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Published by membersonly, 2018-03-22 16:49:31


24th March 2018

Issue Number 1301 (Items 535 - 663 & MR 49 - MR 57) (E-BLN 59 PAGES) 24 Mar 2018


Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society - founded 1955


Membership Enquiries, Alan Welsh [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677

British Isles news from member7s2; 8a6n7i7nternational section is available.
Opinions herein are not necessaarivlyaitlahbolsee. of the Compilers or the Society.

……………… BLN 1302 is dated Sat 14 ApSro[cNieOtyT. ESo: c3ie-Wty.EEK GAP]; contributions by Wed 4 Apr please

Date Event and details BLN Lead Status

24-25/3/18 The Sussex Salopian PAY ON THE DAY AVAILABLE 1295 JE OPEN

24/3/18 PM PM Bognor Regis, Hotham Park 12¼" gauge railway tour  1296 JE OPEN

25/3/18 AM 08.00-10.00: Crewe Heritage Centre tour (see e-BLN 1296) e1296 JE FULL

Sat 7/4/18 Late morning; 4 Kingdoms Adventure Park Railway CLOSED 1299 TV CLOSED

Sun 15/4/18 09.45-13.30: Crich VERY Comprehensive tour 1300 JE OPEN

Sun 15/4/18 15.00 Goodluck Lead Mine Tramway, 11" gauge, expedition 1300 JE OPEN

20-24/4/18 5 day tour: Finnish freight lines that might be finishing 1290 IS OPEN
Sat 28/4/18 The Inverclyde First Aider, WCR Class 37 Crewe - Scotland 1299 JE OPEN

Thur 3/5/18 10.00 Calder Valley line boxes FULL WITH FULL WAITING LIST 1300 NJ FULL

3 to 5/5/18 Island of Ireland Thur - Sat: FULL WITH A FULL WAITING LIST 1295 KA CLOSED
Sun 6/5/18 07.30 (Connolly) - 17.45 (Heuston) Dublin Irish Rail railtour 1299 KA OPEN

Sat 12/5/18 The 565 Special - Take 2 (Peterborough call 10.58/17.59) 1298 JE OPEN

Sat 2/6/18 PM: The Arlington Explorer Eastleigh Works track/traction 1297 JE Enquire

Sat 9/6/18 Track & traction event 2ft gauge line in Sussex TBA TBA Claimed

Sun 10/6/18 Save the date, mini-excursion with Chiltern Railways TBA TBA Claimed

Wed 13 Jun 18.00 Crewe Heritage Centre Class 37 photographic event BELOW JE *OPEN*

Thur 14 Jun The Nosey Peaker, Stafford 08.30 / Crewe 17.00 FULL 1298 JE FULL

Sun 1/7/18 Ketton Cement Works, Rutland, all day track & traction event TBA TBA Claimed

11-12/7/18 Wed/Thur: Two day BLS Cornwall STP Service Tracker BELOW JE NOTIFY

Sat 21/7/18 Middlesbrough Goods, AV Dawson, (new) track & traction 1297 JE OPEN

Thur 2 Aug 12.45 Spa Valley Railway afternoon rare track excursion  BELOW JE *OPEN*

Sun 5/8/18 Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway standard gauge rides BELOW JE *OPEN*

Sat 25/8/18 09.30-10.30 Blenheim Park Railway (15" gauge) railtour 1300 JE OPEN

Sat 25/8/18  12.00-16.00 Beeches Light Railway (1' 11⅝" gauge) Oxon 1299 JE OPEN

IS-Iain Scotchman, JE-Jill Everitt, KA-Kev Adlam, NJ-Nick Jones, TV-Terry Velvick,  = book online at

535] A big Welcome!

To our 100 newest members who have all joined our Society in the last six weeks, bringing the total
membership up to over 1,600 (we are always pleased to see more). The commonest question is about
abbreviations in BLN; a full list is on our website 'Archive' page; put 'abbr' (or more) in the 'search' box.

536] YOUR 2018/19 MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL: The simplest, quickest and cheapest (no postage etc)
way to renew and available after 1 April is via our website. Annual subscriptions are due 1 May, but
early renewal assists your volunteer Committee; subscriptions are the Society's main source of
income. We are pleased to have your support and membership during the coming year and are
always delighted to welcome new members as we continue to expand. It is also hoped that as many
as possible will try e-BLN (free with paper BLN subscription or only £12 for 24 editions on its own).

E-BLN includes e-BLN International, also 'print your own' options in A5 booklet or A4 page format
identical to paper BLN/BLNI. The enhanced e-BLN (also printable) has many pictures, maps, plans
and extras. E-membership includes access to Members' Only parts of the website such as archived
BLNs, track plans, railtour itineraries, Ian Delgado's Unusual Track website, BLN Pictorial, Railway
Rights of Way in full (public trackbed walks in the British Isles), railtour and heritage railways 'Diary'
and members' only Forum posts. About 530 paper BLNs are printed each time and we will continue
to do this so long as there is sufficient demand. Now is a good chance to review your subscription
category; if you take e-BLN have you considered adding paper BLN? Finally, a paper renewal form
will go out with BLN but you can still renew and change your membership category on our website.

Benefits of BLS membership: 24 BLNs per year, advance notice of fixtures and initial priority
(more are now 'members only'), valuable discounts, usually £12 for railtours and on some
publications (the new Scottish TRACKmaps for example). Every full member has a free posted paper
copy of Peter Scott's 'Minor Railways' worth £5 and paper BLN subscribers also receive PSUL in
paper format. Membership Secretary Alan Welsh's contact details are on the header of ALL BLNs.

537] .Do you want to see News from Wales in BLN?. We still have a BLN Regional Editor vacancy,
either to cover Wales or if preferred another area (for example East Midlands) with a possible Regional
Editor reshuffle. This interesting and rewarding position requires just a few hours twice a month and an
ability to send and receive emails. Cover can be arranged for holidays etc. You do not need to be an
expert as help, support and checking is provided. Please email the Editor to discuss, no obligation.

538] Minor Railways 2018 booklet: As a membership benefit, we are again delighted to post a copy
of our BLN Minor Railways Editor, Peter Scott's, new edition to all full members with this BLN in
time for Easter (this includes e-BLN subscribers). Subtitled A complete list of all standard gauge,
narrow gauge, miniature, cliff railways and tramways in the British Isles offering public rides - there
are over 520! Thanks to Peter Scott for all his time and hard work on this with congratulations to
him on achieving his landmark 30th edition. Any full member who has not received it by mid-April,
please contact Dave Monger per back page. Please note: All references to Minor Railways from this
BLN will be to the new 2018 edition. Extra copies £5 (P&P free), from Sales Officer Mark Gomm
(back page); cheques payee 'Branch Line Society'. 'Minor Railways online' is
Peter Scott's website with online supplements, latest news, publications for sale and much more.

539] This is not Spam! Some Gmail users report that their BLN 1300 email arrived in their Spam folder
for the first time. Nothing changed (other than continuing to add more people). It is suggested that all
e-BLN recipients please add [email protected] (with .org ) to their email Contacts, Approved
Senders etc provided by their email service, for the benefit of the wider membership to help us keep
on the right side of the invisible line. We all remain vulnerable to the whims of the anti-spam systems.

540] Sales News: 2018 Platform 5 set of FOUR Pocket Books, (Loco, Coaches. DMU & EMU): £18 (RRP
£21). Collection only, due to size, at our Crich visit (15 Apr) or on the Inverclyde First Aider (28 Apr).

X.36] ABOVE: Spa Valley Railway Summer Diesel Gala: See item 543 (next page).

541] Crewe Heritage Centre, Wed 13 Jun 18.00-21.00: A Class 37 photographic evening with the Society.
Three DRS Class 37s (for the following day's 'The Nosey Peaker' BLS railtour) with the Heritage Centre's
37108 posed together. All profits will be shared equally between Crewe Heritage Centre and Railway
Children. Of track interest, the miniature railway will run with all available locos. Subject to volunteer
availability, the café is selling drinks and light refreshments with, weather permitting, hot BBQ food.
It is hoped, in return for a small extra on the day donation, to have supervised cab visits from platform
height. £10 per person in advance only at our website or via Jill Everitt. No unaccompanied under 18s.

542] BLS 'Cornish STP* Tracker' Wed 11-Thur 12 Jul: Thanks to our member Mark Haggas for all the work
he has put into this, expressions of interest (no obligation) are invited for his two day Cornwall Service
Train Tracker to confirm viability. It is based on sleeper arrival in the Penzance area (or being there
already) - bookings open at 12 weeks for the best deals. The plan has various options and contingencies.
Overnight accommodation is required, the eastern end of Cornwall or Plymouth area is recommended but
using early and late services it is possible to stay as far away as Penzance or Exeter and not miss any track.
It will be the peak summer timetable, in a lovely area with great company and hopefully great weather.

All track possible on a service train is included with a call at every platform at each station at least once
(some are request stops). This is everything from Plymouth station west (with its six platform approaches
from Cornwall). Participants can 'observe' most of the various sought after ECS shunts at Par, Liskeard and
Penzance for added interest. For rare Penzance and Plymouth platforms more than one service is included
to increase the chances of success. Includes: Lostwithiel P2 - Par P3; Par P3 - St Austell P1; Perranwell -
Truro P3; Lelant Saltings - St Erth P2; St Erth P2 - Penzance; Liskeard P3 - Coombe Junction Halt; Penzance
P4 - St Erth (return sleeper and can be in the 'seated' area); Plymouth P3 Bay to/from Devonport. Other
highlights are rarer stations: St Budeaux Ferry Road, Menheniot & Lelant and HSTs calling at some short
platform minor stations (mostly DMU served). One hour breaks are available in lovely St Ives and Looe
(or repeat branch trip/s). A Bodmin & Wenford Railway alternative is possible. Stepping back a train on
the unusual Penryn platform covers both Falmouth branch units. 'Ride Cornwall' Day Ranger (see item 662)
(£13/£10.75 railcard) give many miles of travel, but tickets are needed for morning peaks, Mark will advise.

*'Cornish STP Tracker': Not a 'short term plan' but All the Stations! All the Track! and All the Platforms!
Sorry Geoff and Vicki for 'borrowing' your tour name, but we are taking this to the next level. :-) Please
notify interest via our website or post to Jill Everitt. Queries [email protected] (Mark Haggas).
A souvenir ticket and detailed track map will be provided; a great occasion with like-minded people.

543] Spa Valley Railway Summer Diesel Gala, Rare Track Excursion, Thur 2 Aug: Queen Mary Brake
Van with shunter locos. Tunbridge Wells West 12.45 (time to be confirmed), Tunbridge Wells West
Yard/throat as possible, East/West Sidings & Headshunt, Groombridge Up and Down Loop and to
Eridge in the 'wrong' direction, Ashurst Up & Down Spur (No1 & 2 Carriage Sidings) & Engineers
Siding, Eridge P3 and the line south of station. Initially 20 maximum, over 18s only, £16. Book at our
website please or via Jill Everitt. Brake van trips Groombridge 'half a mile to the end of Ashurst
Spur' are included in 3-5 Aug Gala day rovers. Driver for a tenner available at Tunbridge Wells West.

544] Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway, Sun 5 Aug 12.30: Invergarry station,
South Laggan, near Spean Bridge, PH34 4EA, (NN 3041 9841). One of the UK's most remote and interesting
standard gauge railways (CP 1 Dec 1933; CA 1 Jan 1947), over ¼ mile of the North British Railway Fort
Augustus branch at this former station, originally to be a double track main line to Inverness. Footplate
rides on Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM 236364 (1946) and/or 4-seat LESMAC engineers
trolley 99709 901002-4 (2006). The Gauge 1 model railway should be on view. The long island platform,
nowhere near Invergarry of course, was built to take the royal train. There is no public running so this is a
rare and unique chance. See for some pictures (not endorsing the information).
Coach travel 11.15 from and back to (due 16.05) Fort William or (only) to Inverness (arr 19.00) after is
available on Sundays by Citylink Service 919 - a wonderfully scenic ride through the Great Glen. NB: At this
time of year you are advised to book a seat; standing is not allowed. Fixture cost: £22 members, only 25
places. Tea/coffee, sandwiches and filled rolls are included. Please book online if possible or via Jill Everitt.

Please state if you are able to assist with lifts to/from
Fort William and how many, or if you would like one
(if available). At least 3½ miles of the fascinating branch
to Fort Augustus here is a lovely, interesting scenic
made up walk from Invergarry station northeast to
Aberchalder (NH 339 030). On Sat 4 Aug the Jacobite
steam train runs morning and
afternoon 84 mile return trips Fort William to Mallaig
(NB: immediate booking is needed). Glenfinnan Station
(railway) Museum with a shop and Dining Car is open
daily May to Oct 09.00-17.00; a miniature railway is
under construction. If anyone wants to visit the
restored Glenfinnan signal box and try the signalling
simulator (can be combined with The Jacobite), please
advise. The Fort William to Euston sleeper runs Sunday
nights (immediate booking advised, open 12 months
ahead. The Friday night 4 Aug sleeper to Fort William is full already although a seated portion is available
within Scotland only. Another option after our fixture is the coach (Invergarry to Inverness, arr 19.00,
completing the glorious Great Glen) in good time for the sleeper from Inverness to London.

545] Members Being Taken for a Ride: As a Society we do try to help each other, including those
needing a lift to fixtures. Unfortunately it is necessary to point out what should be obvious: people
are more likely to assist, and again in future, if they are asked politely (rather than I require a lift)
and also thanked after. It is a nice idea to always offer a realistic contribution to car expenses and
not to expect/demand that people go miles out of their way. (Sadly all based on recent examples.)

