Issue Number 1225 ( Items 126_ 215 and MR 7 _ 13) (e-BLN 19 PAGES* ) 24 January 2015
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, EPSOM, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members, an international section is also available.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
BLN 1226 is due on Saturday 7 February; all contributions must be received by 28 January
* Centre fold map is 2 (A5) pages in paper BLN and one (A4) page in e-BLN; they are otherwise identical.
Date Event Visit Type BLN Lead Notes
To be advised SVR signalling Two day practical course 1224 NJ Notify
Fri 20/02/15 Embsay Railway Brakevan tour 1224 GW Notify
Sat 28/02/15 Scunthorpe Steel 10.30 Brakevan tour 1219 PS FULL
Fri 6/03/15 Lakeside & H. Rly. 10.00 Tour & traction 1224 KA Open
Sat 7/03/15 Nene Valley Two gauges trip 1224 GW Open
Sun 8/03/15 Chasewater Rly. 10.00 Brakevan tour 1224 PS Open
Fri 13/03/15 North Norfolk Rly. 11.00 Brakevan tour 1224 KA Enquire
Sat 21/03/15 GW Tracker tour IV Thames Valley Reading TBA KA Deferred
Wed 8/4/15 Guided railway 18.00 - 21.00 Rugby 1225 TG NOW
walk, map & notes area railway walk (2) Below OPEN
Fri 17/04/15 West Somerset Rly. 11.00 Brakevan tour 1224 RG FULL
Sun 19/04/15 TPE DMU Tracker NW - S. Scotland - S&C TBA KA Claimed
Mon 20/04/15 West Somerset Rly. 11.00 Brakevan tour 1224 RG Open
Sat 25/04/15 Conducted signal 09.00 Clacton box then 1225 PS NOW
Parkeston & Colchester Below OPEN
NEW Box Visits
Mon 27/04/15 K&WV Railway Re-dated railtour 1207 KA Full
Sun 3/5/15 Moreton Park Rly. 12.00 & 14.00 Tours 1224 SP Open
Sun 3/5/15 Titley Junction Tour to complement 1226 SP Date for
NEW station railway Moreton Park fixture diary
8-10/05/15 Channel Islands Railway weekend 1213 KA Full
GW-Glen Wells, KA-Kev Adlam, NJ-Nick Jones, PS-Paul Stewart, RG-Robert Green, SP- Stephen Phillips, TG- Tom Gilby.
126] BLN, the Font of all Railway Knowledge? After many hours of research, input from an ad hoc Focus
Group, printing screen tests and opinions being taken from a cross section of various members; your BLN
font has been changed to Calibri 12.5. A newer more modern font had been requested by a number of
members. It is not smaller than the previous Times New Roman 12.5 size font but is clearer to read on
paper and particularly on screen.
127] SVR Signalling Experience: (BLN 1224.2) At this stage, just expressions of interest (no obligation) and
queries are required please to Nick Jones; suitable date/s will be sorted out later if the fixture is viable.
128] GW Tracker IV, 21 March: Due to a Newbury race meeting and Class 150/0 maintenance, all
available rolling stock is now required for traffic on the date of our planned railtour to the Eastern FGW
area. A new date, potentially in late May, is being discussed with our partners and will be advised as soon
as possible. The draft itinerary, including the new Reading depot, will be of great interest to members.
129] Rugby Fixture! Wednesday 8 April: Meet outside station (16.46 ex-Euston etc.) at 18.00 prompt for
the 18.09 No4 bus to Cawston Estate. Conducted 3 mile walk to the site of Dunchurch station (L&NWR
Leamington line) and return to New Bilton via The Cawston Greenway, then alongside the existing New
Bilton branch to Trent Valley Jct. and the Midland Counties viaduct to Rugby station for 21.00
(connection Euston etc.). Queries and bookings to our member and guide, Tom Gilby
[email protected] or write (with SAE) to 69 Regent Street, Barwell, Leicester LE9 8GY. A map and
notes are expected.
130] West Somerset Railway: (BLN 1224.4) The Friday brakevan trip is now FULL with a waiting list. Places
are available on Monday 20 April as advertised; non-members welcome £50. Booking and queries with
payment (cheque or CPA) payable to Branch Line Society (not BLS) to Robert Green.
131] TPE Tracker III, Sunday 19 April: Your Fixtures Secretary is delighted to report excellent progress and
it is hoped to open bookings for this 3-car Class 185 DMU charity charter next month. A high level route
spec. by TPE to NR includes some exceptionally rare track: Manchester Picc. (09.32 PU) - Oxford Rd. (PU) -
Bamfurlong Jct. - DG - Wigan NW P1 (PU) - Preston DG - Preston Carriage Sdg. & Shunting Line (2 roads
requested) - Carnforth D&UGL No1 - Oxenholme DGL - Grayrigg DPL - Tebay DGL - Shap Summit (X/O to
Up line) - Hardendale (X/O to Dn line) - Harrisons Sdg. DGL - Penrith P3 - Upperby Bridge Jct. - DGL -
Carlisle P1 - High Wapping Sdg. - Wall Sdg. No1 - Caldew Jct. - DG - Kingmoor Jct. - Quintinshill DPL -
Lockerbie DL - Beattock (Rev) - Lockerbie UPL - Quintinshill UPL - Caldew Jct. (X/O to Dn line) - Carlisle P1
(leg stretch) - Howe & Co Siding Loop - Kirkby Stephen (photo stop) - Kirkby Stephen URS - Garsdale URS -
Blea Moor UGL - Hellifield UGL - Blackburn P1 - Wigan NW P6 (SD) - Oxford Rd. P1 (SD) - Piccadilly (SD
132] NE Essex Signal Boxes, Saturday 25 April: Thanks to our member Jon King; 09.00 Clacton box (built
1891) with a 57 lever 1888 frame and some searchlight signals, by train to Parkeston (1987 NX panel) and
then the large 1983-2009 Colchester Panel which controls from Norwich almost to Marks Tey and some
branches. On the day charity donation (min £10); bookings and queries to Paul Stewart, per back page.
133] PSUL: The 24 page 2015 version should be included with this BLN (and posted to e-BLN subscribers)
for all who qualify. Additional copies £4.50 post free from our Sales Officer Mark Gomm, per back page.
134] 1225 FIXTURES REPORTS: Stafford Signal Box Visits 30 July & 19 November 2014: (60/17 & 18) Sub-
titled: Something to think about next time you speed through Stafford by train! Stafford No4 box is south
of the station to the east and Stafford No5 is north to the west. They are two of the busiest remaining NR
mechanical boxes. Both survived, with others north of Nuneaton, as a result of the cost over-run of the
original 1960s WCML electrification project, but gradually most have been abolished. They are an island
in a power signalled area, interfacing Wolverhampton PSB in the Birmingham direction and Stoke-on-
Trent Signalling Control Centre on both the Trent Valley line south (Colwich workstation) and the WCML
to the north (Norton Bridge workstation). Stafford No4 is a 1960 BR London Midland Region (LMR)
standard box built when signalling was being rationalised ready for the WCML electrification. It has large
windows, a very bright airy and agreeable interior during the day with a central 'bay' window. It is the
busier of the two boxes, controlling the Birmingham line junction and that line to Penkridge; as well as
the Trent Valley line to beyond Whitehouse Jct. where the slow lines converge, one at a time, with the
fast lines. The 105 lever BR (LMR) frame is at the rear of the box; less than 10 levers are white (spare)
with just a few removed. All except two points are electrically worked; all main running signals are colour
lights, with some remaining mechanically worked ground disc shunt signals. There are no yellow (distant
signal) levers in either box, as the four aspect signals automatically display restricted aspects before a red
or single yellow. It is open 24 hours and operated by two Grade 7 signallers (one on Sunday nights)
reflecting the complex working. Stafford No5 is an unusually austere 1952 brick-built design. Inside, an
extremely long BR (LMR) frame of 150 levers at the rear of the box is housed in a rather thin and spartan
operating floor. Much of the central part of the frame is OOU, (about 70 spare levers and 10 removed)
with the closure of the former lines to Wellington (L&NWR) and Uttoxeter (GNR). It is also Grade 7, but
single manned; with levers in use at each end the signaller walks miles each shift and rarely stops!
