Issue Number 1256 (Items 866-958 & MR76 - MR 85) (E-BLN 52 PAGES) 7 May 2016
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Ave., Epsom, Surrey, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members, an international section is also available.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1257 is dated 21 May, contriSbouciteitoyn. s must be received by 11 May.
Date Event Details BLN Lead Notes
Sat 14/5/16 1252 JE FULL
20-22/05/16 GWR Tracker IV postponed, due to shortage of train crew 1250 KA FULL
Tue 31/5/16 1254 KA OPEN
Fri 3-4/6/16 Island of Ireland Tracker 06.00 Friday to 20.00 Sunday 1246 TV NOTIFY
Sutton Coldfield MES 18.30 Comprehensive visit
Scottish Minor Railways Aberdeenshire/Perthshire
Fri 10/6/16 Glaschu Tracker *OPEN* Full day on public services 1256 KA *OPEN*
Sat 11/6/16 Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway, 2ft gauge 09.00-12.00 1256 JC *OPEN*
Sat 11/6/16 A further fixture later this day is under investigation TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 12/6/16 Nottingham NET tour 09.00 Newly Extended Tracker II 1255 KA OPEN
Thur 23/6/16 Achilles Heel Trekker 10.30 Crewe-Watford Junction 1256 KA *OPEN*
Fri 24/06/16 Guided railway walk 10.30-13.00 Hitchin station 1256 BD *OPEN*
24-25/6/16 Docklands Explorer 22.55 Friday - Saturday morning 1256 GW *OPEN*
Sat 2/7/16 Turbo Prop Tracker 18.10-22.12 Manchester area 1255 KA OPEN
Sun 3/7/16 TPE Class 170 farewell 09.25-18.24 to Cleethorpes 1255 KA OPEN
Sat 9/7/16 *NEW* Chiltern Tracker III railtour TBA TBA Claimed
Thur 4/8/16 Spa Valley Explorer III *OPEN* 13.30 Brakevan railtour 1256 GW *OPEN*
Mon 29/8/16 Loco hauled main line Tracker railtour - save the date TBA TBA Claimed
Fri 4-6/11/16 BLS 61st AGM weekend Southeast England /Kent TBA TBA Claimed
10-17/11/16 Jordan Hejaz Railway Provisional new date (enhanced) 1250 IS OPEN
BD-Bill Davis, GW-Glen Wells IS-Iain Scotchman, JE-Jill Everitt, JC-John Cameron KA-Kev Adlam, TV-Terry Velvick.
866] Glaschu Tracker, Fri 10 Jun: We are delighted to open this unusual lines exploration by service
trains in the Glasgow area for bookings; available due to the Queen Street HL tunnel blockade.
Includes Anniesland chord (each way), Cowlairs West Jn X/O, Springburn P1 & P2 routes, West
Highland loop, Barnhill X/Os, Sighthill West - Cowlairs West (and return), Cowlairs East - Cowlairs
North (both ways), Dumbarton Central P3, Langloan Jn - Coatbridge Jn (and return) etc. 05.58 from
Anniesland (accommodation nearby) or 09.01 from Queen Street LL. Estimated finish at 18.20.
Https://goo.gl/9V9G6v has more about the work. Participants purchase their own tickets; a detailed
itinerary and souvenir map will be provided. Advance booking is essential to advise ScotRail group
travel of the numbers. Although led by Kev Adlam, real thanks are due to Ian Delgado who designed
http://goo.gl/atct2m the itinerary. The finish is in time to travel to the Scottish lowlands for Saturday
morning's fixture (below). Please notify [email protected] of intent to participate.
867] Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway, Sat 11 Jun: (MR p28) Station Road, off the B797, Leadhills,
South Lanarkshire, ML12 6XS, (NS886145) http://goo.gl/0p7RDa 09.00-12.00; includes a full main line
return trip on this remote 2ft gauge line and cab ride covering the headshunt and depot roads as far
as possible. Also included are shed, depot and signal box visits, tea/coffee and a gradient poster. Food
is not available. £17 members, £22 non-members, cheques/CPAs with email address or SAE to John
Cameron, 10 Friar Gate Court, Friar Gate, Derby, DE1 1HE. Please advise if you can provide lift/s (how
many/from where) or if you need one. Queries [email protected] 07581178759.
The original standard gauge Leadhills and Wanlockhead Light Railway obtained a light railway order
on 5 Aug 1898. Robert McAlpine & Co built the 7m 24ch branch from Elvanfoot (922ft above sea
level), on the Caledonian line from Carlisle to Glasgow (now the WCML), to Leadhills, opened on 1 Oct
1901 with no intermediate stations. Leadhills was the highest station in Scotland for a year until the
line was extended to Wanlockhead (1,498ft; the village itself is Scotland's highest at 1,531ft) on 1 Oct
1902. The line, the highest standard gauge (and highest adhesion worked) railway in the British Isles,
had an average gradient of 1 in 42. The largest structure was the brick clad concrete curved 8-arch
Rispin Cleugh Viaduct, which despite being listed, was blown up on 23 Dec 1991 when BR was
responsible for it. An earlier tramway crossed the railway by a flat crossing, north of Leadhills station.
Mixed passenger and goods trains (including lead ore) were operated at a maximum speed of 20mph
by the Caledonian Railway. There were few passengers and they had to board from ground level via
fold down steps. The Wanlockhead Mining Company went into liquidation in 1936, due to a slump in
lead prices after WWI. The writing was on the wall; the branch CP 31 Dec 1938 and CG 2 Jan 1939.
The 2ft gauge Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway was established in 1986 as The Lowthers Railway
Society; the first BLS visit was 30 Aug 1987. It runs uphill from Leadhills station for 1,200 yd on the
branch trackbed to Glengonnar Halt. This is through a fascinating post-industrial remote landscape,
including the former Glengonnar lead mine, opened in 1450. There are a variety of historic industrial
locos working in push-pull mode, propelling uphill. Leadhills signal box was built using reclaimed bricks
from Rispin Cleugh Viaduct and the original lever frame from Arrochar and Tarbet box.
868] Achilles Heel Trekker, Thur 23 June: Operated
by DRS and raising money for Railway Children.
Departs Crewe 10.30, our loco hauled single trip
only train runs via Stoke-on-Trent, then Nuneaton
(Up Relief requested, thought to be its first
passenger use) and Rugby Up Goods Loop. To
follow is Northampton Reception Line and
Bletchley Relief No1 road before terminating at
Watford Junction circa 14.00. The train then runs
ECS to Euston to form the 'Three Peaks by Rail' annual charity train. This trip is strictly limited to 84
first class passengers, first come, first served. BLS members £40, (which includes a complimentary
hot drink). The train is expected to be hauled by a DRS Class 68 and 68023 'Achilles' has been
requested but traction will depend on commitments to scheduled services. Times and route are
subject to availability and NR validation. Cheques/CPAs to Kev Adlam per back page. The EDF
Tracker £5 discount voucher can be used but must be submitted. To vote by post in the European
Referendum on 23 June (applications by 9 June) see https://goo.gl/g7EdVJ (Kev Adlam).
869] BLS Hitchin Railway Walk, Fri 24 June: Between our 23 and 25 June trips. Hitchin station 10.30,
bus to Ickleford then following the original Midland Railway main line from Bedford (CP 1 Jan 1962;
CG 20 Dec 1963 this end) to sites of pre-grouping interest. Visit Hitchin lime works branch and see
Hitchin flyover close up. Return about 13.00. Advance notifications required please to Bill Davis
[email protected] 7 Orlando Close, Hitchin, SG4 9LF. 07812 145464; BLS T&Cs apply.
870] BLS Docklands Explorer ( (The Docklands Night Railway ), , Fri 24 Jun: An unusual opportunity in
maximum daylight. Stratford International rare P2 departing 22.55; covering as much rare track on
the DLR as possible (not available at any other time). Includes Bank Turn Back Siding, Stratford Middle
Road both ways, Mudchute P3 and Beckton Depot etc. Breaks include an hour at Beckton (24 hour
supermarket with toilets) before a Depot visit at 05.40. Stock: 3x2 car sets; strict limit of only 152
participants and 6 wheelchair places. Early booking advised. Cost £40, includes a donation to Marie
Curie, a charity close to the organiser's heart. BLS members only. Bookings, cheque/CPA payee 'Branch
Line Society' to Glen Wells, 48 Eastville Avenue, Rhyl, LL18 3TN. Please advise email address or send
sae (two for acknowledgement) queries: [email protected] if no email: 01745797902.
871] Spa Valley Explorer III, Thur 4 Aug 13.30: (BLNs 1231.688 & 1242.1808) During the summer
Diesel Gala (enhanced service and available for a small supplement). Tunbridge Wells West to
headshunt via run round loop (stock shunt to clear tracks). Groombridge, clear Engineers' Siding of
stock then run to buffer stops. Groombridge west crossover to Eridge south end of line past station
& rare bay P3. Tunbridge Wells West Yard, Loco Road No3 on return (normally steam engines only).
Drewry 'Southerham' 2591 is expected. £25 queries and bookings to Glen Wells (as previous item).
Please note: (both trips) Glen is away from emails between 11 & 23 May; replies will be after then.
872] Unusual Track: Expected but not guaranteed, should be re-checked http://goo.gl/wwSbYv etc.
Ilford Bay P5: 06.03, 08.38. 08.50 & 09.00 (SSux) to Liverpool Street, all ECS inwards. NB:
**PLATFORM CLOSES AFTER FRIDAY 13 MAY** and trains then start further out.
Norton Bridge, Little Bridgeford Jn - Searchlight Lane Jn - Down Slow: All Stafford to Crewe
direct services are booked Slow Lines until 6 May and then Sundays 15, 22 & 29 May.
Stafford north, Up Slow - P1 facing X/Os: Until 28 May, LM trains from Stoke to Stafford.
Clongriffin Down Passenger Loop (P3): (new station between Howth Junction and Portmarnock
not shown in November 2003 'Quail') 11.10 (SuX) Dublin Pearse to Dundalk is booked to be
looped (in P3) to be overtaken by the 11.20 Connolly to Belfast 'Enterprise' service via P2.
Maindee North Jn - Maindee East Jn - East Usk Yard (reverse): Until 14 May, Cwmbran to
Newport trains (& vice versa), all day SSuO and early mornings/late at nights Mondays - Fridays.
Wednesbury Parkway facing X/0 & P3: Ex-Wolverhampton (times may change after 22 May):
(SSuX) 09.04, 19.07, 19.22, 23.37, 23.52 & 00.07; (SO) 19.07, 19.22, 00.07, 00.22 & 00.37; (SuO)
23.13, 23.30 & 23.45 Does anyone know what terminating trams from Bull St do here now?
Malvern, Newland East trailing X/O: All day 18-22, 25/26 June; 2/3 & 10 July - see 'Head Lines'
ABOVE: A busy scene at Wednesbury Parkway; left is a tram for Bull Street; centre for Wolverhampton and
right (P3) ECS from the Depot. The trailing crossover beyond the stop (the second one, barely visible in front
of the middle tram) between the two main running lines is clipped OOU. (Keith Flinders 28 Apr 2016)
873] FIXTURES REPORTS: North Midlands Tracker, 27 Feb: Your reporters joined the railtour at Stoke-
on-Trent, Class '156' 156413, and formed the impression from the smiling faces that the 2¼-mile Up
Goods Line from Grange Jn to Stoke North Jn had been traversed, and this was confirmed by the
stewards. Shortly after departure, the tour entered Caverswall Up Goods Loop, thought to be a first
for a passenger-carrying train; it had been OOU at the time of previous tours in recent years. The train
was booked to run through it non-stop but instead waited (perhaps because we were slightly late) to
allow the following service train to overtake with a 20-minute delay.
BELOW: Caverswall Up Goods Loop taken by EMT train staff (the Down Goods Loop is far left). Its rarity can be
gauged by the degree of rust and general appearance! (All pictures are by Geoff Plumb except where stated.)
The smiling faces had mellowed a little, but Graeme Jolley made an announcement on the public
address that some of the arrears could be reduced. This proved to be very accurate as we drifted into
P1 at Kettering just five minutes late with loops at Melton Mowbray (78ch) and Oakham Up (1m
30ch) 'in the book' on the way. After traversing the upgraded Manton Jn and taking the 10½-mile
signal block section to Corby, progress was noted on redoubling to the south and re-quadrupling
Kettering North Jn to Kettering. At Kettering the 'Pumpkin' café staff nearly had apoplexy when they
realised 150 potential customers had turned up unexpectedly (for them) - How long are you here for?
They did very well in the 10 minutes available!
ABOVE: Loughborough P3 at 12.04 in sunshine where reversal took place for the run to Loughborough
South Jn to reverse again onto the former GCR route towards Nottingham. The Brush works are right.
After the short 'leg stretch' the tour duly departed on time. Further time was gained in the Leicester
area, despite a quite complicated series of manoeuvres. This involved the Up & Down Slow at Kilby
Bridge Jn and the Leicester Reversible Slow Line past the Loco Holding Sidings. Then at Loughborough
South Jn, (111m 22ch from St Pancras via Leicester) rather than the facing crossover, it was into P3 to
reverse (and pick up a pilotman) followed by the trailing crossover to reverse again on the Up Slow.
The NR boundary is now 4ch beyond the junction at 92m 45ch (from Manchester London Road via
Penistone!) then it is onto the Great Central (Nottingham) Railway. 15 minutes early, participants
enjoyed a good view from the embankment of work recently started on the new bridge to join the two
preserved sections of the Great Central here again. The former island platform at East Leake was
passed on the single line and remarkably intact. Our DMU arrived at Rushcliffe Halt P1, an unusual
situation where freight traffic from the national network comes in over a preserved railway. In this
case incoming Gypsum from coal fired power station (generally West Burton) gas desulphurisation.
