Number 1306 (Items 1132 - 1252 & MR 106 - MR 115) (E-BLN 68 PAGES) 23 June 2018
BRANCH LINE NEWS
…..B Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society - founded 1955
WEBSITE ADDRESS: branchline.uk
Membership Enquiries, Alan Welsh [email protected]
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British Isles news from member7s2; 8a6n7i7nternational section is available.
Opinions herein are not necessaarivlyaitlahbolsee. of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1307 is dated Sat 7 JulyS;opclieetays.eSosceientdy.contributions by Wed 27 June.
Date Event and details BLN Lead Status
Sun 1 Jul 1305 JE OPEN
11-12 Jul Ketton Cement Works railtour: EXTRA PLACES AVAILABLE 1302 JE Enquire
Wed/Thur: BLS Cornwall Tracker: APPLY (WAITING LIST)
Sat 21 Jul Middlesbrough Goods, AV Dawson, new track & traction Below JE OPEN
Thur 2 Aug 12.45 Spa Valley Railway trip IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW Below JE OPEN
1305 JE OPEN
Sat 4 Aug 14.00-16.00 Wester Pickston Railway, Methven, Perth
Sun 5 Aug Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway APPLY (WAITING LIST) 1301 JE Enquire
Sat 18 Aug 09.30 Summer Scunthorpe Steeler tour No16 limited space 1305 JE OPEN
1300 JE OPEN
Sat 25 Aug 09.30-10.30 Blenheim Park Railway (15" gauge) railtour
Sat 25 Aug 12.00-16.00 Beeches Light Railway TWO SPACES AVAILABLE 1299 JE *OPEN*
Mon 27 Aug The Marching Crompton track & traction Bank Holiday tour 1305 JE OPEN
Mon 27 Aug Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr Railway, riding visit & extra track 1305 JE OPEN
8 & 9 Sep Save the weekend; Minor Railways in Hertfordshire & Essex TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 15 Sep Save the date -loco hauled tour Deferred until 2019 TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 30 Sep Save the date for a trip with 'Molly' in the north of England TBA TBA Claimed
26-28 Oct Yorkshire weekend AGM, various fixtures & film show/buffet TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 17 Nov East-West Midlands Railtour with an extremely unusual first TBA TBA Claimed
16-19 May Island of Ireland IV (2019) - reserve the dates TBA TBA Claimed
Long dated items may temporarily disappear, JE-Jill Everitt, TBA-To Be Advised, = book online at branchline.uk
1133] .Middlesbrough Goods (Old Town Branch), Sat 21 Jul: (Report BLN 1287.1802) AV Dawson
Ltd, a 100 acre multimodal logistics terminal (road, rail, land and sea). As well as different lines
from 2017, a further highlight is 08774 and, thanks to Cobra Railfreight, 01567 'Elizabeth' (TH276v
4wDH of 1977), hauling our recently refurbished mess van 'Molly' for passenger rides.
The charters are all expected to visit the purpose built Automotive Steel Terminal (approach road),
Ayrton Dry Bulk Terminal (unloading facility road), North Sea Supply Base Wharf (inland road),
Tees Riverside Intermodal Park (inner road) and the Network Rail (NR) boundary (Metz Bridge
outlet road). These are all different lines from last year. A short presentation about AV Dawson is
made and delicious light refreshments will be available to buy. Advance booking only, £55 per head
for all, profits to AV Dawson nominated good causes. Five trips, each lasting some 90 minutes, at
09.30, 11.00, 12.30, 14.00 & 15.30. Book online (preferred, please) or by post to Jill Everitt per back
page supplying an email address or SAE.
1134] .Spa Valley Railway. Summer Diesel Gala, Rare Track, Thur 2 Aug: Queen Mary Brake Van with
shunter locos. Tunbridge Wells West 12.45 (to be confirmed), Tunbridge Wells West Yard/throat as
possible, East/West Sidings & Headshunt, Groombridge Up & Down Loop, to Eridge 'wrong' direction,
The final chance to do Ashurst Up & Down Spur (No1 & 2 Carriage Sidings) which will be full of stock
during the subsequent diesel gala and, the railway advises, never available again. Also the Engineers
Siding, Eridge P3 and south of station. Over 18s only, £16. Book at our website please or via Jill Everitt.
1135] 'Branch Line', the start of a new era: From Nick Garnham, our Branch Line operator (and now
MailChimp champ); with thanks also to Ian Delgado for all his work on this. To replace the dated and
inflexible 'Branch Line' Yahoo emails, the Society is adopting the widely used more modern MailChimp
system for electronic communication. This combines the e-BLN notification emails with Branch Line.
Recipients should notice little difference in the emails, but preferences can now be easily changed.
The three preferences are: •E-BLN notifications, •Fixtures information, and •Other News/items.
If you renewed your membership online, you will already have advised us of your preferences.
These can be changed on the website at any time by clicking on 'My details' under 'More options' on
the blue top navigation bar. You can also change your preferences directly in MailChimp by clicking on
the 'update your preferences' link at the bottom of each message. If you haven't already let us know
what your preferences are, please do so using either of these methods. Otherwise, under General Data
Protection Regulation, we are unfortunately unable to send you messages advising of short-notice
events, new BLS (and other) fixtures, railtours, visits to book and other time-dependent information.
Please allow 7 days for a change made on our website to be reflected in MailChimp, and vice versa.
All members preferences set on the website prior to 15 June have been transferred to MailChimp.
Any member whose category is, or includes, e-BLN has had their preference for e-BLN notifications set
to 'yes'. (Some had set this to 'no' which will stop the email that is received when e-BLN is available on
our website!! Logged in members can still look at e-BLN via the website, of course without the email.)
If this change is not required please use the link in the notification email to just change it back to 'no'.
With these changes, the Branch Line message service has now ceased in its previous format after 768
messages since 23 Jun 2006. The Yahoo groups system had become unreliable and slow with poor
presentation, so has been transferred to MailChimp. Existing subscribers to this service may use the
preference setting facility to subscribe to 'other news' and/or 'fixtures information' as appropriate.
1306 HEAD LINES (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
1136] Corris Railway, Maespoeth station, North (SH 7530 0681) - South platform (SH 7528 0675):
(MR p29) (BLN 1304.994) A 3ch south extension ROP Good Fri 4 Apr 2017 (CP 1930) after installation
of a water crane at the south platform. (Also used at least on Sun 29 May 2016 - gala special event.)
1137] Thoresby Colliery Jn (SK 6366 6644) 17m 17ch* - Thoresby Colliery (SK 6390 6749): Mining
ceased 10 Jul 2015 and the final coal train left for Cottam Power Station on 17 Sep 2015. Freightliner
Heavy Haul HHA wagons were stored there and occasionally shunted - eg 26 Jan 2016 (BLN 1250.237).
On Thur 8 Feb 2018, in a flurry of activity the final rail movements cleared out the remaining wagons.
This began with an 06.12 light engine working from Leeds Balm Road to Thoresby (08.40/10.27) which
removed wagons to Woodhouse Junction Sidings (11.12) leaving light engine at 11.36 for Thoresby
(12.29). It then formed the final train from the site with the remaining wagons, the 14.54 Thoresby to
Carlisle New Yard via the South Yorkshire Joint Line, Leeds and the Settle & Carlisle. The branch was to
be lifted (can anyone check if it has been yet please?) for site redevelopment with sports facilities and
a zip wire which Harworth Estates say will create 500 jobs. [*Miles from Chesterfield Market Place.]
1138] Frodsham Jn - Halton Jn ('Frodsham Single'): (BLN 1305.1016) ROA Wed 9 May (TCA 10 Feb
2018). The SO summer 07.53 Chester to Runcorn PSUL, timetabled 26 May to 9 Sep was actually
cancelled on Sat 26 May due to engineering work; it first ran this year on Sat 2 Jun. The first passenger
carrying train in the other direction (and the crossovers each end) since restoration of bidirectionallity
seems to have been on Sun 10 Jun, the 10.18 Northern Belle from Liverpool South Parkway to Cosford
(Air Show). Return (from Shrewsbury at 17.00) to Liverpool South Parkway was via Chester reversing
in Crewe Up & Down Loop (between P11 & 12) - presumably Frodsham Jn box was then switched out.
1139] Oxenholme (excl) - Windermere (incl) and 3 stations: The 10m 15ch branch TCP Mon 4 Jun as
Northern were unable to provide a reliable service. Generally 2 or 3 buses per hour run; one 'non-stop'
in 35 mins (the train takes 25 with the stops), another calls at all stations taking 40 mins; sometimes a
third just stops at Kendal intermediately. The rail users group preferred a reliable bus to an unreliable
train service. NR has carried out maintenance work during the closure. ROP Sun 17 Jun (a day when
the Chair of the Lakes Line Rail User Group, a long standing BLS member, advises that the bus service
went 'pear shaped') a West Coast Railway loco operated trial service ran. It was ECS at first but the
13.40 & 14.46 ex-Oxenholme had permission to carry passengers and were 'full'. A Class 57 (with 'The
Lakelander' headboard) was at the Windermere end, three coaches then a Class 37. From Mon 18 Jun,
and not shown on National Rail website, WCR ran services at 09.25, 10.40, 12.40, 14.40, 16.35 & 17.50
from Oxenholme, returning from Windermere 10.00, 11.30, 13.30, 15.30, 17.10 & 18.30 with First
Class - extra to the buses! As at 21 Jun they are expected to operate for two weeks and were shown
SSuX. Normal tickets/rovers are valid and can be bought online and at stations (for the buses which are
then valid on the trains!). When was the last loco hauled passenger service train on the Windermere
branch which was singled in May 1973? Northern plans to restart its services on Wed 4 Jul.
E-BLN Extra: The Managing Director of WCR gave an interview to Radio Cumbria and was clear that
Northern no part in arranging this service, she said they had been uncooperative in fact! See:
https://goo.gl/eHcSzJ (starts at 3m 30 sec). WCR took the initiative contacting Tim Farron (Lib Dem
MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale) to see if they could help. Tim engaged the Community Rail
Partnership who constructed a timetable which was then agreed. WCR cleared all rules of operation
with NR and then provided a train to run a test journey that ran well. On the return (Sun 17 Jun)
Northern were contacted as the road coach service had failed and the train was available. At first they
were obstructive but were forced into a corner with a large number of passengers waiting to be
transported and with WCR having cleared all operational obstacles. Tim Farron then cleared it with
Chris Grayling who needed to get himself out of a hole and agreed to fund the service. [This could be
'recovered' by the DfT with funding cuts elsewhere, of course.] At no time was Northern involved and
attempts at dialogue were ignored. The service is running for now and has loaded well. It is not clear
what, if any, are the arrangements for collecting fares on the train as there is concern about
abstracting revenue from the bus services. It remains to be seen if the trains appear on National Rail.
1140] Morecambe Jn - Heysham Port (incl): The 4m 01ch branch TCP SuX* Mon 4 Jun as part of the
general Northern service reductions. A replacement bus service is provided for the 12.50 from
Lancaster to Heysham (due 13.27) calling at Bare Lane and Morecambe and at 13.20 in the other
direction requiring two buses due to the journey time. The bus to Lancaster is reportedly prone to
traffic delays (road works in Lancaster don't help) so there is little chance of catching a tight rail
connection from there. At Morecambe (and Lancaster) the station announcement was heard to say
'the next bus to depart from outside the station...'! [*Sunday Lancaster to Morecambe and Heysham
services are all trains.] Heysham joins the Clitheroe to Hellifield line in having passenger trains SuO.
1141] Northern cuts: From Mon 4 Jun 6% of daily train services or 165 of 2,800 daily services, were
temporarily removed, until the end of July. Other services with some trains replaced by buses are
Lancaster to Morecambe, Preston to: Blackpool South, Colne and Ormskirk; Blackpool North to
Manchester and Wigan to Kirkby. Many other trains were just removed from the timetable, such as all
Northern Lancaster - Oxenholme services and some two hour gaps on the Todmorden Curve route.
Others are chancged such as the Liverpool Lime Street to Airport EMUs running to Manchester
Victoria. Loadings on Northern services seem lighter than normal generally on the 90%+ of services
that are running, probably due to the bad publicity and ongoing RMT strikes (now 14 days) and were
expected again on 19, 21 and 23 June.
PREVIOUS PAGE TOP: The 6' 6" gauge, 1¼ mile long cable worked CairnGorm (sic) Mountain Railway,
Base Station. LOWER: Near the 3,500ft summit (through windscreen). (Angus McDougall 17 Aug 2007)
1142] CairnGorm Mountain Railway, 'Base Station' - Ptarmigan (station): TCP Mon 4 Jun to Thur 4 Jul
2018 for major maintenance work. This includes replacement of the funicular haul/counter ropes, also
detailed inspections of the drive/counter bullwheels, the ABB synchronous motor and flender gearbox.
The intermediate Shieling station is not open at this time of year. The railway carried 59,003 skiers up
the mountain from 1 Nov 2017 to 28 Apr 2018 and a further 51,240 non-skiers made a return trip.
1143] South Tynedale Railway, Lintley Halt (excl) - Slaggyford station (incl): (BLN 1305.1024) ROP
Sat 9 Jun 2018, first train 10.45; (CP 3 May 1976) (MR p14). The 1½ mile extension lengthens the
public run of this 2ft gauge line to 4½ miles on the former standard gauge Haltwhistle to Alston
branch. First test train Sat 22 Jul 2017; ceremonial opening 24 Jul 2017 (special train invited guests).
Trains run until 31 Oct, Tue, Thur, Sat & Sun with seven day operation in school holidays. Alston:
10.45, 13.15 & 15.15 (90 mins round trip with 20 mins at Slaggyford dep 11.40, 14.10 & 16.10).
Kirkhaigh and Lintley are request stops. 01434 382828 is the 'talking timetable'. Adult rover is
only £10, Child £5, Family £25 (2A&3C) Dog Rover (yes, really) £2; Single: Adult £8, Child £4;
'donation' tickets can be gift aided (non-donation 10% less). Students with ID & OAPs 10% discount.
The latest delay in ROP (from 26 May 2018) was a requirement for level crossing gates at Slaggyford.
BELOW: Train from Alston arriving at Slaggyford 19 Jun, note the new crossing gates. (All Ian Hughes)
PREVIOUS TWO PAGES TOP DOWN: ❶Slaggyford station looking north towards Haltwhistle (to be
continued…!). The platform station buildings are original from standard gauge days. ❷Inside said
building, the ticket window. ❸With the extended run a buffet is now provided on the train, described
by our correspondent as 'lovely it is too'. ❹Arriving back at Alston from Slaggyford on 16 Jun.
