.Issue Number 1271 (Items 3122 - 3229 &IssMueRN2u4m3 b- eMr R1226581) (E-BLN 58 PAGES) 17 Dec 2016
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue Epsom, Surrey, KT17 4DU. 01372
British Isles news from members;7a2n8i6n7te7rnational section is also available.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1272 is dated 7 Jan 2017 and all Scoocniettryib. utions must be received by 28 Dec
YOUR BLN TEAM & COMMITTEE WISH ALL MEMBERS A MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY 2017
NB: There is a 3‐week gap until BLN 1272 on 7 January with no BLN on 1 January
Date Event Details BLN Lead Status
1261 PS CLOSED
Mon 26/12/16 Boxing Day 10.00 private 10¼" railway in Worcestershire
Sat 7/1/17 Scunthorpe Steel Works (09.30 - dark) Extensive railtour 1265 PS FULL
Sat 14/1/17 Vossloh Voyager tour 08.40-18.42 London Waterloo 1267 JE OPEN
Sun 29/1/17 Leyland SME 09.30-11.30 'All Line' Track Tour 1270 KA OPEN
Sun 29/1/17 Burnley & Pendle MRS 12.00 Comprehensive railtour 1269 KA OPEN
Sat 25/2/17 North Tyneside Steam Railway: 12.30-15.30 Track/Traction TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 12/3/17 Bodmin & Wenford Rly Track & Traction - save the date TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 18/3/17 VTEC - King's Cross - Edinburgh, depots, rare track & rare TBA TBA Claimed
**NEW** traction, save the date - HST to fill. TELL YOUR FRIENDS! *NEW*
10 to 15/5/17 Jordan Hejaz Railway Revised - see BLN 1269/1270 1270 IS NOTIFY
18 to 21/5/17 Long weekend - Dublin / Republic of Ireland 'mixed' gauges 1265 KA Notify
Sat 18/11/17 AGM - Liverpool area Long weekend with railtour TBA TBA Claimed
IS-Iain Scotchman, JE-Jill Everitt, KA-Kev Adlam, PS-Paul Stewart, TBA-To Be Advised.
3122] BLN - THE END OF AN ERA! This end of year BLN 1271 is the final one being printed
by Mike Finnelly of Deva Enterprises, in West Sussex. Mike started printing for us with issue 707 of
12 Jun 1993 and has done nearly 1,000 BLNs over the last 23½ years and much other extra work too
such as AGM and other notices, railtour booking forms etc. He has helped us out on many occasions
in different ways. From 2012 to 2014 in particular, there would have been no BLN without Mike's
very considerable assistance and we are very grateful to him for everything he has done for us.
A big thank you also to our long serving BLN Distribution Team or 'BLN Stuffers' as they like to be
called, led by our Distribution Officer, Dave Monger. Dave is our longest serving Committee member
at 32 years (since BLN 502 in Nov 1984) when he took over from the late George Hebdon, later
working with Membership Secretary Alan Welsh. In recent times, they have been assisted by
members Anthony Farndon, Guy Salt, Geoff Brockett, Dave Johnson, Pat Dennison, Andy Barton,
Dave Hunter and Tom Scott. These assistants (there have been many others over the years) made up
a team of three or four at a time at Woking Railway Athletic Club (which name adds new meaning to
the term 'running the railways') come rain, shine or snow 24 times a year for the rather unglamorous
but absolutely vital task of getting your BLNs out to you year after year.
The system evolved to: Alan Welsh provided the latest membership list to Ronald Jackson, who printed
the addresses and BLS logo on the envelopes, and stamped them. They were packed for 'My Hermes'
parcels service to deliver to Mike Finnelly, who took them to Woking with the BLNs he had printed.
Dave Monger and the team then stuffed and posted the envelopes. Eight stages were involved on 770
occasions over the last 32 years. With hearty and grateful thanks the team is now being disbanded.
ABOVE LEFT: The July 1994 emergency stuffing session, guess the location…..item (2) below (Jerry Holmes).
ABOVE RIGHT: Woking HQ 2014; Dave Monger is presented with a certificate of appreciation for 30 years of
continuous stuffing. Left to right: Alan Welsh (Membership Secretary - seated), Paul Stewart (current BLN
Editor), Dave Monger (Distribution Officer) & Anthony Barton (Stalwart Stuffing Assistant). (Pat Dennision)
3123] Stuffing Stories and not just at Christmas:
(1): The late Peter Todd would often bring inserts for short notice industrial fixtures. One evening
stuffing was complete but the envelopes would not be sealed until Peter arrived. We did not have to
wait long but then had to put his insert into each envelope (over 1,200) and seal it. Stuffers patronised
late trains that night, while the late John Excell took the stuffed BLNs to Guildford Sorting Office by car.
(2): The envelopes for BLN 733 (2 Jul 1994) were delayed, resulting in an 'emergency dispatch' using
the bonnet of Jerry Holmes' car in Sheringham station car park with various 'ad hoc' volunteers.
(3): Stuffing used to start at 16.00; at Christmas, we had great trouble getting all the BLNs into the
double pillar box outside the remains of the Post Office as it was already full of Christmas mail.
(4): A postman once complained that we were filling up the pillar box and should use another method
of posting the BLNs! We did point out in a friendly way that we were keeping him in employment.
(5): One afternoon stuffing session there was a fight in the bar* of the club when one of the customers
took offence to a fellow drinker and they ended up rolling around on the floor swapping punches.
The aggressor was banned but they eventually let him back. Our 'stuffer' jokingly asked if danger
money would be paid! (*It was, of course, entirely coincidental that stuffing took place next to a bar!)
(6): Champagne and 'anniversary cake' were served for Dave Monger's 30th anniversary presentation.
(7): With afternoon stuffing an advance party took the first-class mail in Sainsbury's strengthened
'Bags for Life' (Dave works for them) to catch the post. We then concentrated on second-class mail.
(8): Later we started at 11.00 instead and took the sacks direct to the Sorting Office after stuffing.
(9): The citizens of Woking must have wondered why, twice a month, on a Thursday dinnertime four or
five men struggled along the streets with very large Royal Mail sacks on their backs. [Answer: See (4) !]
(10): The 'Stuffers' Christmas Meal is when we stuff ourselves with food - and hopefully will carry on.
3124] Assistant Distribution Officer, Ronald Jackson: I took over from Karen Noakes effectively from
late 1996, 20 years ago. At first, some members had two issues of BLN together second class once a
month to reduce their subscription, with the rest first or second class one edition at a time. I sorted
and labelled the addressed envelopes into different classes and stamped them, so the 'stuffers' were
left with the one task. There was extra work each time a member changed membership category,
usually at the time of renewal. An additional task was to buy a year's supply of stamps in advance of
the price increases - first, second and European classes, which saved the Society a considerable sum
until the Post Office was privatised and the new owners were too cute to allow this. Membership
peaked at about 1,230 (when the Institute of Mining Engineers railtour booking forms were sent out
with BLN), reducing to about 850 by 1 Apr 2012 (but increasing again since). Originally the stamped
and addressed envelopes were sent to the 'stuffing' team but it became too difficult for one of them to
be present during the day at the address to receive the parcel, so for the last few years Mike Finnelly
very obligingly took delivery. In the 20 years I have printed and stamped about 450,000 envelopes.