There is a 'wheelstop' at (87m 06ch) just north of Hotchley Hill (British Gypsum) run round loop. It was
possible to appreciate how well the former main line had been engineered by the original GCR. Our
connecting special train to Ruddington was visible approaching in the distance before it arrived in P2.
Interestingly there is no habitation here named Rushcliffe (there is a Rushcliffe 'Lodge', Golf Course,
and parliamentary constituency though!). Things were going well, and even the weather, although
cold, was dry and reasonably pleasant for late February, which made the lengthy crossing via the
overbridge between the platforms not too onerous.
BELOW: 12.39 at Rushcliffe Halt looking south, our 'North Midlands Tracker' has arrived in P1 (right).
Note that the telegraph pole to its far right really does lean at that angle! Graeme Jolley, tour
organiser (left), directs the FS attaching the headboard to 56097 before our CCR(N) special departs for
Ruddington Fields. The large BLS blue headboard was on the prototype HST power car at the rear.
[BLN 1256] ABOVE: Ruddington Fields platform 13.38, after the tour of the GCR headshunt and station areas.
The train headed by Class '56' 56097, with the prototype HST 41001 at the rear, left about 30 minutes
ahead of schedule. There was a full buffet service which did very well. Due to the early start we
obtained the 'best of both worlds', by traversing rare metals at Ruddington Fields, including the loop
and end of line on the former GCR extremity (a first doing track like this on the prototype HST!),
followed by a 40 minute break to look around the shed and yard etc. As a bonus, the extensive
miniature railway was operating; a few railtour patrons took full advantage.
ABOVE: British Rail's 'Ruddington Requiem' railtour, a 9-car DMU on 9 Jun 1984 from Derby, and the
final revenue earning train in BR days was advertised, as the 'last passenger train to Ruddington' (at
least it was until ROP 2 Apr 2000!). TOP LEFT: The then end of the line (looking south towards
Loughborough) which was about ½ mile further north than it is now; ¼ mile beyond Ruddington
station. TOP RIGHT: From the rear DMU cab on departure, looking north towards Nottingham.
ABOVE LOWER: Passing Ruddington station (CP 4 Jun 1963). A typical Great Central Railway island
platform accessed from a bridge. Most stations on the London Extension were built like this so that
outer fast lines could more easily be added each side later without having to rebuild them! Note that
both sections of the overbridge were built ready to accommodate the four tracks. (All Ian Mortimer)
Returning to Rushcliffe, 156413 was re-joined and the main line reached on time. After the High Level
Goods Lines spotters were kept busy passing Toton depot at a leisurely pace; many locos were
identified, quite a few were stored Class 60s, unlikely to turn another wheel under their own power.
Time was not a problem, and despite waiting for a path at Codnor Park Jn, the tour was six minutes
ahead of schedule. Shortly after the Tracker crossed the main line to traverse the very interesting
Blackwell Up & Down Slow Line, (previously booked on other operators' tours but not covered) and
later arrived at Barrow Hill Roundhouse Halt bay platform. Our internal train to the Springwell branch
headshunt and back was a convenient cross platform change, Peckett 0-6-0ST No2000 at the front, and
three diesel shunters at the rear! Namely Class '02' D2853 (train engine), Class '03' (translator) and the
new liveried Class '08' 08924, which seemed to have everything on its bodywork, except 08924!
ABOVE: Our Barrow Hill special returns from the end of the Springwell Branch, through Roundhouse Halt
P2 (here) to the end of line beyond (not covered by public services). The DMU is stabled in bay P1 (left).
Time was at a premium at Barrow Hill; a quick run to the end of the headshunt and back, followed by a
speedy look around the complex, was all that could be scheduled to avoid later NR engineering work
booked on the return route. It was now getting dark, and just about possible to confirm that the Up &
Down Staveley Goods was done. Later, the train took the Derby Up Goods, which became the Down
Goods as we passed the station on our right (due to passing milepost '0' for the MR line to Bristol).
After completing the Uttoxeter Down Goods Loop, there was a disappointing note, as it was not
possible to obtain point detection to clear the signal to enter the very rarely used Caverswall Down
Goods Loop (even though the signal out of the loop was able to be cleared). The resulting delay made
arrival back at Stoke 11 minutes late. It was a very successful and enjoyable day in good conditions;
those smiling faces were still apparent on departure! (Mick Horton 2159)
[BLN 1256] ABOVE: The BLS special on the headshunt at Barrow Hill Roundhouse Halt P2.
BELOW: The organiser, some EMT staff and some of the Stewards at Chesterfield P3 in the evening.
[BLN 1256] ABOVE: View from the rear cab of the DMU at 14.51, departing south from Rushcliffe Halt.
The organiser, Graeme Jolley, adds: The tour was over a year in the planning with a couple of 'false
dawns' due to track access problems either on NR or on the private lines. At all times East Midlands
Trains (EMT), GCR(N) and Barrow Hill were extremely helpful; however the availability of all the lines
on the same day proved very problematical. Eventually it all fell into place and a date was fixed giving
the route, which did not clash with any other BLS fixtures and was reasonably clear of other tours.
With confidence, the booking form was prepared and issued, in just a few days the tour rapidly filled.
With only two weeks or so to go, it was then realised that in the months between initially preparing
the tour and checking movement conflicts, and the now subsequently revised date, a freight was
booked to Hotchley Hill on the Ruddington branch at the same time as our tour! After firstly turning
grey and then white in sheer unadulterated panic, eventually a solution was found that meant the tour
could run in its entirety without missing a major section of the track planned for the day. Phew!
The tour train was prepared by a stalwart band from the Fixtures Team at Crewe just after 6am on the
Saturday morning. EMT had kindly provided complimentary water and snacks that were distributed to
passengers throughout the day. All the EMT crew who worked with us both on board and on the
platforms during the day were very professional, extremely courteous and showed a genuine interest
in making the tour the success that it was. The EMT Business Development Manager was on board
from Uttoxeter to East Midlands Parkway to make sure all was well; it was! The train started and
finished more or less on time (even waiting in Crewe for a few moments after booked departure time
in the morning for a passenger off the late running overnight Scottish sleeper) and covered the lines as
above. The private lines visited received large donations and did not disappoint as both sites provided
variety and interest in different ways. The GCR(N) railway has two distinct areas, both of which were
well covered - the old main line and the siding area. The immaculately turned out prototype HST was a
big plus too. At Barrow Hill the highlight was steam and the incongruous site of a triple header of
shunters plus of course the magnificent roundhouse. Overall a very interesting, varied and enjoyable
variety of features in a single trip on one day with suitable breaks. There were a couple of 'firsts':
(1). It is believed that a Class 156 unit had not been as far south as Kettering before.
(2). A tour in Mk3 preserved carriages!
A time lapse video https://goo.gl/hwhww8 of the complete tour. Finally it should be noted that
through the very kind generosity of all our 144 passengers and EMT Staff (including those staff on the
service train which followed ours into Crewe in the evening) we were able to pass a cheque for
£1,000.00 to the Samaritans; East Midlands Trains' nominated charity.
874] Bury Bubble II, 2 Apr: By David Hill, ELR Guard and BLS member No2449. Arriving at Bury in ample
time to check the tour details with Bury South signalman, (the same one coincidentally as for our 19
July 2015 tour - a good sign), a small tweak was made to the published method of operations to ensure
full platform coverage at Bury. Parking by the steam shed, there was one problem on arrival; 34092
City of Wells was stabled over the pit outside on steam shed road 5! Having been defeated last year
in trying to access the steam shed which was then blocked by the 'Manitou' used for coaling, thoughts
turned to moving 'Wells'. A polite word with the steam shed foreman and he moved it to adjacent
road 4. He also happily stepped into the breach to drive the Class 08 as the booked driver was off sick.
ABOVE: The end of the coaling line in Baron Street Yard, unless anyone had a spade! (Kev Adlam).
After a quick team photo in front of bubble car 55001, it departed to pick up participants in Bury P4.
Prompt boarding enabled an early start with coverage of carriage sidings 2 & 1 to the limit of stabled
stock. Belle Vue crossover onto the through siding followed, then the approach to Buckley Wells
C&W. Unfortunately the points and track are too tight for passenger stock beyond Belle Vue Terrace.
[BLN 1256] ABOVE: Ramsbottom; a train of domestic coal for Rawtenstall (Ian Mortimer 21 May 1975).
BELOW: The BLS 'Bury Bubble II' in the rare bay P1 at Bury Bolton Street (Kev Adlam 2 Apr 2016).
A short wait followed for the cameo appearance of 08479, which once attached, took the DMU for a
26ch run through to Castlecroft Slot via a photo stop in P3. Detaching the 'gronk', the DMU performed
the 'tunnel shuffle', so that all track and crossovers were covered ending in P4. After a short break
awaiting the service train, it was off to Rawtenstall non-stop (well nearly, there was one at
Ramsbottom's outer home signal until 33109 arrived). At Rawtenstall the normal (longer) platform was
covered to the buffer stops. Next was the run round loop, the 'van' headshunt next to the platform
(required by all traincrew on board so must have been good!), the bay platform and the recently
realigned signalbox headshunt. Excellent work and communication by all parties ensured all available
track was covered here within the tight timings, without holding up any other trains.
A genuine non-stop run was made back to Bury P2 for a well deserved lunch break and an opportunity
to visit Bury Transport Museum whilst an ECS shunt took place into P1. Controlled boarding (due to the
gaps between the train and the platform and the facing points halfway down it when accessing Bay
P1) meant an ECS shunt and passenger departure was the only way of securing this extremely rare
section of track. Departure via the Inner Curve to the Metrolink bridge for reversal via the Outer Curve
into P4 covered more elements of the quite complicated Bury station layout. The next couple of hours
were spent exploring Baron Street Yard south end with the focus on securing sections not covered on
the 2015 tour and repeating track as time allowed. Baron Street Road 7 was covered first, then Steam
Shed Road 5. The movement of 'Wells' in the morning enabled the DMU to run into the steam shed,
but only after the Guard (myself) had alighted. Due to volunteers working in the shed and the sighting
by the doors, the plan involved me walking by the side of the train to ensure a safe passage in and out
of the shed. Rapturous applause broke out once inside the shed, obviously a rare piece of track
gratefully appreciated by those on board (thankfully not required by the guard!) Other steam shed
apron roads were traversed in descending order to the maximum safe limits and then the same at
Baron Street Yard south end. Roads '0' and '-1' were not possible (unlike last year) due to point
problems. [No one was at all
disap-point-ed though on this
excellent trip, David - Ed.] Then
it was back to Bury P2 for a run
to Heywood, and the Hopwood
Ground Frame, noting the
former Heap Bridge paper mills
branch (left) after the M66
underbridge. (LEFT: Near the
NR boundary - Kev Adlam.) The
DMU returned via Heywood
Run Round Loop to Bury P3 for
a break before the finale.
Baron Street Yard North end
sidings were then covered from
Road 6 to 1, before arriving
back into Bury for the last time
and terminating in P4 where it
had all begun around 7 hours
and incredibly 32m 43ch
earlier. Another thoroughly
enjoyable and successful trip
which, in conjunction with our
2015 tour, has covered virtually
all available ELR track.
BLS BURY BUBBLE II - 2 Mar 2016
FROM: TO: MILES:
Carriage Siding No2
Bury Bolton Street P4 0m 13ch
Carriage Siding No2 Bury Bolton Street P4 0m 07½ ch
Carriage Siding No1 0m 12½ch
Bury Bolton Street P4 0m 04ch
Carriage Siding No1 Clear Crossover points, Bury South Box 0m 09½ch
Clear Crossover points, Bury South Box Through Siding, short of Baron Street LC 0m 05ch
Through Siding, short of Baron Street LC Through Siding, Bury South Signal Box 0m 04ch
Through Siding, Bury South Signal Box Buckley Wells Shed Stop Board 0m 10ch
Buckley Wells Shed Stop Board Castlecroft Access Line 0m 04ch
Castlecroft Access Line Clear Crossover Points, Bury Tunnel 0m 18ch
Clear Crossover Points, Bury Tunnel Ramsbottom Single Line, Arrival Signal 0m 12ch
Ramsbottom Single Line, Arrival Signal Bury Bolton Street P4 7m 68ch
Bury Bolton Street P4 Rawtenstall Main Platform End of Line (EOL) 0m 23½ch
Rawtenstall Main Platform End of Line Clear Crossover points, Rawtenstall Loop 0m 05ch
Clear Crossover points, Rawtenstall Loop Rawtenstall Van Siding 0m 20ch
Rawtenstall Van Siding Rawtenstall West Signal Box 0m 03ch
Rawtenstall West Signal Box Rawtenstall Bay Platform 0m 06½ch
Rawtenstall Bay Platform Rawtenstall Bay Headshunt 0m 11ch
Rawtenstall Bay Headshunt Clear Crossover Points, Rawtenstall Bay 0m 09ch
Clear Crossover Points, Rawtenstall Bay Bury Bolton Street P2 (then ECS shunt) 0m 03½ch
Bury Bolton Street P1 Metrolink Bridge, Heywood Single 0m 07ch
Metrolink Bridge, Heywood Single Bury Bolton Street P3 0m 07ch
Bury Bolton Street P3 Metrolink Connection, Temporary EOL 0m 11½ch
Metrolink Connection, Temporary EOL Baron Street Loco Road 7 0m 02ch
Baron Street Loco Road 7 Clear Points 0m 53½ch
Clear Points Baron Street Loco Shed Road 5
Baron Street Loco Shed Road 5 Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 4/6
Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 4/6 Baron Street Loco Road 6
Baron Street Loco Road 6 Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 4/6
Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 4/6 Baron Street Loco Road 4
Baron Street Loco Road 4 Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 1/6
Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 1/6 Baron Street Loco Road 3
Baron Street Loco Road 3 Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 2/3
Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 2/3 Baron Street Loco Road 2
Baron Street Loco Road 2 Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 1/3
Clear Points for Baron Street Rd 1/3 Baron Street Loco Road 1
Baron Street Loco Road 1 Baron Street Yard Road 3/4 Points
Baron Street Yard Road 3/4 Points Coaling Road EOL
Coaling Road EOL Baron Street Yard Road 3/4 Points
Baron Street Yard Road 3 / 4 Points Baron Street Yard Road 4 South End
Baron Street Yard Road 4 South End Metrolink Connection, Clear all pts
Metrolink Connection, Clear all pts Baron Street Yard Road 1 South End
Baron Street Yard Road 1 South End Clear Yard Road 2 Points
Clear Yard Road 2 Points Baron Street Yard Road 2 South End
Baron Street Yard Road 2 South End Metrolink Connection, Clear all pts
Metrolink Connection, Clear all pts Bury Bolton Street P2
Bury Bolton Street P2 Hopwood, ELR Limit of running 4m 44ch
Hopwood, ELR Limit of running Bury Bolton Street P3 4m 44ch
Bury Bolton Street P3 Baron Street Yard Road 6 0m 35ch
Baron Street Yard Road 6 Clear Yard Road 5/6 Points 0m 4½ch
Clear Yard Road 5/6 Points Baron Street Yard Road 5 0m 02ch
Baron Street Yard Road 5 Clear Yard Road 3/6 Points 0m 03½ch
Clear Yard Road 3 6 Points Baron Street Yard Road 4 North End 0m 05ch
Baron Street Yard Road 4 North End Clear All Yard Points 0m 08½ch
Clear All Yard Points Baron Street Yard Road 2 North End 0m 05½ch
Baron Street Yard Road 2 North End Clear Yard Road 1/2 Points 0m 03½ch
Clear Yard Road 1/2 Points Baron Street Yard Road 1 North End 0m 02ch
Baron Street Yard Road 1 North End Bury Bolton Street P4 0m 33½ch
BLS BURY BUBBLE II - 2 Mar 2016 GRAND TOTAL MILEAGE: 32m 23ch
BLN 1256.875] Malton Line Signal Boxes, 2
Apr: Eleven members convened at Malton
station then moved to its signal box for a short
welcome and briefing from Jeremy Jackson the
Local Operations Manager (LOM). In three sub-
groups Malton, Kirkham Abbey and Barton Hill
signal boxes were rotated between.
