Issue Number 1230 (Items 605_ 681 and MR 39 _ 43) (e-BLN 20 PAGES) 4 April 2015
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Ave., Epsom, Surrey, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members, an international section is also available.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
BLN 1231 is due on Saturday 18 April; all contributions must be received by 8 April.
Date Event Visit Type BLN Lead Notes
Wed 8/04/15 Railway walk 18.00 - 21.00 Rugby 1225 TG Open
Fri 17/04/15 West Somerset Rly. 11.00 Brakevan tour 1224 RG FULL
Sun 19/04/15 S & C DesiroTracker Manchester - S&C line 1226 KA OPEN
Mon 20/04/15 West Somerset Rly. FULL (waiting list) 1224 RG Enquire
Sat 25/04/15 Signal Box Visits 09.00 Clacton & others 1225 PS Open
Mon 27/04/15 K&WV Railway Re-dated railtour 1207 KA FULL
??May 2015 Severn Valley Rly. Engine House branch 1230 PS Notify
Fri 1/05/15 Tyne & Wear Metro 13.00 Visit to Control 1227 JC Open
Sat 2/05/15 Plymouth to Laira 12.00 Track with Cl. 08s 1229 AW Open
Sat 2/05/15 Paignton and 15.20 Paignton, track 1230 AW NOW
Dartmouth Railway and Cl. 03s traction trip OPEN
Sun 3/05/15 Moreton Park Rly. 12.00 & 14.00 tours 1224 SP FULL
Sun 3/05/15 Titley Junction Rly. Standard gauge tour 1226 SP Open
8-10/05/15 Channel Islands Railway weekend 1213 KA FULL
Sat 23/05/15 Great Eastern loco- East Anglia track & Class 1230 KA NOW
**NEW** hauled Tracker 08 / 47 traction railtour. OPEN
Thur 11/06/15 Snibston Discovery 11.00 Snibston Colliery 1230 PS NOW
**NEW** Centre Museum Railway farewell trip OPEN
Sat 27/06/15 Coventry area Miniatures etc. *NEW* TBA SM Claimed
Sun 28/06/15 Kirkby-in-Ashfield Guided railway walk 1227 TG Open
Fri 10/07/15 Whitrope (Siding) Standard gauge tour ex- 1230 PS Notify
**NEW** Heritage Centre Waverley Route interest
Fri 10/07/15 Saughtree station Morning tour of private 1230 PS Notify
**NEW** railway, Roxburgh standard gauge railway interest
Sun 12/07/15 Another Main Line Date for your diary; TBA KA Claimed
**NEW** Tracker railtour TBA Claimed
details to be announced
14-15/11/15 60th AGM weekend
York NRM and etc. TBA
BLN 1230: Fixtures Grid Key: AW - Andrew Wilson, JC - John Cameron, KA-Kev Adlam, NJ-Nick Jones,
PS - Paul Stewart, RG - Robert Green, SM - Simon Mortimer, SP - Stephen Phillips, TG - Tom Gilby.
BLN 1230.605] 2015 Minor Railways booklet: As a membership benefit, we are pleased to provide a
copy of BLN Minor Railways Editor, Peter Scott's, 2015 edition, his 27th annual publication. Subtitled A
complete list of all standard gauge, narrow gauge, miniature, cliff railways and tramways in the British
Isles offering public rides (over 520 of them!). Useful information includes location, length of line and
contact phone numbers etc. Thanks to the special efforts of Ronald Jackson and our volunteer Woking
team, MR is being posted to all full members (anyone who does not receive it by the middle of April
please contact Dave Monger per back page). This takes advantage of the reduced cost per copy for the
larger print run. Additional copies (and those for non-members) are available from our Sales Officer £4
post free, on our railtours or at the AGM. Peter's website http://goo.gl/IpqkHV for his regular updates.
606] Membership Renewal: You should find your membership renewal form with this issue. Those
who take just e-BLN will have it posted with their 2015 Minor Railways booklet. Although due on 1
May, early renewal would greatly assist your volunteer Committee; membership subscriptions are the
Society's main source of income. We hope to have your continuing support and membership during
the coming year, and are always pleased to welcome new members. To save £10 on booking our 23
May Great Eastern Tracker at members' rate, please remember to renew before then. Any
comments or suggestions about the Society and the way it is run can be submitted with the form.
The Membership Secretary's contact details are always shown on the masthead of each BLN (above).
607] Editor's Note: This BLN has only 16 pages so as not to exceed the total 100gm postal weight limit,
due to enclosures. Material has been held over for a bumper edition of BLN 1231 in two weeks' time.
608] Clacton, Parkeston & Colchester signalbox visits, Saturday 25 April: (BLN 1225.132) A few places
remain, meeting 09.00 at Clacton station; repeat visits are not envisaged. Queries and bookings to Paul
Stewart (back page). There will be time after to do the all day hourly EMT Norwich to Peterborough
diversion via Ely West Curve in both directions; Brandon to Manea is the minimum journey required.
609] The Paignton Pink Panther Potter, Saturday 2 May: Please read all this carefully before booking.
In association with our friends at PLEG and thanks to our hosts the Dartmouth Steam Railway &
Riverboat Co., a rare traction and track trip. Requested route, subject to availability: Paignton Queen's
Park (15:20) - Goodrington Sands: Cliff Park Sdg. - Happy Valley Sdgs. - P2 - Churston - Churston
Depot (ex-Brixham branch line) - Paignton Queen's Park Engine Shed Road (17.30 approx.). Motive
power, subject to availability D2371 and D2192 with two coaches. Priority will be given for one week
to those who have booked on the Plymouth to Laira Depot charter of the same date (BLN 1229.517) on
which places remain. £15 per person (no reductions). We expect this charter to sell out and are very
grateful to our hosts for allowing us to sell a limited number of £5 STANDING ONLY SINGLE fares from
Paignton Queen's Park to Goodrington Sands behind D2371 only. NB: (1): For operational reasons the
train may have to enter the yard at Goodrington before the platform, so you may be on your feet for
an hour. (2): We expect the quickest way to return to Paignton will then be to walk back! It is a half
mile, 20 min pleasant walk, and you will need to do this to catch the 17.11 train from Paignton (NR). To
return on the service steam train, you will need to buy a separate ticket. Please clearly state your
ticket requirements and the names of all the members of your party. IMPORTANT: SUPPLY A
TELEPHONE NUMBER AND IDEALLY AN EMAIL ADDRESS PLEASE. If no email, please send a 1st Class
SAE and a second SAE if an initial acknowledgement is required. Cheques to be made payable to
''Andrew Wilson'' (a PLEG organiser) to 61 Tyersal Park, Tyersal, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD4 8EY.
No card payments. PLEG’s and our terms and conditions apply: http://goo.gl/XMzJwO and also:
http://goo.gl/TR1nWQ Special conditions: once a booking is made no refunds will be entertained for
any reason – the money will then be donated to the host railway. In the highly unlikely event that the
charter is cancelled all the cheques will be destroyed and no other liabilities shall be incurred. Any
queries to: [email protected] A Devon Day Ranger (£10 adult, £6.60 railcard) gives one day's
unlimited rail travel on Saturdays; Tiverton Parkway - Plymouth also Gunnislake, Paignton, Exmouth,
Axminster and Barnstaple and most Devon bus services. Available from booking offices, conductors
and the FGW website (delivered by post only) but not via station ticket machines.
BLN 1230.610] Severn Valley Railway, Engine House Branch, short notice event: Those who took part
in our excellent SVR railtour on 31 October 2014 will know that, due to circumstances on the day it
was not possible to traverse this unusual branch from Highley Yard beyond the level crossing. Special
arrangements are in hand hopefully to do this for the first time ever (and maybe another branch) but
are likely to be at short notice, possibly in May, when the circumstances are right. Details may miss
BLN. Expressions of interest to Paul Stewart (back page) with an email address or phone number.
