Number 1310 (Items 1618 - 1714 & MR 148 - MR 158) (E-BLN 53 PAGES) 18 Aug 2018
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Respice in praeteritum, praesens et futurum
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society - founded 1955
WEBSITE ADDRESS: branchline.uk
Membership Enquiries, Alan Welsh [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from member7s2; 8a6n7i7nternational section is available.
Opinions herein are not necessaarivlyaitlahbolsee. of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1311 is dated Sat 1 Sep;Spolceieatsye. Ssoecniedtyc.ontributions in by Wed 22 Aug. ………
1618] : MEMBERS SPECIAL OFFER: *NEW* TRACKmaps Book 3,
Western & Wales, 6th Edition: RRP £12.95; only £10 for BLS
members ordered then collected and paid for in cash on 27 Aug
(or another) railtour, or £12 by post including P&P. A4 softback
56 pages. Edited by Myles Munsey. London Paddington to the
West Country and South Wales now includes Mid and North
Wales, formerly in Book 4 (very handy with the recent North
Wales changes). So the whole of Wales is now in this one book.
Also Crossrail Central Core, various Heritage and narrow gauge
lines as usual. Index map, detailed key, abbreviations, 36 pages
of full colour detailed track plans, index with 3,200 entries, lists
of Engineers Line references and Line of Routes Codes. Every
member should have one! Email Mark Gomm by Sun 19 Aug
(include membership number) at [email protected]
or post (per back page) a cheque/CPA for £12 for a postal copy.
Date Event and details BLN Lead Status
Sat 18 Aug 09.30 Summer Scunthorpe Steeler tour No16 limited space 1308 JE OPEN
1300 JE OPEN
Sat 25 Aug 09.30-10.30 Blenheim Park Railway (15" gauge) railtour
Sat 25 Aug 12.00-16.00 Beeches Light Railway CLOSED TO BOOKINGS 1299 JE Closed
Mon 27 Aug The Marching Crompton track/traction Bank Holiday tour 1308 JE OPEN
Mon 27 Aug Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr Railway, CLOSED TO BOOKINGS 1308 JE FULL
Sat 8 Sep 10.30 Minor Railways in Hertfordshire & Essex Day 1 1308 JE OPEN
Sun 9 Sep 10.30 Minor Railways in Essex & Hertfordshire Day 2 1308 JE OPEN
Sat 29 Sep 13.00 Coate Water Railway, North Wilts MES, Swindon 1307 JE OPEN
Sun 30 Sep 10.00. 11.00, 12.00 & 13.00: Ribblesdale Cement Works 1308 JE OPEN
Fri 12 Oct 10.15 Bangor, Anglesey Signal Boxes & Ground Frames visitsBelow BC *OPEN*
Thu 18 Oct 09.42 Derby New Track Tracker using Derbyshire Wayfarer TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 21 Oct 12.00 Andover Model Engineers all line style visit 1307 JE OPEN
26-28 Oct Yorkshire weekend AGM, various fixtures & film show/buffet TBA TBA Claimed
Wed 31 Oct Chesterfield Roundabout, half term conducted railway walk Below NL *OPEN*
Sun 4 Nov Save the date mainline railtour in northwest of England TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 17 Nov East-West Midlands Railtour with an extremely unusual first TBA TBA Claimed
BC=Barney Clark, JE=Jill Everitt, NL=Neil Lewis, TBA=To Be Announced, = book online at branchline.uk
1619] .The Marching Crompton: UPDATE, Bank Holiday Monday 27 Aug: Route and timings are
similar to those on our website (fixtures). There is now an option of staying on to/from Carmarthen.
If you have booked please look at the charity raffle https://goo.gl/CrxHPz 'flyer' and with e-BLN which
has 30 interesting prizes, all donated as are the raffle tickets even. All proceeds go to Railway Children
supporting their UK work. Thanks to David Palmer, his team and Stephen Phillips the tour itinerary and
geographical map is available to look at now with e-BLN. Some places remain on the main tour.
1620] .Anglesey Signal Box Visits. Fri 12 Oct, 10.15 Bangor station: (07.50 ex-Manchester Piccadilly/05.08
ex-Cardiff Central etc). Thanks to Barney Clark, Gaerwen, Valley & Holyhead boxes with Ty Croes crossing
box and associated ground frames. BLS members only, limited numbers; an on the day minimum £20 cash
charity donation applies. It is a condition of booking that this is payable by anyone who fails to turn up or
cancels late and can't be replaced. Hi-Viz orange jacket required. Bookings/queries direct to Barnaby at:
[email protected] (note underscore). 1 Onslow Road, Richmond, TW10 6QH (with SAE). Please
advise if you are arriving by car (and how many lifts you can give) or train. Car use may have to be reduced.
1621] .Chesterfield Roundabout. Wed 31 Oct: A BLS trackbed walk led by our local expert Neil Lewis
aided by renowned junior members Ruby and Archie Lewis. 10.00 Chesterfield (Midland!) station.
A town walk visiting the remains of the Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway (which reached
neither terminus), Great Central Railway loop, Brampton Branch and existing Midland line. At 14.30 is
an optional visit to the famous Crooked Spire with a guided tower tour to view the Midland and former
railways from above (£6 Child £4 pay on the day). Bookings/enquires to Neil [email protected]
or, with an SAE to 95 Little Morton Rd, North Wingfield, Chesterfield, S42 5HL. Please advise if you
book, then can no longer make it. Junior members are particularly welcome on this half-term fixture.
1310 HEAD LINES (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
1622] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant passenger service suspensions: *= New/altered
BLN Start (incl) Reopens Location (stations exclusive where bracketed) [bold = closed now]
1309.1504 13 Aug 18 19 Aug 18 *(Derby) - Sheet Stores Jn - Trent South Jn [=no London trains]
1305.1022 10 Aug 18 20 Aug 18 *Sheffield Supertram: (Gleadless Townend) - Herdings Park
1298.214 12 May 18 20 Aug 18 (Aberdeen) - (Dyce)
1209.1511 18 Aug 18 28 Aug 18 *Southerham Jn - Seaford
1300.441 28 Aug 18 31 Aug 18 *(Theale) - Westbury North Jn/Fairwood Jn (and 2 later periods)
1309.1499 22 Jul 18 3 Sep 18 *(Derby) - Stenson Jn and (Tutbury & Hatton) - North Stafford Jn
1308.1393 25 Aug 18 3 Sep 18 Euxton Jn/Crow Nest Jn/(Blackburn) - Windsor Bridge North Jn
1305.1022 25 Aug 18 3 Sep 18 Supertram: (Gleadless Townend)-Halfway/Gleadless-Herdings Pk.
1305.1022 10 Sep 18 15 Sep 18 Sheffield Supertram: Donetsk Way - Halfway
1309.1505 25 Aug 18 8 Oct 18 *Ambergate Jn - Matlock with Belper & Duffield stations
1309.1498 22 Jul 18 8 Oct 18 *(Lichfield Trent Valley High Level) - Wichnor Jn (PSUL route)
1309.1503 1 Sep 18 8 Oct 18 **UPDATED** (Derby) - Ambergate Jn - Chesterfield South Jn
1308.1394 15 Sep 18 8 Oct 18 Bristol Parkway-(Patchway)/(Filton Abbey Wood)/(Yate)/(Swindon)
1302.702 27 Oct 18 19 Nov 18 Bristol East Jn - Stoke Gifford No1 Jn; Filton Jn - Patchway Jn;
Feeder Bridge Jn - Dr Day's Jn & Narroways Hill Jn - (Clifton Down)
1299.377 10 Dec 18 Greenford West Jn - Greenford East Jn - Park Royal - Old Oak Common West CP
1623] Morecambe Jn - Heysham Port (incl): (BLN 1306.1140) Daily passenger services (one return trip
from Lancaster) resumed Mon 30 Jul 2018; previously reduced to Sundays only from Mon 4 Jun.
1624] Spa Valley Railway; Goombridge Jn (46m 18ch*) - Up & Down Ashurst Spur Sdgs (46m 14ch*):
CP after final passenger use of both tracks to the ends of line (with special temporary clearance of
stored rolling stock) by our Thur 2 Aug 2018 tour. On the 4 & 5 Aug there were public brakevan trips to
the stored stock (not very far). The spurs will be cleared and lifted as the site has changed hands and
the new landowners wish to have it back for their own use by Jun 2019. [*Miles from London Bridge
via Three Bridges and Rowfant; Groombridge Jn - Ashurst Jn CP from 6 Jan 1969 ex-LBSC Railway.]
1625] Castle Donington, East Midlands Distribution Centre (123m 33ch): At the end of 2011 some 1½
miles of track were commissioned at this facility, on the site of Castle Donington Power Station. There
were hopes that the massive* Marks & Spencer distribution centre here, opened in Apr 2013, would
receive trains of food from Europe and the Far East via the Channel Tunnel. What is thought to be the
first train arrived at 16.19 on Wed 8 Aug 2018, the 14.57 from 'Leicester Loco Inspection Point'. 56081
hauled 56104, 56312 & 56098 dead in consist for storage. [Possibly while some of those Leicester
sidings are being temporarily used by EMT with the Derby work?] The engine left light at 18.35
reaching Leicester 19.55. [*Half a mile long, 100ft high and 1M square feet in area on the 60 acre site.]
1626] Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway; Princes Risborough P4: (BLN 1308.1375) OP Sun 12 Aug
2018. The first public trains to use reinstated P4 was 16.30 from Chinnor & 17.00 return (unadvertised
and nominally for Railway members but available to any general public who happened to be there).
As part of the opening ceremony on Wed 15 Aug a through Chiltern DMU special from Marylebone
(09.24/17.25) to Chinnor was to run for invited guests, (the Society was represented). In a change of
plan, on Thur 16, 23 & 30 Aug all services now do run through to/from Princes Risborough. Trains also
run Mon 27 Aug, Saturdays until 8 Sep then 22 Sep & 6 Oct and Sundays until 21 Oct. Halloween
(part line trips) run 25, 27 & 28 Oct. Santa Specials 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 20, 22 & 23 Dec (full line trips).
1627] Nottingham NET; Wilkinson Street (excl) - The Forest (excl) & five intermediate unidirectional
single platform stops: TCP expected 23 Aug until 2 Sep 2018 (both incl) for relaying of 14 year old rails.
North side trams may reverse in Wilkinson Street stop (trailing crossover on departure) but could do
an ECS depot shunt. South side trams should turnback in service in The Forest middle road.
BELOW: The new booking office on Princes Risborough station P4. One rail of the P4 track
can be seen (right) then the future 'Run-round Facility' (Line 5). (Stuart Hicks 26 Jul 2018)
1628] Old Oak Common West Jn (3m 20ch): (BLN 1302.702) The junction for the Down/Up Wycombe
bidirectional single track line is due to be severed from Tue 1 Jan 2019 for HS2 work and may never be
reinstated. Park Royal will be served as a siding from Greenford West and Greenford East Jn with
increased rail traffic for HS2 construction. OG 3 Jun 1903; OP 15 Jun 1903 by the original GWR. From
1910 it was part of that GWR's new London Paddington to Birmingham Snow Hill main line 'cut off'
through Bicester North. Following a period of increased services for electrification of the Birmingham
New Street to London Euston line it was subsequently run down by BR after completion of that
project (on 6 Mar 1967). The final timetabled Chiltern passenger train is scheduled for Fri 7 Dec 2018.
1310 BLN GENERAL (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
1629] Golf Quiz: You will either find this very easy or very difficult. Which UK triangular junction had a
stopping place with 'Golf' in the name at every junction? Give it your best 'shot'. Clue: Nowhere near Par.
1630] Points & Slips: ●BLN 1309.1511] At Lewes the new signalling, including the ability to reverse
trains quicker (diverted between Keymer Jn and Brighton via Lewes), will allow three diverted trains
per hour to run in each direction as opposed to the present one (in addition to the scheduled service).
Thus capacity for diversions is being increased by 200%, not the 300% claimed by NR - although the
total capacity for diversions will be 300% of what it was before! ●1513] The DMU, bottom right, at
Horrocksford Jn is not a pacer but is thought to be a Class 155. ●1549] On the ECML the cost of the
new Werrington Diveunder north of Peterborough is put at £97M. It is understood that it will be used
by Spalding line passenger trains as well as freight and now the green light has been given (or should
that be the green flashing light‽) work is to start on site shortly. ●1567] The prohibition on Pendolinos
at Wolverhampton P3 may just apply to 11-car sets and is believed to relate to signalling overlaps. In
response to a query, Oxley Up Sidings are used to stable Pendolinos after servicing on the Down side.
●1598] At Aston Signalling Centre, Birmingham, automatic working of controlled signals isn't a form of
Automatic Route Setting (ARS). Automatic working facilities on panels have been around for a long
time, at least the 1940s - Liverpool Street on the GE Main Line, long before ARS. The Rail Safety &
Standards Board definitions: Automatic Route Setting: A system for setting Routes without the action
of the Signaller, based upon a stored timetable, train running information, defined priority, selection
criteria and operating algorithms. Controlled Signal Working Automatically: A control function
(generally coloured blue and/or annotated 'A') that enables a Controlled Signal to Work Automatically.
1631] Post Early for Christmas! With only 128 shopping days to Christmas https://goo.gl/dK22Nk is
the Railway Children 2018, mainly railway themed, charity Christmas card catalogue (8 pages) and
order form. Many new designs and other festive items are now available to order. It is also on our
website with e-BLN and a printed version is going out with paper BLN. The payments can be Gift Aided.
1310 EAST MIDLANDS ( Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
1632] Nottingham NET: The City Council have approved a £200k feasibility study into potential routes.
The priority is an extension from Clifton to a 3,000 home development at Fairham Pasture off the
A453. An extension to the planned Toton HS2 Hub station and longer term 'potential development
sites in Greater Nottingham' will be looked at. The network now carries 17M passengers per year.
1633] Derby: (BLN 1309.1519) Updating paper BLN 1309, the Litchurch Lane Temporary Connecting
Line to 'Litchurch Lane Carriage & Wagon Works' (sic - Bombardier of course), in a change of plan, was
taken OOU from 30 Jul with a short section of track removed. The other 'Connecting Line' (between
the Pilot Sidings and the Up & Down Main) was decommissioned until further notice from 29 Jul.
The useable part of P5b = old P6b (at the north end) has been shortened to take trains up to the length
of a 2-car Class 158 DMU and, since 22 Jul, was used in the week by the hourly Matlock shuttle (mostly
a Class 153). At weekends, due to a possession on the Up Main and Down Main north of Derby the
Matlocks used new through P7 (240yd) instead.
