Number 1330 (Items 1391 - 1534 & MR 101 - MR 114) (E-BLN 83 PAGES) 15 Jun 2019
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Respice in praeteritum, praesens et futurum
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society - founded 1955
Membership Enquiries, Alan Welsh [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from member7s2; 8a6n7i7nternational section is available.
Opinions herein are not necessaarivlyaitlahbolsee. of the Compilers or the Society.
…………… BLN 1331 is dated Sat 6 Jul :mind the 3-week gap!: Contributions by Wed 26 Jun please
Date Event and details = Please Book Online BLN Lead Status
Fri 28 Jun Blyth & Tyne Box visits (e-BciLeNty1. S3o2c8ie)tFyU. LL WAITING LIST 1328 NJ FULL
Sat 29 Jun 17.30 The Seaton Surveyor comprehensive tram tour 1329 MG OPEN
7 and 8 Jul Sun & Mon; Devon service train tracker NOTIFY INTEREST 1326 MH Notify
Sat 13 Jul K&ESR The Andrew Wilson (Brillo) Memorial Charter 1328 MG OPEN
Sat 20 Jul Tour to four freight locations APPLY FOR WAITING LIST 1327 MG APPLY
Sat 27 Jul The return of Thunder Vac 50008 (D408), circular tour 1329 MG OPEN
Sun 28 Jul The Steel City Special, Sheffield Supertram WAITING LIST 1325 MG APPLY
26 - 28 Jul Society rare track tour in south Austria 1318 PG OPEN
Sat 10 Aug Type 3 to the Sea, loco hauled tour Crewe - Portsmouth 1329 MG OPEN
Sun 11 Aug The Tri County Triple Tractor; Crewe - Lancaster 3 x Cl 37s 1329 MG OPEN
Mon 26 Aug 09.30-18.30 Scunthorpe Steeler No19 APPLY WAITING LIST 1328 MG APPLY
6 - 8 Sep Norway: Postponed to 2020 (some lines not available in 2019) TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 14 Sep Save the date; provisional track tour to East Anglia, re-dated TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 6 Oct Save the date Llinellau cangen y rheilffordd/Branch line tour TBA TBA Claimed
15 - 17 Nov Provisional, Barrow Hill AGM with fixtures, talk & Sunday tour TBA TBA Claimed
7-10 May 20 Save the dates for Island of Ireland V weekend (see BLN 1329) TBA TBA Claimed
MG = Mark Gomm; MH = Mark Haggas; NJ = Nick Jones; PG = Paul Griffin; Contacts details: back page.
1330 HEAD LINES (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
1391] Billingham Jn - Belasis Lane - Phillips Sidings Jn - Seal Sands Greenergy Biofuel Refinery (once
Phillips Petroleum): The final GBRf weekly train of biodiesel (traffic started in 2016) left 19.20 Mon 22
Apr for Cardiff Docks Greenergy, (arr 05.25 on 23rd). The discharged tanks left 16.45 for the refinery
(arr 04.30 Wed 17th); departing 23.58 Mon 3 Jun for secure storage at Long Marston to further notice.
1392] Cardiff Splott Jn - Greenergy Terminal (end of the Roath branch): (TRACKmaps 3 p21 Jun 2018)
Traffic has ended on this branch, over 1½ mile long, at the extremity of the Cardiff Docks branch. The
final inward biodiesel train arrived 05.25 Tue 23 Apr; the discharged tanks left at 16.45 (previous item).
1393] Halton Jn - Frodsham Jn: (BLN 1321.180) The 1m 54ch 'Frodsham Single' ROP Sun 19 May 2019,
for regular daily all year services. The first train was 08.31 Chester to Liverpool Lime Street and, in the
other direction the 09.49 return. Previously a unidirectional dated summer Saturday single Down PSUL
train ran. The local service between Runcorn and Chester was previously withdrawn from 5 May 1975.
1394] Inverness; Rose Street Jn - Welsh's Bridge Jn: CP Sat 25 May 2019 (regular timetabled services);
last train Sat 18 May 17.13 (SO) Kyle of Lochalsh to Elgin via Inverness P2 PSUL. Before 10 Dec 2018 it
ran SuX. Is this closure of the Inverness station avoiding line legal? ECS workings maintain crew route
knowledge. The only 'passenger' trains using the line now are railtours and Royal Scotsman tours.
ABOVE: Cardiff Docks http://bit.ly/31rgR3z our South Wales Wanderer No4. (Ian Mortimer 15 Sep 1979.)
1395] Angel Road & Meridian Water stations: (BLN 1328.1152) The last trains called at Angel Road
(7m 57ch) on Fri 31 May (two weeks later than originally envisaged); closure was with effect from Mon
3 Jun - the station was not served at weekends. Meridian Water (7m 47ch) opened Mon 3 Jun (first
trains 05.57 to Liverpool Street and 06.14 to Stratford). Miles are from Liverpool Street. The initial
service at the new station is identical to Angel Road (even the times); (SSuX) 6 morning and 5 evening
Up trains Bishops Stortford to Stratford except the first (Hertford East to Liverpool Street). There are
4 morning and 7 evening Down trains, the first is Liverpool Street to Hertford East; most are from
Stratford to Bishops Stortford although two of the evening services run to Hertford East instead.
A 7-day service of two trains per hour all day is scheduled to start between Stratford and Meridian
Water P2 (using the new Lea Valley Reversible Line, commissioned 25 Mar) from Mon 9 Sep. It is
already shown in the new Greater Anglia timetable booklet (No14) from 19 May 2019. Meridian Water
P3 & P4 will still just be used by the few weekday morning and evening peak trains, as now.
1396] Dore West Jn - Dore South Jn: (BLN 1328.1135) ROA Mon 3 Jun after repairs to Dore South Jn
trailing points in the Up Main line which had been temporarily plain lined (TCA in this direction 6 May).
1400] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant passenger service suspensions: *= New/altered
BLN Start (incl) Reopens Location (stations exclusive when bracketed) bold = closed now
1322.242 28 Sep 18 Unknown CairnGorm Mountain Railway, 'Base Station' - Ptarmigan
1326.918 16 Mar 19 Unknown Llandudno Jn - Blaenau Ffestiniog [ROP to Llanrwst by 2 Aug??]
1328.1128 19 Apr 19 19 Jul 19 *Sheffield Supertram (Shalesmoor‡) - Middlewood/Malin Bridge
1316.2303 2 Jan 19 Late Jul 19 Mid Hants Railway; Alton P3 - (Medstead & Four Marks)
1330.1399 †4 Nov 19 1 Aug 19 *Llangollen Railway, (Carrog) - site of former Corwen East
1328.1332 4 May 19 19 Aug 19 (Dyce) - (Inverurie)
1328.1133 15 Jun 19 19 Aug 19 Inverurie - (Huntly) [‡Extended closure from 3 Jun]
1326.788 26 Jul 19 24 Aug 19 (Lisburn) - (Portadown) [† Date of last public service]
1329.1254 26 Oct 19 4 Nov 19 *Havant Jn - (Chichester)
1328.1196 9 Nov 19 16 Nov 19 Cowley Bridge Jn - (Taunton); Cogload Jn - Worle Jn/Weston-S-M
1325.655 20 Oct 18 Mar 2020? Reedham Jn - Berney Arms request stop - (Great Yarmouth)
1397] Low Ellers Curve Jn - Kirk Sandall Jn: TCA Sun 9 Jun at 21.20, expected for about a week, due to
cable theft; trains run via Doncaster station. Access is available to Barnby Dun Ardagh Glass Works.
1398] Sheffield Supertram; Shalesmoor (excl) - Middlewood/Malin Bridge (incl) & 6 stops (Area 2):
(BLN 1329.1252) TCP Mon 3 Jun (rather than Sun 2 Jun), until Thur 18 Jul 2019 (incl) to replace rails.
Hillsborough (excl) - Middlewood/Malin Bridge peripheral sections have been TCP since Fri 19 Apr.
1399] Llangollen Railway; Carrog (excl) - Corwen East (site of temporary station): (BLN 1316.2300)
TCP since last public service on Sun 4 Nov 2018, ROP and extension to Corwen expected 1 Aug 2019.
1330 BLN GENERAL (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
1401] Points & Slips: ●●BLN 1329.1371] A member has yet to hear bilingual announcements on an
ATW/TfW train apart from 'live' ones by an amiable guard on the Cambrian a few years ago. Some
unkind people might say that 'Ruth' has enough trouble with English ('Anchester Piccadilly' etc), but
the Welsh versions are heard only on stations and invariably in a voice which apparently belongs to a
gentleman named Eryl (see http://bit.ly/2K9Hnt4 ) but for some reason known to his fans as Glyn...
●●1274] At London Euston the recent alterations have separated the entrances to the LUL and
mainline stations, so each can now be closed independently of the other. ●●1338] In paper BLN, the
Thur 23 May West Coast Railway Class 47 light engine move to/from Henwick Turnback Siding was
linked to a 'Steam Dreams' London Victoria to Worcester Shrub Hill and return trip. This was separate
from that evening's Vintage Trains tour from Moor Street to Henwick and return, with Vintage Trains'
47773 on the same end of the train throughout. The use of the Worcester triangle and Henwick
Turnback Siding allowed the steam loco to lead both into and out of Worcester (see item 1529 also).
1402] London Connections: About 70% of all national rail journeys start or finish in London. How
many of the over 2,500 stations on the national system ALWAYS require more than one change to
travel to/from London termini in the present timetable? The obscurity of the single change journey
doesn't matter - this is the BLS - (eg Bishopbriggs to/from London can be done by changing once at
Stirling - but via Edinburgh it would be twice). There has to be a minimum of one train per week in
one direction and the connectional time has to be less than 24 hours. Glasgow Central, Glasgow
Queen Street, Lichfield, Tamworth, Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway and Retford etc
each count as one station not two. Walking between two stations counts as an extra change, so a
train to Glasgow Queen Street, then walking to Central for a train to London is two changes. The
Editor's decision is final. He has found 40 stations that qualify; fewer than in the previous timetable.