The beautiful (and rightfully Grade II listed)
North Eastern Railway Kirkham Abbey box
(ABOVE) is set in an idyllic valley, giving
fantastic views over the river and ruined abbey
as well as the trains. Kirkham Abbey was one
of 13 stations CP 22 Sep 1930 between York and Seamer to speed up services, leaving just Malton
open. The 21 miles to York then became the longest distance between adjacent passenger stations on
the same line in the British Isles. The signalling is very simple, with just eight working levers. Indeed, in
the Down direction there is only one stop signal (as opposed to separate Home and Starting signals).
The highlight was the level crossing gate wheel, an increasingly rare site these days. The signaller was
rightly very proud of his historic workplace, which won a National Railway Heritage award in 2011.
There are house martin nests ('real' and man-made nesting boxes) under the eaves.
Next was Malton (formerly Malton East box),
there is no longer a lever frame here and the
1966 Panel is showing its age, having faded
over the years and been subject to multiple
alterations. (LEFT: The 1966 station panel is on
the left; on the right is the 1993 panel when
the Heslerton/Rillington area was taken over,
with many crossings as can be seen). At first
sight, this looks like an NX (Entrance/Exit)
panel, with the typical clear-plastic buttons
along the route diagram. Appearances can be
deceptive, however; it is in fact an Individual
Function Switch (IFS) panel. The signaller has
to set every individual set of points using the
panel switches below the diagram. He can then clear signals by pressing the clear-plastic buttons along
the route. Malton station is unusual in now only having one platform despite being on a double-track
railway. Until 1966 there was an island platform but one of its faces served the other side of the track
to the residual platform. Instead of a footbridge or barrow crossing the North Eastern Railway installed
a removable section of level platform, in the form of a wheeled trolley running on rails set at right-
angles to the (single) running line. When a train had to use this track, the trolley was wheeled back
under the up (York) platform; the trolley was interlocked, with the signals giving access to the
platform. There was also an east-facing bay for Whitby and Driffield trains. All passenger trains now
stop (at similar times each hour both ways!). Up trains cross to the Down Line to serve the station, and
then cross back. This makes Malton quite a bottleneck, which may worsen when the additional hourly
service (committed by the new Northern Franchise) begins. (Further picture in regional section.)
Barton Hill (RIGHT) was a real step
back in time. Although the box itself
dates from the LNER era (1936), the
signaller told us that the block shelf
and instruments (BELOW) are much
older, originating from a previous box
at about the same location. Even the
beautifully varnished lectern (on
which the Train Register Box sits) is a
piece of history (BOTTOM). The
signallers are rightfully very proud of
this box and all the brass work had
been freshly polished in advance of
our visit. Another unusual (possibly
unique?) feature of this box is the
wheel-operated lifting barriers -
maybe the only example on NR?
ABOVE: Barton Hill frame and on the left the wheel that most unusually works the lifting barriers.
The final stop was Seamer (formerly Seamer East). This spacious 1910 box now houses a modern NX
panel dating from 2010 when Falsgrave box (near Scarborough station) closed. The signaller here
controls the main (York) line from a point just west of Seamer West Jn to Scarborough, including the
station area, and fringes to Bridlington on the Hull Line. Despite the modern equipment, the signaller
must still note train movements manually in a traditional Train Register Book. Although the road level
crossing at Seamer was replaced by a bridge several years ago, a foot crossing remains which is the
passengers' only access to the island platform. The signaller locks and unlocks these gates using new
controls mounted on the old level-crossing control pedestal. It had been intended to place these
controls on the panel itself but in the end it was decided that the pedestal location gave better views
of the crossing. In summary, this line retains a fascinating mix of old and new signalling. Many thanks
to LOM Jeremy Jackson, the staff who are clearly very proud of their railway and made us so welcome
and our Nick Garnham. Donations of £260 were shared between charities nominated by the signallers.
ABOVE TOP: The Bridlington line and Seamer station section of Seamer panel was installed in 2000
when the box (previously Seamer East) was refurbished and most of the front windows boarded over.
Seamer West signal box used to be next to it! ABOVE LOWER: The Scarborough station end which was
commissioned 1 Nov 2010 when Falsgrave signal box closed and the layout was altered.
BELOW: The Island platform at Seamer and signal box from the north (Scarborough) end, looking
south, the pedestrian access is the gate (released from the box) beneath the 'Way Out' sign involving
crossing the Down main line. (All pictures taken 2 Apr 2016 by Nick Jones who wrote the report.)
1256 HEAD LINES
876] Bournemouth, East Cliff Railway/Lift: (MR p34) CP during the morning of Sat 23 Apr 2016 when
cracks started to appear in the adjacent cliffs to the east. It was significantly damaged by a major
landslip at 5am the next morning. The 5'6" gauge line, built in 1908, is 170ft long with a gradient of 1 in
4.5 connecting East Overcliff Drive and Undercliff Drive at the end of Meyrick Road (SZ 0960 9096).
BELOW: The size and scale of the landslip, the car on the right was derailed. There was also a crush for
the toilets which were destroyed (bottom, right of centre). See http://goo.gl/Zc91mS (Bliss Aviation).
877] Fawkham Jn - Southfleet Jn: (BLN 1222.1784) 'Up & Down Waterloo Connection Lines' (6.03km).
Taken OOU from 23 Apr 2016 until further notice. All points at Fawkham Jn have been secured (clipped
and padlocked) for movements on the Up and Down Chatham line only. The conductor rail has been
isolated and buffer stops installed on both lines at that end. It is retained as a siding from the HS1
(Southfleet Jn) end and in use to securely store original Eurostar stock as their new trains arrive. There
is a double security fence. The final through train was UK Railtours 'Victoria Cross' Javelin tour on 15
Nov 2014 (tours also ran 21 Jun & 23 Aug 2014) by which time the WO regular route retention train
has ceased. See (BLN 1155.210) for a detailed account of the line. [Part of Channel Tunnel Rail Link
Phase 1, OP 28 Sep 2003, CP/CA 14 Nov 2007, RO (booked ECS only) 13 Dec 2009 and reportedly only
used by one diverted Javelin passenger service since Eurostar services transferred from Waterloo.]
878] Alton (NR) incl - Farnham (excl) & Bentley station: (BLN 1255.778) ROA 4 May after TCP/TCA 13
Apr 2016 (following the 20.44 departure to Waterloo) due to an unstable embankment (SU824452) at
Wrecclesham southwest of Farnham. Services terminated at Farnham (ECS shunt). Reinforcing piling
has been installed 8m into the ground on the north side of the embankment to stabilize it and the
single track slewed over to that side (Alton to Farnham was singled on 21 Jul 1985). The south side of
the embankment is to be completely rebuilt. Does anyone know if the realignment is just temporary?
BELOW: Site of the unstable embankment just south of Farnham with some metal piling. (Network Rail)
879A] Tottenham South Jn - South Tottenham East Jn & South Tottenham West Jn - Seven Sisters Jn:
Amending (BLN 153.553) TCP (to Feb 2017) after running 7 May 2016 then the weekly train, the 05.31
Liverpool St to Enfield Town EMU, runs non-stop via Stoke Newington due to T&H electrification work.
879B] Weymouth Quay (Tramway); Weymouth Quay station (169m 64ch) - Melcombe Regis Level
Crossing (168m 52ch): (BLN 1251.388) From 7 May 2016 the line is 'permanently OOU', Melcombe
Regis Level Crossing (168m 52ch) - Weymouth Jn (168m 35ch): Remains in use as an Engineers' Siding.
880] Haydock Branch Jn - Ashton-in Makerfield, Kelbit Siding Branch: (BLN 1231.697) ROG expected;
GBRf aggregate traffic from Shap. The line is being cleared and repaired; daily schedules are in the
system from 20 May (seven days a week). On 7 March 2015 the Pathfinder 'Lancashire Links' railtour
remarkably reached fairly dense vegetation near the headshunt end of line at 0m 53ch (SJ 5965 9867)
on the ex-St Helens Central branch (but not the sharply curved trailing branch off it back to the former
Kelbit Bitumen site which had a fence across it). Stone traffic was last reported in March 2010.
881] Midland Metro, Bull Street (SP 0714 8711) 20.13km (excl) - *Grand Central (SP 0695 8675)
20.62km and Snow Hill (St. Chad's) (SP 0680 8749) 19.30km & Corporation Street stops (SP 0710
8691) 20.43km: (Track plan BLN 1249.178) OP is expected Sun 22 May 2016 (the first service is from
Wednesbury Parkway) following successful first testing with a tram in the early hours of Sun 24 April
(the inbound line was used reversibly). Driver training is due to start on 8 May off peak after gaining
experience on the remarkably realistic Wednesbury Depot simulators. The following week the
proposed new timetable is due to be operated - ECS between Bull Street and Grand Central. *A long
headshunt for the second crossover extends to the west end of Stephenson St (SP 06828677). At
Grand Central, trams in service are due to set down passengers at the inbound platform (left), shunt
ECS beyond, reverse in the headshunt then pick up passengers at the outbound platform. It is thought
that public service trams might use 'other' crossover during the official opening ceremony with a tram
naming by Ozzy Osbourne (11.00 on 26 May) - presumably 'Queen' was already booked up that day!
882] Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, Glasgow Underground & all 15 stations: (BLN 1253.609)
TCP revised, now expected 2 to 31 Jul 2016 (incl) to replace the 37 year old crossovers, junction points
and Broomloan Depot ramp access tracks. These join the subway between Ibrox and Govan stations.
883] Hereford, Shelwick Jn - Great Malvern (exc), Ledbury and Colwall stations: TCP 18 to 22 June
2016 (incl) for work at Malvern Wells. A reduced and retimed passenger service is booked between
Worcester and Great Malvern station, with no ECS workings beyond. The schedule requires reversible
single line working between Newland East signal box and use of the exceptionally rare crossover
(renewed last June) there in passenger service. Some services are booked to wait at that signal box.
This is also booked to happen all day on 25 & 26 June; 2, 3 & 10 July.
884] Oxford (excl) - Didcot North Jn - Didcot East Jn and Didcot North Jn - Didcot West Curve Jn -
Chester Line Jn and Didcot West Curve Jn - Foxhall Jn (PSUL) and Radley, Culham & Appleford
stations: TCP/TCA part at least due Sat 30 July to Sun 14 Aug 2016 (incl) for flood prevention work on
400m of railway at Hinksey. Track level will be significantly raised and a culvert installed to equalise
water levels. This is part of general flood prevention work in the south Oxford area. Freight trains
should serve Appleford terminal from the south and (some of the time) Hinksey Yard from the north.
885] Kennington Jn - Cowley Car Terminal: TCA expected 30 Jul to 14 Aug 2016 (due to previous item).
886] Hanborough (excl) - Oxford (incl): TCP/TCA expected Wed 3 to Sun 7 Aug (incl) for bridge repair
work. There will be no passenger trains at all at Oxford because Leamington Spa to Oxford is also TCA
(30 Jul to 7 Aug) for the Banbury resignalling 'blockade' (BLN 1252.444) and the line to Didcot (above).
887] Wintersett sidings and loading pad (Anglers Coal Disposal Point): (SE 392167) (171m 07ch)
Between Hare Park Jn and South Kirkby Jn. Originally provided 24 Jan 1992 for open cast coal traffic,
they were little used and OOU by December 2000 but remain in situ. Outward coal (three to five trains
weekly) is expected from nearby Crofton Co-op Colliery; a workers' co-operative setting up a new drift
mine to the Sharlston Top Coal Seam. Equipment from Hatfield and Kellingley mines is being reused.