1144] Glasgow, North Jn - Cowlairs West Jn: TCP/A In this 'Down' direction only from Wed 13 Jun
(expected ROP Mon 9 Jul 2018), due to the diamond crossover at the latter failing. There has been an
emergency 20mph speed restriction in place since 10 May but the crack in the crossing (picked up on
routine ultrasound testing) extended. To avoid a catastrophic main line failure it was plain-lined for the
Glasgow to Edinburgh route on 13 Jun. As an obtuse crossing (every diamond has two common and
two obtuse crossings, but on a curve each has different geometry), a bespoke piece of track has to be
designed and cast with moulds created. Delivery is expected 5 Jul for fitting on the night of 7/8th.
Meanwhile trains from the West Highland Lines to Glasgow Queen Street (HL) are diverted via
Cowlairs North Jn* - Cowlairs East Jn*, then the facing crossover to the Down Cadder Passenger Loop
to reverse (some reversed at Cowlairs East Jn instead when possible) - adding about half an hour.
In practice many (non-gricers) alight at Dumbarton Central to reach Glasgow sooner on the next EMU.
At Dalmuir only one door, near the rear of the train, was unlocked on one service. There is normally no
restriction on boarding or alighting West Highland trains there but ScotRail are probably encouraging
use of the shorter and much quicker route to Queen Street Low Level currently instead. [*This single
track bidirectional 'Cowlairs East Curve' normally just has a PSUL summer dated service: (SuO) 24 Jun -
26 Aug 2018; 08.08 Edinburgh to Oban and 17.11 return.] Queen Street to West Highland Line trains
are not affected. DMUs from Anniesland P3 to Queen Street HL operate hourly rather than half-hourly
to/from Ashfield only (reversing ECS beyond on Cowlairs East Curve). The Fort William to North Blyth
alumina empties (usually via Springburn, Stepps & Shotts) runs via Falkirk High (no freight normally).
1145] Maghull North: (BLN 1302.701) OP Mon 18 Jun 2018, the new station between Maghull & Town
Green stations has two 148yd platforms (8m 16ch from the former Liverpool Exchange station).
The first train was 05.58 (Up) to Liverpool Central (High Level); first Down train was 06.40 to Ormskirk.
1146] Sharnbrook Jn - Wellingborough North Jn: (BLN 1305.1034) ROG (at least) Mon 18 Jun after TCA
Sat 24 Mar 2018 (may not have been used by passenger trains for a while before - to be confirmed).
The Up & Down Slow (Sharnbrook Tunnel Goods Line) or 'Wymington Deviation' PSUL route was TCA
with track completely removed over at least two bridges for repairs, strengthening and waterproofing.
The only booked passenger use is now 22.30 (SuO) St Pancras to Nottingham, presumably to maintain
driver route knowledge. Note that this train is diverted via the Down Fast on 1 and 8 Jul at least.
1147] Severn Tunnel Jn - Patchway - Filton Abbey Wood (excl) and Severn Tunnel Junction P3 & 4,
Pilning & Patchway stations. Also Patchway No2 Jn - Stoke Gifford Jn No1 (Bristol Parkway): TCP Sat
16 Jun; ROP expected Sat 7 Jul 2018; for track renewals in the Severn Tunnel, track lowering in the two
single track Patchway Tunnels prior to electrification and OHLE work. London Paddington to South
Wales services are hourly via Kemble and Gloucester (SX) bidirectional Up Main centre road there in
both directions if not booked to stop. SO Up trains are booked Gloucester Up Relief centre road
(RTT shows they did Sat 16 Jun).Taunton/Portsmouth to South Wales trains run to/from Bristol
Parkway. There will be alterations to other services (details available 5 days before each week!)
1148] Seaton Tramway, Riverside Loop south end (4m 01ch) - Seaton (incl) (4m 57ch) (BLN 1302.691)
(MR p32) ROP expected Thur 28 Jun 2018 (TCP 18 Sep 2017) after construction of a new £3M terminus
with gift shop, café and a four platform layout, requiring 450 tonnes of ballast and 300 sleepers.
190 piles have been used to raise the station by two metres to reduce the risk of flooding (so there is a
new vertical alignment to do as well as the new layout!). First trams are at 10.00 with daily running
until 28 Oct, at least half-hourly up to 16.00, (and 17.00 with three trams per hour until 30 Sep).
1149] Oxford station: TCP Sat 7 - Sun 15 also Sat 21/28 and Sun 22/29 Jul 2018 (see below). This is for
major remodelling and track relaying north of Oxford and resignalling. Oxford North Jn becomes
double track removing current conflicts between Chiltern Railways services to/from Bicester Village
and GWR and CrossCountry services heading south, which causes delays just north of the station.
There is further work on the sidings north of the station. Down P4 becomes bidirectional with trains
able to depart for Didcot. The reinstated Down Loop from Oxford North Jn to Wolvercote Jn (on a
significantly different further west, lower level, alignment than the main lines) is to be commissioned
to recess passenger trains awaiting the single track from Charlbury to clear and also freight towards
Banbury. Wolvercote Jn is being replaced. The new signalling will be ready for electrification (!).
Oxford Power Signal Box closes with transfer of control to Thames Valley Signaling Centre, Didcot.
There will be no GWR Oxford - Banbury train services (Kings Sutton has Chiltern services and GWR
buses). CrossCountry turn back in Didcot P3 from the south and at Banbury (rare Birmingham end
crossovers in use) from the north. Chiltern Marylebone services turn back at Oxford Parkway. GWR
services from the North Cotswold Line turn back at Hanborough (Moreton-in-Marsh at weekends).
1150] Didcot; Foxhall Jn - Didcot West Curve Jn: TCP Sat 7 to Sun 22 Jul, PSUL normally used only by
the 21.45 (SSuX) CrossCountry Reading to Birmingham New Street route knowledge retention service.
1151] Didcot, Chester Line Jn - Didcot West Curve Jn - Didcot North Jn - Oxford also Didcot East Jn -
Didcot north Jn: TCP Sat 7 - Sun 15, Sat 21/28 and Sun 22/29 Jul 2018. A limited train service of 18 Up
and 16 Down trains between 05.54 and 21.40 is booked Paddington to/from Oxford .P4. with single
line working on the Down Oxford line. Some call at Didcot Parkway, some do not (using the 'avoider').
1152] Oxford station (incl, except per 1149 above) - Aynho Jn with Tackley & Heyford stations/Oxford
Parkway (excl)/Hanborough (excl, except per 1153); Radley, Culham & Appleford stations. TCP Sat 7
to Sun 22 Jul also 28/29 Jul 2018. [Sun 1 Jul: Oxford North Jn - Aynho Jn/Moreton-in-Marsh only TCP.]
1153] Moreton-in-Marsh (excl) - Hanborough (incl): TCP all Saturdays and Sundays in July 2018.
1154] Manchester Metrolink, Cornbrook (excl) - Eccles (incl) and 10 intermediate stops including
MediaCityUK branch: TCP Sat 28 Jul until Thur 9 Aug when trams from Ashton-under-Lyne turn back
at Deansgate-Castlefield (crossover on arrival or departure in passenger service) instead. The closure
is to connect the new Trafford Park extension with the existing line. The rails and the overhead lines
will be temporarily removed before cutting out the old track plinths just west of Pomona stop,
replacing them by using 100 and 350 tonne cranes. The rails and overhead will then be reinstated.
1156] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant passenger service suspensions: *= New/altered
BLN Start (incl) Reopens Location (exclusive where bracketed) [bold = closed now]
1302.691 18 Sep 17 28 Jun 18 *Seaton Tramway, (Riverside Loop) south end - Seaton (incl)
1300.441 9 Jul 18 13 Jul 18 *(Theale)-Westbury North Jn/Fairwood Jn (and four later periods)
1305.1026 2 Jun 18 30 Jul 18 *(Liverpool South Parkway P1-4) - Edge Hill East Jn
1305.1026 2 Jun 18 30 Jul 18 *Hunts Cross West Jn - (Liverpool South Parkway P5 & P6)
1305.1025 14 Jul 18 30 Jul 18 *Liverpool Lime Street - (Huyton)
1300.441 16 Jul 18 6 Aug 18 *(Theale)-Westbury North Jn/Fairwood Jn (and three later periods)
1305.1022 23 Jun 18 9 Aug 18 *Sheffield Supertram: (Birley Lane) - Halfway
1305.1022 10 Aug 18 20 Aug 18 *Sheffield Supertram: (Gleadless Townend) - Herdings Park
1298.214 12 May 18 20 Aug 18 (Aberdeen) - (Dyce)
1305.1022 25 Aug 18 3 Sep 18 *Supertram: (Gleadless Townend)-Halfway/Gleadless-Herdings Pk
1305.1022 10 Sep 18 15 Sep 18 *Sheffield Supertram: Donetsk Way - Halfway
1286.1612 22 Jul 18 0 8 Oct 18 (Derby) station/associated lines - a series of partial closures
1297.123 20 Oct 18 29 Oct 18 (Three Bridges) - (Brighton)/(Lewes) (also 16 to 24 Feb 2019)
1302.702 27 Oct 18 19 Nov 18 Bristol East Jn - Stoke Gifford No1 Jn; Filton Jn - Patchway Jn;
Feeder Bridge Jn - Dr Day's Jn & Narroways Hill Jn - (Clifton Down)
1155] Spa Valley Railway, Groombridge (46m 18ch) - Up and Down Ashurst Spur sidings (46m 14ch):
The Railway's GM has advised that these PSUL lines, the remains of the Groombridge Jn - Ashurst Jn
double track spur (CA 6 Jan 1969), will not be available again after our tour on 2 Aug 2018 (Item 1134).
1306 BLN GENERAL (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
1157] Vulcan Valley Venturer, Sun 28 Jul 1991: A member on this Pathfinder tour from Liverpool Lime St
via Birmingham New St is trying to find out how far exactly it went at Maesteg (Llynfi Jn) and at Swansea
Burrows Sidings where the loco ran round. It also visited Onllwyn. All information gratefully received (Ed).
1158] Points & Slips: ●BLN 1304.1001] The Summer Sunday Okehampton service began in 1997 and is
promoted partly by 4,000 leaflets distributed to local residents. ●BLN 1305.1025] During the Liverpool
Lime Street work, Preston to Ormskirk is booked to have six return Sunday services (still advertised as
trains!) from 3 Jun to 29 Jul. However, they did not run on 10 or 17 Jun (Merseyrail services at
Ormskirk were replaced by buses on the latter date). ●1047] Since the Acton Dive-Under ROP on 20
May, many passenger trains have been using it (at least initially) that did not need to operationally - it
is presumed to refresh driver route knowledge. ●1038] The three electric locos formerly at Spondon
'H' Power Station ran off batteries recharged from the overhead trolley wire.
●BLN 1305 1042] At Cricklewood the 'bin trains' to Calvert are DBC operated. GBRf run the 'spoil
trains' from the Up side north end to Calvert and will also be operating the new site on the Down side.
The Barrington GBRf trains will be in addition to the Calvert 'spoil trains'. At Calvert in week
commencing 18 June an 06.00 GBRf arrival from Cricklewood was expected to run Tue-Fri and a
midday DBC arrival from Bow, East London Mon-Fri, with the evening and Saturday paths not used. DC
Rail actually works the spoil from Cricklewood for GBRf and from Bow for DBC. [So know you know!]
● BLN 1305 1084] In Dublin, Church Road signal cabin closed as a block post on 11 Oct 1992 when it
became a shunting frame. This in turn closed 12 Oct 2014.●1118] A link to Simon Mortimer's album
https://goo.gl/FF3uAb of 149 photos and 2 videos of his 1987/8 travels in Finland, Helsinki Trams in
Aug 2015 and our recent five day 20 to 24 April railtour. ●1120] At Peatlands Park our members were
hauled by a 4-wheeled diesel hydraulic Alan Keef loco Works No44 built in 1993. ●1128] The SO
summer South Western Railway (SWR) trains to Corfe Castle are reported to be loading very well, no
doubt helped by the cheap fares on offer. They continue until 8 Sep. Reportedly, the reason for the
very late advertising of the first day (26 May) was finalising SWR track access rights to Corfe Castle.
1159] BLN Diary: With thanks to Lee Nash, his latest (16 Jun) railtour and heritage railway Diary is now
available for logged in members on our website. Go across the Home page blue top banner to 'More
options', then 'Latest diary'. A message is posted on our 'Forum' whenever a new Diary is released.
1160] Signal Box Quiz: With thanks to Angus McDougall - where are/were these 24 signal boxes?...
•Beet Factory •Fork Junction •Sod Hall (anyone know?)
•Bog Junction •Forks Junction •Subway Junction
•Brickyard Crossing •Goods and Mineral Junction •Swing Bridge East
•Common Branch Junction •Hospital Crossing •Tank Yard
•Concentration Sidings •Jubilee Sidings •Terminus Junction
•Crew Junction (sic) •Naval Base Junction •The Hall
•Exhibition Junction •North East Junction •Way and Works Sidings
•Fairlie High •Reception Sidings •Workshops
1306 EAST MIDLANDS (John Cameron) [email protected]
1161] Sinfin: From 15.00 on Fri 15 Jun, part of the enabling works for Derby re-signalling, the following
early works were due to take place: Sinfin No1 GF - No2b points were plain lined Sinfin No2 GF - No1a
points were plain lined. Point lever No1 was fixed 'normal' OOU. In practice these have all not been
used for years. Occasional trains of aviation fuel from INEOS Grangemouth Refinery to Rolls Royce Oil
Terminal are hauled Up the branch, propel in through the gate (130m 20ch) south of the former Sinfin
Central station platform, and draw discharged tanks out again, propelling back to Melbourne Jn.
1162] Spondon: NR has invited residents to find out more about the level crossing upgrade with Derby
resignalling. Crossing users will benefit from reduced waiting time, a shorter crossing as well as an
improved road alignment and pavement. The latest obstacle detection technology will replace manual
operation (using CCTV) of the crossing by a signaller. Spondon level crossing is to be closed to road
vehicles from Sat 14 Jul until Mon 8 Oct. The pedestrian footbridge remains open throughout and local
arrangements will be made to escort people with reduced mobility unable to use the footbridge.
1163] Skegness: Trains normally arrive and depart at P4. On Sat 9 Jun a 09.07 HST from Nottingham
used P4, arriving 11.27 then returned to Derby at 12.35. Reportedly ('Gensheet') it was primarily a
driver route training run but had become a passenger working at 00.10 that morning; as a result there
were very few passengers! Due to it occupying P4 the 09.55 DMU from Nottingham and 12.15 return
used P5. From 21 Jul until 8 Sep there is a summer SO HST arrival at 10.31 (08.24 from Nottingham
extended from/to Derby when the route is open) returning from Skegness at 11.40. Presumably it will
occupy P4 from 10.31 to 11.40 meaning the 08.40 from Nottingham and 11.15 return uses P5. There is
a second HST on Saturdays 21 Jul to 8 Sep at 09.43 from Nottingham in Skegness from 12.07 to 12.35
while the 09.43 DMU from Nottingham is in the station from 12.07 until 12.15, again P5 use is likely.