1301 HEAD LINES (Paul Stewart) [email protected]

546] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant passenger service suspensions: *= New/altered

BLN Start (incl) Reopens† Location (exclusive where bracketed) [bold = closed now]

1286.1609 18 Sep 17 30 Mar 18 *Seaton Tramway, Riverside Loop south end - Seaton
1299.332 30 Mar 18 04 Apr 18 Bristol TM - (Bath)/(Weston)/(Parkway)/Severn Beach/Patchway
1291.2113 14 Oct 17 07 Apr 18 *Darlaston Jn - Walsall Pleck Jn (SO weekly PSUL EMU)
1299.330 29 Mar 18† 09 Apr 18 Holytown Jn - Midcalder Jn (†after 20.30)
1275.366 11 Nov 17 16 Apr 18 *(Kirkham North Jn) - Blackpool North (DELAYED BY 3 WEEKS)
1299.329 17 Mar 18 16 Apr 18 *Stirling P6, 9 & 10 - Alloa
1300.441 23 Apr 18 27 Apr 18 (Theale)-Westbury North Jn/Fairwood Jn (and many later dates)
1298.208 27 Jan 18 Unknown (Limerick) (0m 56ch) - Sixmilebridge - (Ennis)
1298.214 12 May 18 20 Aug 18 (Aberdeen) - (Dyce)
1286.1612 22 Jul 18 08 Oct 18 Derby station/associated lines - a series of partial closures
1297.123 20 Oct 18 29 Oct 18 (Three Bridges) - (Brighton)/(Lewes) (also 16 to 24 Feb 2019)

† The date that public service is due to restart, generally in date order of expected reopening.

547] Fenn Bell Miniature Railway: (BLN 1287.MR156) This not long completed 7¼" line at Fenn Bell
Inn near Rochester last ran with Santa Specials in Dec 2017 but has now closed and was lifted in Feb.

548] Doncaster, iPort Rail: (TRACKmaps Vol 2 p34A, Oct 2016) On Tue 20 Feb at 09.05 the first GBRf
inward test train (wagons for training/storage) arrived from Doncaster Decoy Down Yard at this new
Intermodal Terminal departing 11.30. It is reported that the facility may replace Wakefield Europort.

NEXT PAGE UPPER: An Immingham to Cottam Power Station loaded coal train heads south on the
South Yorkshire Joint line passing the new Doncaster iPort. (Both by Nick Jones Mon 12 Feb 2018.)
NEXT PAGE LOWER: A Doncaster Up Decoy Yard to Toton Yard working reversing by the new terminal.

[BLN 1301]
549] Llandudno Jn - Blaenau Ffestiniog (incl) & 9 stations: (BLN 1300.517) TCP Wed 28 Feb; ROP Mon
6 Mar 2018; closure due to the shortage of ATW rolling stock following extensive wheel damage.

550] Stockport - Stalybridge: The FO 09.22 PSUL from Stockport did not run on 9 Mar (only) due to a
crack in the fixed crossing at Heaton Norris Jn on the Up Fast line which was temporarily plain lined.

551] West Sleekburn Jn - Marchey's House Jn - Lynemouth Power Station: (BLN 1299.363) On Thur 8
Mar 2018 a GBRf operated test train with 66723 left the Port of Tyne at 09.13 for Lynemouth (12.15).
It returned 09.00 Sat 10 Mar reaching the Port of Tyne at 11.32. At 14.35 that day the first rake of new
high capacity biomass wagons arrived at Lynemouth by rail from Germany. Notices are displayed in
public places along the line that trains are running again after three years; the last train (incoming
coal) was Apr 2015. Marchey's House Jn - Winning Crossing Jn curve is intact but not in regular use.

552] Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust, Midsomer Norton (former South) station, Silver St,
BA3 2EY: (MR p6) (BLN 1254.MR57) From Sat 10 Mar the public run was extended from ST 6587 5299
(12m 42ch from the former Bath Jn) by about 400yd to ST 6564 5275 about 12m 60ch or 350yd short
of the filled in Chilcompton Tunnel north portal. ST 6561 5272 is the end of line (12m 62ch). Trains run
1 & 2* Apr, 6 & 7* May, 16 & 17 Jun, 15 & 16 Jul, 12 Aug, 15 & 16 Sep, 17 & 18 Oct, 18 Nov, 2, 9 & 16
Dec 2018 also 1 Jan 2019. Day Rover £6 Adult; £3 Child. [*Gartell Light Railway runs 10.30 to 16.30.]

553] Irish Rail, Gorey (excl) - Arklow (excl): TCP 6 Mar until midday 12 Mar 2018 due to a weather
related landslide near Arklow. Trains generally ran Connolly - Arklow and Gorey - Rosslare Harbour.

554] Boston Sleaford Siding (Total Aggregates) 104m 45ch†: ROG (after about 20 years) Tue 13 Mar,
02.58 train from Bardon Hill Quarry (GBRf operated, arriving 09.00). (†From King's Cross via Spalding.)

555] Ely West Jn - Ely West Curve - Ely North Jn: (BLN 1288.1827) ROA Tue 13 Mar 2018 this direction.
Previously TCA 14 Aug 2017 (in the 'Up' eastbound direction) due to a derailment at Ely West Jn when
damaged crossover points (72m 39ch) were plain lined with through trains diverted or reversing at Ely.

556] Westerfield Jn - Felixstowe (incl); Derby Road & Trimley stations: TCP from 19.00 Wed 14 Mar
until Sun 18 Mar 2018 (incl); the 14.06 Birch Coppice to Felixstowe North Freightliner working hit a car
at Routes No8 Level Crossing (77m 36ch). Signalling and level crossing lineside equipment was badly
damaged and had to be completely rebuilt/tested. Restricted freight services operated on the branch.

557] Colchester, East Gate Jn/Colne Jn - Hythe Jn - Thorpe-le-Soken (excl) & 5 stations: TCP Thur 15
until 16.00 Sun 18 Mar 2018 (incl) due to an embankment slip on the Down side near Thorrington
Level Crossing (59m 41ch). This was traced to a silted up culvert which was cleared and repaired.
A shuttle services ran during the closure between Thorpe-le-Soken and Walton-on-the-Naze/Clacton.

558] Limerick Jn, Keane's Points - Waterford West Jn & 4 stations: TCA 15 Mar (flooding at Clonmel).

559] Brent New Jn - Willesden 'F' Sidings: (Updating paper BLN 1301) Loco 50008 brought 11 PNA
wagons (originating from Chddesden Yard on 19 Mar) in on Tue 20 Mar 2018 for loading (the first use
of these sidings for many years). More wagons arrived from Eastleigh on Wed 21st. Outward traffic will
be regular inert spoil (a significant stockpile was noted there on 17 Mar) to Calvert or Barrington.

560] Whifflet South Jn - Whifflet (Goods) single line: TCA 25 Mar to 3 Apr 2018 (resignalling work).

561] Tramlink, Reeves Corner (excl) - East Croydon (incl) and Church Street - Centrale/Wandle Park
& 6 stops: TCP 30 Mar to 4 Apr 2018 (both incl) for relaying*. (Wandle Park - Reeves Corner is open.)

562] Tramlink, East Croydon (incl until 4 Apr) - Lebanon Road - Sandilands (excl): TCP 30 Mar - 8 Apr*
*Track relaying George St to Church St and from the junction of Cherry Orchard Rd to Addiscombe Rd
and routine maintenance including platform resurfacing at Wellesley Road and Church Street stops.

563] South Tynedale Railway, Lintley Halt (excl) - Slaggyford station (inclusive): (BLN 1289.MR180)
OP expected Good Friday 30 Mar 2018. The 1½ mile extension lengthens the public run of this 2ft
gauge line to 4½ miles on the former standard gauge Haltwhistle - Alston branch. First test train Sat
22 Jul 2017; ceremonial opening 24 Jul 2017 by the Duke of Gloucester (special train invited guests).
Trains run until 31 Oct, Tue, Thur, Sat & Sun with seven day operation in school holidays. Alston:
10.45, 13.15 & 15.15 (90 mins round trip with 20 mins at Slaggyford dep 11.40, 14.10 & 16.10).
Kirkhaigh and Lintley are request stops. 01434 382828 is the 'talking timetable'. Adult rover £10,
Child £5, Family £25 (2A & 3C); Single: Adult £8, Child £4 - these are all 'donation' tickets (non-
donation tickets are 10% less) and can be gift aided. 10% discount for students with ID and OAPs.

564] Darlaston Jn - Walsall Pleck Jn: (BLN 1301.445) ROP (PSUL line) now expected Sat .7. Apr 2018.

1301 BLN GENERAL (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
565] Veni Vidi Grici: (BLN 1300.452) Long standing member No51, John Dew, still lives in Stourbridge
where the Society originated and recalls that our Founder, John Ling, taught him Latin (he was very
good and got me though 'O' Levels). This was at King Edward VI Grammar School, Stourbridge (then
Worcestershire, now West Midlands). Quite a few of our early members were John's pupils.

566] Millennial 26-30 Railcard: At the other end of the spectrum, after a Greater Anglia trial, 10,000
(only) of these were available to buy nationally on 12 Mar, and promptly sold out with the website
crashing. Only available digitally with an app, they give 34% off most fares (not seasons) at any time of
day (with a £12 minimum fare 04.30 to 10.00 excluding weekends and public holidays). They can be
loaded on Oyster Cards and used with all TOCs except Eurostar. If you are one of the 4½M eligible but
unsuccessful 'Millennials', sign up at for future releases. Of note, a flat battery
[how about a round one?] or failure to have the device requires purchase of a new full price ticket.

567] Points & Slips: ●BLN 1298.297] Work recently began on the Bala Lake Railway extension to Bala
with the demolition of a former commercial building and its foundations in the town. The first delivery
of rails arrived on 6 Mar which will be stored until formal planning permission is granted. Funds are
still required for the project.

●BLN 1299.MR31] It is understood that at the Swanage Railway in 2017 the loss from operating
through trains to Wareham was over £50,000.

●BLN 1300.437] Before the Tyneside IECC (Integrated Electronic Control Centre) took control, the
previous Benton Signal Box replaced Benton Quarry, Benton East, Benton North and Benton Station
boxes from 1 Mar 1964.

●443] On 7 Mar 7903 'Foremarke Hall' hauled the first steam train to reach the new Broadway station
with a test train. The previous steam train called at the original Broadway station on Sat 5 Mar 1960
(not Mon 7 Mar 1960, as elsewhere, the date from which the BR local service was withdrawn).

●467] Manchester Piccadilly P13 & 14 were not the original Manchester, South Junction & Altrincham
Railway station, although it was roughly on the same site (with three platforms our member thinks).

●470] The new ticket gates at Manchester Airport were staffed during a recent visit.

●471] Metrolink terminated at Newbold, before Rochdale station, on 26 Dec 2016 due to flooding.

●475] The Pullman style Cambridge Carriages at Fen Drayton, are: 1954 Swindon built Mk1 Second
Class corridor (SK) 24458, 1957 Wolverton built Composite corridor (CK) 15626 and 1955 Doncaster
built First Open (FO) 3065. Is the box new?

●500] On the West Highland Line Rhu (CP 15 Jun 1964) was Row until 24 Feb 1927 (Quick).

●508] The partially dismantled Greenloaning crossover (Up to Down Main Lines) was trailing.

●517] It is understood that the damage to many wheels on the ATW fleet was tracked down to a check
rail between Maindee West Jn and North Jn, at Newport. It was very fortunate that other TOCs do not
use that curve and freight is unusual.

ABOVE: Some of the instruments and controls in the cab of a Class 390 Pendolino. (Nick Westcott)

568] Reminder, Virgin Trains Charity Auction: (BLN 1300.430) Your chance to bid for this unusual
experience closes at midday Tue 10 Apr. It includes a cab ride of your choice to or from Crewe for two
with two First Class Virgin Trains return tickets and a two-hour session on Virgin Trains Class
……………………………………………………………………390 'Pendolino' full-cab simulator at Crewe. OR, if you
……………………………………………………………………prefer, just much longer cab rides (and rare track!) All the
……………………………………………………………..……proceeds are shared between Rethink Mental Illness
………………………………………………..…………………and Railway Children. Reserve £700. Email bids headed
……………………………………………………………………'BLS Simulator Bid' with the amount, your name, email
………………………………………………………………….. & phone number to [email protected]

569] Unusual Transport Systems, 6th Edition 2017 Amendments: (Thanks to our member Rod Bryant.)
Section 3, Gondola Rides: Add Titanic Belfast, 1 Olympic Way, Queen's Road, Belfast, BT3 9EP,
Shipbuilding Ride, (028) 9076 6386
Section 7 Electric Railways: Add Butlins Resort, Ingoldmells, Skegness, PE25 1NJ, (TF 570 674), Gauge
600mm, 100yd (0330)1006649 Delete Hunstanton Safari Express Removed by 10/17.
Section 11 Vertical & Incline Lifts: Add The Grotto, Coast Road, Marsden, South Shields, NE34 7BS.
(NZ 398 648) (Car Park - Beach) Vertical Single (0191) 4556060
Section 20 Tethered Balloon Rides: Delete Entry & Section. The last one at Bournemouth closed 06/16.

570]…………….… ……………. PSUL 2018 - UPDATE 2 (March 2018))………….… ….…….……..600]
… ……………………………………… ………

The previous update was in BLN 1298, minor retimings of a few minutes are ignored; the
latest version of PSUL can always be found on-line

Page 5: add: Sheet Stores Junction - Stenson Junction (53) CC01: temporary
diversionary use 22 July to 2 September 2018: CrossCountry trains between Burton-on-
Trent and Chesterfield.