ABOVE: The sidings recently; 16+ years of vegetation growth had been cleared. LEFT: Looking towards
Wakefield and Leeds (main line on right). RIGHT: In the opposite direction towards Doncaster. (Stibz)
888] Parkside Jn - Lowton Jn - Golborne Jn: Currently used by TPE EMUs between Manchester and
Glasgow/Edinburgh via Wigan NW; most of these are expected to revert to the Bolton route next year
on electrification. There may then be a period of limited use but in 2019 the new Northern franchise is
expected to start a service between Manchester Airport, Wigan and Barrow/Windermere this way.
1256 BLN GENERAL
889] Points & Slips: BLN 1255.752] On Nottingham NET, University Boulevard Loop is long enough to
hold two trams. The 'long (facing) crossover' for turnbacks at Beeston Central is long so that a tram
can be stabled on it. 758] The first picture (Sherwood Forest Railway) in e-BLN attributed to John
Cameron, was actually taken by Simon Mortimer. 766] Loco 66023 (not 60023) took the final sand
train to Dow Corning Works at Barry Docks on 18 Dec 2015. 767] The very short term resumption of
traffic (since ceased again) on the Greenburn branch was actually from 15 Feb 2016 rather than 13th;
this was corrected in e-BLN. 781] On Sunday 28 April, the 16.15 train from Stratford paused at the new
Lea Bridge station, the driver actually announced this and that alighting wouldn't be possible. The
16.44 from Tottenham Hale to Stratford ran through non-stop. 801] Well done to the solitary member
who reported on the London Tramlink track plan that 'Birbeck' tram stop and NR station should have
been Birkbeck. It was not a 'deliberate' Ordnance Survey type map 'error' to protect copyright!
1256 EAST MIDLANDS
890] Scunthorpe: Tata Steel UK has signed an agreement to sell its Long Products Europe business to
investment firm Greybull Capital (GC) for £1. Greybull will take over the whole business, assets and
debts, and secure an appropriate funding package. It is subject to a range of conditions including
transfer of contracts, certain government approvals and the satisfactory completion of financing
arrangements. GC is expected to invest £400M in the business and revive the 'British Steel' brand.
Scunthorpe is due to supply 95% of the rail and steel sleeper plate required by NR during CP5 and for
Crossrail. In 2014-15 Tata Steel UK Ltd was NR's 15th largest supplier by spend at £98M. The Long
Products Europe business employs 4,400 people in the UK and includes Immingham Bulk terminal.
891] Melton Mowbray: At 05.14 on Thur 14 April the 00.51 Warrington Arpley to Middleton Towers
train of empty sand wagons failed on the Up Main, fortunately adjacent to Brentingby Up Goods Loop.
Passenger trains to Oakham ran via the loop until 08.20, unusually involving running beneath a crane.
892] Market Harborough - Northampton: (BLN 1253.562): Pitsford & Brampton: The 'Brampton Halt'
pub incorporates the former Stationmaster's House. The site of the original station building is beneath
the present station approach road. Oxendon and Kelmarsh Tunnels: Neither was lit at Easter (or on
our 2012 BLS walk), although they could be cycled through. Oxendon was definitely lit a few years ago.
893] Ilkeston: (BLN 1255.792) Derbyshire County Council expects the new station, between Millership
Way and Coronation Road, to open in the autumn. To ensure it is built the council has had to increase
its capital contribution to £3.1M, including a risk allowance. Newt removal (Newtering?) cost £74k!
1256 GREATER LONDON
894] RDIC (Melton) ATO: (BLN 1239.1548) (Continued from BLN 1255.798) This line, previously known
as the Old Dalby Test Track, is now being used to test Automatic Train Operation (ATO) for LU. A new
'S' Stock train with only test mileage (never having worked in passenger service) is used. In July 2015
Thales were awarded a contract to resignal the four LU Sub-Surface lines (the Hammersmith & City,
Metropolitan, District and Circle) using Communications Based Train Control. This has almost no line
side signals although they are retained on shared lines (e.g. with Chiltern, the Richmond branch, the
Piccadilly line between Uxbridge and Rayners Lane, also the Wimbledon branch). Trains communicate
with the control room and the train operators' instructions appear on their cab control desks.
There is an ATO system on the Jubilee and Northern lines using inductive track loops, which is working
well. The sub-surface system will be similar but more advanced, using radio instead. Unattended Train
operation is not intended. Trains drive themselves to the next station and stop at a precise point on
the platform, but there is no plan to run without a train operator, who would still control the doors
and be able to drive the train manually if needed. ATO controls train speed allowing for both
permanent restrictions such as junctions, jointed track or curvature and temporary restrictions such as
track problems. It is being tested and upgraded in Leicestershire without any disruption in London.
The Sub Surface Lines are over 40% of the Underground system, 314km of track, 102 stations, some
complex flat junctions and lines shared with NR. Significant track alterations are being made in
advance, such as the useful new scissors at King's Cross and crossover at Paddington; but some think
that too many emergency facilities are also being taken out. Track transponders, which the trains use
to establish their location, will be installed every 25 metres in most areas (50 - 75 metres where safety
distances allow). Radio transmitters also need to be fitted so that train radios work in the tunnels.
The objective is to increase capacity, therefore third rail voltage supplies will be upgraded from 630 to
750V DC (eventually thought to be intended for all lines) needing additional feeder stations. The final
'S' Stock will be delivered this summer, but trains will later return to Bombardier at Derby Litchurch
Lane for signalling equipment to be installed. The first 53 trains are due to be completed by February
2018 and all 192 trains by September (requiring a train to return to Derby almost every working day!).
Commissioning will be in 14 'migration areas'. The initial conversion is the Hammersmith branch
followed by the northern side of the Circle. The latest target is for the full Sub Surface network to be
on ATO by the end of 2020 when capacity can begin to be increased. With ATO, trains can run at
100km/ hour but are limited to 72km/hour when driven manually. At slower speeds, trains can be as
little as 50 metres apart (useful for faster recovery after an incident), a bit like 'managed motorways';
higher speeds require a longer distance between trains for safety. This is still 'work in progress'; safety
distance calculations are like signalling overlap calculation and consider the worst case scenario in a
similar manner. With trains running closer together, 32tph can be run as on the Victoria Line now
(soon to be 36tph). The current maximum on the busiest part of the Circle Line is 27tph in the peaks.
895] King's Cross Met cutting edge : (BLN 1248.54) With the new Working Timetable, the 'rusty
rail' working over one side of the scissors crossover 'switches' to early mornings from 16 May. Trains
200 SSuX and 217 SO at 04.51 from Goldhawk Road arrive in P1 at 05.14. Micro-gricing members will
find it easier to do during the periodic engineering possessions east of here, when the other side of the
scissors crossover will also be available. The next chance to scissor at King's Cross Met is due 4/5 June.
896] 'South Greenford West Perivale': (BLN 1254.666) A member reports that the new signs went up
well before he ceased to use the line regularly in April 2014. At the end of last year the Down platform
shelter was fenced off and had been removed by the end of February. Our member presumes that this
was because of the condition of the timbers on which it sat. These have had a good innings as they
came second hand from Trumpers Crossing on the Brentford branch which was open between 1904
and 1926! The Up platform was replaced in the 1990s after a bank slip closed the Up line and platform.
897] Victoria Line: (BLN 1239.1555) Following the upgrade of the crossovers outside Walthamstow
Central, a new WTT will be introduced on 15 May. Apart from trains going in and out of service, all
trains will run through to Walthamstow Central, with trains now timed to the nearest five seconds!
36tph is not yet achieved in the peaks, but trains will be scheduled every 145 seconds, which equates
to just over 34tph. The standard off-peak service seven days a week remains every 2¼ minutes (nearly
27tph), but now applies throughout the line. A new 'evening peak' service has been introduced SO,
with trains every 2 minutes (30tph). Due to these changes the staff train service to Northumberland
Park depot generally operates as a shuttle to and from P4 at Seven Sisters.
898] Streatham: There was a three-day May Day Bank Holiday line closure for resignalling. From 3 May
control of the signalling between Balham Jn (excl) and Thornton Heath (excl), Tulse Hill (excl) and
Mitcham Eastfields (excl) also Streatham South Jn and Haydons Road (excl) was transferred from
Victoria Area Signalling Centre at Clapham Junction to a new Streatham Workstation at Three Bridges
ROC. Axle Counters replace track circuits and the old signals have been replaced by new LED signals in
similar locations. These retain their previous numbers, but the prefix has changed from 'VC' to 'TVC'.
899] Crossrail: (BLN 1254.662) On 3 May Southall East Jn trailing crossover (Down to Up Relief Lines)
was brought back into use. It remains blocked to electric traction, as OHL work is not yet complete.
900] HS2: (BLN 1250.246) Camden Council remains unhappy over the design of Euston station and
compensation for residents affected by construction work. It will submit a petition to the House of
Lords, who will debate the HS2 Bill recently passed in the Commons. (Rail Technology Magazine)
901] London Overground: (BLN 1255.787) Arriva Rail London Ltd is the new TOC from 13 Nov 2016.
902] And finally…Waterloo: (BLN 1254.670) The owner of a Weybridge insurance company has come
up with a scheme called 'Southern Crossrail'. Costed at £5bn and supposedly generating benefits of
more than that in its first year, this involves track through four platforms extended across the
concourse to link with the South Eastern route from Charing Cross. Waterloo East station would be
demolished and trains would continue to Hayes, Dartford and Sevenoaks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a NR
spokesman is quoted as saying 'it is far from clear that any possible benefits would justify the
significant expense and disruption that such a scheme would give rise to'. (getSurrey website)
1256 NORTH WEST
903] Rochdale: (BLN 1246.2204) New bay (P4) was to be commissioned from 9 May but not used by
passenger trains yet. It is accessed by facing points in the Down Rochdale line at 10m 15ch; egress is by
trailing points in the 'Up Rochdale' at 10m 19ch, they join as part of the new Rochdale West Jn at the
end of the bay P4 line (10m 20ch). There are significant signalling alterations in the area controlled by
Rochdale West signal box (code 'TH' does anyone know why?) actually at Castleton (!) between 9m
27ch (fringes with Castleton East box) and 13m 54ch (Littleborough) fringing with Preston PSB. Some
3-aspect signals are upgraded to (plus additional), 4-aspect signals - the last is controlled from Preston.
904] Merseyside/Halton Curve: (BLN 1255.805) On 15 April the Liverpool City Combined Authority
approved the full business case for the Halton Curve scheme with an initial hourly Liverpool to Chester
service and later extensions into Wales in collaboration with the Welsh Government. Services should
be included in the forthcoming revised Wales and Borders franchise which begins on 14 Oct 2018.
Over 200,000 extra journeys are expected between Liverpool and Chester alone. This approval
releases £10.4M of Government funding for the scheme. The Authority also agreed to develop
proposals that would result in the region taking greater control of Merseyrail stations.
905] Fleetwood branch: (BLN 1224.M4198) A local group has been set up by the Town Council to look
at plans to reopen the railway. It CP 1 Jun 1970 (Poulton-le-Fylde - Wyre Dock renamed 'Fleetwood'
when the line beyond CP 18 April 1966). 'Fleetwood Back on Track' recently had its inaugural meeting
to discuss how a detailed business plan can be put together. As well as the Town Council, Poulton &
Wyre Railway Society (PWRS), Wyre Council, Lancashire County Council, NR and Natural Energy Wyre,
the company behind the Wyre Barrage plans, were present. The session looked at whether the group
should support PWRS plans for a heritage railway which could later be linked to the national network,
or alternative options. The group backed the heritage plans, which are already in progress. Details
http://www.pwrs.org/ showing PWRS progress, plans, historical background and pictures.
906] Manchester: The Ian Allan bookshop and model railway store just outside Manchester Piccadilly
closes on 30 June after 22 years. This is due to the expiry of the shop unit's lease and failure to agree
an acceptable rent with the landlord. The Ian Allan Birmingham and London shops will remain open.
907] Oldham/Royton: April 16 was the 50th anniversary of the 1966 closure of Oldham Central station
and also the Royton branch. The latter was 1¼ miles long with a single lengthy 8-coach platform at the
terminus. Royton Junction station then remained open but a Society member was the final passenger
to alight on its closure day, Friday May 8 1987. The ticket clerk at Oldham Mumps was most reluctant
to issue him with a single ticket saying 'you don't need one as it closes today'. However, our member
succeeded in badgering him to write a paper ticket with the correct destination and date.
908] Heywood: (BLN 1253.582) Various organisations were well represented at the successful 175th
anniversary celebration of the Castleton to Heywood line, OP 15 Apr 1841. East Lancashire Railway
president Pete Waterman spoke of his pride in British steam railway expertise. Event organiser Keith
Whitmore also spoke of the day, hopefully soon to come, when the ELR extends to its own station at
Castleton. The whole party boarded a special train, with West Country class pacific steam locomotive
'City of Wells' (seen in steam on the ELR during our railtour of 2 April) for a return journey to Bury.