Members might like to note that both Skegness HSTs are 'declassified' with Standard Class tickets valid
in the First Class, and they call at Sleaford and Boston between Nottingham and Skegness.
1164] Derby: A member returning from our
'excellent' (quote) Sopwith Camel tour on Sun
10 Jun was alarmed on arrival at Derby to hear
from some passengers that the 22.21 last train
to Nottingham had been cancelled, which
would have been disastrous for him. However,
this turned out to be 'fake news' and the Class
153 DMU departed on time - from the soon to
be abolished Derby bay P5. (LEFT: Chris Davis)
Back home at Long Eaton he was able to let his
cat out in the garden for 30 minutes in the last
vestiges of daylight, which was very
harmonious - she had been very good,
tolerating his absence for one night.
1306 GREATER LONDON (Geoff Brockett) [email protected]
1165] Barking - Gospel Oak: (BLN 1304.1041) TfL has advised the line's user group that five peak hour
trains not in the timetable (but added weekly if a DMU and driver are available) will continue until the
new Class 710 EMUs are introduced. They are: ●06.53 Barking - South Tottenham, ●08.11 (a PSUL)
Barking - Willesden Junction LL, ●17.18 South Tottenham - Gospel Oak, ●17.37 Gospel Oak - Upper
Holloway & ●18.58 Barking - Upper Holloway. However the evening trains were cancelled on 12 Jun.
1166] Crossrail: (BLN 1305.1045) A new edition of the increasingly misnamed 'Tube Map' includes the
TfL Rail service between Paddington and Heathrow T4. In late May no further work had been carried
out at West Drayton and Hanwell. However at the latter the profusion of grey metal posts supporting
PA and CCTV equipment does not enhance the otherwise period atmosphere of this Grade II listed
station! Platform extensions were open at Acton Main Line, Ealing Broadway (P3), West Ealing,
Southall and Hayes & Harlington (P3/4). At Acton Main Line work on foundations for a new footbridge
with lifts and a new station building had started, with completion expected in Jan 2019. Platform
tickets show the name as 'Acton MainLine'. By late May testing of Class 345 EMUs using automatic
control at speeds of up to 60mph was taking place between Abbey Wood and Canary Wharf.
1167] Croydon Tramlink: (BLN 1289.1934) With very few sales, ticket machines will be withdrawn
from tram stops from 16 Jul, with additional validators for Oyster and contactless bank cards installed.
1168] Hackney Wick: (BLN 1274.262) The refurbished station was officially unveiled on 24 May,
although the public side of the subway will not open until late next year.
1169] HS2: (BLN 1305.1049) The new station at Old Oak Common is described as being the biggest
sub-surface station to be built in the UK, at around 1km long and 20m below ground with 6 platforms.
The surface-level station will have four platforms for the GWML and four for Crossrail. At Euston the
Back Road, severed Backing Out Road 2 and shunt neck remain OOU as part of the HS2 enabling work.
1170] Piccadilly Line: At South Kensington a new signalling and control centre was commissioned from
5 Jun, initially controlling between Cockfosters and Turnham Green. With no immediate prospect of
resignalling the line, it was felt desirable to establish a new control centre to replace the very cramped
one at Earl's Court. Once the remainder of the Piccadilly Line has transferred, this will continue to
control most of the District Line until closure as part of the Sub Surface Lines resignalling project.
1171] TfL Growth Fund: On 24 May the Mayor of London announced funding for various projects:
ꚚAn additional entrance and step-free access to the Victoria Line at Walthamstow Central.
ꚚA new station building and step-free access at Colindale.
ꚚA new southern entrance to Ilford station off Ilford Hill.
ꚚA third of the cost of double-tracking the Elmers End tram branch and providing a second platform.
1172] Thameslink: (BLN 1305.1046) Following difficulties with the new timetable, with large numbers
of cancellations, some Thameslink and GN trains were removed on 4 Jun, until driver route and type
training is completed. Some services are covered by replacement buses and standby buses are
available to cover unplanned cancellations, which have continued at quite a high level. The new
services between Peterborough and Horsham and Luton and Rainham are particularly badly affected.
1173] King's Cross: (BLN 1304.949) Signalling re-control from King's Cross PSB to York ROC proposed
with the station remodelling is only as far north as the Alexandra Palace/Bowes Park area and not as
previously stated. However, a new proposal is being consulted on by NR to transfer the remaining
control area as far north as Biggleswade and Royston to York ROC. This is intended to be by Sep 2019.
1174] Northern Line Microgricing: A cursory comparison of the temporary Northern Line timetable
(BLN 1305.1023) with the normal one (No57, BLN 1298.233) reveals significant microgricing impacts:-
●Golders Green P4 southbound arrivals: the SO civilised-time arrivals have gone and the remaining
..(SuX breakfast-time) ones have different running numbers.
..The world famous 19.20½ departure from Finchley Central P2 to Mill Hill East (BLN 1301.583 with
..pictures) survives, but the SuO arrival at Golders Green P3 via the Northbound Loop does not.
●Morden: Paradoxically, the more intensive service leaves P2 with a much reduced use SuX as Train
..Operators step back on the other two roads (figuratively speaking of course).
1306 NORTH EAST (Geoff Blyth) [email protected]
1175] Lines West of Consett (Part 1): (BELOW: Map thanks to Dave Cromarty.) Most of the course of
the historic and remote Stanhope & Tyne Railway west of Annfield Plain station (east of Consett, off
the map) OG 15 May 1834. Its purpose was to carry limestone from Stanhope in Weardale and also
coal from various points east of Consett to the River Tyne at South Shields, which could take larger
ships than Newcastle. It had no Act of Parliament but was built under the wayleave system, paying
each landowner a fee and often also a toll based on the traffic passing. The downside of this system
became apparent in Feb 1841 when the excessive payments drove the company into bankruptcy!
The payments across the moorlands west of Consett, around £25 per mile per annum, were
manageable but the £300 at the east end of the line was unsupportable. The company went through
various ownerships eventually becoming the property of the Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR).
RAILWAYS SOUTH WEST OF CONSETT
Not to scale. Please note that this sketch map is intended to help illustrate the accompanying article describing
the evolution of the railway system in the area, and not to represent a particular point in time.
KEY Hownes Gill To Consett
N Inclines viaduct
Passenger stations White Hall Jn
Whiteheaps Nanny Mayer's
Bolt's Law Waskerley BURNHILL
Parkhead Burnhill Jn Saltersgate
Weatherhill transhipment ammunition depot
To Wearhead STANHOPE TOW LAW
CSD To Bishop Auckland To Bishop Auckland
A complex series of branches at Crawley Side, above Stanhope on the 800ft contour, served various
quarries and lime kilns. A steep cable worked incline, 934yd long and on gradients varying between
1:8 and 1:12, took the line up to Crawley Engine (NY 994 406). Here, ropes were exchanged for a
longer incline, 1m 128yd long and on gradients varying between 1:12 and 1:32, to Weatherhill Engine
(NY 998 424), about 1,430 ft above sea level. It then ran unfenced across open moorland to Parkhead
(NZ 003 432) - at 1,445ft the highest point on British Railways in England - and Waskerley.
BELOW: The extremely remote Waskerley station (CP 2 Jul 1859!); SLS/RCTS North Eastern Railtour
29 Sep 1963 https://goo.gl/BW3Asw (a large supply of red pens was mandatory.) (Angus McDougall)
From here Nanny Mayor's (or Mayer's) Incline took the line down to Whitehall (or White Hall). Just
east of here the deep ravine of Hownes Gill was initially crossed by steep inclines each side, carrying
only one wagon at a time, until the 152ft high Hownes Gill viaduct opened 1 Jul 1858 (see map).
The S&DR had meanwhile extended north of the Bishop Auckland area to Crook, from where the
Weardale Extension Railway had OG 16 May 1845 and OP 1 Sep 1845 to Waskerley. Amazingly, a
passenger service was operated from Crook to both Crawley (for Stanhope; suggesting that
passengers were hauled up the inclines!) and Hownes Gill (extended to Carr House, east of Consett
from 1 Jul 1858), splitting at Waskerley. Unsurprisingly, the service was withdrawn for the winter west
of Waskerley. It resumed from 1 Apr 1846 but was withdrawn permanently later that year. A direct
curve from Burnhill Jn to Whitehall Jn OG 23 May 1859 and OP 4 Jul 1859. This enabled Nanny
Mayor's Incline to be abandoned, although trains for Weatherhill had now to reverse at Burnhill.
The even more remote Rookhope branch, opened in 1846 by the Weardale Iron Company, diverged to
the west at Parkhead on an embankment with a bridge over the B6278 removed decades ago. The line
climbed gradually along the southern flank of Horseshoe Hill, curving round from a westerly to a
southerly direction, before crossing the flank of Bolt's Law in a shallow cutting at about 1,660ft.
It terminated at Bolt's Law Engine (NY 949 442), from which an incline dropped for about 2,000yd at a
gradient of 1:12, steepening to about 1:6 at the bottom end in the village of Rookhope. Its purpose
was to carry iron ore and limestone from Rookhope to Tow Law Ironworks and pigs of lead to the
Tyne. Coal was carried in the opposite direction. About a mile short of Bolt's Law, a short-lived branch
to Whiteheaps (NY 955 464) diverged to the north. This was probably OG 1865 but had CA by 1883; no
trace of it was seen 120 years later in 2004. Sikehead Chimney, on this branch, is thought to be the one
mentioned by WH Auden (he of 'The Night Mail' fame) in his poem 'New Year Letter 1940':
……………………………………………………..The derelict lead smelting mill,
……………………………………………………..Flued to its chimney up the hill,
……………………………………………………..That smokes no answer any more
……………………………………………………..But points, a landmark on Bolts Law,
……………………………………………………..The finger of all questions.
A passenger service was provided between Parkhead and Bolt's Law Engine, using two very old
coaches, for the benefit of miners who were working in the Rookhope area. A recession in iron mining
and closure of the Tow Law and Tudhoe ironworks made the line uneconomic and it officially CA in
Mar 1923. However, supplies for the families living at Bolt's Law were still trundled over the line by
horse after this date and a battery powered open truck also traversed the line until about 1940,
carrying gentlemen clad in tweeds and in search of grouse - some people would get up to anything to
do an obscure line! The rails were lifted in 1943 to supply scrap metal for the war effort. It is possible
that an encounter with the above gentlemen by the dedicated enthusiasts who tramped these remote
lines in the 1930s was the origin of the word 'grice' (possibly the plural of grouse) - and hence 'gricer'.
It is thought that the 'gricers' of those far off days considered that each group was as mad as the other,
being out in questionable weather in remote locations difficult of access.
1176] Your BLN Etymology & History Section: https://goo.gl/BA3W37 From the history of the
Manchester Locomotive Society (MLS) where the word 'gricing' was in common use in 1938:
….Also two (MLS) members were responsible for introducing a new word into the vocabulary. The word
was 'gricer'. In those pre-war days they were holidaying in the North East (sic) and on 12th August
found themselves on the Durham moors in the Consett/Waskerley area. The story goes that two birds
were seen (whether they were grouse is not recorded) but as the date was the start of the grouse
shooting season it was decided that the plural of grouse was grice [it is actually 'grouse' or 'grouses'].
After that the word came into common use for a 'cop' or a loco seen for the first time and today it is in
the Chambers Dictionary, meaning 'a train spotter or railway enthusiast'... The Dictionary goes on to
say that the origin of the word is uncertain but it was two (MLS) founder members who coined it.
This German thesis preserves Richard Robson's explanation from a now defunct page for the Hursley
Park Model Railway Society: Why are trainspotters known as 'gricers'? In the mid-1950s, a small party
of Manchester railway enthusiasts were tracing the route of a long-abandoned mineral line in the bleak
Pennine moorland of County Durham. They came upon a shooting party and inquired of one another
what they were doing. 'Grousing' the shooting party replied in clipped upper-class tones. The railway
party replied that they, likewise, were 'gricing', and both went about their ways. Our member the late
John Salmon coined the term microgricing more recently and popularised the concept of directionality.
1177] Hartlepool: NR proposes to formally give the Hartlepool Docks branch from Lancaster Road Jn
(TRACKmaps Vol 2 p45A Oct 2016) at 72m 20ch 'Out of Use' status, thus saving on Business Rates and
maintenance. The branch junction point and the catch point may be removed. The branch, from the
junction at Clarence Road Signal Box (71m 70ch), OG 5 Apr 1860 and OP 13 Jan 1862 to the original
Stockton & Hartlepool Railway station (approx NZ 521 336), which CP 3 May 1880 on the OP of the
present station. Regular traffic ceased eastwards from Greenland SB (NZ 511 332) about Jan 1974.
The line northwards from Greenland SB also OG 1860 but was realigned about 1880 when an area of
mud flats known as the Slake was redeveloped as docks. Track had been removed from the entire
branch from Clarence Road by March 1994. However it was completely rebuilt from the new Lancaster
Road Jn on a new alignment slightly further west, rising up to cross over a roundabout on the A179 by
means of a new bridge and then dropping down to the dockside, terminating at approx (NZ 520 342).
This had only recently opened at the time of our 'Durham Coast' railtour on 12 Aug 2000, which is
thought to have been the only tour ever to do this line. It penetrated as far as the start of the climb up
to the bridge - somewhat further than it was supposed to! There was hope of a revival in traffic but,
although vanloads of imported pulp ran for a while, no further traffic materialised. The line has not
been used for several years and BLN 1250.256 reported in Feb 2016 that it was heavily rusted, with
saplings growing. Hartlepool in 1953 https://goo.gl/A79cg7 showing the incredible track layout.
1306 NORTH WEST (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
X.75] PEVIOUS PAGE LOWER & LEFT:
Blackpool North Tram Extension: Two
members kindly dug out these pictures
taken in May of Talbot Rd being dug up
for the extension revealing old tracks
beneath that had been tarmacked
over. (Alf Yates and c/o Graeme Jolley)
1178] Lime Street: (BLN 1305.10.25)
With current platform numbers. During
2-10 Jun (no passenger trains) work
included concrete foundations for the
P2/3 extension, OHLE re-wiring,
platform surfacing, and track drainage,
renewals with remodelling. P1 & 2
(only) ROP 11 Jun for Manchester
Victoria and Wigan NW/Blackpool
North services as planned - including
most weekends this time. During the
week beginning 11 Jun a member
confirmed that P2 was in use, via the
temporary 'trailing' crossover part way
along P1 & P2. The 'facing' crossover
from P1 remains as a facing single lead
(ie away from the buffer stops) just
beyond the present and original end of
P1. It will have to go as the new
alignment of the incomplete country
end of P2 is partly where the track and
the second half of the facing crossover
were. P1 has been resurfaced only to
the fouling point of the track
convergence from P2 (the 'trailing'
crossover, above). Beyond this, the
track from P2 stops with a sleeper
across the track. Directly ahead (away
from the buffer stops) on the alignment
of the previous track from P2 lies the
new wall under construction for the
edge of the London end of new P2. P3 and P4 are complete as far as the end of the overall roof with
new track, with ballast. P5 track was ballasted during the night of 11 Jun.