ABOVE: A close up of the work south of the station; a Class 66 is on the right. (Tom Gilby 4 Aug 2018.)
PREVIOUS PAGE, TOP: The south end of Derby station looking south on 31 Jul when temporarily there
were two P6s (left and right) while bay P5 is biting the dust. Note the massive new signal gantry right
across the layout. PREVIOUS PAGE, LOWER: By 8 Aug the straightened out and bay-less new P4 & P5
island south end platforms appeared remarkably wide. The new signals were then uncovered and lit.
Far right an engineering train is in P2; new P7 is just off the picture to the left. (Both Ian Mitchell)
When running London trains took the re-aligned Pilot Sidings (sic, yes there is only one but BLN is not
responsible for these names) to P7 (except Sun 5 & 12 Aug when an hourly through Sheffield - St
Pancras service ran). They recessed on Chaddesden Curve for a Matlock service to arrive and depart.
The Goods Lines - from/to St Mary's North Jn at least - are the only route north to/from P7 and on Sat
4 Aug the 12.59 from Matlock took them at Breadsall, scraping against vegetation. From 13-20 Aug
Matlock trains are authorised to use the 'Up & Down Goods Line' (sic); Derby North Jn to Breadsall Jn.
Regarding e-BLN 1309.1497: In the upper picture the 'Pilot Sidings' used by hourly London trains is to
the right at the south end of P7, the track to the left accesses Etches Park Depot. The connection to
Bombardier Litchurch Lane is not visible. In the lower picture the Matlock train is in new P5b not P5a.
Work is rapidly progressing at the south end of the station. The now straightened out new P4/5 south
end looks remarkably wide with removal of the former short south bay P5. A member had a bizarre
experience travelling from Derby to Leicester on the morning of 7 Aug. The signaller was a little
premature in turning around the ECS of a Newark-Long Eaton local at Spondon and let it out in front
of the London train from Derby that it was supposed to follow. So it was sitting at Long Eaton until its
departure time for 15 minutes with the train supposed to be in front of it held at the signal behind.
The train that was delayed is a peculiar one, 08.00 Derby to East Midlands Parkway, passengers then
have to change into a Sheffield to London service (or a slightly later one from Nottingham on 7 Aug). It
then runs ECS to Etches Park via Leicester and Chesterfield, as you do, reaching Derby from the north.
1634] Spondon: From 29 Jul to 4 Sep the CCTV level crossing is decommissioned, the road closed and
fenced off. The signalling operates as normal and a crossing attendant is controlling pedestrian flow.
1635] Matlock Bath: Due to misuse and many trespass incidents, the foot crossing at the Derby end of
the station is to be closed by NR. A nearby underbridge will access the 'Heights of Abraham' attraction.
1310 GREATER LONDON (Geoff Brockett) [email protected]
1636] Crossrail: (BLN 1306.1409) An additional £600M, funded by Transport for London, Department
for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail (NR), is required to complete the project. ('Railway Herald')
1637] Factory Jn & Wandsworth Road Jn: The crossovers between the Chatham Reversible Line and
Up and Down Stewarts Lane Lines, plus the junction points at Wandsworth Road, will be renewed in
possessions on 11/12, 25-27 Aug and 1/2 Sep. Throughout this period the crossovers will be secured in
the 'normal' position. The new pointwork will be 'stretched out' (NR term) allowing higher speeds.
1638] Kennington: (BLN 1305.1023) Northern Line engineering work completion has been delayed;
reopening of the Bank branch platforms with a return to the normal WTT is now scheduled for 1 Oct.
1639] Grove Park: On 31 Jul the 17.34 Sevenoaks to Charing Cross called at Up Fast P4, instead of the
booked P2. Our member who has been using the station for over 50 years can hardly remember
boarding a train at this platform before. The reason is believed to be signalling problems, although the
trains before and after this one used Up Slow P2 as usual.
1640] King's Cross: (BLN 1306.1173) The King's Cross PSB area north of the King's Cross remodelling
project is to be recontrolled to York Railway Operating Centre (ROC). At 188 miles, will King's Cross be
the NR location furthest away from its control site? [Slightly further than Llysfaen is from Cardiff - Ed!]
1641] South Western Railway: The ORR has reviewed https://goo.gl/xJRcPe NR's performance to the
TOC. The report contains items relevant to the Greater London area. The Waterloo remodelling and
train lengthening have reduced the availability of emergency stabling at times of disruption. Waterloo
now has one 10-car instead of two 8-car sidings and the former International platforms are not yet
normally accessible (but will be eventually when work concludes). Kingston's 8-car siding can't be used
for stabling 10-car trains. Access to Surbiton siding now requires additional shunt moves.
The fleet expansion with the new Class 707 EMUs puts additional pressure on stabling facilities.
The most disruptive incident on the route during 2017/18 was the 15 Aug 2017 Waterloo derailment
during the remodelling, which caused approximately 26,000 delay minutes. In second place was a track
circuit failure caused by a lineside fire outside Waterloo on 11 Dec 2017 with 23,000 minutes. The new
pointwork giving access to P1-4 at Waterloo is on an even tighter curve than before, resulting in much
greater wear and an increased requirement for inspection and maintenance.
1642] St Paul's: The two main escalators are to be refurbished in turn between 9 Aug 2018 and Apr
2019. As a result, 07.30-10.00 SSuX there will be no entry to the station and at all other times entry
will be via a 99 step 'down' staircase only. Additionally the westbound platform will not be served SSuX
07.30-10.00, 16.00-19.30 and, during Night Tubes services, 00.30-05.00. Passengers are advised to use
nearby Bank and Chancery Lane tube stations instead. The station has over 17M passengers per year.
The tube escalators typically have 15,000 moving parts, operate up to 20 hours a day, run 50% faster
than escalators do elsewhere and must be refurbished every 20 years and replaced every 40 years.
1643] Shepperton Branch: The branch is to be resignalled in Jan 2019 using axle counters instead of
track circuits (the latter are less reliable in flooding) and controlled initially from a new IECC at Feltham
Area Signalling Centre (ASC). Ultimately Feltham ASC and Wokingham signal boxes will close, with
control transferred to Basingstoke Railway Operating Centre (ROC). To quote the NR briefing: 'The
Shepperton Branch has been selected to be a trial site for the ElectroLogIXS interlocking, Newgate
Barrier Machines (at Percy Road crossing, Hampton) and Auto Re-Configurable Power Supplies to
demonstrate an integrated and fully operational system prior to the migration to Basingstoke ROC'.
1310 NORTH EAST (Geoff Blyth) [email protected]
1644] Shell Jn - Wilton Branch: (BLN 1309.1539) The long disused line just inside the (ex-ICI Wilton)
north eastern perimeter fence to the former Chlorine Loading Area is actually the one at risk from the
new York Potash handling facility, although the artist's impression shows it remains and is clear of that
development. The Potash mine at Sneatonthorpe, south of Whitby in the North York Moors National
Park, aims to produce 13M tonnes annually within 6 years. There will be no rail traffic, all the output
arrives by a 23-mile underground conveyor. An overhead conveyor then takes the Potash above the
A1085, the ex-steel works hot metal line and passenger lines to Redcar Bulk Terminal for shipping out.
1645] The Boulby prize: (BLN 1276.533) The final six wagons of Boulby Potash were unloaded at AV
Dawson's Middlesbrough terminal on Mon 23 Jul. All Boulby trains since have carried Polyhalite.
1646] Middlesbrough: (BLN 1309.1537) On 9 Nov 1969 when Middlesbrough East Signal Box (SB)
closed, all points and signals were abolished apart from the Down Starter and Up Home & Calling On
signals, which were transferred to Guisborough Jn. P3 was converted into a 'Platform Siding', accessed
by trailing points in the Down Main controlled by a new Ground Frame, but at the time some members
may have incorrectly thought that the bay was still in use for passenger services.
Middlesbrough East controlled only the Main Lines; its Goods Lines equivalent was Dock Hill SB. On
the same date, the No2 & 3 Down Goods Lines and No2 Up Goods Line (Dock Hill - Guisborough Jn)
were abolished. All connections at Guisborough Jn with the No1 Goods Lines were also abolished
except those to/from the Main Lines and the Whitby branch. Dock Hill SB closed 18 Sep 1977.
A trailing crossover was installed on the Goods Lines west of Middlesbrough SB (once Middlesbrough
West) and also a facing connection into the sidings for Middlesbrough Dock - 26 acres of water, unlike
the West (railway) Dock! Although Middlesbrough Dock closed to commercial shipping in 1980, the
connection was resurrected to access Tees Storage Ltd, located on the south side of the entrance to
the dock - a site now occupied by the Riverside Stadium, home of Middlesbrough FC. Although the
Tees Storage terminal (for chemical and petroleum products) opened in 1965, it was presumably not
rail served for a long time as the first private siding traffic did not run until 14 Apr 1986. Its internal
system was covered on 7 May 1989 as part of our Cleveland Area Industrial Railtours programme but
only to the ownership boundary at their rounding loop, about 800m from the junction with BR metals.
1647] Lines West of Consett (Part 2): (BLN 1306.1175) Your Regional Editor would particularly like to
thank Richard Maund for his extensive researches of LNER records, which have revealed much
previously unknown information and form a substantial part of this item, and Roy Lambeth for his
information gleaned over the years by word of mouth. The three plans are thanks to Dave Cromarty.
The LNER renamed Parkhead as Blanchland on 1 Jul 1923, even though this attractive village is some
six miles to the north, in the Derwent valley. The most likely reason was to avoid confusion with the
LNER Parkhead station in Glasgow. The Aug 1924 edition of the 'North Eastern & Scottish Magazine'
issued by the LNER referred to the 'newly named Blanchland (née Parkhead)'. The writer will continue
to refer to this as 'Parkhead' to maintain consistency with Part 1 (BLN 1306.1175).When the Burnhill Jn
- Whitehall 'cut off' line opened it was double track, while the original line from Blackfield SB (1,471 yd
northwest of Tow Law station) to Waskerley and beyond remained single. It had been intended to
simplify these arrangements on 14 Dec 1937 and dispense with Burnhill Jn as a block post.
This would make the Up (southbound) Rowley - Burnhill Jn line an extension of the single line to
Blackfield (with Tablet working). The former Down (northbound) line would then be a single goods line
(with Train Staff and Ticket working to Waskerley) by reversal at a ground frame at Burnhill Jn.
RAILWAYS SOUTH WEST OF CONSETT
Not to scale. Please note that this sketch map is intended to help illustrate the accompanying article describing
the evolution of the railway system in the area, and not to represent a particular point in time.
KEY Hownes Gill To Consett
N Inclines viaduct
Passenger stations White Hall Jn
Whiteheaps Nanny Mayor's
Bolt's Law Waskerley BURNHILL
Rookhope Parkhead Burnhill Jn Saltersgate
Weatherhill transhipment ammunition depot
To Wearhead Crawley Side Blackfield SB .
STANHOPE TOW LAW
CSD To Bishop Auckland To Bishop Auckland
The Train Staff also released Whitehall Ground Frame, where part of the former Nanny Mayor's
Incline (sometimes referred to as Nanny Mayer's Incline) line survived as a short branch to a coal
depot. That 14 Dec 1937 date is sometimes quoted for these changes; but the weather - deep snow -
intervened, so it was not until 20 Jan 1938 that the changes were actually implemented. Nothing was
specified about Waskerley - Weatherhill but it is assumed this was a separate section with only one
train permitted. The track layout at Burnhill Jn seems to have been left in situ, with redundant
connections merely padlocked out of use. Access to Saltersgate Siding (NZ 073 433), 1,344yd south of
Burnhill Jn, was still from the single passenger line.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Burnhill Jn immediately before closure of the signal box on 20 Jan 1938.
From that date, the Up Main Line became an extension of the Single Passenger Line (block section
Rowley - Blackfield), with pointwork at (G) and (H) clipped so that no diverging movements were
possible from the single line there. The Down Main Line became the Goods Line, giving access to
Waskerley (and beyond) by reversing in the West Siding (E) - but with no access to Saltersgate Siding
(past the right hand side of the plan), which remained accessible only from the Single Passenger Line.
The line between Tow Law and Blackhill (Consett North SB) CP 1 May 1939 and also CA between
Blackfield SB and Saltersgate Siding, as the only goods train over that section (the 08.45 Consett to
Tow Law and, if required, Crook, local round trip working) was also withdrawn. Burnhill station thus
CA as it had no goods facilities and indeed no road access; its sole purpose was to provide passenger
facilities for Waskerley, 1¼ miles away, largely by walking along the railway! Rowley retained a coal
siding, worked by a ground frame after the SB closed 26 Apr 1940, until CA 6 Jun 1966. The station
building fell into disrepair but in 1972 it was dismantled and rebuilt at Beamish Museum where it can
be seen now. It was formally opened at its new home by the late Sir John Betjeman in July 1976.
On 18 May 1939, buffer stops were erected just south of Saltersgate Siding, where there was a quarry
served by a tramway and also a coal depot, preventing movement south of there. The line was
similarly blocked just north of Blackfield SB (the junction for a colliery branch) on 4 Mar 1940, when
that box ceased to be a block post. The line between Blackfield and Saltersgate had been lifted by
1952, but this might well have happened during the war in the drive to recover scrap metal. Around
this time (no date has been found), the Government built Saltersgate Ministry of Supply (MoS)
Ammunition Depot surrounding the line between Burnhill Jn and Saltersgate Siding - see first plan
above. Its purpose was to store ammunition from the huge Aycliffe Royal Ordnance Factory,
employing 17,000 workers, which was located east of Shildon on the former Clarence Railway.
By April 1940, the MoS had constructed a transhipment platform (A) [see Burnhill diagram above]
immediately north of the depot gate and alongside the Relief Siding (F), which had been connected at
(B) to form a run-round facility, and pointwork at (G) and (H) had been unclipped again, so that
Saltersgate Siding and the MoS depot could once more be reached from the single Goods Line. The
Single Passenger Line (former Up Main) between Rowley and point (G) was taken out of use and
eventually lifted. An internal 2ft gauge rail system (C) also served the transhipment platform. The two
sidings marked (D) were known as the Branch Sidings.