1403] My First Railway Memories (7): By Lionel White. Around 1949 I recall, coming back from
Southampton, my father pointed out Bulleid's 'Leader' in front of Eastleigh shed. It may have been the
same day I remember seeing Southampton's trams dumped at Bevois Park Yard, in the process of
being cut up. [Southampton's 13.7 mile standard gauge tramway closed with effect from 1 Jan 1950.]
My earliest dated railway memory is of going to Bristol in 1950, age 6, standing on Clifton Suspension
Bridge (it was a long way down!) and seeing a seemingly diminutive passenger train passing below on
its way to Portishead. Incidentally, it was to be another 18 years before I actually traversed the branch
on the RCTS Thames & Avon DMU tour of 6 Apr 1968 to be precise, with other BLS members on board.
Another early memory of 1952 was of visiting the site of a fallen naval hero! This was the year in which
'Howard of Effingham' 30854 ran through the trap siding off the Up Slow at Shawford and ended up
down the bank. A photo taken by father showed me standing by the smokebox a few days after. One
of the joys before Health & Safety and before the days of 'You must not...!' The passengers in the front
coach could at least red line a non-passenger line covered! Also in 1952 on a day out I have my father's
photo of British Railways Southern Region diesel '10202' at Bournemouth on a passenger train.
Visiting Winchester in those early days we did at least
once arrive at Winchester (Chesil) station from the south
but unfortunately never beyond. Another line that then
was 'rare' was the original Portsmouth line via Knowle
Halt and through the two consecutive single track tunnels
(Fareham Tunnel No1 & No2). This was a 'PSUL type' of line
for a few years after the Meon Valley line closed (last
timetabled passenger train 5 Feb 1955). Now the service is
hourly and twice an hour in the peaks. [The tunnels
temporarily closed Sep 1906 until 1 Jun 1907 with trains
diverted via the 1904 double track deviation (no tunnel) to
the west. From 14 Apr 1973 that deviation closed with all
traffic reverting to the original tunnels line. In Jul 1968
your BLN Editor used Eastleigh - Fareham on a dated
summer Saturday Birmingham New Street to Portsmouth
Harbour train and its return two weeks later. Does anyone
know if the trains would then have used the tunnel line or
the deviation or could they have used either in each
direction?] LEFT: From 1961 one inch to the mile OS map.
Eastleigh is off top left, the Meon Valley line to Alton top
right, Portsmouth right, Gosport below and Southampton
left. Knowle Halt (CP 6 Apr 1964) is upper left with the
line through the tunnels and the west deviation below.
1404] South Western Railway: RMT industrial action may affect services from Tue 18 to Sat 22 Jun.
1405][With thaks to Rhd Maund.]PSUL 2019 - UPDATE (3)XX X][With thanks to Richard Maund]
Minor retimings of a few minutes either way are ignored but the latest version of PSUL can
always be found on-line via www.branchline.uk/PSULintro.php The following alterations are
additional to those given in BLN 1326 and 1329. Acknowledgements to various correspondents.
Page 6: add: Old Kew Jn - South Acton Jn and Acton Wells Jn - West London Jn (reversible
line) - Mitre Bridge Jn: Steam Dreams outward Royal Windsor Steam Express from Waterloo to
Windsor & Eton Riverside TO until 3 September (normally only first morning journey by this route)
Page 6: [Junction Road Jn - ] Covered Way west end - Gospel Oak Jn: 2J34 2313 SSuX
Barking - Hampstead Heath continued to terminate at Upper Holloway to 7 June 2019 at least
Page 7: add: Linford Street Jn-Nine Elms Jn: Steam Dreams Sunset Steam Express TO to 3 Sep
Page 10: Golborne Jn - Lowton Jn - Parkside Jn: amend services to: Northern services
between Manchester Airport (or Manchester Piccadilly) and Blackpool North, Barrow in Furness
or Windermere when booked to call at Wigan North Western (see Table 82), plus: 1M94 1847 SO
Glasgow Central - Manchester Airport; 1M93 0825 SuO Glasgow Central - Manchester Victoria
(from 23 June 2019); 1M94 0916 SuO Edinburgh - Manchester Airport (until 16 June 2019);
1M97 2213 SSuX Edinburgh - Manchester Piccadilly / Manchester Airport; 1M97 2210 SuO
Edinburgh - Manchester Airport (from 23 June 2019); 1S98 2248 SuO / 2310 SSuX Manchester
Airport - Carlisle (from 15 September 2019)
Page 11: add: Philips Park West Jn - Ashburys Jn (39) CL05 Sundays until 20 October 2019:
1E27 0746 Manchester Airport - Scarborough
Page 13: Addlestone Jn - Byfleet Jn: add: Steam Dreams Sunset Steam Express TO until 3 Sep
Page 14: Norton Bridge Jn - Yarnfield Jn: amend 1G60 0912 Crewe - Stoke on Trent -
Birmingham New Street runs SuO (all three trains listed are SuO)
Page 21: Semi-regular excursion operators, contact details, add: Steam Dreams: 01483 209 888
1406] Society (& PSUL) Website: With apologies for any inconvenience resulting, some unexpected
technical difficulties required our website to be closed without notice from Mon 3 to midday Fri 7 Jun.
Thanks to our Website Officer Phil Wieland for his considerable time and efforts in sorting them out.
1407] Trains to smell nicer: May 'Railnews' reports a new law creating an offence of eating smelly food
on trains, such as fish, eggs and fast food (separately or together). British Transport Police announced
the new offence in the 27th Railway Byelaw. As part of new antisocial behaviour legislation, those
caught 'consuming offensive edible items while in transit' could face a penalty of up to £2,000.
Repeated offenders could be issued with a Criminal Food Behaviour Order (CFBO) which could prevent
them traveling on trains for life or from going within 50 metres of a takeaway shop. [Your GS
remembers being refused access to a Metrolink tram one evening by a policeman at the stop entrance
some years ago, having just bought some chips, due to a 'No food/drink' rule.] The announcement also
quoted 'Inspector Pete Pong' as saying: 'In my years at BTP I have witnessed numerous horrors, from
those thinking it's acceptable to crack open a homemade tuna sandwich to others eating boiled eggs
like apples. Not OK.' [A less harsh solution would be to have a 'Smelly Coach' on trains, although would
there then need to be a Quiet Smelly Coach and a non-quiet Smelly Coach - difficult on short trains?]
The byelaw came in to force from the first train services starting after midnight on Sun 31 Mar 2019.
1408] Is this Smart or 'Fare'? Most 26-30 year olds probably have a smartphone, but not all do,
some can't afford one and they are not yet compulsory. However, the 16-30 railcard (note 'card' not
'app') is only available as a smartphone app unlike all other railcards; but this could be the thin end
of the wedge; your railcard might be next! http://bit.ly/2Wx5lFh is an online petition about this.
1330 EAST MIDLANDS (Graeme Jolley) east-midlands-news[email protected]
1409] West Burton: It is understood that the Power Station presently has contracts until Sep 2021,
although the nearby Cottam Power Station closes on 30 Sep this year; both are owned by EDF.
1410] Millers Dale: £320k of European funding will allow restoration of the goods shed here, to
accommodate small catering and other outlets. These would provide facilities for the many walkers
and cyclists on the popular Monsal Trail, as at Meliden goods shed on the Dyserth to Prestatyn trail.
X.60] East Midlands Flooding: LEFT: At Thorpe
Culvert between Boston and Skegness.
ABOVE and NEXT PAGE: Flooding and an
associated cutting landslip, between Corby and
Manton Jn. (Both Network Rail 14 Jun 2019.)
1411] Gainsborough Central: (BLN 1327.961) http://bit.ly/2EZpn0d (2½ min) is a promotional video
for the new hourly train service. Certain members who had not yet done the newly available trailing
Retford end crossover became anxious when regular ECS workings started to be shown as taking place
in online systems. Trains from Sheffield terminate in P2 and from 30 May were shown as shunting ECS
to P1; previously the ECS moves were 'cancelled'. However, with the Barnetby end ground frame and
trailing crossover (74m 60ch) well and truly out of use, this would involve using the Retford end trailing
crossover and setting back to P1 on the Down Main in the Up direction hourly, an unsignalled move.
Secondly the return workings to Sheffield were shown departing from P2 not P1 and finally every ECS
was perfectly on time (relatively unusual for ECS), even when the incoming terminating passenger
trains were late or cancelled. So only 124 years after HG Wells' The Time Machine was published, it
was finally happening - Northern Pacer technology never ceases to amaze! The motto of this story is
don't believe everything online systems show. The ECS shunts were not happening; it is a virtual move
to clear them off the TRUST (Train RUnning SysTem) screens manually rather than cancelling them.
The only time ECS moves do happen is on Saturdays when the three Sheffield - Brigg - Cleethorpes
and return passenger trains run. These are part of the hourly service but then 11.58 and 15.58 SO ECS
Gainsborough Central to Gainsborough Central via Worksop workings are needed to balance the
stock. This is a 35½ mile round trip to spend 9 mins in P1 at Worksop and reverse just to get out of the
way. [Similarly Virgin Trains still run a 13.06 SSuX Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton P2 (13.50/14.02) ECS
and return just to avoid the Voyager blocking up Shrewsbury station or annoying the lady who lived
near Coton Hill Yard and complained about the noise it made there. She has since moved house!]
A good number of members have now done the crossover but if all were to make a return pilgrimage
to Gainsborough Central it would bring an immediate 412% increase in passenger numbers compared
with 2017-18. One who has done it reports that the signal box appears so decrepit that he asked the
guard to confirm that it was the controlling box, despite the 'GC' signal plates - although many of the
semaphores look very new. [Good observation, one was NR's newest semaphore when it was renewed
and resited on 6 May 2018 - BLN 1304.940.] The original 1885 built Manchester, Sheffield and
Lincolnshire Railway signal box was described as 'in poor condition' as long ago as 2010! NR has a
dispensation to start passenger services in the Down direction from P2 for six months to 20 Nov 2019.
The guard considered that the hourly service may be extended to Barnetby or further in due course.
The self-explanatory photos are thanks to Simon Mortimer (4 Jun 2019). BELOW: The points and the
ground position signal ('dolly') are set for the move - note the very new semaphore signal on the left.
X.61] Sharnbrook Jn: PREVIOUS PAGE UPPER: The new Up slow points where the present Down Slow
and Up Slow currently merge to form the bidirectional single (third) line to Kettering (looking south
towards London). PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: The new Up Slow to Down slow connection looking north
at Sharnbrook Jn towards Kettering. (Both Robin Morell, 23 May 2019.)