1271 HEAD LINES
3125]: LU, Subsurface Lines; Farringdon P2 - Engineer's Sidings No23-25: (BLN 1270.3057) Previously
three stabling sidings (but too short for 'S' stock); 'C' Stock stabling finished in Dec 2013. They were
de-electrified in Feb 2015 and de-commissioned from 15 Aug 2016. The wagons reported on 13 Sep
(BLN 1266.1950) were presumably for lifting, which was completed by 24/25 Sep when the main line
points were plain lined. Apologies to Geoff Brockett for the Editor's misedit of the sequence of events.
3126] Northfleet Jn (21m 43ch) - Northfleet Lafarge: (BLN 1263.1588) A 'one off' train of empty
cement wagons ran via Paddock Wood on 18 Nov 2016 the 02.30 to Tunstead Cement Works (arriving
11.22) 'top and tailed' by 66615 & 66585. (NRU since the final cement train to Weaste on 21 Jul 2016).
3127] Aberthaw Cement Ground Frame (6m 36ch) - Tarmac Cement Wks: (BLN 1249.140) Was NRU;
ROG 22 Nov 2016 with a 05.11 train to Westbury Lafarge (arr 07.32), loco 70805 with 800 tonnes of
powdered cement. The connection has been upgraded with a new ground signal (replacing the ground
frame) controlled by Cardiff Signalling Centre. The delay to this traffic starting (also to Moorswater -
below), and possibly Theale, was due to fitting new loading equipment at the works but it therefore
seems that they are 'in it for the long haul' now. The wagons were previously stabled at Cardiff Canton
depot (!). Fly ash traffic from Aberthaw Power Station by road to Aberthaw Cement Works then by
rail to Longannet Power Station (BLN 1257.976) did not continue after the 'experimental' 22 Apr 2016
second train. It had been treated with seawater so was unsuitable for use at Longannet 'Scotash' plant
to make building/road materials etc - the ash traffic was not lost to coastal shipping. (BLN 1255.755)
3128] IÉ; Limerick Junction, Keane's Points - Waterford West Jn and four intermediate stations: TCP
29 Nov to 2 Dec 2016 (both incl) to relay 1¼ miles of track near Clonmel with continuously welded rail.
Buses ran in place of the two trains each way (SuX) in the same timings (roads are reportedly poor!).
PREVIOUS PAGE: 1958/61 OS 1 inch 7th Series map. The present Eccles station is shown as a 'principal'
one (rectangular red box top left). The Weaste branch is indicated by an orange arrow each end.
The 1895 opened London North Western Railway section ran to the bright green arrow at Weaste Jn
(Docks). This is still the current NR/Manchester Ship Canal Railway (MSC) boundary - the surviving part
of the MSC here runs along the ship canal to the Lafarge cement terminal (the other orange arrow).
The station 'closed to passengers' (white spot) east of Eccles was Weaste (CP Nov 1942; CG Nov 1947).
ABOVE: Weaste cement terminal looking east on 6 Dec 2016. These wagons arrived from Tunstead
Cement Works on 29 Nov but did not return until Mon12 Dec. The Manchester Ship Canal is to the
right and behind, left of centre, is MediaCityUK. (Ian Mortimer)
3129] Eccles Station Jn - Weaste: (BLN 1263.1588) ROG 29 Nov 2016 with a 13.11 from Tunstead
Sidings, reversing in Eccles Up Goods Loop, arriving at 15.29 and carrying 1,600 tonnes of cement.
The red 'STOP' board and yellow sleeper across the branch at Eccles (BLN 1264.1741) were recently
removed. The engine, 66621, left at 16.23 for Hope (Earles Sidings). There is a daily inward path
MSSuX until 19 May and outward SSuX until 8 Dec 2017. It is good that this branch isn't going to waste.
3130] Liskeard Jn - Coombe Jn - Moorswater: (BLN 1244.1986) ROG 30 Nov 2016 (and previously NRU
north of Coombe Junction Halt); inward block train with 800 tonnes of powdered cement; 02.34 from
Aberthaw Cement Works arriving 11.35 (via a reversal in Lostwithiel Up Goods Loop). The loco,
70808, returned light engine to Liskeard at 14.19 departing there at 07.39 on 1 Dec for Moorswater.
The empty wagons left there on 1 Dec at 09.24 for Aberthaw (arr 11.35), also via Lostwithiel Up
Goods Loop. Future 'as required' paths are booked at the same times arriving TuO and returning WO.
3131] Robertsbridge, Down Siding - Rother Valley Railway (RVR): (Aerial view e-BLN 1232 Head
Lines.) From 1 Dec 2016 the Down siding (behind P2) was recommissioned, accessed by a trailing
connection and a north headshunt. Worked by Robertsbridge Engineers Ground Frame (49m 36ch),
with a release from the signal box - a train can be 'shut in'. It has a trailing connection (accessed by a
second reversal at the south end) to the RVR via a gated fence at the NR/RVR boundary. It is intended
for stock and plant transfer only, not passenger use; both headshunts are rather short. First use on Tue
6 Dec was 73951 towing 66718 & 73965 from Tonbridge Yard (and return) for an 'opening ceremony'
visiting the RVR station (designated 'P4') see https://goo.gl/Z01Bs5 for details, pictures and a video.
3133] London, Post Office Mail Rail: (BLN 1269.MR231) The first test run of a new passenger train was
on2 Dec 2016. Mount Pleasant to Paddington was the final section used for mail traffic on 31 May
2003, following which the railway was 'mothballed'. By summer 2017, visitors to The Postal Museum
will be able to board trains at Mount Pleasant and take a 1km journey lasting 15 minutes.
3132] Manchester Metrolink, Second City Crossing; Exchange Square (*0.42km) - St Peter's Square
(*1.29km the new junction with existing line) both excl: Night Tram gauging/testing began 1 Dec 2016
in the early hours. *Distances south from Victoria stop. (See BLS LRT/Tram Diagrams with e-BLN 1268.)
BELOW: The Second City crossing, very appropriately, in Cross Street looking north towards Exchange
Square stop. The next crossroad is with King Street both sides. (Ian Mortimer 6 Dec 2016).
3134] Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway, Manuel station (incl) - High Bridge*(NS963799) and Birkhill station:
(BLN 1264.1703) ROP 3 Dec (Santa specials) after TCP/TCA 12 Sep 2016 for work by BP on part of the
Forties Pipeline System under the line. (*South of the A904 where the Antonine Wall crosses the line.)