Unusually, the signallers in both boxes use a system of 'slots' to control the lines between them. This has
some operational similarities to both absolute block and direction lever working, but Track Circuit Block
(TCB) rules apply to all lines. It is similar both ways, with No4 box giving slots to No5 for Up, and No5 box
giving slots to No4 for Down trains. For a Down train, No4 requests a slot for the appropriate route from
No5 by entering the train headcode into the 'OFFERED TO No5' field (or berth) on the VDU train describer
in No4 box. This headcode displays in the 'OFFERED FROM No4' field of the train describer in No5 box
which alerts the signaller that a slot is required. If the train can be accepted, the No5 signaller pulls the
appropriate red slot lever illuminating a block shelf light in No4 box to indicate 'slot given'. This allows the
protecting signal to clear once No4 has cleared its starting signal. Separate slot levers are provided for the
main and calling-on signals of the 'sending' box. A similar process operates in the opposite direction for
Up trains. This all sounds rather complex, but the signallers have good visibility of trains approaching on
all routes from their train describers, TRUST screens and the CCF (Control Centre of the Future) visual
display route maps. Of the eight lines between the boxes, only two (P6 and the very recently temporarily
closed Up & Down Goods through the former Royal Mail terminal 'P7') have full bi-directional working
with main aspect signals. A scheme to allow main aspect signal access to P1 from the south was
apparently installed in the 1990s but never commissioned. Each train has its own booked platform or
through road, so in times of normal operation, trains can be signalled with little or no telephone contact
between the boxes. Other aspects of TCB which simplify the job, compared to many mechanical boxes,
are that there are no train registers to complete or requirement for tail lamps to be checked. Both boxes
are due to close later this year (they are expected to be demolished) with control transferred to the £17M
Rugby ROC (Rail Operating Centre) which will eventually control the WCML (south) and branches.
1225 BLN GENERAL
135] Christmas Quiz: (BLN 1224.28) Peterborough station (exclusive) to the start of the March line
(access to Nene Carriage Sidings) also qualifies as an electrified line where passenger services are diesel
operated. This conveniently replaces local entry 27 on the list as the 17.49 (SSuX) from London King’s
Cross to Leeds is booked for a Class 91 and Mk4 coaches and to use P5 at Peterborough (dep 18.37), then
the electrified Down Slow (Stamford line) and the Helpston Jct. connection (if anyone needs it and see
below) to Tallington. This is to allow the 18.00 King’s Cross to Edinburgh to overtake it on the Down Fast.
A local member who frequently uses the service has never known it not to use the route. Item 16 should
be deleted too as Liverpool, Edge Hill almost to Wavertree Technology Park station (rather than
Waterloo Branch Jct.) on the Chat Moss line was de-electrified some years ago; the current re-
electrification is using new masts. It can be replaced by Chester Up Slow P7a which has 3rd rail
electrification but Merseyrail EMU services terminate in P7b! A member claims rare electrified track
(entry 28). In 2012 he was on a summer SO Norwich to Great Yarmouth loco hauled service. Just past
Crown Point the DRS Class 47 failed. Up went the Class 90 (in the formation) pantograph and propelled
the train back to Norwich station!
136] More Help(ston): This unidirectional connection of strategic importance between the former MR
Stamford line and the GNR main line north of Peterborough at 81m 56ch is also booked to be used by the
23.30 SSuX King’s Cross to Leeds HST (Peterborough P4 set down only 00.17) but it often runs early via
the Down Fast (DF); if on time it will use the Down Slow (DS). Most EMT services to Grantham are booked
this way; from Peterborough P7 they have to use the Helpston connection (ie booked P7 to Liverpool
SSuX: 10.27, 11.28, 14.26, 15.28, 16.27 & 17.42; SO 08.27, 10.22, 11.23, 12.24, 14.27, 15.24 & 17.24; SuO
12.16, 15.23. 16.24 & 17.42; SuO 12.16, 15.23 & 16.24; to Manchester Piccadilly: SO 18.34; SuO 17.23 &
18.27; to Nottingham: SSuX 19.25 & 20.27; SuO 19.26 & 22.32). In general those booked to use P7 do so
and the DS, but if they are late and nothing is due on the fast, they will be replatformed and take the
Down Fast Line Instead.
137] BLN 1224: Waterworks Problems: (item 26) Severn Trent Water Authority lost its Authority in 1989.
Clockwork Problems: (item 35) Unfortunately a rogue extra letter appeared in this link to the free iconic
NSE clock re-creation with optional 'clicks', ambient sound and train horn: http://goo.gl/KRyXfA. Ennis:
(item 96) the new fixed distant signal has obviously reduced the speed of trains approaching the station
from the north and slowed the service. Two words were inadvertently transposed during proof reading,
the other by chance actually made sense! Item 10: At Stanley Jct. signal box Steven’s frame should be a
Stevens frame and Aviemore mainline signal box has a McKenzie & Holland frame that was reconditioned
in 1971. Item 32: Derby was only the Midland Railway (MR) datum point for the Bristol line; otherwise the
MR used St. Pancras. Item 59: Denton Branch: as a point of interest 'Belvoir' (Jct.) is pronounced 'Beaver';
this English pronunciation was built up over many centuries through the inability of Anglo-Saxons to
master the French tongue.
138] The Long and the Short of it: (BLN 1224.12) Thanks to a York correspondent; the longest single word
in the name of an open station in England is Stallingborough (15 letters), one short of the all-time record
holder, Moretonhampstead. In Wales Penrhyndeudraeth, with 16 letters is the longest after disqualifying
the contrived Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch with 58 because, despite its
long name boards, it is known by NR as Llanfairpwll. That leaves Scotland and closed Welsh stations!
139] Heritage Railway Association (HRA): http://goo.gl/qLJtIV. An umbrella organisation representing
most heritage and tourist railways, railway museums, steam centres and railway preservation groups in
the British Isles; also those involved with the preservation of stations and other railway buildings. The
HRA organises several annual awards and competitions to further excellence in UK railway preservation:
Annual Award - a coat of arms from the locomotive of a royal train on the LB&SCR.
The Small Groups Award - a carved panel from a coach provided for Queen Victoria by the GWR.
The John Coiley Award, for locomotive preservation, a Hackworth designed locomotive spring
safety-valve, as used on the Stockton and Darlington Railway.
The HRA also maintains various databases along with the Transport Trust and Vintage Carriages Trust, e.g.
preserved locomotives and details of every known heritage carriage and wagon. Its objectives include:
o To represent its members' interests to Government and other bodies.
o To provide professional advice, a full information service, other help and assistance.
o To provide a forum for sharing information and experience by open meetings and seminars.
o To assist members develop their businesses, educational policies and practices.
o To encourage and advise members on the heritage aspects of their activities, including establishing
and maintaining rational collecting, interpretation and archiving policies.
Private individuals can join as Friends of the HRA (£21.60 annually) email [email protected], 0800
7565111 ext. 423 or write to 28 George Street, Altofts, Normanton, WF6 2LT. Membership benefits:
Sidelines and Broadlines newsletters (6 per year and an annual report) guidance and information.
An Inter-Rail Card for £80 per annum (March 2015 to February 2016) with travel benefits on most
UK heritage railways, ranging from free travel to concessionary discount, usually excluding galas,
special events and multiple visits. Some railways restrict its use during peak summer months but
others have special Edmondson tickets for HRA visitors! Some minor railways participate (e.g.
Groudle Glen, Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff, Perrygrove and Volks Electric Railways).
HRA web site: access to the members' only section.
HRA Meetings and seminars. There are two annual weekend meetings usually at a member
railway with special access, sometimes charter specials, and visits to places of railway interest.
There are also two midweek meetings and occasional seminars on topics of interest.
140] Compass Tours: (BLN 1224.101) After 10 years of operating, their final independent railtour was
actually the Festive Scotsman on 19 December 2014 from Hereford to Edinburgh. The company has been
purchased by a group including West Coast Railways and is now operating from their Carnforth offices
involving Kevin Melia who founded the company. There may be alternative uses for Frodsham station
master's house and Helsby’s station buildings (BLN 1218.1460) where the family business was based.
141] National Fares Manual (NFM): Originally seven thick regional books, each around £15 and recently
obtainable as a CD covering all of NR for about £15. It is now available as a free download to run on a
personal computer. Firstly register at http://goo.gl/2MbYxT (free). Then go to: http://goo.gl/zpfLxF and
select the last option to obtain NFM20 files and click on download for a 25MB zipped file. Open this and
click on setup.exe or setup to start installation. Follow the instructions to end up with all fares between
any pair of NR stations, with details of conditions such as if peak restrictions apply only in one direction or
when a railcard can remove peak restriction etc.
1225 OTHERS’ DOINGS
This is provided as a service to members and details must be checked with the organisers.
142] Greenford Signal Box, 31 January 09.30: RCTS visit thanks to our member Stuart Hicks. Apply at TV-
[email protected]; please notify your BLS membership number. A high visibility vest IS required, a charity
donation applies and offers to write a report would be appreciated. Bristol Power Box, Sunday 1
February: (By Temple Meads station P1.) Apply as above, high visibility is NOT required, charity donation.