1412] Gauge Enhancement: (BLN 1316.2315): The recent demolition of Armthorpe Lane arched bridge
near Barnby Dun (Doncaster) cleared the last obstacle to maximum size containers being carried on
standard wagons between Doncaster Hexthorpe Jn, Scunthorpe, Immingham and Killingholme.
1413] Scunthorpe: The implications for rail traffic of British Steel going into administration are not yet
clear. The basic steel making facility at Scunthorpe is fed by imported iron ore and coking coal moved
by rail from Immingham. Semi-finished products are moved to/from other plants at Skinningrove and
Lackenby on Teesside. Rail is manufactured for use in both Great Britain and mainland Europe; there
are other movements of domestic and shipment traffic. Any rationalisation would have a significant
effect on rail freight volumes. NR has been assisting (as possible) by placing extra orders, stockpiling
rails and settling bills quickly but, if the worst comes to the worst, there are alternative sources of rail.
BELOW: (TRACKmaps 3 p33A Oct 2016) UK Railtour's Sat 20 Oct 2018 'Man of Steel' tour had a large
number of our members on board. It is seen here at the British Steel Coal Handling Plant, Scunthorpe,
looking at the final point at the eastern end of the line with the loco on the buffer stops. Although a
busy terminal this section of track is not used now as the coal is imported via Immingham so loaded
trains propel in. The terminal faces west as it was originally supplied by English coal mines. (All pictures
by Stuart Hicks; thanks to British Steel for special permission to reproduce them in Branch Line News.)
ABOVE: 'Norwegian' Di 8 No 8.702 hauls the lengthy train with its two locos unaided from the
Steelworks Medium Section Mill. BELOW: The Di 8 came off at Redbourn Stocking Ground (right).
ABOVE: The Foreign Ore branch looking up from the steelworks. BELOW: Leaving Trent Sidings to
rejoin the main line; the triangular route in the steelworks had turned the train round.
1330 GREATER LONDON (Geoff Brockett) [email protected]
1414] Crossrail: (BLN 1329.1267) From the 19 May timetable change TfL Rail Paddington to Hayes &
Harlington services have called at Acton Main Line and West Ealing on Sundays (both had no Sunday
services before), generally half-hourly as engineering work permits. The first trains actually ran on Sun
26 May. However, Heathrow T2/3 trains do not serve West Ealing then, although they do on other
days of the week, and Hanwell remains closed on Sundays.
1415] Herne Hill: The station piano is completely adorned with a stylised slightly psychedelic picture of
a feline face and a special clamp is applied each evening to stop it from then being opened and played.
So it is good for playing a medley from 'Cats', but also for ensuring that the 'Lion Sleeps Tonight'
ABOVE: The things our members photograph!... Herne Hill station piano, locked up. (James Beal.)
1416] Meridian Water: (BLN 1328.1152) A member visited London's newest station on Tue 4 Jun, its
second day of operation. The station is built on a grand scale with wide staircases and four lifts, plus
room for a fifth. It has a gold roof, a bridge deck where the ticket hall and concourse are located and a
24-hour route for pedestrians to cross the railway. Three ticket machines display Meridian Water
(Angel Road) and would also issue a ticket from Angel Road station which closed 3 Jun and is only
yards away! [National Rail website offered tickets to/from both stations on 11 Jun except between
them - an impossible journey by train with Angel Road closed - the advice to walk, allowing 10 mins!]
Meridian Water sits in splendid isolation with a completely vacant building site on the west side where
construction of the housing development which it was built to serve is only just starting. The opposite
side of the road is a large Tesco Extra supermarket. This east side is currently the main entrance with a
grand staircase facing south and a lift, plus a cycle rack in a converted container.
ABOVE: The new station, looking south towards London/Stratford. (All Iain Scotchman 5 Jun 2019.)
There is space (with a lift shaft) for a possible future Up P1. Island P2/3 has a lift, as does Down P4. P4
has a small staff room, fully lit, with 'next train displays' and announcing facilities. On the west side is
another grand stairway facing west and another lift. Most of the site for new housing is fenced off, but
a passageway leads north and then forks northwest and may be open to provide access to the areas to
the west of Angel Road. There are small covered shelters towards the north end of both platforms, a
bench of seats further out and at the south end (both in the open), but only a two seat perch under
The first day of service at Meridian Water, Mon 3 May, was peak only, as previously provided at Angel
Road (identical calling times even) except that two additional trains an hour called in each direction
between Stratford and Bishops Stortford from 10.17 until 12.24. It is strongly suspected that this is
when the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, and Deputy Mayor of London, Heidi
Alexander, just happened to be performing the 'official opening ceremony' with other local dignitaries
and stakeholders present! By Wed 5 Jun all platform fittings, footbridge etc had been removed at
Angel Road. Extra stops in all services between Stratford and Bishops Stortford resulted in two trains
an hour each way at Meridian Water all day Fri 7 & Sat 8 Jun (Angel Road had no weekend services
latterly). This was for the 'Field Day Festival', a music rave in a warehouse near the new station.
That Friday additional passenger services had also been shown between Stratford and Meridian
Water P2 which would have been the first passenger use of the new Lea Valley Bidirectional line.
However, they did not appear in Greater Anglia's special PDF timetable. A (fortunately local) member
turned up at Stratford P12 for what was shown online and on at least one Stratford departure screen
as the 11.06 to Meridian Water - 2M52 according to Realtime Trains. 317512 arrived ECS from Orient
Way but it soon became apparent that the EMU was not going to be in public service. It did run ECS
though to make a video of the new Lea Valley Reversible line possibly for driver training (the very
heavy rain would not have helped this). Undaunted, our member took the 11.00 to Bishops Stortford
service from Stratford P11 to Meridian Water. EMU 317517 then arrived there at P2 on the Lea Valley
Reversible line 10 min late, amusingly to the announcement that 'the train approaching P2 is not due
to stop here'!! It could have been interesting if it hadn't! P2 departure screen showed it as the 11.30 to
Stratford; subsequent departures were also shown. Our member and another were not allowed to
board and were told the train was not in service, despite them pointing to the platform display. It left
about 11.40 ECS to Stratford (note that online systems did not capture any of this north of Lea Bridge).
ABOVE: Meridian Water station, looking south towards London/Stratford. The buffer stops is the end
of the Lea Valley Bidirectional Line in P2. Angel Road station is 10ch further north off to the right.
The station staff advised that none of the trains scheduled to use P2 were supposed to be shown as in
service. So our reporter gave up and caught the 11.52 (ex-Bishops Stortford) back to Stratford, where
some displays still showed these trains as in service from P12, confusing a steady stream of festival-
goers! By 16.00 all other such workings were 'cancelled' online. From 10 Jun Meridian Water was back
to its few morning and evening peak trains. The two station staff seems rather generous over provision
at present (until Mon 8 Sep when the Stratford shuttle begins). Angel Road was an unstaffed station.
THIS PAGE: Perhaps appropriately, a very wet Meridian Water on Fri 7 Jun 2019. ABOVE: 317512
arrives on the Lea Valley Reversible Line from Lea Bridge Jn with 5M52, the 11.06 ex-Stratford route
filming working. BELOW: In P2, it returned as 5M53, the 11.30 route filming special back to Stratford.
Junction Road Junction Signal Box on 12 Oct 1980 (ABOVE) & 22 Feb 1981 (BELOW) - Angus McDougall.
1417] HS2: (BLN 1329.1274) NR now proposes to remove only West Rusilip No1 Up Siding (closer to
the running lines) and No2 Siding is now being retained. This is because of a change to the tunnel
portal footprint and a requirement to bring in materials by rail. The work is expected to start on 22 Jul.
1418] London Bridge: (BLN 1329.1275) The station has received two awards from the Royal Institute of
British Architects, the RIBA London Award 2019 and the RIBA London Building of the Year 2019.
1419] Central Line: (BLN 1320.44) From 23 Apr one train less was scheduled during the morning peak
SSuX. This is to release a train for upgrade under the Central Line Improvements Programme.
Timetable adjustments result in three trains that run right round the Hainault loop. These are 07.27
Ruislip Gardens - Woodford - Hainault - Ealing Broadway, 07.39 Ealing Broadway - Hainault - Woodford
- West Ruislip and 08.21 White City - Woodford - Hainault - Ealing Broadway. ('Underground News')
Prompted by the query in BLN 1329 about the rare move at Arnos Grove, another member seizes the
opportunity to moan that his only attempt to get the Newbury Park through siding and both his
attempts at the Debden through siding were thwarted by disobedient start of service Central Line
trains. Since these moves will be incorporated into the signal control computer tapes, it would seem
that the Signal Operators deliberately override them. A similar offence (at close of service) required a
second attempt at the Queen's Park facing crossover. However in this case preplanned or ad hoc
changes to late night trains and stabling arrangements were no doubt to blame.
1420] Northern Line Extension: (BLN 1301.579) Rails have been installed in both running tunnels,
allowing engineering trains to operate along the route. Track laying is due to be completed this month
with installation of the diamond crossover in the Battersea crossover box. Conductor rail Installation is
currently underway. It has proved possible to install signalling cables in the track bed, a move that
should improve safety as well as save time and money. At the Battersea Power Station** terminus the
blockwork walls for the crossover box have been completed. Following the removal of the last tower
crane, installation of the precast coffered panels, which form the ticket hall's architectural ceiling, is
now complete. The tower crane's removal has also enabled contractors to complete construction of
the Prospect Way structure, which spans the station box and supports the roadway to the west of the
main entrance. The jetty, which was used to remove excavation waste from the site by river barge, has
been decommissioned. At Kennington Park the ground floor concrete slab and the columns for the
head house are complete. At Kennington Green, the head house structure and parapets are also
finished. Construction of the ground floor internal and external walls of the head house continues.
('Transport Briefing') **Known at Battersea Power Station station, will it be the only station with two
'stations' in its full name? - reminiscent of Junction Rd Junction or the Great Western's Box Signal Box.
1421] Waterloo LUL: (BLN 1245.2102) The York Road entrance reopened on 29 May 2019 (six months
late) after a temporary closure since 15 Nov 2015 due to redevelopment of the surrounding area.