3135] London, Falcon Jn - Clapham Junction (excl) P16 & 17: From Tue 6 Dec 2016 reduced to SO
service until further notice (ASLEF drivers overtime ban). The Southern Milton Keynes to East Croydon
service, a few London Overground services use Latchmere No1 Jn to/from Clapham Junction P17.
3136] London, Falcon Jn - Clapham Junction (excl) P16 & 17: NRU by passenger trains from Tue 6 Dec
2016 until further notice (ASLEF drivers overtime ban); a few LO services use Latchmere No1 Jn
to/from Clapham Junction P17. (Southern Milton Keynes/Watford Junction to East Croydon service.)
3137] Mitre Bridge Jn - Willesden West London Jn: NRU by passenger trains from Tue 6 Dec 2016
(previous item). Note that SSuX the 05.54 Milton Keynes Central - Euston & 19.54 Birmingham NS -
Euston are booked Wembley Central to Willesden West London Jn via the Up Willesden Relief.
3138] Charing Cross (incl) - London Bridge (P7, 8 & 9 incl) - Up Charing Cross & Down Charing Cross
lines to New Cross and Waterloo East station: TCP 24-27 Dec 2016 (incl) for engineering work.
3239] London, South Bermondsey Jn - Bermondsey Diveunder (first use) - Bricklayers Arms Jn: OP
https://goo.gl/9bo754 due 27 Dec, 06.29 London Bridge (P14) to Caterham. The minimum required
journey is to New Cross Gate (Down trains from London Bridge terminal platforms to New Cross Gate
P2). Https://goo.gl/2kNy4I is virtually a cab ride through the diveunder. Enter 'EA20' as the user ID
and password. (The current No 8 Down Line (Brunswick Court Jn to Spa Road) will then be taken OOU.)
3140] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant Christmas passenger service suspensions:
BLN Start (incl) End (incl) Location (exclusive where bracketed) [bold = closed now]
1268.2121 Sun 25 Dec Wed 28 Dec Cardiff Central station and all radiating lines/(Newport)
1268.2114 Sat 24 Dec Thur 29 Dec London Paddington - (Ealing Broadway) & Heathrow (T2 & 3)
1268.2115 Sat 24 Dec Mon 2 Jan Greenford - West Ealing (West Ealing station ROP 2 Jan)
1269.2221 Sat 24 Dec Mon 2 Jan (Chadwell Heath) - (Ingatestone) / (Billericay)
1269.2223 Sat 24 Dec Mon 2 Jan Romford - (Upminster)
1269.2222 Sun 25 Dec Mon 2 Jan East London, Bow Jn - Gas Factory Jn
1269.2220 Sun 18 Dec Mon 2 Jan Winwick Jn - Earlestown South - Earlestown East Jn
1269.2219 Thu 22 Dec Mon 2 Jan (Eccles) - Deal St Jn/ (Salford Crescent) - Castlefield Jn
1268.2120 Sat 24 Dec Tue 3 Jan (Maidenhead) - Bourne End - Marlow
1271 BLN GENERAL
3141] First and Last: The Office of Rail and Road 2015/16 station usage figures were revealed on 6 Dec
https://goo.gl/SIiVZQ 2.9bn passengers used a national station in Britain compared with 2.8bn in the
previous 12 months. London Waterloo remains top with 99.1M, nearly 190 passengers per minute
round the clock seven days a week on average. Victoria was second (81.1M) followed by Liverpool
Street (66.6M). Again Birmingham New Street was the busiest outside London (39M), then Glasgow
Central at 30M. There are 2,557 stations with an average of 233,000 passengers each; although eight
had less than 100. Members are more likely to be interested in the least used (2014/15 in brackets):
1.Shippea Hill: 12 (22) 6.Denton: 74 (120) 11.Sugar Loaf: 132 (110)
2.Reddish South: 38 (54) 7.Stanlow & Thornton: 88 (158) 12.Buckenham: 134 (88)
3.Pilning: 46 (68) 8.Teesside Airport: 98* (32) 13.Breich: 138 (92)
4.Coombe Jn Halt: 48* (26) 9.Chapelton: 100 (192) 14.Havenhouse: 162 (168)
5.Barry Links: 68 (60) 10.Clifton: 116 (152) 15.Golf Street: 168 (86)
*Special events increased the numbers. Okehampton 3,036 (2,984 in 2014/15) & Sampford Courtenay
130 (196) are both shown as 'non-NR'. No figures are given for any of the three Heathrow stations.
3142] Do you like your Track Well Done, Rare or Steamed? Some members were on the Railway
Touring Co 'Welsh Marches' Express on Sun 27 Nov. The lengthy train double headed by 'Black Fives'
made a fine sight, (we won't mention the Class 47 at the rear), particularly climbing the Lickey incline
reaching 33mph from a Bromsgrove stop. As with many steam trips some interesting track was used:
● Birmingham New Street P7 - Holliday Street Tunnel trailing crossover (to University/Bristol line).
● Bromsgrove P4: (new alignment of the 'Down Gloucester' since 7 Nov although used by most trains).
● Hereford P1 to Down Main: (south departure), only used in service by 05.26 SSuX to Barry Island.
● Newport P1 and Down Relief to Cardiff (and Up Relief on return).
● Hereford Up Relief (northbound middle through line - quite unusual for a passenger carrying train).
● Bromsgrove P1 (Up Bromsgrove Loop, currently used by the 11.14 SO to Birmingham New Street).
● Barnt Green Jn, Up Gloucester Slow to Longbridge ('Up Goods' until 7 Nov; now a passenger line).
● Birmingham International: Birmingham New Street end facing crossover and arrival into P1.
ABOVE: The morning of Sun 27 Nov, two 'Black Fives' head the impressive train (from Birmingham
International) west at Malvern Wells for Cardiff and brought the crowds out. (Alex Stewart)
3143] The World at your Fingertips: A detailed rail map https://goo.gl/pMzpzZ on 'OpenStreetMap'.
3144] Bank Holidays (BLN 1270.3095 Pullmen!): Mon, 5 Aug 1963 was a Bank Holiday throughout the
UK. It was not until 1965 that the date in England and Wales changed from the first to the last Monday
of Aug, initially experimentally and until 1971 could even fall in Sep. Also in 1965 'Whit Monday', which
was variable as seven weeks after Easter Monday, ceased to be a Bank Holiday, replaced by the 'Late
Spring Holiday' on the last Monday of May. Occasionally it is moved, such as in 2012 for the Queen's
Diamond Jubilee. The moving of these two holidays, plus the observance of New Year's Day (since
1 Jan 1974) and May Day (since 1 May 1978) Bank Holiday in England and Wales, must be declared in
the Privy Council each year. Several websites are incorrect on the dates and Bank Holiday names.