143] The Snowdonian, 17 & 18 April: Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways (the UK's longest Heritage
railway). Friday afternoon special train to Boston Lodge for a conducted tour then a meal at Spooners
Restaurant. Saturday to Blaenau Ffestiniog behind Taliesin and Lyd, returns nonstop from Minffordd to
Pont Croesor (change of motive power to Linda, Blanche and Prince) via the new Porthmadog connection,
(BLN 1211.933) then to Beddgelert. Photo run past and buffet lunch then on to Caernarfon for a sprightly
return to Porthmadog. 80 miles round trip from £145 incl. See: http://goo.gl/GfkVbi or 01766 516000.
144] Epping - Ongar Railway, 18 & 19 April: Date for your diary. Subject to completion of works and
approvals in time, it is hoped to be able to use the full length of the line for the first time ever at the
Diesel Gala, over 6 miles of running and would include the steepest section at 1 in 57.
145] London Transport Museum Depot (Acton), Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 April: 118-120 Gunnersbury
Lane W3 9BQ. Behind the scenes at the museum store (400,000 objects), guided bus pit tours, Emergency
Response Team (ERT) demonstrations, talks about secret tunnels and disused stations, museum archive
films etc. and the Acton Miniature Railway operating. The ERT is particularly interesting, described as the
gold standard they are a combined Breakdown S&T and P-way rapid response unit. Following the 7/7
bombings they are now on the emergency services’ airwave radio system, can use bus lanes and also have
British Transport Police drivers so they can use blues and twos. Acton is their training facility with plenty
of old stock to practise on. They re-rail trains completely differently to NR as they have far less room to
work in and the trains are smaller and lighter. Book tickets at http://goo.gl/i3JCQn or 020 7565 7298.
146] National Railway Museum (NRM) York (BLN 1224. 118) Every Thursday: FREE Curators' Talks, 14.00
- 14.15, topics vary e.g. 26 February is about TOPS, introduced by BR in 1971. http://goo.gl/cdwlz7 or
0844 8153139. Forty years of the NRM at York (article with video clip) see: http://goo.gl/60sR9j.
147] Heart of Wales Circular One Day Ranger: Start from any intermediate station on the route in either
direction, journey breaks allowed. Cardiff Central - Hereford - Shrewsbury - Llandrindod Wells - Llanelli -
Swansea - Cardiff (includes Swansea District Line). Any train any day £35 adult (railcards £23.10, Two
Together after 09.30 SSuX,) tickets from ticket offices and train conductors, 275 miles of scenic travel.
148] Spa Valley Railway, 31 July - 2 August: (BLN 1221.1769) NB: new date, three day Diesel
Extravaganza home fleet and visiting locos, intensive daily timetable. Rare track excursions, brakevan
rides and the chance to drive (Eridge rare bay platform). See: http://goo.gl/oVQ9vY or 01892 537715.
Another BLS brakevan track tour is anticipated including the Groombridge Jct. to Ashurst Jct. spur 'other'
track from our 31 July 2014 tour and different lines at Tunbridge Wells West etc; details to follow.
149] Steampipes, Monday 30 November: Talyllyn Railway London group, 19.00 the 38th and final annual
show of old railway films at Friends Meeting House, 173 Euston Road. £14 adults, (advance £11), under
16s half price. Bookings open in the summer, watch: http://www.talyllyn.co.uk/london.
1225 GREATER LONDON
150] Wimbledon West Jct.: Two South Western Main Line crossover ladders are being renewed (although
not the crossover ends in the Up St. Helier Line according to the SWT website diagram) with weekend
possessions from 3 January to 1 February and on Sunday 15 February. Replacement buses operate
between Clapham Junction and Kingston / Surbiton / Chessington South. Additional work further down
the line until mid-afternoon on Sundays results in buses running to Twickenham / Effingham Junction /
Hampton Court / Guildford, the latter for local services only. 'Thameslink' services are suspended
between Wimbledon and Sutton. Main Line services are diverted via the Windsor Lines and Chertsey;
local Virginia Water to Weybridge trains are replaced by buses (SO) to free up paths for the diversions.
151] Crossrail, Paddington: (BLN 1224.39) LUL has awarded the contract for the construction of the
passage linking the Crossrail station with the Bakerloo Line to Costain/Skanska Joint Venture.
152] Croydon, Merstham & Godstone Iron Railway: (BLN 1224.48) Two overbridges survive, though both
are partly buried. One carries Dean Lane, Hooley (TQ287558) and the other Lime Works Road, Merstham
(TQ295541). There are photographs of them at http://goo.gl/pvRHH4. A section of embankment survives
to the rear of the public car park off Lion Green Road, Coulsdon (TQ295593) and a cutting east of the A23
at Harps Oak, just north of Merstham (TQ286546). Neither of these is accessible.
153] Hackney: (BLN 1180.343) The pedestrian link between Hackney Downs and Hackney Central stations
has not yet been constructed. The London Railway Record reports that planning permission for a revised
scheme was granted in February 2014 and it will now link with P2 at Hackney Central.
154] Peckham Rye: A local group is proposing the conversion of part of the derelict coal sidings into a
linear park. The sidings were east of the station between the Nunhead and London Bridge lines and
consisted of high and low levels connected by a wagon hoist. Traffic ceased in 1958 with official closure in
August 1961. The plan is to create a high level park between Peckham Rye station and the end of the
sidings, where it would drop to street level and continue over non-railway land to the vicinity of Queen’s
Road, Peckham station. More information can be found at http://goo.gl/V2a9sj.
155] Thameslink: (BLN 1223.1889) (1) ECML: Transport Briefing reports that the overhead power
equipment in the Canal Tunnels was finally linked to the main line over the Christmas holiday. This was
one of a number of jobs carried out, including track renewal at Holloway, that overran on 27 December;
the resultant long passenger queues at Finsbury Park being widely reported in the media. A very detailed
report into this incident and the overrun of signal testing work in the Old Oak Common area on the same
day at http://goo.gl/BfDUTM (NB a download not a web page) makes very interesting reading.
(2) London Bridge: The new arrangements for Southern services did not get off to a good start, with
media reports of severe overcrowding on the concourse during the evening peak. The main problem is
the reduction in the number of approach tracks, exacerbated by the usual teething problem with new
signalling schemes, resulting in congestion and trains arriving and departing late. Passenger movement is
further hindered by the lack of interchange between the SE and Southern sides of the station within the
ticket barriers, causing all passengers to use the concourse. To alleviate matters, Southern cancelled
several services in the evening peak, mainly on the West Croydon route, initially until 16 January.
156] Tottenham Court Road: (BLN 1224.27) The Central Line platforms were effectively closed from 3
January, since the Central Line was closed between Holborn and Marble Arch on 3rd and 4th for work to be
carried out at the station. The entire station was closed again on 10th and 11th in preparation for the
opening of the new ticket hall on 12th. This has a new entrance on Oxford Street, with three additional
escalators leading from the entrance to the ticket hall and a further three new escalators leading from the
ticket hall to the Northern Line lower concourse. The Central Line platforms remain closed for major
structural work to be carried out, including the construction of a new lift to platform level.
1225 ENGLAND – EAST MIDLANDS
157] Nottingham NET Line 4: (BLN 1224.63) A further £180M tram extension from Nottingham to Ripley
(Derbyshire), via Eastwood, Kimberley and Langley Mill, has been discussed for many years. On 16
December Broxtowe Council's cabinet voted against making a £20k contribution towards the estimated
£70k cost of a feasibility study. Local sources believe that the retailer IKEA could become involved and
may seek to have it routed to terminate in their Retail Park. Opponents of the study said it was important
to learn from Phase 2 (which is about six months late) before considering further extensions.
158] Derby: (BLN 1203.309) The new London Road bridge spanning the Birmingham line just south of the
station, re-opened to road traffic on 27 November 2014, nearly four months later than planned.
159] Derbyshire Train Times: The new 14 December to 16 May 2015 edition of this free orange booklet
includes a survey (prize draw to win a pair of XC 1st class tickets to/from Derbyshire). Derbyshire County
Council is considering ending publication, or alternatively charging for it. See: http://goo.gl/JSSmNL.
160] Ilkeston Town: The former short branch, once with a triangular junction, but latterly just a south-
facing curve CP 16 June 1947 (temporarily but never re-opened). CG (except for one trader and private
sidings) 15 June 1959 and CA 12 November 1962 (all locations were deleted in next RCH Handbook of
Stations amendments, dated April 1963). The branch was taken OOU around 21-24 August 1964.