1330 NORTHERN GENERAL, WALES & GWR (Geoff Blyth & John Cameron)
1422] Do you believe in reincarnation? http://bit.ly/2YYXQ6C must be one of the more bizarre press
releases from the DfT (or is it DafT?) and not even on 1 Apr. It invites community groups to put
forward ideas for reusing old Pacer units when they are withdrawn after over 30 years. 'Competition
will breathe new life into an old Pacer train' says the heading. 'An old Pacer could be transformed into
a community space, a café or even a new village hall after Rail Minister Andrew Jones announced a call
for ideas will be launched on how the Pacer could be renovated to continue to serve communities.'
This summer, rail industry partners will launch a competition offering community groups the
opportunity to put forward their plans to convert a Pacer, donated by rolling stock company
Porterbrook, into a new public space. Email [email protected] for details.
Members may like to suggest bizarre uses for these units on withdrawal. Your NE and Yorkshire
Regional Editor's preference would be to assemble them all into a huge remotely controlled train and
send them to Skinningrove, having removed the buffer stop to enable them to plunge over the cliff.
The proposal did not receive a very enthusiastic reception in the north of England, to put it mildly. One
posting on the Reddit website read 'I want this to be an episode of The Thick of It, so I can watch it
from the relative safety and comfort of fictional satire and therefore not have to accept that it is
actually true. But my word, it really is true!' Others read 'Suggest we convert them into a bonfire'.
Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, couldn't see his constituents bidding for a Pacer café
or playgroup. 'I am not sure my constituents will agree that this is an exciting opportunity, unless one
of them is turned into a museum dedicated to highlighting years of under-investment in northern
transport,' he told the Manchester Evening News. 'My personal suggestion would be to invite my fed
up constituents to dismantle them piece by piece, a bit like when the Berlin Wall came down.'
The Guardian's north of England Editor let fly 'A government not so much tin-eared as deaf, blind and
so out of touch with northern England that it tried to sell this insulting, laughable idea as something so
thrilling that we would actually compete for rusty old trains abandoned by Iran* as too antiquated'.
Perhaps the civil servant who came up with it could totally see hipsters in Hackney turning them into
bars serving cocktails out of old British Rail mugs with ironic names such as Pacer Colada or
Screwdriver (Anyone? Train's Broken Down). As Wigan MP Lisa Nandy put it: 'If this is the Northern
Powerhouse they can keep it.' [*After withdrawal by British Rail, twelve Class 141 units were sold to
the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and exported during 2001/2002. All have since been withdrawn
and replaced by new DMUs - unlike in this country]. How about converting them into Leyland buses?
1330 NORTH EAST & YORKSHIRE (Geoff Blyth) [email protected]
1423] Maltby: (TRACKmaps 2 p34A Oct 2016) On the South Yorkshire Joint line the former Maltby
Colliery Bunker Line is being reinstated with vegetation cleared and rails changed. It is understood that
refuse will be sent out by rail to 'an incinerator', a second source of traffic on this through freight line.
Traffic levels through Maltby are currently grim with the collapse of coal traffic, sometimes nothing
runs for several days. The Wellingborough to Rylstone empty wagons (MTThFO) is the most frequent
runner (but not every booked day). Other than that in the last few weeks has been a NR Measurement
Train, an inspection saloon and a GBRf light engine (each once) along with an occasional trip from
Doncaster Decoy Yard to WH Davis Wagon Works at Shirebrook, sometimes only in one direction.
1424] Leeds: London services temporarily withdrawn during the previous timetable period remain
suspended until 9 Sep: 09.03 & 15.03 from King's Cross and 11.45 & 17.45 from Leeds plus (SuO) 13.33
from London & 17.16 ex-Leeds. The paths are now used for driver training on the new Azuma trains.
1425] Doncaster: On Sat 8 Jun, the 07.49 Southampton to Newcastle CrossCountry train unusually
called at Doncaster P3b (booked P8) on time from 12.14-12.18. It then, of course, had to cross back to
the Down Main. The reason was that its booked P8 was still occupied by the 11.30 Sheffield to Hull
(from 12.06 to 12.29) and P4 was required for the 10.30 King's Cross to Edinburgh from 12.11-12.13.
1426] Hull: Classical music is played at Paragon station which apparently is to deter loiterers.
Apparently this is a tried and tested technique which is known to work elsewhere!
1427] Bridlington: (BLN 1330.1291) A local Society member has supplied photos taken on 24 Sep 2014
which clearly show that the track had been lifted in bay P7 & 8, the 'excursion platforms', by then.
PREVIOUS PAGE: P7 from P6 looking south; 24 Sep 2014 (also BLN 1328.1164 picture) - Alan Sheppard.
1428] Eaglescliffe: EDC Sidings (that was, Eaglescliffe Dowmac Concrete), at the south end of the
Down Goods Loop, have been secured OOU from 1 Jun until 17 Nov. By doing this (and later extending
the time), they can be taken off NR's Business Rate asset base but returned to use easily if required.
1429] Hartlepool: On 23 May, and previously, the non-platform section of the Up Main (between the
facing crossover at the Sunderland end of the station and the trailing crossover at the Stockton end)
was heavily rusted and had not been used for some time. Freight trains use the bidirectional P2 line.
X.62] BELOW: 13.15 PSUL Carlisle to Newcastle on the High Level Bridge from the 'classic' viewpoint of
the Castle Keep. High Level Bridge Central Jn is just behind the DMU. (Peter Scott 13 May 2019.)
X.63] ABOVE: On 14 May 2019 a pair of CrossCountry Class 220 'Voyager' un
Level Bridge (112ft high and 1,337ft long) over the River Tyne in Newcastle a
the green Tyne (road) Bridge behind, lines up exactly with an arch on the Hig
nits forming the 19.35 Newcastle to Birmingham New Street, cross the High
and are about to take their PSUL route southwards. Note how the arch of
gh Level Bridge - impressive!! (Peter Scott.)
1430] Ferryhill: (BLN 1320.58) The GBRf aggregate traffic to Chesterton Jn stone terminal which began
on Mon 29 Oct 2018 ended with the train on Tue 29 Jan 2019 (08.49 from Thrislington via Eaglescliffe,
York, Doncaster, Lincoln and Ely to Chesterton Jn 16.40). The unloaded wagons returned to Doncaster
Decoy yard. On 23 May, the Thrislington Quarry line was certainly significantly rusty again.
1431] Horden: (BLN 1329.1295) Following this report that no work was evident on 6 May, a 28 May NR
press release indicated work had started. An undated picture showed a local notable wielding a spade.
However, at the end of May there was nothing to see other than some blue pegs in the ground.
1432] Morpeth- Berwick: (BLN
1328.1167) In the bar (where else?) of
Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel, 'highly
recommended', a member saw a
framed photo of a steam worked
narrow gauge line which once
connected the whinstone quarry on the
north side of Embleton village (lower
right on map LEFT) with Christon Bank
station on the East Coast Main Line at
(middle left by the 'Inn'). He explored
the old quarry, which seems to have
been used as a landfill site, to judge
from the array of ventilation pipes
sticking up out of the ground. There
was no trace of the railway there, but on the other (west) side of the road through the village could be
seen what could only be its trackbed running alongside fields, but at a lower level and clearly in the
direction of Christon Bank. The line only appears on the 1" (6th Series) 1947 map 1947 (fully revised
1921) not earlier, later or other scales. The North Sea is just off right, the 'Private' station is Fallodon.
1433] Berwick-upon-Tweed: The 06.00 (SSuX) to King's Cross starts here, (PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER -
John Cameron) departing south from Down P2 (where the stock previously arrives ECS from Heaton at
05.42). It crosses from the Down Main to the Up Main over the trailing crossover on the north end of
Royal Border Bridge (66m 72ch), south of the station in passenger service.
X.64] HS 444: To reduce costs, Chris Grayling has apparently decided that HS 444, the proposed
Newcastle - Edinburgh high speed line, should be built as a narrow gauge line. A member spotted a
mockup of the prototype rolling stock recently at Berwick-upon-Tweed. (BELOW: John Cameron.)
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: The 06.00 Berwick-upon-Tweed to King's Cross departs from Alnmouth.
ABOVE: Alnmouth, the 06.35 departure to Chathill, with no passenger on board. (John Cameron.)
1434] Alnmouth: A member alighted from the 06.00 from Berwick-upon-Tweed to take some photos.
One was of the 05.55 Newcastle to Chathill. Your Regional Editor remembers about 25 years ago,
driving to Seahouses early one morning to join a boat and being held up (genuine pure chance) at
Chathill Level Crossing by the train from Newcastle; needless to say there were no passengers on it.
It is possible to make an interesting journey on the 06.00 from Berwick to Alnmouth (06.20), then
return north at 06.34 to Chathill. A break is taken there from 06.47 to 07.10 while the unit runs ECS to
one of the Crag Mill Loops (both are bidirectional) and back, and then continue on to Newcastle.
Unfortunately there is no equivalent train in the evening. However, Berwick to Chathill is good value
as there is an 'easement'; the fare is the same as to Alnmouth with no extra charge made for doubling
back (6¼ miles of free rail travel can't be bad). How many such tickets are actually sold each year‽ The
fare from Berwick to Chathill cannot be lower than to Alnmouth otherwise those in the know would
just book to Chathill instead of Alnmouth. No problem if you miss the 06.00 from Berwick (47 minutes
including the Alnmouth change), there is another at 11.51 taking 7hrs 1min with 6hrs 28min at
Alnmouth - perhaps ride on the lovely Aln Valley Railway. This wait can be reduced to only 2hr 40min
on the 16.12 from Berwick by travelling via Newcastle but is much dearer requiring multiple tickets.
1435] Tram Train: (BLN 1329.1279) As indicated in BLN 1327.985, the England National Concessionary
Travel Scheme senior citizen and disabled passes are valid on Sheffield Supertram and the Tram Train,
irrespective of the local authority that issues them. This includes London Freedom Passes, provided
the holder has reached the national pension age. Sheffield is now the only English tram system on
which passes not issued locally can be used. [Blackpool trams accepted them from reopening after
modernisation on 22 Apr 2011 until 31 Mar 2014; now it accepts Blackpool and Wyre area passes
only.] Other English tram systems, including Croydon, are also only available to local pass holders.