From an unknown date between May 1939 and Apr 1940, all traffic between Rowley and Burnhill Jn -
(for Waskerley, the new MoS depot or Saltersgate Siding beyond it) - began using the single goods
line. The former passenger line therefore went OOU between Rowley and Burnhill Jn and appropriate
crossover(s) were reactivated at Burnhill Jn so that Saltersgate Siding could be reached from the
single goods line, not possible since the 20 Jan 1938 changes. From 26 Apr 1940 all remaining Electric
Token working between Consett East, Consett South, Hownes Gill and Rowley SBs was withdrawn,
the entire system was then worked by Train Staff and Ticket. Hownes Gill and Rowley boxes closed.
This was unusual with two possible access routes to the staff section. The normal route was from
Consett South SB, where the train staff was kept, but it was also possible to gain access via Consett
East SB. Consett South - Consett East via Hownes Gill Jn was worked as a single line with Absolute
Block (block indicators and bells were provided) except that no token was provided. Hownes Gill Jn
(both lines were single track) was just one set of points worked by a 'Williams one-way lever with foot
treadle*', there was also a siding with its own operating procedures. It is thought that, each time this
type of lever was pulled, it reversed the lie of the points but authoritative information would be
appreciated. [*More information on this in a future BLN.]
To Scotswood Bridge CONSETT AREA, c. 1960 An interesting 'point' was the one facing
Jn (Blaydon) (not to scale) from the west, which was normally set
for Consett East - perhaps as provision
BLACKHILL British Railways against a runaway. For movements in the
Connections to facing direction, the lever was operated
N steelworks system by a designated person; the shunter,
Tunnel guard or fireman as appropriate. It is
suspected that, when Hownes Gill SB
To Tyne Dock was closed, Consett South - Hownes Gill
and Hownes Gill - Consett East block
CONSETT instrument circuits were joined to form a
single circuit, giving a single track section,
Fell Carr House with, unusually, a reversal in the middle!
Consett Iron West
& Steel Works https://goo.gl/gUwDW2 is an unusual
view of Consett South and the incredible
Consett To Relly Mill complex of lines. The line straight ahead
North Consett (Durham) leads to Baxter Wood Jn/Relly Mill Jn
(Durham), the line to the right
Low Yard to Hownes Gill Jn (and then Burnhill
Jn) and the line overhead is the Consett
Consett East - Consett North curve. The far brick
South overbridge carries the Consett East -
Hownes Gill Jn (- Burnhill Jn) curve.
The LNER was the poorest of the 'Big 4'
Hownes Gill Viaduct railway companies and perhaps wished
To Burnhill and Weatherhill CSD to spend as little money as possible on
this obscure branch. It is thought that
this 'triangular' layout was retained, in
spite of the complications it posed, mainly for loco turntable as Consett shed had no turntable and it
also enabled ammunition trains to run directly to and from Saltersgate MoS Depot.
If a train was run from Consett East to the Weatherhill line it had to stop at Hownes Gill Jn and detach
the loco, which ran light to and from Consett South to pick up the train staff. The Sectional Appendix
went on to say that 'the train must stop on arrival at Burnhill' (if it didn't, it would end up colliding with
the depot gate!) and the crew were required to report their arrival to Consett South SB by phone. In
the opposite direction, permission had to be obtained from the signalman at Consett South before
leaving Burnhill Jn. A fairly prominent board facing north in the vee at Burnhill Jn read:
'TELEPHONE ARRIVAL FROM CONSETT AND FOR PERMISSION TO PROCEED TO CONSETT'.
If the train was going to Consett East, the loco was detached at Hownes Gill Jn, the Williams lever
operated and the loco ran light to and from Consett South to deliver the train staff. So, in effect, it was
possible to have two trains in the staff section when one of them was west of Burnhill Jn - a rather
loose interpretation of the principles of single line working! However, this was of course controlled by
the Consett South signaller. This was presumably to enable a loco, or even a train, to be turned on the
triangle while the freight had the staff. Members with a signalling interest may wish to comment.
If the telephone between Burnhill Jn and Consett South SB failed, rail staff had to use the Post Office
phone in Waskerley Goods Office to advise the Traffic Agent at Consett or the Consett High Yard
Inspector. For a train travelling to Consett this would involve walking back 1¼ miles to Waskerley. If
the Waskerley phone was not available, the fireman had to walk over 4½ miles from Burnhill Jn to
Consett South SB to obtain permission and then return to his train at Burnhill! Both Waskerley and
Burnhill are about 1,100 ft above sea level, so a near 10 mile round trip in winter might be challenging,
even dangerous. However, they were tough men and one wonders if a light engine might be provided
to return the fireman to his train; which was at Burnhill and could not leave until he had rejoined it.
By 1958 Train Staff and Ticket working between Consett South and Weatherhill had been replaced by
'One Engine in Steam' ('One Train Working' in current parlance). If a train needed to serve Saltersgate
Siding, and hence run through Saltersgate MoS Depot, the engine was required to carry the train staff
and the guard had a 'Valley key' ('Valley' appears to be a manufacturer's name, like 'Yale' or Chubb'*)
to unlock 'the gate' - 8ft high and topped with barbed wire. [The Regional Ed believes this refers to the
gate at the south end of the depot, just north of Saltersgate Lane, not the north gate near Burnhill Jn.]
He then had to check that the level crossing gates were closed across the road before authorising his
driver to make the movement. The points
controlling the siding were operated from a
ground frame by the guard, who apparently
needed to unlock this with the aforementioned
Valley key, and presumably also the train staff,
although there is no mention of this in the
Sectional Appendix. These instructions had been
deleted from the Sectional Appendix by 1958,
probably because Saltersgate Siding had closed -
which seems likely from its moribund state in
this early 1950s picture! (RIGHT: looking north.)
[*There is also a reference to a Valley key being used to lock a siding (former running line) at Ingleby
station, between Battersby and Stokesley, used for wagon storage.]
It is believed that regular MoS depot traffic ceased some years before its 12 Mar 1969 official closure.
Judging by the photographs of the transhipment platform, regular traffic seems to have ceased by
1966. The entire line from Consett then remained open only for occasional trains of silica sand from
Durhills Quarry at the top of Weatherhill Incline. The last passenger train to visit the Weatherhill line
was the RCTS (West Riding and North East Branches) 'North Eastern No2 Rail Tour' on 10 Apr 1965. This
was a complex tour https://goo.gl/tE1VgP from Leeds largely hauled by 3442 'The Great Marquess'
but with class 9F 92097 from Newcastle up the steep climb from the East Coast Main line (Ouston Jn)
to Consett, once the preserve of this class on the Tyne Dock - Consett iron ore trains; needing two 9Fs
west of South Pelaw. A DMU was used from Consett to Waskerley. Unfortunately, your Regional
Editor was in the south of England by then and never knew about it, missing many choice pieces of
track. No public passenger train is known to have run past Waskerley in the 20th century but no doubt
some dedicated gricers managed to have an unofficial ride on this very remote line.
Over the 9/10 Mar 1968 weekend Consett South SB was abolished. Consett East - Hownes Gill Jn CA
to through trafficand became a siding at Consett East. The hand points at Hownes Gill were secured
permanently OOU for through running between Consett North SB and Weatherhill pending removal.
The Down line between Consett South and Consett North became the Consett North to Weatherhill
Single Line, worked by One Engine in Steam regulations. An illuminated notice board was provided:
'MOVEMENTS MUST NOT BE MADE PAST THIS POINT WITHOUT THE BRANCH STAFF'
This was next to the single line just on the Weatherhill side of the junction. Consett North to Consett
South Up line became the Engine Line and was worked as a siding. Some points at Consett South were
converted to hand operation but a new 3-lever ground frame was provided to operate the release on
the Plate Mill Ground Frame for movements toward this new ground frame from the Plate Mill.
NEXT PAGE TOP: Rowley in 1968 looking east towards Consett (Burnhill Jn is in the other direction) -
the building may look familiar as it has since been moved to nearby Beamish Museum. (Roy Lambeth)
Burnhill Jn - Weatherhill Engine (about half a mile south of Parkhead) CA 29 Apr 1968, leaving the line
from Consett North officially still open to serve Saltersgate MoS Depot although it is doubtful there
was much, or indeed any, traffic. The line officially closed on 1 May 1969, but it is clear this was merely
the date of abandonment, allowing the line to be lifted, which happened soon afterwards.
LEFT: Consett East Box 37094 on an eastbound
scrap train (from demolition of the then closed
steelworks) on 10 May 1982. The line curving
away in the background leads to the Low Yard.
The track stub in the foreground, left, originally
led to Hownes Gill Jn. (©Stephen McGahon)
The former at Parkhead railway houses, 1,445ft
above sea level, then the highest point on British
Railways in England, have been converted into a
café https://goo.gl/1LsrEZ for the use and relief
of cyclists toiling up from Stanhope, some 750ft
below. Most of the trackbed Consett - Burnhill
Jn - Waskerley - Stanhope is now part of the adjacent 'Waskerley Way' (9.7 miles) cycle/walking path.
Further information, interesting pictures of former lines in this remote area and maps:
https://goo.gl/etAeqM (Waskerley - includes a couple of dramatic snow plough pictures from 1963).
https://goo.gl/23GNQr (Parkhead). https://goo.gl/Gtkb8J (Stanhope & Tyne Railway).
1310 NORTH WEST (John Cameron) [email protected]
1648] Liverpool Lime Street: (BLN 1309.1547; old/new trackplans in BLN 1297) It is possible to cover
the new platforms (other than P1 of course which opens on 14 Oct) fairly easily but there are also
some rare moves. For example P6-10 to Up Chat Moss; Down Ditton to P1-5 and, after 14 Oct, P3 & 5
to Up Ditton etc which have a few 'odd' booked moves. The situation is complex but all BLS Members
logged in to our website can find out details, thanks to Ian Delgado, at his 'Unusual Track' pages.
ABOVE: Train to Manchester Oxford Road in Liverpool Lime Street new P8. (Kev Adlam 8 Aug 2018)
1649] Stockport: Sun 26 Aug, the day before our railtour from Crewe, all lines north of the station are
booked to be closed completely until 16.30. Virgin Trains (only) are running a shuttle to/from
Birmingham International via New Street booked to turn back from the south in P3 & P4. On returning
south use of the very rare Down Fast to Up Fast trailing crossover at Edgeley No2 Jn is expected in
service. All other trains are diverted or replaced by buses, including to/from Manchester Piccadilly.
There will be much regular use of the Heald Green North Jn - Health Green South Jn PSUL as a result.
1650] Northern: Some planned cancellations had to be made on Sun 5 Aug. Northern state that this
was due to train crew not making themselves available to work. This has occurred at other TOCs from
time to time, particularly GWR. Liverpool - Manchester Airport: 100% cancelled (30 trains); Wigan NW
- Liverpool: 50% (29 services); Blackpool South - Colne and Dalesrail (18 cancelled including Dalesrail,
Blackpool North to Carlisle and return; Lancaster - Morecambe (2 part cancelled). The Morecambe to
Heysham train did not run, taxis were provided from/to Lancaster instead. A similar situation applied
again with variations on Sun 12 Aug with 1,420 of 1,500 booked services run.
1651] Trafford Centre: At the end of Jul the first section of track was laid at the Trafford Centre itself
on the new extension. Track laying had already begun at four other locations. The 5.5km extension
with six stops leaving the Eccles line shortly after Pomona, is costing £350M. 190km of utilities have
been diverted. A major engineering project scheduled for Sep will be the installation of beams for a
new bridge over the Bridgewater Canal near Park Way. In 2020 trams are expected to run between the
Trafford Centre and the new bay platform at Crumpsall on the Bury line.
ABOVE: Newton-le-Willows station from a passing train - item 1656 below. (John Cameron Jul 2018)
1652] Metrolink: (BLN 1307.1290) Zonal ticketing has been approved for introduction in early 2019.
Metrolink say that 78.5% of fares will be lower as a result. The network will be split into four zones:
●Zone 1: City Centre extending to Cornbrook, Victoria and New Islington.
●Zone 2: Stretford (Altrincham line), St Werburgh's Road (Airport/East Didsbury), Eccles line, Parkway
(Trafford Park), Bowker Vale (Bury), Newton Heath & Moston (Rochdale) & Edge Lane (Ashton-u-Lyne).
●Zone 3: Brooklands (Altrincham), Roundthorn (Airport), rest of East Didsbury line, rest of Trafford
Park extension, Whitefield (Bury), Derker (Rochdale) and the rest of the Ashton-under-Lyne line.
●Zone 4: Remainder of Altrincham, Airport, Bury and Rochdale lines.
1653] Warrington West: (BLN 1276.534) The first structures have started to go up at the new station
on the Warrington Central line. The £19M station is due to open summer 2019. Northern will manage
the station and be obliged to serve it with one semi-fast and two stopping trains per hour each way.
1654] Littleborough: Manchester bound P1 is being extended towards Todmorden to take 6 car trains.
Leeds bound P2 is also being extended. This will necessitate the closure of the staircase to P2, with a
new staircase being provided from the disabled access ramp to the platform between the history
centre and the new waiting shelter. The work at Littleborough is due to be completed in Dec 2018. It is
understood that the platforms at Smithy Bridge will be similarly extended.
1655] Maghull North: (BLN 1307.1289) NR has issued a press release detailing how they were able to
build the £13M new station in just nine months, with minimal disruption to passenger services on the
line. To save time on site, the construction crew arrived for work in Sep 2017, starting work in parallel
with the production of detailed designs.
The crew broke ground with enough approved, detailed designs to allow work on the foundations and
two 180m platforms to commence - a tactic known as 'progressive assurance'. Embankment
work/foundations took two long weekend possessions in Nov.
During two more long weekends in Jan and Feb, the team installed stairs, a bridge and two lift shafts.
Much was built off-site by the manufacturers. On site, each major structure could be installed in about
six hours, depending on the weather. The track through the station had to be straightened and
levelled again over two weekends. A final 29 hour possession was required to finish signalling work.
1656] Newton-le-Willows: (BLN 1272.3172) Work (supported by Merseytravel Growth Deal funding) at
the station has continued since Dec 2016. This includes a new bus interchange and extended car park
facilities; a new booking hall on the south side of the station, with improved access to facilities via new
lifts, subway and stairs. Originally due to open in Mar 2018, the work is still very much in progress.
1310 SOUTH EAST - NORTH & EAST ANGLIA (Julian James) [email protected]
1657] Reading West - Southcote Jn: (BLN 1309.1554): Our local Minor Railways (MR) Editor reports
from adjacent MR HQ that the catenary contact and support wires for the Down Line were erected
over the 28/29 July weekend, with that for the Up Line following over the weekend of 4/5 August.
