, IÉ has partnered with the Royal Irish
Academy to enable daily commuters, tourists, visitors and employees to learn more about the people
whose names are celebrated in these stations. At Pearse 16 display panels have been unveiled at the
Trinity entrance off Pearse Street. Each will also be on display at the station named after the leader
(Pearse being named after two brothers). The displays feature a specially commissioned portrait of the
respective leader by artist David Rooney and information about their lives, taken from the Royal Irish
Academy's '1916 - Portraits and Lives' publication. A QR code allows free download of the relevant
chapter in the book.
It is intended to bring the stories of the lives of all 42 major figures featured in the Academy's '1916 -
Portraits and Lives' publication to tens of thousands of daily DART commuters, with advertisement
panels in most of the DART fleet. IÉ will also be running a commemoration programme with an event
to remember the life of each of the 16 leaders planned for each station between April and July 2016. IÉ
will be collaborating with the Irish Railway Record Society detailing the role of the railway the 1916
Rising. More information is available at http://goo.gl/cmdVmU
719] IÉ Freight: (BLN 1251.404) A trial with a 1,296 tonne train, testing the haulage capacity of the
General Motors Class 201 locos up the steep gradients varying from 1:85 to 1:140 over the 4½ miles
from Dublin Heuston towards Sallins on the Cork main line was successfully completed on 15 February.
It is believed to be the heaviest train to ever operate on . The next trials scheduled involve trains of
27 bogie flat wagons for shipping containers (54 twenty-foot equivalent units long) and a train of 18
loaded pulpwood wagons. In addition to the obvious productivity gain, longer trains improve rail's
environmental benefits. Freight carried by rail instead of road reduces emissions up to 75% per unit,
and longer trains could reduce emissions to as little as one-tenth of the road equivalent. Most
container traffic is based on Ballina; 18 loaded trains run weekly. Seven Up and Down Ballina to Dublin
Port services operated for International Warehousing and Transport, an award-winning Dublin based
company. The route to Waterford Port has two Up and Down services, operated for DFDS Logistics.
They connect into shipping services to and from the major international hub at Rotterdam. Bulk
pulpwood trains are run for Coillte from Ballina and Westport to Waterford several times weekly. On
the east coast line zinc ore trains operate from Navan to Dublin Port two or three times daily.
1254 ISLE OF MAN
720] Douglas Horse Tramway. On 21 January, Douglas Borough Council decided to end the service.
However, on 24 March the Department of Infrastructure (DoI) announced that it would operate the
tram service for the 2016 season supported by the Department of Economic Development, Manx
National Heritage and Culture Vannin. Trams will run from 30 April to the end of October (but not daily
in the low season), for the line's 140th anniversary year. This temporary solution allows interested
parties to continue discussions about the long-term future. The trams will be part of the Isle of Man
Government's 2016 heritage transport offering, with the Steam Railway and Manx Electric Railway.
The DoI is not seeking any extra funding from central government to run the horse trams, but will put
in place a plan to reduce operating costs and generate more income. The stables, tram sheds, horses
and tram cars owned by Douglas Borough Council will be used under the terms of a proposed licence.
A further announcement was then made indicating that the main road would be re-surfaced between
the Villa Marina and the Sea Terminal but not incorporating any tram tracks. At 30 March it appears
that the Horse Tramway, even if it continues beyond 2016, would then not operate between the Villa
Marina colonnade and the Sea Terminal; the idea of moving the tram tracks to Loch Prom has been
abandoned. Watch this space and do come and travel over the full line this year while you still can…
721] Douglas: Controversial plans for the stabilisation and refurbishment of the IOM Steam Railway
station have been approved by the Manx government. The £1.1M scheme is designed to modernise
the Victorian terminus 'creating facilities fit for the 21st century'. These include a new mezzanine floor
to house the restaurant and café. In addition, there will be an alfresco dining area with glass canopy to
the rear of the building. Opponents of the scheme expressed concern that, while repair work for the
historically important building is required, the scale of the proposed alterations would irrevocably
change the station's character and are counter to the recommendations of the independent planning
inspector. Despite these concerns, Tynwald backed the scheme, only two members voted against.
722] Snaefell Mountain Railway: The 2016 season began on 18 March. During the afternoon of 30
March tram No3 ran away from the Snaefell terminus. It negotiated almost a complete circuit of the
mountain on its own before leaving the rails on a left hand bend about ⅓ mile from Bungalow station.