1436] Darlington: The building next to the site of Stockton and Darlington railway (S&D) Crossing, said
to be the former Great North of England Railway engine shed (BLN 1278.736), has been superbly
restored and is now living accommodation within a small development of bungalows.
1437] S&D: (BLN 1329.1285) As well as the
'first passenger' plaque there is a second
one which reads: 'The first rail of the
Stockton & Darlington Railway was laid on
the adjacent level crossing in May 1822'.
On 13 May 1822 construction work started
on the railway; on 23 May Thomas Meynell,
the Chairman, led a procession of local
dignitaries and 200-300 navvies from
Stockton Town Hall down the High St to 'St
John's Well' (apparently a local landmark). It
is not clear where this was but an 1899 OS
map marks a small well some way south of
Bridge St and east of the railway. The plaque
was originally mounted on a wall by the level
crossing but was relocated to 48 Bridge St when the wall was demolished after closure of the goods
yard. The BLN 1329 Bridge House picture shows this plaque mounted on the bay which juts out and
the reinstated 'first passenger' plaque on the side wall, to the left of the door.
However, the 'Northern Echo' S&D Centenary Supplement, based on notes by WW Tomlinson, North
Eastern Railway historian, states the place indicated by the tablet [by the wall] is wrong. It quotes a
note (attached to a woodcut in the 'Illustrated London News' of 2 Oct 1875) from a man present on
the day: 'In laying the first rail, Mr Meynell stood nearabout where the window is shown beyond the
balustrades. He had his back to the wall and the rail was laid near the house [48 Bridge St], the Mayor,
the Recorder etc facing him as he did his work'. So, the tablet is probably now in a more correct place!
Given the state of the roads in the 1820s, heavy goods were transported by water whenever possible.
So it made eminent sense for the rails to be delivered to Stockton and for tracklaying to begin there.
The price of iron had been low in Oct 1821, so the railway took the opportunity to order the rails then.
The choice lay between malleable and cast iron rails. Although he had a financial interest in the best
cast iron rails then in use, George Stephenson recommended malleable iron rails even though they
were more expensive, because they were much less brittle and hence less likely to fracture.
Unfortunately some of the S&D shareholders who also had such an interest were not so principled and
cast their votes for the use of cast iron! Eventually 1,200 tons of malleable iron rails at £12.50
(in present day value) per ton were ordered from the Bedlington Iron Co, Northumberland, and
304 tons of cast iron rails at £6.45 per ton from the Neath Abbey Iron Co in South Wales.
According to Tomlinson's 'The North Eastern Railway - Its Rise and Development', the rails were of the
'fish belly' type - deeper (top to bottom) in the middle than at the ends. The malleable iron rails were
either 12ft or 15ft long and weighing 28lb/yard. The cast iron rails were 4ft long, weighing 57½lb/yard.
Cast iron chairs were used for both, weighing 6lb for the malleable iron rails and 10lb for the cast iron.
The rails were fastened to the chairs by a 3¼" nail passing through both and hammered down.
The chairs were secured to the sleepers with oak pins. The sleepers on the section west of Darlington
were stone blocks obtained from local quarries. However, the cost of taking such heavy items by horse
and cart east of Darlington was prohibitive. So oak blocks were manufactured from old ship timbers.
They were not sleepers in the current sense but (as with the stone ones) separate blocks, measuring
18 to 24"x7"x5", under each rail. As the timbers were brought from Portsmouth they were presumably
from surplus warships, which would no doubt have been in plentiful supply following the final defeat
of Napoleon. This is reminiscent of the timbers taken from ships wrecked in the 1794 gale being used
to relay the Willington Waggonway's wooden rails (BLN 1304.954). [Can any member enlighten us as
to whether the cheaper cast iron rails were up to the job or turned out to be a false economy?]
1438] Fictional Section: An appeal was made to members in BLN 1321.168 'Please can all members
send reports to Regional Editors if they see significant connections removed or points plain lined, as
this may be the only way we can accurately record when such lines were actually taken out of use.
As elsewhere, we cannot necessarily rely on official documentation (such as the Sectional Appendix)!'.
A member reports that the Up sidings at the east end of Goole station, shown in the Sectional
Appendix with a ② reference and as available to traffic, were observed on 20 May with the points
clipped and scotched out of use (OOU), heavily overgrown and clearly long OOU and unavailable.
He suspects they have been OOU for at least 15 years, but unrecorded, as he has a photograph of the
panel, taken in 2004 and showing a reminder appliance marked 'T4': a possession applicable to sidings.
1439] Rotherham Masb(o)rough: (BLN 1329.1292) All the earliest company and newspaper evidence
from around the period of the opening used Masbro' or occasionally Masbrough. The Public Time
Tables (PTT) for Dec 1848 used Masbro' (Rotherham), and that was still the form in use in the July
1856 tables. However, all twelve issues for 1863 showed the name as Masboro' (Rotherham), so the
extra 'o' had clearly crept in by then. It was still there in the PTT for Nov 1864, which was still in the old
small format. The PTTs were reformatted from Jan 1865 onwards and consistently used Masborough
for Rotherham, spelt out in full, though there was still variation, with the Doncaster line table using
Masboro'. There was then a history of minor changes, of course, but the intrusive 'o' remained. The
earliest Masboro' a member has found in the Sheffield newspapers is in the 'Sheffield Independent' for
12 Jul 1851, although there are examples from the early 1840s in newspapers from further afield.
1440] Chester-le-Street: (BLN 1303.836) After the 31 Mar 2018 closure of 'Chester-le-Track' which
offered extensive booking facilities here, the booking office was then staffed by Northern Trains for a
while. However tickets sold were only from Chester-le-Street and for use the day of sale. Although the
waiting room in the main station building is still available to passengers, the booking office has now
closed. A limited range of tickets is available from two 'Northern' machines on the Up platform.
1441] Castleford: (BLN 1327.981) A member visiting on 22 May disagrees with the description of a
'barren single platform station' which suggests an uneventful location. [It was actually meant to refer
to the platform facilities for a station with 580,000 passengers per year rather than the services, hence
the forthcoming improvements!] All stopping trains reverse in the single platform, (four and, at times,
six per hour) with much operational movement. The two screen pages on the dot matrix departure
board list regular trains to four destinations: Leeds, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Knottingley (plus
Goole occasionally). Our reporter also saw layovers for which the train reversed to stand on the Down
Cutsyke clear of Castleford West Jn, to later reverse again and return to the station. The P1 westbound
starter has theatre indicator displays of 'C' to the Down Cutsyke and 'N' to the Up Normanton. The
recorded announcements were out of synchronisation with the trains, so the conductors also shouted
announcements. There is already a large new touch screen ticket machine, clearly remotely monitored
as it went out of order briefly and then resumed service without any apparent physical intervention.
The shelter is new and in good condition and the platform surface sound and clear of weeds and litter.
1330 NORTH WEST (John Cameron) [email protected]
1442] Halton Jn - Frodsham Jn: (BLN 1329.1296) A member who travels fairly often from the IOM to
Chester via Liverpool Airport was able to sample the new Lime Street to Chester via Runcorn service
on its second day of operation, Mon 20 May. The 20.50 from Liverpool South Parkway departed on
time with 150237, unusually from P3 to avoid conflict with the late running 20.46 to Lime Street
originating at Manchester Oxford Road. Five other passengers also boarded, joining 13 already on it.
The slow lines were maintained to Ditton East Jn. At Runcorn it was three off and one on; Frodsham
four and one; at Helsby two alighted and one joined. Chester bay P3 was reached three mins early.
The return journey (09.27 ex-Chester) on Thur 23 May, with 158838 from bay P5. 13 joined at Chester
with a further four at Helsby and 10 at Frodsham. The train was held after Frodsham to await the
09.13 from Lime Street to clear the single track curve, even though that (a Class 150) was slightly early.
Our member's train was held again before Runcorn due to a late Birmingham to Lime Street train, so
left Runcorn 5 min late. At Ditton East Jn, the slow lines were again used so a Pendolino could
overtake. Liverpool South Parkway was seven minutes late at the unusual P4. The trip thereby gave
the member both his missing platforms at South Parkway as well as the Frodsham Single itself. [Write
100 lines: I must remember that the former Halton Curve was renamed the 'Frodsham Single' from
9 Feb 2018.] Rail industry opinion is that a new service takes 12-24 months to become established.
ABOVE: Liverpool South Parkway, passenger platform information on the unusual P3.
BELOW: The train on arrival at Chester. (All by Graeme Easton 20 May 2019.)
ABOVE: Returning from Chester, Thur 23 May.
1443] Sunday no longer a day of rest: Northern advises that a bridging agreement (sounds expensive)
has been reached with ASLEF over driver rest day working and a full Sunday service has run recently.
1444] Metrolink, Trafford Park: Tracklaying is 97% complete and 'stop' construction has 'started'.
1445] No weaving at Weaver Jn: The Grand Junction Railway opened here between Vauxhall (first
station near the present Duddeston) in Birmingham via Bescot and Warrington on 1 Jul 1837.
The (Liverpool) line to Ditton Jn opened on 1 Apr 1869 from the new flat Birdswood Jn where the two
routes diverge. The Liverpool line flyover above the main line at Birdswood opened on 13 Nov 1881,
moving the junction ¾ mile south. It was named Weaver Jn after the nearby river. A former Society
Chairman of 20 years duration thinks that this was the world's first railway 'flying' or perhaps more
correctly 'grade separated junction'. We will now test that theory on our almost 2,000 members...
1446] Warrington: (TRACKmaps 4 p29B Dec 2018) The 1 Jun 'Curvey Weaver' UK Railtour (with many
members on) visited Walton Old Jn Sidings (the non-electrified yard between the WCML and Helsby
Lines) reaching the end of Road 5. This is believed to be the first passenger train here for at least 50
years. It then ran to Latchford via Shunting Neck 3, Grid Iron feeding Jn and the Arpley Feeder Line.