1179] Blackpool Trams: Due to increased operating costs all single fares (including buses) increased by
10p from 3 Jun. The 24 hour adult tram and bus ticket went up to £5.50 (£5.25 with the app) A 'One
Day' ticket is also £5.50 from a PayPoint or Travelshop! The one hour ticket is £3.20 (on vehicle or via
the App only). Other tickets are available for Adults, 16-19 year olds, Child, Family or Groups some for
longer periods. A 'Group24' (1 day) - up to 3 adults is £13, Dog £1. 'Family24' £12 (1A &4C/2A & 3C).
1180] Poulton-le-Fylde: The Royal Oak Hotel with its distinctive Victorian frontage was across the road
from the very first Poulton station which was on the original straight direct alignment of the Preston &
Wyre Railway from Preston to Fleetwood, and was the station hotel. The station itself OP 15 Jul 1840;
CP 1896 with realignment to ease the very sharp curve of the then 'Blackpool branch' and CG 1968.
The hotel closed as a pub several decades ago then lay empty, decaying but sustained fire damage
which weakened the structure. On the night of 12/13 June it finally met its fate and was demolished.
Six luxury flats are to be built, a 'facsimile' of the original building which was not safe to be retained.
1181] Stockport - Stalybridge: (BLN 1304.961) The stock for the 08.46 SO PSUL train from Stalybridge
and 09.45 return from Stockport now appears to be detached off, and attached to, Victoria trains with
no ECS shunts shown. It is the only passenger train booked to use Stalybridge P2 and Stockport P3A.
1182] Ashburys West Jn: From 18 Jun Signal AS894, on the Down Ashburys line at 0m 17ch, at the
toes of the new OOU facing crossover, was to be replaced with a new 3-aspect Dorman LED signal 88m
further away from the junction (towards Philips Park South Jn), at 0m 21ch. This new 20mph facing
crossover was to be brought into use to make two new routes possible. NR's website advise that this
work at Ashburys will help railway timetable flexibility by providing more access for trains in and out of
the train depot at Ardwick. Does this mean that TPE ECS workings from Victoria via Philips Park South
to Ardwick Depot can now reverse on either the Down Goods or Down Main at Ashburys? Previously
they went to Guide Bridge Up and Down Passenger Loop to reverse and back again to access Ardwick.
1306 SOUTH EAST - NORTH & EAST ANGLIA (Julian James) [email protected]
1183] Sizewell: (BLN 1303.850) The 'Mayflower' Charity Railtour on Sun 15 April was not the first train
for about 17 months over the very rusty branch (but may have been the first revenue earning train).
Ipswich Transport Society's Journals record that DRS ran two daytime 'path saving' trains last year, the
first on 11 Jan 2017 (37603 & 37605 running as 0L70 light engine); 00.54(?) from Crewe Coal Sidings
and 0M69 15.42 return. This was followed on 14 Jun 2017 by 37059, 37069 and one flat wagon in the
same paths (as 6L70/6M69). These presumably also maintained DRS Stowmarket driver route
knowledge. Although seldom used, the paths are still in the working timetable and explain why the
XX.17 pattern for Ipswich to Lowestoft services is broken by the '16.17' being a 15.54 (SSuX) starter to
avoid problems over the single line section between Saxmundham and Woodbridge. Plans for Sizewell
'C' Nuclear Power Station include an upgrade of the line to improve capacity for freight.
Other trains to traverse the Sizewell branch are the intermittent NR Ultrasonic Test Trains in the dead
of night. These 'railtours' run as 3Q72 about 20.55 (WO) with Colas Class 37s Norwich to Colchester via
Lowestoft etc. It is timed at Saxmundham from 01.21 to 02.06 (for a crew break) and 02.57 to 03.07
the next (Thursday) morning. Now whether or not all the trains actually traverse the branch or not is
difficult to confirm, but from a driver's report at least one did between 18 Jan and 20 Dec 2017. Finally,
NR's Sprinter test train 950001 definitely ran as 2Q08 22.30 from Colchester on 17 Mar 2017.
1184] Ipswich: The 15 Apr 'Mayflower' tour also traversed the full length of the Griffin Wharf branch
to a few feet from the buffer stops (0m 55ch). Flood defence works were expected to have temporarily
shortened the branch for installation of a concrete slab under the track, but this work was delayed.
1185] Colnbrook: With yet another announcement on 5 Jun that Heathrow's third runway will be built,
it should be noted that according to published plans the oil terminal at the end of the branch may
need to be relocated (shortening the line) as the new runway would sever the branch. It has to cross
the M25 first, but if that is accomplished, the railway, a bare 300m further west, is hardly likely to be
unaffected. An option would move the terminal up the branch to Thorney Mill. The existing Total Fuel
Depot site of about 3.7 acres is within Poyle industrial estate immediately west of the M25.
1186] Watford North Jn: The removal of the four crossovers permitting moves from the Up and Down
Slow at Watford Jn (P8 & 9) to the Up and Down Fast south of Watford Tunnels during extensive plain
line relaying in 2014 appears to be regretted, by TOCs at least. Whether reinstatement can be justified
is doubtful, NR had proposed to make the change permanent but the TOCs would like them reinstated.
1187] Cookham: Temporary facilities have been set up by GWR including a temporary booking facility
and covered waiting area, pending Network Rail addressing a serious dry rot issue in the building.
1188] Felixstowe: (BLN 1303.849) On 9 Jun the 04.45 from Hams Hall to Felixstowe North with 32
wagons reported striking a car at 11.14 between Derby Road and Trimley at Thorpe Lane AHB level
crossing (8m 41ch). Two people travelling in the car were removed with minor injuries. The loco had
forward facing CCTV capable of remote downloading. Police reported that the incident had been
declared non-suspicious, and that the car driver had been arrested, with the car reported as having
swerved around the lowered barrier. RAIB stated at 12.25 that they would not be attending, given that
the incident cause was crossing misuse. After minor loco damage was repaired the train left at 16.16
with 19 cancelled trains and 998 minutes delay to freight and passenger services resulting. There was
also the hospital and police attention to the car driver and passenger - all totally avoidable, of course.
1189] Cambridge North: A year after opening 320,000 passengers (well above target) have used the
station and over 10,000 now use it each week; a Costa Coffee shop is to open (the ultimate accolade).
1190] Buckhurst Hill: This Central Line station between Woodford and Loughton is now fully step-free
from street to platform following the installation of a ramp and the opening of additional entrances.
Portable ramps that can be positioned by station staff are also available making it step-free from
platform to train. As part of TfL's and the Mayor of London's commitment to make travel accessible to
everyone, there are now 74 step-free LU stations (of 270). TfL's £200M investment will mean that by
2022, over 100 stations will be step-free. Buckhurst Hill is the first of five stations on the eastern part
of the Central line to be made step-free; the others are Debden, Snaresbrook, South Woodford and
Newbury Park. [It is not mandatory when doing significant work at stations to make them step-free, so
this list does not necessarily reflect any programme of other work - Regional Editor.]
1191] Thameslink services: The new Thameslink timetable will bring many benefits, but has not been
universally well received - even when working as intended. Passengers from stations north of Hitchin
to those between Knebworth and Potters Bar have lost their direct service, and the deferment of one
of the Cambridge to Brighton services until December has left extended service intervals in the peak,
eg between 07.41 and 08.11 from Hitchin to Finsbury Park. At Baldock revised SSuX terminators from
King's Cross use Up P1 via the facing crossover (36m 37ch) in service on arrival, these being the 16.54
and hourly to 20.54 from King's Cross (except 19.57 instead of 19.54). They leave Baldock ECS.
1192] Iver - Twyford: (BLN 1298.256) At Twyford platform extension work was in progress on 3 Jun on
the Down Main and Up Main/Down Relief island with concrete verticals and some beams erected.
No work was visible at Iver, Langley, Burnham or Taplow. At the latter a new temporary footbridge at
the country end has been erected recently. Talking to the builder's (Murphy) staff there, it was to be
open by the start of June. The new bridge is already signed and has a roof across the level section over
the tracks, but not the stairs, which go to all three platforms and that on the Down Main side also into
the car park. The current London end bridge will then be demolished and concrete footings for the
new footbridge and lift can then be sunk. The target is to complete and open it by the end of the year.
1193] Reading - Didcot: (BLN1305.1063) On 31 May at Pangbourne both platform's country ends had
longitudinal beams on the horizontal cross beams perpendicular to the track. At Tilehurst the platform
extensions will be at London end but there continues to be little progress other than preparatory
digging. At Cholsey extensions to all four NR platforms at the country end are well under way.
The Down Main has only reached the traverse supports stage. At Didcot the Up Main/Down Relief
island is being extended considerably at the London end. Work has mostly reached the stage of
longitudinal beams sitting on transverse supports which are erected on vertical poles driven into the
ground.The Didcot Great Western Society main demonstration running line Eynsham station end
platform also appears to be having a country end extension. [Through IETs from Paddington perhaps‽]
1306 SOUTH WEST (Darren Garnon) [email protected]
1194] Stoke Gifford Siding (BLN 1294.2417) This and its signalling were reinstated for use from 10 Jun.
1195] Filton: (BLN 1305/1069) The Cardiff and Avonside Railway Society (CARS) has reported track
laying on the 'bank' from the Constable Rd overbridge on13 May. The 'Up relief' line has sleepers and
rails to Bonnington Walk near where a crossover was in position to the 'Down Relief' which has been
laid half-way in the opposite direction down the 'bank' (signal BL1586 stops progress [a red aspect?]
prior to its relocation). The points forming a trailing connection between the Down Filton and the
Down Bristol Parkway Relief (112m 17ch) have been secured in the normal position to further notice.
1196] Capital Saver 'CARS' also report the story that London resident Tom Church visiting a friend in
Bristol recently was very surprised at the single rail fare of £218 and successfully set out to beat this
total by travelling by road! He purchased a 1997 Honda Civic (135,000 miles on the clock) for £80 from
Gumtree with a valid MoT, six months road tax at £81.38, with 28 days temporary insurance cover at
£20.43 and £25.00 worth of fuel on the day for the 120 mile trip. The cost of his road journey was
£206.81. A GWR spokesman said that if Mr Church had left an hour later he would have saved £125!!
1197] Bath: From 3 Jun Bath West ground frame (107m 55ch) is temporarily OOU until further notice.
The access points have been plain lined with no access or egress to/from Westmoreland Sidings 1 & 2.
1198] Gunnislake: (BLN 1305.1121) A weekend of special events for the 50th anniversary of the Tamar
Valley line (and direct services between Gunnislake and Plymouth) kicked off on Fri 1 Jun. A cake was
cut on the 10.54 train from Plymouth as it crossed Calstock Viaduct to mark the 110th anniversary of
the Bere Alston - Gunnislake railway. On Sun 3rd, children up to age 15 could travel free on the line.
1199] Hele: From 29 May NR closed Station Rd Hele, between Cullompton and Cowley Bridge Jn until
Dec for flood alleviation work, not just for the railway, but also local homes and businesses. This is one
of the DfT's flood resilience schemes after the extreme flood disruption in 2012 and 2014. It involves
replacing part of Station Rd and the River Culm bridge leading to Devon Valley Mill with new structures
that allow more water to pass through them. The bridge was replaced during the recent Exeter St
Davids to Tiverton Parkway/Barnstaple line closure (12-14 Jun). Some land on the level crossing
approach is being regraded to provide better drainage. This will all reduce the number and severity of
flooding incidents. Meanwhile nearby Bradninch has lost its bus service for 7 months due to the road
closure; the blame is being attributed to NR! (Unfortunately Hele & Bradninch station CP 5 Oct 1964!)
1306 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH (Julian James)
1201] Stone Crossing: The level crossing at the
station has been closed following completion of a
new footbridge. The old crossing keeper's
office/box is now used by South Eastern Trains to
sell tickets on early shift SSuX, using a RPI PORTIS
successor device rather than a normal ticket
machine. The crossing area is securely sealed off
and on the Up line the planked crossing has
already been removed.
1202] Hove: On 21 May No 1 & 2 Up sidings were
to be electrified in Hove Yard (it is now very
unusual to have new third rail electrification
except in circumstances like this). The electrified
sidings which have been used for stabling for
many years are Nos3 to 6, also on the Up side.
LEFT: Guess the location: Answer on the next
page - item 1204. (Photo taken by tour Regional
Editor, Julian James a couple of years ago.)
1203] Surbiton - Guildford: By mid May platform extension work for 10-car trains was proceeding:
Hinchley Wood: London ends of the Y shaped island.
Oxshott: Country end extensions.
Cobham & Stoke d'Abernon: London end extensions.
Effingham Junction: Country end plus a short bit at London end on Down side.
Horsley: London end on Down side.
Clandon: London end on Down side.
1204] Brockenhurst; the end of an era: The out of use luggage traverser adjacent to the Up Passenger
Loop P1 at approximately 92m 62ch, and associated equipment will be temporarily removed on 17 Jun
for safety reasons until formal notification can be published to this effect. (Picture on previous page.)
1306 WEST MIDLANDS (Brian Schindler) [email protected]
1205] Evening All! Within West Midlands Zones 1-5 an adult only evening return is £2.50 (after 18.30).
1206] Leamington Spa: The 07.47 (SSuX) West Midlands Railways departure from here to Worcester
Shrub Hill has been observed to be a 6/5-car DMU. It starts from bay P4 about 1½ coaches (when a
6-car) length from the buffers, beyond the platform end with access via Selective Door Opening.
1207] Bescot: On 4 Jun residents staged yet another Not In My Back Yard (literally a Yard too!) protest
against NR plans for a new sleeper factory on Bescot Yard Down Side, as Engineers arrived to begin
surveying the site. The new plant will replace the previous facility at Washwood Heath which is being
closed to make way for HS2. Over 4,000 residents have signed a petition against the scheme due to
potential noise issues (although the site is next to the extremely noisy M6 Motorway near Junction 9)
but also that the plant may not be rail connected [This seems most unlikely - possibly 'fake news'‽].
1208] Washwood Heath: (BLN 1305.1073) Members travelling on the diversions on Sat 26 May advise
that the 10.41 from Nottingham to Cardiff at least did cross from Down Derby Fast to Down Derby
Goods at Washwood Heath West Jn before carrying on towards the Camp Hill Line and Lifford Curve.