161] Ilkeston (2): (BLN 1220.1588) To reduce costs, revised plans for the new station include a smaller car
park with a single entrance/exit and shorter platforms. Three new planning applications were submitted
on 5 January to Erewash Borough Council (BC) and Broxtowe BC. Derbyshire CC is asking for planning
approval from Broxtowe for the main car park, Erewash for the station platforms and both authorities for
the footbridge that links the two and straddles their borders! Hopefully they will agree with each other or
the station may end up with only half a footbridge!
162] Northampton: The delayed new £20M station building opened on 12 January. It is London Midland's
fifth busiest station and with the new facilities the time taken to get on and off the platforms is expected
to reduce as 10 ticket gates are provided, compared to four in the old building (which is scheduled for
demolition). Retail units will now be fitted out. Despite discussions between the councils and NR about
reinstating the Northampton Castle name, LM has confirmed it retains its basic 'Northampton' name.
163] Sleaford: North Kesteven District Council has approved plans for a new station footbridge (despite
Sleaford Town Council's objections related to a Tesco development) resulting in permanent closure of the
level crossing east of the station between Southgate and Grantham Rd. It will be 300m long with 78 steps.
NR said it was the design that had the least impact on the Grade II listed station and was a milestone in
reducing the number of level crossings. The bridge will have rest platforms, broad steps, integral lighting,
open visibility and ramps for disabled passengers. Space will be provided for lifts to be added later.
1225 NORTH EAST
164] Raisby Quarry branch: From 2 June 2012 (but only recently published by NR) the line from 14m 03ch
(site of the former Kelloe Bank Foot Jct. where buffer stops were provided) to the Quarry (11m 06ch) was
removed. In practice there has been no traffic for some 20 years and much of the line 'went' years ago.
The final railtour was Pathfinder's The North Eastender on 16 March 1991. The residual line at the
Ferryhill end was downgraded from running line to siding status. 'A' Ground Frame remains operational.
'B' Ground frame has been abolished, the associated spring points being replaced by hand points. There is
now just room for a locomotive in the headshunt beyond the rounding loop at Ferryhill.
165] Whitby: The new P2 is out of use from 10 January to 12 February 2015 inclusive for remedial works.
There will be no run round or stabling facility during this period. NYMR do run into Whitby during the
winter but not between these dates. See http://goo.gl/03pJuk.
1225 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
166] Doncaster: (BLN 1223.1874 & 1921): From 4 January the sidings in the Old Yard which now consists
of Tamper Sidings No1 & 2 and associated pointwork (between the station north end and Marshgate Jct.
on the Down side) were taken OOU. This is in conjunction with construction of the new station bay P0,
part of the ECML capacity enhancement programme. Like all such P0s it will be nearest to P1, (by the
shopping centre, to the north of the existing platform) and was the site of a temporary P0 during relaying
of Marshgate Jct. some years ago. It is intended to be used by Hull originating and terminating Northern
services and some TPE Cleethorpes services. From May the latter are to be reduced to two-hourly to
Manchester Airport (rather than hourly as now), alternating with two-hourly services between Doncaster
and Cleethorpes. This is part of the complicated arrangements needed to cover for the loss of TPE's Class
170 units to Chiltern. Originally longer term all Cleethorpes services were to run just to/from Doncaster.
167] Royston: Hargreave's Monckton Coke Works and Chemical Factory (Barnsley) ended production on
15 December 2014, due to a lack of orders and pricing pressures in the coke market. It was the UK's last
such independent plant (as opposed to those at steelworks). Coke had been made on this site for over
130 years; latterly 200k tonnes per year and it was ranked as one of Europe’s leading producers of high-
quality metallurgical coke. Decommissioning is expected to take about six months. It was adjacent to the
former Royston drift mine which started production in 1975 closing in September 1989; there had been
other previous local collieries too. It was not rail served latterly (BLN in 1997 noted the branch was OOU
and most of the internal tracks had gone). Of current interest, prior to closure an unusual very broad
gauge railway had been operating on top of the coke ovens carrying a specialised coal wagon to charge
them (see e-BLN Pictorial). At the bottom the coke cars had run on standard gauge track, cable hauled.
1225 ISLE OF MAN
168] Ramsey: As part of the reconstruction of the Manx Electric Railway (MER) terminus to include
modern facilities and a bus terminal, the storage shed/depot was vacated (and is to be demolished) after
services ceased on 2 November 2014. Historic items of rolling stock were removed by road for storage
mainly in the Laxey shed, including Ratchet cars 14 & 30 plus trailer 50 and the 'preserved' freight car 26.
169] Laxey: Further work is being completed at Laxey related to the centre of the village; including the
station area where passenger access is being re-modelled. The eventual plan is for the village to have a
more cohesive 'heart' linking the adjacent park with a planned piazza giving access to the station.
170] Onchan Head: MER track work (poles 66 to 80) is complete; the gang are now replacing track near
the 'Liverpool Arms' public house on a very sharp curve. Rail grinding has been undertaken.
1225 WEST MIDLANDS
171] Leek: The local paper reported on a plan, including the construction of 175 homes, a marina, a pub
and restaurant, light industrial units with a railway station and museum on the Hughes Concrete site off
Barnfields Road and Sunnyhills. It was approved by the local council despite some initial opposition.
172] Stafford: The reversible Up & Down Goods line (serving former P7) was taken out of use from 11
January; remarkably it was used by Pathfinder's The Tugging Shedmaster railtour on 3 January. The
station was rebuilt by 1962 and P7 was used for Shrewsbury trains via Newport (Shropshire)
until withdrawal from 7 September 1964. As a subsequent Royal Mail Terminal the platform is now
significantly higher and would have to be lowered (or, less likely, the track raised) for passenger use. As
part of the 'Stafford Area Improvements Programme', the goods line is being extended including south of
the station over part of the former Salop Sidings. The area is due for re-signalling later this year; control
transfers from Stafford No4 & 5 boxes to Rugby ROC when the extended goods line should be
173] Bescot: (BLN 1209.820) The condemned diesel depot building was conspicuous by its absence when
passed on a 3 January railtour. Demolition had started on 6 November last year. The tour traversed the
Up & Down Through Siding No2, (the furthest out through line) round the back of the Down yard from
Newton Jct. to Bescot Jct. Seven days later another tour was routed via the Up & Down Goods line (next
to the Down Grand Junction); significant progress was noted with the depot's smaller replacement, on
the same site. Local railwaymen have variously described it as a 'Polytunnel' and a 'giant Anderson
Shelter'! The new depot was exteriorly complete by 18 January 2015.
174] FREE BRANCH LINE TRAVEL! Members using Stourbridge Junction station (which has a 797 space
free car park) may be interested to know that they can book to/from Stourbridge Town at no extra cost
(and even Lye_truthfully)! The only station this does not apply to is Hagley which is 10p more from/to
'Town' than 'Junction' adult single or return. The adult fare (without railcard) just for the ¾ mile branch is
now 90p single, £1.70 peak or £1.20 off peak day return. An hour of service (6 trains each way) was
observed on a recent Friday mid - afternoon and all trains were remarkably well loaded. The Class 139
Parry People Mover speedometer goes up to 60mph but it didn't actually exceed 20mph!
175] Donnington: (BLN 1165.846) On 10 January UKRT's Shropshire Union railtour reached the end of line
at DBS's Telford International Railfreight Terminal (also known as Donnington Freight Terminal). The rusty
rails confirmed the itinerary's comments that usage remains disappointing. A train (consist unknown)
from Warrington Arpley Sidings had arrived at the terminal on the 8th at 09.52 and returned at 13.00.
176] Great Malvern: English Heritage has described 10 Great English railway stations in their illustrated
blog 'Heritage Calling'. Great Malvern is in ninth place, described as one of the most characterful stations
of the 1860’s. Designed by E.W. Elmslie in Gothic style it now houses Lady Foley's Tea Room, a florist, a
charity book shop and Malvern's Age Concern. The designer was also responsible for the Imperial Hotel in
Avenue Road, now St James Girls School (visited by a BLS party in 2010!). During the 1980s, the station's
main building was badly damaged by fire but subsequently rebuilt by BR. See: http://goo.gl/30gDsb.
177] Midland Metro Tram Trackplan: (BLN 1224.88) With thanks to Martyn Brailsford, our Publications
Officer. Snow Hill terminus (where recently only the left line on approach has been in use) and its single
track closes when the City extension opens (due later this year). Perhaps confusingly, the new terminus
outside New Street station is to be known as 'Grand Central' (the name of the new shopping centre).