1447] Garston: (TRACKmaps 4 p38A Dec 2018) A senior NR freight manager advises that the 'Curvey
Weaver' tour was the first train of any type to use the bidirectional single track, electrified 'Garston
Chord' (Allerton East Jn - Garston Jn) since reopening on 2 Jan 2019. The second train was our 9 Jun
'Sunday Yicker' tour, just eight days later (a 'Yicker' is an inhabitant of Haydock). It had been effectively
out of use for many years before that. The latest TRACKmaps shows it very well; at the Allerton East Jn
end it follows the former Up & Down Allerton Goods line, continuing as a plain single track making a
'wiggle' which used to be a crossover to the Down Allerton Goods which it then follows to Garston Jn.
This might seem strange, but meant sections of the original, little used, OHLE could be retained when
the junctions both ends were rationalised (BR would have been proud of this sensible economy!).
The other disused sections of this former double track chord are lifted. The railway bridge over Church
Road itself (24m 00ch) now being replaced is unaltered single track - an old OS 25" to the mile map
shows there were once six tracks across there, but the spans for the other five have been removed.
The railtour's next objective was Garston Intermodal Terminal, again to the buffers, on Road 6. Close
study of old OS maps, Google Earth, and the Railway Clearing House junction diagrams show this site
to be on, or very close to, the formation of the London & North Western Railway Garston Dock Goods
branch. This ran to the north of the dock lines, then curved sharply to drop in at a southeasterly angle
on the seaward side of the dock. If anything, Road 1 of the intermodal terminal looks to be the closest
fit to the course of the branch. The longer Garston Holding Siding curves away gently southward from
the single track at Church Road and seems to be a survivor of the dock lines, at their extremity (Quail 4
p40 Oct 1990 shows that it was not part of the lines to the coal berth for coal exports).
1448] Merseyrail: Liverpool FC won the Champions League on Sat 1 Jun. A victory parade took place in
central Liverpool next day. To accommodate the increase in passengers and provide a reliable and
frequent service: ●Northern line trains called only at Moorfields in the city centre. ●Wirral line trains
called only at Liverpool Central in the city centre. ●James Street, Lime Street low level, Green Lane,
Bromborough Rake and Capenhurst stations were closed. If Liverpool FC had not won the Champions
League, trains would then have called at both Moorfields and Liverpool Central but all other changes
would have remained in place (with fewer travelling to a Champions League second place parade).
1449] Liverpool Central: Posters advertising advertising space (!) state that 16,035,031 people use the
station every year. WRONG! That was only the 2016-17 figure; it was 16,465,770 in 2017/18 up 2.8%.
1450] Maghull North: A recent visit found that the extensive 156 space car park was full, as it is every
weekday. The station, opened 18 Jun 2018, is likely to become busier, as there is considerable house
building in the area surrounding it, with more planned. A gradient board has been installed on the
Down platform showing the change in gradient from 1 in 1130 to 1 in 167. An attractive and poignant
statue at the entrance to the station commemorates the area's association with wounded WWI
soldiers. The Moss Side Hospital near the site of the station pioneered the treatment of shell shock.
1451] Wigan Springs Branch: Arriva Rail North has requested NR to clear Classes 153, 156, 142, 150,
170, 158, 195, 323, 319, 331 & 769 DMUs and EMUs for stabling at the new depot under construction.
1452] Metrolink: Passengers will soon be able to use contactless cards and devices with the tram stop
smart readers. Adult single and one-day travelcard prices will apply, up to the daily cap. As in London
touching-in and out will be required at the beginning and end of each journey. Failure to touch in could
incur a £30 charge. Not touching out could lead to an incomplete journey fare of £4.60 being charged.
1453] Wigan: Macro-gricers can book a railtour to North Korea. Wigan based Lupine Travel's latest
excursion is from Greater Manchester to the capital of North Korea entirely by rail. The 5,000 mile
journey takes a month via Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow, Irkutsk (Siberia), Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia),
Beijing, Dandong also in China and then Pyongyang. There is a four night leg stretch in North Korea
before returning. The £3,195 (return) includes a pie barm lunch leaving Wigan - worth it for that alone.
1454] Travel in Style more often: Previously unreported (tut tut, local members!), since 20 May 2018
timetable change Styal has had a vastly improved service, hourly in both directions seven days a week.
1455] Overpool service enhancement: (BLN 1329.1250) P1 is closed until 15 Jun for work as part of
introduction of new Merseyrail rolling stock. Trains to Ellesmere Port have run through P1 non-stop,
with passengers to Overpool enjoying extra mileage to Ellesmere Port and back to Overpool P2.
This resulted in the last two trains of the day, (normally ECS), running in service with a three minutes
schedule from Ellesmere Port to Overpool becoming ECS thereafter. The trains in question are the
23.43 and 00.11 Ellesmere Port to Overpool. In the other direction, passengers to Ellesmere Port (and
the very hardy ones on to Helsby etc) double back at Little Sutton [in Cheshire not Merseyside!].
1456] Hope: A hopeful member attended the 1 Jun Cement Works open day (per BLS 22 May email
and 'Connections' BLN 1329.1377). It was an excellent event including minibus tours of the quarry and
works areas with very informative guides. A 90th anniversary souvenir booklet gave details of history
and current operations. There is a works social club with its own golf course, known as the Earle's Club,
after the original name of the company†. Earles Sidings (no apostrophe) is still the name for the main
line exchange sidings, of course. One room in the club contained an interesting historical display with
many photos. Works ownership has changed quite a bit in recent years. For many years it was Blue
Circle and later Lafarge. However, when Lafarge and Tarmac merged in 2013, the UK Competition
Commission demanded they sell off some of their cement production capacity and the Hope works
and its distribution network was hived off as 'Hope Construction Materials'. This branding can be seen
on the fleet of modern bogie cement wagons acquired about that time. The company was bought by
the Breedon Group in 2016 and now trades at Breedon Cement. The works produces about 1.4M
tonnes of cement a year (15% of UK production); 1M tonnes goes out by rail. There is inward opencast
coal from Cwmbargoed in South Wales, but 35% of the fuel used is domestic waste or old tyres.
LEFT: 1960 map. On the 1m 52ch internal railway
branch, perfect for a 'Molly' trip, two steam locos
were bought in for the occasion from the Bahamas
Locomotive Society base at Ingrow, an 0-6-0T
'Nunlow' which operated at the works from 1938-
1968, and LNWR 0-6-2T 'coal tank' 1054. The latter
was in steam and did in fact give limited footplate
rides (limited by a steam leak). There were plenty
of cement wagons and some coal hoppers in
evidence, two industrial shunters and a selection
of Class 08 and 20 locos. In the early afternoon a
loaded cement train departed towards the NR
exchange sidings. It is interesting to speculate what
the reaction might nowadays be to proposals for a
new large quarry and cement works in the middle
of a national park!
†Hope Cement Works was opened in 1929 by the
firm of G & T Earle, long before the National Park
was even an idea. The choice of site was dictated
by geology, being situated between large, easily
quarried deposits of limestone to the south and west and of shale to the north and east; both these
primary raw materials could be brought in without lengthy transport over public roads or railways.
Railfreight traffic now runs seven days a week; destinations/origins include: Cwmbargoed, Tunstead,
Bredbury, West Thurrock, Dewsbury, Theale, Walsall and Drax & West Burton Power Stations. The
general increase in rail cement traffic on the network in recent years is fuelled by an agreement with
the government whereby the Carbon Tax is not applied to coal required at cement works (which would
have caused most to close due to the financial implications). Additionally there is less reliance on coal
as a fuel and the increased use of 'green energy' - hence the many solar panels at Ketton for example.
Some pictures from Hope Cement Works open day, Sat 1 Jun. NEXT PAGE - both Mark Arnold.
ABOVE: 0-6-0T 'Nunlow', a static exhibit, which operated at the works from 1938-1968.
BELOW: LNWR 0-6-2T 'coal tank' 1054 which gave limited footplate rides. (Both Ian Mitchell.)
ABOVE: Similar to the earlier picture but with a different perspective (Ian Mitchell.)
1457] Windermere branch freight traffic: (BLN 1323.419) As reported, the new ticket machine for
Staveley had to come by rail, as the steps to the platform are too steep for delivery of such a heavy
item. There had to be no service trains running on the line, so it was arranged for what turned out to
be the last Saturday of the strike timetable (28 Jul 2018), when the service finished early (21.00).
Northern had to hire/borrow a Class 185 for the delivery, as the Class 158 DMU doors are too narrow.
1458] Bowness-on-Solway: (BLN 1286.1690 of 12 Aug
2017 with maps and pictures) reported on the Solway
Junction Railway, following a visit a member made to
Annan. He has now been to see what remains at the
south end of the Solway Viaduct (LEFT) which CA 1921.
There is a stone faced embankment, as at the Scottish
shore, now well overgrown. Whereas there is a good
quality path along the embankment from Annan, and an
information board about the viaduct, there is just a
narrow, muddy footpath along the trackbed from the
minor road west of Bowness-on-Solway village. At the
end of the embankment, to our member's great surprise, one of the iron trestles remains, together
with the stumps of a second. The trestle is much shorter than those standing in the Solway Firth would
have been, but provides a tangible record of the viaduct's construction. The top of the trestle is almost
level with the top of the embankment, so the viaduct deck would have been mounted directly on it.
These iron trestles used to be hidden within the south embankment so escaped demolition in the
1930s, but have became exposed over the years as the embankment has been eroded by the weather
and sea. NEXT PAGE TOP: Remains of the single track Solway Viaduct, looking north to Scotland.
LOWER: In the other direction, looking south at the embankment. (Both Greg Beecroft Jun 2019.)
1330 SOUTH EAST - NORTH & EAST ANGLIA (Julian James) [email protected]
X.65] Bletchley, ABOVE: (BLN 1322.3030) Recent work on Bletchley Flyover for East West Rail. (NR.)
1459] Oxford: On Fri 7 Jun GWR ran an IET non-stop run from Paddington to Oxford and back as part
of tests with a view to accelerating the service. Booked to leave at 10.13 it was 2¼ minutes late but
arrived at Oxford 7½ minutes early at 11.10½ taking 55¼ mins for 63m 26ch, a start to stop average of
68.8mph. Not hanging about in Oxford, the return - which was the real test - at 11.26¾ with green
signals all the way reached Paddington four minutes early at 12.05½, just 38¾ mins averaging 98.0mph
start to stop. The faster scheduled services take about an hour currently, usually with two stops.