1209] Long Marston: For the 'Rail Live' 2018 event at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre, connecting
return special trains were to run on Wed 21 & Thu 22 Jun from London Paddington (07.14) and
Reading reversing at Honeybourne Stratford Line Jn and booked to arrive Long Marston 10.19.
They consisted of LU's preserved 4TC set 'top & tailed' by a pair of NR Class 73/9 locos operated by
GBRf. The return was due at 14.54 reaching Paddington 17.37. Of note, they were booked to use the
Down and Up Main at Oxford (centre lines) and also, on return, Kennington Goods Loop south of
Oxford. The fare was £40 return online, but only available to bona fide industry staff booked to attend
the exhibition (applications to attend had to be approved by the organisers' vetting committee!).
Exhibits at the event were shown to include a Porterbrook Class 769 Flex EMU, a Class 345 Aventra
Crossrail EMU and the new Vivarail battery operated vehicle converted from the LT D78 stock.
The Vivarail Class 230 DMU did not appear to be running on the Long Marston branch unlike last year.
1210] Midland Metro: On Thur 7 Jun a tram leaving Jewellery Quarter for Wolverhampton at about
19.00 brought down one end of some overhead insulating joints (Section Breakers), pulling them away
from their connectors. While it was recovered, trams were only able to run between Wolverhampton
and Winson Green later extended to St Chads (was the Wolverhampton end trailing crossover in use
there - has it been commissioned finally?). From Fri 8 to the end of service on Mon 11 Jun the service
was split to avoid the damaged section and allow repairs to be made. For most of the day trams ran
from Wolverhampton with single line working after Winson Green, using the trailing crossover on the
Birmingham side of the stop towards Jewellery Quarter. Passengers changed to the other platform
there for a shuttle to/from Grand Central with single line working to St Pauls, taking the trailing
crossover before that stop to regain the usual track. Two trams were involved in this. To improve the
frequency they returned from Grand Central arrival platform over the trailing crossover, saving time
by not going in to the headshunt beyond. Normal service resumed on Tue 12 Jun but for a few days it
had been possible to do three unusual crossovers within an hour and many did thanks to 'Gensheet'.
1211] Wolverhampton: The new station nameboards show City of Wolverhampton with West
Midlands Railway branding since they took over managing the station at Easter. It is due to be
demolished for redevelopment. West Midlands Railway has applied to operate over Crane Street Jn to
Portobello Jn for their second hourly stopping service between Birmingham New Street and
Shrewsbury which is intended to run via Aston and Bescot and ultimately serve the two new stations
at Willenhall and Darlaston. They would also have a Wolverhampton to Walsall service.
1212] Wolverhampton Steel Terminal: (BLN 1303.869) By 11 Jun the steel framework for the new
building had been erected and the roof installed [this is not a complete fabrication]. Some rails were in
a pile inside. The building is slightly longer than the existing building and makes an impressive sight
from passing trains. It will have two internal tracks and another two separate it from the existing
building. A press release implies that the DB Cargo terminal will be renamed 'Wolverhampton Logistics
Centre' reflecting the desire of the operator to encourage additional and alternative traffic flows.
1306 YORKSHIRE & NORTH HUMBERSIDE (Graeme Jolley; Geoff Blyth for North & East Yorks)
1213] Skipton - Colne: (BLN 1301.636) A project development team is exploring how best to extend
the thriving Airedale Line into depressed East Lancashire with a passenger service linking Leeds and
Bradford to Pendle and Burnley in under an hour, with a new trans-Pennine freight route. However,
the Skipton East Lancs Rail Action Partnership suggestion of trains running by 2022 seems optimistic.
1214] Scarborough: (BLN 1296.69) Potential problems for charter train operators posed by the TPE
plan to provide new stabling and servicing facilities for Class 68 hauled trains on the site of the former
Appleton Associates oil terminal have been satisfactorily resolved. This is now an established Network
Change and the necessary work can now be undertaken. However, track work was supposed to take
place between Jan and Apr, outside the core charter train season, and open in Jul, with the new trains
introduced in the autumn. It has been reported that they will start after the Liverpool blockade.
1215] Derwent Valley [Light] Railway (DVLR/DVR) - the sequel: (BLN 1305.1080) In 1973 the DVLR's
directors decided to change the name to the Derwent Valley Railway as they did not think the word
'Light' was a fitting image for the railway. After nearly 60 years of its existence, as from 23 March 1973,
the word 'Light' was therefore dropped. Two members have provided comprehensive information,
enhancing and correcting some of the history given in BLN 1304.981.
The railway opened for freight from Cliff Common to Wheldrake on 29 Oct 1912 (reported in the
'Leeds Mercury' 30 Oct 1912). At the outset traffic would have been agricultural produce and it was
the wish to start moving the 1912 season's traffic that prompted the earlier opening of the southern
section. On Sat 19 Jul 1913 a special train for directors and VIPs performed a ceremonial opening,
although public services did not start until Mon 21 Jul 1913 (Yorkshire Post 2 Jul 1913).
During summer 1928 a number of public excursions were run between Layerthorpe (York) and
Skipwith (not Cliff Common), for blackberry picking - and proved very popular. Press reports exist of
such trips on August Bank Holiday Mon 6 Aug and Thur 20 Sep 1928. It is by no means certain that
these were the only such trips that year, although these were stated to be the first passenger trains
since Sep 1926, so it was clear that there had been none previously. It is not clear how these were
publicised as our member has found no adverts (or any contemporary press references to such trips in
subsequent years) when searching the on-line press archives. [Not good for contemporary gricers.]
He remarks that 'one can hardly think putting leaflets in the rack at Layerthorpe station would have
produced many takers!' It seems light railways had little faith in the power of press advertising.
The great majority of freight would have been for exchange with the NER; other than perhaps some
for York, there would surely have been hardly any traffic intermediately between DVLR stations. Most
produce would be going south to markets; inward traffic such as fertiliser and coal probably also came
from the south, leaving little for exchange at Foss Islands Jn.
Although Cliff Common NER was a 'normal' station, the DVLR station was never a goods or parcels
station in its own right; its purpose was purely the exchange of freight traffic with the NER (and later
LNER/BR). SJ Reading (a DVLR manager) stated in his 1967 Oakwood Press book that no traffic had
been exchanged there regularly since 'about 1962'. This gives credence to a date of 1 Nov 1961 for
cessation of regular traffic south of Skipwith.
Wheldrake - Skipwith was 'worked', which presumably meant 'available for traffic if offered' up to
(and including) Thur 31 Dec 1964. It is not known when the last train actually ran over that section.
As stated, the Abandonment Order was effective ('made' by the Ministry of Transport) from 9 Feb
1965. The abandonment order for Elvington - Wheldrake was made on 24 May 1968 rather than 1969.
[See page after next, with thanks to Richard Maund.] As stated, the line was abandoned south of
Elvington 18 May 1969 and to Dunnington 30 Sep 1972. The last train to Elvington ran 22 Jun 1972
with the track lifted past Dunnington in the Aug and Sep.
The last train beyond Layerthorpe was a 'DVR Farewell' passenger special for the BR Staff Association
Railway Society on Sun 27 Sep 1981. It was hauled by DVR No1 'Lord Wenlock' (ex-BR class 04 D2298).
By then the track into Dunnington station was lifted, so the train had to run into the goods yard.
With no run round facility there Yorkshire Grain Driers' 0-4-0 DM 'Churchill' loco released the stock.
Foss Islands Goods (British Rail) CA 6 Jun 1984 and the track beyond Foss Islands Jn (the junction with
the DVR) was lifted by June 1986 except a modest section of track at the north end of the depot.
This was retained as an engine release loop as there were no rounding facilities on the surviving stump
of the DVR. The quoted four trains of fuel oil per month to the DVR was no doubt an average for the
year as demand for heating oil is of course lower in the summer. On the last working of 23 Jan 1989
('official' CA from Burton Lane Jn was 31 Dec 1988!), 08662 brought in tanks mid-morning and
returned immediately light engine. It made a second foray in the afternoon to collect the empties,
departing Layerthorpe about 16.10. The line was definitively closed sometime between 16.15 and
16.20 (!) and the DVR track beyond the boundary gate lifted within a couple of days. The final
passenger train on the branch from Burton Lane Jn was the 16.37 SX Rowntree's Halt to Sheffield of
8 Jul 1988, run for the benefit of workers at the Rowntree chocolate factory living south of York (not
advertised to the public between Rowntree's Halt and York) - with three season ticket holders latterly.
1216] Hebden Bridge: NR is carrying out improvements including track and signalling upgrades, a
platform extension, enlarging the car park and the installation of lifts on both platforms.
1217] Dent: https://goo.gl/6NnFHi (with 14 pictures, description and floor plan). For sale (offers over
£425k) for only the third time since being built in 1877 on the legendary Settle to Carlisle railway line,
at 1,150ft Dent is England's highest mainline railway station. The classic Victoria station property has
undergone a sympathetic restoration and has been available for holiday rental since 2007. There are 6
trains to Leeds and 8 (!) to Carlisle SuX, with six each way summer Sundays (one to Blackpool North).
ABOVE: When trains were longer but there were far fewer of them… The 'Thames Clyde Express'
northbound (London St Pancras to Glasgow Central formerly to St Enoch - via Leicester, Leeds,
Carlisle, Dumfries and Kilmarnock) passing Dent station on 26 Mar 1975 with Class 45 45032. The
station CP 4 May 1970 and ROP 14 Jul 1986; at the time of the photo Settle and Appleby were the only
intermediate stations open for passengers intermediately on the Settle & Carlisle line. (Ian Mortimer)
1306 IRELAND (Martin Baumann) [email protected]
1218] Portrush: An artist impression of the redeveloped station provided by Translink suggests the
buffers on P1/2 will be moved. Confirmation will have to wait for completion of the work next year.
1219] NIR loops: Until 1 Sep an additional 09.40 (SO) Belfast Central to Portrush runs and is scheduled
to use Killagan loop as is its return at 18.30 (SO) from Portrush. The 17.38 Londonderry to Great
Victoria Street (GVS) running late used Templepatrick loop on 28 May crossing the 19.10 from GVS.
1220] Enterprise: Irish Rail and NIR have resurrected hopes to run an hourly Belfast-Dublin service
with a 90 min journey time and new stock. No timescale was indicated in Translink press release.
1221] Dart: Irish Rail has plans to introduce a 10-minute interval DART service, effectively doubling the
number of train paths required which will make current journey times very difficult to achieve.
1222] One Track Mind: On Sat 9 Jun single line working operated over the Up Line between
Portarlington Cork end facing crossover and Portlaoise Dublin end facing crossover.
1223] Ballina - Waterford: The last freight ran on Tue 5 Jun. The service was ended by Det Forenede
Dampskibs-Selskab (DFDS) logistics as it was no longer viable despite the best effort of all concerned.
1224] Weeding out the old rolling stock: On 6 Jun GM loco 082 worked the Irish Rail weedspray train
from Rosslare Strand to Waterford. This could be the last actual train on the line as the vehicles are to
be withdrawn this year and replaced by a modified MPV (multi purpose vehicle) built in 2009.
1306 SCOTLAND (Mike McCabe) [email protected]
1225] Largs: (BLN 1233.1927) The vacant trackbed adjacent to P2 now accommodates a community
garden established by local volunteers Largs Organic Garden, in Jan 2017 under ScotRail's 'Adopt a
Station' program. Besides the floral stuff, it includes a slabbed path, fully accessible to wheelchairs,
and the bow of a Viking longboat (the Battle of Largs 2 Oct 1263 is relevant). Over 275 ScotRail stations
are part of 'Adopt a station' ranging from garden displays to charity bookshops, art galleries and model
railway clubs. With only one electrified track from Ardrossan the Largs service is constrained and P2,
by the station building, is used by most services. However, trains are able to follow each other through
the single-line section. This mostly happens at peaks, when the second train uses Largs P1, currently:
From Largs P1: 07.22 SSuX; 08.54 SuO & 19.52 SuX. Ex-Glasgow Central 17.49 & 18.50 SuX & 23.15 SO.
1226] Routes & Branches: Many members joined this Scottish Railway Preservation Society (SRPS)
loco hauled 7-coach tour advertised in BLN. It was certainly different from their normal tours, was fully
booked and covered about 600 miles. Friday evening 1 June was an electric hauled run over the
recently energised Edinburgh Waverley to Glasgow Queen Street (HL) line (86401 with 37025 'top &
tail'). Overnight, lines were visited that cannot all be done in the day now: Ayr, Largs, Larkhall, Balloch
and Helensburgh concluding with an electric-hauled run via Airdrie and Bathgate back to Edinburgh.
Saturday 2 Jun began with 86401 to North Berwick; PREVIOUS PAGE: - did you recognise the station?
(Angus McDougall), returning via Monktonhall Jn and Millerhill where the electric loco was exchanged
for 37403. Then it was off to Brunstane and Waverley, continuing round the Edinburgh Suburban Line
to Niddrie West Jn and Portobello Jns. The Leith Docks branch was taken to Leith South Yard (over 2½
miles from the junction), reversing in the sidings just short of the NR boundary shown on TRACKmaps
Vol 1 p11A (Nov 2017). The once extensive lines (and those beyond) are clearly OOU as shown. Coal
was imported and blended here in Feb 2016. There is still pipe traffic for coating and a Switch and
Crossing facility is rail served near the junction. Return was via the Suburban line to Gorgie Jn and then
over the Forth Bridge to reverse in Townhill Down Goods Loop.
Next was the Fife Circle via Inverkeithing North Jn - East Jn, avoiding the station, Kirkcaldy, Cardenden
and Dunfermline Town. Here the tour was delayed by an hour (which was not made up by Queen
Street) due to a failed unit at North Queensferry. The line through Longannet and past Alloa to Stirling
was taken and the track seemed very good throughout. South of Larbert the tour was diverted via
Cowlairs East Jn to North Jn and Maryhill instead of via Mossend and Sighthill to try to regain time.
The new Dawsholm Jn to Knightswood South Jn link was taken at Anniesland round to Queen Street
Low Level. Hyndland (Whiteinch) West Jn to North Jn curve was not possible ('for pathing reasons').
The evening 'Neilston or Bust' trip used Coatbridge Sunnyside chord to reach Mossend Yard from
where four coaches ran to Neilston. It went past the station to the now much truncated reversing
siding. The SRPS believe it to be the first loco-hauled passenger train to Neilston since 2 Apr 1962!
Back at Mossend the three coaches were reattached and the tour ran through to finish at Bo'ness.
1227] Pitlochry & Aviemore: (BLN 1302.783) NR has awarded Siemens the £20M re-signalling contract
due for completion in Mar 2019 in conjunction with platform extensions at Pitlochry and extension of
the loop north at Aviemore. Three private level crossings near Pitlochry will be 'upgraded' with further
work at Inverness, Kincraig and Slochd. This should enable an hourly service over the section from
Perth and Inverness to be introduced, with an overall reduction of journey time by 10 minutes.