It landed on its side 20ft or so away from the line and was almost completely destroyed. Fortunately,
no one was on board and it did not make it to Bungalow station. Here the main road from the north to
the south of the IOM crosses the tracks and there were teams repairing the tracks from the December
flood. It had earlier taken passengers up to the summit and was parked awaiting return to Laxey.
Passengers were brought down by road and the five-mile railway was closed for investigation.
Fortunately, it re-opened on Saturday 2 April. Ian Longworth, the Director of the Isle of Man's
railways, has perhaps surprisingly (but pleasingly) stated that it is intended to rebuild car No3 and
return it to service. The parts of the tram have been gathered up and will be used to reconstruct it.
BELOW: BEFORE AND AFTERWARDS: The 1895 built tram No3 in happier days (left) and after the
accident (right). (Press release). No3 was also the tram that caught fire at Laxey on 30 July 2014!
723] Freedom of Scotland 1958 by Angus McDougall: In 1957 a very significant and exciting
development in railway ticketing was introduced. This was the all-Scotland go-as-you-please ticket,
available for one or two weeks. Until that time I believe such tickets were unknown in Britain, except
perhaps for certain regions and for some municipal bus and tram systems (such as Manchester and
London). Naturally, there were some complications. The ticket was not valid to Berwick-upon-Tweed
or Carlisle, as these stations were in England and it seemed impossible to buy in Nottingham, where I
was based at the time. BELOW RIGHT: My Freedom of Scotland ticket, seven days, £6 in 1958 (now
equivalent to £127 with inflation). Spot the spelling mistake!
Early use by railway enthusiasts of this new ticket led to an article in the magazine 'Railways', once a
source of fascinating operating and historical railway information, but afterwards sadly reduced (after
its acquisition by Ian Allan and change of name to 'Railway World') to unexciting news of preservation
societies in Britain. This was an account of travels
across Scotland with these tickets by H C Casserley and
his son Richard. Mr Casserley (senior) had visited many
obscure lines in Britain and Ireland from the mid-1920s
onwards, and his photographs even then had been
widely published. I do not know whether he had ever
set out to cover all passenger lines in these Islands as
had the famed T R Perkins, but his coverage must have
been pretty good.
Descriptions of Mr Perkins's exploits had appeared in
the Railway Magazine and had fired my enthusiasm,
although it was some years before I set out seriously to
emulate his achievement, though not of course equal
it, because many railway passenger services had been
withdrawn in the period from 1930 to 1950. Railway
enthusiasts also spoke of another traveller of this sort,
who had, it was said, actually attempted to travel over
many lines not normally used by regular passenger
services as well, either presumably by goods train or by
special workings of one sort or another. This I believe
to have been the incredibly persistent traveller and
lifelong railway enthusiast, Arthur Miall. [Arthur, from Lymington, joined the BLS in 1965 and was still
doing open wagon riding trips into his 80s. He worked in a bank, including Saturday mornings, which
made railway exploration difficult. Arthur travelled on the Southwold Railway but his biggest regret
was missing the Bishop's Castle Railway. He had many fascinating anecdotes, but died in July 1991 at
the age of 87 - see item X.45 on the last but one page Ed.].
It was for these reasons that the Freedom of Scotland ticket attracted me, and I decided to spend a
week of my long vacation from university in 1958 'doing' as much Scottish track as possible. As I have
already implied, I had some problems in getting the ticket, and had to set off north without it, making
an arrangement (if I remember correctly)
to pick it up at Glasgow Central. This
meant, of course, that the irritation of
the ticket not being valid to or from
Carlisle was of less concern to me.
I had arranged to stay overnight in
Glasgow, at a small hotel off the Great
Western Road, reached, it is pleasing to
recall, by tram from the city centre
(probably a standard 4-wheel car on
route 1 to Kelvinside or on route 30 to
Blairdardie from Sauchiehall Street).
LEFT: Glasgow 'Standard' car on Great
Western Road by the former Botanic
Gardens station, not far from my hotel.
(All pictures by Angus McDougall)
Family holidays had been in Scotland from 1951, and consequently I was able to plan my week without
bothering to fit in Oban or Mallaig, or, for that matter, Largs or some Glasgow suburban lines.