Below: Very rare track; the approach to the Severn Valley Railway Engine House on the branch from
Highley Yard; not known to have ever been used by a passenger carrying train, yet! (Chris Eden-Green)
611] The Great Eastern Tracker, Saturday 23 May: A booking form should be enclosed with the paper
version of BLN for our next and unrepeatable mainline railtour, with Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA) and
West Coast Railways. A message was sent out on 'Branch Line' and the form was emailed to e-BLN
recipients on 20 March who will need to print it off please. Agreement to run only just missed BLN
1229 and the tour is next month. Profits go to AGA's nominated charity, Railway Children. Some
members have requested more loco hauled tours, so please do support and fill the train which has a
large number of unusual sections of track (one person counted 34 new for him) and some real 'firsts'.
Prompt booking is advised as, due to the very unusual route and haulage, this charity tour is filling fast
but Initial priority is for all members. Please also tell anyone else who might be interested.
612] Snibston Colliery Railway & Discovery Centre Museum, Thursday 11 June: Ashby road, Coalville,
LE67 3LN. (SK417144) (BLNs 1229.MR20 & 1229.595.) 11.00 a final farewell visit and comprehensive
trip before closure of this standard gauge line from 1 August. Private running has been arranged when
the railway is not operating for the public. Notify interest and for full details (when available), email
Paul Stewart please or write with an SAE per back page. Please advise if you can assist with lifts (from
where and how many); suggested railheads: Loughborough, Nuneaton, Tamworth, Burton or Hinckley.
BLN 1230.613] Whitrope Heritage Centre, Border Union Railway, Friday 10 July: Roxburghshire, TD9
9TY, (NT 526002) our second visit to Scotland this year, just south of Whitrope Tunnel and near the
famous summit of that name on the Waverley Route. It was noted for passengers boarding and
alighting trains here by ladder at the guard's van! A private morning visit with special running on a
non-public day, and co-ordinated with two other fixtures. Note that significant extra track, not
available to the general public, has been recently laid at this standard gauge railway. Expressions of
interest to Paul Stewart (back page) email preferred or letter (with SAE). Please advise if you are able
to assist with lifts (where from and how many) or if one is required. Carlisle station is suggested for
this or possibly Hexham.
614] Saughtree station Railway, Friday 10 July: Roxburghshire, TD9 0SP, (NY565981), (See BLN
1227.404) 10 miles (30 minutes) from Whitrope. With thanks to Geoff Mann and his family, there will
be a late morning visit to this lovely location in the Cheviot Hills, five miles inside Scotland, with a ride
on the standard gauge railway. It is on the trackbed of the Borders Counties Railway between Hexham
and Riccarton Junction, which closed to passengers in 1956, with sidings and an engine shed line.
There is a Ruston diesel shunter, two wagons and a brakevan. A charity donation applies and timings
will be compatible with KEG's visit to the Dove Nest Railway at 16.00 (BLN 1229. 602) - places remain.
Above: Saughtree 2009. © Copyright Les Hull and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
615] Railway Rights of Way (RROW): The latest updates will be circulated towards the end of April.
Please either post any new information or amendments for inclusion to Rhys Ab Elis, 'Mynydd Mawr',
14 Rhes-Y-Twnnel, Casnewydd, Gwent NP20 4BT, or email [email protected] Anyone
who has purchased the RROW CD and is not already receiving the updates but wishes to have them
should also email. The original CD is still available from the Sales Officer at £10 including P&P. NB FOR
ALL BLS SALES: PLEASE MAKE CHEQUES PAYABLE TO 'Branch Line Society' not 'Mark Gomm' or 'BLS'.
Contact Mark (back page) for all sales orders for free delivery on our railtours of 19 April and 23 May.
1230 HEAD LINES: Record of Openings and Closings
BLN 1230.616] Barrow-in-Furness, Salthouse Jct. - Ramsden Dock, Barrow Marine Terminal: NRU, no
traffic is believed to have passed since autumn 2013, imported radioactive waste shipped from Japan
(and some returned after reprocessing) transported by rail to/from Sellafield. A Pathfinder railtour
traversed the branch on 21 March 2015, the first since our 'Route 66 Railtour' of 9 October 2010.
617] Holyhead - Dublin Dun Laoghaire: (BLN 1228.434) From 14 September 2011 the route operated
seasonally in summer and at Christmas only; ending the 'all-year' mail route of City of Dublin Steam
Packet Co., later L&NWR then BR (Sealink). This partly explains the falling passenger numbers. Bay P3
at Dun Laoghaire Mallin on the Down (sea) side is used for Dart electric services. It was the original
Dublin and Kingstown (the former name of the port) Railway station OP 1834. The single platform
terminus had an overall roof and its large retaining walls are still present. http://goo.gl/bvNXXe
618] Pelaw Junction - Jarrow Shell (UK) Oil Depot: CG (All) after last running on 17 February 2015, the
empty tanks left at 11.35 with 66055. The Lindsey Oil Refinery traffic has been lost to coastal shipping.
[3m 17ch of ex-North Eastern Railway South Shields branch, part used by Tyne & Wear Metro.]
619] London Tramlink, Reeves Corner - Sandilands (both excl.) and 6 intermediate stops: TCP 29
March. For improvement work on the track, roads, and outdoor public places 'Connected Croydon.'
East Croydon (inclusive) - Sandilands and Lebanon Road stop: ROP expected 5 April 2015.
Reeves Corner - East Croydon stops (both excl.) and 4 intermediate stops: ROP due 13 April 2015.
1230 Prospective Network and Train Service Changes
620] Midland Metro, 'The Royal' (excl.) - Wolverhampton St. Georges (incl.) stops: ROP due 31 March
2015 (TCP since 6 September 2014 for replacing rails, track alterations and rebuilding St. Georges.)
New longer single platform, altered and resited point work with single track (worth revisiting).
621] Telford Steam Railway, passenger limit (164m 33ch) - (new) Lawley Village station (164m 45ch):
(BLN 1222. 1782) ROP, public services due from 4 April 2015 (date and former passenger limit revised).
The extension through Heath Hill Tunnel is to a new single wooden edged platform station with a loop.
622] Liverpool, Moorfields station: Phased TCP planned: P3 (Wirral Line deep level) 13 April to 2
August 2015 (both incl.); P2 (Down / northbound Northern Line) 3 August to 15 November 2015 (incl.).
P1 (Up / southbound Northern Line) 4 January 2016 to April 2016 (incl.). Trains will run through non-
stop. The £8M refurbishment is the final one of the present five Merseyrail station £40M project.
623] Leigham Jct. - Tulse Hill South Jct.: (Up Leigham Spur) CP after running 15 May 2015, one PSUL
the 10.01 (SSuX) London Bridge to Streatham Hill, following which NRU by passenger trains both ways.
624] LU Northern Line, Tufnell Park station: TCP 8 June 2015, to mid-March 2016 for replacement of
both lifts. Doing this simultaneously takes nine months rather than 20 months for consecutive work.
625] Colne Valley Railway & Castle
Hedingham station (left): Essex, CO9 3DZ
(TL773362) CP of this 1m 17ch standard
gauge Heritage Railway north of Braintree
AND its 700m long Miniature Railway is
expected after the 2015 operating season
due to non-renewal of the lease by the land
owner. There was an excellent, very
comprehensive and enjoyable Society visit
on 20 July 2013 (report in BLN 1190 p309) and a further, final visit is under investigation. The Colne
Valley Railway Preservation Society is seeking an alternative site and the land owner is selling his
railway assets by competitive tender over the coming year. 71 operating dates are shown in the
timetable from now until 1 November then five days of Santa Specials in December.
http://goo.gl/f0LQ5m. [ex-Colne Valley & Halstead Railway, (Chappel Jct. - Haverhill) until 1923 then
LNER; CP from 1 January 1962 CG from 28 December 1964.] _ Picture courtesy of 'Visit Essex'.