A correct one https://goo.gl/VmmfWO is German but incorrectly refers to 'terrible British weather'!!
3145 Christmas Present(s) from NR: Some new track available in the new timetable/after Christmas:
Oxford Parkway - Oxford (11 Dec) West Ealing bay P5 (full length, 2tph SuX)
Oxford bays P2 extension & new Bay 1 Hayes & Harlington Bay P5 (2tph SuX)
Doncaster P0 (first train Mon 12 Dec) Stockley East Flyover See Greater London below
Rochdale bay P4 (two evening trains SO) Acton Diveunder (to avoid freight as necessary)
Hereford north trailing crossover (P1/2 north) Maidenhead/Marlow branch (BLN 1270.3073)
Cardiff Central P8, P0 from west (etc) Bermondsey Diveunder (see Head Lines above)
3146] Northern: There are four regional workshops in the New Year at Leeds, Manchester, Preston
and Newcastle about improving customer services, which the general public can apply to attend.
These are to listen to customers views, explain future plans and create a Digital Customer Forum and a
Customer Panel in 2017. Anyone interested https://goo.gl/Gd9x0E can see more details and sign up .
3147] What can you do on Boxing Day? For those not on our Worcestershire fixture on 26 Dec:
o Oxford Parkway - Marylebone: 08.54*, and 08.56 half-hourly to 20.26. Ex-Marylebone: 08.15 and
half-hourly to 19.45 & 20.15* (* from/to Princes Risborough only). Free parking at Gerrards Cross,
(510 spaces), Beaconsfield (680), High Wycombe (595), Princes Risborough (335), Haddenham &
Thame Parkway (720) & Oxford Parkway (855); trains serve Bicester Village (バイ牛肉え集落).
o Stansted Express: 06.30 and half-hourly until 00.30 (27th) - except 23.59 rather than '00.00' which is
not used on the national network - to Liverpool Street (very surreal with so few trains). From there
at 06.25 and half-hourly until 23.55. Calls at Tottenham Hale, Harlow Town and Bishops Stortford.
o Heathrow Express: 4tph free shuttle between Terminal 4 and 'Terminal 1 & 3' (sic) only.
o Victoria: Half-hourly to Sutton via Selhurst; also Gatwick Airport & hourly to Brighton (they hope!).
o Merseyrail: Half-hourly roughly 09.00 to 18.00 Southport to Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool
Central to West Kirby, New Brighton, Ormskirk and Kirkby only. Selected stations only (Moorfields
and Liverpool Lime Street deep level are closed for example). This means, for example, Southport to
Liverpool South Parkway is scheduled for 49 minutes compared with all stations taking 63 minutes!
o Strathclyde: 1-2tph all local services to Croy, Bathgate, Cumbernauld, Shotts, Lanark, East Kilbride,
Neilston, Paisley Canal, Kilmarnock, Girvan (between these two), Ardrossan Harbour (Arran ferry
connections), Largs, Wemyss Bay, Gourock, Helensburgh Central, Balloch, Milngavie & Anniesland.
3148] Points & Slips: BLN 1270.3032] On 19 Nov the Gwili Railway shareholder/members DMU with
about 60 on board (including a BLS secret agent) actually ran further south to the middle of the
platform at Abergwili Junction (despite incorrect reports that only the A4243 Dolgwili Road Bridge was
reached). As well as ballast regulation, a safe pathway to the ground frame at the north end needs
completing and a rail crossing at the south end to the proposed car park awaits planning permission.
Item 3035] At Spondon Power Station, most of the time the locos worked off batteries (per e-BLN
picture) as there was only a relatively short section of trolley wire. 3044] East Midlands Trains does
not have 5M season ticket holders but 5M journeys are made with season tickets each year! 3045] The
passenger service between Nottingham and the Dukeries stations via the Mansfield Railway, which
started on 2 Apr 1917, joined the LD&EC at the 'Clipstone triangle' of course, east of Warsop (which
these trains would not have been able to serve) but before Edwinstowe (the first call on the LD&EC).
ABOVE: The Gwili Railway shareholders/members special on Sat 19 Nov2016 at Bronwydd Arms.
BELOW: The train, the first carrying passengers, at Abergwili Junction station looking north and taken
after most passengers had boarded the train before return to Bronwydd Arms (Rowland Pittard)
In the North Derbyshire railtour (17 Jun 1961) route 'Holmewood' should be 'Holmwood' and
Markham Colliery (Great Central branch) was not the 'Doe Lea' branch - that was the Midland line
through Glapwell, further east. Two very unusual features of the tour were that it transferred from the
GCR to MR at Markham Colliery, also from the MR to GCR at Williamthorpe Colliery, presumably in
both cases over NCB tracks. The Mar 2016 Crossrail proposed service pattern https://goo.gl/IoU4Ho
shows the number of trains serving each station (peak/off-peak) - thought to be the latest incarnation.
Item 3071] Despite Government opposition, TfL is ambitious in its desire to take over more London
suburban services, but does not (yet) operate to Brentford which should, have been Brentwood, of
course. 3086] The carriage sidings near Bristol Parson Street were Malago Vale. 3089] At Malvern Link
there are some interesting maker-stamped blue edging bricks on the former Up bay right of the
photographer. It was for Worcester Shrub Hill local service with six station stops. 3059] To clarify, this
item refers to the actual area of 'Cockfield Fell' and not Cockfield Fell station on the NER Bishop
Auckland to Barnard Castle line (CP Sep 1958). 3095] A member asks if the 'Elizabethan Pullman' (non-
stop from King's Cross to Edinburgh) 'avoiding Newcastle' used the Goods Lines past the station.
1271 EAST MIDLANDS
3149] HS2: East Midlands Councils, an umbrella organisation representing local authorities is lobbying
to ensure that HS2 provides the maximum benefit to the region. The Office for National Statistics
projects a half million population rise in the area to 5.1M by 2030; the fastest growth outside south
east England. Corby has the highest projected growth (16.7%) outside London over the next 10 years.
The East Midlands Councils say that HS2 could boost the local economy by the equivalent of 74,000
jobs and almost £4bn. They have identified priorities for HS2 including:
Development of a northern-facing 'classic compatible' link at the East Midlands hub station.
Comprehensive re-modelling of Trent Junction south of Nottingham.
A 'Mass Transit Strategy' (Derby-Nottingham Metro initiative) based on the HS2 station.
Station access from the A52 and a long-term approach to managing traffic growth on the M1.
3150] Stamford Solar Flare-Up: The 2015 trial of a £15k solar powered train warning system for
pedestrians at Tinwell crossing has been deemed a success, despite being eclipsed by the subsequent
theft of the panels worth £8K. Similar schemes are being rolled out elsewhere. Ironically, there is no
funding available to re-install the equipment but the thief was recently 'charged' and convicted.