1658] Ingatestone - Ipswich: NR has announced another programme of weekend track works on the
Norwich line. Aug Bank Holiday work is between Manningtree and Witham, 3km of relaying between
Ardleigh and Manningtree plus 120m of track, a set of points and a new buffer stop at Colchester
station. 1,200 tonnes of ballast is to be replaced. Rail replacement buses run Ingatestone - Ipswich.
Work also takes place on the single track Felixstowe branch, part of the £60.4M programme to install
a 1.4km track loop (but descoped from the original proposals) near Trimley station. This project began
in April and continues most weekends until autumn 2019. A rail replacement bus service operates.
Further closures take place between Ingatestone and Colchester after August for track renewals.
During Sep and Oct weekends, buses replace trains between Ingatestone and Marks Tey, Colchester
or Ipswich, and between Witham and Braintree (a normal service operates on the last Sat in Sep, most
Sats in Oct and the penultimate Sun in Oct). Further upgrades take place throughout the autumn
affecting services on 8 Saturdays and 11 Sundays on both the Main Line and Braintree branch.
1659] Ely: The RAIB has reported on the derailment at 14.21 on 14 Aug 2017 of the rear 12 wagons of
a train carrying containers at Ely West Jn. The train was travelling at 41 mph at the time of the
derailment. It ran derailed for approximately 350m, causing significant damage to the infrastructure
with the line closed for seven days. The first wagon to derail was an FEA-A wagon fitted with Y33
bogies. The derailment occurred because the damping on the bogies of this wagon was ineffective
(no faults were found with the infrastructure). This had become ineffective because the damping
components, which had been on the wagon since it was built in 2003, had been managed to incorrect
maintenance limits. The limits did not account for future wear in the period before the next
maintenance intervention and were also not compatible with the design intent of the damping system.
1660] Wolverton Works: (BLN 1304.968) The case brought by Historic England and heard on 23 May
failed, the judge stating that Historic England had 'not demonstrated any illegality in the council's
decision' (to allow demolition of the works), and that jobs were more important than the present
buildings [a subjective view implying a direct link - Regional Editor]. The council admitted that by not
telling objectors they had a right to seek a judicial review, it had made a 'technical error' but the judge
said this was not enough to justify overturning the planning permission. He did not feel that the old
buildings made a sufficiently important contribution to the character of the Buckinghamshire town
[also subjective]. Milton Keynes Borough Council had already granted planning permission for 375 new
houses on the site to developers St Modwen. Reportedly there will be a small new railway facility.
X.115] OXFORD: The 'new' north end on 27 Jul 2018. ABOVE from the footbridge and BELOW at
ground level with the new ladder right to left, scissors crossover on the right and sidings. (Stuart Hicks)
1661] East West Rail: (BLN 1296.54) On 27 Jul NR applied to the Secretary of State for Transport for a
Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) to construct Phase 2 of the project between Bicester and
Bedford. Granting of the TWAO by government will allow major works to begin as soon as 2019, for
passenger services to begin 'in the early 2020s'. NR refers to phased introduction of services between:
>Oxford - Milton Keynes: Calling at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow & Bletchley (very High Level!).
>Oxford - Bedford: Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands & Ridgmont.
>Milton Keynes - Aylesbury: Bletchley, Winslow and Aylesbury Vale Parkway.
There is now a period until 7 Sep for you to make representations to the Secretary of State regarding
the plans. Councillor Mark Shaw, Chairman of the East West Rail Consortium of councils which has
campaigned for the reopening since 1995, said: I'd really encourage people to give their views directly
to the DfT and leave them in no doubt about the public's appetite for getting trains on tracks as soon as
possible. To support the TWAO application, (as hopefully BLS Members would) the Consortium's TWAO
section may be seen first. It includes five key things to refer to in any correspondence, alongside an
in-depth Q&A and links to information about the TWAO process. The email address to write to then is:
[email protected] (to copy in the Consortium please use [email protected] )
Or by post: TWAO Unit, Department for Transport 1/14-18, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road,
London SW1P 4DR. All submission documents are available at www.networkrail.co.uk/east-west-rail
1662] Kennington Jn - Cowley: (BLN 1294.2412) The Nov 2017 report of the National Infrastructure
Commission on the Oxford - Milton Keynes - Cambridge Arc recommended re-opening of the Cowley
branch to passenger services by 2019. The Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to this in his autumn
Budget Statement in 2017. The plan has now been endorsed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board. Oxford
Science Park has released conceptual sketches of how a new station could fit into its own plans for
development. Magdalen College, which owns The Oxford Science Park, is one of the partners in the
planned South Oxford Science Village development. The latter is one of various proposals to alleviate
the acute shortage of housing in Oxfordshire, particularly in Oxford itself, but is ideally situated to
benefit from the proposed reopening of the Cowley branch to passenger services. Delivering housing
with direct access to the rail network and within easy walking and cycling distance of key employment
sites will also help to address the significant pressure on Oxford's road infrastructure.
1663] Didcot - Swindon: (BLN 1308.1428) A new Network Change notice replacing that withdrawn on
13 Jul was issued on 8 Aug for consultation until 7 Sep. Instead of speed reduction under Steventon
bridge, pantograph lowering is now the intended way forward, with no loss of journey time. This,
however, is a far more complex operation though still 'facilitated' by a series of new Eurobalises.
1664] HS4 Heathrow - Gatwick: Proposals for a new railway connecting Ashford and HS2 via Gatwick
and Heathrow airports - HS4Air - are to be submitted to the DfT. The scheme (hopefully not pie in the
sky) has been developed by London-based Expedition Engineering, architects Weston Williamson and
planning and development consultant Turley. A spur would connect to the Great Western Main Line.
New stations would be built at Ashford, Tonbridge, Gatwick and Heathrow to provide connections to
the rest of the UK beyond London. The plan envisages the new railway running alongside the M25 to
the west of London, minimising land take and objections to the scheme. (Transport Briefing)
1665] Princes Risborough: (BLN 1301.605) In Mar the Down siding nearest to the Down Main line (the
remains of the Down Platform loop), which had been disconnected for some time, was used to lay
track alongside P4, by which time the platform edging and markings were almost complete and a gate
for access to the platform from P3 had been installed. Signs for the Chinnor & Princes Risborough
Railway were erected at the start of Jun. By mid-Jun preparations were in place to install the points for
the run round facility at the north end of the platform, close to the signal box. The running line serving
the Down Sidings was severed over the weekend of 23/24 Jun in preparation for installation of the
new pointwork at the north end. This was in place by 18 Jul to allow through running from the Chinnor
direction into the platform (P4) road.
ABOVE: Princes Risborough P4 north end on the 26 Jul. 'Straight' on is the running line to Chinnor. The
new points leads into the headshunt - hidden by the track machine - for the future run-round facility
(Line 5, left), it is not a 'loop'. The sign on the box reads 'Princes Risborough North'. [Original GWR
signs usually also had the suffix 'Signal Box' the classic being 'Box Signal Box'.] (Stuart Hicks)
At present the points at the south end of this platform are clipped, awaiting the installation of the
point lever, while those at the north end of the platform ('facing' in the Chinnor direction and allowing
access to run round - see photo above) have a section of rail missing and are without point levers, so
are also clipped in the direction of Chinnor. The new track and points have been ballasted and tamped
and look ready for the first trains! The first public ones are on Wed 15 Aug.
1310 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH (Julian James) [email protected]
1666] Newhaven Marine: (BLN 1308.1372) The Lewes - Seaford resignalling (BLN 1309.1511) retains
access to Newhaven Harbour Marine (also known as Newhaven Marine) for potential future freight
traffic. It is to be seen what change the 18 to 27 Aug (incl) closure will bring to the track layout at
Newhaven Harbour Jn and the 'closed' station. However, 'Hansard' 3.2.2009 (col. 1135W) records:
'Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date the last passenger train
departed Newhaven Harbour Marine station. Paul Clark: A passenger train service is still operating
from Newhaven Marine station, but due to safety concerns at the station information is available
advising passengers that they may call Southern's customer service team to arrange a replacement taxi
or they may wish to walk the three minutes north to Newhaven Harbour station to catch alternative
services.' … and that situation from over nine years ago doesn't seem to have changed, the station
being not formally closed - you just can't use it or buy a ticket to/from it! [Is an All Line Rover valid on
the taxi?] When visited by your Regional Editor on 8 Aug the platform track showed signs of recent
use, the others were inundated with weeds. On his previous visit, before this year's weed growth, it
was the adjacent track alone that showed signs of use.
A member kindly confirms, and provides evidence for, recent ECS moves (5C54) at Newhaven Marine
(ABOVE: Railcam©) - which is booked on Realtime Trains etc but does not record after it has run.
Of note, the metal fencing around the station has gone and the platform has achieved 'fully accessible'
status! Our member also asked Southern in a telephone query if the closure procedures had been
carried out at the station and they confirmed that they had not been - they just do not run services
there at this time! BELOW: The dramatically changed scene recently following demolition work at
Newhaven Marine platform (and not next to a prison despite the fence). (Robert Sharpe)
1667] Gatwick Express (GX): Following two complaints the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has
ruled that GX must no longer claim it runs 'non-stop to Victoria Station in half an hour' unless it
manages that most of the time. ASA said that the 30 minute claim was not substantiated and was
'misleading'. It found that 20.1% of GX trains between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport were
delayed between 30 Apr and 26 May (to what extent is unclear), ruling that a 'significant proportion' of
the delayed services during that period were due to reasons within the operator's control. It
acknowledged that a proportion of services were delayed due to exceptional or unforeseeable
circumstances outside of GX's control, such as track faults, fatalities and power supply failures. A GX
spokesperson said: 'Just a third of Gatwick Express delay minutes were within our control. However we
acknowledge the ASA ruling and began withdrawing these adverts many months ago.' (BBC News)
1668] Southcote Jn -Newbury: The line through reopened as planned on 6 Aug following a three-week
closure for OLE installation. During the 21-day closure, over 30 miles of wiring was installed.
1669] Droning on at Bournemouth: NR has trialed a drone survey near Bournemouth over a trespass
hotspot, looking to record anyone risking their lives on the tracks. Images of illegal trespassing will be
passed to the British Transport Police (BTP). NR mobile incident officer, Peter Atkins, is the very first
trained railway drone pilot on the route from Waterloo to the south coast.
He underwent extensive training with Essex Police before qualifying to fly. He said: 'I am delighted to
be operating the first ever railway drone flight in the region. The training was very thorough and often
challenging, but worth the effort for the benefits this technology will bring'. The specially designed
drone is equipped with a high-tech heat sensitive camera to spot changes in temperature, helping
identify people and potential damage to infrastructure. The drone will fly up to 120m high at speeds of
up to 50mph. The images it takes are displayed on the operator's screen and recorded directly to a
USB drive so they can then be immediately transferred to BTP and other authorities as necessary.
1670] Droxford: The Hampshire Chronicle revived Jul 1968 memories of a bypass plan for Droxford in
its '50 years ago' column. It had been intended to use part of the Meon Valley Railway (CP Feb 1955)
and part of the direct Alton to Fareham line formation, so that traffic on the A32 would avoid the
village by passing on the east. Hampshire County Council Planning Committee had been asked to
reduce the length of track bed used at the south end to avoid passing close on the west to Soberton
village. This they declined and, in the event, the bypass was never built. At Droxford the road bridge
over the B2150 immediately north of the station is still intact. Public transport today is the X17 bus
Bishop's Waltham to Petersfield twice a day Wednesdays only and the Meon Valley community bus.
1310 SOUTH WEST (Darren Garnon) [email protected]
1671] Portishead: (BLN 1305.1067) Although the recent bid for Government funding for a passenger
service was unsuccessful, North Somerset District Council (NSDC) continues to seek other funding.
As a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, a Development Consent Order (DCO) application is
also required. Towards this, a pre-application 'Stage 2 Consultation Report' carried out between 23 Oct
and 4 Dec 2017 https://goo.gl/ehShKN has been prepared. It also considers earlier consultations.
NSDC received over 1,000 responses from members of the community, statutory bodies, landowners
and other interested parties, including 976 questionnaire responses after over 650 visitors attended six
exhibitions last year. 95% supported the scheme, 84% without reservation; some points raised:
●Traffic issues: Particularly parking in residential streets close to stations, with Residents Parking
Permits a favoured alternative to general parking restrictions orders (such as double yellow lines).
●Portishead station: Too basic as planned and would benefit from a second platform.
●Environmental: 138 respondents were concerned with train noise, pollution from diesel engines,
construction/peak-hour traffic, preserving wildlife and the Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve.
●Frequency: The move to a base hourly service might not be sufficiently attractive, with specific
concerns over capacity to deal with peak business, especially passengers joining en route.
●Connections: Bus timetables matching with train times and access, particularly at Pill station.
●Level Crossings: Businesses raised concerns that the continued use of these to access Ashton Vale
Industrial Estate, rather than the initially proposed new highway, might restrict access at peak hours.
●Ashton Gate: 45 responses called for a new station here, or at least passive provision.
●Other Comments: 502 supported the DCO scheme with only 10 against. In response to all these:
>Additional line capacity is proposed by double tracking at Pill (east of the viaduct, through the new
station to west Pill), separating passenger trains from freight. No more infrastructure works is required
between Pill and Portishead for a half-hourly service. That requires an increase of line speed through
the Avon Gorge, double tracking through Bower Ashton and enhancement works to Parson Street Jn.
>First train of the day about 06.00 and the last 23.00 SuX, with reduced hours on Sundays.
>Pill station is in the heart of the village. Moving it further east to Ham Green on a single-track section
which could not be doubled due to Pill tunnel, a single 600m bore is not viable. Locating Pill station on
a single-track would use up considerable line capacity and constrain freight operations.
>Bus Connections will be left to the bus operators to determine (!).
>Ham Green Halt reopening - additional stations would impact on timetabling, frequency and service.
And finally that the Scheme design will not prevent future electrification of the line! NSDC continues to
engage with individual stakeholders on outstanding issues or concerns as it finalises DCO application.
1672] Pilning (BLN 1281.1066) The station opened 1 Dec 1986. By 1900 a line from Pilning Jn to
Avonmouth had opened and in 1928 Pilning Low Level station also. Today, with the removal of the
overhead footbridge in 2016 isolating the now closed P2, only two trains per week call at Pilning (High
Level 1928-1968) - the 08.34 and 15.34 SO services to Taunton. Despite this, a member has brought to
our attention that the station has its own group aiming to promote the station's use and campaign for
additional facilities, including a new footbridge. See http://www.pilningstation.uk/ an interesting
website which includes a running total of the number of passengers actually using the station -
updated (unsurprisingly) every Sat night. Officially there were 46 passengers in 2015/16 and 230 in
2016/17. Return tickets to Pilning are valid back to Severn Beach. Passengers arriving in the Down
direction may travel on to Severn Tunnel Junction and double back, or if travelling to South Wales, to
Filton Abbey Wood and double back. Incredibly GWR even has a range good value Advance single
tickets Pilning to Cardiff for example for £6 (railcard £3.95) compared with the Anytime day single
£11.60/£7.65 and Off-peak £12.40/£8.20 - don't ask and yes those last two are the right way round!