1230 BLN GENERAL
BLN 1230.626] Matters Arising, BLN 1228: Item 463] (1): The existing Metrolink St Peter's Square stop
will actually be relocated to the northern end of the Square, near the Mosley Street/Princess Street
road junction. The existing tracks will be realigned between Elizabeth House and the Central Library
partly to create a major civic space. Generally when a Metrolink service is a double tram the platform
information screen now displays 'dbl' which is useful if anyone wants to go to the end of the line at a
terminus. 463] (2): It is a subway under Rochdale NR station that is being re-opened and refurbished.
Miall Street is on the south east side of the station. 467] A member who was on a Society brake van
trip to Lowestoft South Side on 29 May 1969 reports that the GER Lowestoft fish market branch used
to extend much further around Waveney Dock and Hamilton Dock to sidings for (he thinks) dredged
sand traffic, known according to the inscription on the wagons used as 'Lowestoft Beach'. The only
closure information he has for this branch is 1958. Does anyone know more? 472] Eastbourne
signalbox is a listed structure and still has the 72 lever 1935 frame and most of the relevant locking.
This replaced the original possibly 105 lever one. There are plans to keep the frame and develop it for
(presumably) demonstrations in the future. 500] Edinburgh St. Leonards branch was CP 1 October
1860 and to all traffic 22 July 1968 (officially 5 August 1968), from Duddingston Jct. It is possible to
walk or cycle through the branch tunnel. The colour photograph in e-BLN was taken by Frank Spaven.
627] Matters Arising, BLN 1229: Item 523]: Wembley Park to Stanmore (OP 10 December 1932) was a
Metropolitan Railway branch originally and became part of the Bakerloo line on 20 November 1939
then the Jubilee Line from 1 May 1979. Edgware Road: (District / H&C) Your reporter had not picked
up on the fact that, unusually, when the signal panel is lit, the line is clear and the light goes out when
the section is occupied; this is a fail-safe system! Waterloo & City control and the open air access are
at the low numbered platform side of the main Waterloo station (ie east side). 537]: The GER branch
to the Blackwall Pepper Warehouse was at Thames Wharf Jct. 587]: 'Kitteybrewster' in e-BLN should
have been 'Kittybrewster' 603]: The IRRS Ballina and Westport railtour is on Saturday 18 July and not
28 July. For details of the Iarnród Éireann 'Trekker' rover ticket see (BLN 1209 p212) still an absolute
bargain at only €110 (£80) for four days unlimited rail travel throughout the Irish Republic on Irish Rail.
628] Unusual Track: With thanks to our member Ian Delgado http://goo.gl/atct2m and others. Given
in good faith, these may not happen and should be checked before travelling (long term unless dated):
Kilkenny, Lavistown South-North Jcts.: (PSUL route) FO (from 13 March) 16.15 Dublin Heuston
to Waterford additional train; previously only a Down service, the 07.10 SuX Waterford to Heuston.
Hayes & Harlington bay P5: 3-6 April inclusive and 12th, half-hourly service to/from Paddington.
Banbury reversing in P1/2: 3-6 April inclusive and 12th, 2tph Paddington _ Bristol/Swansea.
Camden Road (P2) - Camden Road West Jct. trailing crossover 12 April all day wet departures.
Exeter Central bay P1: SuO 12 April (rugby match) and SuO from 17 May (summer service).
Turners Lane Jct. - Calder Bridge Jct. (& Crofton West Jct. - Hare Park Jct.): SSuO 18 April to 3
May incl. some Grand Central trains http://goo.gl/EmVt06 Sunderland - King's Cross.
Hemsworth Up Passenger Loop: Saturdays 18 and 25 April, 20.21 Leeds to Doncaster.
Hemsworth Down Loop: SSuX to 11 December 2015, 07.08 & 19.22 Doncaster to Leeds, SO to
12 December 2015, 13.14 Sheffield to Leeds and SO 13.14, 18.15 & 19.22 Doncaster to Leeds.
Seven Sisters Jct. - South Tottenham West Jct. & South Tottenham East - South Jcts.: SuO 17
May, 07.39 Hertford E. to Stratford Up train. (PSUL is Down, 05.31 SO Liverpool St. to Enfield T.)
Marsden trailing crossover: 06.15 SSuX & 09.30 SuO Marsden (depart P3) to Leeds.
Ilford Up Flyover Avoiding Line: 05.40, 08.30 and 11.30 SSuX Southend Victoria to London
Liverpool St., use of this rare line depends on punctuality of conflicting trains (including freight).
BLN 1230.629] Signalling & Track Diagrams etc.: A selection is available to download free as a PDF at
the Gioconda website http://goo.gl/IAkIjF they are very detailed, in colour and interesting; examples
are Reading (Stage F), Acton Depot, Paisley Corridor, Water Orton Phase 2 and Salisbury to Exeter.
1230 ENGLAND – EAST MIDLANDS
630] East Midlands Parkway: From 29 March a new roughly hourly shuttle 'Railink' road service began
to East Midlands Airport (EMA), connecting with train services. The single journey is £6 for five miles.
Railink is a partnership between EMT, EMA, Rushcliffe Borough Council and Elite Cars. The station's
passenger numbers continue to disappoint, about a third of the pre-opening projections.
631] Fritchley Tunnel, Crich: What is believed to be the world's oldest railway tunnel, dating from
1793, has been given Grade II listing. The Derbyshire tunnel was built as part of the Butterley
Gangroad, a horse-operated railway linking the Cromford Canal with limestone quarries at Crich. It is
now a scheduled ancient monument, was sealed in the 1980s and excavated by archaeologists in 2013.
The tunnel was engineered by Benjamin Outram, and modernised in the 1840s to accommodate a
narrow gauge railway which continued to be used by steam engines until 1933. English Heritage said
that Benjamin Outram was an important figure who greatly influenced the development of railways in
Derbyshire. He was one of the first to recognise their potential to provide a nationwide transport
system, which was first developed on the Butterley Gangroad and soon adopted across Britain.
632] No more joints on the Joint Line: The Rail Minister has officially opened the completed £280M
GN/GE Joint line upgrade. The government-funded project has greatly improved the 86 mile route
between Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster, increasing capacity and line speed. Freight trains are
being diverted from the ECML to improve the reliability, future speed and frequency of its inter-city
passenger services and allow the IEP introduction. The upgrade also creates the potential for more
EMT and Northern Rail services to operate on the Joint Line itself, including Sunday services. Sleaford
to Spalding direct passenger trains only operate for 9 hours daily (08.30 to 17.30) SuX as there were so
many manually operated level crossings on that stretch, now de-staffed. Work has included:
49 underbridges, 19 overbridges and 82 culverts were renewed or refurbished.
W12 loading gauge work included 66m of track lowered in the only tunnel at Washingborough.
47 miles of track re-laid plus 40 miles of new rails and speeds were raised from 60 to 75mph.
147 level crossings: 3 closed, 61 renewed/enhanced, all destaffed and converted to manually
remote controlled barriers with obstacle detection or CCTV operation allowing faster speeds.
Sleaford Down Avoiding line reinstated as a reversible 'loop' without any additional pointwork.
13 signal boxes closed, signalling renewed, controlled from Lincoln SCC (moving to York ROC).
Crossovers and junctions replaced and upgraded.
85 miles of vegetation clearance to improve access and reduce leaf-fall problems.
47 miles of new lineside fencing and 37 miles of new concrete cable troughing.
633] Ilkeston: The Ilkeston Advertiser reported that work to demolish the last remaining building at the
former Ilkeston Junction station started on 6 March, with the Secretary of State for Transport in
attendance. This started work on the £6M project after several delays including the discovery and
removal of newts. A Freedom of Information request was submitted to Derbyshire County Council
about the cost of removing the newts. The response revealed that 171 great crested newts, and 197
smooth newts were found. It stated that NR had identified the total costs associated with the
management and implementation of newt trapping and relocation as £74,120!