3151] Newark: (BLN 1270.3039) On 5 Dec a café had not opened at Castle station. The booking office
in the semi-circular west end of the station building was open and the new 20p pay as you go toilets.
New 'Lego' signals were in evidence; the one allowing reversal over the new trailing crossover is quite
close to the south (to Nottingham) platform eastern ramp. Therefore, only a maximum of a 3-car DMU
can easily be reversed here. The new (remote) power operated trailing crossover appeared to have
had use. On the south track the original crossover has been plain lined, with new flat bottomed rail on
concrete sleepers, but on the north track residual point work, with bullhead rail, was pending removal.
Our member walked to North Gate to catch the lightly loaded 11.54 Newark to King's Cross from P3.
He wonders why trains continue to terminate here in the new Dec timetable, rather than being
extended to York or Doncaster. It blocks P3 so the Newark to Lincoln shuttle cannot operate.
This means Lincoln passengers are advised to change at Peterborough to/from these trains, so they
are lightly loaded from there to/from Newark! [They were originally to run to/from Lincoln, Ed.]
3152] Northampton: Developer Roxhill (also behind the similar Castle Donington plans) is proposing a
'Northampton Gateway', Strategic Rail Freight Interchange https://goo.gl/aoXuza south of the city.
It would be on, and accessed from, the Northampton Loop north of Roade on the east side, between
the railway and the M1 by Junction 15. A 'rapid' rail freight terminal, 468,000m2 of warehousing (and
up to 155,000m2 more from mezzanines) is proposed. Significant improvements to the M1 Junction 15
with dualling of the A508 for site access are promised and a Roade road bypass. Cynics might wonder if
the rail component will be built or if any trains will run if it is (they don't at M&S Castle Donington!).
3153] Lincoln (1) High Street Footbridge: (BLN 1269.2233) A catalogue of problems is reported.
Two women and a child were trapped in a malfunctioning lift and had to be rescued by firefighters.
The lifts have been closed intermittently due to faults including the doors opening and closing
sporadically. Gaps appearing between the paving stones on the staircase caused the footbridge to be
closed or sections cordoned off. NR has described the problems as 'snagging issues' and quite normal
after a major construction project. (2): Transport Hub: Following an eight week archeological dig,
demolition of the former Lincoln bus station started. This should be finished by Christmas with
construction of the new £30M Transport Hub starting in January. It is in two phases; the first with a
new bus station, a dual-purpose footbridge, shops and car park, for completion by the end of 2017.
The second is a new railway footbridge from Tentercroft St (the temporary bus station) to the city.
1271 GREATER LONDON
X.190] Paddington: ABOVE: Sun 20 Nov and 5-car Super Express Train (SET) 800002 (although part of
the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) that is not actually the name of the train) is at P1 for boarding
trials for an invited select audience. One of our members (not participating) happened to be passing.
There was room to accommodate a 5-car Turbo DMU as well with a special stop board in place for this.
BELOW UPPER: Note the mistake on the notice - the manufacturer really should know better!
BELOW LOWER PICTURE: The 'passengers' are waiting to board. (All pictures Stuart Hicks.)
FOLLOWING PAGE: From the footbridge, after the 11.57 HST to Penzance had departed from P2.
3154] Crossrail 2: (BLN 1261.1403) The Prime Minister has told Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond,
that the Government is waiting for a robust business case and proper funding proposal before the next
round of consultations and publication of revised route options. This is not likely until spring 2017.
3155] Lewisham: (BLN 1268.2152) Repair work on the 'temporary' 1957 bridge 111B is scheduled for
the Christmas period, with normal freight services restored after the New Year bank holiday.
This may affect UK Railtours 'Old Father Thames' railtour booked to run Grain on Thur 29 Dec.
3156] Queenstown Road: From 12 Dec a new crossover (secured OOU) was installed to connect the
Windsor Reversible and Up Windsor Lines at the country end of the station at 2m 68ch.
3157] Crossrail: (BLN 1270.3051) (1) GWML: The principal changes taking place before or during the
post-Christmas shut down of part of the GWML (BLN 1268.2114-2118) are outlined below:
Paddington: P1/2 will be electrified. P13 closed from 11 Dec and the track through it will be
realigned to link to P12, which will eventually be extended across the site of P13.
Carriage Reception Line: The eastern end will be renamed Crossrail Depot Line 1. Eventually this will
split into Crossrail Depot Lines 1 & 2 at Ladbroke Grove, but initially the more northerly Line 2 will be
used from here and then Line 1 again from Kensal Green to access Old Oak Common depot.
Carriage Line: From 17 Dec this is due to be severed beyond 8098 points, where the Engine Siding
trails in to form a shunting neck with a temporary stop block at 2m 20ch.
Acton West: The new diveunder line (the Acton Relief) will be brought into use descending at 1:40
then rising at 1:50 to pass under the Up and Down Poplar Lines. This allows Down freights to leave
Acton Yard or come off the Poplar Line without conflicting with passenger services on the Up Relief.
Note that the existing Up Relief Line towards Paddington remains in use, so use of the diveunder may
well be limited to avoiding conflicting moves. The P4 starting signal at Ealing Broadway will be able to
display a flashing yellow aspect, but it is not clear from the official information what this will indicate.
West Ealing: No2 and No3 loop sidings will be brought back into use as stabling sidings, both able to
accommodate four Class 387 EMUs. Both these sidings and the No1 Up Goods Loop will be electrified.
Southall East Jn: The trailing crossover between the Up and Down Relief Lines was brought back into
use from 10 Dec, but will be blocked to electric traction until 20 Jan.
Hayes & Harlington: A London end trailing crossover will be commissioned between the relief lines.
This allows trains on the Down Relief to reach bay P5 for the new all-day (SuX) Paddington service.
The Greenford loop service is reduced to a one train shuttle between Greenford and the extended
West Ealing bay 5. Only the first Down and last Up trains will be through from/to Paddington.
Stockley East flyover: Will be commissioned with associated track changes to complete the layout in
the area as shown on the plan below. The normal routing for services to and from Heathrow will be:
Stockley North Viaduct - Up Airport Relief: Heathrow Connect T4 to Paddington.
Stockley North Viaduct - Stockley East Flyover - Up Main: Heathrow Express, T5 to Paddington.
Down Relief to Down Airport Relief: Heathrow Connect to Heathrow.
Down Main - Down Airport: (Flat junction) Heathrow Express to Heathrow.
Down Airport Relief (reversible) - Up Main: NRU. (The track plan is thanks to Martyn Brailsford.)
(2) GEML: Country end access to Ilford depot was restored from 12 Dec. The two access lines, named
the Inlet Road and Outlet Road, are both are bi-directional. The full depot layout is not yet available.