However, on the afternoon of my arrival, and the day before my ticket started its validity, I took a train
to South Renfrew from Glasgow St. Enoch, one of my favourite railway stations. I loved the enormous
destination display over the ticket barriers, like a vast glass case with its individual boards for each
station served by every train put in place by a team of people working inside. A superficially rather
similar display lasted at Glasgow Central until much more recently, although the principle used was
actually quite different since a
separate strip of printed cloth
was used for the list of stations
there. I also found the noisy and
gloomy train shed with its lines
of non-corridor coaches hauled
by 4-4-0 or 2-6-4T locomotives
exhilarating, although I suppose
that, by 1958, some DMUs were
probably in evidence, and the
beautiful voice and accent of the
(female) train announcer
RIGHT: South Renfrew, Fairburn
2-6-4T on the train to Renfrew
TOP OF PAGE: Train from Renfrew Wharf arriving at South Renfrew.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Renfrew Wharf station, looking north towards the end of line. The
distinctive coal fired Yoker Power station is on the right (on the other side of the River Clyde, of
course). Built in 1905 it could initially generate 4MW, and joined the National Grid on baseload when
that was set up in 1927. By 1966 output was 100MW (5% of Eggborough for example) when it had
eight boilers; it closed in 1976. Our 'Forth & Clyde Wanderer' http://goo.gl/DnNSJX DMU railtour of
27 Aug 1977 reached Renfrew RIGHT: The return half of my ticket (not used):
LEFT: Glasgow 'Coronation'
tram at Renfrew Wharf
terminus. The branch
timetable showed my train
terminating at South
Renfrew, but another
started from there about
fifteen minutes later for
Renfrew Wharf. As I had
supposed, it was in fact the
same train, an ex-LMS
Fairburn 2-6-4T with the customary non-corridor stock, a type of passenger coach now quite unknown,
except for a few examples at railway preservation sites. Shortly before its departure another train
appeared from the Wharf direction and a hooter blew (I think) in the Babcock and Wilcox works to the
west of the station. A great crowd of men then swarmed across the Porterfield Road level crossing and
some of them boarded one or other of the trains. At Renfrew Fulbar Street, a railwayman leant
through the carriage window and collected the tickets, although I took advantage of the fullness of the
compartment by retaining mine. Renfrew Wharf had a single wooden platform with no buildings other
than a small hut, possibly intended for ticket examination though not used as such on this occasion,
and it was necessary for the train to be propelled back out of the station for the engine to run round.
The only other railway facilities seemed to be some sidings alongside the station. The chain ferry
across the Clyde was very close, and so were Renfrew Ferry tram terminus (a 'Coronation' tram was
seen) and the terminus of several privately run bus services, all of which seemed to be run with fleets
of second hand vehicles of interest.
However, I eventually tore myself away from this fascinating
scene and took the ferry to Yoker, returning to central
Glasgow from Yoker High station on the former NBR line
from Dumbarton and Balloch. At that time the 'City and
District' had not been electrified and was, like the Central
Low Level lines, a smoke filled underground line beneath
the city centre streets between Charing Cross and High
Street, with a rather sparse passenger service. I alighted at
Queen Street Low Level, then a double island platform
station with mechanical semaphore signalling.
RIGHT: This rather poor photograph shows the east end of
Glasgow Queen Street Low Level in steam days.
The first real day of my holiday was the Saturday, when I travelled south to Ayr from St. Enoch, with an
LMS 2-6-4T at the head of the train. The route was presumably via the G&PJ and Glengarnock, but I do
not remember and did not record whether we went via Troon or by the avoiding line. At Ayr I caught
the Dalmellington train, an LMS Class 2P 4-4-0 (40664) and, I think, three coaches. There being no
turntable at the terminus, the locomotive ran tender first in one direction, probably towards Ayr. One
place I was anxious to observe was Holehouse Jn, where the line from Rankinston came in. I had read
about this line and its peculiar train service in the magazine 'Railways', already mentioned as a source
of articles about the more obscure aspects of the railways of Britain. Until 1950 when the Ayr -
Drongan - Muirkirk line closed to passengers, one train each day ran from Ayr to Rankinston with
reversal at Holehouse Jn, but after that no traffic used the section between the junction and Littlemill
Colliery. So I was keen to see the line. As far as I can now recall, track was still in situ, but clearly
reduced to a siding, and used, I suppose, for storage of wagons or possibly coaching stock.
After returning to Ayr, I travelled to Stranraer. South of Girvan the line was single, with use of the
Manson tablet exchanging equipment speeding up the trains, although perhaps not very much, since
the gradients were severe. There was to my somewhat inexperienced mind a signalling conundrum at
Challoch Jn, where we met the Port Road from Dumfries. I believed (correctly) that there was no
signalbox here, and that the junction was one simple pair of facing points, but I could not understand
how the single line sections were worked. I knew about tablets, tokens and staffs, but direction levers
(the method used for one of the sections: Dunragit to Glenluce) were completely unknown to me.