1230 GREATER LONDON
BLN 1230.634] East India Dock Branch: (BLN 1229.537) 'CBY' on the bridge stands for Canning Town
Blackwall Yards; this was the extent of the branch in main line company ownership. 5m 57ch is
actually the mileage for the second (1888) of the three Canning Town stations and is presumably just a
convenient reference point, as only the one structure remains. The 1911 GER bridge book lists it as
635] Crossrail 2: (BLN 1221.1694) The DfT has agreed to the safeguarding of the potential route.
636] Old Underground Stations: The Time Out website carries some interesting 'then and now'
photographs of old stations, along with the Kingsway tram tunnel and Post Office Railway. These can
be found at http://goo.gl/yOApS1 (scroll arrows at sides of the top picture).
637] Finsbury Park: A major improvement project for the Underground station begins on 20 April with
the introduction of automatic barriers at the Station Place and Seven Sisters Road entrances. Then the
Wells Terrace entrance will close, to be replaced in early 2018 by a new entrance to be built as part of
a development next to the station. By 2019 lifts will provide step-free access to all four platforms.
638] Northern Line Extension: (BLN 1222.1797) LUL has awarded the contract to design, manufacture
and deliver two Tunnel Boring Machines to NFM Technologies. They are expected to be launched in
summer 2016 and take seven months to bore the new tunnels between Kennington and Battersea.
639] Thameslink: (BLN 1229.539) (1). Southwark Park station: The IanVisits website reports that,
during the track remodelling work on the London Bridge approaches, the foundations of the platforms
of this station (OP 1 October 1902, CP 15 March 1915) were uncovered. They have now been covered
up again underneath new trackwork. The gutted ticket hall still exists underneath the railway viaduct.
See http://goo.gl/tpn7CP for some interesting photographs and further information.
(2). Charlton: To provide additional turnback facilities during work on the London Bridge approaches,
from 30 March the clipped and padlocked emergency trailing crossover at the station country end was
to be motorised and a new down starting signal provided at the country end of the Up platform.
1230 NORTHERN GENERAL
640] From the Horse's Mouth: Northern Franchise Invitation to Tender, quoted from the DfT:
'One service shall be provided each week between the following stations in at least one direction.
These are required either to retain route knowledge in the event of diversion or to avoid a formal
closure procedure.' The way the DfT specifies the routes in the documentation may be of interest:
Carnforth and Morecambe direct via Hest Bank.
Frodsham and Runcorn via Halton Curve (seasonal).
Eaglescliffe and Stockton.
Ince and Wigan North Western.
Wigan North Western and Patricroft via Golborne Jct.
Wigan North Western and Newton-le-Willows via Golborne Jct.
Worksop and Retford ('High Level').
Sheffield and Chesterfield via Woodhouse.
Dinting and Hadfield (not via Glossop).
Dinting and Glossop (not via Hadfield).
Fitzwilliam and Mirfield/Normanton.
Darlington and Eaglescliffe calling at Teesside Airport.
Stockport and Guide Bridge, calling at Reddish South and Denton.
Three services shall be provided each way on Saturdays on the Sheffield to Cleethorpes route,
calling at Gainsborough Central, Kirton Lindsey, Brigg and Barnetby.
The would-be TOCs can bid to run more than the minimum specified services on these lines and make
more station stops. Our member suggests adding the single peak-hour services between Knottingley
and Goole, Morpeth and Chathill, and the now occasional service between Helsby and Ellesmere Port.
It will be obvious to readers that a service is already provided between Eaglescliffe and Stockton by
open access operator Grand Central with their Sunderland to King's Cross trains and TPE operate
Anglo-Scottish EMU services between Wigan North Western and the Chat Moss line. However, this
specification ensures the crews of the new Northern franchise will also have the route knowledge to
use these routes if necessary.
1230 NORTH WEST
BLN 1230.641] NW Electrification: The Huyton Jct. to Springs Branch overhead was energised on 15
March. The overhead wires had been tested the previous Monday/Tuesday. This means that Liverpool
to Preston services should be EMU operated from the new May timetable, with driver training before,
although it is possible that an interim electric service between Liverpool and Wigan could be
introduced. A local member reports that the first overhead wires at Manchester Victoria were
installed on 22 March.
Above (See next item): North end of the curved Farnworth tunnels, taken from Farnworth station,
looking towards Manchester. The original 1838 'Clammerclough Tunnel' (left) is to be re-bored and
realigned to take a double track, electrified and faster railway. The smaller bore 1880 tunnel (right) will
be used for single line working for 22 weeks from 2 May during this work then the track will be lifted.
The station opened to passengers with the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Railway on 29 May 1838,
originally just named 'Tunnel'. It closed in 1841, but was reopened in September 1845 as 'Halshaw
Moor' and renamed 'Halshaw Moor & Farnworth' in May 1852. From January 1870 it was 'Farnworth
& Halshaw Moor' then after 6 May 1974 just 'Farnworth'. Like Clifton, Kearsley and Moses Gate
stations it will be TCP during this work. Taken 20 November 2008 and reproduced with permission.
642] Farnworth Tunnel Single Line Working: (BLN 1228.441) Slightly amending this entry, the plan is
to run all services bi-directionally through the single track smaller bore east tunnel occupied by the Up
Line from 2 May to 4 October inclusive to allow electrification clearance work on the west side Down
tunnel. Northern services between Manchester and Bolton will be 3tph (SSuO - no services) in each
direction, with trains strengthened to 4-6 cars by DMUs released from the NW electrification. There
will be additional TPE services (1tph) in the peaks. As it is 6½ miles between the existing crossovers at
Burnden Jct. south of Bolton and Agecroft North Jct. north of Salford Crescent, temporary crossovers
are being installed for the 22 weeks of single line working. These are at the new Farnworth South Jct.
(7m 67ch) installed by 30 March but OOU and Farnworth North Jct. (9m 12ch), south and north of the
tunnels respectively. Both include trap points. From 3 to 6 April inclusive over Easter there is a total
line closure between Salford Crescent (excl.) and Euxton Jct. (incl.) and Bolton (incl.) to Blackburn
(excl.) to commission the Farnworth bi-directional operation.
BLN 1230.643] Farnworth Tunnel Work: http://goo.gl/9ClxeE After 2 May with no trains running
through, the larger 300m long west (Clammerclough) tunnel will be filled in then re-bored to create a
straighter alignment for faster running with clearance for the double track electrified line. On
completion in October all trains will use the new tunnel; the track will be lifted through the east tunnel
which will be used for signal cables etc.
Above: Artists' impression of the appearance of the south end of the tunnels (looking towards Bolton)
after the work with the eased curvature and before electrification. The larger 'Clammerclough Tunnel'
is Grade II listed; planning permission for the work was granted on 12 February 2015. (Picture courtesy
of Network Rail) Note the red and white 'limited clearance' warning signs both sides at the entrance.
644] Racing to Aintree: Although the days of loco-hauled specials from all parts of the country running
to the excursion platforms via the Bootle Branch and stabling in Fazakerley Sidings have long since
gone, the Grand National is a very busy time for Merseyrail. Before and after the meeting, from 9 to 11
April inclusive this year, a 7½ minute (8tph) frequency of 6-car trains is booked between Liverpool and
Aintree. The additional services are unusually limited stop calling at Liverpool Central, Moorfields,
Sandhills (for Southport line connections) and Aintree. These require the odd cancellation, alteration
and some short-formations on other Merseyrail Northern line services to provide the necessary EMUs.