1225 NORTH WEST
178] Littleborough: (Paraphrased from a local paper.) Thursday 20 December 1984, some 30 years ago,
started out like any other day for train driver Stanley Marshall. The then 50-year-old was driving a train of
1M litres of petrol from ICI Haverton Hill to Glazebrook British Tar works; a route he had driven many
times before. At 06.00 it entered the nearly two-mile long Summit tunnel from the Yorkshire side at
about 40mph, but a third of the way along a defective axle bearing caused the 10 rear tanks of the 13
wagon train to derail. Thousands of litres of petrol spilt and were set alight. The crew had to run through
nearly a mile of pitch black tunnel to use an emergency phone box and raise the alarm. Mr Marshall, who
started out on the railways as a 15-year-old lad, stated that the train was rattling along at the usual speed
when he felt a big shudder. He knew the train had derailed and said to the guard ''quick, jump off''.
Looking back he saw sparks and flames shooting everywhere; they just ran for it. Littleborough and
Rochdale firefighters were on the scene in minutes but there was nothing to see, no smoke or flames. A
crew with breathing apparatus was sent into the tunnel and returned after about half an hour to report a
small fire under the tankers. Remarkably the train’s crew was then persuaded by firefighters to go back
into the tunnel. Lying on their stomachs using a push trolley they returned to the locomotive, uncoupled
the three tankers still on the rails, brought them out with the engine, completing the trip to Glazebrook!
Their bravery probably stopped the fire from being much worse; and saved BR thousands of pounds. The
fire took hold and at 09.40 the courageous fire crews were withdrawn. An hour later there was a deep
rumbling underground, the fuel supply was so rich there wasn’t enough oxygen inside the tunnel;
superheated vapours, travelling at 110mph, exploded from the ventilation shafts bursting into pillars of
flames 150ft high as soon as they hit the fresh air (like volcanoes) dotted across the moors between
Summit and Walsden (http://goo.gl/ghjW9B). They then knew it was going to be a big job. Thick black
smoke drifted down the valley towards Littleborough, the River Roch took on an oily look and a strong
smell of petrol hung in the air. Todmorden Road was sealed off, homes and a nearby factory were
evacuated; nearly 170 people. Specialist equipment was used to pump high-expansion foam down four
ventilation shafts, forming a 'plug' to exclude air. But it was to be another four days (Christmas Eve)
before the fire was out and the emergency was over. George Stephenson, his team of engineers and the
1,000 navvies employed in building the tunnel had done a remarkable job in the 1830s. The temperature
had reached 8,000oC and welded the derailed tankers to the line but damage to the interior of the tunnel
was remarkably minimal. The brick lining varied from between five to 10 rings thick, yet only bricks from
the first three rings had melted; it was badly scorched but repairable. The last wagon was removed on 1
March 1985 and on 17 August local residents were allowed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk
through the tunnel. Rail services resumed on 19th; justifying the words of Bernard Dickinson, assistant
engineer in charge, 144 years before: This tunnel will defy the rage of tempest, fire, war, or wasting age!
179] Metrolink, Trafford Park Line: The Transport & Works Act Order application was submitted on 11
November; the first step in obtaining approval to construct. A related video: http://goo.gl/yi4uSy.
180] Great North West Railway (GNWR): Despite NR agreement last year, the Office of Rail Regulation
has rejected proposals by this Arriva subsidiary to introduce long-distance open-access services from
London to Huddersfield, Leeds, and Blackpool via the WCML due to concerns about revenue levels and
abstraction. GNWR had sought access rights until 2027 and planned to lease eight new six-car Alstom
Pendolino EMUs to operate six daily off-peak London to Blackpool services from May 2017 and six daily
off-peak services from London to Leeds via Huddersfield from December 2018. A more extensive track
access agreement had previously been sought with services to Bradford and Carlisle as well. This was
rejected by the ORR in December 2013 due to capacity concerns at the southern end of the WCML.
181] Northallerton: The Down ECML is reversibly signalled from the trailing crossover south of the station
all the way to Newcastle and the Up similarly from the facing crossover north of the station. Both these
have other functions so are not provided specially. On 14 January a member observed this in action when
the 09.10 Newcastle to Liverpool Lime Street stood in P1 for 32 minutes due to a door problem. The 06.50
East Coast service from Glasgow Central to King’s Cross and the 09.35 Newcastle to Southampton XC
Voyager crossed to the Down line at Northallerton High Jct., ran slowly through P2 and then crossed back
to the Up line at the south end of the station. Normal platform usage returned with the 09.28
Middlesbrough to Manchester Piccadilly train, held outside the station for 31 minutes as Northallerton P2
is not accessible from the Middlesbrough line.
182] Manchester Piccadilly: Spending a penny makes more cash than you might think! New figures show
the station’s much-maligned 30p charge for the use of its toilets made £435,651.30 in 12 months from
the three turnstiles. Campaigning passenger Michael Hoyle submitted a Freedom of Information Act
request. NR, which runs the station, is not bound by the act until April but do respond to such requests.
183] NW England Services: On the 8 January the Transport Secretary announced some very complicated
changes from the May timetable essentially to cover for the nine TPE Class 170 units being transferred to
Chiltern Railways. These are 5½ pages of A4 which can be seen at http://goo.gl/YqSMlk. (You may need to
click 'reload' several times!) Like this web link it remains to be seen just how robust the train plan is!
184] NW Electrification: On 10 January a member noted that most of the Chat Moss line was wired from
just outside Victoria to just before Huyton Jct., including Earlestown west curve although Sankey viaduct
beyond Earlestown had masts only. Huyton had masts and hangers. The new fourth track is in place from
Roby to Huyton but not connected at the east end as a strip of land has to be acquired from BT. On the
Wigan line, wires were in place except for a stretch through St. Helens and just before Springs Branch,
where there are masts and hangers only. Roby to Edge Hill was not traversed.
1225 SOUTH EAST - NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
185] Reedham: In December NR published a test case study on Improving Connectivity (in East Anglia)
with tight cross-platform interchanges and infrastructure alterations to achieve a range of new journeys
and service frequency improvements. An example is to introduce direct semi fast services between
Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth via the reinstated 34ch third side of the triangle at Reedham* taking 33
minutes for 18 miles, cutting total average travel and waiting times by 52 minutes. The proposal includes
relocating Reedham station approximately 1,250 yd east, immediately north of Holly Farm Road so that it
could be served by the new service. The implication is that Norwich to Yarmouth direct services would
then all run via Acle rather than Berney Arms, but cross platform connection would be available from
Norwich to Lowestoft services at Reedham into the new Lowestoft to Yarmouth service and vice versa.
However the study has been given only a lukewarm response by the East Norfolk Transport Users’
Association. Reedham Parish Council was to discuss the proposal at the full council meeting on 12
January. Locals would rather see existing services improved with two trains per hour between Norwich
and Great Yarmouth in both directions - one via Acle and one via Reedham. [If they read the full study
rather than the local paper's summary this is exactly what would happen although with a change at
Reedham via Berney Arms; they would also have 2 trains per hour to Lowestoft - Ed!] NR has used Anglia
to test ideas to improve connectivity (apologies to those who don't like this word) across the country.
Other key proposals in the study include building a new Ely North station and introducing an express from
Norwich to London King’s Cross via Cambridge, taking 1 hour 46 minutes. To see the full proposals and
comment (by 31 January) go to: http://goo.gl/urJ7vI. It points out that the direct former coastal Norfolk &
Suffolk Joint Line Lowestoft to Yarmouth South Town service route (CP 4 May 1970) is well past the point
where it could be reinstated; this 10¼ mile journey used to take about 30 minutes with 5 intermediate
stops so the proposed new service is comparable. In 1967 all trains took the 30 minutes but in 1964 some ran
non-stop only 18 minutes.* Reedham East - South Jct.: OP 1847, the original Lowestoft to Yarmouth route. A
variety of closure dates are given in different sources ranging from CP June 1859 to CA 1887 but it was
reportedly used again in the 1920s when St. Olaves swing bridge was being replaced and again (possibly a
third reinstatement) for wartime use. It was superseded by the East Suffolk Yarmouth South Town line
(OP 1859) and then the direct Marsh Jct. - St. Olaves Swing Bridge Jct. spur at Haddiscoe (OP 1872); and
that in turn subsequently by the 1903 direct coastal route as above.