1460] Sheringham: (BLN 1329.1251) On 30 May the new platform was almost complete, but only the
west end was in use - for trains of the current length. The east end is fenced off. The two speed signs
for departure were post mounted part way along the platform, screwed to the surface; presumably
temporarily. Although ROP 22 May the passenger information system was not working until early June.
After reopening, another temporary situation was a narrative sign (NEXT PAGE) stating that movement
of the Sprinter Stop Board during the station works made it necessary for drivers of legacy stock
('Sprinters'!) to 'stop opposite the last tree on Tesco's land' - adjacent to the station. This avoided the
front door opening on the trespass guard/just off the platform and avoided trains fouling the Train
Protection Warning System loop at the other end of the platform, until the stop board could be
repositioned. It was only a little tree (well, it is a branch line) so certainly adds new meaning to the
expression 'Every Little Helps'.
X.66] Eridge, ABOVE: Spotted by your Greater London Regional Editor recently. Despite being on the
'Up' platform it was clearly a 'down' facility, presumably for dropping parcels or mail bags from inside
the station building on the road bridge down to the Up former island platform. Or is it something else
altogether - any ideas please? There wasn't one on the Down platform. (Geoff Brocket 21 Apr 2019.)
1461] Chelmsford: (BLN 1233.980) The three Lower Yard sidings continue in active use for aggregate
traffic from Merehead staged at Acton Yard. No1 road is the one closest to the Down Main and often
used by engineer's vehicles, but on 30 May was unoccupied and all three sidings could be seen to be in
good condition with bullhead rail and the ballast free of weeds.
1462] Banbury: (BLN 1329.1310) The full booked use of P1 & P4 (from the signalling worksheets):
>SSuX: Dn P1 10.10 (SSuX) Marylebone to Moor Street, 11.43 & 16.24 Marylebone to Stratford (Dn
direction). No through Up trains but 22.12 & 23.30 from Birmingham Snow Hill terminate in P1. Up P4:
13.43 Marylebone to Stratford (Dn direction) with 10.40 & 12.43 ex-Stratford & 14.55 ex-Moor Street,
all Up to Marylebone. (06.01 Guildford to Newcastle & 09.43 Marylebone to Stratford should use P2.)
>SO: 09.43, 13.43, 15.43 and 17.43 Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon use P4 (Down direction).
10.40, 14.41, 16.41 and 18.41 Stratford-upon-Avon to Marylebone use P4 (Up direction).
>SuO: 09.43, 11.43, 13.43, 15.43, 17.43 Marylebone to Stratford use P1 (Down direction), 12.19
Stratford to Marylebone P4 (Up direction), 14.43 & 16.43 Stratford to Marylebone P1 (Up direction).
1463] Felixstowe: (BLN 1327.1014) The branch reopened by 04.00 Wed 29 May as planned following
the four day shut down (so no intermodal trains ran to/from the Port on Tue 28th). The branch is now
controlled by a new separate Felixstowe Workstation (FW) at Colchester PSB; this accounts for the
signals and points being redesignated 'FW' instead of 'CO' for Colchester as they were previously.
According to Realtime Trains (RTT), the first trains after reopening were GBRf's 21.04 (TO) ex-Birch
Coppice to Felixstowe North Terminal (due to pass Trimley 04.15 but 21 min late) in the Down
direction and in the Up the 04.35 Felixstowe North Terminal to Birch Coppice (due Trimley 04.44 but
actual 04.57). Not being a night owl, unfortunately our member doesn't know if either/both used the
new Trimley Loop line in its entirety, but it seems likely that the second train would have done.
The first passenger train, 05.04 ex Ipswich, ran as booked over the Felixstowe Single line.
What will particularly interest members is that the platformless Trimley Loop has already been used
by its first passenger train! This took place on Thu 30 May. Due to late running the 08.54 Felixstowe
(which left there 09.20) to Ipswich was switched to the Trimley Loop line (RTT shows 09.24 - 09.32) on
its approach to the station to pass the 08.57 ex-Ipswich (Trimley 09.35 - 09.36) in that vicinity instead
of at Derby Road loop as booked. Of note the latter waited at Derby Road for 11 minutes instead of
the booked 30 seconds, so they were obviously thinking about it. The former Trimley Up platform no
longer exists, so passengers for Ipswich were unable to board (and none could alight either) and had
to await the next working as the train sailed by on the other line! RTT showed it 'using' Trimley P1 and
the others P2 (National Rail has the single platform as P1 - the Sectional Appendix sits on the fence.)
1464] Westerfield: There are more fun and games here as the level crossing has been closed to road
traffic for seven weeks (!!) from Sat 25 May while the Automatic Half-Barrier Crossing is replaced by
CCTV-controlled full barriers. With no access between the two platforms as a result, a temporary
footbridge was planned, but just one tower on the Down side has so far been installed. Free taxis are
available to ferry passengers (and, presumably, other pedestrians and those who are mobility-
impaired) from one side to the other, not that there are any signs to say so! At the same time that
Westerfield crossing closed, NR also decided to close the nearby Tuddenham Rd overbridge for repairs,
recommending an 18+ mile detour! Fortunately, after strong protests, commonsense kicked in and
temporary traffic lights have been installed to enable single line working over the bridge. BELOW:
Westerfield Crossing's invisible temporary footbridge (with two towers) on 4 Jun. (Graham Hardinge).
1465] North Cotswold Line: On 20 May platform extensions were 'open' with automatic door opening.
A software update had been implemented on most IETs. Only those out stabled at locations such as
Hereford, which Hitachi Fleet Maintenance staff could not reach in time for start of service, were not
automatic and the driver had to manually select the doors from the cab controls. As 20 May was the
first day of platform extensions, all drivers were required to double check to make sure the software
had downloaded correctly. As part of it, coach 'F' becomes 'D', Worcestershire Parkway was loaded
into the stopping pattern and finally, seat reservations on 9-car IETs now work! First Class is snubbed
with their doors not opening at most of the new extensions. Of interest IETs have individual automatic
coach announcements, so passengers are only advised which coaches are stopping at a short platform
and which way to move if their coach is not (it took a while to realise that).
ABOVE: On the south (London) end of Oxford P4 the 'feathers' (OK, route position indicator)
are lit for the 20.31 to Paddington to cross to the Up Oxford Line. (Simon Mortimer.)
1466] Oxford: In the new timetable there are some regular booked Up departures from Oxford P4
towards London via the new trailing crossover from the Down Oxford to Up Oxford. These are 23.45
(SSuX) Banbury to Reading (conveniently calling at Radley 00.32 as there is an earlier 23.16 from that
station due Oxford, 23.34 - P4 even.) More civilized are the 16.01 & 20.31 (SSuX) Oxford P4 to
Paddington, both first stop Reading. The latter train is prone to variation some dates but usually
arrives P4 as the 20.09 Turbo from Didcot Parkway terminates at Oxford P3 at 20.27. The 20.09 Turbo
uses the facing crossover at Hinksey North Jn from the Down Oxford to the Up Oxford. From there it
could reach P3 via the Up Oxford or the Up Oxford Relief. If you are lucky and quick you could arrive in
P3 from the south at 20.27 and whizz across the bridge in time for the 20.31 back south from P4!
Other trains booked to arrive P3 (normally an Up platform) from the south are: (FSSuX) 22.18 from
Paddington, (SSuX) 21.01 & 22.32 ex-Didcot, (MSSuX) 01.11 & 05.49 ex-Didcot, 00.25 ex-Paddington;
(FO) 23.42 & (SO) 22.20, 22.50, 23.35 & 23.55 ex-Paddington and (SuO) 00.18 & 09.28 ex-Didcot. Some
have a tight turnaround back south which can be done in P3 (or P4), others terminate in P3 to proceed
directly into the Up Oxford Sidings to stable for the night; P3 is also the side of the main station exit.
1467] Downham Market: On a recent visit a member was struck by the station's split personality!
He saw a Great Eastern Railway seat, painted red; Network SouthEast (NSE) station running in boards
in apparently new condition; the signal box has name boards on both ends, one being NSE, the other
West Anglia Great Northern (despite signal boxes never being owned or managed by train operators)
and a very new sticker on the ticket machine which has combined Great Northern and NSE logos!
ABOVE: A Class 31 shunting Downham Market, sidings in Sep 1974. (Ian Mortimer.) NEXT: A series of
pictures all taken by Nick Garnham at this fine station on 21 Feb 2019 (note the identity crisis).
ABOVE/INSET RIGHT and BELOW:
The two contrasting ends of the signal box.
ABOVE: The ticket machine base is 'Great Northern' branded with a splash of Network SouthEast.
BELOW: The Great Eastern Railway (G E R) branded metal bench supports.
ABOVE & BELOW: Looking north towards King's Lynn.
1468] Norwich Trowse: (BLN 1321.187) On 30 May the site of Victoria Sidings was noted cleared and
levelled; all four have been lifted. The access points in the Down Main and trap switches remained.
Weeds were beginning to grow and there was no sign of materials for the planned new sidings.
1330 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH (Julian James) [email protected]
1469] HS1: To provide funds for future
maintenance and renewal work, HS1's investment
funds owners want to raise track access charges
from Apr 2020 by 25% for Southeastern, 43% for
Eurostar and 74% for freight companies! Eurostar
said that the increase would 'damage the ability of
the business to invest in the development of
services and capacity (such as station
enhancements)'. HS1 says the cost increases are
needed to help fund £1.5bn of repairs and
upgrades over the next 40 years. The 30-year
concession to run Britain's only high-speed rail line
was sold by two Canadian pension funds in a £3bn
deal in 2017 to investors including HICL
Infrastructure and Equitix.
1470] Southampton, Northam Jn - St Denys:
Southampton Up Yard, the former Bevois Park
Sidings, has reopened for aggregates traffic,
reportedly from Merehead and Whatley for local
construction projects. Previously the Tarmac
concrete depot, the two sidings and necks are now
operated by L&S Aggregates. ('Modern Railways')
There is a conditional weekly 10.00 WO from
Dowlow, Briggs Sidings to Northam Up Yard (08.46
ThO) path in the system from 22 May until 11 Dec,
with the unloaded wagons then running to
Wembley European Freight Operations Centre, but
it hasn't operated yet.