1230 SOUTH EAST - NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
645] Croxley - Watford Junction: Mayor of London Boris Johnson has welcomed the government's
commitment to provide additional funding for the Croxley rail link, a decision which allows the long-
awaited scheme to go ahead this year for completion in 2018. Final approval was given on 17 March;
an extra £34M was pledged in the Budget and a further contribution came from Transport for London.
In February Hertfordshire C.C., current
promoter of the scheme, highlighted a £22M
funding gap for what it had estimated to be a
£249M project. However, the county also
reported that London Underground had put
the total cost at between £285M and £298M.
This has increased as the scope of the
scheme widened to include refurbishment
and enhancement of existing rail industry
assets and future-proofing the project. In
February, Hertfordshire C.C. warned that if a
decision by government to release funding
was not made by the end of March, there
would be a long delay and the county would
have to stop financing project development
having committed £22M so far.
BLN 1230.646] Radlett: (BLN 1214.1178) The
Logistics Manager reports that St. Albans
Council has failed in its bid to stop
development of the Radlett rail freight
terminal. The Council, supported by a local
action group, had appealed against the
decision by the Secretary of State for
Communities and Local Government to grant
planning permission for the £400M rail
freight scheme. St. Albans’ MP was 'left
stunned' by the High Court decision and
wishes to meet with Hertfordshire C.C. to
continue the fight.
BLN 1230 SOUTH EAST ENGLAND - SOUTH.
647] Thames Haven: (left) With thanks to
Iain Scotchman and Dave Cromarty, a plan of
the branch. There is presently no traffic past
Port Jct., and no railtour has run to Thames
Haven since the branch was significantly
realigned (BLN 1210.890); only to London
Gateway. At the latter Phase II is complete
and Phase III nearly so. There is space for it
to expand further westward. The number of
container trains there (SSuX) recently
increased to five per week; staged at Tilbury.
1230 SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
648] Cornwall: Near Burngullow the disused
Crugwallins siding (Parkandillack branch)
has been removed. Ready for the proposed
Cornwall resignalling changes pending by
NR include removal of the 'Milk Road' siding
and Down sidings at Lostwithiel and the
'back sidings' at St. Blazey.
BLN 1230.649] Heathfield: During the night of the 19 March the Royal Train was stabled on the
branch although HM the Queen herself did not need the track having previously been to
Moretonhampstead (CA 1964) by train!
650] Franchise Extension: In a deal with the DfT, FGW has announced 'the largest train fleet upgrade
in a generation', part of its franchise direct award extension that starts in September and runs until
Thames Valley EMUs: 37 new and refurbished 4 car Class 387 and 21 x 4 car Class 365 mainly in
8 and 12 car formations from spring 2016 on electrified lines into Paddington.
New IEP Trains start taking over long distance services from summer 2017 (another re-
announcement of course).
29 Hitachi AT300 125mph bi-modal trains replacing HSTs to Devon / Cornwall from summer
2018. 7 x 9 car and 22 x 5 car (can work as 2 x 5 car).
Class 165 Turbo cascading to the Cardiff - Portsmouth services will allow the local mainline
services in Devon and Cornwall to be increased using the released and refurbished fleet of Class
651] Looping the Loop at Gloucester: (BLN 1228.449) Our local correspondent was on Gloucester
station on 14 March to see what happened. As might have been expected with an empty station, the
09.10 ex-Nottingham traversed the whole of P1 & 2 non-stop, but, also with an empty station, the
10.10 used the Up Main. As a member of the station staff remarked 'You don't see that very often'. In
explanation for this routing, the two trains in question were supplemented by 'relief' Cross Country
Voyagers 15 minutes later which did stop at Gloucester. What was the rationale for not stopping the
regular service, but stopping the reliefs? Most of the rugby supporters for Cardiff piled into a Maesteg
stopper and many must have had to stand all the way.
652] Southwest Trains: The 1943 now singled Yeovil Junction to Pen Mill connecting line may have a
regular service from the December timetable. SWT are proposing 17 trains daily, part of their Salisbury
to Exeter line further service improvements. Yeovil Pen Mill would have 7 direct trains from and 3
trains to Waterloo on weekdays. The roads are very poor between the two stations, so taxis and the
hourly bus services travel via Yeovil town centre. Bruton would have four 'through trains to London for
the first time' (is this actually correct?) also serving Castle Cary, Frome, Basingstoke, Woking, Clapham
Junction and Waterloo. Other improvements are a half-hourly London to Yeovil Junction service from
15.20 to 19.20. Yeovil Junction, Sherborne and Templecombe also have two additional mid-afternoon
trains; the 13.50 from Waterloo and 15.53 from Yeovil Junction. Exeter to Honiton becomes half-
hourly during the evening peak. Maybe Yeovil Junction to Pen Mill will one day need redoubling?
652] Weymouth: As advised in BLN (1221.1681), the former GWR ferry service from Weymouth Quay
to Jersey and Guernsey ran for the final time on 23 March, with the departure of the 13.30 'Condor
Express' from Weymouth. At least one Member was aboard. It was announced as the last sailing of
'Condor Express' so it is not known which boat worked the return journey, the 18.30 from Jersey.
1230 WEST MIDLANDS
654] Leamington - Banbury: A member sampled the excellent spacious and comfortable locomotive
hauled 'Chiltern Mainline' trains, with large windows and well positioned seats, to see the line a few
days after it had reopened following the landslip work (BLN 1229.527). Of note in planning the
journey, 'National Rail Enquiries' offered a 'Heart of England 3 days in 7 rover ticket' as a possible
option between Hartlebury and Banbury; not shown as the cheapest fare but a clever promotion of
that ticket. Travelling on the 10.55 from Birmingham Moor Street to Banbury (11.39), he was pleased
to make a six minute 'connection' there to a similar train back to Birmingham Snow Hill and was
surprised when it turned up hauled by loco 68011 (all should be Cl.68 after 1 April). An even greater
surprise had been the outward journey announcements that the train was approaching 'Leamington
Spa General' (the ex-LNWR Avenue and Milverton stations had closed to passengers in 1965 and BR
dropped the 'General' suffix in 1966!). This was not a one off as similarly 'Banbury General' was also
announced (the alternative Banbury Merton Street on the LNWR branch from Verney Junction closed
in January 1961 and BR had dropped the suffix by 1974!). Maybe the conductor knew something about
Chiltern's future re-opening plans that we don't! On the return journey approaching Dorridge, this was
announced by a different conductor as 'Knowle and Dorridge' which it has not been since February
1968! The station then had a phase of being just 'Knowle' until renamed the geographically correct
'Dorridge' on 6 June 1974 when the signalbox also closed. It did not stop at 'Lapworth for Henley-in-
Arden' which branch line CP from 1 January 1915! At Dorridge and Solihull stations a good number of
senior citizens (probably all needing the '68' for haulage!) joined using their travel passes.
At Harbury landslip (Up side just south of Leamington), there was a temporary speed limit of 50mph in
both directions and some of the track has been at least reballasted. The scale of the work carried out
can be appreciated from http://goo.gl/O9GUfz a time lapse video. 'Harbury Tunnel Bridge', the first
brick overbridge adjacent to the landslip and north of the tunnel, was clad in scaffolding undergoing
repairs. Although the line has reopened, there is much more to do, resulting in it being closed on
Sundays from 24 May onwards. Amending (BLN 1229.527 / 8), the route was 'handed back' from
16.12 on Thursday 12 March. The first trains were actually the 19.00 Avonmouth Coal Silo to Ratcliffe
Power Station loaded coal train, at Leamington Spa 23.01 (49 minutes early) on 12th, and in the Up
direction a light engine movement which passed the station a few minutes early at 23.31, as the 20.10
Wrexham General to Fenny Compton sidings. The first passenger trains were as given in BLN 1229.
BLN 1230.655] Alrewas: The Lichfield Rail Promotion Group is campaigning for restored passenger
services on the Lichfield Trent Valley to Burton-upon-Trent line with a station at Alrewas (CP January
1965), for the National Memorial Arboretum. See http://goo.gl/rg88XN (also with an online petition).