1228] West Calder: The station's new £2.7M, fully-accessible footbridge and lifts opened in April.
The old bridge was removed by a 130 tonne crane in three sections and will find a new home on the
Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway. Construction by Bam Nuttall, took 10 months from a purpose-built
compound (initially for electrification clearance work on the A71 road bridge, completed early 2017).
1229] Rutherglen: (BLN 1305.1095) Preparing for the Polmadie & Rutherglen Renewals commissioning
(16 Jul) with remodelling, the trailing crossover on the Up Slow at Rutherglen East Jn to access the Civil
Engineer's [who is very polite] Depot, was taken OOU on 16 Jun. The Depot will be OOU until 30 Jul.
A new set of trailing points was installed OOU in this Depot on 17 Jun. The OHLE of the facing
crossover (Rutherglen East Jn Up to Down Slow lines) has been removed, ready for remodelling.
1230] Dingwall (BLN 1214.1222) On the Kyle line, Dingwall Middle crossing (0m 67ch), where the line
crosses the A862, is protected by a single barrier on each carriageway and Dingwall No1 (0m 57ch) on
Craig Rd, is an open crossing. Both have regular trespass incidents and close calls. They are to be
upgraded to full barrier crossings with traffic lights, two single lane barriers each side of the crossings
and an obstacle detection system. Vegetation clearance and ground preparation has been taking
place, prior to installation and testing of the new equipment, which requires two week road closures.
1231] Broughty Ferry: (BLN 1252.512) A 24 Mar journey revealed that the Up platform which was so
low at its north end that your Correspondent had to board a Class 170 backside first a couple of years
ago, has been brought up to an acceptable height. Contact with ScotRail at the time has borne fruit.
1232] Dalmuir: At 18.00 on 9 Jun the Yoker West signaller advised that the pump alarm had activated
for Dalmuir twin tunnels affecting the Up and Down Yoker lines. Concurrently the driver of the 17.26
Helensburgh Central to Edinburgh, reported flowing water above the railhead, and possible dislodged
ballast. As a result the lines were blocked. Services were started/terminated at Garscadden/Partick.
P'Way were on site at 19.13 and reported that the pumps were working, however, the track was
flooded with 8-10ft of water. P'Way staff further reported that a boundary wall (about 60ft x 10ft) had
collapsed onto the tracks, and that the return conductor had dipped and was under water.
Due to the water levels staff were hampered in carrying out a full assessment. By 02.53 temporary
fencing had been erected to replace the boundary wall. At 04.22 the Track Section Manager reported
that the return conductor was broken, and the collapsed boundary wall rubble was spread between
the six foot and the Down cess. Services were diverted via Singer. By 08.58 on 10 Jun, all units had left
Yoker Depot enabling the booked timetable to be delivered. A daylight inspection after the floodwater
had receded at 11.04 revealed that debris clearance was needed and 20m of ballast had been washed
away exposing the sleepers. By 04.00 (11 Jun) all debris had been cleared, re-ballasting completed, and
the Return Conductor rectified. Normal working resumed. This was the worst of several local incidents
1233] Glasgow Airport: (BLN 1225.202) Will it, won't it, will it join the network? Plans for a rail link
remain on hold as councillors spend £500K* to address concerns over the project. A report to the City
Deal committee stated Capacity on the existing rail network for a rail-based solution (eg tram train) for
improving surface access to the airport has consistently been highlighted as a key risk to the project.
The work includes evaluating passenger demand for a rail service. It will review the economic benefits,
impact on rail operations and any mitigation. Plans for an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District
close to the airport and the new National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland will create thousands of
new jobs in the area. The report states: The opportunity to provide a sustainable transport link to this
area is viewed as a key opportunity. This will be fully explored to ensure these opportunities are taken
into account and included in the work to revisit the business case for the project. The aim is to address
the issues in 2017's Transport Scotland report and allow Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils to move
forward with the project; should it require any additional cash it will have to come from the two
council's budgets. [*So the meter is still ticking with little progress to show for the money spent.]
1234] Montrose: During the £4.2M South Esk Viaduct refurbishment shrapnel marks and bullet holes
on the structure consistent with bombing and a strafing attack/s by the Luftwaffe during WWII have
been discovered. It was during the survey of the 16 span 21ch long viaduct that the damage was
revealed on Span 3. Some holes had previously been patched over, while others of less of a concern
will be addressed during the project. Montrose was bombed 15 times during WWII with South Esk
viaduct attacked on several occasions. It is thought the damage is most likely to have occurred during a
raid on the bridge in Aug 1941 when a freight train was attacked; several wagons were damaged and
derailed when a bomb exploded below. The bridge was repaired and services resumed in just 14 days.
1306 WALES .(NEW REGIONAL EDITOR: Chris Parker). [email protected]
New Postal address: 7 Three Trees, Station Road, Whittington, Oswestry, SY11 4DE.
1235] Introducing Chris Parker, your new BLN Wales Regional Editor: Now aged 62, I was born on
the same day as Phil Oakey of the 'Human League'. There any similarity most definitely ends - so
much for astrology! My birthplace was the railway town of Oswestry in north Shropshire, five miles
from the Welsh border, and I have lived for most of my life in the nearby village of Whittington
where the now closed section of the Cambrian main line used to cross above what was then the
Paddington - Birkenhead ex-Great Western Railway (GWR) main line. We had a station on each -
High and Low Level respectively - and therefore two station master's houses but after 1924 only one
station master with dual responsibility. Unfortunately they both closed to passengers in the space of
a few months when I was only 4 years old (the Cambrian 4 Jan1960 and the GWR 12 Sep 1960).
Some of you will know me as the Railway Ramblers (RR) Wales area coordinator, so it's ironic that
my railway interest stems from the busy roads and relative shortage of footpaths in said village. The
road linking the two stations led to one of the few footpaths which continued under the Cambrian
then crossed the GWR line on the level.
The stile on the near side of the crossing made an excellent vantage point for watching trains on
both lines in style and when I was an infant mum decided that this was one of the few safe places to
take me for a walk and 'look for trains'; naturally it was also popular with spotters!
The interest stayed with me but while I did collect numbers for a while the general railway activity
and environment was always the main appeal. However, other than local trips to and from Oswestry
on the 'Gobowen Flyer' in its final years, family travel was usually by road and apart from visiting
preserved lines during holidays, mostly Welsh narrow gauge, it wasn't until I went away to college in
Cardiff in 1973 that I started travelling by rail to any extent. After graduating I joined the Civil
Service and remained in Cardiff till 1981 when I returned to Shropshire. By that time I had joined
both the BLS (in Jul 1978) and Railway Ramblers and covered most of the lines in Wales and the
South West thanks to rail rover tickets and railtours, together with many in the rest of England and
Scotland. Trips back down to South Wales continued with the legendary spring and autumn
Monmouthshire Railway Society DMU tours always being highlights. However, unlike many people I
also enjoyed main line steam specials so long as the identity of the loco rendered the often
repetitive itinerary immaterial! This has remained the case ever since but when the number of
interesting tours dwindled the railway (trackbed) rambling helped fill in some of the geographical
gaps. You'll have gathered from all of this that my gricing has always remained at Baker level!
The Welsh connection continued as I worked in Wrexham from 1981 until retirement in 2015. Since
then I've been able to devote more time to RR and copies of many of the Wales walk descriptions
can be found on the BLS website; RR always welcomes new members! I still live within sight
(through bathroom window) of the Shrewsbury - Chester line which now in effect forms part of the
Marches Line and falls within the Wales & Borders franchise area and for BLN purposes is Included
in Wales. In reality only the Chirk - Pulford section lies in Wales, about one third of the route
mileage but including three of the four intermediate stations. I recently became a committee
member of its user group which may in itself prove a source of BLN material. With the new
franchise due to begin on 14 October it's an interesting time for both organisations.
My other interests include trail walking, theatre, live music with a bias towards Celtic and
contemporary folk music and I also have a sizeable garden to try to maintain.
Right, hopefully that's the worst task out of the way; now I look forward to receiving your
contributions. I'm very pleased to report that the first substantial one has come from my
predecessor, Paul Jeffries. I sincerely hope that his current medical treatment goes well and I
promise not to stand in his way if he would ever like the job back. Diolch yn fawr! (Chris Parker)
1236] Thank You! To our secret locum, your General Secretary Tim Wallis, for covering Wales in the
interregnum since Paul Jeffries stepped down after BLN 1299 and a big welcome to Chris Parker [Ed].
1237] Rhyl: According to local press reports, plans are progressing to restore a railway bridge over the
Afon Clwyd at the former Foryd Jn (once for the Vale of Clwyd Railway to Denbigh CP 19 Sep 1955;
CA 1 Jan 1968), west of Rhyl, for use by cyclists and walkers. It is immediately south of the currently
used railway bridge on the Chester - Holyhead line and west of the Marine Lake, home to Rhyl
Miniature Railway. The bridge has been redundant since the end of quadruple track when Foryd
Junction signal box closed in Sun 31 May 1970. Our new Regional Editor remembers the rusty rails
beneath Marsh Road footbridge then. The bridge would provide a safe route to cross the river away
from very busy roads as well as linking existing cycle routes. NR described a recent site meeting of
interested parties including the constituency MP and Welsh Assembly Member as 'very positive'.
Engineers from NR, Conwy and Denbighshire councils will now assess the bridge's present condition.
1238] Cardiff Bay branch to end with a 'Flourish': Transport for Wales (TfW) published details of the
new KeolisAmey 15 year rail franchise's objectives on 4 Jun. See https://goo.gl/Lp1tM7 with plenty of
'jam tomorrow' and many questions unanswered, they are certainly ambitious. Some highlights:
●£738M investment in electrifying and upgrading the Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr lines
('Central Metro'). New Metro vehicles introduced by Dec 2022. Tri-mode (overhead electric, battery
diesel) Class 769 trains (Class 319 EMUs) to Rhymney, Penarth, Barry Island & Bridgend by Dec 2023.
●£800M investment in DMUs from 2023; over half the trains assembled in Wales (by CAF at Llanwern).
●Nearly £200M to be spent on modernising 'all 247 stations on the network' (count them!).
●At least five new stations are to be built, four in Cardiff: Gabalfa (south of Llandaf), Crwys Road
(south of Heath), Loudoun Square (north of Cardiff Bay) and The Flourish (a two platformed terminus
of a 400m 'on street' extension of the Cardiff Bay branch near the Wales Millennium Centre, taking its
name from the adjacent fountains). The fifth is a relocation of Trefforest Estate to a site further south,
to better serve (via a new footbridge over the Taff) the new Department of Work and Pensions offices
and Coleg y Cymoedd college. These are additional to the already announced Bow Street on the
Cambrian line between Borth and Aberystwyth, but are modest proposals by comparison with the
various previous versions such as https://goo.gl/tcgjM9 of the South Wales Metro Map.
●Sunday services: 294 extra across Wales from Dec 2019 with earlier starts on most routes.
●Delay Repay for delays of over 15 min from Jan 2019.
●Pacer trains to be 'removed' by Dec 2019; sadly this may only be true of their toilets (BLN 1304.992).
●New additional maintenance depot https://goo.gl/6McVFu for Metro trains at Taffs Well.
●Other stock changes by or during 2022: New DMUs on the North Wales Coast and Cambrian lines;
refurbished Class 170 (from East Anglia) 2-car DMUs on the Heart of/Central Wales line.
●Wrexham - Bidston line (now termed 'North Wales Metro') 2 trains per hour (tph)from Dec 2021
using 'refurbished metro trains' ie Class 230s converted from ex-Underground D78 stock by Vivarail
(A Vivarail press release states that these will be hi-spec 3 car diesel/battery hybrids and will also be
used on Conwy Valley and Chester - Crewe services; however there are only to be five in total so we
can expect the Conwy Valley to continue to suffer from stock shortages. It is also believed that a
platform extension or selective door opening will be required at Wrexham Central!)
●Halton Curve: Dec 2018 1 tph Liverpool Lime St - Chester; Dec 2022 1 tph Liverpool - Llandudno
Shrewsbury (presumably dividing at Chester) and two-hourly Liverpool - Chester - Wrexham - Cardiff.
●Class 67s and 12 refurbished ECML Mk IV coaches: Cardiff - Wrexham - Holyhead 3 each way SSuX.
According to a separate report published in the 'Western Mail', service aspiration 'by 2022' is 4 tph
from each of Treherbert (TRB), Aberdare (ABA) and Merthyr (MER), giving 12 tph hour south of
Pontypridd, with journey times to Cardiff Queen Street reduced to 46 minutes from TRB, 43 min from
ABA and 44min from MER (but it doesn't say how!). 2 tph from Merthyr will run through to Cardiff
Bay. The Coryton branch service is to remain 2 tph, with consideration (but no franchise commitment)
given to an extension to the new Velindre Hospital. Electrification will cover 80% of Central Metro, but
not under bridges and tunnels. There will be 36 tram trains featuring battery power for non-electrified
sections, including Ninian Park to Queen Street, hopefully with lessons learned from Sheffield!
All stock will carry TfW branding and red and white livery irrespective of any franchise changes (there
are 5 and 10 year opt-out clauses). All second hand stock will be fully refurbished. The absence of
green is surprising and aesthetically disappointing, particularly to anyone who remembers the Valley
Lines livery of early privatisation years. There is some doubt as to whether the franchise transfer will
go ahead on the due date of 14 Oct; an extension of up to 9 months for ATW is thought possible.
1239] Tunnel Vision! (BLN 1304.988) By Maurice Dart: The first time I traversed the Rhondda Tunnel
was Wed 4 Sep 1957 on the 5.34pm Aberavon Town to Treherbert hauled by 82034 (a 2-6-2 Swindon
built tank engine then less than six years old). It was a dire day of thick, heavy rain but I tried to
photograph the tunnel as we left Blaengwynfi station. The very inclement weather resulted in masses
of thick smoke and steam from the loco with the portal almost totally obscured by rain. My next trip
was Fri 10 Nov 1967, an exceptional day which so rarely occurs. The 10.10 3-car DMU was caught from
Cardiff Queen Street to Treherbert reached at 11.13. [Interestingly in the year 2018 trains still take 63
minutes for the 22½ miles!]