X.53] ABOVE: A train of empty domestic coal wagons on a return trip working from Rawtenstall to
Dewsnap Yard on the Castleton North Jn to Castleton South Jn curve awaiting the signal for the main
line towards Manchester. This section was once double track and is now (2016) unidirectional in this
direction; it crosses the Down Main but has no running connection with it. The coal train ran until
December 1980 and used to have a brakevan at each end. A Manchester University brake van trip on
21 May 1975 at which time an average of nine wagons were carried (range 2-15). (Ian Mortimer)
909] Oxenholme: The WCML was closed over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend from 05.15
Saturday to 11.00 Monday for stage 6 (of 12) of the remodelling work. A new trailing crossover (Down
to Up Main) for trains heading south from P3 (the Windermere branch) or P2 was installed (OOU). It is
due to be commissioned over 21/22 May. The Up line point is 343yd nearer Carlisle, and in the Down
line only 247yds nearer, 'stretching' the crossover and easing the curvature, which may allow a higher
permitted speed. Previous work has resulted in both the Down and the Up Goods Loops being taken
temporarily OOU; the removal of the two non-electrified sidings at the north end of the latter and new
overhead line supports being fitted. The Up loop is being extended at the north end with access points
that will permit trains to enter the loop at higher speed. The Down Goods Loop is to become the Down
Windermere line, but retains a connection back to the Down main so it can be used as a loop. Then it
runs through the separate west arch of the Oxenholme Road B6254 overbridge just south of the
station (19m 00ch). Therefore through branch trains will be able to run directly into Oxenholme P3
which is being electrified (to its north end) ready for eventual electrification to Windermere. All branch
trains have to stop at P3 to collect the single line 'token' (a substantial piece of ironwork which looks
just like an old car starting handle!). There used to be a second connection to the branch, at the
Carlisle end of the station, but P2 was extended north over its trackbed some years ago.
Oxenholme Jn is currently 'approach control'; 100mph Class 185 DMUs for the branch from the south
are signalled down to a red that then cleared for a 10mph run into P3. This is from the days when it
was mostly a self-contained shuttle and the main line considerably quieter. The new layout will have
40mph points and flashing yellow signalling into the Down Windermere line and also retain the
existing connection onto the branch directly from the Down Main. The new points for this will permit
25mph instead of 10mph now. The signalling already allows a full length Pendolino from the south to
reverse in P2 and use the crossover off the Windermere branch on departure, which did happen a few
years ago when an hourly service was provided. This is to be retained in the new layout
1256 NORTH EAST
910] Shildon & West Auckland: (See map below which is thanks to Dave Cromarty and Geoff Blyth.)
The Butterknowle (Haggerleases until 1 Sep 1899) branch was one of the earliest off the Stockton &
Darlington Railway (S&DR). It OG from just west of West Auckland to Lands (Cockfield Fell) 1 May
1830, extending to Butterknowle 1 Oct 1830. A passenger service to Lands started in 1858 but was
reduced to ThSO (market days) on the opening of the nearby South Durham & Lancashire Union
Railway - see below and CP in 1872. The Brusselton inclines were bypassed when the 'Tunnel' branch
(which did not pass through Shildon tunnel!) was OG 13 Sep 1856 and OP 13 Oct 1858 between
Shildon North and West Auckland. A passenger service was provided between Bishop Auckland and
West Auckland by this route, reversing at Shildon North, until two sections of the South Durham &
Lancashire Union Railway opened from Bishop Auckland East to Fieldon Bridge Jn and from Spring
Gardens Jn to Barnard Castle East (OG 1 Feb 1863; OP 1 Aug 1863).
The last passenger train over the Shildon North to Fieldon Bridge curve was almost certainly the
'Durham' railtour http://goo.gl/thzZIA on 13 Oct 1962, which reversed in West Auckland Colliery.
Bishop Auckland to Barnard Castle CP (CA west of Spring Gardens Jn) 18 Jun 1962. The Butterknowle
branch CA west of Randolph Colliery Ground Frame 30 Sep 1963. Randolph Colliery closed 17 Feb
1962 but traffic continued on the branch to serve Randolph Coke Ovens until 13 Sep 1968. The 'South
Durham Limited' brake van tour http://goo.gl/AXwBO6 (BLN 1251.359) visited the branch on 23 May
1964. It took the direct curve from Stooperdale Jn to Charity Jn (OG 8 Aug 1861, CA 12 Dec 1966), thus
avoiding Darlington North Road station en route from Forcett to Randolph Coke Ovens. It then
propelled the 5 miles or so back to Shildon North to continue to Tow Law, in spite of not propelling
the mere ½ mile to Forcett Goods earlier in the day! Fieldon Bridge Jn to Bishop Auckland East CA 12
Apr 1965 and the branch was severed at Shildon North on 19 May 1969.
A member visited this area in March 2015. West Auckland station has been completely demolished
but the red brick station house is still inhabited. Looking east, the diverging trackbeds are visible, left
towards Bishop Auckland (walkable) and right (via a removed bridge over the River Gaunless) to
Brusselton incline on the original S&DR route. Evenwood, a substantial two storey building with a
platform, is a private house approached up a long drive. Cockfield is about a mile from the village. It
still looks like a station, with a platform edge behind a low wall. It is a private house as is the adjacent
former station house. A small, red-brick goods shed with a sliding door survives at Butterknowle. It has
the look of an NER structure rather than an S&DR original from the late 1820s. It is not obvious what it
is now used for. For further information http://goo.gl/1y5oXH pictures and an annotated modern OS
map which can be scrolled (be sure to look at part 2 by clicking the link at the bottom of that page).
BLN 1256.X.54] Boldon, Port of Tyne Authority Branch: (TRACKmaps 2 p49A Sept 2006) ABOVE: On
19 Apr 2016, alterations to the layout to accommodate the new Biomass loading facility for
Lynemouth Power Station traffic. The new road going in to the coal yard; in the middle distance to the
right the blue shed is the former unloading house (with a train on the line) reminding us that the
facility was originally built to export UK coal! BELOW: The new road comes in from the right; the
course of the old road used to run up the right hand side of the tarmac, paralleling the one with the
wagons (left). The loading bunker is for imported coal. (Ian Hughes) (Compare with e-BLN 1254.672.)
911] Tyne & Wear Metro: All 28 escalators installed when the system was built in the 1970s and early
1980s have now been replaced. This started with the Haymarket rebuilding in 2009 and covers Regent
Centre, Four Lane Ends, Monument, Central, Gateshead, St James, Manors and Heworth. The newer
1997 escalator from the ticket concourse at Central to the main station will be replaced with the
ongoing refurbishment there. As part of the modernisation programme all Metro platform lifts have
also been replaced. (Cue revisit by those members who do station lifts and escalators.)
1256 SOUTH EAST – NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
912] March in April: The crossover southeast of March, in the Up Main (adjacent to the signal box)
giving access to the Up Goods Loop (Up Goods No1 on TRACKmaps Sept 2006) was renewed on 17
April. It and the crossover from the Up Goods Loop to the Up Main were secured OOU until 16 May.
913] Soham: (BLN 1248.75) Cambridgeshire County and East Cambridgeshire District Councils have
jointly commissioned a GRIP 3 feasibility study from NR for a new station. This is due to be completed
by early 2017 to assess what is required to deliver an economically viable station, which meets the
requirements of both the authorities that have long campaigned for it. The Soham Railway Station
Joint Project Group, (six elected members and representatives from Soham Town Council and the
Local Enterprise Partnership) will help to build a strong case to show how a service would be used.
914] Cambridge North: (BLNs 1254.687 & 1255.772) (Or Cambridge Science Park/Interchange; name
undecided!) The station is delayed until May 2017, but two new separate purpose-built aggregates
unloading facilities for DB Cargo (DBC) and Freightliner Heavy Haul (FHH); still known as 'Chesterton
Redland Siding' OG on 2 April. The relocation was to accommodate the new station. Regular DBC
hauled Mountsorrel aggregates workings resumed following a long hiatus while the new unloading
facilities were constructed, track and signalling installed and commissioned. These are 'Tarmac' on the
plan above which is thanks to Martyn Brailsford and Ian Delgado. This has probably resulted in the end
of the Lafarge (formerly Redland) self-discharge train on this working. Recently it has been seen with
new grey bogie wagons. So far, the FHH facility (FL on plan) has not yet been used.
P3 will be built as a bay rather than a through line, but signalling changes on the Up Main north of
Chesterton Jn sidings (58m 30ch) have made the Down Main bi-directional through the new station in
using the crossovers each end of Chesterton Yard. From 9 May, facing points for the new bay P3 are to
be provided and the Yard's London end connection to the Down Line brought back into use. The
trailing crossover at Chesterton Jn (57m 54ch) to the Up Line remains OOU.
915] Newmarket: Railfuture East Anglia and the Mid Anglia Rail Passengers Association report success
in bringing together local bodies to promote improvements here; a town of over 20,000 people.
Recently completed works are two fully enclosed quality shelters, a new train VDU departure board, a
ticket machine and signs to show that the town is the 'home of British horse racing'. A half-hourly train
service is also sought. Of note is that Warren Hill tunnel between Newmarket and Chippenham Jn is
the longest on the former GER at 1,100 yd, although East Anglia is not noted for railway tunnels!
916] Kelvedon: (BLN 1255.815) The station has a quite large, modern, glass fronted building with
pitched roof facing the Up platform, but only minimalist shelters on the Down side. From the lofty
concrete footbridge at the east end, a good view may be had of the totally overgrown jungle* where
once was located Kelvedon (low level) station, starting point for the Kelvedon & Tollesbury Light
Railway. The passenger service breathed its last in May 1951 (final train Sat 5 May, there is an
excellent photo of the low level station on p392 of Railway Magazine June 1951 – Regional Editor).
Goods services ran to Tiptree until CG (CA) 1 Oct 1962, mainly, if not entirely, serving the Wilkins jam
factory. On 29 Dec 1978, bus operator G W Osborne issued our member with some choice Bell Punch
tram type tickets for journeys between Witham station, Kelvedon, Tiptree and Tollesbury and back to
Kelvedon station. Now the bus stop and timetable at Kelvedon station makes no mention of public
transport to Tiptree or Tollesbury. On his August 1995 visit he did manage to photograph the stumps
of Tollesbury Pier GER, CP (CA) 17 Jul 1921 from a boat in the River Blackwater. (*It was thus when
first visited by your Regional Editor in the late 1960s, but the formation at low level curving away from
the main line was clearly visible, though for only a few metres before vanishing into the back garden of
one of a series of smart new houses. Intriguingly the resident at that time had on display an enamelled
BR station running in board and other smaller items, though where from is unknown.)
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT (1): Kelvedon high level station (Great Eastern) footbridge sign.
(2) TOP RIGHT: The low level (Tollesbury branch) platform looking south towards the end of line.
(3) LOWER RIGHT: A similar view to top right but taken further back; signal box on the left and the
incline connecting to the high level line off right, note the double slip. (4) LOWER LEFT: The low level
platform, looking north toTollesbury (signal box is 'distant' (!) right). MAP BELOW LEFT: Kelvedon area,
the incline was used by freight only. MAP BELOW RIGHT: Note lengthy Tollesbury Pier branch.
917] Marks Tey: This is a staffed station with a modern glass fronted station building above platform
level on the Up side and a very basic platform canopy at the east end of the same platform, facing the
junction with the Sudbury branch (formerly to Cambridge/Bury St Edmunds). In the 'V' of the Down
side and the Sudbury platform is a rectangular brick GER building used only for staff purposes. Your
Regional Editor here seeks local information. The station house on the Up side was one of a sequence
known as the '1865 design', survivors of which have listed status. This was the only one of which he is
aware that was on the main line, others being at Lavenham and Welnetham also on the lines between
Sudbury and Pampisford, also Leyton to Ongar, and Braintree to Dunmow, perhaps 25 examples in
total. When he photographed the Marks Tey house in the 1970s (BELOW: Julian James), it was already
encroached upon by raised road development. From the non-stop trains it is now difficult to say
whether any of it remains next to the modern building. Has it survived? The curving Sudbury branch
platform has been twice reduced in length, but before was accessible by a path, one of two, from near
the London end of the Down platform running nearly at right angles.
BLN 1256.918] Banbury: (BLN 1248.67) When the new Chiltern Banbury Depot site was observed on
22 April, all remaining brickwork and stone of the old steam sheds (and pits) had been removed from
the ongoing earthworks and piled up. It seems the new shed will be a totally separate construction.
919] Oxford: (BLN 1251.37) The parcels vans which had graced the east Dock for many years had gone
by 29 April in connection with remodelling for the Chiltern service. From 4 May the route from the Up
Carriage Siding north end headshunt to siding No1 was temporarily removed. The hand points have
been secured allowing access between head shunt and sidings 2-4, not affecting the running lines.
ABOVE: 18 Mar 2016, the parcels vans (since removed) at Oxford station. The near platform (bottom
left) is bay P3 which becomes P2 from 15 May with the new timetable. The one opposite will be the
new P1 (another bay); on line systems shows booked passenger arrivals and departures from 15 May!!
ABOVE: (BLN 1251.376) The shortened Oxford bay P3 for work in connection with Chiltern extending
services here from Oxford Parkway (currently expected from December). Through (Up) P1 is on the
right. From 15 May previous P3 becomes P2, former P2 becomes P4 and P1 becomes the new P3!
920] Luton: The airport plans to build a 2.2km, £200M light rail link to Luton Airport Parkway to
replace the bus shuttle. The 24-hour, automated light-rail link would make the fastest complete
journey from Luton Airport to St Pancras in under 30 minutes, less than for Gatwick, the airport claims,
including 5 minutes on the new link. It will be funded by Luton Borough Council, which owns the
airport freehold. The station is almost adjacent to the airport perimeter but about 40m below it,
making a fixed rail link difficult to build. The station terminus is planned to be at a level above the
platforms and on land already owned by the council.
Arup will undertake the design and procurement and a planning application is to be made in autumn
for work to begin in 2017. The preferred route would start at the Stirling Place commercial
development and multi-storey car park, run alongside the Midland Main Line, cross over Airport Way
Road and pass through the mid-term car park to reach the central airport terminal. Luton Airport is
spending a further £110M on redeveloping its terminals and layout to expand capacity to 18M
passengers a year by 2020.