1230 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
656] Doncaster P0: Completion is expected by 17 October, and then signalling will be commissioned
for passenger use from the 13 December 2015 timetable change. Over 90m long it will take 2 x 2car
trains. A new trailing crossover is to be installed on the Thorne side of the existing crossover to allow
trains to run out of the bay without having to use the 'Up Slow ECML' north of Doncaster station. P0
passenger access will be by a footbridge with steps and lifts to/from the main station Up island P1-3.
657]: Shaftholme Jct. point made: Situated just north of Doncaster on the ECML, where the Askern
line branches off to Knottingley, the single lead junction points are being replaced with the 'Hy-drive'
electro-hydraulic high performing type. They are non-trailable, direct locking, designed to last 30 years
or 1M operations and are certified to be taken at speeds up to 190mph on the direct run and 100mph
on the divergent route! There are no stretcher bars and they are much longer than conventional
points, equal to the longest set of points in the country at Colton Jct., just south of York also on the
ECML. To change them manually can take over 100 pumps and when they move they appear to 'snake
across' in sections which is normal. After completion and other necessary work (including the new
obstacle detector worked level crossings), the ECML speed limit will be increased to 125mph over
Shaftholme Jct. Until work is carried out at Thorpe Level Crossing on the Askern line, (known as 'the
branch'!), the speed onto this line remains restricted to 20mph (but 40mph in the Up direction).
658] Seeing red twice: As part of the ECML speed and capacity upgrade two 'Double Red Signals' are
being introduced on the Down Main north of Doncaster providing extra protection for faster running.
This means the signal before the red at which the train is required to stop is approach controlled and
releases from red to a single yellow on the train reducing to the required speed at that position. The
second remains red (unless the line clears). Firstly B829 protecting Shaftholme Jct. will be used when
trains are coming off the Knottingley line and also B849 protecting Joan Croft Jct. when a train runs
off the Down Applehurst line. No signal actually displays two red aspects. Some were installed at
Peterborough a few years ago during resignalling. Other signalling variations include flashing greens
and flashing double yellows. For high capacity high speed lines such as HS2, it has been calculated
that 10 aspect signals would be needed to signal them conventionally (!), hence the use of European
Rail Train Management Systems. ECML level crossings are also being abolished or improved.
BLN 1230.659] From the signal box: At Doncaster northbound trains coming off the Down Lincoln
Flyover can, at Down Decoy North Jct., go fast line or into the 'Down/Up West Slow No1' or No2. This
depends on operational requirements or how the signal staff feel (so now we know!). For example
with a Retford service on the Down Fast and freight going in/out of Belmont Yard, No1 would be used.
660] Limerick - Foynes: Vegetation has been cleared from the branch in a six week operation. This was
done mainly in February at the arrangement of the Shannon Foynes Port Company to permit them to
make a detailed structural survey of the 26¾ mile line. (Track condition is included in this context –
Sub-Ed.) Despite its present OOU status, the line is a core part of the European Union designated
Trans European Network and reopening is proposed to serve the port of Foynes. (Modern Railways)
661] North Kerry Line: A map of the Limerick/Foynes (top right) to Tralee/Fenit (bottom left) and area
railways, thanks to Publications Officer Martyn Brailsford. Not all minor or transient stations and halts
are shown for clarity.
662] North Kerry Line, Part 3: (Cont. from BLN 1229.579) Whilst at Newcastle West on 6 June 1978
our correspondent took a photograph of the Wickham railcar 416A standing in the station, the grass
on the track here being tufty rather than long. The party then continued bowling along westwards
through Barnagh tunnel, about ¼ mile long, without stopping, and good progress continued. The
tunnel length corresponds with that given in Hajducki’s Railway Atlas of Ireland, but Johnson’s Atlas
states 100 yards as does the contemporary National inventory of Archaeological Heritage and it is
possible to walk through the tunnel now. Another photo was taken passing through Lixnaw station*,
the receding rails disappearing into the long grass. Whilst proceeding, conversation over the several
pots of tea (travel on Wickham 416A was very civilised!) turned to the Fenit branch, amid murmurings
of 'if we have time'. As the party approached Tralee West Crossing about 15.25 in the afternoon, our
correspondent duly popped the question to the engineer who took a deep breath and had a word with
the Tralee West (Rock Street) signalman. 416A duly reversed again, heading west along the parallel
track before diverging towards Spa; there was no physical junction here. [The IRRS, February 2015
Journal, includes an in-depth article on the Tralee area with 13 photographs, Rock Street signal box
and the parallel Limerick and Fenit single track lines being two of them – Sub-Ed.] Fortunately the
guard’s large collection of keys included those for the level crossing gates on the Fenit branch! All
went well as the party passed Fenit station and headed for the long Fenit Pier. Here it had to stop.
Someone had dumped a large industrial pressure vessel on the pier, completely obstructing the track.
Still, in all the circumstances, our member could hardly complain! Time was now beginning to press,
as the engineer wished to make the 17.10 train from Tralee to Dublin; the last departure of the day.
416A nearly came to grief on the return journey at Kilfenora level crossing as a farm tractor had well
and truly muddied the track, and having been extricated from this, speed duly rose to about 50mph!
Clattering across Tralee West Crossing again, the party made the 17.10 with seven minutes to spare.
Was this the very last fare paying passenger of all over the North Kerry line and the Fenit branch line?
(*p261 of the October 1984 IRRS Journal has a photo of the weed-spraying train at Lixnaw on 23 May
1984; these annual trains on disused lines often took a fair number of 'passengers' as well !)
Above: Fenit station in 1976, two years before our member's special visit. (© Albert Bridge)
BLN 1230.663] Pelletstown: (BLN 1206.551) In October 2014 An Bord Pleanála granted planning
permission with revised conditions for the station at Pelletstown between Broombridge and Ashtown.
The previous approval by Dublin City Council of 23 October 2013 had been subject to an appeal.
664] Church Road Jct.: (BLN 1221.1670) The Shunting Frame closed on 12 October 2014. The layout
now comprises non-track circuited 'Up East Wall Siding' (Up is from East Wall Jct. to North Wall),
'Down East Wall Siding' and a reversible 'North Strand Siding', though this is a convergence at hand
operated points of two tracks, 'Up North Strand Siding' and 'Down North Strand Siding' running from
North Strand Jct. There is no connection between the first three at the site of Church Road Jct.
BLN 1230.665] IÉ Rail Freight: The Rail Freight Group’s News reports increased Iarnród Éireann freight
traffic in 2014. The combined freight business including automotive parts distribution (the latter under
the business name Navigator, an IÉ road transport operation) was 3% stronger than forecast.
Pulpwood freight from Ballina and Westport to Waterford increased 20% on 2013. Intermodal
carryings were up 4%, all to or from Ballina. Up to seven loaded trains in each direction a week serve
Dublin Port for International Warehousing & Transport (opened in 2011). During the year a total of
1,097 loaded freight trains were operated by IÉ, a figure which would have been higher but for
maintenance shutdowns at Tara Mines and suspension of train services there. Note that the article on
which this item is based does not clearly differentiate between tonnages, volumes or values.
666] Tampering with the timetable: (BLN 1223.1927/8) A member caught the 10.37 Glasgow Queen
St. to Oban on 20 March to cover Craigendoran (West Highland) loop, this being the only booked
service of the day. However, it was routed into the relatively rare Dumbarton Central Down Loop P3
because Craigendoran loop was occupied by a delayed tamping machine (the 09.20 Rutherglen to
Ardlui). At 11.22 his passenger train departed, 17 minutes late and so used the even rarer west end
connection to the Down line, then passed Craigendoran Loop (occupied by tamper) on the main line!