1673] Whiteball Tunnel: The line between Tiverton Parkway and Taunton, is to close for 23 days from
18 Feb 2019 to complete tunnel lining repairs. A total length of 377yd at six sites in the 1,092yd tunnel
will be repaired with additional drainage works and the removal of
redundant buildings just outside the Taunton end portal. In early
2014 the six sites were installed with the ram-arch support
structures to prevent brickwork falling onto the track. This was
undertaken in anticipation of a second phase of works to create
new tunnel walls - but the proposed technique proved unfeasible
and an alternative solution had to be developed. The successful
£2.4M tender from J Murphy and Son (with excellent tunnelling
credentials including the Crossrail tunnel under the Thames)
advocated a different approach spray concrete lining the affected
areas of the tunnel. A total length of 1,585yd (in multiple sections
around the tunnel) will be sprayed at 5ft per hour enclosing the
whole ram arch support system. This includes continuous gauging
works so that the works can be halted at any point in the event of a
delay (and the line would then be ready to open at once), to
minimise the risk of a closure overrun. https://goo.gl/nBXBJg is a
detailed illustrated presentation about this and the previous stage.
1674] St Erth (BLN 1309.1601) A long term plan to construct a 'multi-modal transport hub' at the
station has progressed with NR notifying that it intends to shorten the siding parallel to St Erth bay P3.
The proposal is to reduce the length of the siding to 43m (still adequate to stable engineering stock)
and lengthen (not widen) P3 for 5-car class 150 DMUs (currently 4-car). It is part of a bigger scheme
that has already seen Cornwall County Council award a £4.6M contract to design and build the new
interchange with a 440 space car park. Once completed, the existing Lelant Park & Ride facility will
close and transfer to St Erth, benefiting as it does from the mainline as well as St Ives branch
services. PREVIOUS PAGE: Our Empire continues to expand. Near St Erth bay P3 and, naturally, visited
by some members on 11 Jul during our recent Cornwall Service Train Tracker there. (Kev Adlam)
1675] Keeping abreast of a nipple problem: At 15.21 on 31 Jul the signaller at Lostwithiel Signal Box
reported that the signal on the Up line at the level crossing was showing 'OFF' with the lever returned
into the frame. Double block working was introduced to protect the failure. S&T staff arrived on site at
15.46 and normal working resumed at 17.30 after it was found that a new signal had been installed
without a lube nipple resulting in a dry spindle. The spindle was lubricated to restore normal function.
X.114] BELOW: Why it's called the SHARPness Branch: (Ouch!) On Tue 14 Aug 2018 the 13.41 nuclear
waste train to Crewe Coal Sidings is seen at Berkeley waste transfer station on the Sharpness branch.
It had arrived 29 mins early at 08.50 and by 10.15 the first wagon had been loaded with two unusually
small containers (seen) fastened to a sub-frame which fits the usual four-wheel wagon. 68004+68003
were in charge. There is a new public footpath sign directing the public past the fence and the
'No Photography' signs have gone but our photographer was politely asked not to put his camera
through the gaps in the wire. No problem the result is actually quite dramatic. (Rob Pritchard)
1310 WEST MIDLANDS (Brian Schindler) [email protected]
1676] Shifnal: A serious lineside factory fire on 7 Aug closed the Shrewsbury - Wolverhampton line in
both directions. The 16.47 Shrewsbury to Birmingham New St formed of 170514 reached Madeley Jn
and returned to Telford Central wrong line where it terminated in P1. The DMU then went back ECS to
Madeley Jn, crossed over to the Down line and then returned to Shrewsbury through Telford P2. Of
interest this thoroughly confused Realtime Trains which had it leaving Shrewsbury on time, 56 mins
late leaving Wellington, 45 mins at Oakengates, 40 at Telford, 31 at Madeley Jn and 27 late at Shifnal
(which it didn't actually reach!). The line closed at 17.09 with normal working resuming at 18.48.
1677] West Midlands Metro: The new management has sensibly changed how the service operates
when a tram is missing, such as with driver unavailability or mechanical failure. National Express left
the gap in the service leading to 30 minutes between trams in the evenings and Sundays. Now
departures from the termini are adjusted so that the trams remaining in service are uniformly spaced.
1678] Wolverhampton: 'Wolverhampton Logistics Terminal' signs have appeared at the 'former' Steel
Terminal. There are two sidings between the existing and new buildings. Another new siding enters
the new building with a second door alongside.
1679] Bromsgrove: (BLN 1309.1562) Surprisingly and unusually the energisation notice did not quote
mileage/structure numbers, just a vague 'new overhead wires on all platforms'. All EMUs are shown on
Realtime Trains as booked to reverse in P3, but on Sundays at least some are shown on National Rail
(only) and the station passenger information systems as reversing in P2. It is not known if they do and
Bromsgrove platform numbers do not embolden for EMUs, but do for other trains including freight! It
would be possible for them to reverse in P1-3 (all four platforms are wired). P3 gives the 'new' trailing
crossover in service on departure while P1 & P2 give the unchanged facing crossover on arrival.
Contrary to the intention, there have been a few 3-car Class 323 EMU workings but most are six as
booked (to be on the safe side with the Lickey Incline, as the only viable form of rescue is another Class
323). A 4-car Class 350 EMU ran on the first day for press photographs! The acceleration/speed 'up'
the 1:37.7 gradient is impressive. There are a few hours in the day when two rather than three electric
trains run to create freight paths (come back Stourbridge Junction to Walsall line - all is forgiven!).
With early and late Longbridge short workings, the general pattern of use of Longbridge Reversing
Siding is now (all ECS, of course, sadly): SuX 00.01 arrival from Longbridge = 00.05 ECS to New Street;
SSuX 06.05 arrival ECS from New Street = 06.09 to Longbridge. 09.41, 10.59 & 12.59 arrivals from
Longbridge = 09.57, 11.16 & 13.16 return respectively, providing freight paths through Bromsgrove.
SO 06.05 arrival ECS from New Street = 06.09 to Longbridge; 22.55 arrival ex-Longbridge = 23.00 ECS
to Soho EMU Depot; 23.21 arrival from Longbridge = 23.26 return and 23.56 arrival from Longbridge =
00.03 (SuO) ECS to New Street. Also SuO: 09.05 arrival from Soho EMU Depot = 09.09 to Longbridge.
This does now reduce conflicts at Halesowen Jn as, before services were extended from 29 Jul, three
EMUs per hour had to cross all four tracks from Longbridge Down P2 to reach the reversing siding
(SuX). NR has spent £100M installing new track, new signalling and upgrading the power supply for
EMUs. In the peak there are five Bromgrove trains an hour to/from Birmingham (two are DMUs).
Another change is that the SSuX 15.39 and 17.39 Hereford to Birmingham trains no longer call at
Barnt Green but the 07.20 New Street to Great Malvern 08.00 to Hereford still do. Return commuters
from Redditch to Worcester (there are some) now have to change trains twice. At the top of the Lickey
Incline the 609yd Blackwell Down Goods Loop (52m 57ch - 53m 12ch and not electrified) is very rusty,
and is in effect out of use again due to a defective set of points. However, this is not a priority as it has
very little use normally and was even considered for removal with the recent resignalling. Its original
purpose was for unfitted freight trains to stop to pin down their brakes before descending the big hill.
1680] Walsall: On 10 Sep the Overhead Line Equipment (OHLE) from Walsall South Jn to North Jn is
due to be energised on the Up Walsall Slow and the Down Walsall Slow*, including the rare trailing
crossover north of P2. The OHLE from the existing electrification limit before Walsall (Park Street)
tunnel is also being energised through the tunnel on all four lines to 6m 53ch on the Down and Up
Walsall lines including the platformless Up Walsall fast (live to the tunnel at 6m 34ch). However, much
of this was wireless on 11 Aug. [*originally the line through P1 was not to be electrified but following
representations all lines are to be done.] Many new structures have been erected alongside the Down
slow between Pleck Jn and Walsall. Most of the Chase Line has the infrastructure in place now except
for the OHLE -with some of this installed at the Rugeley end. [With thanks to a 'Tame' local MOM.]
1681] Duddeston: (BLN 1309.1564) Between Duddeston and Aston South Jn the recent slew is in the
'mini-microgricing' category. Amending BLN 1309, it is the Down Vauxhall line (former 'Fast') that has
been relaid and moved slightly west across towards the former Up Vauxhall Goods footprint. As is
often the case a large amount of new ballast makes it difficult to tell how far laterally the slew actually
is. The Up Vauxhall line also seems to have been renewed and reballasted so may have been moved
slightly too and is unlikely to change its position further. There are no signalling or line speeds changes.
Only a very short section of the former Goods Lines were wired latterly and these wires have now
been adjusted for the re-alignment of the Down line rather than being removed completely. In the
1970s your BLN Editor (then local) recalls very occasional passenger use of the Goods Lines by DMUs
from the Lichfield line. The 2018 special investigative visit unearthed that extensive site clearance and
devegetation is taking place at the former Vauxhall Wagon Works (closed 1993 and derelict since). It is
the site of a new Cross-City line EMU depot. The 26 Class 323 three car sets that date from the early
1990s are to be replaced with 100 new EMU coaches on order for delivery in 2021.
1310 YORKSHIRE & NORTH HUMBERSIDE (Graeme Jolley; Geoff Blyth for North & East Yorks)
1682] York: The first area of York Integrated Electronic Control Centre (which only dates from 2000/
2002) to be re-controlled is to transfer about a year earlier than planned. (Perhaps electrification
engineers need to find out how to do this..!) This is to York Railway Operating Centre (ROC) using a
Traffic Management compatible Video Screen Control System, Automatic Route Setting and will be
compatible with a future European Train Control System. The reason is that Leeds Station Capacity
Project Phase 1, the element to be moved, is to be commissioned at Christmas 2018 enabling later
phases of the project to be expedited. Signalling on the Trans-Pennine route between Ravensthorpe
and Marsden via Huddersfield was moved to York ROC on 20 Jan 2018, with Huddersfield and Healey
Mills boxes closing. In Oct 2018, Hebden Bridge - Bradford - Pudsey is due to be transferred, closing
Hebden Bridge, Milner Royd Jn, Halifax and Mill Lane Jn boxes - all visited by the Society in May.
1683] Selby/Goole - Hull: (BLN 1299.400) NR would like to commission the 'Ferriby to Gilberdyke
Resignalling' (official title) on 26 Nov. However, two TOCs have concerns about the lack of notice being
given. Commissioning was postponed from 3 Apr due to problems with the signalling interfacing with
level crossings. Control will be from the new Brough workstation at York ROC. Gilberdyke Junction,
Broomfleet, Brough East, Melton Lane and Saltmarshe Signal Boxes (SB) will be abolished along with
Oxmardyke, Cave, Welton and Green Oak Goit Gate Boxes (GB). Crabley Creek Box will be
downgraded to a gate box. Absolute Block working from Gilberdyke Jn SB to Melton Lane SB and from
Green Oak Goit GB to Gilberdyke Jn SB will be upgraded to Track Circuit Block (TCB) working with axle
counters. TCB working between Saltmarshe and Green Oak Goit LC will be retained. The fringe boxes
will be Selby (between Howden and Eastrington), Goole Bridge and Hessle Road (Hull). Oddly, the
Down line through Hessle station will be controlled by Hessle Road and the Up line by York ROC.
1684] News Flash! Lightning caused very considerable disruption to ECML and others on Fri 27 Jul. At
09.25 two track circuits at Balne Level Crossing, Selby, failed after an overhead line (OHLE) section had
tripped, causing two signals on the Down line to be held at red and one on the Up line to display a
blank aspect, holding the preceding signal at red. Services were cautioned past the signals at red in
both directions. The OHLE section was reset successfully at 09.40. A blown transformer was identified
and replaced. At 14.10 a further blown transformer was discovered in a location cabinet and replaced
by 15.10, when further damage to two coils was discovered. By 17.25 replacement relays for the
defective signal and track circuit on the Up Main had been fitted and normal working resumed. The
Down Main signal fault was traced to a lightning damaged cable, which had been renewed by 18.05.
At 09.40 York IECC reported a complete catastrophic loss of signalling at Skelton Jn, Leeds West and
Leeds East. 10 trains were trapped outside stations. Skelton was a Solid State Interlocking failure and
there were multiple panel failures at Leeds. Three Mobile Operations Managers (MOMs) assisted with
the stranded trains. At 10.30 it was evident there was no power feeding the relevant signalling at York
IECC. Attempts to release trapped trains by staffing level crossings proved difficult. At 11.14 normal
signalling was resumed at Leeds West and East, allowing services between Doncaster and Leeds to
operate, but the York signalling was still failed. By 13.29 a MOM had secured three sets of points at
York to allow a through route on the Down Fast through P5 and on the Up Fast through P3. At 14.34
the signalling had been restored at the south end of York and by 14.45 all had been restored.
The same day lightning also knocked out the signalling between Beverley and Driffield - the latter box
controls 21 level crossings and insufficient staff were available to authorise trains to pass each one
individually. The box telephone concentrator was damaged beyond repair and had to be replaced.
1685] Leeds: (BLN 1308.1460) Over 4,000 people initially responded to the public consultation on the
plans for White Rose and Thorpe Park stations so the consultation deadline was extended to 3 August.
1686] Leeds HS2 depot: Originally to be at Crofton, near Wakefield - a little east of Hare Park Jn - it
will now be built in Leeds. Judging by HS2 maps https://goo.gl/Pkjrns the depot will be on the west
side of the M1 and will apparently need a new branch to the northeast off the Normanton line east of
Stourton. This will have to cross both the Aire & Calder Navigation and the River Aire. When it
emerged that HS2 would pass to the east of Crofton, rather than the west, and 'appeared likely to have
a greater impact on the local community', a consultation was launched. The new site, at the 'Gateway
45' logistics and manufacturing site next to Junction 45 of the M1 at Rothwell, reflects proposals put
forward during a public consultation. It is claimed that the new location will reduce the environmental
impact by cutting the distance empty trains travel for stabling. The facility will support local plans to
develop a new Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration in Leeds.