This was the land of David L
Smith's 'G&SW Nights
Entertainments', serialised in pre-
war Scottish editions of the
'Railway Magazine'. I had been
intrigued by these racy and highly
amusing accounts of locomotive
and train working in the late
G&SWR and early LMS days,
remembering the stories of the
'Washinghoose brakes', the
inspector kept awake by the
section of train parted from its
locomotive running backwards
and forwards through a station situated in a dip, the overheated smokebox door swinging open to
expose rows of red hot boiler tubes, and the frequent mention of guards' vans catching fire from
excessive braking. However, I had never visited the area until then, and found the names of places I
encountered highly evocative of the stories I remembered. The countryside here was very bleak and
the stations rather remote from much habitation, particularly Glenwhilly.
ABOVE: Glenwhilly, with our 'Ayr & Stranraer' railtour to Girvan Goods and Stranraer Town on 30 Aug
1981 during a 15 minute 'photo stop' crossing the service train from Stranraer Harbour seen arriving.
Beyond Castle Kennedy (or Castle-Kennedy as the Scottish Region timetable insisted on referring to it)
was the junction with the wartime line to Cairnryan (now the terminus of the P&O ferry to Larne) at
Cairnryan Jn, which CA 30 April 1959. At Stranraer Harbour Jn, the branch to the Harbour station
diverged right, but my train continued to the Town station. Because of the former extension beyond
here to Portpatrick, the far end of the station where the double track converged to complete the
rounding loop was guarded by a two post bracket semaphore signal, with lower quadrant arms.
Beyond Stranraer Town the line was then still open for goods traffic to Colfin (CA 1 April 1959). Colfin
to Portpatrick CA 4 Feb 1950, and beyond to Portpatrick Pier had succumbed in 1875.
ABOVE: Stranraer Town station, looking towards the the former line to Portpatrick, 1 May 1965.
My train to Dumfries also left from the Town station, and it was several years before I eventually got
to Stranraer Harbour. We took the Port Road from Challoch Jn, passing through Newton Stewart (the
branch south to Whithorn was still open to freight (CA 5 Oct 1964), but was never visited by me),
Gatehouse of Fleet (only eight miles from the town of that name) and Castle Douglas, where our
route was joined by the Kirkcudbright branch. Later I managed to ride on that branch, though not until
its last day of passenger service, 1 May 1965.
ABOVE: The very remote Loch Skerrow station (shown as closed to passengers on this 1951/55 map)
ABOVE: Train for Dumfries about to
leave Kirkcudbright, 1 May 1965.
We also crossed the Big and Wee
Water of Fleet viaducts, known to me
from Dorothy L Sayers' splendid
(though close to incomprehensible)
mystery 'Five Red Herrings', which
turned on some arcane railway
procedures, and we stopped at Loch
Skerrow (LEFT: Seen from my train).
This was a station marked in the
timetable by the laconic footnote 'no
public access', where many trains
crossed, locomotives took water, and,
I believe, crews were changed. On
this occasion, or possibly on my
second visit, I saw a man fishing in the
loch itself, and wondered idly how he
had reached there. Even to this day,
there is no public access to this area;
the road still ends at the site of
Gatehouse station. I returned from
Dumfries by the G&SWR main line
through Sanquhar, Kilmarnock and
Barrhead, back to St. Enoch.
There was very little railway travel that I could do on the
Sunday, so I contented myself with a 'positioning move'
from Glasgow Buchanan Street to Aberdeen, arriving
there in the early afternoon. Once there, I found of
course no trains in any direction other than the one I
had just come in by. So I became a tripper and took the
city bus tour, one operated as far as I can now
remember by an Aberdeen Corporation single decker
coach and costing one shilling [5p]. It was in fact most
instructive and an excellent way of filling the afternoon.
I was only sorry that the city trams had ceased operation
a few months before my visit, although I had travelled
on one when I first visited Aberdeen in 1953, while we
were on holiday in Arbroath. This was in my shed
bashing days and I took the route 7 tram to
Kittybrewster. RIGHT: An Aberdeen tram (bound for
Woodside via Kittybrewster) at the terminus in King
Street, 19 August 1953.
The schedule for the next day fitted together very well: a
morning train to Fraserburgh, then a return trip on the St.