There was a 'bubble car' in the station and I ambled round finding an ideal position (which involved
kneeling on the platform) to take a photo to include the DMU, 'bubble car' and some signals and
gantries. Several railwaymen appeared heading towards the trains passing in front of the camera so
patience was required! I boarded the single car DMU, the 12.28 to Maesteg (a 75 minute
'connection'!). On departure the guard checked my ticket then sat with the driver in the cab. Shortly
he returned and asked if I would like to join the driver up front. I did not hesitate and the crew were
most friendly. This gave a cab ride through the Rhondda Tunnel and I was able to take photos
approaching the portal and as we emerged at Blaengwynfi. Having told the driver that I wished to
follow the Abergwynfi branch (CP 13 Jun 1960; coal trains from Avon Colliery beyond continued until
29 Sep 1969) his advice was 'go up the bank, through the fence and walk up the track'.
After photographing the tunnel I set off to Abergwynfi and discovered the Great Western Hotel where
a couple of drinks and some crisps were consumed before returning down the branch. Before I had left
the DMU the driver had told me to walk along the track to Cymmer Afan station where he would pick
me up later on his next trip back to Treherbert. I stayed on the track for quite a distance, taking
several photos including Cymmer Gelli Tunnel (closed to rail traffic 13 Jun 1960 when two BR
connections diverted traffic from the Rhondda & Swansea Bay line on to and off the adjacent Llynvi &
Ogmore Railway Abergwynfi branch). Then I 'chickened out' and took to the road, photographing
Cymmer Gelli Viaduct (rather than walking along it) and D6889 (latterly 37672) - then less than 4 years
old - with empty coal wagons to Abergwynfi. The DMU then passed towards Cymmer so I speeded up.
There was an inspector at the station who approached me as I descended to the platform and asked
why I had not stayed on the track as the driver has been looking for me!! He ushered me into the cab
and we set off at 15.06. So a cab ride through Cymmer Tunnel to Caerau followed. I told the driver
that I wanted to have a look at the National Coal Board (NCB) line to Maesteg, so he dropped me near
Coegnant Colliery (!). He advised me to 'walk up the bank, go through the fence and I would find some
locos'. 0-6-0 steam locos 'NORMA' and 'LINDA' were both shunting at the colliery and the pyrotechnics
on the very steep gradients were amazing. Both set off down the bank south to Maesteg followed by
me as darkness fast approached. I found my way to the NCB Maesteg Deep shed which had five locos
then made for the town. I had missed the last train to Bridgend (considerably earlier in those days
than now) but luckily found a bus to Cardiff General (now Central) from where the 19.00 DMU took
me to Queen Street. I walked the short distance to the hotel for a much needed good meal.
BELOW: Llanybydder, the old station buildings - see next item. (Chris Parker 9 May 2018).
ABOVE: The derelict Pont Llanio dairy on 9 May 2018 (Chris Parker). BELOW: Over 57 years earlier, our
Milk Branches tour at the station on 12 Sep 1970 (a joint tour with the Wirral Railway Circle) note the
milk wagons https://goo.gl/pidtt2 also from the road bridge - compare and contrast. (Andrew Smith)
1240] Carmarthen - Aberystwyth: Between Pencader Jn (for the Newcastle Emlyn branch) and
Lampeter at Llanybydder (railway spelling Llanybyther) (SN 527 444),the station building and goods
shed survive as the club house/social club of the village rugby club despite their playing field being
some distance away. Further on past Lampeter and Aberayron Jn (unsurprisingly junction for the
Aberayron branch!) Pont Llanio (SN 6520 5698) was the northern terminus of the then freight line
after 22 Feb 1965. The heavily overgrown single platform survives intact with the derelict milk
factory/creamery which provided the last traffic until CA 1 Oct 1970. However this is private property
and Railway Ramblers have been refused entry as asbestos may be present. The real gem is the water
tank which still stands on a rocky ledge next to the road overbridge which provides a bird's eye view.
LEFT: Our 12 Sep 1970 tour
at Pont Llanio end of line
(branch CG/CA 1 Oct 1970).
BELOW: The old water tank
at Pont Llanio station from
above, taken very recently.
(Chris Parker 9 May 2018).
1306 MINOR RAILWAYS (Peter Scott) [email protected]
MR106] Acton Miniature Railway, Greater London (MR p17): Sadly, this 7¼" gauge railway (extended
20 April 2017), at the London Transport Museum Depot at Acton, has closed - following (apparently) a
dispute between the Museum management and the volunteers who ran the railway. It last ran for the
public on Sunday 24 September 2017, during that weekend's Depot open days. It did not operate
during the open days on 21/22 April 2018. The Railway's Facebook page carried this message, posted
on 15 April 2018: We regret to advise that the Acton Miniature Railway (AMR) will NOT be running at
the London Transport Museum Depot Acton Depot Open Weekend: Capital Design (21-22 April 2018).
This is further to the decision to suspend operations, taken by the London Transport Museum
management in December 2017. We would like to thank all of our 30,000+ passengers over the past 12
years for riding with us and making it such a fun railway to operate. Unfortunately we do not know
if/when the AMR will reopen. Please direct any future enquiries to the London Transport Museum.
MR107] Poole Park Railway, Dorset (MR p15) (BLN 1287.MR146): This 10¼" gauge railway has been in
the news again - even some national daily papers. The Bournemouth Echo website reported on 15 May
that the railway had been temporarily shut down by the Council following a derailment which took
place last month. Exact details … have not been released but the Echo understands it occurred around
three weeks ago when a number of youngsters were riding on the attraction. Borough of Poole's
Recreation and Community manager Anthony Rodgers confirmed: Following a recent derailment, the
licence for the Poole Park Miniature Railway has been suspended until further notice. We are
considering future arrangements in discussion with the operator, The Friends of Poole Park. The railway
reopened last summer, after being out of action for nearly nine months. The Friends of Poole Park held
a 'grand opening' after winning the tender from Poole Council to operate the line for 30 years.
The previous long term operator Chris Bullen now runs a railway at Honeybrook Farm [MR p15].
PREVIOUS PAGE: Knees Woodland Miniature - a busy scene in the station. (Rod Bryant 28 May 2018)
MR108] Knees Woodland Miniature Railway, Kent (MR p19) (BLN 1260.MR121): A visit was made to
this 7¼" gauge railway on Bank Holiday Monday, 28 May. It is located in grounds adjacent to the East
Kent Railway (EKR) (MR p6). A two train service was in operation, with both platforms in use. A new
locomotive and coaches had arrived in the week from CMD Engineering in Chatham - a new specialist
in miniature railway equipment. The loco is based on a Lister peat railway type and finished to a very
high standard. All trains were well patronised with the fare of £1 excellent value for two loops, one
included the new alignment over the bridge above a pond. Instead of running-round trains at the
station, they were turned empty on the triangle - a former running line, which now sees no regular
passenger use. The railway runs most Sundays and for EKR special events; Saturday is a maintenance
day. The elevated 5" gauge railway, now simply called 'The Miniature Railway', was also operating.
MR109] Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, Devon (MR p15) (BLN 1301.MR51): There are conditions to the
Exmoor National Park's approval of the railway's extension plans. The main two are that it has to have
ownership of all the trackbed in the Park area and the funds in place before construction can begin.
MR110] Garw Valley Railway, Bridgend: Designs for a new Heritage Centre, proposed to be built in
Pontycymer in the heart of the Garw Valley have been released. The project is a joint initiative
between the Bridgend Valleys Railway and the Garw Heritage Society. Colin Williams, Chairman of the
Garw Valley Railway said We think that our partnership with the Garw Heritage Society to establish a
place where the heritage and history of the Garw Valley can be celebrated will provide a real boost to
our longer-term ambition, which is to get the heritage railway up and running from Bryngarw Country
Park to Pontycymer. We are currently seeking funding for our proposals, which aren't set in stone, so
we have today launched a community consultation to find out what people think. The consultation ran
for two weeks from 4-18 May. Those who wanted to take part were able to fill out a questionnaire
survey online or at outlets up and down the Garw Valley, as well as being able to attend a series of
drop-in sessions where the proposals were exhibited with someone on hand to explain the project.
The consultation and production of a Development Plan is being funded by the Rural Development
Plan for Wales - Thriving Rural Communities Scheme as administered in the Bridgend area by Reach.
The railway held an open day, as usual, on Bank Holiday Monday, 28 May (advertised BLN 1287.1805).
The shed (known as 'Pontycymer Loco Works') and the site were open, with no charge for admission
but donations were welcome. Alongside the two road shed a short platform has been constructed on
the eastern side - with foundations in place for a much longer platform. Parked in the platform was
4wDH (FH3890/ 1959), with its cab open for inspection and for the children the opportunity to sound
the horn! All the other stock was inside the shed. This is steam locomotives 0-6-0ST 'Pamela' (HE3840/
1956) under restoration 0-4-0ST (RSHN7705/1952), 4wDH (FH4006/1963) and a 2-car Class 108 DMU.
There is also a 'Shark' brake van being restored and this will be used with one of the 4wDH locos for
brake van rides in the shed area at a future date. The platform line has been refettled and aligned so it
is level in the platform. It is connected to the out of use branch towards Tondu. Beyond the
intermediate shed area, the track is heavily overgrown and unusable. Longer term plans will see the
DMU running to Pont-y-Rhyl river bridge. This bridge will need work on it before the track beyond can
be brought back into use. However, even before Pont-y-Rhyl there is a section where the track has
been lifted, and all the track will need fencing from the adjacent path/cycle route.
The 10¼" gauge miniature was running and proving popular with adults and children. It runs along the
western side of the tracks leading into the shed and is an 'E' layout of around 100 yards in length. At
work was the only motive power available - a bogie loco in the style of a BR class 52 in maroon livery,
numbered D1095 and named 'Western Heritage'. Passenger stock was three small two seat coaches,
which once ran at the now closed Welsh Industrial Museum at Cardiff Docks. Inside the miniature
railway shed, which is merely a container, was another, more standard passenger coach. Fares were
50p for all for one trip or £2 for an all-day ticket. Tickets were only issued for the latter fare.
ABOVE: Garw Valley Miniature Railway (10¼" gauge) - 'Western Heritage' waits outside its shed for
the passengers to purchase their tickets. Compare with e-BLN 1273.210. (Peter Scott 28 May 2018)
Our reporter took a ride on the line and the train stopped about three rail lengths short of the end.
However, later he noted a different driver had taken the train virtually to the end of the track - so he
had another ride to cover the full length! Open days (with the miniature railway running) are rare here
- seemingly just the Monday of the late spring and August Bank Holidays. However, the shed is open
on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the year between 09.30 and 15.00.
MR111] Lakeside Miniature Railway, Southport, Merseyside (MR p20) (BLN 1271.MR245): On a very
sunny Sunday 13 May a visit was made to this historic 15" gauge railway. Locomotive No3 'Jenny', in
blue livery and built in 2006 by Austin Moss, was in use on all trains - running on demand - patronage
was light. The return fare is £3. The layout has changed over the winter of 2016/17 with the out of use
platform lines at Marine Parade being removed and the curve into the station relaid. The other locos
that operate were all locked away and in various states of repair. The train departed from the right
hand platform at Pleasureland - on the reporter's previous visit it was from the left, now unusable.
On Southport Pier, two land trains were in operation passing midway, each with two coaches.
The motive power for these is converted Kubota lawnmowers with a steam outline body kit. The
return fare was £2.50 for a trip along the pier. Another runs from the Pier entrance to Pleasureland.
MR112] Crich Tramway Village, Derbyshire (MR p32) (BLN 1302.MR60): Michael Holroyd Smith is to
be recognised at Crich with a new permanent exhibition following the awarding of a £74,500 grant
from the AIM Biffa Award. For tram enthusiasts, Michael Holroyd Smith will forever be associated with
the Country's first electric street tramway at Blackpool in 1885 with his conduit system adopted by the
Blackpool Electric Tramway Company. One of the trams, which originally ran in Blackpool (Conduit 4) is
one of the most valuable exhibits at Crich (although now only a static exhibit following previous
operational spells). But what is less well known is how he influenced many other pioneers in the
scientific and engineering world with his own inventions including a very early automobile and he also
experimented with flight as early as 1879. The new permanent exhibition will explore his life,
inspiration and inventions and will also look at practical problem solving in engineering, with displays
and interactive features aimed at families and school groups, as well as exploring career pathways in
the modern engineering world. The exhibition will be located in the Great Exhibition Hall and include
some of the 1,000 items from the Holroyd Smith collection, held by the museum in their archives,
most are currently only available to researchers. The AIM Biffa Award has come through the History
Makers scheme and aims to provide support to allow museums to create new exhibitions that will
inspire the public through the lives and achievements of extraordinary, historical figures.
ABOVE: Lakeside Miniature Railway - 'Jenny' rests in Pleasureland station. (Rod Bryant 13 May 2018).
MR113] Ness Islands Railway, Highland (MR p28): Ian Young, who built and for more than 35 years
operated the 7¼" miniature railway, sadly lost his battle with cancer and died at the age of 75 on 24
April 2018. He had only revealed the previous week that he was ill, reluctantly confirming that he was
looking for a buyer to ensure a future for the railway (BLN 1303.918). He is survived by his wife Jan,
son Barry, daughter Julie and four grandchildren. Paying tribute, lifelong friend Ian Barron, who met up
with Mr Young a few weeks ago, described the electrician, modeller, former Air Training Corps officer,
angler and animal lover as 'a man of many parts'. Mr Young's son Barry travelled from Lincolnshire to
be with his parents and, with the help of volunteers, ensured the railway was running over the
weekend of 21/22 April. The railway's Facebook pages state that the railway will continue to run
normally until a buyer can be found. This is, weather permitting, weekends and school holidays 11.00 -
16.00, over 4s all £2.50 per trip. Terry Velvick arranged a comprehensive Society trip on 28 July 2017.
MR114] West Clare Railway, County Clare (BLN 1301.MR56): The Industrial Railway Society Bulletin
No1013 (May 2018) has a report on this 3ft gauge railway from Andrew Waldron (an IRS authority on
Ireland) dated 10 April, based on a conversation with the railway's owner, Jackie Whelan. Contrary to
press rumours the railway is still open and is on the way up. As usual, it closed for the winter period but
the railway will reopen on 1 May. From then until the end of August the diesel loco will be in operation
for rides over the former Ennis alignment. The report goes on say their steam locomotive would be in
operation on selected dates and other times for pre-booked parties. On the Kilkee side of the main
road the foundations for a new museum to house 3ft and 5ft 3in gauge stock are in place. Once that is
complete, attention would be given to reinstatement of the level crossing to link up both sections of
the 3ft gauge track - giving (the report says) a run of 6½ miles.
The website gives Museum opening as May to September 2018: Sundays and (Irish Republic) Bank
Holidays 13.00-16.00 (other days by appointment) with Diesel Train operation 'by request'. 2018
steam days (confirmed by email): 9 July 10.30-12.00; 10 July 14.00-15.00; 11/12 September enquire
nearer date (check all with [email protected] or +353 87 791 9289/+353 86 805 2614
first). Adults €10 diesel/€15 steam; Child €8/€5. The guided museum and train trip takes an hour.