(3) General: https://goo.gl/1YDO0S The project is now over 75% complete. https://goo.gl/VG3kNB
3158] Proposed Underground Tunnels: An article https://goo.gl/s0fsxQ on the 'CityMetric' website
gives details of a little-known aspect of the 1943 (Sir Leslie Patrick) 'Abercrombie Plan', with proposals
on how London would be rebuilt after WW2. Four new railway tunnels were proposed:
Project A: The North Bank Loop, a new underground route taking trains from Battersea to Victoria,
Charing Cross and Cannon Street and on to Wapping and Deptford.
Project B: A second loop, taking trains on the South Eastern main line into a new route serving
London Bridge, Waterloo, Charing Cross, Blackfriars and Cannon Street and back to London Bridge.
Project C: A deep level replacement for what is now Thameslink, carrying trains from Elephant &
Castle through Blackfriars and onwards towards King's Cross.
Project D: A new deep-level northern Circle line, freeing the existing line to become a freight route
(the 'Inner Goods Ring'). It is not clear from the accompanying map exactly how far this would go.
The reason for all this was to allow the redevelopment of the then largely industrial south bank of the
Thames by removing the Southern Railway's stations and viaducts, apart from the Waterloo route!
ABOVE: Paddington P13 in early December - to become the lengthened P12. (Stuart Hicks) BELOW: By
13 Dec the P13 track (right) had been lifted for the platform to be widened out. (Iain Scotchman)
159] TfL Has its Wings Clipped: (BLN 1250.248) The Transport Secretary has rejected plans for TfL to
take over responsibility for services in the Greater London area operated by Southeastern, Southern,
South West Trains and Great Northern when franchises come up for renewal. ('Evening Standard')
3160] Acton Town: (BLN 1268.2149) For any members inspired by the previous report to bag the
repaired No75 crossover west of here, the new Piccadilly Line timetable from 4 Dec books a few more
trains that way, including some potentially in daylight. The full list, with booked time at Acton Town:
MTWThO 22.17 ; FO 22.17½ ; SO 05.36½ , 21.46½ , 22.56½ ; SuO 07.22
, 07.36 , 23.41½ . The line has been suffering a serious rolling stock shortage due to a
high number of trains with wheel flats, so any attempt is best left until things return to normal.
3161] Mansion House: (BLN 1268.2156) The last scheduled train to use the bay (P2) was on Fri 7 Oct,
Train 125, the 05.33 ex-Ealing Broadway from 06.16 to 06.30. That evening another (unscheduled)
train of 'D' Stock reversed there from 21.56 to 22.20. More surprisingly, the final train of all was 'S7'
stock Train 42 from 22.53 to 23.12; normally 'S' stock was prohibited. ('Underground News' Dec 2016)
3162] And Finally…The Times They Are A Changing: (BLN 1264.1732) Underground News gives details
of how LUL handled the Oct time change on lines operating through the night. The official change from
BST to GMT is at 02.00, but most LUL systems change from one day to the next at 03.00. Therefore
'London Underground Railway Time' (!) has been introduced in Timetable Notices, which repeats the
hour between 02.00 and 03.00. Times in the first hour are prefixed 'B' and those in the second 'G'.
1271 ISLE OF MAN
3163] Scheduled Services 2017: https://goo.gl/fEXqZ5 Steam Railway: Sat 18 Mar to Sun 5 Nov 2017.
Manx Electric Railway: Thu 9 Mar to Sun 5 Nov; Douglas Bay Horse Tramway: Sat 8 Apr to Sun 5 Nov.
3164] Passenger Figures 2016: Steam Railway: 101,082 based on Douglas, Castletown and Port Erin
passengers joining timetabled passenger trains, an increase of 429 over 2015. Manx Electric Railway:
118,869 (up 1%) based on Derby Castle, Laxey and Ramsey passengers for timetabled passenger trams.
Snaefell Mountain Railway: 49,925 (52,055 in 2015) but capacity was restricted at times for repairs to
the Dec 2015 storm damage. Douglas Bay Horse Tramway: 69,542 (2015 figure not available).
3165] Horse Tramway: (BLN 1269.2248) Yet again this has been discussed in Government and it
appears that a 'volte face' will happen with potentially electrifying consequences. The current situation
is that the road is being relaid between Broadway and roughly halfway north. However, it is only part
of the roadway, not the areas where the tracks are laid or where cars are parked alongside.
The latest Douglas Promenade reconstruction plans seem to involve the Horse Tramway being relaid
only between Derby Castle and Broadway (where it would terminate). Following IOM elections, the
previous plans for the Prom were thrown out with the promise that they would be revisited, but the
new recommendation returns to a very similar proposal. The main change is that it would be a double
track tramway in the centre of the road with a new terminus in the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre
area. A 'tramway corridor' will be reserved (just in case) to the Sea Terminal but no track laid.
At Derby Castle the proposal is for the tramway to be joined to the Manx Electric Railway leading to a
suggestion that the latter could eventually extend to Villa Marina. What sort of future would the
Horse Tramway have then? The whole Prom reconstruction is expected to cost £23M - with £3M spent
on all the (re)-re-planning (!); cutting the line short will save £750K. Another reason given for not
building the tramway to the Sea Terminal is the loss of 'much needed' car parking along the side of the
Prom road. The plan will go to Tynwald this month and if approved work is expected to begin in
September 2017. If the MER is connected this would be a real step change and of enormous benefit -
the IOM based Northern Editor is sceptical but would love to be proved wrong. The Government is
advertising for casual workers (the two-legged version!) for the 2017 season which therefore seems
1271 NORTH EAST
3166] Shell Jn - ICI Wilton branch: (BLN 1269.2211) ABOVE: There was a comprehensive Society
railtour of ICI Wilton on 6 May 1989 with 59 participants. Https://goo.gl/wJOXyn includes a detailed
'red lined' marked up track plan. Note that the tour reached the then ICI/BR Boundary, the location of
which agrees with the conclusion later in this item below. This picture shows 07011 at the end of the
former Chlorine Loading Area branch (all pictures in this item Ian Mortimer).
Construction of the Terylene manufacturing plant here started in Feb 1946. It is believed that much of
the material for this was brought in by rail but no opening date is known for the branch. In Nov 1947,
the ICI board sanctioned the building of a large new chemical plant, which became operational in
Jul 1949. The site 'officially' opened on 14 Sep 1949; a special passenger train was run for the event,
although no further details have come to light.
The branch OG (commercial traffic) 1 May 1951, with the first freight train from Newport Yard (later
swallowed up by the much larger Tees Yard). It then comprised a double track line with absolute block
between Grangetown and ICI Wilton Signal Boxes. The latter stood north of the line at East Gate
Mount Level Crossing (1m 34ch) and was a BR staffed mechanical box, with semaphore signals.