Page 5: Trent East Junction - Toton Centre: add Diversionary use: 22 July to 2
September 2018: CrossCountry trains between Burton-on-Trent and Chesterfield and
East Midlands Trains between East Midlands Parkway and Chesterfield.

Page 6: Old Oak Common West - Northolt Junction: from 10 December 2018, the
section of line between Old Oak Common West and Greenford West Junction is expected
to be closed, and these trains permanently diverted between these points to run instead
via Ealing Broadway.

Page 12: Langley Junction (Up) - Langley South Junction (via up Hertford spur):
replacement of Watton-at-Stone -Stevenage services by bus deferred to December 2018.

Pages 15 and 16: Wolverhampton Crane Street Junction - Portobello Junction and
Darlaston Junction - Pleck Junction: resumption of SO train expected 7 April 2018.

Page 19: Belfast City Junction - Central Junction: Belfast Central station to be
renamed Belfast Lanyon Place from September 2018.

571] Stationless passenger lines: (BLN 1300.449) This has aroused much interest since York to Malton,
which is now well down the list, was mentioned (BLN 1297.168). A summary in descending distance.

Line Measured M Ch
128.4 km
Ebbsfleet International - Calais Fréthun via Ashford Viaduct 101.5 km 79 61
Lockerbie - Kirknewton 74.7 km 64 61
Ebbsfleet International - UK border (for reference) via Ashford Viaduct 63 ..7
Pewsey - Bruton via the Westbury and Frome avoiders 53.8 km 50 62
Ashford International - Calais Fréthun* 32.9 miles 46 32
Settle - Appleby (Intermediate stations were closed 4 May 1970 to 13 Jul 1986) 40 62
Berwick-upon-Tweed - Dunbar 37 75
Ebbsfleet International - Ashford International 33 33
Portadown - Dundalk (before Newry formerly Bessbrook, ROP 14 May 1984) 32 76
Castle Cary - Taunton 27 45
Hereford - Abergavenny (Monmouth Road, the present station) 26 23
York - Thirsk** 22 16
York - Malton 21 12

*Only train 9110, 06.47 SSuX St Pancras International to Bruxelles Midi, calls at both stations. Some
may consider that track in another country should not count. The criterion is the distance between
adjacent stations by rail, regardless of whether trains call at both or if they are both served by trains in
the same timetable. York to Malton closing in 1930 (once the record holder amd has ended up well
down the table) was straight forward. However, as with most things BLS, it has become more complex
as intermediate stations have closed or were not served by trains in a table (such as West of England
trains not calling at Bruton). Thanks to our NE Regional Editor for slightly expanding his area for this!
**Tollerton: The East Coast Main Line here retained one early morning northbound train a day until
1 Nov 1965 for outward traffic of day-old chicks from a breeding farm (they were too young to fly.....).

1301 EAST MIDLANDS (John Cameron) [email protected]
X.37] Cromford & High Peak Railway: is an 8 minute colour video of this
amazing line on 30 Apr 1967, the last day of operation. (2 minutes) is a pair of
steam engines stalling on the 1:14 Hopton Incline in colour with sound on a brakevan special!

572] Bennerley Viaduct: (BLN 1299.348) Sustrans has abandoned their plan to develop the viaduct for
cyclists as this involves the installation of expensive ramps at both ends. However, they still intend to
develop it for walkers and the 1,452ft long, 61ft high viaduct would indeed be a spectacular walk.
BELOW: Bennerley Viaduct looking north towards Clay Cross Jn, with the Erewash Valley line on the
left. Foreground/right is Bennerley Open Cast site (now landscaped) Angus McDougall 19 Apr 1980.

ABOVE: View from Bennerley Shilo Open Cast Disposal Point southwest towards its junction with the
Erewash Valley line at the 127m 35ch end of the point ladder. It was on the Up side of the line (and
can still be seen) just north of the GNR viaduct which is on the left; at one time that was threatened
with demolition to expand the nearby open cast site. MGR trains used to run on a Saturday morning
generally to Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station. (Angus McDougall Saturday [say no more] 19 Apr 1980.)

[BLN 1301]
573] Midland Main Line (BLN 1296.52) As predicted there are many East Midlands Trains timetable
changes from 20 May due to Thameslink and the Midland Main Line upgrades, with some trains even
accelerated (partly by cutting out stops!). As predicted, SSuX only, until Dec 2020 when requadrupling
and electrification to Kettering is completed, morning peak travel from Wellingborough to Bedford
going south only is by an air conditioned dedicated fully accessible coach with WiFi at 07.11, 07.35,
08.14, 08.43, 09.09 and 09.38. They are shown 'non-stop' in 45/50 minutes for the 19⅓ miles but will
actually include town centre stops too (AA route planner gives 31 minutes by car but no doubt traffic
could be bad). In the evening peak similar coaches run north (only) from Bedford SSuX at 16.28
(although there is actually a train at 16.24!), 16.58, 17.28, 17.59. 18.28 and 19.04 to Wellingborough.
The train service continues at other times; passengers' frustration can be appreciated as trains can do
the 16 mile rail journey in just 10 minutes. Those unfortunate enough to commute will have up to 50%
off season ticket prices and 25% off Anytime Day Tickets. Luton is in a similar situation (with no road
coaches) but will have more Thameslink services; EMT calls are maintained at Luton Airport Parkway.
574] Newark Castle: (BLN 1290.225) The re-opened Newark Castle ticket office is a franchise on
commission (as at Whitby, Gobowen, Ludlow, Ledbury, Newquay and - until it closes on 31 Mar -
Chester-le-Street for example). It is believed that EMT, which manage the station, did not want to staff
a ticket office. On Wednesday evenings there is a community café using surplus supermarket food.

575] Sinfin Central: (BLN 1292.2203) In Feb 1998, nearly five years after the final passenger service
had run, a local member started using the station on his daily commute to work at the Rolls-Royce
Sinfin 'A' site! To relieve the parking problems (one reason for the original passenger service, of
course) the company opened a cinder surfaced car park at the back of the Sinfin Lane site in Wilmore
Rd with security staff on the entrance. The only access to the works was via turnstiles (requiring a pass
to operate) from the car park via a path alongside the Sinfin Central branch, across the foot crossing
and back along the platform to the back of the 'A' site entrance. Only once in the two years he worked
there was his way blocked by a late running train delivering aviation fuel from Grangemouth Refinery!
.SECOND. PAGE BELOW - TOP: Plan of route to/from work at Rolls Royce via Sinfin Central station,
Derby is to the left and Chellaston Jn was to the right. (All Andy Stewart - no relation - from Sinfin!)

ABOVE: Sinfin Central in 1998 looking northwest to Derby showing how the path crossed the branch.
BELOW: The station in the opposite direction, southeast towards the former Challaston Jn.

576] Scunthorpe - a late evening BLS Tour perhaps? On 4 Mar, at 22.12 the driver of a Steelworks loco
making a propelling movement of a raft of wagons passed S351 signal in Trent Sidings Road No5 at red
by an unspecified distance, showing up on Scunthorpe Power Box Panel. The driver, employed at the
works, returned there before a reason for passing the signal could be obtained.

577] Kettering - Corby: (BLN 1299.328) The £130M Kettering requadrupling and redoubling to Corby
with the signalling enhancements (enabling seven trains an hour to run each way) was completed by
26 Feb. Fourteen bridges and viaducts have been strengthened, 21km of track laid (9km of existing
track renewed and 12km of new track), 4km of drainage installed, 15km of embankment has been
stabilised and 73km of cabling laid. Corby will become a Thameslink outpost and the DfT has been
consulting on ending 'through' services between Melton Mowbray, Oakham and London St Pancras.

From Dec 2020 over 1,000 extra seats (a 50% increase), will be provided between Corby and London in
the peaks [no more standing on trains leaving Corby then?]. For now the upgrade has improved
reliability and recovery, increased capacity for diversions, allowed trains with large W10 containers to
use it, removed a temporary speed restriction and provided much new track for our members to do.

578] Moira West: (BLN 1300.453) The box does not have an NX (Entrance Exit Panel); it is an IFS
(Individual Function Switch) type. Push-buttons are located by each signal on the panel to operate
them but exit buttons are not provided; pushing the button at the signal alone gives the clearance.
Points are also operated by individual switches first too; the panel is not route-setting. There are quite
a few of these IFS panels, ready to trap the unwary identifier! (We don't feel too bad about this one, as
even Peter Kay's Signalling Atlas & Signal Box Directory, Third Edition (2010), was similarly 'trapped'…)

1301 GREATER LONDON (Geoff Brockett) [email protected]
579] Northern Line Extension: (BLN 1300.462) The new Kennington loop junctions are Kennington Park Jn
at the divergence towards Battersea and Kennington Green Jn at the convergence. ('Underground News')

[BLN 1301]
580] Canal Tunnels unlocked: (BLN 1300.440) The route learning passenger service through these two
tunnels between Finsbury Park and St Pancras International Low Level has been increased by 33%
(all as Short Term Planning) to: 09.46 & 13.17 Peterborough - Horsham, 11.24 & 14.24 Cambridge -
Brighton, with 10.00 & 13.30 Horsham - Peterborough and 11.32 & 14.32 Brighton - Cambridge
return. There was a crowd of 'normal' passengers (plus three BLS members, also plenty of staff in the
cab) on 4 Mar (only the 8th day of operation) for the Peterborough train at St Pancras - most went past
Finsbury Park (unlike the BLS members!). These trains are all SSuX but do not run Good Friday/Easter
Monday. At St Pancras International the signal theatre displays 'C' for Canal Tunnels and 'D' for Down
Moorgate. (The Down Moorgate line runs from the former Farringdon Jn (originally from Moorgate,
of course) to Carlton Road Jn beyond Kentish Town and the Up Moorgate in the opposite direction.)

581] Crossrail: (BLN 1300.457) The OHLE from Old Oak Common Crossrail Depot Line 1 (3m 01ch) to
the buffer stops of Crossrail depot sidings S10 to S27 (3m 27ch) is due to be energised from 16 Apr.

582] Crossrail 2: (BLN 1291.2132) TfL and the DfT have announced an Independent Affordability
Review to examine ways of making the scheme more affordable. It will be chaired by Mike Gerrard,
former managing director of the Thames Tideway Tunnel. It will submit an interim report this summer
and a more detailed final report later in light of the recommendations made in the interim report.

583] Finchley Central: (BLN 1298.233) The Northern Line WTT (Working Timetable) changed on 29 Jan
and thanks to the Byzantine efforts of our esteemed WTT surveyor general, train 016 was discovered
on p68 (of 250!). [A Double Gold Star for that man.] Train 016* starts at Kennington but achieves
unique status at Finchley Central, SSuX 19.20½, where for the first time for some years due to an ECS
movement in P1, it uses P2. (The Underground guides compiled by your London Editor listed one train
daily in 1989/90.) Critically it proceeds to Mill Hill East over rare track between the divergence for
High Barnet and where the standard route from P1 trails in left. On Tue 13 Mar, despite the ECS
leaving P1 before a High Barnet train left P2, the route was set as booked and 016 duly glided to a halt.

*A reminder that LU train (running) numbers are kept by the set for the whole day, unless the set is
changed over, and thus apply before and after all changes of direction.

BELOW: The fourth train on P2 at Finchley Central looks promising. (All Simon Mortimer 29 Jan 2018.)

[BLN 1301]
PREVIOUS PAGE TOP: "I Don't Believe It… a train to Mill Hill East from Finchley Central Platform 2…"
The locals are clearly very excited about the monumental events that are about to unfold here.

PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Train 016 arrives and the doors open. Perhaps we should be handing out a
Society prospectus to the passengers - any volunteers? This move will soon happen in daylight.

After a brief photo call it set off for the 2¼ minute journey, although the rare metal took considerably
less! It was notable that before departure a staff member was asked about this train and denied any
train went to Mill Hill East from P2, he even brandished his iPad which said it didn't, although the
Passenger Information Screen (PIS) said it did! The PIS won on 'points'. The member of staff descended
to platform level to witness this 'event' and when he could see 016 really was coming in to P2, he
began to make announcements that 'the next train on P2 is for Mill Hill East'! The driver was also at
pains to make clear this train really was for Mill Hill East. One wonders how many have been carried
away on a little mystery tour who, on autopilot, board for High Barnet? (A hair raising experience?)

584] King's Cross (1): NR is consulting with the rail industry on its proposals to remodel the track
layout and re-control the signalling from King's Cross Power Box to York ROC between there and
Hadley Wood/Gordon Hill plus Finsbury Park to Moorgate/Canonbury. The remodelling is intended to
provide paths for eight high speed trains per hour in and out of the station, with work taking place in a
series of possessions between Jun 2019 and Mar 2020. The main proposed features are:

●Reducing the reliance on bespoke switch and crossing units and using standard units instead, with a reduction of 27 point ends to reduce maintenance costs and improve reliability.

●Increased line speeds in the Belle Isle area.

●P9 to be extended over its current alignment on the trackbed of the current P10; P11 is renumbered
..P10. The junction for the remaining two suburban platforms is to be remodelled for them to take
..8-car Class 700 EMUs. [King's Cross loses some suburban services down the Canal Tunnels, of course.]

●Removal of the East Sidings to allow the disused eastern bore of Gasworks Tunnel to be reopened.

●Between the south portals of the tunnel and Belle Isle Jn, lines will be lettered A-F from east to west.