1471] Winchfield: On 30 May the 13.42 Waterloo
to Basingstoke ran fast Farnborough to Winchfield
due to the 'failure of a freight train at Fleet'. This
appears to have been a light Class 59 on the Down
Slow, a signal section or two past the Down Slow
to Down Fast crossover at Farnborough, blocking
access to Fleet P2. The Down Fast to Down Slow
before Winchfield was a bonus for our member.
1330 SOUTH WEST (Darren Garnon)
1473] Portishead: (BLN 1329.1325) LEFT: Thanks to
Martyn Brailsford, a special BLN plan to explain the
proposals for passenger reopening described.
South Liberty Siding is occupied by Bristol
Freightliner Terminal but due to be 'freed' up by its
closure in late July.
1472] Plymouth - Penzance: With the new timetable the GWR weekday off peak frequency has
doubled (the overall service has not doubled as CrossCountry run some trains too). Two trains an hour
each way (one on Sundays) provide an extra 4,000 seats each weekday with refurbished 'Castle Class'
short HSTs and new IETs. As well as the rolling stock it required a £30M signalling upgrade. Initially
priced at £18M, this came in £300M less than the estimate for the total resignalling of Cornwall once
envisaged. Seven level crossings have also been upgraded. GWR plans to run more London to Devon
and Cornwall trains from Dec and cut Paddington to Penzance journey times by up to 14 mins.
1474] Dawlish (BLN 1339.1331) NR has produced http://bit.ly/2XwLt1g (3 mins) an interesting video
about work undertaken here since 2014. Train crew have been warned to expect to see large items of
plant in use on the sea wall and beach between Dawlish station and Kennaway Tunnel from 7 Jun until
14 Jul for construction of the new sea wall including a large crane on Marine Parade. At 206m 32ch
there will be noise and vibration monitors 2.5m above ground level.
Meanwhile, NR is seeking views from residents on 'significant changes' to the 70ch of railway between
Parson's Tunnel and Teignmouth. The 10 week consultation seeks feedback about plans to move the
railway line away from cliff sections that pose the greatest threat of rockfall. Land reclamation is
included and an enhanced sea wall. The plans seek to enhance leisure access and walking routes.
NR will summarise their findings for a second round of consultation due to commence in the autumn.
1475] St 'Erth works': (BLN 1329.1322 - where on p38 'ABOVE' should be 'BELOW' and vice versa.)
(TRACKmaps 3 p11B Jun 2018) The new St Ives branch bay P3 opened on Sat 1 Jun as planned, the
platform is now so wide that its new track is on the course of the previous closed 'Siding' shown as at
P4. Although lengthened at the Plymouth end it has been slightly shortened at the Penzance end to
create more circulating space but can still take a 5-car DMU (operational length 120yd). The Bay Siding
has been shortened to give an operational length of 65yd.
1476] Gloucester: NR is hosting drop in events for residents to find out more about forthcoming works
at the station. Life expired track will be replaced at the west end. Improvements will also be made to P2,
bay P3 & P4. The work takes place, with closure of the west end, Sun 21 to Sat 27 Jul; Horton Road
crossing is also closed then (plus Sat 20th). No trains will be able to call at Gloucester on Sun 21 and
Mon 22 Jul, with rail replacement services from Cam & Dursley, Cheltenham and Newport.
Cheltenham to Swindon/Paddington and Malvern/Worcester to Bristol services generally operate
direct via the Gloucester avoider. Realtime Trains (RTT) shows use of both Haresfield Goods Loops to
essentially lose the time gained by missing out Gloucester for these services: Sun 21: (Down) 10.04
Cheltenham to Taunton, 11.38 Worcester to Bristol; (Up) 12.11, 14.39, 16.41 & 18.37 Bristol to
Worcester. Mon 22: (Down) 06.49 Worcester to Weymouth; (Up) 07.23 Warminster, 08.23
Southampton, 08.59 Brighton, 12.27 Southampton, 15.28 & 17.28 Warminster to Great Malvern and
20.41 Bristol to Worcester. Mon 22 - Fri 26: (Up) 20.35 Taunton to Cheltenham.
Tue 23 to Fri 26 Jul, only Gloucester P1 is available, with daytime trains to/from the Swindon, Bristol
and Nottingham directions. Cheltenham - Gloucester - Lydney and Gloucester - Lydney - Newport rail
replacement services also run. RTT does not clarify if trains from South Wales terminating at Lydney
reverse in the same platform (single line working with a pilotman) or do an ECS shunt. However, with
20 mins or so at Lydney an ECS shunt via the facing crossover (132m 71ch) would seem the best bet.
1477] Ilfracombe: The branch from Barnstaple Jn closed 5 Oct 1970 (but track remained in situ until
1975) and boasted one of the steepest gradients in the country - the 1 in 36 climb from Ilfracombe to
Mortehoe & Woolacombe station. Planning permission has now been submitted for a section of line
to be reinstated. A BLS railtour is unlikely however, as the proposal is for a 33ft panel of track to be
reinstated at Slade, Ilfracombe as a demonstration to walkers enjoying the Tarka Trail footpath.
ABOVE: A long excursion train from Bristol, approaches Ilfracombe (good choice, Ian!) in Jun 1970.
The branch closed on 5 Oct that year; the terminus was inconvenient, high above the back of the town.
BELOW: Ilfracombe 49 years ago this month; Warship D803 'Albion' with the return excursion to
Bristol. By then the carriage sidings (left) had been lifted (leaving just a run round loop) and the branch
singled. The loco, withdrawn on 1 Jan 1972, was cut up at Swindon in 1972. (Both Ian Mortimer.)
ABOVE: Crossing the always single track River Taw bridge from then then Barnstaple Junction (the
present terminus of the Barnstaple branch) to Barnstaple Town on the outward journey to Ilfracombe.
BELOW: Barnstaple Town, which was on the same single track section, the same day; the fence at the
back of the platform beyond the building was at the bay platform for the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway.
1330 WEST MIDLANDS (Brian Schindler) [email protected]
1478] Duplicate entry in paper BLN - deleted in e-BLN.
1479] West Midlands Metro: Thur 30 May was the 20th anniversary of the line opening. Tram No19
was vinyled as the 'Birthday Tram' (No20 was having batteries fitted) and 16 members of staff who had
served 20 years were presented with certificates - sorry, the budget wouldn't stretch to gold watches.
Members of the Passenger Panel (one just happened to be a local BLS member) had the chance to
drive a tram from Siding 8 to the wash at Wednesbury Depot (he did!) and depart over the connection
out of the depot when it subsequently went into service - there have to be some advantages.
1480] Shrewsbury Flower Show: On 25 May both Abbey Foregate Loop tracks were well polished but
they do not appear to have been included in the weed killing train itinerary either this year or last and
have a flourishing green carpet. Some vegetation pruning and strimming seems to have taken place in
and around the triangle in recent months but enough remains to ensure that the unofficial 'Buddleia
Jn' moniker will again be well deserved this year! In the new timetable Shrewsbury has gained through
trains to Walsall via Birmingham New Street SSuX at 05.59, 07.14, 07.47 & 08.15. From Walsall they
are at 08.36 & 10.08 (don't ask!). Most are pathed as 'Class 158 (Express Sprinter)' with one 'Class 150/
153/155/156 (Sprinter)' DMU. However, West Midlands Railway (the Train Operating Company; West
Midlands Trains is the holding company) doesn't have any Class 150, 155, 156 or 158 now, Shrewsbury
services are usually Class 170s! The 07.19 (SSuX) Wolverhampton through to Four Oaks EMU still runs.
1481] Coventry: (BLN 1328.1202) Through Leamington Spa to Nuneaton services are all shown routed
via Coventry P4 (via a previously rare Birmingham end crossover) except for the departures at 05.32 &
15.02 SSuX and the 07.02 SO. On Sundays the services are split (as they were in the previous timetable
Mon-Sat) and Coventry to Leamington trains are shown from P4. Through Nuneaton to Leamington
services (running SuX) are shown routed through Coventry P2. However, SSuX, the 07.16 & 11.17 are
both shown via P4 (but sometimes actually use P2). On 24 May the 11.17 ex-Coventry P4 and 11.28
return from Nuneaton (a four minute 'connection' at Coventry Arena!) also to P4 performed per plan.
1482] Hereford: (BLN 1328.1227): P4, North Up 'Salop Bay' was (judging by the rail condition) back in
use by 1 Jun. This is particularly interesting as in the new timetable it has no booked use by any trains.
1483] NR hanging around at Arley: NR is investing £6M to secure a steep cutting at (the other) Arley
near Nuneaton on the Birmingham line. The permanent fix, involving engineers abseiling, avoids costly
temporary repairs and maintains reliability of the route. Although the area is hilly it is not naturally so,
being shaped by spoil from coal mining before the railway was built in the 1840s. Above the cutting to
the east of Arley Tunnel there is a slag heap which sits on top of a mixture of natural soil and rock.
This increases the risk of landslips and rocks falling onto the lines. Now engineers are using large drills
to drive more than 3,600 huge soil nails into the walls of the cutting strengthening the ground for the
next 120 years. 900m of new drainage, 1.2km of fencing and netting to stop anything else from falling
onto the track will also be installed as part of the £6M works which does not disrupt train services.
1484] Walsall - Lichfield: A volunteer group http://bit.ly/2K4CjWC supported by Sustrans is carrying
out work on the Pelsall to Brownhills 2¼ mile section of trackbed (CG/A 19 Mar 1984) to create a
greenway for walkers and cyclists. The 'McClean Way' is named after John Robinson McClean, who
was instrumental in establishing the South Staffordshire Railway. Considerable work has already been
carried out by 12 volunteers, especially between the A5 bridge and the site of the former Brownhills
station where many trees have been removed. Track with concrete sleepers is still in situ under the A5
bridge, a headshunt for the former Anglesea Sidings Charrington's Fuel Oil terminal, latterly a branch
(taken OOU 26 Mar 2005) from Lichfield City Jn. Vicarage Rd bridge has been improved and replica
totem signs with the route name affixed. A distant signal post still in situ has been cleaned and had its
arm replaced. The route restoration is an excellent job by any standards let alone volunteers.