1687] Askern line: (TRACKmaps Book 2 p40D) On 22 Jul between Stainforth Jn and Knottingley South
Jn the OOU facing crossover at Norton (65m 10ch) between the Up Knottingley and Down Knottingley
lines was recovered and plain lined. The trailing crossover just to the south had already been removed.
1310 IRELAND (Martin Baumann) [email protected]
1688] Portrush: (BLN 1306.1318) Due to the ongoing station work, P3 and its run round loop are
currently unavailable; RPSI steam specials from Whitehead on 12 and 19 Aug terminate at Coleraine.
1689] Sunshine Peat Co: This 2' 6" gauge industrial railway off the Portadown to Dungannon Road (the
opposite side from Peatlands Park) is about two miles long and runs under the M1 in Northern Ireland.
Operations shut down completely following the death of the owner Errol Stafford on 6 Mar 2012. A
loco was last used for fuel duty over the winter of 2010 and the Industrial Railway Society reports that
nothing has worked since. There is one big shed with everything still in it. It was never a
public/passenger railway but rides used to be given for visiting parties by arrangement only.
1690] Limerick Junction: Construction of the new Down platform has started. From 27 Jul the station
Down line and adjacent sidings were closed until further notice. The SuX 15.00 Heuston to Cork &
17.05 to Tralee normally run Down Main but now use the Up line through the existing platform.
1691] Irish miscellany: A member highly recommends Headhunts Railway Museum, 5 Darling Street,
Enniskillen, open Tue to Sat 09.00-17.30. It is also a barber shop if anyone wants a 'Crewe' cut at the
same time! There is a rich photograph collection, memorabilia and models. It mainly concentrates on
County Fermanagh, but other areas are given some attention. Dundalk station is well preserved with a
small museum, mainly with railway photographs including on the footbridge.
PREVIOUS PAGE: This is one barber shop that will never be short of staff. Staffs from the Londonderry
to Omagh GNR section, loco nameplates and some of the models there. (Martin Baumann 5 Jul 2016)
On Sat 30 Jun our member took the 11.00, first train of the day on the 3ft gauge Giant's Causeway &
Bushmills Railway in Co Antrim. The train was a mock 19th Century rake of two coaches and a diesel
power car. (A third coach has been out of service for a considerable time with derailment damage.)
The coaches each have 24 longitudinal wooden seats. The train was built by Severn Lamb in Jul 2010. It
set off on time; the driver started it at about 1mph then alighted and walked ahead of the train to
open the crossing gates just beyond Giant's Causeway station. He had a hand-held controller with him.
Once across, and the gates closed, the driver rejoined the train. As the only passenger our member
was relieved to see a second man in the power car at the rear of the train. The train then proceeded at
5mph along the scenic line to the terminus at Bushmills, about ⅓ of a mile from the village centre.
Speed was reduced to 1 mph across points and over one bailey style bridge. A footpath, coastal in
places, runs beside the line. The train took almost 30 minutes to reach Bushmills (1m 72ch). The track
was quite overgrown in places with a few spots showing evidence of recent maintenance. After
waiting 4 minutes at Bushmills, where there is a wooden platform and an out of use run round loop
(the loco hauled trains are not currently serviceable), the train returned with eight passengers.
1692] Yorkgate Interchange: This mainly road project, possibly affecting the railway, is indefinitely delayed
after an 8 Aug court ruling upheld a complaint by a losing tenderer that the process was flawed.
1693] Mass Transit: Plans are in progress for the single biggest event of 2018 on Irish Rail as over
500,000 people will descend on Dublin for the Papal visit to Croke Park, Phoenix Park and Knock. This
will see huge demand on IR services and passengers will not be permitted to board Intercity services if
they have not reserved their tickets or seats online. This will be the same for railway staff. However, it
will be free to reserve seats on Dublin morning and evening (normally costing €2.50 per journey).
1694] Waterford - Rosslare Strand: On 15 Aug another inspection car was expected to operate in this
direction, seemingly to move it to inspect the Dublin & South Eastern Line (instead of going the long
way via Dublin) after a Kildare to Waterford inspection the previous day. Well if the line is available…
1310 ISLE OF MAN (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
1695] Douglas Bay Horse Tramway: In Aug 2016 Douglas Borough Council as the then owner disposed
of six historic Horse Cars by offering them for sale at auction. Assurances were given at the time that
the cars were to be passed to 'organisations or individuals willing to commit to their preservation'.
Of the cars sold, open toast rack tram No39 was secured by the Manx Electric Railway Society, and is
stored safely undercover on the Island with privately preserved sister car No40. Bulkhead car No37 was
acquired by Chief Minister Howard Quayle and resides on his farm at Crosby. Whether 112 year old
Car No34 was acquired by 'organisations or individuals willing to commit to their preservation' is a
matter of opinion. Recently the body of this 1896 Milnes built tram was seen at Jurby IOM Motor
Museum. (Not to be confused with the nearby Manx Transport Trust Museum visited Sun 15 Sep 2013
during John & Jenny Williamson's excellent IOM expedition - five years must be time for another, hint!)
No34 has been transformed into a 'road tram' adapted for use as a road vehicle with new controls and
rubber tyres! From pictures it appears to have been restored to a very high standard, looks smart and
has even secured a road licence - is it motorised or battery electric? However, the tram is now on
rubber wheels, fitted with driving equipment including a steering wheel, curved dash panels and a
driver's seatbelt - no horse required! The work has divided opinion with a very terse press statement
from the Manx Electric Railway Society describing it as 'butchered' suggesting that as a gimmick it is in
very poor taste. Of the other cars sold, Saloon car No28 which attracted the highest bid (£2,800) at
auction has recently been moved. Its destination is unknown, but rumours suggest it could have been
heading for the Lancashire Coast or Yorkshire. Bulkhead car No33 is believed to still be on the IOM.
1696] Manx Electric Railway: ABOVE: On 30 Jul Ian Longworth, Director of Public Transport, did track
that no normal gricer can do as Tram 14 was offloaded from a low loader at Derby Castle after being
turned following a full refit! Well there has to be some advantages! (Jenny Williamson)
1310 SCOTLAND (Mike McCabe) [email protected]
1697] Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Project (EGIP): Wed 1 Aug was the first day of all electric
services on the Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh via Falkirk High main line. Modified Hitachi Class
385 EMUs (70 trains are on order) began taking over from 24 Jul and the temporary Class 365 EMUs
are being phased out. The replacement flat driver windscreen is evident (with the unit number above
the orange cantrail stripe) when two units are coupled. The other side of the cab front retains the
original curved screen with the unit number below the orange stripe but these will be replaced once all
the drivers' screens are done. The new trains will eventually operate: Edinburgh - North Berwick, South
Glasgow suburban routes, Cathcart Circle/Lanark, Glasgow/Edinburgh - Dunblane/Stirling/Alloa,
Glasgow - Falkirk Grahamston via Cumbernauld and Glasgow Central - Edinburgh via Shotts services.
1310 WALES (Chris Parker) [email protected]
1698] Bridgend: NR is proposing permanent closure of the barrow crossing at the Down end of the
platforms (190m 53ch). Comments from stakeholders wishing to conserve this endangered species are
invited by 2 Sep. It is already temporarily closed; a modern footbridge with lifts was provided in 2012.
1699] North Wales Coast Quadrupling: (BLN 1309.1595) Above the table in paper BLN 1309 a line
went missing. It should have said: 'In the Down direction sequence; a series of loops were constructed
and later joined up to form the quadruple track. With thanks to our member Mike Addison.'
1700] Llandaf(f): As appears to be the case with Caerleon Road bridge in Newport (BLN 1307.1343),
the 128-year-old railway underbridge (ABOVE - press release) at the site of Llandaff Loop Jn (4m 37ch)
has been refurbished without disrupting rail traffic. However Ty Mawr Road beneath it was closed
from 7 May until 26 Jul then reopened over a week ahead of schedule. As at Foryd (BLN 1308.1478),
former quadruple track has reverted to double here (dates, anyone?) leaving the southern of the twin
double track spans rail-less. There the similarity ends as in this case the 'redundant' span was retained
to carry a walkway as a safe route for PW engineers. That walkway has now been removed and a
replacement provided; whether this is in the same location is unspecified in the NR press release, but
both spans have been repainted following steelwork repairs and strengthening of (at least) the
northern one. Of particular interest is that they are still collectively known by NR as the
'Glamorganshire Canal bridge'. Ty Mawr Road now occupies the course of the canal (closed 1942) at
this point but previously passed through an arch in the bridge's east (Down side) abutment, still to be
seen but blocked off by palisade fencing.
1701] Gaerwen - Amlwch (BLN 1282.1215): The 30 Jul 'North Wales Chronicle' reports that vegetation
clearance work by Lein Amlwch (Anglesey Central Railway - the name of the original railway company
that opened the line in 1865/6 until sold to the LNWR in 1876) volunteers continues. However, the
news section of their website hasn't been updated since the previous BLN item over a year ago. The
track is thought to remain in generally 'decent' condition. Their chairman said: We have been assured
that our work won't go without reward although we don't know when the line will re-open. The local
Welsh Assembly Member recently visited to view progress and said that reopening of the line …would
be great for tourism and could be a big boost to the Amlwch area… and that he was …urging the Welsh
Government and others to support this project in every way they possibly can. Conspicuous by its
absence is any mention of progress with the feasibility study into reopening of Llangefni station to
regular services announced in 2017 (BLN 1280.1003) and local NR staff do not know of any.
1702] Craven Arms South Jn, signalling the end of
semaphores: LEFT: By Martyn Brailsford, the old (present)
and new layout from 22 Oct 2018 (impressively in the new
Western TRACKmaps Book 3 just out). Shrewsbury is off the
top, Hereford middle bottom and the Central/Heart of
Wales line goes off the bottom left corner.
The mechanically worked facing crossover (19m 57ch) north
of the station used by Down (southbound) trains to access
the Central/ Heart of Wales line (CWL) is life expired. It is to
be recovered and a motor worked replacement provided at
the south end (20m 2ch) enabling these trains to call at
Down P2 instead of Up P1, thereby blocking the Up line for
less time. This will result in the CWL being shortened by 6ch
as the turnout for it will need to be moved from 20m 1ch to
20m 7ch! Mechanical semaphore signals CA23/CA8 (bracket
on Down line) CA1 and CA9 (Up Main and CWL Homes
respectively) will be replaced by colour lights in new
positions and existing colour light Up Distant CA100 on the
Hereford line moved southward. Four 52 hour possessions
(00.00 Sat - 04.15 Mon) will be required over consecutive
weekends commencing 29 Sep, with buses Shrewsbury -
Hereford and Knighton (rather than the customary Broome). In connection with this, from 6 Aug until
2 Nov the operational length of the Up Refuge siding is to be shortened by 131yd to 247yd by means
of a temporary fixed buffer stop. This is the last remnant of the access to the former carriage sheds -
where once a 'secret' British Rail Western Region emergency mobile control train was hidden and is
now used by track maintenance machines and the occasional crippled wagon. Each of the then six BR
regions had two such trains, provided as late as 1961 until 1970 as part of the 'Cold War' response.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: A NR track plan showing existing crossover and turnout to be removed
('recovery') and the proposed replacements ('renewal') due to come into use on 22 Oct. The encircled
digits are speed restrictions (mph). 'SHL' & 'CWL' are the Engineer's Line References (ELRs) for
Shrewsbury - Hereford and Central Wales lines respectively. https://goo.gl/Sp8gTn has a full list of
these codes which often appear on bridge abutments and parapets on both active and disused lines.
BELOW & TOP OF NEXT PAGE: Great Western Railway 3 Jul 1939 timetable extracts - Richard Maund.
1703] Ports to Ports Express: A correspondent has provided the following extracts (quoted) from Kew
National Archives, Document: RAIL 23.23 Barry Railway Officials Reports, 1/1/1906 to 3/12/1907:
●8/8/1906. General Manager to Traffic Committee. 'The joint trains between South Wales & the North
Eastern District by the GW & GC Companies' route have been extended to Barry from August 1st instead of
stopping at Cardiff as previously.' (Barry 09.43, Newcastle 18.40; Newcastle 09.30, Barry 18.46; 373 miles.)
●16/10/1907. GM to Traffic Committee. 'Steam heating Barry & Newcastle Express. The GW Co are asking
that the Barry engine working the Newcastle-on-Tyne express between Barry & Cardiff should be made
capable of supplying steam heating … cost about £30 and I recommend the expenditure being incurred.'
- which suggests that local passenger traffic in the South Wales coalfield was of such secondary
importance that the company's own trains were to remain unheated!
The service referred to had been inaugurated by the Great Western Railway, Great Central Railway
and North Eastern Railway between Cardiff and Newcastle-on-Tyne on 1 May 1906 and became
unofficially known as the Ports to Ports Express. As its clientele largely consisted of ships' crews
making the full journey, the progressive Barry Railway persuaded the GWR to extend the service to
Barry. Unencumbered by 21st century bureaucracy, this was implemented after just 3 months.
Following suspension during WWI, it was further extended via the Vale of Glamorgan line to Swansea.
In 1922 the Barry Railway became a constituent of the GWR and by July the service had been rerouted
via the Taff Vale loop line between Cadoxton and Cogan Jn to serve yet another port - (through)
Penarth! Timings (SuX) were Swansea dep 07.30. Newcastle arr 18.45; Newcastle dep 09.30, Swansea
arr 20.45. Mandatory intermediate stops in both directions were Neath, Bridgend, Barry, Penarth,
Cardiff, Newport, Chepstow, Gloucester (GWR), Cheltenham South & Leckhampton, Banbury (GWR),
Rugby Central, Leicester Central, Nottingham Victoria, Sheffield Victoria, York, Durham, Darlington
and Northallerton. The obligatory eccentricity was a conditional stop at Bourton-on-the-Water in
either direction to pick up or set down passengers to or from Leicester or beyond by prior notification
to Bourton station staff or the guard at Banbury respectively! There was a significant PSUL element as
it was the only regular passenger service to use the double tracked Kingham avoiding line (also known
as the Chipping Norton Loop in highly misleading GWR terminology; OG 8 Jan 1906; OP 1 May 1906 as
above). It crossed the present North Cotswold line by an overbridge to the country end of the station.