●Main line platforms to be altered to suit the new track layout and provide standage for 10-car IETs

●Passive provision will be made for 12-car IETs in P0, 2 & 3.

585] King's Cross (2): (BLN 1300.440) King's Cross Metropolitan - King's Cross Suburban/York Road
CP Mon 9 Nov 1976 was not quite the end of the 'line'. From Mon 31 Jan 1977 to Fri 4 Mar 1977 both
reopened for ECS workings during the five-week first phase of the nine-week King's Cross throat
remodelling (or clearing the throat) and York Road station TROP likewise. Only after this did both CA.

Other relevant dates during the Great Northern Suburban Electrification and Resignalling Project were:

Old Street - Drayton Park ROP Mon 16 Aug 1976; Moorgate - Drayton Park ROG and Drayton Park -
Finsbury Park 'OG' (both for ECS only), some time before that for route learning, and OP throughout
Mon 8 Nov 1976. King's Cross Passenger Loco (the diesel depot) was not regularly used after
Sun 13 May 1979 and CA Thur 18 Oct 1979. West Sidings (the Milk Dock, latterly used for loading and
unloading Motorail vehicles) CA Sun 12 Jun 1988. P11 was reinstated and OA Sun 18 Sep 1988.
An interesting contemporaneous record of work in the King's Cross area.

Canonbury Jn - Finsbury Park also CP Mon 9 Nov 1976 but was used for limited diversions during the
Bishop's Stortford - Cambridge electrification in the 1980s. Next year King's Cross will be remodelled
again 42 years after the last time (but without the use of Hotel Curve or York Road station this time!).

NEXT PAGE TOP: Drayton Park looking north towards Finsbury Park in Aug 1976 showing the new
connections between the two (commissioned June that year, passenger services began 8 Nov 1976).
The original (Northern Line branch from Moorgate) tunnels to Finsbury Park can be seen straight
ahead in the centre partly obstructed. (Angus McDougall)

586] Kingsway Tram Tunnel: After access use by Crossrail, the tunnel is to be returned to the London
Borough of Camden. A shaft used to pump grouting material into the ground has been filled in, the
concrete floor has been reinstated and other evidence of its use as a construction site is being
removed. Eventually the tram rails will be put back in their original location. (Railway Herald)

587] Latimer Road: Local residents have requested that the station be renamed 'Grenfell' as a
memorial to the fire in the nearby tower block. The Mayor of London has said that he will consult with
the local community on the proposal. (Evening Standard)

588] Lee Spur (Lee Loop Jn - Lee Spur Jn): From Sat 5 to May Day Bank Holiday, Mon 7 May, inclusive
there are all day half hourly Charing Cross to Orpington through trains over this spur via Deptford,
Woolwich, Slade Green, Bexley, Lee Spur and Chislehurst as well as in the opposite direction. With
Cannon Street station and the Lewisham area both closed over the three days, trains for Dartford and
Gravesend are also routed from Charing Cross via Deptford, unusual as this line is normally only
served from Cannon Street. At least some Up services are booked to use the Southwark Reversible
line. Charing Cross to Orpington takes nearly 1½ hours on one of these trains serving 26 stations but
the journey can be 'short circuited' by Grove Park - Greenwich (and other) rail replacement buses.

589] LUL Sub-Surface Line Resignalling: (BLN 1292.2220) Between Chiswick Park and Hanger Lane Jn
(shared with the Piccadilly Line), Gunnersbury and Richmond (London Overground) and East Putney
and Wimbledon (SWR), the new SelTrac system will be overlaid on to the existing conventional
signalling, such that ATO (Automatic Train Operation) can operate. Thus non-automatic operation can
be maintained by Piccadilly trains, LO and SWR respectively. The ATO overlay will align with the block
sections of the conventional signalling so not all CBTC (Communications Based Train Control) features,
such as moving block, will be possible. However on these extremities, this is not seen as a problem
since the service frequency is lower. This would appear to preclude interworking of District and
Piccadilly Line trains over each other's tracks between Hammersmith and Acton Town.

[BLN 1301]
On the Metropolitan Line from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Amersham (shared with Chiltern) and from
Rayners Lane to Uxbridge (Piccadilly Line), an 'underlay'* system is being provided. The present
signalling is being replaced with a conventional three-aspect system for Chiltern/Piccadilly trains, but
incorporating a blue aspect for Metropolitan Line trains working in ATO mode. The system will know
which type of train is where and will display the appropriate aspect on the signal. It will not show a
blue light when either a red, yellow or green aspect is displayed and vice versa. This 'underlay'
approach will allow following Metropolitan Line trains to operate in moving block operation while
Chiltern Railway and Piccadilly line trains will remain in fixed block operation. Train stops will be
retained at all lineside signals on these routes with 'other lines' trains retaining associated trip-cock
braking equipment. is a detailed article about the resignalling. (Rail Engineer)

Note that Piccadilly line trains do not over run over any tracks with three-aspect signalling, so this will
be an innovation over the two-aspect colour light signalling where yellow is like a distant signal.
[*Maybe Network Rail should try rolling this out, perhaps at Axminster, Wilton and Kidderminster?]

590] Off Central Line: (BLN 1299.358) Loughton Jn - Leyton Jn originally opened in 1856, although
named Loughton Jn in the Pre-grouping Junction Diagrams. An 1879 photo of the second signal box
here shows it with the nameboard 'Loughton Branch Junc'. It closed 29 Jun 1958, which is presumably
why the junction was referred to as Temple Mills East Jn in PSUL and BLN at closure. A chronology:

Ꚛ22 Aug 1856: Opened as part of the Eastern Counties Railway's branch to Loughton.

Ꚛ5 May 1947: The Central Line service was extended from Stratford to Leytonstone, joining the
…existing branch at a new Leyton Jn, just south of that station. The existing signal box, dating from
…Nov 1899, was retained and set back a few feet to accommodate the junction. This left the line from
…Loughton Jn to be used by the early morning 'PSUL' trains and freights for the various goods yards.

Ꚛ18 Apr 1966: Most of remaining goods yards on the Central Line closed. These were at Woodford,
…Loughton, Debden, Theydon Bois, Epping, Blake Hall and Ongar by then mainly for household coal.

Ꚛ6 May 1968: Leyton goods yard closed.

Ꚛ1 Jun 1970: Early morning BR passenger services withdrawn.

Ꚛ3 May 1971: Closed to all traffic.

Ꚛ20 Jun 1971: Line secured out of use (OOU). However BLN at the time reported that a connection
…between LT and BR lines was retained via Leyton Engineer's Sidings for shunting purposes.

Ꚛ5 Nov 1971: Leyton signal cabin closed.

Ꚛ29 Oct 1972: Connection at Leyton Jn removed.

591] Pouparts Jn - Longhedge Jn: (BLN 1299.357) 26 Jan 2018 was not the last use of this diversionary
route, as a member was able to cover it in the early hours of Sun 11 Mar. This fitted in well after the
UK Railtours 'The Valley of the Witch' tour, as he had to stay two nights in London for that anyway.
Online information indicated that one train in each direction was booked to do the unusual routeing,
although they would pass each other on the way, so it would only be possible to ride one way. He
decided to move his car to Victoria after the tour in readiness for a quick return to the hotel.

Then it was Underground to Blackfriars and a walk round deserted streets led him to the south
entrance to the main line station to await the arrival of the 01.04 train to Three Bridges. A man with
orange rucksack and jacket walking down P1 shortly before due time looked promising - a route
conductor perhaps? The lightly loaded train arrived and after a brief wait departed bearing right quite
soon on to the Down Holborn Slow, round the curve from Loughborough Jn to Canterbury Road Jn
(previously done by railtours but OP 1 Jan 1863 and CP 1 Apr 1921) and crossing at Shepherds Lane Jn
to the Up Atlantic line. Then it was onwards through deserted Clapham High Street and Wandsworth
Road stations, recalling the CrossCountry rail replacement bus journeys to the latter from Ealing

Broadway a few years ago, before turning left onto the Down Ludgate and passing the train in the
other direction just before Pouparts Jn. Three crossovers to the left found the train non-stop through
Clapham Junction P15 for a straight run to Selhurst with an unadvertised stop (for staff perhaps?) and
on to East Croydon P5, where our member alighted. A quick walk to P4 for the 01.43 to Victoria P10
ended a very long but most enjoyable day. Time will tell if this diversion happens again on 24-27 Apr.

592] South Kensington: (BLN 1279.854) TfL has selected Native Land as its joint venture partner to
restore the station and develop the surrounding area. Proposals will now be developed for
consultation later this year. Subject to planning permission it is still hoped to complete the
development in 2022. Listed building consent has been granted for the separate project to reinstate
the ex-Metropolitan Railway eastbound platform, expand the ticket hall and gate line and build a new
emergency exit on to the Thurloe Street bridge. Work on this will commence later in the spring.

593] West London Orbital Rail: (BLN 1291.2136) This scheme, running initially from West Hampstead
to Hounslow, has now been included in the Mayor of London's 25 year transport strategy.

1301 NORTH EAST (Geoff Blyth) [email protected]

Change of email: .Geoff's Talktalk email address is ending, - please use the address above instead.

594] Chester-le-Track: Sadly this rail ticket sales franchise operation ceases
trading on 31 March, after 19 years. At Chester-le-Street the ticket office opened 07.30-18.00 Mon-Fri
and 07.30-13.00 Saturdays and at Eaglescliffe Mon-Sat 05.50-17.00. 'Stationmaster' Alex Nelson said
that falling revenue due to increased online sales, portable devices and mobile phones had made the
business unprofitable. Staff spent around 2,000 hours a year booking tickets and helping customers to
find a bargain. No booking fees, credit or debit card fee were charged, and tickets were sent by post
free of charge. Chester-le-Street will then be unstaffed, leading to the closure of its toilets and waiting
room. The same will presumably occur at Eaglescliffe. In 1999 when the business began, 90% of

customers from Chester-le-Street bought their tickets at
the station. Passenger numbers (231,000 at Chester-le-
Street and 207,000 at Eaglescliffe in 2016/17) have risen
greatly but station ticket sales have fallen to only 20-30%
of the total. They will be available from machines or on
the train. Grand Central is reviewing provision of services
for passengers at Eaglescliffe for its London trains.

595] Pelaw - Washington - Penshaw ( - Durham /
Ferryhill): Our 25 Feb 'Metro Meanderer' railtour
itinerary mentioned the very spartan weekday local
service on this line but the passenger withdrawal was
more complicated than described (rarely otherwise in BR
days!). LEFT: Map of the line thanks to Dave Cromarty.
The train service in the final timetable when Washington
trains ran (until 8 Sep 1963) had just three trains:

❶SX 8.34am Newcastle to Washington (8.56am)
continuing at 9.08am as a parcels train to Durham,
calling at Penshaw and Fencehouses. The return working
was more complicated. ❷The 5.10pm SX Sunderland to
Penshaw (arr 5.26pm) reversed at that station and
continued at 5.28pm ECS to Washington, where it then
formed the 5.33pm to Newcastle. This meant that it was
possible to commute from Newcastle to Washington and
back in the day on the one train each way but, perhaps

unexpectedly, not from Washington to Newcastle and back! The Washington trains ceased from
9 Sep 1963, which was the first withdrawal under the Beeching plan as there were (most unusually) no
objections. However, they were still shown in the winter timetable starting from that date.
Presumably, when it went to print, BR expected objections so the trains would have to continue while
they were addressed.
However, the ❸4.35am from Newcastle, through to Darlington via Durham and Bishop Auckland,
calling at Fencehouses, was not withdrawn until 4 May 1964 (the same date as the Sunderland to
Durham passenger service). So this is the real date of withdrawal of passenger service over the Pelaw -
Penshaw section of line. BELOW: A two car Metro-Cammell DMU at Washington Up platform in 1963,
there seems to be more parcels than passengers. (Alan Young)

596] T&W Metro: (BLN 1300.464) Work began at the end of February on a £700k upgrade to three of
the oldest stops on the system. Cullercoats (which dates from 1882), Monkseaton (1915) and West
Monkseaton (1933) are to be modernised to improve accessibility, security and energy efficiency while
preserving the original structures and dealing with more than a century of wear and tear.

1301 NORTH WEST (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
.Graeme' address is ending;. new postal address: Dolbryn, Penegoes, Machynlleth, SY20 8NN.
597] Blackpool North: NEXT PAGE BELOW: With thanks to our cartographer extraordinaire Martyn
Brailsford, the previous layout is left and the new one (right) as it is due to open now on Mon 16 Apr.
Platforms have generally been straightened and P1 & 2 extended to take full length Pendolinos. P1 & 2
do not have (or need, operationally) direct access to the carriage sidings now and the diamond
crossover is eliminated.

598] Blackpool North - Kirkham North Jn: From 16 Apr (NB revised date) the area that was controlled
by local signal boxes will be re-signalled with 4-aspect LEDs on the main lines, controlled by Blackpool
Workstation (BL) at Manchester Rail Operating Centre (ROC). Track Circuit Block applies to the Fylde
lines. Between Blackpool North (new layout - previous item) and Kirkham, the Up Main becomes the
Up Fylde and the Down Main the Down Fylde. Carleton Manually Controlled Crossing with Barriers
(MCB) will be converted to MCB with CCTV supervised from Manchester ROC Blackpool Workstation.
Preese Hall, Kirkham Tip and Holts Lane Footpath crossings will be closed and have footbridges.