921] 'The extension now arriving on Platform 2'...: NR has awarded Hochtief a contract to extend
Great Western Thames Valley station platforms. The £23M contract covers Paddington to Newbury,
Oxford and branches. Up to 43 platforms need to be extended to cope with 12-car Class 365 and 387
EMUs on regular and diversionary routes. Work is expected to be completed in phases by June 2017.
922] Swindon: (BLN 1231.775) The 30ft long Swindon Panel was transported to its new home at Didcot
Railway Centre over the weekend of 2/3 April. It closed on 20 February, ironically with control
transferred to Didcot Thames Valley Signalling Centre (the end of 150 years of signalling control in
Swindon). NR sold it for £1 to the Swindon Panel Society, who intend to wire it up to a computer
simulation mimicking real-life train movements. It will be part of a wider attraction based on signalling
and train control in a new purpose-built building. The panel had been raised off the floor then was
lifted on a harness through the roof onto a trailer. Swindon Panel Signal Box first opened on 3 Mar
1968, eventually covering an area controlled by thirty-two mechanical lever-frame signal boxes.
1256 SOUTH EAST – SOUTH
923] Redhill: From 26 April Redhill Up Yard, comprising Up Siding No2, the Goods Loop and the Snow
Plough siding together with all their connections, points within the yard and associated signalling were
due to be secured OOU pending abolition and hoardings erected across it for construction work.
924] Getting Cross Over Tinsley in West Sussex: The BLS contingent visiting the incredible Three
Bridges Area Signalling Centre late afternoon on Saturday 30 April, discovered first hand that due to a
track fault Gatwick Airport P4 was OOU. This had been since the 06.14 Littlehampton to London Bridge
had used it that morning; it would be repaired overnight. Meanwhile south of Gatwick Airport, trains
through P4 at Three Bridges were taking the very rare 'flight' of crossovers at Tinsley Green Jn from
the Up Fast to the Up Slow. Participants then knew exactly which trains to take back to London and
several were on the 16.47 to London Bridge. This did the required crossovers calling at Gatwick Airport
P1 then crossed back from Up Slow to Up Fast at Earlswood South Jn to take the booked 'Quarry Line'.
925] Sittingbourne: (BLN 1252.476) On 2 May at Eastern Jn (west of the station), the OOU points at
44m 50ch were to be removed and plain lined with OOU No1 Siding and trap points removed.
1256 SOUTH WEST
926] Severn Beach: (BLN 1255.823) The SITA terminal pointwork was installed over the weekend of
9/10 April with Severn Bridge services suspended. The 'electronic ground frame' was to be installed on
25 April. Correspondents are invited to remind readers when freight last ran through Clifton Down.
X.55] A Room With a View: ABOVE: Bristol Temple Meads from the Ibis Hotel looking south showing
the train shed and how much the platforms curve - hence the need to reopen the straight terminal
platforms to accommodate the long Hitachi Super Express Train coaches. (David Guy 3 May 2016).
X.56] ABOVE: (BLN 1251.424) In the rain on Mon 2 May, the line up of HSTs at Bristol St Philips Marsh Depot
open day, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their entry in to passenger service. Suggestions for a collective
noun of HSTs welcome (and not the old chestnut a postponement of trains either please!). (David Guy)
927] Portishead: (BLN 1251.386) North Somerset Council has purchased the final parcels of land
enabling work on both Portishead and Pill stations to proceed. The location of the new (in fact the
third) Portishead station has been subject to considerable public consultation, and will now result in
the line terminating some way from both the 1867 and 1954 sites, though nearer to the extensive new
housing development around the harbourside. The additional land at Pill station will allow access to
the planned single platform, on the site of the former Down platform (ST 5241 7601) from the same
side, a footbridge having to be constructed and maintained at the station entrance.
928] Electrification proceeds west: Work is due to begin on digging foundations for overhead line
equipment between South Marston and Royal Wootton Bassett. Wiltshire County Council and Swindon
Borough Council are managing noise reduction during the works which pass through significant
residential areas around Swindon. The line from Didcot to Bristol Parkway is scheduled to be wired by
December 2018, with then Wootton Bassett Jn to Bristol TM between April 2019 and April 2020.
BELOW: Also at St Philips Marsh open day, 43002 masquerading as 253001 in the original BR 'Inter-City
125' livery was, during the day, re-named 'Sir Kenneth Grange' by the man himself, HST style designer.
43002 was once 'Top of The Pops' and then (with a '?' not a 'q') (David Guy).
BLN 1256.929] Retirement Home for BLS Members? Sandford station Heritage Centre on the former
Cheddar Valley Line, Station Rd, Sandford, BS25 5AA http://goo.gl/dTTRcS (ST 4161 5957) is open to
the public from 11.00 (last admission 16.00) weekends until 30 Oct & Mon 29 Aug. The buildings, at
the heart of a retirement village, have been carefully restored by the site's new owners. Various
railway vehicles are on site, including a newly restored 1940's Sentinel (No3) shunting engine from
Tytherington Quarry donated by Hanson on track, a coach and goods wagons. A museum has
interesting artefacts relating to the line. The Centre provides a welcome refreshment break walking
the Strawberry Line footpath from Yatton station to Cheddar (9¾ miles). Admission is free but
donations are welcome.
930] Bristol-Bath: On Sun 8 May, Single Line Working is expected on Down Main between North
Somerset Jn and Bathampton Jn from 07.40 to 09.20. The Down Main is reversibly signalled from
Bristol East Jn, meaning use of the facing crossover at North Somerset Jn is also possible. The following
are booked on the Down Main and expected to use the trailing crossover at Bathampton Jn: 07.38 and
08.08 Bristol Temple Meads to Paddington and 08.19 Weston-super-Mare to Paddington
1256 WEST MIDLANDS
931] Bromsgrove: Down siding No1 (55m 57ch) was taken OOU and removed from 23 April. The new
station, 200m south of the old one, was almost complete on 21 April including platform name boards.
932] Shrewsbury: (BLN 1222.1825) During our signal box visits on 9 April the Down Main (middle road
between P3&4) was still OOU, as for around two years now, with a section lifted over part of the brick
viaduct. This causes difficulties operating the station at times, particularly in the morning peak. In June
structural work is due to begin. It is not known exactly what work is required until the P3 track and
more of the platform (to be permanently shortened at the south end) is removed for investigation.
Some of the brick arches beneath are bowing; structural work and waterproofing are anticipated. The
reversible P3 line now has a more restricted Route Availability, therefore Margam to Dee Marsh steel
trains must run through P4. A morning train runs (SSuX) most days and occasionally an afternoon one.
P3 will be disconnected at the south end during the work and operated as a 'bay' from the north.
BLN 1256.933] Midland Metro: The first tram to operate from battery power will be converted at
CAF's plant in Spain. Once successfully completed and tested the other 20 will be converted at
Wednesbury Depot. The cost is reportedly 'not finalised' but £3.15M is coming from the Greater
Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and £1M from industry association UKTram. The
present (normal) tram batteries are reportedly not very good (the exact word is not suitable for BLN!)
and drain heavily during a reboot (taking 6-7 minutes); only two are normally made out of the depot.
X.57] BELOW: An unusually busy scene at the east end of Worcester Shrub Hill at 08.20 on Sat 2 Jan
2016. Right in P1 is the Pathfinder Tours 'Mini Tug' railtour to Round Oak and Oxford, Morris Cowley
which had arrived from Bristol Parkway with 66001 on the other end. Worcester Shrub Hill Signal Box
is to the right; behind 60020 is waiting in the 'Long Siding' (which can hold a full length HST) to come
on the rear. 172341, London Midland ECS, waits in the 'Middle Siding'. GWR 150219 to its left is just
stabling in the short rare Bay P3 (left); it arrived P1 at 07.52 from Gloucester and would normally
stable in the Long Sidings from 07.58 to 09.01 then form the 09.08 to Westbury. Round the corner
(left) the HST has just come out of 'Worcester Back Road' behind the station (also left) and is reversing
at Signal 67. It will form the 08.36 to Swindon via Gloucester from P2. The Worcester Goods Lines are
on the left joining the main lines at Wyld's Lane Jn just in front of the HST. The layout here is
restrictive, particularly considering the number of services now run. P1 (right) is fully reversible for
passenger trains; bay P3 can only take a 2-car DMU or 3-Cars with Selective Door Operation (the buffer
end coach would then be behind the station wall) and is only available for passenger departures east,
as is P2 at this end. In the middle at the front of the picture is the recently installed point rodding and
signal wires, part of a local 'signal life extension project' in the Droitwich to Worcester and Ledbury
area so the layout is here to stay for some time yet! (See BLNs 1234.1092 & 1235.1133) (David Guy).
934] The last previous trams: Certain news reports are incorrect that trams last ran in Corporation St
in 1953. Although the link between Miller St and Kyotts Lake remained until the end, it was via Stafford
St and Dale End and unidirectional. Our correspondent wonders when the last tram worked from The
Lake to Miller St or Witton. It would presumably have run via the above route rather than reversing in
Dale End to proceed via Martineau St and Corporation St, which was taken out of use in October 1950.
935] Penkridge: A major rail freight 'hub' could be built near the M6 Jn 12, creating up to 8,500 jobs. If
approved it could ease HGV congestion. Early proposals are for a freight interchange, warehousing and
associated development. The West Midlands Interchange linked directly to the WCML, could serve the
northern M6 corridor, Staffordshire and Birmingham. Four Ashes Limited, the developer will be talking
to nearby communities and regional organisations to work up plans over the next 18 months. The firm
aims to develop a Masterplan which will be the subject of a full public consultation in the summer.
936] Norton Bridge: (BLN 1254.641 & 644) From 9 May the Up Fast will be re-aligned between 139m
39ch and 138m 04ch. The new alignment follows the former 'Up & Down Recess line'; Norton Bridge
station will now be on the left-hand side of the line instead of the right! There are signalling changes.
The maximum speed on the re-aligned Up Fast is unchanged, 90mph from 139m 09ch to 138m 31ch.
All points at the former Norton Bridge North Jn, and in the Up Fast line and Down Fast line, at the
former Norton Bridge South Jn will be recovered. New points will be provided at 138m 30ch and 138m
38ch, forming a facing crossover between the Down Fast and Up Fast lines. New points will be
provided (OOU) at 138m 41ch connecting the Up Fast line to the OOU Norton Bridge East Chord. A
miniature 40mph speed sign with right-hand arrow will be provided on the Up Fast line at these points,
applying to Down direction moves. Norton Bridge East Chord is due to be commissioned on 30 May.
1256 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
937] Doncaster (1): On 26 April a Brentford Town to Scunthorpe Freight Depot domestic rubbish
container train experienced problems and blocked the line at Kirk Sandall. Consequently the 05.30
Doncaster to Cleethorpes Northern passenger train was unusually diverted via Adwick, Carcroft Jn and
Skellow Jn to Hatfield & Stainforth (passed 11 minutes late as a result). Northern drivers take ECS this
way to maintain route knowledge. They are also due to sign Doncaster Roberts Road Depot (to take
DMUs in for tyre turning) and the route between Rotherham Central Jn and Woodburn Jn. The 05.30
(SuX) Doncaster to Cleethorpes is an interesting train as it is the only Northern passenger service
between Scunthorpe and Barnetby. At Cleethorpes it forms the 07.00 to Barton-on-Humber. In the
opposite direction, the 06.58 from Barton-on-Humber terminates in Grimsby Town bay P3 (so does not
run to Cleethorpes), then runs ECS to Scunthorpe where it forms the 08.19 'local' to Sheffield.
938] Doncaster (2): (TRACKmaps 2 p17C Sept 2006) The two carriage sidings and their headshunt
(which could accommodate 12 Mk 3 coaches and two locos), south of the station, and the signal box
on the east 'Up' side have been lifted for remodelling. The line nearer the Down Loco/Up East Slow will
become an alternative bidirectional through route from P1&2 to join it just south of St James (over)
Bridge, the first one south of the station. This new layout will allow trains to be signalled to depart
from P3 to the Up Fast and P1 to the Up East Slow simultaneously. It will also allow trains from Up
Decoy or the new East Coast IEP Depot to be routed north into P1 at the same time as trains are
departing south from P3. The carriage sidings were used daily for Hull terminating DMUs to recess
while an East Coast train was in P1. This should have ended last December when the new Doncaster
bay P0 northeast of the station had been due to open! Meanwhile, in the current timetable some of
these terminating trains are using P1 with a quick turnaround and a few even cross the whole layout
north of the station to bay P7 (SSuX 12.19 & 13.25 ex-Hull) or run through P8 (SSuX 07.12 & 19.11
Bridlington to Sheffield). Two much shorter new dead end sidings are to be installed, ending just
before the previous one. They will be Doncaster South Carriage Sidings No1 (by the main line) & No2.
LEFT: The recently cleared site of the
carriage sidings south of Doncaster
station (Up side looking south); St James
(over) Bridge behind. (Martin Crompton)
939] Sheffield: (BLN 1255.837) After 43
years Sheffield PSB closed on 1 May; its
area 'recontrolled' to York ROC. The
actual signalling and fringes did not
change (some line names are change as
From 05.00 on Mon 2 May the Sheffield
Workstation began controlling to:
Totley Tunnel East Signal Box (154m
46ch) Hope Valley / Manchester line.
East Midlands Control Centre,
Chesterfield Workstation (149m
49ch) south of Dronfield.
Woodburn Junction Signal Box (159m
49ch) Worksop line, past Nunnery Jn.
Barnsley Signal Box (163m 22ch)
Barnsley Meadowhall - Chapeltown.
York ROC, Rotherham Workstation (162m 48ch) north of Meadowhall on the Main Lines.
The York ROC Rotherham Workstation was commissioned at 05.00 on 3 May controlling to:
East Midlands Control Centre, Chesterfield Workstation (147m 60ch) on Barrow Hill lines.