These trains were withdrawn from 1 Jan 1917, restored from 12 July 1920 and finally withdrawn from
11 Sep 1939 at the outbreak of WWII. After WWII, the restored service ran via Oxford and Swindon
instead (as it had on Sundays before the war) and there were no through passenger services between
Cheltenham and Banbury. Chipping Norton - King's Sutton CP from 4 Jun 1951 - and was severed by a
landslip in Sep 1958. It is not clear what (if any) through freight used Kingham avoiding line by the time
Kingham East and West Loop boxes (which controlled Kingham East Jn and West Jn) were taken OOU
from 12 Sep 1953. Then the Kingham avoider was only usable as a single track forming the north side
of a turning triangle for light engines (like the south side of the Barmouth Jn/Morfa Mawddach triangle
latterly†). Kingham engine turning triangle was taken OOU during 1960 with track lifted in Nov 1961.
The Western Region summer 1957 timetable shows a Cardiff - Newcastle service then running from
Gloucester via the Midland line to Birmingham, Derby, Sheffield and then Rotherham Masborough,
beyond which it avoided Leeds presumably by taking the S&K Joint line (Moorthorpe to Ferrybridge) to
York and the East Coast Main Line? [†Barmouth Jn loco line similarly had a passenger service (the
original Llwyngwril - Penmaenpool line) until withdrawn from 3 Oct 1867.]
X.116] BELOW: Great Bush Railway Sat 9 Jun 2018; trip report BLN 1309.1599. Our esteemed Fixture's
Booking Officer, Jill Everitt, makes notes during our brief top shed sojourn. Despite appearances there
is track beneath and this is a sort of riding vehicle not actually greenhouse staging! (Simon Mortimer)
1310 MINOR RAILWAYS (Peter Scott) [email protected]
MR148] Steeple Grange Light Railway, Derbyshire (MR p14) (BLN 1307.MR120): A licence to operate
the Steeplehouse Quarry branch has now been granted by Mount Cook Adventure Centre. The licence
commenced on 5 March and runs for one year and is at no cost to the railway. Trains down the branch
and the accompanying geological talks in Steeplehouse Quarry resumed on 31 March 2018 - the first
operating day of the season. The scene in the Quarry has changed again in recent months - the high
ropes structure, which Mount Cook erected there in 2016, has now been joined, a little way to the
south, by a terminus for their 108 metre 'Rooftop Rider' zip-wire, which opened on 7 May.
MR149] MINOR RAILWAYS - 30th EDITION - 2018 .. R14 6]………….
SUPPLEMENT No.2 © Peter Scott May 2018
Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Museum Railway, Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey
2' 6" E 700yds TL357013 ♠ 01992 707370
(New line, regular running commenced 25/07/18 - BLS visit Sunday 09/09/18, see BLN 1308.1367)
Burghclere Miniature Railway, Burghclere Sports Club, Burghclere
7¼" E 80yds SU472612 ♣ 01635 278642
(New Line opened 28/05/18 - Hampshire, four miles south of Newbury)
Blyth Valley Light Railway, Steamworks, Southwold
7¼" O 165yds TM499765 01502 725422
(New line opened 14/07/18)
West of Fife Munitions Railway, Scottish Vintage Bus Museum, Dunfermline
2' E 280yds NT092919 ♣ 07379 914801
(New line opened 20/05/18)
28 SOUTH LANARKSHIRE
Clyde Valley Express, Clyde Valley Family Park, Crossford, Carluke
2' O 1,000yds NS831461 ♠ 07775 713646
(New line opened 24/07/18)
Garw Valley Miniature Railway, Pontycymer
10¼" E 100yds SS904912 ♦ Open Days
(Short line now included)
105 Scottish Vintage Bus Museum Amend to: 07379 914801
14 Silloth Miniature Railway Delete entry (Line closed. Last ran 25/10/2015)
14 South Tynedale Railway Amend length to: 4½ miles (Extension to Slaggyford opened 09/06/18)
20 Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway Amend length to: 800yds (Extension opened 27/05/18)
21 Daktari Express Amend to: 0800 408 8840
21 Hambleton Valley Miniature Railway Amend length to: 350yds (Extension opened 2016)
28 Agnew Park Miniature Railway Amend to: 01776 703535
28 Criagtoun Miniature Railway Amend to: 01334 472013
28 Wester Pickston Railway Amend layout to: C and length to 1,500yds (Extension opened 01/04/18)
MR150] Blyth Valley Light Railway, Southwold, Suffolk (BLN 1302.MR62): This brand new 7¼" gauge
railway opened to the public on Saturday 14 July 2018. It is located at 'Steamworks' (TM 499 765) - a
one acre site dedicated to the 3ft gauge Southwold Railway (1879 - 1929), which is owned and is being
developed by the Southwold Railway Trust. It is on the old Gasworks, off Blyth Road in Southwold,
adjacent to the former Southwold Railway trackbed. Steamworks will not be fully finished until 2019
but is now open for rides on the 7¼" gauge railway and for visitors to see what is being developed on
the site. The BLS was represented on the opening day by two visiting members, who had arrived via
Walberswick and a walk along the old Southwold Railway trackbed to reach the Steamworks site.
ABOVE: Blyth Valley Light Railway, a train on the line's opening day. (Peter Scott 14 July 2018)
This diversion was pleasant, but necessary as all roads approaching Southwold were heavily congested
due to the 'Latitude' festival taking place at nearby Henham Park.
The Blyth Valley Light Railway is a circuit of 165 yards in length, with one (un-named) station and a
short spur into a stabling siding. Trains run clockwise around this circuit, within which some nature
ponds are being developed. Rides are £1 for all for which three or four circuits are given. Tickets are
titled light green thin card and are un-numbered. The train was formed of an articulated set of two
sit-in coaches in blue livery, with a red liveried bogie sit-in coach and a guard's wagon. Motive power
was a (undercoat) grey liveried Bo-Bo petrol loco built by the trust, with an enclosed sit-in cab.
Aside from the miniature railway there is an impressive two storey visitor centre and 3ft gauge storage
building. This had only just been completed - but inside there is a small shop, ticket office and café.
The latter, despite its small size, was serving hot and cold refreshments. From the seating area for the
café, a set of doors lead out on to what will be a demonstration 3ft gauge platform and track. Upstairs
there is a club room. The other part of this building has a two track shed for the 3ft gauge stock.
This currently comprises 0-6-0ST 'Scaldwell' (Peckett 1316/1913), which was inside the shed, while
outside was 4wDH 'Mells' (Motor Rail 105H006/1969, on loan from Peter Nicholson). There are various
3ft gauge wagons and a Belgium tram car. The site is open, with miniature railway rides, daily (except
Wednesdays) until Sunday 2 September - 10.00 to 17.00. The Trust should be congratulated on what
has been achieved on this site in such a short time. A visit is recommended, both for the miniature
railway enthusiast and anyone with an interest in the history of the iconic 3ft gauge Southwold
Railway. Steamworks can easily be reached by the '88' bus from Halesworth to Southwold, which runs
hourly Sundays excepted and passes the end of Blyth Road.
X.117] Barrow Hill Roundhouse (MR p8): ABOVE: Our Fri 20 Jul 2018 railtour driven by Mr Barrow Hill
himself - Mervyn Allcock. (Report BLN 1309.1602) By our anonymous reporter and photographer. The
entrance to new Carriage Sidings 1 & 2 with No3 (right of the signal box, occupied) now cut back.
MR151] Teesside Small Gauge Railway, County Durham: (MR p16) (BLN 1214.MR118) Situated in the
grounds of Preston Hall Museum, Eaglescliffe/Egglescliffe, offering free parking (or approx 1,200 yard
walk from Eaglescliffe station), this operates Sundays 13.00 - 17.00. The 5"/7¼" gauge railway charges
£1.50 adult; £1 children and issues Edmondson card tickets. On Sunday 22 July 2018 two peripatetic
members sampled a ride behind 'Ian Hall' (5" gauge Bo-Bo Petrol Class 67 lookalike - named in memory
of the group's former Secretary). Two train sets were in use, and the loop line alongside the station
was taken while the other train set was being loaded. Arrival in the platform was in an arrivals section
short of the departures section on the circuit, but a request to stay on the ECS was readily granted.
The second set was then taken out of traffic immediately afterwards, due to queue size dropping, and
stabled on the station loop. Our two members sampled another run (despite their peripatetic nature,
they are unlikely to have another chance for some years!) which provided three loops via the platform
road, thus covering the arrivals to departure section in ordinary traffic! The queue started building
again, including a couple (as in married to each other!) of Members. As our reporters left to examine
the non-public lengthy shed branch over the turntable, the second set was returned to traffic, safely
reversing from the loop onto the running line and into the arrivals area of the platform while the first
set was loading in the departures section. There is an elevated loop immediately within the ground-
level run, itself a loop that doubles back on itself, showing signs of recent refurbishment but not used
for public running. The elevated line is not linked directly to the turntable/steaming bays as shown in
the 06/07/14 KEG trackplan, but accesses a parallel line via a traverser where the direct link is shown.
MR152] Ryedale Miniature Railway, North Yorkshire (MR p22) (BLN 1171.MR196): Our two
peripatetic members headed south on Sunday 22 July 2018 to this 3½"/5"/7¼" gauge mixed 'complex'
(an understatement) railway operated by the Ryedale Society of Model Engineers, offering public runs
most Sundays April to September 12.30 to 16.30. They were surprised on arrival to see the two other
members met earlier at Teesside Small Gauge Railway already travelling. The latter had sensibly come
direct rather than putting 'Pottergate' in Sat Nav and initially heading towards Pottergate, Richmond,
before realising that this railway is in the street named Pottergate at Gilling East! All four were very
well received at this friendly location, offering rides at £1 each. One Edmondson ticket is issued per
group 'GILLING EAST All Stations Single', with the numbers travelling added in pen rather than issuing
one ticket each. The basic run is a 400 yard circuit, which has separate Down 'outer' and Up 'inner'
lines throughout, with crossovers between at various points. Passenger services normally use the
Down loop where the platform can hold two train sets. 'GILLING' station also has a bay and there are
many other lines/routes not normally used for public runs, including the 'bunker' (underground lines
with no headroom beneath overhead sidings, accessed by a lengthy headshunt off the outer loop, all
5" gauge only) and links to the turntable accessing the shed roads. The location is a known sun-trap in
summer, so a visit to the air-conditioned café was very welcome, but also attracts snow and rain in
some quantities in the winter months. Locos in operation were Southern steam '30854' and Class 37
37408. On a wet day, the gradients are challenging for the steam, but easily managed by the diesels.
Their last runs crossed into the inner loop platform on arrival at Gilling, allowing our peripatetic
members to view at close quarters the move into the depot reception loop and shunt back directly
across the sturdy turntable to the headshunt alongside the platform. Locos and coaches were then
separately moved via the turntable to their respective shed/yard roads. The Railway holds Mainline
Rallies www.rsme.org.uk in May/Aug (27 May & 26 Aug in 2018), when some 30 or 40 locos can
attend and operate very long trains of scale stock; public rides are not provided on these dates.
MR153] Bridgend Model Engineers, Bridgend (MR p29) (BLN 1221.MR196): A senior member visited
this site at Parc Slip Nature Park near Tondu on Saturday 21 July. The line is 5"/7¼" gauge throughout,
although only 7¼" gauge stock was running. The passenger run is a circuit of 840 yards long, in the
form of a dumbbell shape - the middle section is two parallel unconnected lines. One side of an
elongated triangle is not covered on the passenger ride.
Four trains were in operation: 0-4-0ST Quarry Hunslet 'Sundew', Bo-BoD KiwiRail 2014, 4wD 'Jake',
4wD 'BMR'. A Bagnall 0-4-0ST was also in steam and took over from 'Sundew' while our reporter was
there. The fare was £2 or £10 for a multi-ride ticket. There is public running on selected Saturdays -
mostly twice a month. See website for dates.
MR154] Darlington North Road, County Durham (BLN 1120.MR182): A Children's Event was held on
Sunday 22 July in the 'Heads of Steam' Museum situated in the station buildings alongside North Road
station. The South Durham Model Engineers (from nearby Hurworth Grange Community Centre, which
operates public rides there only on the first Sunday of each month 10.30-12.30, an unusual early hours
operation, 50p/person) provided a portable elevated 5" gauge line inside on the 'North Platform' of
slightly under 100 yards. (They also provide occasional miniature facilities at NRM Shildon where they
can set up a longer elevated line.) 'Lady Annette' (a Bo-Bo BE, perhaps the first miniature based on an
'Azuma') provided rides west to east, with the train reversing ECS to pick-up the next set of eager
passengers, presumably for 'crowd control' with limited entry/exit areas, rather than issues of
travelling in reverse. No additional charge was levied over the standard Museum entrance fee (£4.95;
concessions £3.75, raffle tickets only issued). Our two peripatetic members sampled a couple of rides
on opening before the intended younger travellers started queuing. There was no evidence of any
resident operational loco, or any significant length of permanent usable track; only disconnected
remains of both standard and narrow gauge outside the Stockton & Darlington Goods Station building.
MR155] Silloth Miniature Railway, Cumbria (MR p14) (BLN 980.MR231): This 7¼" gauge 400 yard
railway, located in Solway Holiday Village at Silloth, has closed. A member visiting on a Sunday in June
2018 asked at the Reception about the railway and was told it was closed due to a 'new attraction'.
The MR Ed was informed in an email exchange with the Holiday Village that it had not been used for
the 'last two seasons'. On 21 July 2018, another member kindly checked the actual situation on site. He
found the railway still in-situ, but overgrown and clearly out of use. The whole area where it is located,
including the adjacent golf driving range, is now out of bounds to the public and is used to keep
various animals. Further exploration was prevented by some llamas! He was told (elsewhere) that the
railway had not been used after a man was attacked nearby and injured by a red deer stag. The local
'News & Star' web site records this attack took place on 25 October 2015 - so the railway has not been
used from that date. The Holiday Village pleaded guilty to Health & Safety charges on 16 March 2017.
Cambrian Heritage Railways (Oswestry), Shropshire (MR p7) (BLN 1299.MR33): Mid July saw work at
both Oswestry road overbridges. On 15 July the footbridge on the south side of the main brick
structure of Middleton Road bridge (18m 37ch) was replaced. Reportedly a large road rail crane ran
along the line from Oswestry station to the site, lifted the old bridge out and dropped the new one in,
described as a slick operation, which went well. The next week Shropshire Council contractors began
work lowering the trackbed either side and under the Gasworks (Shrewsbury Road) bridge (18m 61ch)
so that the railway can pass through. The bridge support girders remain so it will be a tight squeeze
and one or two unexpected problems have already arisen. Completion is scheduled for August.