599] Ashton Moss North Jn: During a two-week blockade from 14 to 29 Apr the original Lancashire &
Yorkshire Railway 1911 built timber signal box, still with its original 56 lever frame, closes and is being
dismantled. NR put the box up for sale (in pieces presumably) 'as seen' to the highest bidder by 21 Mar
(with a £25 reserve) - buyer collects from Gorton Road Compound. The lever frame is also available by
separate auction closing at midday 28 Mar (every home should have one!) as are the three full sized
exterior metal box names as separate lots (anyone interested contact the Editor). The junction is being
realigned over the site of the box for faster main line running and resignalled for commissioning on
30 Apr (electrification to Stalybridge is to follow). To accommodate the line speed increase from 70 to
75mph, the Up and Down Ashton Lines will be renewed through Clayton Bridge Level Crossing, partly
between Clayton Bridge and Ashton Moss North Jn as well as between roughly Milepost 6 and 7¼.

A new (40mph) facing crossover will be provided on the Down Ashton to Up Ashton. A new set of
(40mph) trailing points will be provided on the Up Ashton Line, to the Up Crowthorne* Line (with an 'e'
in the Network Rail resignalling document) - the new name for The 'Up Branch' towards the former
Crowthorn* Jn (no 'e') and Denton Jn beyond. A new (40mph) trailing connection will be provided
from the Down Crowthorne (the new name, again with an 'e', for the 'Down Branch' from the former
Crowthorn Jn) to the Up Ashton. The maximum speed on the Up Crowthorne line will be 30mph and
40mph on the Down Crowthorne. Thus the fixed diamond will be replaced with a facing crossover and
set of points; the new junction will have four points with no trailing crossover. Track Circuit Block is
used with control from Manchester ROC (Manchester North Workstation).

[*Definitely without an 'e' originally and on the former junction signalbox nameboard; but by design or
not, generally with an 'e' in since 1973 in railway documents.]

BELOW: A diverted Virgin Voyager passing Ashton Moss North Jn box - three metal nameplates as
seen here are for sale (see above) - as is the 56 lever frame. (Angus McDougall 30 Dec 2004.)

From the 20 May timetable change the line has 6 trains per hour each way, (2 Northern and 4 TPE) and
freight trains. The TPE services will be: ●Liverpool - Manchester Victoria - Newcastle. ●Liverpool -
Victoria - Scarborough†. ●Manchester Airport - Ordsall Chord - Middlesbrough†. ● Manchester Airport
- Ordsall Chord - Newcastle†. († These three services previously ran via Manchester Piccadilly.)

1301 SOUTH EAST - NORTH, SOUTH (& EAST ANGLIA) (Julian James) [email protected]
600] Wisbech: (BLN 1292.2236) The 'Fenland Citizen' reports that a newly formed public pressure
group, to lobby for March to Wisbech to reopen, has prepared an outline timetable for half hourly
trains from a town centre station. Peter Wakefield, who heads the Wisbech Rail Consultative Group set
up by Railfuture East Anglia, said they will be meeting with Cambridgeshire Mayor James Palmer
within the next few weeks to discuss this. The group, backed by a prominent local business but made
up of volunteers, wants Wisbech Rail ready to run trains 'the minute work to upgrade the Ely North Jn
is completed'. Once the upgrade has been carried out it will enable more trains to stop at Manea and
the group hopes it will become a rural transport hub '... with a dedicated car park, better waiting room
facilities, better lighting and security. It is also hoped to provide cycleways from the village to the
station and a bus service from Chatteris linked to the train times' said Peter.

At Manea (pronounced 'Mainey') footfall has increased by
364% since 2012/13, up from 2,898 to 13,452 in 2016/17 with
improved services. The proposed half-hourly service linked to
Wisbech trains would increase it further. The consultative
group points out that the most efficient way of working
through Cambridge would be to combine Wisbech to
Cambridge and Cambridge to London Liverpool Street
services - giving Wisbech a direct link to the capital. This
ignores the absence of wires north west of Ely (although 'Bi-
Mode' is the current buzzword, services south of Ely are
critically dependent on electric traction for the fast run
between Shepreth Branch Jn and King's Cross).

Regarding location 'If the station is built south of the A47 it will
be harder for people to get to and some of the wider
economic benefits will be lost. There is land available ...
(nearer the town) and we have drawn a map to show where it
should go' he said. Your Regional Editor considers there are
several potential locations between north west of Ely and east
of Peterborough for 'parkway' style stations, all of varying road
and rail merit and most of demerit to the case for Wisbech
branch reopening (with its higher construction costs).
A Wisbech station nearer the town centre adds credibility to
the branch reopening proposal but level crossing of the A47
(no rails now!), a Primary route, is most unlikely to be
approved (TRACKmaps Oct 2016 shows 7 other branch level
crossings but there are more). The only practicable option
without the expense of a bridge may be to remove the A47/
B198 Cromwell Road roundabout into the town, rebuilding the
intersection 600m east, traffic light controlled, and next to the
railway crossing which would operate as one phase of the light

601] Manea: The Up Refuge Siding is now disconnected with
point components in the Up Main removed.

PREVIOUS PAGE LEFT: Network Rails' newest working distant semaphore, Cantley signal 'C1',
commissioned 1 Oct 2017, and due to be decommissioned soon - see below. (Andy Rook 13 Oct 2017.)

602] Theale: (BLN 1300.441) Three Society stalwarts were on the 11.36 Reading to Theale shuttle on
Tue 13 Mar and happily found themselves routed from the Down Westbury via the facing crossover
into 'temporary' P3 on the bidirectional Theale Goods Loop. This nicely overlapped with the Newbury
to Theale trains terminating there on 17 Sep last year. DMU, 165106, returned to Reading at 12.08.

603] Cantley: (BLN 1300.508) A member confirms that the unusual working co-acting semaphore
signal is still here, but not for long as resignalling is progressing. Norwich to Lowestoft/Yarmouth
(OK, Brundall - before anyone says anything) still has a wealth of traditional boxes, level crossings (at
least three have wooden gates and red discs), and much semaphore signalling that will go. They are
well worth seeing. There are also the very interesting swing bridges on the Lowestoft route, of course.

The member also reports that a new mechanical wire worked semaphore distant was commissioned at
Cantley on 1 Oct 2017 to replace a reflectorised board - itself replacing a 'wobbly semaphore'
[official description!] years ago. It may be that sighting of the home signal concerned (Up signal C1)
was insufficient. The current resignalling will make it short-lived! On 16 Mar work on the Lowestoft
route consisted of signal footings throughout mainly by tubular piles, cable trunking east of Haddiscoe
and, as already recorded in BLN, the new crossover east of Oulton Broad North. BELOW: The co-acting
semaphore signal (right) at Cantley, one of only three left now on NR. NEXT PAGE UPPER: Cantley:
traditional signalling, gates and the signalbox - all on their way out. (Both Andy Rook 13 Oct 2017.)

604] When the chips are down: Arriving at Rochford 20.58 on Tue 13 Mar, two Members descended
on a chippy, just as it shut! Taking pity the owner GAVE them ALL the remaining chips and microwaved
two pies. [All that saturated Cholesterol - Ed!] The chips were about 10 normal portions but most sadly
ended up in the bin, after eating to a standstill. This al fresco gluttony was due to OHLE replacement
between Hockley and Shenfield on a slightly miscellaneous set of nights. This meant several late night
services terminated at Hockley (for buses to Shenfield, London and 24 hour fine dining). At 22.18 EMU
321359 duly glided into Rochford ('Hockley' rather incongruously beaming from the destination blind)
to arrive minutes later at.... Hockley. There isn't a lot on at Hockley at this time on a Tuesday, so after
a cool evening walk down the platform and photo of the 'Position 1' feather for the trailing crossover
on the return, they settled into First Class (pure rebellion‽). It was an otherwise deserted train and
they travelled a few minutes back to Rochford. Microgricers can get some really hedonistic nights out!

PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: After arrival the driver is about to change ends to return from whence he
came and came and clear the waiting throngs from Hockley platform. (Simon Mortimer 13 Mar 2018.)

ABOVE: The signal and 'feather' at the Down end of Hockley Up platform 'indicates' that two of our
members are about to do the Country End trailing crossover on a First Class move.

605] Princes Risborough: (BLN 1299.X.25) The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway (C&PR) is running
here again this year. The railway carried out significant engineering work overnight and early morning
on 10/11 Mar to make this possible. (On 'big brother' the Down Main was closed for work and all
through Chiltern services used P2 until 12.00 Sun 11 Mar.) South of the station OOU Siding 1 (too close
to the main line for use) was removed (Siding 2 & 3 will be renumbered 1 & 2 eventually) and its track
was laid alongside future P4 but it still needs fettling, connecting up, signalling etc. Until further notice
passenger trains run 'top & tail' into what will be the future run round line via a short headshunt on
the Chinnor branch alignment (not a loop in the literal sense). This is next to (west of) the new P4
incomplete track so it is not yet possible to join or alight at Princes Risborough. Eventually the Thame
branch siding will run directly into P4. A shed for selling tickets from on P4 is now being renovated;
it was from Solihull station (previously used by car park attendants) and looks like a railway building.

BELOW: When the C&PR was not operating one of their very keen volunteers (who is also a keen
BLS member) was able to take this unusual picture for us. Looking south, on the left is the new Princes
Risborough P4; services are temporarily running 'top & tail' in to the future run round facility (right).
If were not able to do the now lifted Princes Risborough (south) Siding 1, fear not, you will be able to in
future in its new incarnation in P4! The little white building in front of the footbridge stairs is the
future ticket sales shed/office. (Both Andrew Taylor, 11 Mar 2018.)

LEFT: In the opposite direction, looking north,
there is still some work to do. Chinnor is off to
the left. Through ticketing is anticipated as at
other similar Heritage Railways. (Andrew Taylor)

606] 60 Years Ago, Last Day on the Bluebell Line: By CJ Campbell (adapted from BLN June 1958).
A group of youngsters assembled on East Grinstead station at 10.15 am on Sunday, 16 March 1958,
waiting for the 10.28 am to Lewes. The train arrived at 10.18 am and was hauled by 2-6-4 tank
engine No80011 with six corridor coaches instead of the four which were expected for the last trains
on the last day. [The BR 'Sulky Service' usually had one coach.] Leaving East Grinstead two minutes
late, it sped through the now closed Kingscote station and travelled through hilly country to
West Hoathly (4 miles). Many people with cameras were on the platform, while others were
located beside the track on the whole length of the 'Bluebell' line. The train left West Hoathly and
passed through the 728yd West Hoathly tunnel, then commenced a steady climb to Horsted Keynes
(6¼ miles), terminus of the Haywards Heath electric trains. We waited a few minutes for
photographers and then obtained the 'key-staff' for the single line section [built for double track,
which it never had, and remarkably undulating - Ed] of the branch to Culver Jn.

The train ran downhill past the beautiful gardens of Sheffield Green into Sheffield Park station
(10¾ miles), situated beside the picturesque River Ouse. At Sheffield Park, early this century,the
Australians used to play an English Xl at cricket on Sheffield Green, so many special trains were run
on the branch. Passing a timber yard, the train coasted slowly downhill into Newick & Chailey
station (12½ miles), which is very picturesque and situated in a cutting with many kinds of beautiful
flowers growing on the platform. It left Newick & Chailey and passed through the 64yd Cinder Hill
Tunnel. The line passed through woodlands to Barcombe, where trains no longer stopped, and
proceeded to Culver Jn where the single line 'key staff' was handed over to the signalman. The
double track line from Tonbridge and Uckfield was then taken to finally reach Lewes station
(17½ miles from East Grinstead), arriving 11.14 am, a nostalgic journey of 44 minutes.

At 2.50 pm we reassembled on Lewes P8. By 3.12 pm when the train arrived, over 100 people were
waiting and everybody piled on board. A 'V' shape wreath, made of laurel leaves with daffodils and
heather, was placed on the front of 2-6-4 tank engine No80154. In the centre of the wreath was a
hand-painted bluebell. The six-coach train, driven by Driver Roser, left Lewes at 3.36 pm (only six
minutes late) and the 'key staff' was picked up from the signalman at Culver Jn at 3.42 pm. The train
passed through Barcombe where a few people stood on the disused station and waved it through.

At Newick & Chailey, several people boarded the train as did a few more at Sheffield Park. Nearly
100 were at Horsted Keynes, which is the point where the track becomes double, and several more
clambered on to the already loaded six coaches. At West Hoathly more crowds watched the train
pull in and several boarded it for the short journey to East Grinstead, where we arrived at 4.28 pm,
the time it should have pulled out on its final run to Lewes. Three coaches were added [they could
do that sort of thing in 1958!], making a nine-coach train for the last journey back to Lewes, which I,
unfortunately, could not travel on because of my long journey back to London [all of 30 miles - Ed!].

Then at 4.48 pm (only 20 minutes late) the train pulled out after Guard Harry Stevens had waved his
green flag. It moved slowly out of East Grinstead passing over some fog detonators which exploded
in its path; Driver Roser also gave blast after blast on the whistle. The last train gained the 'key staff'
for the final time at Horsted Keynes and it slowly went down the line through the crowded stations
to Culver Jn, where the 'key staff' was finally handed over by Fireman Jackson. Twice on this last
journey somebody applied the brakes in the heart of the 'Bluebell' country but at 5.49 pm the last
train came to a final halt in Lewes. From Lewes to East Grinstead 475 people were on the train and
870 people on the return journey to Lewes. The line had closed on 28 May 1955 (it should have
closed on 13th June but for the national train strike) but was re-opened on 7 August 1956, through
the 1878 Act which said that four trains in each direction should run daily. Barcombe and Kingscote
stations were not mentioned in the Act of Parliament and so remained closed at the re-opening.