Combs line, hauled by a 'piglet' (small Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0, of the
type introduced by the LMS just pre nationalisation), though
not the one normally allocated to this branch service, which
was, I believe, fitted with a cowcatcher because of the light
railway classification of the line. After that I returned to Maud,
where I photographed the engine of my train (a LMS Class 2P 4-4-0, which unlike members of the class
in England, still retained its Fowler chimney with distinctive capuchon) on the turntable and visited the
private enterprise buffet (more like a miniature bar) and the ticket office. Here the booking clerk sold
me a child single to Mintlaw (on the Peterhead branch), which was LNER stock (ABOVE). It cost less
than a shilling, if I remember correctly. The idea of asking about pre-nationalisation tickets came from
a comment in Mr Casserley's article. BELOW: LMS 2P 4-4-0 on my train at Fraserburgh.
ABOVE: BR Class 2 2-6-0 at the end of line at St. Combs. BELOW: BR class 4 2-6-4T at Maud.
Then I travelled on the Peterhead branch before returning to Aberdeen via Maud, in time to catch the
evening train to Ballater, which was very full. Unfortunately, it was not the battery-electric railcar but
a conventional diesel one; we passed the battery vehicle (running in the opposite direction) during the
journey. I knew that I could not manage a ride on that interesting experimental vehicle, for the
Scottish Region timetable of that period carefully marked workings by DMUs with a letter 'D' at the
head of the column, and the battery train with 'A'. 'S' is Saturdays only and 'E' except Saturdays; there
was no Sunday service.
Most of the route to Ballater was single track with several crossing loops, and it was after the driver
had exchanged tokens at one of these that a female passenger asked her male companion 'why they
changed that wee handbag at every station?' The token was of course carried in a leather pouch with a
wire loop attached for hand exchange. BELOW: 1959 Aberdeen to Ballater public passenger timetable.
Next day I had again worked out a punishing schedule, which started with a train from Aberdeen to
Forres via Keith Junction, Craigellachie and Elgin. At Keith Junction, I thought there might possibly
have been a genuine ex-Highland Railway signal (the main line starter for the Mulben direction) but I
only caught a glimpse of it and I may have been wrong. I never saw another HR signal, to the best of
my knowledge, so I wished I had looked at it a bit more carefully. Since signals of all of the other pre-
grouping Scottish companies were easy to spot at that time, it was rather surprising that no HR
examples seemed to have survived. I suspect the reason may have been that the HR was the only pre-
1923 Scottish railway to use wooden post signals instead of the lattice post types used by all the
others. Wooden post LNWR and MR signals (to specify but two) still survived in great numbers in
England at that time, so perhaps my theory is incorrect.
I vaguely looked around Forres for somewhere to stay that evening, but failed to find anywhere I
thought suitable so decided to stay in Elgin instead. I then caught a train on the original HR line to the
south, alighting at Boat of Garten to change into the Speyside line train there.
ABOVE: Fowler 2-6-2T 40011 on a Speyside train at Craigellachie.
BELOW: 4-6-0 on a train entering Cairnie Junction.
The train over Dava Summit was hauled by one of the familiar ex LMS Class 5 4-6-0s, but the train
from Boat of Garten to Craigellachie had most unexpected haulage: 40011, a Fowler parallel boiler 2-
6-2T, still bearing an 11A (Carnforth) shedplate. I believe that these locomotives were never
particularly successful, although the version with condensing gear operated the suburban trains to
Moorgate via the City Widened Lines for many years. Wagons loaded with (presumably empty) whisky
casks were a noteworthy feature of the Speyside line, which served quite a few distilleries. At
Craigellachie, I changed again and travelled to Cairnie Junction via Dufftown and Keith behind a BR
standard Class 4 2-6-4T. Cairnie Junction was a station of some interest in that it was one of a few
examples in Britain of a station provided for exchange purposes only, and apparently without road
access. Whether you could buy tickets to and from there I have no idea. I boarded a coast line train,
also hauled by a BR standard Class 4 2-6-4T.
I had a choice: either I could go straight round the coast line via Buckie to Elgin and make a return trip
on the Lossiemouth branch from there, or go only as far as Tillynaught on the Buckie line and then do
the Banff branch. Either way I would arrive eventually at Elgin at the same time. I mentally tossed a
coin and Lossiemouth won. I never got to Banff (CP 6 July 1964; CA 6 May 1968), since by the time of
my next visit to GNSR territory the line had closed, as of course had also the Lossiemouth branch (CP 6
April 1964; CA 28 March 1966) and the coast line (CP 6 May 1968 and CA beyond Elgin East).