Beighton Station Junction Signal Box (47m 60ch) on the Beighton lines.
Woodburn Junction Signal Box (3m 57ch) on the Tinsley lines.
York ROC, Sheffield Workstation (162m 48ch) north of Meadowhall on the Main Lines.
York IECC, Ardsley Workstation (16m 14ch) on the Pontefract lines.
Doncaster PSB (19m 47ch) on the Conisbrough lines (previously Doncaster lines).
Up Doncaster/Sheffield & Down Doncaster/Sheffield Up Conisbrough & Down Conisbrough.
Up & Down Hexthorpe Goods (St James Jn - Hexthorpe Jn) Hexthorpe Goods Single.
Up & Down Sheffield Goods (St James Jn - Hexthorpe Jn) Up & Down Hexthorpe Goods.
Rotherham Down Goods (Holmes Jn - Masborough Jn) Masborough Down Goods Loop.
Down & Up (Beighton Jn - Beighton Station LC) Down Beighton & Up Beighton.
No1 & No2 Reception (Mill Race Jn - Brightside Jn) Brightside Reception No1 & No2 (respectively).
Carriage Sidings (Fish Dock) (Shrewsbury Road Carriage Sidings in TRACKmaps) Sheffield Fish Dock.
Down Passenger Loop (at Sheffield South Jn) Down Heeley Loop.
Up Passenger Loop (Sheffield South Jn - Dore Station Jn) Up Heeley Loop.
940] Thorpe Arch Railway (BLN 1255.761-3). A long serving Committee member is reminded after
seeing these recent BLN items, of 'the one that got away'. He had booked from Manchester London
Road (now Piccadilly) on a 22 July 1958 railtour (two coaches) http://goo.gl/y5m4Bx via Accrington,
Nelson, Skipton, Ilkley, Arthington, Starbeck, Harrogate, the Thorpe Arch Circular Railway, Castleford,
Cudworth North, Barnsley Court House and Penistone back to London Road. Unfortunately, single-line
working affected his train from Leeds and he missed it. It has long been his regret that tour had left!
ABOVE: Specially for anyone who missed it, the railtour at 'Walton' Platform/Halt. (Closed Stations)
X.58] BELOW: Malton (item 875) from the signal box looking west to York. The facing crossover leads
to the single reversible platform, the canopy of which can be seen to the right. Straight ahead the 'Up'
is used by trains to York (excursions) not stopping. The wide gap between the Up and Down lines is
where the island platform used to be; the east end bays were on the right. (Nick Jones 2 Apr 2016)
941] Portarlington: The previous Down siding has been extended (to 205m) and a new Ballast Siding
(340m) and Ballast Loop (150m) have been commissioned near Mile Post 41¾. Signalling is unchanged
942] Dublin Centralised Traffic Control (CTC): (BLN 1253.604) From 8 May the Dublin Suburban CTC
and the Sligo/ Northern Line signaller's areas of control are due to be reconfigured and renamed. The
Suburban CTC will be re-designated as Central CTC and Sligo/Northern Line will be North East CTC.
Both workstations will continue to be at Connolly CTC. The Bray and Fingal interlockings will transfer
from the existing Suburban CTC area of control to North East CTC. The associated changes are:
Central CTC area: (1):The Howth Branch.
(2): The Up Belfast Line from south of Malahide (southbound) to Killiney on the Down Rosslare Line.
(3): On the Up Rosslare Line from south of Killiney (northbound) to South of Malahide (Belfast Line).
(4): Connolly West Lines to/from Connolly, North Strand and Docklands to/from near Cabra on the
Southern Line and near Broombridge on the Sligo Line.
Emergency Control Panels: (local control if necessary) Dublin North, Connolly, Pearse, Booterstown,
Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey, Connolly West and Docklands.
Signalling Fringes (i): Heuston Signal Equipment Room. (ii): Malahide south (to Belfast). (iii): Killiney
(to Rosslare) (iv): Clonsilla signal cabin.
North East CTC area: (1): The Up Rosslare Line from Bray Head Shankill.
(2): The Down Rosslare Line from South of Killiney Bray and the Bray to Greystones section.
(3): The Sligo Line from Enfield to Sligo and the Maynooth/Enfield section.
(4): The Up Belfast Line from Dundalk to Malahide.
(5): The Down Belfast Line, Malahide to Dundalk and Dundalk to Poyntzpass.
(6): The Navan Branch from Drogheda station to Platin and the Navan to Platin section.
Emergency Control Panels: Sligo Line, Dundalk, Drogheda, Fingal & Bray.
Fringes (i): Rosslare Line Emergency Control Panel - Greystones. (ii): South of Malahide on the Belfast
Line. (iii): Killiney on the Rosslare Line (all with Central CTC). (iv): Navan signal cabin. (v): Portadown
Signal Control Centre - Clonsilla signal cabin - Maynooth. (vi): The Republic of Ireland / Northern
Ireland Border (Belfast Line).
943] Dublin: A 20-year vision for the transport network development in Dublin, Meath, Wicklow and
Kildare is set out in the Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-35 published by the
National Transport Authority. The proposed rail enhancements aim to produce an interlinked network
with a 'very substantial increase' in peak capacity. The projects include many already reported and:
New stations in developing areas with sufficient demand; Pelletstown and Woodbrook are likely.
Protecting the Navan rail link corridor pending a re-evaluation of likely usage/future development.
Increased capacity south of Greystones; shuttle commuter services connecting there with DART.
A park and ride network where rail services are adjacent to or outside the M50 motorway at Swords,
Finglas, Dunboyne, Liffey Valley, Naas Road, Carrickmines, Woodbrook and Greystones.
Light rail projects proposed, but are subject to further comparative analysis against buses:
Luas Cross City extension: Broombridge to Finglas and a large park and ride site.
Metro North: High frequency and capacity from south of the city centre to Dublin Airport & Swords.
Luas Green Line capacity enhancement: St Stephen's Green to Bride's Glen to allow 50m or longer
....trams to be.introduced in advance of the Metro South project.
Metro South: Luas Green Line upgraded from tram to metro standards, with a tunnel linking it to
....Metro North in the Ranelagh area poviding a north to south corridor across the metropolitan area.
Luas Green Line/Metro South Bray extension: The alignment is still to be selected, but is likely to
....run to Bray DART station via Shankill and the former golf club lands. Metro services would run from..
. Bray through to the Airport/Swords; Luas services would run between Bray, Broombridge & Finglas.
East to west Luas line: From the city centre to Ballyfermot, Liffey Valley and Lucan.
Luas Red Line extension: North Docklands via a River Liffey bridge to Poolbeg development area.
1256 ISLE OF MAN
944] Douglas Horse Tramway: (BLN 1254.720) During the last two weeks of April, Douglas borough
engineers carried out the usual pre-operational checks and repairs to the road carriageway prior to the
commencement of this seasons operations. Https://goo.gl/D2iIiZ it runs from 30 April to 30 October.
X.59] ABOVE: Deltic D9009 'Alycidon' (55019) at Doncaster on 7 July 2015 (Martin Crompton).
945] Larkhall branch: (BLN 1253.614) On Saturday 16 April, a member boarded the 14.36 Glasgow
Central to Larkhall which ran via Mount Florida rather than the booked route via Langside. At Hamilton
Central it waited for the Larkhall Branch to clear before proceeding onto the single track beyond. The
driver reported being told earlier in his shift that Allanton Loop was not in use. A check of RTT showed
arrivals at Larkhall being about ten minutes late all day except for the 08.36 from Glasgow Central
which arrived a minute early (into P1, all other services used P2). However, this delayed the 09.20
Larkhall to Glasgow Central by over eight minutes. It might have been this delay impact which
determined that waiting at Hamilton Central was the preferred option. He has subsequently
discovered that the loop has been OOU since 17 Mar 2016, (not necessarily the last day it was used),
but not the reason why. The level of rust on the loop would be consistent with this date.
946] Dalcross: (BLN 1247.2353) As expected, Highlands & Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) has
proposed constructing a £2M station here near Inverness Airport on the Aberdeen line with all trains
calling. There is an airport business park; 400,000 passengers are predicted to use the airport each
year by 2075 and 5,000 new homes planned at nearby Tornagrain. Official forecasts estimate that
within 50 years the station will overtake Elgin to become the busiest in the Highlands, after Inverness!
The proposed location (NH 7706 5114) is adjacent to the C1017 airport access road, between the first
and second roundabouts after leaving the existing A96, at the southern corner of the airfield. The
initial single 575ft platform would be able to accommodate a HST with five carriages and two power
cars, (as proposed for the line by TOC Abellio). There would be a waiting area, cycle park, electric car
charging point, bus stop, taxi rank, and barrier controlled access road. The initial 50-space car park
would later be enlarged to 150 and new link roads and cycle paths built to connect it to the airport
access road. However, the station will be a mile from the airport terminal by road and it is 'hoped' a
bus connection will be introduced. (We trust more successfully than at Teesside Airport station!) A
public consultation was held at Inverness Airport terminal on 21 April, and now a planning application
will be lodged. HITRANS hopes that it can secure planning permission for the project by the end of the
summer, with completion of the station by December 2018. About £500k will be sought from local
public sector agencies, the rest coming from the Scottish Government's Scottish Stations Fund.
The previous Dalcross station was ¾ mile west (NH 7617 5044), OP 5 Nov 1855; CP 2 May 1965. It was
west of the present level crossing (137m17ch) beside Petty Church. Here the double track line from
Inverness used to become single. A condition of the HITRANS planning application will be closure of
this crossing on safety grounds despite many local residents being in favour of its retention. The
proposals are the first phase of the development; long-term plans are for a second platform and loop.
947] Aberdare: A major construction project has been announced for land adjacent to the station, a
new 800-student campus for Coleg y Cymoedd ('The Valleys College') and a 1,400-pupil Community
School nearby. The station will be well placed to benefit from anticipated new commuter flows.
948] Saundersfoot - Begelly: (BLN 1255.850) The course of the longer 'main line' of the Saundersfoot
Railway leaves the harbour in a westerly direction, along Milford St and Brookland Place, leading to
Bonville's Court Incline. There are remains of the winding house at the top; as the incline was self-
acting and the building not large enough for a winding engine, more likely a braking mechanism. The
site of Bonvilles Court Colliery (which closed in 1930), on the left as the route enters Fan Lane, is now
occupied by the Bonvilles Court Holiday Park. Its address starts 'The Old Weighbridge Office'.
Continuing in Fan Lane, the left hand verge widens and could have accommodated the railway. The
way the railway crossed the junction of Fan Lane and Station Rd (SN125058) is not discernible due to
road alterations; either a level crossing or a road overbridge would have been possible. The line of
route next appears to follow the northern edge of a belt of trees as it approaches Saundersfoot GWR
station and King's Moor Tunnel, but this is clearly private property and access was not attempted.
Onward toward Begelly, the line of route is very difficult to rech and follow. The southeast end of the
public footpath connecting the A478 with the A477 is totally overgrown, and the access steps and stile
are broken, but the route can be walked from the far end of this path for a short distance, alongside a
former tip. The cutting leading to the tunnel is very difficult to access (hawthorn and brambles), partly
flooded, and unsafe, containing bits of dumped cars, broken glass and other debris. North of the A477
(SN119067) the route is obstructed by a travellers' caravan site and their horse paddocks.
949] South Wales Freight: Although under no threat of complete closure until the deadline for phasing
out coal fired stations, owner RWE has announced that from April 2017 the 1,560 MW Aberthaw
Power Station will only generate at times of heavy demand, such as in the winter months. To make
the station more efficient and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, the range of coal it can burn will be
widened, with more supplies sourced from outside Wales. These announcements have obvious
negative implications for the future of opencast mining and rail freight flows in South Wales. Night-
time diversions of empty coal trains from Aberthaw have recently seen the west exit spur in use there
for the first time since Freightliner Heavy Haul took over the workings. Trains proceed west to Margam
East Jn to reverse. Elsewhere, Saturday stone trains to and from Machen have recently been diverted
via a reversal at Pengam Yard. These have been the first freight workings over the Ebbw Jn to Park
Jn spur for many years; probably since Ebbw Vale works closed, when some scrap trains ran to Cardiff
Tidal Sidings! Further west, NR advises that the now rarely used single-track line between Tondu and
Margam Abbey Works East Jn is to be 'mothballed', although no date has yet been given.
950] Newport: A member sampled the diversions here on 23 April. Cardiff to Cwmbran trains were
switched to the Up Relief at Ebbw Jn (the Gaer Jn Up to Down Main crossover was disconnected). Then
it was Newport P2, onto East Usk No1 Reception line to reverse. The reversible single track 'Hereford
Loop' was used from Maindee East Jn to Maindee North Jn. Returning, trains took this Loop to reverse
in No1 Reception line before continuing via the Down Relief and Newport P1. Trains to/from Severn
Tunnel Junction also used Newport P1&2 and the Relief lines, crossing to the Mains at Llanwern West
Jn. This is booked all weekends, also in the week late at night and early mornings, until 14 May.
1256 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR76] Swindon & Cricklade Railway, Wiltshire (MR p6): The railway held a 'Mixed Traffic Weekend'
on 16/17 April. At least three other Society members were present when this reporter attended on the
first day. Running between Hayes Knoll and Taw Valley Halt, every hour, was a two train service
employing class 73 E6003 Sir Herbert Walker or GWR 2-8-0T 4247 alternately with three ex-BR MK1
coaches, and a 2-car DMU 51074/51104 class 119 Gloucester Cross Country unit - its first run in
preservation but with only one coach in passenger use. Southbound trains passed the other train by
running non-stop through Blunsdon on the loop line (very rare track!). Running from Hayes Knoll to
South Meadow Lane and return every 20 & 40 minutes was vintage Taff Vale Railway coach No73 top &
tailed by 0-6-0DE PWM651 (RH431758/1959) and 0-4-0DH Blunsdon (JF4220031/1964). Cab rides were
also available from about 13.40 at Blunsdon from the north end of the station platform into the North
Siding (as far as some stabled stock) in immaculately turned out 0-4-0DM Woodbine (JF21442/ 1936),
which was celebrating its 80th birthday with a suitable small headboard. Most trains observed were
busy with both enthusiasts and 'ordinary' families. An all day adult rover ticket was £10, good value
considering the variety of traction on offer and the rare track covered.