186] Lowestoft South goods branch: On 5 September a member explored the end of the ex-GER goods
branch from Oulton Broad South Jct. which had three branches off it. For some interesting pictures and a
route map click the icons on: http://goo.gl/HbW2l3. Most of the trackbed is now a surfaced footpath and
cycleway, with a couple of breaks. He started at the site of South Lowestoft Goods Yard that once ended
by the bridge (TM 5472 9269) on the opposite side of Lake Lothing to Lowestoft passenger station and
was also known as the (1): Lowestoft Harbour branch. This Lake is the wide inland navigation connecting
Lowestoft docks with the River Waveney via Mutford Lock; the only working lock on the Norfolk Broads
now and for many decades. GER track plans of 25 December 1919 indicate that the wharfside sidings to
the west were connected by five wagon turntables. Today, this area is trackless, concreted-over, and
vacant but fenced off. The A12 on its new route cuts through the site as it did when it was the A146 (now
the B1531). On the south side of this road, the trackbed walk begins, as the goods yard site funnels into a
single track, passing under Mill Road bridge (TM 5443 9241), one of the two significant remaining railway
structures. Continuing about ¼ mile along the trackbed footpath, Fen Park Primary School (shown on the
above map link) to the left was the site of (2): Kirkley Goods (TM 5404 9202) (CG 1 January 1966) on the
very short branch from Birds Lane Level Crossing (TM538922). On the right, another wharfside goods
branch used to trail in at this point and is not shown on the 1919 plan. Its first part curved north across
the now B1531 (former A146) and appears on a 1946 OS map ending at the Co-op Wholesale Canning
Factory (TM538926). An extension west is present on the fully revised OS 1" map of 1951-2 (corrections
to 1958) along the south side of Lake Lothing. This ran ¾ mile towards Oulton Broad, to the former (3):
Brooke Marine Shipyard end of line at (TM 5269 9286). This branch has now succumbed to industrial
redevelopment. The remaining lines east of Durban Road (TM 5376 9222) CG 6 November 1967. From
here to the main line junction was retained to serve Boulton & Paul's Siding until 31 December 1972.
At this point the continuity of the branch becomes briefly interrupted by heavily-fenced industrial
development, needing a short diversion via terraced streets. The foot and cycle path (NCN No30) then
resumes along the trackbed over a residual marsh area, to a crossing with the realigned modern A146. On
the other side of this, it continues past the backs of houses between two parallel streets to the site of a
level crossing that took the line over a street oddly named 'Kirkley Run' (TM 5312 9231). Adjacent is a
single storey residence, 'The Gatehouse'; presumably this is just what it was and is the other significant
piece of infrastructure remaining. West of this crossing the branch was adjacent to Victoria Road. The
next 200yds has modern low-rise flats built on the trackbed with the foot and cycle path adjacent, at a
slightly higher level and then drops down back onto the branch. At the next level crossing site westwards
(TM 5277 9237) the course of the line continues behind more houses, apparently absorbed into their
back gardens, but an access route is adjacent until it reaches a surfaced footpath crossing the trackbed
and connecting Victoria Road to the parallel Dell Road. Beyond here the trackbed is blocked off but the
spinal road serving The Beeches estate of mobile homes is more or less on the trackbed. The spinal road
leads almost to the site of the junction but is a dead end. Oulton Broad South Jct. with the passenger line
(TM 5202 9225) was east of the A146 road overbridge at the station. From that bridge the passenger line
to Lowestoft (Central) curves sharply left; the goods branch was straight ahead but there is nothing to
see! Remaining track on the branch was lifted by July 1976.
187] Oulton Broad South: The unstaffed station's Up (southbound) platform is used by all passenger
trains, now hourly to Lowestoft and Ipswich on the singled track; the main station building is a private
residence, sympathetically maintained. The Down platform is partly in situ and the platform building is
the Hair Station salon. Prior to 26 September 1927 it was named Carlton Colville station (was the junction
so named then too?). For some years there was a camping coach in a siding here.
188] Reading - Didcot Parkway: (BLN 1224.25 & 72) A 31 December daylight journey found the following
progress. No work had been done at stations or on the Thames bridges and there are various exceptions.
There are electrification masts over most of the now opened elevated railway (Reading Viaduct).
Masts have been erected around Scours Lane to past the footbridge west of Tilehurst station.
Head spans have mostly been erected from MP39½ to 41 (some over all four tracks, others partly).
Masts go nearly to Pangbourne.
Bases have been drilled beyond.
Masts (and bases) have been erected from around MP42½ to about 44¼.
Bases have been drilled to Goring and Streatley.
Nothing had been done in the cutting to the west, not even trimming back vegitation.
Most of the masts had been erected beyond, with a span near MP46¾.
Then there are mostly bases only towards Cholsey.
Beyond Cholsey there are mainly bases only to the overbridge near MP49.
There are a few masts beyond there on Down Main side only.
Masts had been erected from about MP50 towards Didcot Parkway station.
A new signal gantry is near MP50½, then bases to Didcot, on the avoiding line and to MP54¼.
Your Sub-Editor travelled through on 12 January; the headspans are rigid steel fabrications, the assembly
forming a gantry unlike the wire suspension on the ECML which has had so many problems over the
1225 SOUTH EAST ENGLAND - SOUTH
189] Southampton Central: (BLN 1223.1907) The proposal to provide Southampton Central with
additional platforms is not impracticable, just expensive, in the view of one member! It would require
complete replacement of the station buildings, including demolition of Overline House. However, he
reports that NR's Wessex Route Study does propose additional platforms and provide capacity to meet
demand. The Study says that the scheme would probably be undertaken in phases: (1): Extension of bay
P5 to form a Down loop. (2): Provision of a new Upside P0. (3): Provision of a freight loop on the
downside. (4): P0 would be an island with P1, and P5 an island with P4. Southampton City Council wants
the area around the station redeveloped, so there may be a chance to enact the scheme in connection
with that. NR's strategy to cope with rising demand seems to rely on more advanced signalling technology
with closer headways. Station capacity (number of platforms) is then a serious problem at very busy
stations, such as East Croydon or Clapham Junction and more crucial in determining frequency.
1225 SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
190] Avonmouth: NR wants to demolish the 1885 remaining Victorian station building (used by a
hairdresser latterly on the Up platform) but it has been given a temporary reprieve after campaigners
lobbied the city council. They say the former parcels building could have commercial use or even as a
railway facility again with the planned reopening of the Henbury loop to passenger services. Its historic
role might qualify for a conservation order or listed building status. NR had applied to have it
demolished and, since it was not protected, a full planning application would normally not be needed.
After pressure from local politicians, council officers said that NR had failed to give enough detail and
refused the demolition application, giving the campaigners time to negotiate an alternative solution.
191] Yatton West: From 19 January, the Taunton end points of Yatton Down & Up Passenger loops were
to be renewed with recovery of the hand crank release equipment. The spring points at the loop end of
the UPL connection were to be recovered (with the associated signalling) and the track plain lined.
192] St. Pinnock and Largin viaducts: (BLN 1222.1821) In response to the query the viaducts have
received significant maintenance and this continues but a weight restriction still prevents redoubling.
193] Falmouth: (BLN 1221.1729) From 18 January 2015 No1 and No2 Ground Frames (at 312m 22ch and
312m 37ch) were to be taken OOU pending recovery, removing rail access to the Falmouth Docks lines.
194] Tralee - Fenit: (BLN 1221.1739) This item noted that the last actual train to run was on 31 May 1978
which was also the date of the last train to Abbeydorney from the Tralee end of the Limerick line. Were
these trains revenue earning or to clear remaining stock, of either the rolling type or station fixtures?
195] Inverness, Dalcross station (BLN 1208.755): An article in December 2014 Railnews states that the
station (for the airport and a park & ride) is not due to open until March 2019, much to the dismay of a
local Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), who was once told that it could be ready in 2014!
196] Inveramsay Turnpike: (BLN 1155.236) Work was due to have started to eliminate the skewed 14'-6"
clearance masonry arch bridge needing road traffic lights, by which the A96 road is crossed over by the
Aberdeen to Inverness line between Inverurie and Insch. It is a notorious bridge strike location (certainly
looking very battered on Google Street View!) adjacent to the former Inveramsay Jct., at which the
Macduff branch (CA from 1 August 1961 beyond Turriff and thence 3 January 1966) diverged about 2
miles west of Inverurie. By 2016 a new 1½ km road will cross over the Aberdeen to Inverness railway on a
197] Aberdeen: Restoration of the turntable at the former Ferryhill engine shed (BR 61B), on the Down
side of the main line ¾ mile south of Aberdeen station, is the target of the Ferryhill Railway Heritage
Trust, which expects to receive the lease document for the site before the end of January, and hopes to
start work when the weather is more reliable. The objective is to make Aberdeen a destination for steam
specials again, rather than just a through point on journeys further north.
198] Spean Bridge: A member reports that last autumn, the listed BR 1949 built former Spean Bridge
signal box was refurbished and rewired, including replacing some brickwork and rotten concrete. All ivy
and other vegetation growing out of the structure has been removed. A NR contact said that there are
currently no specific plans for the box; the work being done under NR's duty of care for a listed structure.