The Lossiemouth train was three coaches and a BR Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0 (78053), with, I seem to recall,
very few passengers. I was intrigued by the junction for the branch, because of its position (in the
middle of a wood), its layout (one set of points) and its name (Lossie Jn). I had understood that the
departure of a train from Lossiemouth was marked by the sounding of a bell, but I cannot recall
hearing it on this occasion.
After returning to Elgin I attempted without success to find overnight accommodation. The best
recommendation I could find was a motel halfway to Forres, which did not seem too convenient for a
train to Inverness the next day. So, there being no trains (or at any rate a long gap between trains) I
took a W Alexander (Northern) bus to Forres and obtained a room in a hotel near the station. It was
ostensibly bed and breakfast accommodation, but I had to forgo the breakfast since I needed to get
the 7.00 train to Inverness in the morning.
BELOW: LMS Class 5 4-6-0 approaching Kyle of Lochalsh, note animal pens on the left.
The early start proved to have some recompense however! When the train, a local, ran into the
station, I was pleased to observe an ex CR 4-4-0 at its head. Consequently, my journey to Inverness
was improved by the regular sound of that marvellous Caley hooter. At Inverness I was able to book
myself two nights' accommodation in a hotel near the station (not too expensive) and then catch the
10.40 to Kyle of Lochalsh. Travelling to Kyle and back took all the rest of that day, and I enjoyed nearly
every minute of it. There was of course interest at the very end of my return journey since the train
ran past the station at Inverness via the avoiding line and then after reversal at Millburn backed into
the east side platforms to connect more directly, I suppose, with the sleeping car train to the south.
An even earlier start was needed the next morning since my round trip to the far north required
catching the 6.40, which was like the trains of the previous day on the Kyle line, hauled by the familiar
Stanier Class 5 4-6-0, although once again I had a pleasant surprise as a pilot locomotive was attached,
probably at Tain, for the climb to Lairg, and this turned out to be another Caley 4-4-0. I noticed the bus
connections for Ullapool and the far west at Lairg and then needed to come to another tricky decision.
Should I go on to Wick and Thurso, or should I get off at The Mound and do the Dornoch branch? If I
went to Dornoch, then I would get no further north than Helmsdale before having to catch the last
return train to Inverness. The far north trains were very slow in those days and there were only three
return trips per day. The Dornoch service was eccentric in that, apparently for many years, there had
been only two trains each way and these all ran between about 11 and 2.
ABOVE: LMS Class 3P 2-6-2T 40150 on the branch train at Thurso
Well, I am sorry to say that the lure of a greater length of new track won, and I decided to leave
Dornoch for another day. This was a great error for I did not know that the Dornoch trains would cease
for ever two years later, on 13 June 1960, when many wayside stations on the far north line also
closed, leading to a considerable speeding up of the service. I did see the branch train, at The Mound,
and its train engine was the expatriate GWR 17XX 0-6-0PT that I expected. But I never went on it, and
although of course I did manage to visit Wick and Thurso again some years later, the branch track had
all gone and indeed The Mound itself had closed to passengers.
Going both to Wick and Thurso was itself not simple; it was necessary to take the bus from one to the
other, since all trains from the south split at Georgemas Junction and served both places. So I went to
Wick first (I think) and caught a Highland Omnibuses wartime Guy double decker for the hour's ride to
Thurso. Highland Omnibuses had not long been a member of the Scottish Bus Group, but had already
collected the variety of second hand buses so characteristic of that Group, although I do not think the
bus I travelled on was one of them. There were certainly some rather fine pre-war Leyland Titans
originating from various other companies operating the Inverness town services.
The Thurso branch engine was an ex-LMS Stanier Class 3P 2-6-2T, a type of locomotive familiar to me
in Nottingham and I believe only marginally more successful than the Fowler design that preceded
them. It presumably spent all its days (except of course on Sunday) shuttling between Thurso (where it
was shedded) and Georgemas Junction.
My return south from Inverness was by the newer HR main line via Culloden Moor, with two Class 5
4-6-0s as far as Aviemore but just a single one beyond. At Perth I alighted and took an Edinburgh train
hauled by an A3 4-6-2 (60080) over the Glenfarg route to Dunfermline Lower (now Dunfermline
Town). A local train via Dunfermline Upper through Alloa to Stirling came next; this had an ex-LNER 3
cylinder 2-6-2T (67675) at its head.