Sixty years later in 2018 a prominent Society member has been sulking because the commemorative
'Sulky Service' (BLN 1300.452) provided by the modern Bluebell Railway called at Kingscote station
and, as above, the original version did not (but that called at West Hoathly instead).

607] Colchester: The station name sign outside Colchester Town has been renewed recently and now
includes a reference to its former name (prior to 8 Jul 1991) of St Botolphs. This had been campaigned
for locally for some years. A spokesman for Greater Anglia said: 'We care about the communities we
serve, which is why we listened to feedback from residents near Colchester Town, and the local MP,
and have installed a sign which acknowledges the station's heritage. Last year we introduced a set of
history boards at Colchester Town station and we are pleased to pay homage further with the addition
of this new sign, which has generated positive feedback.' Last year, plans to change the name of Hythe
to Hythe (Colchester) were approved and signs with the updated name went up in February this year.
Previous national practice was to qualify the name as Hythe (Essex) - as still referred to on the
National Rail Enquires website. (Braintree & Witham Times)

[BLN 1301]
This reminds your BLN Editor of an interlude at Colchester station during the excellent Society visits to
the fascinating Colchester Area Signalling Centre on Wed 10 Oct 2012. He arrived on an advance ticket
from Cambridge (where the box had been visited earlier) via Bury St Edmunds which cost about £6 for
71¼ miles (no railcard discount). There was even time for a return trip to Colchester Town, a station
he had only visited once many years previously. The only problem was the ticket machine wanted £13
for a day return (2m 11ch each way). Then the penny dropped (as did the fare)…. without the Network
Railcard it was £1.70 return - £13 is the minimum fare Mondays to Fridays (except Bank Holidays)!

608] Stevenage - Hertford North: (BLN 1300.474) The DfT has now 'instructed' NR (Network Rail) to
have the extra track (thought to be about 1⅓ miles) and new P5 at Stevenage open in 2020 for the
Hertford North trains. Trains terminating at Watton-at-Stone may do so in Down P2 and return 4¼
miles on the bidirectional Down Hertford to Hertford North Down P2. Alternatively they can go
forward 2¼ miles ECS to cross to Bragbury Jn and cross to the Up Hertford line. At this stage from May
the Hertford loop service appears to increase from three to four trains per hour of peak (six were
envisaged in consultation) each way, one still to/from Stevenage and another terminating at Watton-
at-Stone. The latter would have to shunt via Bragbury Jn to avoid conflicts with the next service.

Even from December with the further enhanced Thameslink services, there should still be some (very)
early and (very) late through ECS trains SuX to/from Letchworth Carriage Sidings. On Sundays trains
should still run through, terminating at Stevenage all day as the Brighton and Maidstone East to
Cambridge services are expected to be SuX. So part of the route at least might join that elite group of
lines with a Sundays only passenger service (like Clitheroe to Hellifield). Your Regional Editor recently
looked at the Up cess over the ¾ mile from Stevenage to Langley Jn as far as practicable from a train.
Over much of the length a fifth track may be accommodated with a few service relocations needed but
near Stevenage a short length is of insufficient width. It is not known if the NR scheme avoids any use
of the Up Slow to access a new fifth platform, but completion in 2020 appears extremely optimistic.

609] Bletchley - Bedford: (BLN 1297.149) The envisaged use of three Vivarail two-car Class 230
'D'-Train diesel electric multiple units on this line was confirmed in an announcement on 1 Mar. Having
a spare set should improve reliability; there are two DMUs now with no cover when one fails. Vivarail's
'D'-Train uses aluminium bodyshells and bogies from former London Underground 'D78' trains.
West Midlands Trains Customer Service Director Andrew Conroy said the Class 230 would be 'ideal' for
the route and stated that 'When the new trains come on stream in December we will also be adding
extra early morning and late night services …. Monday to Saturday.' Vivarail said the 'D'-Train would
meet all current standards, including the European Union Persons of Reduced Mobility Technical
Specification for Interoperability Accessibility Specifications in force from 2020. (Railway Gazette)

610] Didcot - Swindon: NR has issued a Network Change Notice for the introduction of a permanent
60mph speed restriction for electric trains passing under the Grade II listed Steventon overbridge, just
west of Didcot and a location otherwise passed for 125mph. This is necessary as clearances under the
bridge, where there is currently a gap in the (as yet uncommissioned) catenary, require a contact wire
gradient (relative to track gradient) greater than can be reliably negotiated at speeds above 60mph.

A factor in the clearance issue is the proximity of a level crossing at Stocks Lane. Nevertheless furious
villagers have accused NR of ignoring ways to save the historic bridge from demolition and consider
the company to be ploughing ahead with plans to reduce the bridge to rubble and build a modern
concrete one in its place. The work would require a 10-month road closure and cut off a main route
into the village. NR has submitted an application to Vale of White Horse District Council to replace the
bridge. It is among 29 bridges in Oxfordshire that must be modified for overhead wires. Oxfordshire
County Council owns the bridge over which the Parish Council has recorded an average of 32,000
vehicle movements per week. The 60mph speed restriction does not preclude ultimate replacement of
the bridge, if consent is given, which NR would fund in CP6. (In part Oxford Mail)

611] Reading: At the new £800M station the recent snow had its effect on mechanical and electrical
services with escalators halted (they have roofs but open upper sides) and all shops on the bridge
closed - this would have cost a small fortune in compensation, additional to any loss of rental income.

A NR representative has admitted that the escalators are 'indoor' design ones being used in outside
conditions (your Editor also noted how slowly they move)! The snow penetrated the treads to the
underside; on the London 'A' side of the footbridge down to the platforms they were not operational,
indeed still covered visibly in snow in places. Passengers were not allowed on until contractors had
checked them. The 'A' side of the footbridge was cordoned off as water and possibly ice had reached
the deck as well, let alone the escalators. From the west concourse onto the bridge only the flight of
steps nearest the south window and the outer two escalators were available. All the many retail units
on the bridge had closed due to snow penetrating their roof electrics, but reopened by Thur 15 Mar.

612] Reading West - Newbury: (BLN 1300.441) The Network Change notification for electrification
confirms that Theale Goods Loop, the Down Towney Loop, Newbury Racecourse (P3) Down Passenger
Loop, both Newbury platforms (just to the country end) and its Up bay platform will all be electrified.

613] Earlswood (Surrey): (BLN 1300.477) The crossover renewal appears to have gone to plan with
work on the Slow tracks on 10 Mar and all four lines closed on 11 Mar. Possessions for the weekend of
17 and 18 Mar were limited to extended night hours.

614] St Neots: The 12.33 Up Hull Trains Adelante on 6 Mar lost time south of Doncaster and was last
shown at Knebworth at 16.28; 104 min late. It was later seen in St Neots Up Refuge Siding at the north
end overnight and was still there on the morning of 7 Mar. Its passage there is unclear. This was rare
use of the siding by passenger stock, the first time our local member has seen this happen since 1996!

1301 SOUTH WEST (Darren Garnon) [email protected]

615] St Erth: GWR has announced enhancements including improved customer facilities, a Park & Ride
with a new car park and widening of St Ives bay P3. This suggests a terminal prognosis for the adjacent
siding. With two trains an hour turnarounds are tight and at busy times a full 3/4 car DMU can arrive at
the narrow platform already crowded with passengers wanting to board and many pushchairs etc.

X.38] BELOW: Filton Abbey Wood re-quadrupling, looking north, site of the new P4. (David Guy 14 Mar.)

616] Lounging about in Truro & Penzance: New sleeper lounges are opening this spring at both stations.

617] Cheltenham Spa: NR intends to modify the signalling to accommodate the new 2x5 car Class 800
Inter-City Express Trains (IETs) due to enter service on some London services next year. For these
trains, with their 30m long coaches, P2 will be extended south by 38m (now complete but not yet in
use) to an operational length of 280m. Additionally a new Down facing fixed red aspect signal (G48)
will be provided on the Up Main ('Up' the Lickey to Derby) south of P2 (86m 68ch). Along with other
alterations, it will allow trains from the Birmingham/ Worcester direction to turn back in P2, which
currently requires a pilotman. Unlike at Reading no 'Festival Line' is to be provided. A new signalled
route is being set up from Alstone Carriage Sidings (plural although there is just one now, but it's a
long one!) to P2 with associated new route indicators. GWR is advertising enhancements to the station
including to the forecourt, improved access to bus and taxis, a larger car park and passenger lifts (but a
bit of a comedown on the original plan for two south facing bays). If visiting Cheltenham station by car
some former free roadside parking in the area has now been replaced by a Residents' Permit scheme.

618] GWR Horsing around: Pandering to equine devotees, GWR again reduced services for regular
travellers during the Cheltenham Festival - but to be fair, stampedes of them go there by train.
From Tue 13 to Fri 16 Mar the 07.23 Warminster to Great Malvern and 08.43 Westbury to Gloucester
did not call at Yate, Cam & Dursley, Gloucester and the latter at Ashchurch, both were non-stop
Bristol Parkway to Cheltenham with buses for intermediate stations but omitting Filton Abbey Wood.

As usual, some HSTs were also cancelled to provide extra trains to Cheltenham without replacement:
08.00 Paddington to Bristol, 09.15 Paddington to Cardiff, 10.30 Bristol to Paddington and 17.56 Cardiff
to Paddington. The 11.55 Cardiff to Paddington started from Swindon while the 15.15 and 16.15
Paddington to Swansea services terminated at Swindon. A benefit of redoubling Kemble to Swindon a
few years ago is the ability to run more extra trains for the Festival, always a very busy time for GWR.

619] Bristol Parkway: The west-end Down Goods Yard headshunt is now being extended to its full
length, with rails and sleepers laid by 13 Mar but then lacking ballast, fishplates and buffers.

620] Longing for longer Temple Meads no longer: As previously detailed, Bristol Temple Meads bay
P13 has been extended (platform length and track) at the country end by around two carriage lengths
for 2x5 car IETs. HSTs still terminate at the previous point along the platform, with their own stop
board ('HST STOP'), but IETs proceed further to their own stop board ('S'). This allows maxi-gricers
extra track, although those wishing to actually travel over the track (rather than simply be anywhere
on the train) need to find an IET combination with Standard Class at the leading end into Temple
Meads. (Even if in First Class at this end, the catering area behind the cab reduces track coverage
compared with standard). Our correspondent took six attempts before finally doing so on the 14.00
from Paddington on Tue 13 Mar (after earlier covering the Theale London end facing crossover during
the Newbury electrification closure). A Malvern member, a really nice 'Guy', did it on his first attempt.

621] Severn Beach - Try to contain yourselves for this: (BLN 1261.1384) Cardiff & Avon Railway
Society (C&ARS) report that on Wed 7 Feb an open day was held at the Suez (formerly Sita) Severnside
Energy Recovery Centre (An incinerator by any other name would smell as sweet). Invited guests
arrived on the DBC management train (67029, three coaches and Driving Van Trailer 82146). Leaving
Paddington 07.53, it picked up at Slough then ran via Bath, Bristol Temple Meads (reverse), Filton
Abbey Wood, Henbury, Holesmouth Jn (reverse) through to Severnside Terminal. A resplendent
66035 in the container area was named 'Resourceful' on the day. The return working at 15.00 was
through Clifton Down, Dr Days Bridge Jn, Feeder Bridge Jn (Rhubarb Curve), Bath, Bathhampton Up
Loop, setting down at Ealing Broadway and reaching Paddington 18.48. Did any BLS members make it
on to the guest list?

622] Weston-super-Mare: The C&ARS newsletter also reports that new ticket gates are to be installed
in an area now occupied by a waiting room. Sunnyside Rd station entrance (closed 2015) is due to
reopen with a new footbridge provided but without passenger lifts.

623] Bedwyn The Turnback Siding (66m 55ch), used to reverse and hold terminating trains ECS from
the east, is to be extended by 21m to 142m by Jan 2019 to take a 5-Car IET. The buffer stop approach
speed is to be reduced from 25mph to 15mph with countdown markers provided. The units will
certainly need to reach the stops with just 2m of clearance! The thought of IETs terminating at Bedwyn
(population 1,353 in the 2011 census) seems quite incongruous; perhaps they are all season ticket
holders? Remarkably SSuX there are 23 trains a day to Newbury and beyond; 21 originating including
11 to Paddington. It is a significant railhead though with buses to/from Marlborough in the timetable.

624] Buckfastleigh - Ashburton: A 'rail replacement bus' generally operates for most (but not all)
South Devon Railway special events. No fares are charged, but a donation is appreciated towards fuel
cost. The outward route, after Buckfast Abbey, is via the Devon Expressway (A38) appropriately on the
former Ashburton branch trackbed, to the top end of the town, then to Bull Ring bus stop in the town
centre and back to Buckfastleigh on the 'old' A38. Full details can be found on the PLEG website.
Future 'bus re-replacement trains' would be an excellent idea. Ashburton station with its original
overall roof is well worth an inspection from the outside (only the former Goods Shed is listed though).

625] Filton Abbey Wood: GWR is now advertising 'additional tracks north of Bristol by Oct 2018.' (Wot
- no extra trains then?) There is a three week blockade of Filton Bank beforehand for re-quadrupling.

626] Oldfield Park: East of the station Bath West Ground Frame (107m 55ch) on the Down Goods
Loop accessing the disused Westmoreland Rd Sidings (once a Council domestic waste transfer station),
is to be taken out of use for two years while NR investigates possible future uses for the facility.