667] Time Flies: (BLN 1226.295) The 125th anniversary of the Forth Rail Bridge ceremonial opening on
4 March 1890 did not go unmarked. A fly-past by a (replica) Spitfire and RAF Typhoon, was Included in
the celebrations recalling the attack by the Luftwaffe on 16 October 1939, targeting Royal Navy ships
in the River Forth. It was the first air attack on Britain of WWII and there were Royal Navy casualties.
Local school-children attended to hear from a man who was a passenger on a train crossing the Bridge
at the time of the attack. Fundraising for Glasgow charity Ronald McDonald House is to come from a
sponsored abseil from the Bridge on Sunday 21 June. E-BLN Pictorial 1230 features the Forth Bridge.
668] Borders Railway: (BLN 1229.585) Unit 170414 (presumably not one of the 21 (of 55) units said to
be 'going south' with the change of franchisee) has been 'vinylled' with local tourist attractions and
was revealed on 17 March. The new line and Forth Bridge are included. Normal tickets for Sunday 6
September, the first regular services are on sale from 14 June, the usual 12 week period. It is unusual
for new stations to appear on the ticket systems so early; in the past elsewhere some only appear on
the day of opening! Ceremonial 'Official opening' for the line with special train/s is to be on Friday 4
September, with a special working on the 5th for winners of 'Golden tickets'; local folk deemed worthy
members of the community. A train operator plans up to six weeks of steam trips three days a week.
669] Longannet no more: (BLN 1202.236): On 23 March there was a 'shock announcement' that
Scottish Power's coal-fired Longannet power station will close in March next year (BBC NEWS 23
March). The plant, due to close in 2020 anyway as per its licence conditions, failed to win a vital
National Grid contract which has gone to the SSE-operated gas-fired power station at Peterhead. The
consequences for residual open-cast coal mining and Scottish rail freight traffic are obviously serious.
It has also been reported that, from April, Hunterston will only be supplying coal to Longannet.
670] Passenger again? Anticipating Longannet's demise, campaigners, including Transform Scotland,
are looking at the possibility of reopening the Alloa to Dunfermline line to passenger traffic. Kincardine
to Dunfermline via Culross OP as late as 1906, but CP in 1930. A temporary platform at Culross was
used by special trains for the 400th anniversary of the once Royal Burgh on 21 June 1992.
671] GWR Welsh Halts: (BLN 1229.588) Correspondents have pointed out that the number of closed
Halts on lines which are still open was understated, omissions being the three between Clarbeston
Road and Fishguard & Goodwick (Welsh Hook, Mathry Road and Jordanston), and Commins Coch on
the Cambrian. Also Birchgrove on the Coryton branch which, despite being your Sub-Ed’s own local
station, he confesses to having omitted entirely from the calculation! The revised total is 72 GWR
Halts opened in Wales in the 1923-47 era. There is also a questionable further addition in respect of
Ninian Park. 'Quick' confirms that this actually opened for football traffic only in 1912, but did feature
in public timetables between 1934 and 1939, albeit served only by Summer Sunday seaside trains,
which many would argue warrants only 'excursion platform' status rather than counting as a bona fide
public Halt. It did not gain regular public trains until the Cardiff 'City Line' service started in 1987.
BLN 1230.672] Penarth Curve: A fixed diamond crossing was to be installed between the Down and Up
Barry Relief lines over the weekend of 28/29 March ready for doubling the North to East curve. Bus
substitution was planned for all Barry, Penarth and Vale of Glamorgan trains; City Line services were
suspended, with advice to use local bus services (there are few intermediate weekend passengers)!
The curve will play a significant part in future enhancement of Valleys services, providing a route
between Cardiff Central and Radyr, by-passing the 'bottleneck' either side of Queen Street station.
673] North/South Wales: The Welsh Government has confirmed extension through to the end of the
ATW franchise on 13 October 2018 of its subsidy for 'Y Gerallt Gymro', (aka 'Gerald'), the weekday
loco-hauled restaurant car express services 05.33 Holyhead to Cardiff Central and 17.16 return.
674] Rhondda Tunnel (picture left):
(BLN 1224.114) The Rhondda Tunnel
Society reports that the Highways
Agency Historic Railways Estate has
contracted engineering company
Hammond ECS of Aberdare to
undertake a structural internal
inspection of the 3,443yd tunnel,
(the longest tunnel in Wales) from
15 to 17 April. This will be the first
internal inspection for over 30 years;
so will be conducted with the
assistance of the Mines Rescue
Service. The Society believes this to
be a positive sign that its ambitious
plans to open it for walkers and
cyclists are being taken seriously,
subject to the outcome of the survey. (Picture courtesy of tunnelsuk.com; note the sleeper imprints.)
675] Aberdare: A correspondent reports recent exploration of the sometime steam railmotor route
between Black Lion Crossing Halt and Cwmaman Colliery Halt, CP 22 September 1924. Built to broad
gauge by the Vale of Neath Railway, the formation, today a tarmac public footpath from end to end, is
noticeably wider than usual. Whilst there is no trace of any of the platforms (Black Lion at least had
wooden platforms), it is not hard to identify their locations. Cwmneol Halt, for example, was adjacent
to the crossroads of Treneol and Station Terrace, whilst close to Cwmaman Colliery Halt there is still a
small stone-built shed, perhaps the former GWR goods shed. Beyond here lies the site of Fforchwen
Colliery and further, over a piece of open common, Shepherds Pit, both once rail served.
1230 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR references are now to the 2015 (27th) Edition of Minor Railways now posted to all full members.
MR39] Mid Hants Railway, Hampshire (MR p6): Our roving correspondent visited here on Saturday 21
February, a dry day with sunny periods. LMSR black 5 4-6-0 45379 hauled 5 ex-BR MKI coaches at two-
hourly intervals. SR 4-6-2 34007 Wadebridge was in steam at Ropley, possibly for the later dining car
train. A track gang was working on the new miniature railway at Ropley (further details welcomed).
BLN 1230.MR40] Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, Devon (MR p15) (BLN 1217.MR151): The railway had
its most successful season ever in 2014, with just over 46,000 passengers (including our trip on 25
October), 26% higher than 2013. This year it will be submitting Planning Applications for an extension
to Wistlandpound, through Parracombe and Blackmoor. Then comes the Transport & Works Act.
MR41] Wells & Walsingham Light Railway, Norfolk (MR p21) (BLN 1228.MR28): Lt Cdr Francis and his
wife had the unusual distinction of having the powers to operate the railway vested in them
personally, by the Wells and Walsingham Railway Light Railway Order (LRO) 1982. Normally, a LRO and
now a Transport & Works Act Order would only be granted to a corporate body. This exception was
with the support of the late Major Peter Olver, a Railway Inspector with considerable sympathy for
heritage railways. He considered Lt Cdr Francis quite capable of running the railway safely, but that he
should not be responsible for the public road bridges that span it. British Railways continued to
maintain them (as the Secretary of State for Transport does now), but granted Lt Cdr Francis a licence
that permitted him to run trains under them. The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway (Amendment)
Order 1994 amended the original LRO, so that Lt Cdr Francis's son and daughter were also vested with
the power to operate the railway, so that it can carry on running.
MR42] Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway, South Lanarkshire (MR p28) (BLN 974.MR159): Our
Member visited this line, situated on the trackbed of the ex-Caledonian Railway standard gauge branch
from Elvanfoot to Wanlockhead (operated 1901-39), on Sunday 13 July 2014. The course of this line is
visible most of the way up the valley to Leadhills where the now 2ft gauge line commences. There is a
collection of seven internal combustion and two stored steam locomotives, one of which is currently
being restored. The passenger service operates Saturdays and Sundays April to October, for ¾ mile to
Glengonnar Halt; the line has gradients of 1 in 38/40 and, with Hillend Summit at 1498ft and 14ft
higher than Druimuachdar, is 'Britain's highest adhesion worked railway'……..