ABOVE: Class V3 2-6-2T entering Dunfermline Lower station (Dunfermline Town since 26 September 1999).
From Stirling I travelled by the conventional route to Glasgow Buchanan Street and then, after
crossing Glasgow, to Largs from St. Enoch, joining my parents for the second week of their holiday
there. My return route to Nottingham on the following Saturday was by a Glasgow train to South
Beach, where I caught a local to Kilmarnock via Irvine and Crosshouse, which connected with a main
line train there, taking me to Leeds via Dumfries, Carlisle and the Settle and Carlisle line. My journey
was completed by the MR main line to Trent and finally a local train to Nottingham, although very
much to my surprise the train ran from Cudworth to Wincobank via Monk Spring Jn and Chapeltown,
rather than via Rotherham Masborough (the normal route).
X.43] Stranraer Area: (Article above) Http://goo.gl/QfYRW3 Is a link to the zoomable one-inch OS 7th
Series map (1951-55). Stranraer Harbour is shown as a 'principal' station. The (then) freight only line
continues beyond Stranraer Town (which itself CP 7 Mar 1966, CG 1 July 1995 - last train 19 Apr 1994)
to Colfin shown as a 'station closed to passengers'. The track bed continues to Portpatrick. Top left at
the end of the 6¼ mile Cairnryan Military Railway branch the former (military) station is shown as a
'principal' one and closed to passengers. Cairnryan was 'Military Port No2' (Faslane was No1). It was
strategically intended to replace Glasgow or Liverpool if they were severely bombed in WW11.
Interestingly it was open from 1941 to 1946 and ROG 9 April 1951 to 30 April 1959 when used for
weapon disposal. Castle Kennedy station is the first one out of Stranraer, then after Dunragit station is
Challoch Jn. The line to Ayr and Glasgow heads north through Glen Luce and the 'Port Line' east to
Dumfries (CA 14 Jun 1965; although Maxwelltown to Dumfries remained open for goods traffic).
724] Blackford: (BLN 1184.624) Bottled water giant Highland Spring has received permission to build a
rail freight depot here on the Up side here between Gleneagles and Dunblane. They said that the
project, which they have been working on since late 2009 (BLN 1130.145) was vital to slash the firm's
carbon footprint and help the business grow. Three trial trains ran in November 2012 (BLN 1184.624)
and a BLS party visited Blackford signal box on 19 Oct 2013. The proposal came up against the
inevitable opposition from neighbours who argued an increase in HGVs travelling to and from the site
would pose a road safety risk. They also claimed the site would be noisy and the 60ft crane would
overshadow surrounding homes. Perth and Kinross Council received nearly 100 letters and emails
calling for the scheme to be scrapped. However, members of the development management
committee yesterday unanimously backed the application. Brian McCluskey, operations director for
Highland Spring, said the business, formed in Blackford in 1979, is now the second-biggest bottled
water firm in the UK, selling to 50 countries worldwide. 'We always strive to do the right thing by
people affected by the business; on this occasion, it is going to be impossible to keep everyone happy,'
he said. He added that the rail yard expansion would result in 20 fewer HGVs travelling through
Blackford and would lead to a significant cut in emissions. There are no run round facilities at Blackford
meaning the trial workings had to go to Perth (a 36 mile round trip) to run round, and the existing
siding is too near the main line to meet current safety standards. TRACKmaps Vol.1 p15B is out of date
although the new layout does reinstate a run round loop similar to that shown on the Up side. To see
the approved new layout: http://goo.gl/AwUxFX download, rotate 'counter clockwise'. The existsing
siding (used for the trial) is light blue and will be removed, the new sidings and loop are in red, the
existing trailing crossover will be used on the main line. Backford signal box is just left (north) of the
level crossing, middle right (towards Perth). Note 'Railway specification' bottom right of document.
725] RETB: The next generation of Radio Electronic Token Block signalling was due to be brought into
use on 1 Apr, however at the last minute it was postponed indefinitely. One assumes this is not an
'April Fool'! This would affect the lines from Craigendoran Jn to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig.
726] Extra Services: ScotRail will introduce 200 additional services from 2018 after being granted extra
funding from the Scottish government. This means 13 three-car Class 170s will be retained with extra
services for Tayside, Stirlingshire, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and the Borders some 20,000 seats daily.