627] Lawrence Hill: North of the station Lawrence Hill Ground Frame (1m 19ch) accessing Barrow
Road Sidings (disconnected) is to be taken OOU for two years; NR will investigate possible future use.

1301 WEST MIDLANDS (Brian Schindler) [email protected]
628] Things are not always what they seem: On Sat 3 Mar in the depths of the snow, only one train
made it to Great Malvern from London Paddington (to put this in perspective there were only three
other trains all day - one creditably from Portsmouth Harbour). The 15.20 from Paddington, a humble
3-car Turbo DMU rather than an IET or HST, ran to time all the way (as did the return) on its 258 mile
journey when nearly all trains were cancelled, part cancelled or very late. At Worcester this happened:

.Worcester Shrub Hill [WOS] Platform 1 17.39½ 17.42 17.40 17.42 N/R 17.36 6 Early.

Worcester Foregate Street [WOF] . Platform1 17.44 17.47 17.44 17.47 17.36 17.48 1 Late

For those that don't know, the first two bold columns on the left are the Working Timetable, the
middle two are the Public Timetable and the third the actual recorded times (in each case arrival on
the left then departure). On the system it has departed from Worcester Shrub Hill 6 minutes early,
previously unheard of! Investigation revealed the train actually ran through the station non-stop due
to significant flooding from a burst water main (there was another train two hours later though).

629] Wolverhampton - Wellington: Both Up and Down Cosford Goods Loops are extremely rusty but
the tamper siding off the Up loop however continues to see regular use by, would you believe it, a
tamper! Oxley Up Goods Loop is also very rusty. All three of these and the Up and Down through
(middle) lines at Wellington are booked to be traversed by our Sussex Salopian railtour on 24 Mar.

630] Walsall - Rugeley: By 8 Mar masts had been erected, with some spans out of Rugeley TV towards
Rugeley Town where there was nothing through the station but they soon resumed. There are portals
(like the original WCML installations but slightly more robust) on this stretch. Hednesford has some
long spans across from the Birmingham bound side. Masts (only) continue towards Cannock with a
handful of full spans. South there are further head spans and almost all masts are in place to
Landywood (where the staggered platforms allow long spans from the other side of the formation).

[BLN 1301]
Several masts were missing north of Bloxwich North, with some massive concrete blocks required in
one cutting to secure the base supports. Then there was nothing obvious to, and in, the Bloxwich
station area. South of there, there was nothing (other than rearranged drainage) until close to MP2
after which bases reappear. At Walsall there are some new masts between P1 and 2, although only
through P2 (and the north end of P3 to join the existing OHLE) is being wired but P1 is not.

631] Willenhall: As part of a proposed new Wolverhampton to Walsall service, the West Midlands
Combined Authority is proposing a new station at the site of the L&NWR Bilston St station (CP 1965).

632] Wolverhampton: (BLN 1300.489) DB Cargo UK recently ran a trial service with the world's biggest
steel company, ArcelorMittal, moving 1,300 tonnes of steel coil to Wolverhampton Steel Terminal by
train. Following the success of this trial it plans to increase deliveries to the terminal to over 400,000
tonnes of steel coil a year. The company transports steel from Europe imported via the ports of
Immingham, Hull, Goole and now additionally Boston. DBC is doubling the size of the warehousing at a
cost of £6M. The current facility can store and handle 1,380 steel coils. The investment will more than
double the storage capacity to a total of 3,325 coils (which is 40,000 tonnes of steel). The terminal,
which had seen a decline in traffic in recent years, will receive three or four extra deliveries a week.
Our commuting Regional Editor, passing twice daily in early March, noted that all four outside sidings
(7-10 in TRACKmaps Aug 2013) have been lifted along with associated pointwork and the concrete
apron between them removed. This would seem to be the site of the extension (on the west side of
the existing building). A new siding closer to the existing terminal has been laid. This leaves one siding
within the Terminal building (Line 12) and one outside, both directly accessible off the approach line.

There is also a backshunt reached via the double slip off either of these lines. This backshunt, which
used to connect with the former GWR Wolverhampton LL to Birmingham Snow Hill line, accesses OOU
Line 15 (Line 14 was lifted some time ago) on the far (GWR line) side. The two sidings forming the
remains of the line underneath the Wolverhampton HL to Birmingham New St line are unaffected by
the work. They once extended to the canal transshipment basin and British Oxygen Company's sidings.

633] Bromsgrove: From 02.40 on 8 Mar all Up trains (as in up the Lickey or Up to Derby) had to use the
Up Bromsgrove Loop (P1) due to pointwork damage. This continued until at least 20th Mar. EMU
services (with 400% more trains to/from New Street) will not now begin with the new timetable, but
electrification is expected to be complete by then. Many Cross-City line drivers need to route learn.

634] Midland Metro: There has been recent use of the facing crossover by trams arriving directly to
Grand Central departures platform, mainly due to badly parked vehicles or unloading delivery lorries
blocking the headshunt normally used by the ECS. A member managed to traverse the crossover in
these circumstances on Sun 11 Mar. It is also used if trams are running late to make up time and on
busy days when large crowds are crossing the road beyond the platform such as the Christmas German
Market. During work on the extension to Centenary Square there are expected to be times when the
crossover is used regularly. News of badly parked vehicles near St Chad's crossover welcome…!

X.39] NEXT PAGE: 68026+68001 on the (generally weekly ThO) low level nuclear waste train from
Berkeley (13.25) to Crewe Coal Sidings and Sellafield on Thur 8 Mar 2018. This is Fernhill Heath at
15.03 north of Worcester on the Droitwich line. Previously Class 37 worked and, appropriately for this
first occasion, the locomotives were the first of the Stadler batch and the first of the Vossloh originals.

The container is heavier than it looks; low level radioactive waste from hospitals is encased in special
concrete grout and 'stored' at Sellafield while it decays (some 50 such containers a year - but it keeps
the Sharpness branch 'active'). The final nuclear power station waste train ran from Berkeley on Tue 8
Mar 2016 with nuclear waste from Oldbury Power Station. Traffic from Berkeley Power Station (said to
be the World's first commercial nuclear power station) finished in 2010 - it is now 'sealed' for 64 years
while residual radioactivity decays before the next decommissioning stage. (Rob Pritchard, Malvern.)

01 YORKSHIRE (Graeme Jolley; Geoff Blyth for North & East Yorks) email addresses elsewhere.

X.40] Now & Then, an occasional feature: ABOVE: View east from Comer Road bridge with a London
bound train (Castle class) approaching Henwick station in early 1962. The level crossing and box are
the other side of the station, note the Up Refuge Siding on the left. The two smoking chimneys (right
of middle background) are at Worcester Power Station (rail served) next to the River Severn railway
bridge. BELOW: The same view with IET (800011) on a London Paddington to Great Malvern service in
Feb 2018. The new Henwick Turnback Siding (left) with NR's newest semaphore signal is not yet in use.

(Both pictures taken by Ralph Ward)

1300 YORKSHIRE (Graeme Jolley; Geoff Blyth for North & East Yorks) email addresses elsewhere.
635] Weather station: Various weather records have been broken at Ribblehead recently where the
Friends of Settle-Carlisle Line/MyLocalWeather present weather station has been since Jan 2009.
On 1 Mar 2018, with the wind direction 90 degrees, due east, the lowest wind chill factor was -17oC!

636] Skipton - Colne: Visiting Colne station on 4 Feb, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced a
study, commissioned by the DfT and Transport for the North (TfN), examining the case for reopening
to Skipton. It is due to be completed later this year. The 12 mile line CP 2 Feb 1970 at fairly short
notice, causing the NE Regional Editor to make an emergency visit. He had not previously penetrated
south of Earby (junction for the 2¾ mile, single track, Barnoldswick branch) - into the foreign territory
of Lancashire. TfN also plans to examine other potential reopenings in its area (any requests?).

637] Goole (Part 1): Siemens UK has a long term agreement for lease of land in Goole, with plans to
establish a new state-of-the-art factory to manufacture and commission trains. This development
could mean an investment of up to £200M. Phased development of the 67 acre site is due to start later
this year, provided certain investment conditions are met, and subject to the company securing major
orders. It is south of the A161 road and north of the branch to Guardian Glass, most of which is the
remains of the former NER line to Selby and to Rawcliffe Bridge Jn on the Knottingley line. Due to the
levels rail access appears to have to be by a backshunt off the glassworks branch (second map below).

To put this into context, there follows a potted history of the Goole's railways. The first line to be built
was the Wakefield, Pontefract & Goole Railway from Wakefield Kirkgate to Goole opened 1 Apr 1848 -
by which time it had been taken over by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR). Its main purpose
was to carry coal from the Calder Valley area to Goole docks. The original station was on the north side
of the Railway Dock alongside St John's Street (Ref 14 on the 1948 map, next page). The next to open,
1 Aug 1869, was the North Eastern Railway (NER) line from Thorne North* to Staddlethorpe (renamed
Gilberdyke from 7 Jan 1974) to provide a shorter route from the south to Hull, simultaneously with the
connection from Engine Shed Jn on the L&YR to Potters Grange Jn. (*The short section from Thorne Jn
to Thorne North was the property of the South Yorkshire Railway, which then leased by the
Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway. The latter became the Great Central Railway in 1897).

The L&YR decided to extend the Railway Dock, creating Stanhope Dock and later West Dock.
This expansion, completed in 1882, cut the line to their station, so it CP (and probably CA) from
1 Oct 1879, with all passenger services diverted to the NER station. Acts of Parliament were obtained
by the L&YR in 1902 and the NER in 1903 for the Rawcliffe Bridge Jn - Oakhill Jn - Boothferry Road Jn
line. This was clearly a joint enterprise but was not a jointly owned line. The L&YR owned the line from
Rawcliffe Bridge Jn to a location (purely a change of ownership, an end on 'junction' as far as can be
determined). It was named 'B Junc' in the Railway Clearing House diagrams and 'Point E' in the LNER
list of NER Acts of Parliament; the NER owned the line east of this location, to Boothferry Road.

It opened 2 May 1910, before the NER line from Selby (see below). Presumably freight traffic had
continued to expand and the L&YR wished to divert passenger traffic out of the dock area, where it no
doubt interfered with freight trains. So it seems reasonable to assume that L&YR passenger services
were diverted over it immediately. In the 1960 Sectional Appendix, the entire line east of Rawcliffe
Bridge Jn is shown as Goods Line signalled with Permissive Block. The NER line from Brayton Jn (on the
ECML south of Selby) to Oakhill Jn OG (coal) 1 Nov 1910, OG 1 Dec 1910; OP 1 May 1912. This meant
NER services traversing a short piece of L&YR track between Oakhill Jn and 'B Junc/Point E'.

Based on a 1948 OS it appears that a siding connection (not a signalled running
line) was provided between Oakhill Jn and Beverley Sidings on the L&YR line; presumably a wartime
measure to give direct access from the Selby line to Goole docks but this quickly vanished from later
maps. Grateful thanks to our member Dave Cromarty for the two maps. (To be continued...)



Former L&YR/LMSR lines
Former NER/LNER lines

Docks and waterways

Not to scale. Data from historical maps used by
permission of the National Library of Scotland :

To Selby

Oakhill Jn

Beverley Sidings

Rawcliffe Bridge JnKnoDttuintcghleRyi&veGr o(RoilveeCr aDnoanl)
To Knottingley

To Hull

N Boothferry Road Jn 7 14
8 4 3 River Ouse
10 2 9


Goole B 12

To Doncaster Dock locations Railway locations
1 South Dock 10 Potters Grange Jn
2 Barge Dock 11 Engine Shed Jn
3 Ouse Dock 12 Mineral Jn
4 Ship Dock 13 Goods Jn
5 Aldam Dock 14 Site of pre-1879 L&YR
6 Railway Dock
7 Stanhope Dock passenger station
8 West Dock
9 The Basin




Current Network Rail lines
Closed and lifted lines
Rail access to Siemens site
(not conf irmed)

Docks and waterways

Not to scale. Data from historical maps used by Guardian Glass
permission of the National Library of Scotland :

To Selby

Oakhill Jn

Beverley Sidings

Rawcliffe Bridge JnKnoDttuintcghleRyi&veGr o(RoilveeCr aDnoanl)
To Knottingley

To Hull

N Boothferry Road Jn


Siemens site 8 65 River Ouse
10 3

13 4


Goole B 12

Dock locations Railway locations

1 South Dock 10 Potters Grange Jn

2 Barge Dock 11 Engine Shed Jn

3 Ouse Dock 12 Mineral Jn

To Doncaster 4 Ship Dock 13 Goods Jn

5 Aldam Dock

6 Railway Dock

7 Stanhope Dock

8 West Dock

9 Site of The Basin (filled in during the 1960s)


ABOVE: Goole Goods Jn (No13 on both maps) on 18 Aug 1990 looking northeast. West Dock (No8 on
both maps) is on the right and there is a DMU on the main line - background left. (Angus McDougall)

638] When things were bad: A 'PS' from BLN 35 years ago, a different world, BLN 470 (28 Jul 1983)…

639] A Rubbish Deal for Whitby: At 12.38 on 12 Mar a dustcart with a rubbish driver, deviating from
its normal route, struck Station Rd underbridge east of Castleton Moor station, which is clearly marked
as having only 12' 0" clearance. This shifted a bridge girder by 10", with significant misalignment of the
track (later confirmed as 10cm by a detailed inspection). A train on the way from Whitby terminated at
Danby (well the country is scenic there!), then is shown as running to Castleton Moor, presumably
ECS, where it vanished online. Buses operated Battersby - Whitby (not easy at some stations) on
13 Mar and Battersby/Nunthorpe - Danby from 14th with trains Danby - Whitby. Normal service
resumed on Fri 16 Mar. After attention the bridge now has remote monitoring equipment, a 10mph
limit (was 45mph) until permanent repairs are complete with more chevrons to try to alert road traffic.