MR115] Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway, Lincolnshire (MR p20) (BLN 1290.MR186): This 2ft gauge
railway is located in Skegness Water Leisure Park, just to the north of the well-known 'Bracing' resort.
It opened here on 3 May 2009 as an 'E' run of 650 yards - but had previously run from the 1960s to
1985 on the outskirts of Cleethorpes. The layout is an L shape with one station (Walls Lane) on the
short side of the L and a run-round loop at the far end. There is a five road shed on a spur from the
station. An extension of 150 yards at the run-round loop end was opened on Sunday 27 May 2018 -
taking the railway almost to the end of Skegness air landing strip, which is also located in the Water
Park, which mostly contains a camp site and permanent caravans.
At least three Society members visited on the day the extension opened. Our reporter arrived about
11.30 to see the next train indicator showing 12.15. He was told that a steam hauled goods train was
to run as soon as the diesel hauled passenger train had returned to the station. However, the
passenger train suffered brake problems and finally the steam locomotive 0-6-0ST 'Jurassic' (P1008/
1903) - was dispatched to affect a rescue, which it accomplished. One of our members was on it and
the other two then travelled on the next departure at around 12.20 - the first public steam hauled
train on the extension - formed of just one open wagon converted to a coach. The covered ex-Ashover
coach No2, which had caused the brake problems, was left behind in the platform. It was repaired and
subsequent trains were formed of 'Jurassic', the open wagon and coach No2. The goods train did not
run during the time our reporter was there. The diesel loco used on the earlier trains was No5 'Major J
A Robins RE' 4wDM (MR8622/1941). The adult fare was a very reasonable £1. A visit to this interesting
railway, with its historic rolling stock, is fully recommended. There are toilets nearby, but there is
apparently no refreshment facility for railway visitors. The site can be reached by frequent bus services
between Skegness, Butlins and Ingoldmells and a short walk down Walls Lane from the A52 coast road.
1306 FIXTURES REPORTS (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
1241] BLS North Wales Coast Signal Boxes Farewell: At 10.00 on Thursday 8 March, a small group of
members assembled at Llandudno Junction station and met Mobile Operations Manager Mark Owen
for a fascinating tour of signal boxes in their last few weeks of life. The North Wales Coast Phase 1
Signalling Renewal, (which subsequently took place over Easter 2018) would see six block posts and
one crossing keeper's hut abolished, with the new signalling controlled from the Wales Railway
Operating Centre (W-ROC) in Cardiff (as now named in the Sectional Appendix). Interestingly Phase 2
(to Holyhead) has now been completely cancelled - not just paused - and NR has said that if they had
known this earlier Phase 1 control would have been from Llandudno Junction Signal Box instead.
The traditional boxes visited were London North Western Railway (LNWR) Type 4 design, but of widely
varying sizes. By contrast, Tyn-y-Morfa and Rockcliffe Hall were modern temporary cabin buildings.
Abergele & Pensarn, Grade II listed, was the first port of call. This location formerly had four tracks;
main lines in the centre and the platforms served only by the outer two platform loops. Nowadays, in
the absence of overtaking moves, only two lines are needed so, in the Up (eastbound) direction, the
platform loop survives while the original (centre) Up Main closed 11 Dec 1988. By contrast, on the
Down side, it is the former Main line that survives, with the platform extended out over the former
Down Loop to serve it from 12 Mar 2017. The large box contained a 60 lever frame but, with various
rationalisations, (such as both slow lines to Llandulas closing from 14 Mar 1965 and see later) only 6
levers latterly remained in use: 1, 2, 3 (Distant, Home, Starter on the Down) and similarly 60, 59, 57 on
the Up side. All other levers were out of use (OOU), although former facing point lock (FPL) lever 25
had to be kept reversed to release the (no longer required, but still in situ) lever 2 interlocking.
As with all the block-posts visited, standard British Rail (BR) Block Instruments were used for Absolute
Block (AB) working in both directions. While most of the group were familiar with lever collars, used to
disable levers (temporarily or permanently), the steel oval design of collar - unique to the LNWR design
frames, was a first for most of us! We were also introduced to another new concept to some of us: The
Pale Green Dot! In general these small stickers are used to indicate equipment that is to be to be
salvaged for reuse (or a museum!) when boxes are decommissioned. On 23 Apr 1967 Abergele - Foryd
Jn Up Slow closed (some became the Up Platform Loop/siding) and Foryd Jn to Rhyl on 31 May 1970.
BELOW: Abergele Signal Box instruments, the green dots indicate equipment to be saved for possible
future use/spares. All pictures by Nick Jones 8 Mar 2018 unless specified. NEXT PAGE TOP: Rather than
the railroad going through the middle of the house, the Down Passenger Loop used to go through the
middle of Abergele & Pensarn Down platform extension. Talking of which… (see NEXT PAGE LOWER).
Rhyl is a very tall box just east of the station commanding a superb view
over the railway. It was once known as Rhyl No1; the former No2 box at
the West end, taken OOU in 1990, still stands - but in a somewhat
forlorn and boarded up condition. Both are Grade II listed. Rhyl retains a
relatively complex layout (and more so since Easter 2018 resignalling)
with an operational through (Down Main) line and two Regional Civil
Engineer sidings which are frequently occupied by track machines.
Consequently there were plenty of working levers to keep the signaller
busy. The Down Passenger Loop closed 11 Oct 1987 and the Up Fast on
28 Jan 1990. Rhyl No2 to Abergele Down Slow line closed 14 Jan 1973.
LEFT: Another distinctive feature of Rhyl box was the large 'Train
Running Away' bell to alert signallers (loudly!) in case of unauthorised
train movements past the Down intermediate block Home signal 14. As
can be seen it is complete with a bespoke muffling system. The box is
three floors high; the interlocking was on the intermediate level. At least
one member present suggested that access to the box might be via the
scary looking external ladder, but thankfully it was only an emergency
escape route and we climbed the internal wooden staircase! Mark also
kindly showed us the distinctive LNWR interlocking in most of the boxes.
At locations such as Rhyl, weights are directly attached to the locking -
presumably to ensure reliable operation.
BELOW: Rarely seen by non-signal box aficionados, the mysteries of Rhyl locking room, beneath the
signal frame, showing weights directly attached to the locking (see report above).
ABOVE: View of the line and station from the remarkably narrow balcony of Rhyl signal box. Left to
right are the two Engineer's Sidings, Down passenger Loop, Down Main (no platform) and Up Main.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Prestatyn Box is on the Down side (looking towards Rhyl) the Dyserth
branch used to trail in left of the box. Prestatyn station is off to the right. In contrast this was a much
smaller (two storey) box. Just 6 levers remained in use in the former 44-lever frame. The Up Slow to
Rhyl No1 went 16 Feb 1969 and the Down Slow 25 Mar 1990. Latterly no points at all were used and
the box just broke up the long Talacre - Rhyl block section. Prestatyn was the only box visited with a
mechanically worked semaphore distant. BELOW: The tensioning device for the Up Distant Signal.
ABOVE: The old and the new at Tyn-y-Morfa gates, note the semaphore (nothing to do with railway
operation, of course) by the former Crossing Keeper's house.
And now for something completely different…
Tyn-y-Morfa Crossing Keepers cabin. This controlled a
private level crossing leading to a handful of houses and a
footpath into a caravan park. It appeared to be a
nondescript single-storey temporary portable building at
first glance with little of interest. Nevertheless there were a
few hidden gems! Inside, traditional block repeaters in a
wooden cabinet showed the crossing keeper the state of the
Talacre - Prestatyn block (Clear, Train Approaching or Train
In Section). An original block telephone survived, apparently
still working, although in practice the more modern
equipment was generally used.
Next door was the original crossing-keeper's house, with an
old semaphore signal arm in the garden. Unlike many
crossings converted to Manually Controlled Barrier with
Obstruction Detection, here CCTV cameras were being
installed so that the crossing could be operated remotely
from the W-ROC.
LEFT: Tyn-y-Morfa crossing gate box. They don't make
phones like that anymore! Maybe that is why it is sporting a
green spot (the mobile phone on top doesn't have one).
RIGHT: A pre-resignalling sign at the crossing and,
despite appearances, the natives are friendly.
Talacre Box controlled the former connection to
the Point of Ayr Colliery (mining ceased 23 Aug
1996) at the most northerly point of the Welsh
mainland. At the time of the Society visit the track
was in situ, right to the end of the former colliery
branch, but very overgrown, and the connection
remained (long out of use, of course). This has since
been plain lined with the resignalling.
The last coal train left on 17 Sep 1996 but signallers
here could formerly reminisce with a lovely picture,
on the box wall, of a pair of Class 20s propelling
wagons into the colliery. Interestingly, the box and
frame were originally located a few miles to the
west, at Gronant, but were moved here for the
branch opening in 1903. The frame originally had 24
levers, seven of which had been removed, leaving
17 (and 15 nominally in use).
BELOW: Talacre Signal Box on the Up side.
NEXT PAGE BELOW: The interior.
ABOVE: The closed Grade II listed Mostyn Signal Box, the former level crossing (right) is now a NR
access point, the new bidirectional Up Mostyn Goods Loop (replacing the Up and Down Loops at
Holywell Junction) is the track furthest from the camera. Note the buoy lower centre far left.
Mostyn (No1) box closed 9 Jan 2017 (and had been mostly switched out since 14 Nov 2008). Sadly,
safety concerns (and lack of a key!) meant the group was unable to enter the Grade II listed box.
However, a pause was made by the road side to take pictures and Mark kindly supplied some interior
photos. This is another very impressive looking three storey structure, but with the base narrower
than the operating floor, to fit between the Up and Down lines. It is also, of course, the junction for the
Mostyn Docks exchange sidings which last saw freight (steel) trains in Nov 2008. Perhaps surprisingly,
the resignalled layout retains the Docks connection (but it is currently OOU due to poor track),
controlled of course from the W-ROC. It remains to be seen if there will ever be any more commercial
traffic. This must also be the only TRACKmaps location that shows a ship! (TRACKmaps Vol 4 p36A, Aug
2013.) Between Mostyn and Prestatyn, the Down Slow closed 19 Mar 1967 (part was retained as a
645yd siding) to a new Fast to Slow crossover 180yd east of Prestatyn, where a Down Passenger Loop
was created (itself closed on 25 Oct 1992). The Up Slow closed 26 Mar 1967 but with parts at each end
retained as sidings; at the Mostyn end designated No1 siding with the previous 1-4 renumbered 2-5.
ABOVE: A colourful scene at Holywell Junction, right is the Up Siding (a through siding), near left is the
very elusive Up Goods Loop then the Up Main and a significant gap (with the signal box) before the
Down Main and Down Goods Loop. Far centre left is the end slope of the disused Down platform.
ABOVE: A Victorian computer - Holywell Junction box mechanical interlocking beneath the frame.
Holywell Junction: The Grade II listed box provided a glimpse of former glory days with four running
lines then still in situ (and a through Up Siding). From Bagillt to Holywell Junction, the Down Slow
closed 14 Mar 1965 and the Up Slow 7 May 1967 (part was retained as an Up Goods line and for
connections into Courtaulds). To Mostyn the Down Slow closed 27 Oct 1966 (with part retained as a
siding from Holywell) and Up Slow 29 Mar 1967. In theory until Easter 2018 Holywell Junction Up and
Down Goods loops were available but in practice nothing actually used them. Our 22 Apr 2017
'Y Triongl Gogledd Cymru' tour traversed the Down Goods Loop (DGL) but - despite the best efforts of
NR - the UGL eluded us. Both went with the recent Easter resignalling.
The eagle eyed can spot a derelict Down passenger platform (CP 14 Feb 1966). Very notable here was
the number of ground discs - 22 on the diagram - a reminder of when it was once a busy freight
location. Nominally 47 of the 54 levers were in use but several had A4 laminated sheets hung on them
indicating the dates that the various sidings had been taken OOU (some over 12 years ago). The sidings
(near the box at least) seemed to be intact at the time of the visit and signalled but went over Easter.
Rockcliffe Hall: This double height temporary style/portable building housed a small One-Control-
Switch (OCS) panel, opened in 1995, replacing the previous box which had been demolished to make
way for the new Connah's Quay road bridge. It had fringed with Chester Power Signal Box since Mold
Jn and Sandycroft boxes closed in 2005. This means that Rockcliffe Hall then worked Track Circuit
Block to Chester, with a VDU-style Train Describer. To the west, Rockcliffe Hall worked Absolute Block
to Holywell Jn; the block Instrument consisted of modern buttons and lamps built into the panel itself.
It only remains to thank our generous and knowledgeable host Mark Owen, as well as Operations
Manager Alvan Jones who gave permission for the visits. Special mention must also be made of our
member Barney Clark who fixed up the visit but sadly was unable to join us on the day. [Way beyond
the call of duty - Ed.] These were enjoyable visits to since decommissioned boxes which raised £275 for
NR's charity partner Barnardo's. (By Nick Jones with thanks to Dave Plimmer and Malcolm Atherton.)
Useful Links: https://goo.gl/ZzNrH9 (a 5 min video about Rhyl No2 Signal Box) and www.2d53.co.uk
1242] Island of Ireland III Day 2, Fri 4 May: (BLN 1305.1120) By Geoff Treby. Today was an out and
back trip from Dublin Connolly to Sligo (135½ miles each way) with a couple of stops on the return - or
so we thought! Travelling on a very good value group ticket, the party met by the barriers at 07.45 and
made for P7 where the unit was in platform with the signal set. This first Sligo train of the day, the
08.00, left on time and took the booked PSUL route to Newcomen Jn (the only passenger train booked
to use the 'Down & Up Newcomen' curve). The party then settled down for an enjoyable three hour
trip to Sligo mostly through sparsely populated countryside with occasional small towns and bogs.
Leaving Dublin the sun tried to break through the clouds and these conditions stayed with us all day.
I had not been to Sligo for over twenty years (pre-Quail - and it is still 'Quail' too! - Feb 2004 now very
out of date, hint!)) and the moves at each passing point were of interest. For the record the journey
was via Maynooth P1, Enfield left, Killucan left, Mullingar P1 (where the Athlone line was still
connected but, of course, very rusty), Edgeworthstown right, Longford P1, Dromod left, Carrick-on-
Shannon right (not on Quail) and Boyle P1. There was great interest and excitement at Kilfree Junction
(112m 42ch) as the track bed of the closed Ballaghaderreen branch was spotted. This was repeated at
the interesting Collooney Jn and Carrignagat Jn area. Sadly the line to Claremorris is now lifted and
the large sign about reopening of the Western Corridor here has gone. At Sligo, we took the right track
to allow the Dublin train to depart via the loop (which our train had been booked to use). Only P1
(right on approach) is now in passenger use and the station is quite high up above the town although
the overall roof is no more. We had two hours until 13.00 to wander around the town; I went to Tesco.