727] Millerhill Yard: (TRACKmaps Vol.1 p11A Dec 2007) Charlie, Davie, Eddie and Freddie 1 sidings and
the Fueling Point Sidings are scheduled to remain OOU until 1 Aug due to construction of the new
ScotRail Cleaning and Servicing facility. 'Alec and Bobby' sidings remain in use. What about Jimmie?
728] Edinburgh Suburban Line: Proposals to run hybrid tram-trains on the line have been supported
by ScotRail's managing director, Phil Verster. NR plans are for electrification of the 'South Sub' to divert
more freight trains away from running through Waverley. The tram-trains could run into the city
centre before switching to street tracks. Mr Verster was previously involved with the Sheffield to
Rotherham experiment in his last job as NR's London North East route managing director. He has told
Holyrood's infrastructure and capital investment committee that tram-trains 'must be on the cards for
so many cities'. He said that a tramway could be built to link the South Sub to Edinburgh Royal
Infirmary, just south of that line. Stops could be provided at Gorgie, Craiglockhart, Morningside,
Blackford or Newington, Cameron Toll, Craigmillar, Niddrie and Kinnaird Park.
729] HS2: Under plans to open Phase 2 of HS2 in 2033, journey times from London to Glasgow and
Edinburgh are expected to fall to 3 hours 38 minutes. However, the Scottish Government has been
lobbying for HS2 to be extended across the border. Upgrading the existing WCML (£17bn-19bn) would
cost less than a new line (over £27bn) and allow benefits to be delivered in stages. This would not
bring the same capacity benefits nor provide the resilience of a new line. On the ECML only a full high
speed route could deliver a journey time of three hours or less to both Edinburgh and Glasgow. As part
of the work, HS2 Ltd has also identified opportunities to address existing capacity constraints which
would benefit cities in the north east. Work is now planned to be carried out in 2017 to identify
options with the best business case for implementation from 2019 onwards.
730] Inveramsay: (BLN 1233.1005) A £10.2M mile or so of new A96 road and a replacement bridge,
above the Inverurie to Insch line near the former junction for the lengthy Macduff branch, was due to
open on 18 March. It is a few hundred yards east of the notorious, so-called Inveramsay Turnpike
underbridge (which remains open to road traffic). There has been no negative impact on rail traffic.
731] Dalzell* Plate Works: (BLN 1244.2000) The exchange sidings, on the Up side opposite to
Motherwell Signalling Centre near MP 89, and the branch into the works were distinctly rusty on 25
March and Realtime Trains confirmed that the daily train (SuX) from Tees Yard had not run recently. A
potential buyer for the works (and the small non-rail served Clydebridge plant together with
Scunthorpe Steel Works and Tata's residual Teesside interests) was announced in January. This is
Greybull Capital who intends to invest and turn around the business although talks are still described
as being at 'an early stage'. *Pronouced 'Dee' - 'L'.
732] Glasgow Queen Street Blockade: The next page lists unusual track available until 6 August during
the planned diversions; the bottom five entries start later. NB: there is no guarantee trains will run as
booked. Last-minute checks with Realtime Trains, OpenTrainTimes, etc. are strongly advised to ensure
planned schedules have not been amended. It is with thanks to our member Ian Delgado and based on
extracts from from his Unusual Track website which has a large amount of similar useful information
http://goo.gl/jMQKq6 and many revised new track layout plans. A logon and password are needed for
access, obtainable for long term use after a donation to Railway Children (as recently made by your
Society in recognition of Ian's kind permission to use information in BLN). See http://goo.gl/atct2m
733] Dumbarton Central: (BLN 1253.612) EMUs between Springburn/Cumbernauld and Dalmuir are
extended west to serve the formerly rare Dumbarton Central P3 and due to continue after Queen
Street HL reopens. They use the trailing crossover on departure. Springburn P3 has additional use, due
to extra through trains. At least some West Highland trains are timed to call at Springburn, presumably
for Traincrew purposes, as the National Rail Enquiries website does not offer through journeys. There
is the possibility of extremely rare westbound departures from Dumbarton Central P3 later in the year.
734] Cowlairs West Jn: Just one train appears to use the facing crossover on the Springburn lines at
0m 04ch (TRACKmaps Vol.1 p7L Dec 2007), running until 6 August. This is the 05.58 SuX Anniesland to
Falkirk Grahamston. No service trains arrive at Anniesland before 05.58. The final place to board the
train prior to the move is Ashfield (dep 06.11). There is overnight accommodation within walking
distance of Anniesland station (particularly along the Great Western Road)!