On the day of the visit, Hunslet-built Clyde in blue livery propelled outwards from Leadhills the train of
three coaches in red and white livery, including brake vehicle. Glengonnar is on the boundary between
South Lanarkshire and Dumfries & Galloway. The volunteer Guard, originally from Northern Ireland but
resident for the past 20 years in Cumbria, said that the working that day was 'unique'. He was on his
first duty as a passed-out Guard; it was the first duty of the volunteer Driver, who was accompanied by
an experienced Driver. The Railway has ambitions to get to Wanlockhead a mere 1295ft above sea
level; progress beyond Glengonnar requires access through the estate of a member of Scottish gentry.
Meetings are taking place, but much funding is required; income in 2013 was under £10K and only
about 15 passengers were seen during this two hour visit. Around Leadhills village, and well worth a
look, are the remnants of former tramways used by the mining operation predating the railway. The
area is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (one of the largest in Scotland) and includes (in Wanlockhead)
an early 19th Century wooden beam engine, used to transfer excess water from the mine shaft to a
side tunnel and thence to a nearby stream. There is a working model of the beam engine (or 'Bobbing
John', after a Scottish Jacobite of variable loyalties) in the Lead Mining Museum at Leadhills; just as
well, as the original remains outdoors, deteriorating from the ravages of weather at about 1,500ft.
Above: Leadhills station (both pictures 10 September 2000, Geoff Cryer see http://goo.gl/0aWU4w ).
BLN 1230.MR43] Tarka Valley Railway, Torrington: The North Devon Gazette web site on 12 February
posted a short item about the railway project. Members of the Tarka Valley Railway Group have been
busy preparing to lay track in the footsteps of the old Tarka line at the former Torrington station. In
March 2013, the Gazette revealed how the group was granted planning permission to lay 268m of
track alongside the Tarka Trail. Now, nearly two years on, volunteers have cleared the land ready, and
the lease should be in their hands within weeks. The aim is to turn the station into a tourist attraction,
offering passenger rides. Chairman Rod Garner said that funding dependent, he hoped it could be up
and running within 2-3 years. 'We are in the process of applying to become a registered charity, which
should make securing funding easier. It's very exciting to finally be able to start work'. Volunteers are
welcome and needed every Thursday; contact [email protected] or 07881 905260.
1230 OTHERS’ DOINGS:
This is provided as a service to members and details must be checked with the organisers.
BLN 1230.676] SWT £15 Off-peak Day Returns offer: (BLN 1229.597) Are now extended until 17 April.
London Midland Great Escape Day Rovers: 7-19 April from £12 (railcard) see http://goo.gl/i6W0fT
677] RPSI 7-9 May tours: (BLN1227.995): The 8 May tour http://goo.gl/9aDhgf includes from Dublin
Connolly P7 to Newcomen Jct. For more details of the five days see: http://goo.gl/M6z3Bf +442893
373968 or send SAE to RPSI, PO Box 461, Newtownabbey, County Antrim, BT36 9BT, Northern Ireland.
678] Charity Railtours, 10 May: Spare seats London Euston (12.00 approx.) to Watford Junction,
Milton Keynes, Birmingham International, Stafford or Crewe. Double-headed Class 37s. Single fares
£20 (1st Class £30), included in 'The Four Triangles' tour from the outward stations north of London.
679] Grantchester Woodland Miniature Railway, Sunday 14 June, 11.45: Fulbrooke Road, Cambridge
CB3 9EE. (TL434572) Kentrail Enthusiast Group, thanks to Alan Absolom. Two miles from Cambridge
station (lifts available). Established 1938 and on this site since 1958, a 7¼" gauge loop about 700yds
line with additions. The track layout was revised in 2011 doubling the length of the run and creating
two non-passenger chords connecting Grantchester to Dingly Dale, making the 2011 extension the
running line. Normally bolted OOU, the signalling department has kindly agreed to unbolt them giving
an hour and a half to traverse them and the steaming bay branches before normal public running. £10
pay on the day. All bookings and queries to Simon Mortimer [email protected] 07835 739940.
680] Frimley Lodge Miniature Railway, Saturday 22 August, 11.30: Frimley Lodge Park, Stuart Rd.
Frimley Green, Farnborough. Post code is misleading (SU892560) Kentrail Enthusiast Group. Two miles
from Farnborough or Farnborough North stations (lifts available). Est. in 1990, the 1000yd long 7¼"
gauge complex line in the wooded grounds of the Park has undergone track layout revisions in recent
years, including relocation of the normally non-passenger early return curve at Frimley Lodge. The visit
hopes to cover this, all platform roads, the bay, shed lines, crossovers and loops (not the steaming
bays due to weight restrictions). £10 pay on the day. Bookings and queries: Simon Mortimer as above.
681] Wayside private Railway, Sunday 13 September 14.00: Amsbury Rd., Hunton, Kent ME15 0SL
(TQ732509). Members are invited to a private running afternoon at this 1¼ mile complex layout 7¼"
gauge line 4 miles south west of Maidstone which has no public running. http://goo.gl/7PdBDE has 44
pictures. There is off road parking; Arriva Bus 89 runs hourly from Maidstone town centre to Coxheath
(Dean Lane), 10 minutes walk away. Nine engines are expected in steam and the 2015 extension is due
to be operational. £12 per head including afternoon tea. Cheques payable to 'Rodney Wolf Coe' with
SAE and advise names of all participants (tickets due out in August) to 25 Cecil Court, Upper Queens
Road, Ashford, Kent, TN24 8HG. NB: Closing date for applications is 18 April 2015, no pay on the day.
Distribution: Dave Monger, 6 Underhill Close, GODALMING, GU7 1NU. [email protected] 07592 585230.
Branch Line: Nick Garnham, [email protected]; Subscribe: [email protected]
Fixtures Secretary: Kev Adlam, 53 Kemble Close, Wistaston, CREWE CW2 6XN. [email protected] Twitter: @BLSGeneralSec
General Secretary: Tim Wallis, 10 Sandringham Road, Stoke Gifford, BRISTOL, BS34 8NP. [email protected]
Chairman: John Williamson, 'La Marguerite', Croit-E-Quill Rd., LAXEY, Isle of Man, IM4 7JD. [email protected]
SALES: Mark Gomm, 84 Mornington Road, STOKE-ON-TRENT, ST1 6EL. [email protected] 01782 769960 (daytime).
NEWS TEAM: Wales: Paul Jeffries, 54 Heol Erwin, CARDIFF, CF14 6QR. [email protected]
South East England, East Anglia & Ireland: Julian James, 58 Nelson Road, WORTHING, BN12 6EN. [email protected]
London: Geoff Brockett, 155 Onslow Gardens, South Woodford, LONDON, E18 1NA. [email protected]
Midlands & South West England: Brian Schindler, 15 Sudeley, Dosthill, TAMWORTH, B77 1JR. [email protected]
Northern England & Isle of Man: Graeme Jolley, 3 Laurel Cottages, Rencell Hill, LAXEY, Isle of Man, IM4 7BJ. [email protected]
Scotland: Bob Watt, 18 Kilmailing Road, GLASGOW, G44 5UJ. [email protected]
Minor Railways (British Isles): Peter Scott, 93 Josephine Court, Southcote Rd, READING, RG30 2DQ. [email protected]
International: Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ. [email protected]
E-BLN (Distribution problems and for image submission etc): Dave Cromarty, [email protected]
Editor/Head Lines: Paul Stewart, 4 Clarence Close, MALVERN, WR14 3HX. [email protected] 01684 562862 or 07790652351.
Printed by Deva Enterprises, Waters Edge, The Drive, Ifold, LOXWOOD, West Sussex RH14 0TD, tel: 01403 752837, [email protected]
or [email protected] . Published by the Branch Line Society, 10 Sandringham Rd, Stoke Gifford, BRISTOL, BS34 8NP. ISSN 1354-0947