199] Polmont Jct.: Due to work between Greenhill Upper Jct. and Larbert Jct. (both exclusive) on 2
January, services between Glasgow Queen Street and Perth ran via Polmont Jct. (reverse). A holiday
service ran, based on the Sunday timetable; local services (including Alloa) were replaced by buses.
200] Larbert - Cumbernauld: (BLN 1218.1491) The Carmuirs Twin Tunnels (where the Forth and Clyde
Canal crosses over the railway between Carmuirs West Jct. and Greenhill Lower Jct.) have been rebuilt to
provide a single tunnel with electrification clearance (see e-BLN Pictorial). Removal of the upper section
of the tunnels was carried out during the Christmas shutdown with replacement over the New Year (see
previous item). The canal remains closed until the end of March. For those who don't count track in the
dark, there was a brief window of opportunity between Christmas and New Year to do the tunnel lines in
daylight! The former Abronhill tunnel to the south on the ex-Caledonian line to Cumbernauld was
opened out in 1998. Abronhill, a northeastern part of Cumbernauld 'new town', has anticipated the
possibility of a station being provided for over 30 years. The most recent reference seems to be an STV
News item of 26 July 2012 when the local MSP claimed that North Lanarkshire Council (previously unable
to support the idea) was then reconsidering. Fulfillment would depend on Strathclyde Partnership for
Transport (SPT). What has been happening over this section since 1 November 2014 is electrification
piling work to Greenhill Lower Jct. Larbert station overbridge has reopened after being raised for
electrification, having been closed to road traffic since January 2014.
201] More New Stations? (BLN 1214.1219) An SPT report of March 2014 stated that discussions were
ongoing and included in the North Lanarkshire Council area, besides Abronhill were Robroyston (west of
Stepps), Glenboig (at Garnqueen North Jct.) and Plains (east of Drumgelloch). In the East Dunbartonshire
Council area were Woodilee (east of Lenzie), where there has been extensive house building adjacent to
the Up side, and Westerhills, where there is to be a development near the former Bishopbriggs oil
terminal (or oil farm, as once referred to by local railwaymen), on the Up side of the line on the western
approach to the former Cadder Up Yard. In East Renfrewshire was Auchenback, between Patterton and
Neilston. All these would be taking advantage of the Scottish Stations Fund.
202] Glasgow: (BLN 1214.1217): A political photoshoot at the airport on 5 January drew attention to one
aim of the £1.13bn City Deal approved in September 2014, a rail link to Glasgow Airport. It is said this will
be funded from the award (Glasgow Evening Times 6 January). No details were given, but a body of
opinion links this to the resurrected Glasgow Crossrail, with electrification of the Shields Jct. to High
Street Jct. (Bellgrove) ex-G&SWR City Union Lines and passenger reopening (passing St. Enoch station
203] EGIP and Fife (BLN 1221.1751): NR has awarded a £16M Fife Signalling Upgrade contract to Siemens
due for completion in the summer giving Transport Scotland options to enhance the service. The 3-aspect
signals will be replaced by 4-aspect, enabling increased line speed and capacity between Haymarket and
Dalmeny. On the Forth Bridge, six new signals are to be installed. Also included is a range of works to
interlockings, power systems and telecommunication between Haymarket and the Forth Bridge.
204] Airdrie: At 10.44 on 10 January trains were unable to access bay P1. The 08.53 from Balloch to
Airdrie ran via the facing crossover at 8m 33ch to terminate in Coatbridge Sunnyside Down P1 then
formed the 10.31 to Balloch. Others were cancelled and normal running resumed about 13.00.
205] Paisley Gilmour Street: On Sundays to 15 February, there are no trains on the Johnstone line due to
engineering work. Trains from Glasgow terminate in Paisley Gilmour Street P3 for bus connections.
206] Scottish weather (1): (BLN 1223.1927): Storm force winds swept in from west and northwest
directions, arriving in Scotland initially on the night of Thursday 8 January, anticipation of which led to
preplanned withdrawal of service on the usual suspects (apart from Stranraer) on Friday 9. These were:
Inverness to Kyle, Thurso, Wick and Aberdeen; Kilwinning to Largs; Dumbarton Central to Helensburgh
Central; Glasgow to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig. The effect was considerably more widespread; the
First ScotRail website at 12.00 Friday had virtual wipeout, though some services resumed once safety
inspections had been carried out. Trains to Kilmarnock, North Berwick (normal), Dunblane to
Newcraighall (hourly) and Fife (hourly Inner and Outer Circle) had resumed by 08.30 next day; East
Kilbride normal from 10.18; by 12.00 Glasgow to Aberdeen, Carlisle via Dumfries and Edinburgh via
Falkirk Grahamston. Apart from Paisley Canal (resumed 10.05; unfortunately the wires were down at
Corkerhill at lunchtime on Saturday 10), the only domestic EMU services ran between Edinburgh and
Milngavie / Dumbarton Central. A half-hourly service operated between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen
Street High Level. Line proving and removal of over 20 fallen trees enabled trains to start running
between Inverness and Aberdeen / Perth from about 17.00. Anglo-Scottish services from Edinburgh and
Glasgow were able to run normally. So far as the northbound Highland Sleepers were concerned, the
04.40 Edinburgh to Aberdeen, already 30 minutes late, ran into a tree near Cupar but eventually
continued, arriving at Aberdeen 177 minutes late. The Inverness portion terminated at Perth and the Fort
William portion at Edinburgh.
207] Scottish weather (2): While most lines reopened for Saturday 10 January, further bad weather
continued to affect the West Highland (WHL), Highland and Far North groups (shuttle services ran from
Inverness to Dingwall or Tain from late morning, and Aviemore late afternoon). There was flooding again
in the Kingussie area, also large numbers of trees down on the WHL and routes radiating from Inverness
with early morning trains on the Aberdeen line cancelled. Trees came down on the overhead line
equipment between Dalreoch and Helensburgh and at Lochwinnoch but both were cleared the same day.
Due to high winds at Grangemouth Container Terminal and Hunterston Low Level (and plant problems at
Hunterston High Level) freight movements were cancelled at each. WHL freight which might have run was
constrained by the Dalreoch blockage. Our WHL reporter noted: (1). Bridge of Orchy signal box has been
very severely damaged and is semi-collapsed. Although the whole station is listed, discussions are taking
place between ScotRail, NR and the Railway Heritage Trust as to whether the signal box will now be
repaired or permanently demolished. (2). One of the four barriers at Banavie LC was severely damaged
and removed. Then, before each train, the remaining 3 barriers were being operated manually. Bollards
and red lamps were manually placed on the road where the barrier is missing. Protecting railway signals
are held at danger and train drivers instructed to proceed cautiously past and over the crossing.
208] Scottish weather (3): There were no services from 18.00 on 14th to 18.00 on 15 January due to high
winds and for line proving between Kilwinning and Ardrossan/Largs; Dumbarton Central to Helensburgh
Central/WHL and Dingwall to Kyle. At least up till late afternoon On 15th no ScotRail services ran
between Perth and Inverness due to heavy overnight snow. At 14.00 many Glasgow Central lines were
without service, notably Ayrshire, the Cathcart Circle and Neilston. A 15.35 to Neilston did get your Sub-
209] Motherwell : (BLN 1211.984) The ScotRail website at 10.44 on 10 January reported that trains were
not calling here. Buses replaced trains to Glasgow Central (GLC), Cumbernauld and Lanark (trains were
running to the latter by about 21.00). Various reasons were recorded, including high winds, power
problem and lack of train crew. GLC - Carstairs - Edinburgh/North Berwick trains were diverted via
Holytown. However, Realtime Trains shows departures and arrivals at Motherwell for services via
Hamilton (the trains cancelled to/from Cumbernauld or Whifflet). Trains resumed running via the main
line platforms with the 19.00 GLC to Edinburgh and 17.50 North Berwick to Johnstone (normally Ayr).
210] Black Rock Halt: (BLN 1223.1939) Reference to current maps of the Wales Coastal Path shows that
this crosses the line a little way to the west of the site of the Halt. A correspondent recalls waiting for a
train here in 1974 when the driver, clearly unused to picking up passengers, which were a very rare event,
failed to brake in time, coming to a halt some 200 yds beyond, then reversed back to the platform!