1301 IRELAND (Martin Baumann) [email protected]
640] Londonderry: (BLN 1299.402) The 'Predetermination meeting' into Translink's proposals for the
new station did not reach a decision on granting planning permission. A Translink representative did
admit that it is technically feasible for trains to use the old train shed and that platform curvature
would not be an issue. He also said that it would be possible to obtain a derogation from the
requirement to stop 5m from the buffers with a 20m run off beyond. The plans were opposed by The
Foyle Civic Trust, Ulster Architectural Heritage Society and the Historic Buildings council among others.

NEXT PAGE TOP: the original Londonderry trainshed interior; LEFT: Looking towards Belfast; 80 Class
DEMU with 732 nearest the camera on 27 Jun 1979. RIGHT: The end of line (and maybe again one
day…) with stabled railcar vehicles 539 and 61 on 23 Jun 1979. (Both Jonathan Allen)

641] Belfast: On 9 Mar the line through Belfast was closed for about 45 minutes due to a threatened
suicide. The person was successfully talked out of it by the Police Service of Northern Ireland but
severe delays resulted for the rest of the day as sets and crews were out of place. All four Belfast
Central platforms were occupied at least twice after reopening. The 15.57 Bangor to Portadown left
Central from P4 using the rare No100 Crossover to the Up line. (Your Ireland Editor was on it, and also
the delayed 19.10 Belfast to Londonderry via Magherabeg Loop, crossing the 18.38 ex-Londonderry.)

642] Thurles: Facing Crossover No742 from the Up to Down line at the Limerick Junction end of the
station has been locked out of use to further notice. It once accessed Thurles Sugar Beet factory.

1301 ISLE OF MAN (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
643] Douglas Bay Horse Tramway: (BLN 1300.495) The service is confirmed to start on Thur 29 Mar,
using the existing stables. Two members walked past these stables on 16 Mar and spotted a notice
dated 8 Feb about a proposal for it to become a 'Registered Building' due to special historical or
architectural interest with representations invited by 28 Feb. Pending this happening a temporary
'Building Preservation Notice' is in force for four months from 9 Feb. No alteration, extension or
demolition can take place without permission. This year the first tram of the day is earlier, at 08.40 but
means that horses will be competing with rush hour traffic in Douglas. There is a small print warning at
the bottom of the timetable - which has William (horse) on the front - 'Traffic congestion may delay
horse trams'! A member from deepest mid-Wales advises that the previous 09.00 first tram regularly
delayed the 09.40 Manx Electric Railway departure from Douglas Derby Castle and returned full with
coach parties. Passenger figures have been rising.

644] Groudle Glen Railway: Christmas services were operated by 'Maltby', a Baguley diesel named
after Richard Maltby Broadbent who created the glen walk, zoo and railway in the 1890s - without him
there would be no railway. The loco has recently been completely rebuilt at North Bay Railway
workshops in Scarborough. 'Sea Lion' has been withdrawn due to serious deterioration of the firebox
and tubes and requires the boiler to be removed from the loco for major repairs with a new firebox.

1301 SCOTLAND (Mike McCabe) [email protected]
645] Edinburgh Trams: (BLN 1300.498) During the 'height' of the recent 'red' snow alert 30,000 people
were carried in three days from 28 Feb and, very creditably, full service ran from Sat 3 Mar.
At the height of the disruption Edinburgh Trams ran continuously for 43 hours when little else was able
to move (public or private transport). Hundreds of passengers sent in electronic messages of thanks.

646] Hunterston branch: (BLN 1300.507) Peel Ports has confirmed that the two giant cranes at the end
of the 1 mile pier at this deep water port are to be dismantled by the end of the year (and sold off,
several companies are interested in buying them). They were originally for unloading iron ore for
Ravenscraig Steelworks (replacing facilities on the River Clyde in Glasgow) and latterly imported power
station coal. Peel Ports is consulting on extending the jetty and, of concern to the locals, developing a
platform to decommission oil and gas structures and vessels at what is now a large 'brownfield site'.

647] Larkhall branch extended! On Mon 12 March at 23.09, the driver of the 6-car 21.49 Dalmuir to
Larkhall, (EMUs 318252 & 320310), reported striking P2 buffer stops after falling asleep (full credit for
owning up). The On-Train Monitoring Recorder showed that impact had been at 8mph. It stopped
about ⅓ of a coach length beyond them. The nine passengers alighted via local doors under the
driver's supervision and there were no injuries. The buffer stops were reported to be 'slightly bent' and
had moved about 20ft. The undamaged units were authorised to return ECS at 40mph to Yoker Depot
at 00.36. This resulted in the cancellation of the last departure from Larkhall and the final two arrivals
of the day. From next morning all services used the much rarer P1, the right side on approach, pending
P2 buffer stop repairs. Fortunately a full normal timetable can be operated with just one platform.

648] Aberdeen - Inverurie: (BLN 1300.502) The 16 mile redoubling project is due to start on 12 May.
The current single track needs to be slued as it uses the entire width of the formation. After the 6¼
mile Aberdeen to Dyce 14 week possession, work moves to the Dyce to Inverurie section in summer.

649] Mini-HST: (BLN 1300.506) There are also as required 'unadvertised passenger' test and training
runs for the Scotrail HST, from Haymarket at 06.07, Dundee 07.13/07.29; Haymarket (P0) 08.50/10.59;
Dundee 12.09/12.24; Haymarket (P0) 13.50/16.07; Glenrothes 17.12/17.14; Haymarket 18.12.

650] Stirling Electrification: Travelling south from Stirling through Dunblane, so looking mostly at
northbound (west) side, essentially all the bases appear to be present and most of the masts.
Through Larbert station the masts are in the centre. South of there, there are some substantial cross
spans in place. Wiring starts there and continues south to join the Edinburgh to Glasgow main line
towards Glasgow. There is completed wiring heading down towards Coatbridge as well.

1301 WALES .NB: (Paul Stewart) covering. [email protected]
BELOW: Hirwaun Pond Halt; an internal NCB loco at the western extremity, taken from the other
platform in Sep 1980 before a run-round loop was created for MGR working. Later still the line was
extended slightly here too. Note the rusty ends of lines and the condition of the loco - NCB locos were
there to work not to look pretty! (Ian Mortimer.) Compare with BLN 1288.X132 - here on 17 Jul 2017.

ABOVE: 18 Apr 1981 looking east towards Aderdare, with loaded coal wagons and the Tower complex
in the distance. The strange looking buildings platform buildings were blast shelters for workers at the
adjacent Ordnance Factory (later a Trading Estate) using the station in WWII. (Angus McDougall)
BELOW: An internal level crossing on the NCB branch - in the background is a covered long conveyor
belt taking coal from Tower Colliery to the washery; Sep 1980. (All Ian Mortimer unless specified)

651] A South Wales Tour - Part 1: The recent UK Railtour's Valley of the Witch tour reminded a
member of when he lived and worked in South Wales from 1981-84. Coal production peaked in the
area in 1913 when 56M tons were produced by 232,800 men. However, in the early 1980s there were
still more than 43 rail-served deep coal mines in South Wales which produced 6M tons in 1982 and
various open cast sites yielded a further 2M tons. A couple of days off work 36 years ago this month
found our member and another at Tower Washery (at which time it also served Tower Colliery) near
Aberdare at 06.40 in the morning. They 'tracked down' the NCB (National Coal Board) loco crew and
were directed to the supervisor who readily granted permission for them to have a 'look round'.

What better way to do this than on the loco?
They boarded at the bottom end of the
internal branch near Hirwaun Pond Halt,
once serving the nearby trading estate
('normal' passengers last joined a train here
on 13 Jun 1964). The NCB loco had running
powers over the main line connection into
the headshunt and used them. (Subsequent
conversion to MGR operation removed the
need for internal locos and allowed railtours
into the platforms.) Returning to 1982, our
duo's NCB loco took loaded wagons in over
the A465 level crossing (Rhigos Rd, now the
A4061) past the coal screens to the limit of
working on the 1¼ mile NCB branch, the
lower dark spot on the map, (SN 9486 0536).
A common feature of South Wales collieries
was identical looking trains of coal going in
and out for washing, screening, and/or
blending - but all good rail traffic. The
demolished Tower No3* Colliery site was in
use for coal stockpiling - there was significant over production then. After doing the backshunt, the full
extent of the available system and main line connection had been covered. [*The shaft number.]
ABOVE: 7th Series 1" OS 1962 map; Hirwaun Pond Halt is shown as closed to passengers (where the
disused Tower branch now ends). The dark spots show the two extremities of our members' 1982 trip.

It was then just 7 miles by road, an 11 minute drive, to Aberpergwm Colliery (SN 866 060). A 1¼ mile
long NCB branch ran southwest, then on a substantial bridge over the River Neath. It joined the BR
(British Rail) Vale of Neath line at Cwmgwrach, still in situ in 2018 of course, but with no traffic. As the

pair arrived the BR trip was just about to leave and
unfortunately they couldn't get to it in time. The
NCB driver was (as in most cases) very friendly
though and gave them an impromptu light engine
thorough tour under the screens, down to the BR
exchange sidings and headshunt. The advantage
of just the light engine was reaching all the
extremities (by request). To finish, the former
'inward empty wagon line' was taken, then into
the loco shed - at right angles to the BR line.

LEFT: The Aberpergwm Colliery branch runs
bottom left, over the River Neath, to top right.

LEFT: Onllwyn in passenger days - although
actually very few trains ran between Brecon
and Neath. (28 Sep 1959 - Angus McDougall.)
Another 7 mile car journey took our members
to Onllwyn where they circled around the
massive opencast coal disposal point, still
operational, trying to work out the best
access. In those days there was an interesting
internal branch to the nearby and also
massive Banwen site - all since landscaped.
In 1982 this 1¾ mile branch, off the former
Neath & Brecon Railway, extended over the A4109 'Inter-Valley Rd' bridge and around the mining
village of Dyffryn Cellwen (on the Neath to Brecon Roman Road). The end of line (SN 858 093) was at
the former Maesmarchog (later Onllwyn No3 but actually known as Banwen!) Colliery. After a delay a
trip with outward loaded wagons was taken from the Banwen end back to Onllwyn via (unsurprisingly)
the loaded wagon route to the south of the complex.
[A different member recalls achieving overlap through these sidings courtesy of a gravitating brake van
which was quite normal practice there in those halcyon days.] The train then braked for a break so that
a broken brake block could be changed on the loco. At first the crew were concerned about taking our
duo past the site offices but relented. Naturally a return trip was required with some empty wagons to
do the empty wagon line to the north (and it's far better than walking back). This time our pair opted
for the brakevan having ascertained that it would be propelled to the stop blocks - and it certainly was!
That was it for the day on the internal line; there was no afternoon shift and the site was on strike next
day! No BR trips were expected … so it was definitely time to move on.
BELOW: A 1960 map, the Neath & Brecon line (CP 15 Oct 1962) runs bottom left to top middle. Note
the 'Open Cast Mining' area marked bottom right. The dark circles are the limits of our members' trip.

NEXT PAGE UPPER: The Monmouthshire Railway Society 'DMU Demise' stops at the former Onllwyn
station (CP 15 Oct 1962) - top centre on the map above. As can be seen it was traditional then at the
end of a branch for participants to clamber down to look round and take pictures, although being a
Valleys unit (no toilets) there might have been a different reason for this! (Ian Mortimer 26 Sep 1992.)

BELOW: The tour had 19 minutes at Onllwyn, enough time to wander up to the coal preparation plan.
An internal loco is on the left, in the background and right of the buildings in the foreground are some
old style BR mineral wagons and their right a rake of once common wooden internal user wagons.

Next port of call was Gwaun-cae-Gurwen (GCG), 8⅓ miles as the crow flies but famously 42¼ miles by
rail via Swansea Burrows Sidings (coal makes that journey by train regularly for screening/washing as
do the return empty wagons). Our Dai-namic Duo took 30 minutes for the 14 miles by road via
Brynamman; itself once served by separate obscure branches from the east (Midland Railway) and
west (Great Western) but there was no time to look for remains. GCG was another ex-colliery that had
become an Open Cast Disposal Point and in those days there was an extensive internal system with no
chance of a main line railtour entering due to the state of the track. (Later rationalisation to two lines
worked by the main line locos diverging each side of the loading pad has brought some advantages,

with modern tours reaching the buffer stops.) Back in 1982 the internal loco (with just a morning shift
06.00-14.00) had already finished for the day when they arrived but a train of loaded wagons was
awaiting collection. As they were all labelled up for dispatch our members thought it worth waiting …
some two hours later a pair of Class 37s appeared on a train of empties and stopped for the A474 level
crossing (map next page). A cab ride was kindly agreed, the empties drawn in and run round for that
vital overlap between where most tours stopped* and the internal system - the latter for another day
such as our 9 Oct 1987 internal trip. [*A couple did reach the exchange sidings east of the crossing.]

ABOVE: The GCG area in 1954 - the level crossing was over the 'A' road; the Abernant Colliery branch
is bottom middle heading south. The line of top left is the existing GCG branch from Pantyffynnon.
BELOW: Locos lined up at GCG, a rather bleak and windswept location, on 9 Oct 1987 for the Society's
internal tour. There is something incongruous about the part white livery at a coal handling location.

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