The box was destroyed on 28 Dec 1967 when a tank wagon overturned and hit it, sadly killing the
signalman on duty. It was replaced by Wilton Tip Ground Frame. However, notes for a brake van tour
in 1963 stated that one of the tracks was used for storing bogie bolsters, the other being worked as a
single line with a pilotman. This may have been a temporary arrangement to make room for wagon
storage at a time of recession in the steel industry as the 1969 sectional appendix carried a note
'Trains from Grangetown to travel over Down Line to Wilton and return over Up Line'.
Pipelines paralleled the branch, connecting Wilton with the Billingham site to the north; they passed
under the River Tees in a tunnel.
Considerable traffic ran in the 1960s, including coal to the power station, liquefied ammonia from
Heysham, ethylene glycol from ICI Severnside and liquid chlorine outwards. Rail traffic declined in the
1970s, with the loss of lime, cyclohexane, caustic soda, chlorine and glycol traffic and the end of coal
firing at the power station. It recovered in the early 1980s, when bagged products and chemicals in
drums were dispatched to mainland European destinations in ferry vans. Matters improved when the
power station reverted to coal firing. Two boilers were converted and a new discharge system built,
being formally opened 14 Apr 1988. It was served by two trains daily SSuX from the Durham coalfield.
On 12 Feb 1989, the branch extension to the new Cleveland Freightliner Terminal was commissioned
and 'One train working' was replaced by track circuit block from Grangetown Signal Box. The ICI Grid
Controller's acceptance was required for Freightliner and Speedlink services but coal trains ran
independently. This Freightliner (as they were then) terminal OG 25 Feb 1989, replacing Stockton
terminal at Portrack on the Billingham Beck branch (North Shore Signal Box to Haverton Hill line).
BELOW: Another branch extremity of the system reached on the tour - Wilton Freightliner Terminal.
In Nov 1998, the power station was sold to Enron (which went bankrupt in 2002) and then on to
SembCorp. After mining ended in Durham in Nov 1993, coal came from Northumberland opencast
sites. This (from Widdrington loading point) ceased about 2010 and all inward coal traffic ended in
May 2014. The ICI operations on Teesside had been sold to the American Huntsman Corporation in
2000; it is likely that other rail operations ceased around this time. The Freightliner Terminal moved to
Tees Dock with the final intermodal train running on 14 Nov 2014, bringing an end to rail traffic on the
In Jan 2014 construction of the SITA Sembcorp UK Ltd, 'Wilton 11', a 41MW generating Energy from
Waste Incinerator (NZ564218), began adjacent to Sembcorp's existing CHP (combined heat and power)
and biomass power stations. It burns compacted domestic waste from Merseyside. Test trips ran
from/to Tees Yard on 27 May 2016 and from Tees Yard to Knowsley (Liverpool) on 3 Jun, arriving back
at Wilton on 4 Jun. Regular commercial traffic commenced with the first arrival at Wilton on 17 Jun.
There was apparently some
uncertainty on the 8 Oct 2016
Pathfinder 'Tees & Durham
Freighter' railtour over the
location of the NR/SembCorp
ownership boundary. This
probably originated from the
assumption that distances are
measured from Shell Jn. This is
almost certainly incorrect as
Shell Jn post-dates the Wilton
branch and it is most unlikely
that the branch has been
Shell Teesport Refinery opened in 1968 and closed in Dec 1984. The 1969 appendix shows the refinery
branch as a single line with no token and a distance of 1m 1,025yd from Grangetown to the Exchange
Sidings notice board. There is no mention of Shell Jn, which implies that it was created at a later date
and the layout rearranged to give the short section of quadruple track, with double track crossovers in
each direction at Shell Jn, rather than the single leads now shown in the current Sectional Appendix.
Both the 1960 and 1969 versions (which give no distances, perhaps because it was not BR track) show
the Wilton branch as being from 'Grangetown station'. Thus, all distances along the branch need to be
reduced by 37ch when determining a location. The assumption made on the tour that the
NR boundary was before the south most of the two internal 'British Steel' rail system overbridges
(TRACKmaps Vol 2 Sep 2006 p50B) is incorrect. This bridge was built in 1979 and carried the former
Hot Metal Line between Redcar and Lackenby. The more northerly bridge was completed in Aug 1949
and carried the 'Link Line'(most of which is now lifted), between Redcar Ore Terminal and the former
Cleveland works and also Lackenby. (ABOVE: Another stop on the tour).
It makes eminent sense that the boundary is before this bridge, (per TRACKmaps Vol 2, Oct 2016
p47B), effectively at the southern boundary of the Middlesbrough to Saltburn line (where the 8 Oct
railtour actually reached). It is likely that BR never acquired any land (nor owned any track) south of its
existing parliamentary boundary of the Saltburn line. The Wilton branch was probably also within BR's
limits of deviation on the north side of the Saltburn line before diving underneath it, and hence did not
need Parliamentary powers for construction of the BR portion of the line.
1271 NORTH WEST
3167] Preston: (BLN 1263.1629)
Conversion of the 133 year-old
former Railway-owned Park
Hotel (purple arrow on picture
left), to the southeast of the
station and now owned by the
Lancashire County Council's
Pension Fund, is due for
completion in 2017. It will have
154 bedrooms, 71 in the old
building and 83 on the upper
three floors of a contemporary
extension, the lower floors of
which will be offices, a gym, conference facilities and a lounge bar. The extension exterior will be
sympathetic to the old building, unlike the former 1960s concrete and glass faced office block on part
of the extension site. There will be a banqueting pavilion for up to 500 guests with a kitchen and bar,
overlooking Miller Park and the River Ribble. Change of use for No8 East Cliff, also a Grade II listed
building, from offices to a spa is included in the consent.
The 1970's one vehicle width military style, metal lattice-work bridge (the hotel's only road access),
highlighted with a light green arrow above, over the disused East Lancashire Railway Southport and
Blackburn trackbed, will be replaced by a 'significantly more attractive wider bridge sitting comfortably
with the listed hotel'. A trackbed cycle path is to be completed under it to Preston station. Stairs will
lead down from the bridge to give direct foot access to the station via Butler Street. The hotel once
had its own footbridge from its elevated situation over the tracks to a platform at the south end of the
station, highlighted with an orange arrow in the picture. [It sounds like perfect future AGM venue!]
3168] Liverpool Lime Street: (BLN 1249.163) Work on the major station remodelling was due to begin
10/11 Dec. P6 was reduced in length from 250m to 180m and P8 from 281m to 230m. Meanwhile P9
was extended from 246m to 270m. The extra Virgin Trains (Olive Oil powered?) services will use P9.
3169] Shaw & Crompton Bay - the sequel: Until 23 Dec most services are expected to be double trams
07.00 to 19.00 (no Sunday service) including Saturdays, and well worth taking to East Didsbury as well
where they reach further than singles. Also, Castlefield-Deansgate to East Didsbury service 'K' (SSuX
07.15-19.30; SO 09.30-18.30) runs from the centre platform there via the westbound crossover.