MR77] Yorkshire Wolds Railway, East Riding of Yorkshire (MR p9): In March the railway took a
delivery of 450ft of track from Drax Power Station. The donation came about after Andrew Brade, an
engineer at Drax, heard an appeal for support by the railway on local radio. Ed Hague, chairman of the
Railway, said: 'We are extremely grateful to Drax for getting in touch and their kind donation of this
material. Track is something we are always on the lookout for, as it's very hard to come by'. The railway
will now be able to offer visitors longer rides by using the track to more than double the length of its
existing demonstration line to 750ft. It is hoped that the new track will be in place by Spring 2017.
MR78] Cambrian Heritage Railways, Shropshire (MR p7): Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) has
launched a £20,000 appeal to help return Oswestry station further to its heyday of the 1950s. The
appeal covers the refurbishment of the former Down platform, reinstatement of the three lines that
once ran through the station, a significant characteristic of the site, and the addition of further railway
features, furniture and landmarks to the station area. CHR is currently extending its running line at
Oswestry, which it is expected will have passenger trains running to Weston Wharf, to the south of the
town, by Easter 2018. There, the railway will provide a valuable public transport connection to the
visitor centre operated by popular local microbrewery, the Stonehouse Brewery. Since CHR gained
access in 2009, significant progress has been made with the Oswestry station area. They were greeted
with a site that was almost completely derelict. One of the two through platforms had been removed,
the other was overgrown and fly tipping had taken place, with almost all features of a working railway
wiped away. Since that time, they have cleared the site, completely reinstated a platform, refurbished
the track, reinstated signals, a water column, signs and started running regular passenger trains again -
over a short distance to Middleton Road bridge. This has created an operational station again, used for
passengers and a growing list of special events, becoming an important asset to the local community.
MR79] Mid Suffolk Light Railway, Suffolk (MR p8): The Railway has been awarded a £64,200 grant
from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It will use the money to build an Edwardian-style engine shed to
house historic railway equipment and deliver learning activities. The grant follows funding already
secured from the Alfred Williams Charitable Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Mid Suffolk District
Council, The Pargiter Trust and Suffolk County Council for the project.
MR80] Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI), County Down (MR p10) (BLN 1254.MR62): A
member comments about the item on the Stradbally Woodland Express regarding 'the only Guinness
loco to operate in preservation'. He thinks this is incorrect as the RPSI are the proud owners of
standard gauge Guinness No3, an 0-4-0ST donated by the company when it became redundant in the
1960s. It has been used by the RPSI for many years at its Whitehead site, has worked a railtour over
Belfast dock lines, and been hired/loaned to the Downpatrick & County Down Railway at times.
MR81] Barnards Miniature Railway, Essex (MR p16): This lengthy (1,000yd+) 7¼" gauge railway runs in
the private gardens of Barnards Farm at West Horndon. The extensive gardens open as part of the
National Gardens Scheme (on selected Thursdays in June, July & August). They contain a number of
interesting and unique sculptures. The railway operates on the first and third Sundays of the month
between April and October, plus other special events. It starts at an impressive covered two platform
Burtonshaw Terminus, which also has a centre engine release road. This opened on 6 December 2014,
replacing a rather more temporary arrangement, which now forms part of the adjacent car park. There
is a signal box, turntable and loading line. Running south, the line circumvents an air-strip, before
turning west. The loco and carriage sheds are connected to the running line here via a back shunt.
Running west, the line crosses Mar Dyke and splits into what is effectively a long passing loop.
Belvedere station has a platform only on the eastbound line, but trains also stop westbound as well.
Until September 2015 trains ran round a return loop and journeyed back to Burtonshaw. However,
there is now a triangular junction at the other end of the air-strip, which leads onto an extension
running north to Sitooterie Halt. This extension fully opened to the Halt on Saturday 19 September
2015, although the full station layout was not completed until the 2015 Santa season. Trains currently
terminate here and the loco runs-round for the return trip. Track, however, has been laid on part of
the next extension (running eastwards parallel to the Network Rail Southend line) to Angel Green. This
immediately enters a tunnel and re-crosses the Mar Dyke. Construction work has been delayed by the
very wet weather. On Sunday 17 April a two train service was being operated, running every half-hour.
0-4-2 Ernie Turner was operating out of platform 1 at Burtonshaw Terminus, while Hymek D7096 was
using platform 2 - each train departing when the other had arrived back. Most trains were reasonably
well-filled on this a sunny, but chilly day. An adult return trip is £5 and all day rover £8. The former can
be upgraded to the latter for a payment of £3. Edmondson card tickets are issued for both.
MR82] Lakeside Miniature Railway, Southport, Merseyside (MR p20) (BLN 1117.MR153): The
Southport Visiter (sic) web site reported on 7 April 2016 that this historic 15" gauge railway had been
bought from owners Don and Jenny Clark by Pleasureland owner Norman Wallis. Jenny Clark
confirmed they had sold the railway and said the pair 'were just looking for a change in business' after
owning and running it for 15 years. Norman Wallis said: 'We have just taken it over recently but, with
the weather having been as it is, we haven't been able to do much with it as it is. I want to make
Southport the number one seaside resort in the country. It's the longest-running [miniature] railway in
the country, but it has fallen into disrepair. Hopefully we can bring it back to its former glory'. The line
has managed to survive and flourish through (…) two world wars and has run every year since opening
on 27 May 1911. There have only been four owners, and now Norman is the fifth. Norman added
'Southport has such fabulous potential and I want to be the person to help bring that out. We need to
make it beautiful again so it's full of flowers and we need to rebuild the stations. There's work to be
done with it and as we have done with Pleasureland, we want to make it the best we possibly can'.
MR83] Littlehampton Railway, West Sussex (MR p25) (BLN 1249.MR21): This railway last ran on 1
November 2015, as detailed in BLN1249. A visit on 9 April found the rails covered in dark brown rust
confirming nothing had run for a good while. Both stations appeared complete with all signage still in
position. However, no notices were on display explaining the current situation and lack of trains. The
shed at the Mewsbrook Park end was securely locked up. A visitor on 24 April found a notice indicating
Arun District Council hoped to find a new operator in time for the summer season 2016.
MR84] Ness Islands Railway, Highland (MR p28) (BLN 1240.MR147): The operator of this 7¼" gauge
railway in Inverness, Ian Young, has asked Labour MSP David Stewart to help him over continuing
flooding of the popular site at Whin Island. Flooding has caused damage to the railway over the past
30 years. Mr Young contacted Mr Stewart after reading about the MSP's i-petition to 'Preserve Our
Ness Islands'. He told the Highlands and Islands MSP that repairs have cost him thousands of pounds
and in one year he even lost a locomotive, costing £8,000, when it was affected by rising water. Ian
Young said 'What I was really upset about was that Highland Council said that because the area does
not include any housing, businesses or 'notable infrastructure', there would be no economic benefit to a
flood defence for the Islands. As someone who runs a business and is affected, on the opposite side of
the river, I contacted Mr Stewart to add weight to his campaign and to see if the local authority would
try to help with measures to stop the flooding and damage'. Mr Stewart has written to the council
asking if it would consider building up the riverbank. He also asked what work was being done to keep
nearby culverts free of debris to allow floodwater to flow freely and drain the area.
MR85] Leiston Works Railway Trust, Suffolk (BLN 1253.MR48): The Ipswich Star web site on 31 March
announced that planning permission had been granted by Suffolk Coastal Council to relay track and
erect fences and gates. Trustee Colin Fisher said the application, funded by Leiston Town Council, and
supporting documentation was the result of a lot of hard work by the committee, and a large part of
the overall submission. He said: 'This is a very important step forward in the short history of the LWR,
and we owe a great sense of gratitude to Leiston Town Council, Sharps Redmore Ltd and Seaprop Ltd,
who all made financial contributions through the various surveys that were required in support of the
LWR application. I would also like to thank all those who wrote letters of support, it was an essential
part of the application, and very encouraging to see the level of support we received. We are also
grateful for the cooperation and support we received from the Long Shop Museum during this process'.
The route of the line can still be found, tucked away at the back of a pub and between houses, and
occasional telltale signs still exist. In one place there is a former rail crossing gate and a cast-iron post,
while in the Engineers Arms' car park a section of rails can be seen, and in another place setts in the
road mark the track bed. Http://lwr.org.uk/ has more information about the project and for the
associated Long Shop Museum http://goo.gl/GHNtru has details. There is likely to be a steam running
day with footplate rides on Sunday 23 October (and possibly 9/10 July) - to be confirmed. Keep an eye
on http://goo.gl/IgBJGW email: [email protected] or 01728 832 189.
.Please mention the Branch Line Society when booking or enquiring. A service to members, all details must be checked with the organisers.
951] Secret Stations Channel 4: Paul Merton explores some of Britain's 150 obscure request stops, in
three one-hour TV programmes (7 May 11.20, 8 May 20.00, 15 May 20.00 and other times). Attadale,
Drigg, Silecroft, Ferryside, St Keyne Wishing Well Halt, Beasdale, St Andrews Road & Pontarddulais etc.
952] Property Section, Snowdonia: The Joys of Life Country Park, Bethesda, LL57 4YW. 10 acres, large
detached 4-bed home, B&B, two self catering cottages and a Caravan Site. Includes a recently restored
half mile 5" gauge ride-on railway with station and signal boxes. £1.25M https://goo.gl/boKHdp or
03339997699 for sale details. For railway operations [email protected] 01248 602122.
953] Property Section, Skipwith Station Holidays: £795k, on the southern section of the former
Derwent Valley Railway, York Road, Selby, YO85 DF, (SE67182). A sympathetically modernised original
station (CP 1926) in 1.4 acres with four holiday lets. These are a converted Mk2 Mail Van, a BR Mk 2
Standard class carriage, a First-brake composite and the former station loading and storage bay (brick
ends with an almost floor-to-floor semicircular roof between). To book to stay http://goo.gl/Mh9McU
(with aerial views) or 01757 282288. Property sale http://goo.gl/naJTtW 01904 617 819 £795K .
954] Birmingham Maps: The Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry has 200 maps,
1:500 scale surveyed in 1888 covering a five-mile radius of New Street in very great detail (extends to
Perry Barr, Small Heath, Kings Norton and Smethwick). Each map is 41"x29" covering 500yd x 350yd.
Copies can be supplied printed or as a zoomable PDF. Email [email protected] or 0121 745 5403.
955] The 8D Association: (Information thanks to Neil Wilson) Dedicated to promoting the history of
the railways of South Lancashire and North Cheshire. The Association covers lines within a 10-mile
radius of the former Widnes Loco Shed (8D) and is open to anybody interested in the area. There is a
wealth of information and pictures on the well organised website and some very interesting visits.
These have included Fiddlers Ferry Power Station, Kirkdale and Birkenhead North Depots, walks across
Runcorn Railway Bridge footpath and track bed walks including into Wapping Tunnel. For website see
http://goo.gl/QjH2Hy membership is only £12 per year and already includes quite a few BLS members.
..956] The 8D Association, Blackpool Tramways Vintage Tram Trip, Sat 2 Jul: Complements (BLS) TPE..
..tour at 18.10 (BLN 1255). Starts from Rigby Road Depot at 11.00, finishes 15.00, includes Little..
..Bispham & Pleasure Beach Loops with rare crossovers. A double deck balloon tram is provisionally..
..booked. The more that book, the lower the price (set provisionally at £15 or less)! Contact Terry..
..Callaghan [email protected] 0121 240 5991. **ANYONE INTERESTED PLEASE CONTACT ASAP**.*
X.60] Guess the location and what is happening: (see E-BLN 1255.X51) BELOW: The picture by Nick
Jones was Tower Colliery run round loop on 12 April 2016 with Hirwaun Pond station platforms on
the former GWR Vale of Neath double track line. Note the wartime air raid shelters on the platforms
for the staff of the nearby Hirwaun Royal Ordnance Factory as described (BLN 1251.415) recently.
The track is now excellent since the loop was relaid and extended in 2012. They are making use of the
long headshunt to add an extra two wagons (i.e. two wagons more than fit in the longer run round
loop). BELOW LEFT: Now we know why it is called Hirwaun Pond, where is the 4Sub? The headshunt
between the station platforms 2 Jan 1998, almost in the dark. Air raid shelters are on the platforms.
Tower Colliery loading point (the underground mine closed January 2008) is left of centre background.
Arriving at Tower in 2016, the loco took the front two wagons into the loop and ran round them so
they were in front of it. Then, with them still attached, fetched the rest of the wagons and moved the
whole train forward (as in the picture above). Wagons were loaded one at a time at the pad (or 'load
cell' as shown in TRACKMAPS 3
P29A Aug 2010) then the train
moved forward to load the next
wagon. After loading the loco+2
wagons ran round the rest of the
train and returned to Aberdare.
BELOW: A similar shot of the
headshunt on 12 April 2016 (the
loop was lengthened at the
Aberdare end rather than making
the branch longer at the Hirwaun
end). The points are roughly in the
same place but the useable length
of headshunt has been increased.
(All pictures by Nick Jones.)
[BLN 1256] ABOVE: The empty wagons arrive in the run round loop.
BELOW: Also on the same day showing how the wagons are loaded.