211] Rhymney Lower: (BLN 1224.108) The link created in 1930 to reconnect McLaren Colliery actually
involved very little new construction, being merely a realignment of the northern end of the ex-Rhymney
Railway Tirphil to New Tredegar branch to form a through connection with the ex-B&M line. Even so,
according to Section 42 of Cooke’s Track Layouts of the GWR and BR WR the new connection was not
made until 19 September, and the colliery would appear to have been cut off since the landslip, here
shown as 14 April that year. McLaren and Ogilvie collieries merged in July 1958, and the junction at
Tirphil was disconnected on 9 November 1970, from which date (until closure on 12 January 1976) the
branch and the Rhymney main line operated as 'parallel single tracks' between Bargoed and Tirphil.
212] Afon Wen - Caernarfon: Chwilog station was in the heart of its village; now there is a turning circle
and bus waiting shelter on the site of the goods sidings. The passenger station area is largely occupied by
an older persons’ housing complex, although to one side the platform can still be found. At the northern
end a children’s playground has been created on the trackbed. The site of Llangybi station, by contrast, is
in peaceful countryside, some two miles from the village. A short row of workmen’s houses stands to one
side, with two larger houses the other, all in a familiar LNWR style. A heavily-rebuilt single-storey building
also survives on the site of the platform, which itself is now lawn. Did timetables ever differentiate this
ex-LMS station from the ex-GWR one of the same name near Lampeter?
213] Old ATW offers: Additional to the free travel described in BLN 1218.1495; until further notice a new
scheme allows Welsh bus pass holders a 34% discount travel on the Cardiff Valleys network (including
Maesteg and Ebbw Vale) after 09.30 SSuX, and anytime SSuO. This is an alternative to the Valleys Senior
Railcard, at £5 annually and gives 50% discount. The ATW Club 55 offer is available again until 28
February, with prices and conditions unchanged for two years now (BLN 1224.116).
214] Ebbw Vale Town: (BLN 1224.110) A visit on 11 January found contractors Buckingham Group had
nearly finished the earthworks on the £11.5M one mile extension. Concrete sleepers were stacked in the
old exchange siding area ready for laying and ballast was in place alongside the line. No work was evident
at the new station site, but there is good progress on the £2.5M funicular, with top and bottom stations
nearing completion, initially linked by a single line (with space for doubling). It is referred to locally as a
Mechanical Link, and the single car has a capacity for 18 to 22 passengers (depending on their weight!).
Its track length is quoted as 47m, with a vertical difference of 23m and opening is expected in March.
215] A different sort of closure: Ian Allan's bookshop in Cardiff’s Royal Arcade sadly closes in February.
1225 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR7] West Somerset Railway Somerset (MR p6): Work has now started on extending the passing loop at
Williton. This is to allow passing of longer trains in both directions and use the full length of both
platforms at the station. The loop was shortened by BR.
MR8] Yeovil Railway Centre, Somerset (MR p6): Santa Claus and our roving reporter visited here on
Sunday 14 December 2014. The adult fare of £10 included a mince pie, hot drink and a ride on the
railway. In use was 0-4-0ST Lord Fisher (AB1398 of 1915) with GWR Toad 35923 and DMU car 59515
(converted into a driving trailer). An invitation to visit the locomotive shed was gratefully accepted; it
contained two Fowler diesels. 0-4-0ST Pectin (P1579 of 1921) was amongst the various wagons at the far
end of the line.
MR9] Chasewater Railway, Staffordshire (MR p7): On New Year's Day 2015, this standard gauge line,
surrounding Chasewater Country Park, held a mini gala/Mince Pie special day. The main attraction for
some was use in passenger service of ex-BR Class 08 08202, which previously worked at Potter Group, Ely.
The Fixtures Secretary and his family took advantage of the excellent value Family Day Rover (£10.95)
whilst Adult tickets were also a bargain at £4.45. The 12.45 service operated 'ordinary route' and was
hauled by the Class 08 and an industrial loco (North British 27876 0-4-0DH  'D2911'). Rolling stock
was a MK1 brake and two former DMU trailers, and a complimentary box of mince pies was provided to
any passenger who would take one! At Chasewater Church Street a cab ride to complete the run round
loop was happily provided on request. After returning to Brownhills West, the 13.30 service, formed of
three brake vans, was hauled by 0-4-0ST Kent Power Station No2 (WB2842 of 1946) and departed from
the very end of the line, marked 'Dock' in TRACKmaps. As the previous service was still in the platform, it
traversed the station run round loop to access the main line! Unusual lines including the 'Dock' and the
narrow gauge line are scheduled for the BLS special on 8 March 2015 (see BLN 1224.6).
MR10] Watford Miniature Railway, Hertfordshire (MR p18) (BLN 1201.MR10): The National Rail web site,
on Christmas Day, stated 'Watford Miniature Railway; Normal Service' under the heading 'How is the
network running' (see e-BLN Pictorial 1224)! This was confirmed by our roving reporter who visited on
this day where he found a 4w-4w DH working a blue liveried quin-artic set of open coaches. 0-6-0DH Nikki
Louise was on standby near the turntable. The £1 fare per person and the track layout were unchanged.
MR11] Ffestiniog Railway, Gwynedd (MR p29) (BLN 1214 p312): Fifty years ago on 2 January 1965, the
first sod was cut on what became known as the Deviation Project. It then took 14 years to build 2½ miles
of new track and a new tunnel before trains could run again to the outskirts of Blaenau Ffestiniog and
another three years for the project to be completed. The Ffestiniog Railway was opened to carry slate
from the quarries at Blaenau Ffestiniog to the wharves of Porthmadog in 1836. Initially powered by
gravity, the empty wagons were hauled back to Blaenau Ffestiniog by horse power; the railway built its
own powerful steam locomotives from the 1860s. It was abandoned in 1946 after declining slate sales
caused a downturn in business. A group progressively reopening it reached Tan-y-Bwlch by 1958. In 1957
part of the line below Tanygrisiau was flooded by the Central Electricity Generating Board pumped
storage scheme. Full restoration of the Ffestiniog Railway to Blaenau Ffestiniog therefore required the
construction of a new route to avoid the new power station and the lake (Llyn Ystradau) which the
scheme had created. In a statement, published in the Ffestiniog Railway Society 1964 Spring Magazine,
the railway announced its plans to build a deviation. The preferred option followed a survey by Gerald
Fox to create a spiral to raise the track level. The statement said "The line is to be carried to a summit of
655 ft on the top of the high ridge between Moelwyn and Moel Ystradau, gaining some of the height by
taking a spiral round a small hill to the east of Dduallt station, gradients being no steeper than the ruling
Ffestiniog gradient of 1 in 80". Ffestiniog Railway spokesman Andrew Thomas said: "The Deviation
involved the building, almost entirely by volunteer labour over a 14 year period, 2½ miles of new railway
involving embankments, cuttings, long hillside rock shelves, bridges and culverts, and starting with a
massive spiral track formation - the only one of its kind ever built in the British Isles". The deviation was a
major undertaking involving several hundred volunteer days work per month for over fourteen years
from 1965 to 1978. Work on the new tunnel did not start until 1975 and was opened in June 1977, with
services running from July to a temporary station called Llyn Ystradau. As Deviation work progressed, a
service, officially called the Gelliwiog Shuttle, was operated from Dduallt in May 1975 to enable visitors to
experience part of the Deviation route in advance of the opening of the new tunnel. Dduallt was the
upper terminus of the main service until 1977 and an attractive stone-built passenger shelter has been
added. Reinstating the original sensitive route through the backyards of Tanygrisiau and Glanypwll to a
new joint station with BR near the site of the FR's original Duffws station took until 1982. The 50th
anniversary of the cutting of the first sod on the Deviation project is to be commemorated at Dduallt. A
special train is planned to take volunteers from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 20 June. The train
will return to Dduallt where a barbecue will be held.
MR12] Foyle Valley Railway, County Londonderry (BLN 1224.MR6): An advert in the local paper at the
beginning of January confirms closure of the museum; the last day of opening will be Friday 27 March
2015. The local council are seeking alternative use for the building. The Society visited and rode on the
railway on 26 May 1990 in connection with our Ulster Enterprise I & II railtours.
MR13] Beamish Tramway, County Durham (MR p32) (BLN 1199.MR245): The Fleetwood Heritage Leisure
Trust has sold its Blackpool Brush Railcoach 621 (originally 284) to a party of individuals who have
reached agreement with Beamish to accept the tram as part of the collection. The vehicle had been
stored at Kirkham near Blackpool, but this site had to be vacated by the end of 2014. The tram moved to
Beamish in November, and after further restoration work will complement a future development to
create a 1950s themed area within the museum complex. It will return to its original number 284 when
available for service, probably not before 2017 due to the Museum's existing tramcar overhaul
Distribution: Dave Monger, 6 Underhill Close, GODALMING, GU7 1NU. [email protected], 07592 585230.
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