FIRST TWO OF PREVIOUS THREE PICTURES: Views from Gasworks Bridge of the track lowering work in
each direction. PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Middleton Road bridge, looking north, Middleton Sidings are
just beyond this bridge on the left south of Oswestry station. The line used to be double track hence
has enough space for the cycle/foot path to the right. (Chris Parker, 1 August 2018)
MR157] East Lancashire Railway (ELR), Greater Manchester (MR p8) (BLN 1219.MR177): Network Rail
(NR) is to draw up a feasibility study to extend the ELR from Heywood to Castleton. The proposals to
extend the line were first mooted by the ELR Trust in 2009, as part of a plan for the railway's future to
2020. In 2014, Rochdale Council said it was working through a master plan for the Heywood and
Castleton areas, including supporting improvements around Castleton station and the extension of the
railway to the town. Plans to extend the railway have been discussed for a number of years, the latest
development being in late 2017 when NR investigated whether existing structures and track could
support trains. Now, NR has been commissioned to carry out a feasibility study for the line between
Heywood and Castleton, including signalling and timetabling. The study, expected to cost around
£200,000, runs up to NR's GRIP Stage 3, which includes feasibility and the options for the route, but
does not include detailed design or construction. The extension would also include a new platform at
Castleton for ELR trains. Funding is yet to be secured for the extension, but in 2014 Rochdale Council
said works would likely be supported by Section 106 contributions from major housing sites nearby.
BELOW: East Lancashire Railway - Class 40 D213 at Bury Bolton Street looking south during the April
'40s at 60' Gala. (Peter Scott 14 April 2018)
MR158] Bog Train, County Mayo (MR p27) (BLN 1305.MR98): On Sunday 15 July 2018 a senior BLS
member visited this remote 3ft gauge railway at North Mayo Heritage Centre, Crossmolina, near
Ballina. The line is just a simple out and back with no points 400 yards long. There is only one
locomotive - LM129 (4wDM Ruston 383264 of 1955) and two coaches. The train is hauled out and
propelled back. The railway only runs when there are special events at the Centre - on this occasion a
Vintage Car Rally - €10 admission with no additional charge for the train ride. The only way to get
there was a €25 taxi from Ballina. Our member goes on to comment: This completes Ireland for me
[except two Golf course funiculars!]. I've ridden all the main line passenger lines, including PSULs,
ridden all the preserved lines, park railways and miniatures, ridden all the Dublin tram routes. Also I've
visited every Bord na Móna location, and ridden on most of the big ones. Indeed, I've been to every
industrial site. I've seen every steam loco, and done some of the canals. A remarkable achievement!
1310 FIXTURES REPORTS (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
1704] Borderline Signalbox visits, 4 May 2018: By Ian Mitchell. The first and northern most stop was
Shotwick Ground Switch Panel (11m 74ch) (BELOW), the electrically operated equivalent of a ground
frame, released from Dee Marsh Junction Signalbox on the Wrexham to Bidston line. Installed in
1985, it controls the access to Shotton Paper Mill. There has been no rail traffic for 15-20 years, but
the crossover on the main line is occasionally used when engineering works are taking place. The
switch panel itself is of a type manufactured in-house by British Rail London Midland Region (LMR) at
Crewe Gresty Lane workshops and is housed in a small room at one end of the relay room.
PREVIOUS PAGE TOP: Dee Marsh Junction Signal Box. LOWER: State of the art technology mid-1990s
style, a slightly battered Vaughan computer train describer. (Pictures by Ian Mitchell unless specified.)
Next was Dee Marsh Junction Signalbox itself (13m 77ch), just north of Hawarden Bridge station on
the Down side. Access involved driving through the Tata steelworks where the group had to sign in at
the security gatehouse and receive a safety briefing. The box dates from 1930, but even at this late
date it was built to a pre-grouping Great Central Railway design. The lever frame is the London & North
Eastern Railway standard type, now with 25 levers, though it must once have been longer. All but one
of the signals are colour light, and the one remaining semaphore is electrically operated, as are all the
points. The box, refurbished in 2006, controls the connection to Shotton Steel Works, known as the
'Birkenhead Siding' on the west side of the line, and the disused 'Tube Works Siding' on the east side.
The steel works has an internal railway network with its own locos; one was heard but not seen (unlike
well behaved children) during the visit. Track circuit block working applies on the line northwards to
Merseyrail IECC (interfacing at 11m 00ch) using axle counters and a rather antique Vaughan computer
train describer (circa 1994), with absolute block working southwards to Penyffordd, the next stop.
BELOW: A fine selection of 'borderline' BLS Members. Top of the stairs is our roving photographer Nick
Jones from Fort William with your BLN Wales Regional Editor Chris Parker (left hand on handrail - as
good a place as any). Front row second from the left leaning on the handrail is the one and only Angus
McDougall and the other side of the handrail is Society electronic message guru Nick Garnham. Third
from the right is the fixture organiser Barney Clark with report author Ian Mitchell second from right.
Looking north, the link to the Mold/Denbigh line diverged left behind the box. (Barney Clark, 4 May)
Penyffordd signalbox (7m 41ch) is located at the north end of the station of the same name. It is an
LMR standard design built in 1972 with 25 levers. There was a trailing crossover and a connection to
sidings on the course of the line to Mold and Denbigh, both OOU since 5 Jul 2015, they were removed
from 28 May 2016. The box now only controls signals and a release for the ground frame controlling
access to Padeswood Cement Works half a mile to the north. All the signals are semaphore, except for
the southbound distant colour light. The levers controlling the removed points and signals have not yet
been disconnected and painted white, much to the disgust of the signallers as it means a facing point
lock lever is permanently in the reverse position and gets in their way! There has not been any rail
traffic to the cement works since the last coal train arrived from Killoch on 17 May 2017, but Hanson
are planning expansion and it is anticipated that rail traffic will eventually revive. The box works
absolute block northwards to Dee Marsh Junction and southwards to Croes Newydd North Fork. It
switches out in the evenings when the service drops back from hourly to every two hours. In the new
Wales and the Borders Rail Franchise a half-hourly service is planned with converted ex-LUL D78 stock.
Croes Newydd North Fork Signalbox (201m 43ch) is at a level crossing on the Shrewsbury - Chester
line south of Wrexham General. It is of Great Western Railway design, built in 1905 and extended in
1940. A modern 'NX' panel was installed with refurbishment in 2009, controlling a relay interlocking.
As well as the main line, the box controls the south end of the Bidston - Wrexham line, including the
single track Wrexham Central line. There is absolute block working to Gobowen and Penyffordd, and
track circuit block working to Chester PSB with a modern train describer. The interface with Chester is
on the remaining stretch of single line, over which Chester has control of the direction of traffic, but
the train describer gives the signaller good advance warning of approaching trains as soon as they
have left Chester. An unusual feature of the absolute block working on the Bidston line is that the
trains are never in sight of the signaller and so the conductor of an arriving train has to telephone to
report that the train is complete before the signaller can give 'train out of section' to Penyffordd. The
Kronospan siding at Chirk is in the absolute block section to Gobowen, so an incoming loaded timber
train has to be offered to Gobowen and then cancelled once it has set back into the siding.
The final visit was to Gobowen North (189m 56ch), the oldest signalbox visited, a Mackenzie and
Holland design of 1884, with a 16 lever GWR stud frame of 1906. Most of the signals are semaphores,
with an interesting electrically worked example with the motor above the arm at the end of the
northbound platform. There are some colour lights in the area formerly controlled by Gobowen South,
and a ground switch panel for the connection to the Oswestry line which is still used for access to a
tamper siding. There is absolute block working to Croes Newydd North Fork and track circuit block to
Crewe Junction box at Shrewsbury (but with block bells rather than a train describer).
Another excellent day of BLS signalbox visits! Thanks to Barney Clark for the organisation and to our
NR host Mark Owen; £210 from 11 participants was donated to NR's nominated charity, Barnardo's.
1705] Cornwall STP Tracker, Day 2, Thur 12 Jul: (BLN 1309.1601) Further to the Day 1 report, on Tue
10 Jul some scuba divers found a 1,000 pound unexploded WWII bomb on the beach at Teignmouth
and, despite it being there for around 75 years or so, the main line was closed for a while until it was
deemed safe to run trains. The bomb was blown up that night which fortunately didn't blow
participants' plans out of the water. Also on Day 1, participants travelling to Cornwall on the Night
Riviera from Paddington found themselves (or at least those who were awake did) crossing to the Up
Main line south of Exeter St Davids Jn as far as Teignmouth where the Down main was regained.
The seated coaches are actually usually at the Penzance end in both directions with the sleeping cars
behind the loco in the Up direction. (One member has always wanted coach 'G', berth 23/25 but the
system never offers it!) The three non-sleeping Mk3 coaches are 'A' a brake declassified 1st (Standard
Class after refurbishment, hence the 2+1 seating*), 'B' a declassified 1st (Standard after refurbishment),
and 'C' a buffet/Sleeper lounge car. There are four sleeping cars with, ThFSuO, usually a fifth 'H' added.
*Soon to be changed to 2+2 to increase capacity for local travellers - Aug 'Modern Railways'.)
ABOVE: A bright sunny morning at Bodmin Parkway, (formerly Bodmin Road station) the group's train
leaves for Penzance after its special stop here. The Bodmin & Wenford Railway, with its convenient
cross platform interchange, curves away right to Bodmin Town. Buses also run hourly (six on SuO)
from the station to Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow. (All pictures Neil Greenwood 12 Jul 2018.)
BELOW: In the other direction looking towards Plymouth the buffer stops (centre of picture and to the
left of the platforms) are on the headshunt for the Bodmin and Wenford Railway run-round line which
in BR days continued to form the main line connection. Far left is a new 'OFF' indicator. They would
never allow a new station with such curved platforms now!
Day 2, a gloriously sunny one in Devon and Cornwall, saw the party meet up at Plymouth station to
catch the 08.20 full length HST to Bodmin Parkway. An easement means that the Ride Cornwall Day
Ranger is valid and interestingly the HST calls include Devonport, Saltash and St Germans. This was a
change to the booked plan because of losing the Newquay branch the day before. Bodmin Parkway
was by special stop order (for 'normal' passengers) as the scheduled connection in to the group's
Penzance train at Par was running late, so behind it rather than in front. At Bodmin Parkway there
was then a 20 min wait for the 34 min late 05.24 Bristol TM to Newquay 2-car Class 150 DMU. This
gave time to sample the excellent café in the former Bodmin Road Signal Box, (Totnes has a nice café
in its former box too).The DMU did the facing connection from the main line to Par P3 for the branch.
PREVIOUS PAGE: Newquay now has a single track and platform. ABOVE: Looking back towards Par.
ABOVE: The 12.41 SSuX (2 Jul until 3 Aug 2018) Newquay to Penzance train reverses in Par P3.
Various china clay freight workings made up of covered CDA wagons now showing their age (will they
be replaced?), were seen from Goonbarrow Jn (and, less commonly now, even Parkandillack) to/from
Carne Point. The scenes on the branch were more Mediterranean than Atlantic coast. The DMU made
a rapid turnaround at Newquay to help make up time but still managed to call at most of the request
stops either outwards, on return, or both. The first railway at Newquay had been a horse worked line
from the harbour to Hendra Crazey (near St Dennis) built between 1846 and 1849.
The return working, the 12.41 ex-Newquay is through to Penzance and allowed coverage of the very
rare Par P3 connection to the Down Main. This is because SSuX from 2 July until 30 August (only) a HST
from Paddington runs to Newquay and return while the branch train provides a connection on to
Penzance. The group took it to Truro, a fine station and signal box. The next planned rare connection
was off the Falmouth branch to Truro P3. The only train to do this is the 19.02 (SuX) Falmouth Docks
to Truro which then runs ECS to Plymouth. With a few hours to wait, a move to Plymouth seemed like
a good idea to try and cover as many platforms there as possible over the two days. Due to a couple of
late trains forcing changes of plan the group covered all of Plymouth west end except P6, the two
crossovers west of the station and missed a few station stops between Plymouth and Liskeard. Most
also missed a journey on the 4-coach Class 255 (Castle) Mini-HST too. However, track was the priority.
On the run back to Truro, saying hello to a member from Bolton who just happened to be on board
doing his own thing, the HST lost time at every station stop. Therefore there was a nail biting
connection to catch the 2-car Class 150 from bay P1 to Falmouth Docks. The branch is thriving these
days, many of the passengers are local students; for first timers on the line the similar names of
Perranwell, Penryn and Penmere must be a little confusing, then there are two stations at Falmouth!
ABOVE: Penryn, a Truro to Falmouth leaves the loop to call at the south end of the platform;
on the right is a Falmouth to Truro at the north end of this platform.
Returning to Penryn the relatively unusual passing loop that allows trains to cross and then both be
either end of the same long (261yd) platform at the same time was observed in action. There are
similar examples on the Aberystwyth line at Dovey Junction and at Abergynolwyn on the Talyllyn
Railway. Dropping back to the other branch unit gave another run to Falmouth Docks. The driver,
whom we had met several times on different trains over the two days, greeted us like old friends and
kindly went as near to the buffer stops as safely possible. It became the sought after 19.02 from
Falmouth Docks to Truro P3 as booked - for one member the only required track in the two days.
Some made for Plymouth and it was left to four hard liners to complete the tour, arriving at Penzance
P2 (the only one not covered the day before) on the 20.00 HST from Truro. After a break of an hour for
'refuelling', the last leg saw them on the Up Night Riviera from Penzance P1 and homeward bound.
While this trip may have been considered by some to not have the 'pulling power' of our other tours,
and indeed every move was made on a regular service train, that overlooks the camaraderie and
friendships that develop over a few days when a group of like minded people get together for a bit of a
track bash. I think it safe to say everyone had a great time. Mark's very thorough planning, even
specially visiting the area the previous week to test the robustness of the planned moves (in particular
at Penzance - BLN 1309.1560) resulted in a stress free, highly enjoyable couple of days for all the
participants. The great majority of this ambitious two day event was completed with all the passenger
track in Cornwall covered. The weather was great too which always helps. There are a few people who
'made' this event and they deserve to be applauded. We had such a supportive response to our
endeavours from Heather and Mark, two Par based GWR guards on the Looe services, and Nina, the
Par based driver who drove us down the Looe and Falmouth Docks branches. Finally, none of this
would have been possible without the superb planning and people skills of our very distinctive
member Mark Haggas - a big thanks from all 10 of us to them (singular*). (Neil Greenwood)
[*Mark identifies as non-binary transgender and prefers they/them pronouns instead of he/she.]