3170] Penrith: After construction delays, the footbridge steps eventually opened on 10 Nov and the
lifts on 21st. The bridge should have opened in August but technical delays held it up. The timber
'barrow crossing' (51m 26ch) at the north end of the station will be closed in the near future and the
'white light' indicators (lit when it is safe to cross) operated by track circuits, and the associated
telephones to the signaller at Carlisle PSB, withdrawn to save maintenance costs and improve safety.
The crossing will probably have been in place since the station opened in Dec 1846. The approach of
trains was originally announced by an electric bell operated from Penrith No1 signal box (Down) and
No3 box (Up), until the current method when Carlisle PSB opened in Mar 1973. Until the late 1980s, six
or seven heavy four-wheel barrow loads of newspapers and three or four loads of post were taken
across manually from the Down platform to the station exit early each morning (more newspapers on
Sunday but no post). The heavy drag over the canted track, then ascending the Up platform ramp were
back breaking chores for the two staff on duty. It was only in the final year or so of this traffic that an
electric truck, redundant from the Western Region, was provided to tow them across. Our member did
not realise that barrow crossings still exist! (Cue multiple replies from members on the remaining ones
…. Sleaford, Hereford and Worcester Shrub Hill to start with but surprisingly not at Barrow Haven.)
3171] Wigan NW: At 08.57 on 1 Dec the station was evacuated by Lancashire Constabulary due to the
collapse of a brick arch wall on to stationary cars below. The wall was initially reported to support the
railway above and rail traffic on the West Coast Main Line through Wigan North Western ceased.
The Local Operations Manager, a Mobile Operations Manager and Permanent Way staff were on site
from 09.22. At 09.28, P.Way staff advised that the wall was in fact 60ft from P6, and P1 to P5 inclusive
could reopen at a restricted speed of 20 mph. At 09.49 P6 was cordoned off and the station reopened.
A Structures Engineer arrived at 10.13 and at 10.42 reopened P1 to P5 at line speed. P6 was reopened
at line speed at 11.50 and contractors arrived on site at 13.34 to secure the area, pending full repair
with normal working resumed. Only nine trains were cancelled although 155 were delayed but NR's
speedy response was impressive. Railway tracks would have been affected by the collapse with the
previous layout. A member reports that the resulting road closures by the station gridlocked Wigan.
X.191] Ordsall Chord Update: (BLN 1270.3063) ABOVE: Sun 4 Dec, the new viaduct; the old and new
structures merge just west of the bridge over Potato Wharf (a street despite what might be thought
from the name). This is a view of the viaduct from which the picture in BLN 1270 was taken
(on a train); the metal bridge shown there under construction is middle left is this view. There is the
beginning of a new viaduct (bridge?) on the other side just beyond Water Street. (Angus McDougall).
3172] Newton-le-Willows: NR has begun building a new building at this Northern managed station
after planning permission was recently granted by St Helens Council. It follows construction of part of
a new car park earlier this year. Spaces will increase from 100 to 400. There will be an additional new
entrance south of the tracks on Alfred St, a new ticket office (with adjacent bus interchange), step free
access to and between the platforms via a new subway, lifts, new toilets and secure cycle parking.
The £17.95M scheme, due for completion Mar 2018, is funded by Merseytravel and the Local Growth
Fund. A 'strategic transport hub' will be created on the now fully electrified Manchester to Liverpool
via Chat Moss line to support development of the former nearby Parkside Colliery site.
3173] Settle & Carlisle: Freight workings continue over the operational sections; a recent summary:
21 Nov - 66301 Top & Tail with 66427 Kingmoor - Appleby - Kingmoor.
66722 Doncaster Decoy Yard - Arcow Quarry - Hunslet Tilcon.
22 Nov - 66956 Carlisle New Yard (NY) - Howe & Co Sidings (from the north) - ?engineer's train.
66301 Top & Tail with 66427 Kingmoor - Armathwaite - Kingmoor (from the south).
66158 Hull Docks - New Biggin - Hull Docks (imported Gypsum from Spain).
66721 Wrenthorpe - Arcow Quarry - Bredbury Tilcon.
23 Nov - 66301 Top & Tail 66427 Kingmoor - Armathwaite - Kingmoor (from the south).
66158 Hull - New Biggin - Hull.
66597 Carlisle NY - Howe & Co Sidings (from the north).
66721 Bredbury Tilcon - Arcow Quarry - Hunslet Tilcon.
66597 Top & Tail with 66956 Howe & Co Sidings - Carlisle NY.
66597 Carlisle NY - Howe & Co Sidings. (The pattern over the next two days was similar.)
3174] Blackpool North: Https://goo.gl/m07yCC is a NR video about the upgrade and electrification.
3175] Set Backs near Crewe: On 1 Dec, a 25 minute late running 10.00 Liverpool South Parkway to
Crewe ECS failed on the Up Fast near Crewe Coal Yard. The 07.37 Glasgow Central to Euston and the
10.04 Liverpool Lime Street to Birmingham New Street were trapped behind it. The Lime Street train
set back to Winsford, reversed and took the Up Slow to Crewe, terminating 65 minutes late at 11.52.
The Glasgow train then did the same reaching Euston at 14.11 (121 minutes late).
1271 SOUTH EAST - NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
3176] Shenfield: (BLN 1270.3070) Use of the reversible Southend Loop to Mountnessing Jn by the
06.32 Shenfield - Southminster & 18.36 Southminster - Shenfield, SSuX is due to resume - date TBA.
3177] Brill Tramway: https://goo.gl/oJ9p3b Also known as 'Quainton Tramway', 'Wotton Tramway',
'Oxford & Aylesbury Tramroad' and 'Metropolitan Railway Brill Branch'. ABOVE: Not all the branches
shown off the tramway were active at the same time; based on maps appearing in 'From Quainton
Road to Brill', Ian Melton (1984) 'Aylesbury to Rugby', Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith (2006) by 'Iridescent'.
A member, who had previously walked between Quainton Road, Wotton and Church Siding in 1992
and 2012, finished the 6¼ mile branch route on foot with Railway Ramblers in 2015. Beyond the
junction for Church Siding the trackbed could be traced across two fields, then three gates and fences
were negotiated in 20yd (with landowner's permission). This led to a further section of trackbed,
reaching a former level crossing at Thame Lodge, which was once the gate house for Wotton House.
It then paralleled a country road (behind the hedge) for half a mile to the site of Wood Siding station.
After 1910 it found itself on a wide bridge above the GWR Birmingham new main line. The GWR's Brill
Tunnel can be seen north in the distance. After diverting via a nearby footbridge over the main line,
the Tramway was walked through Rushbeds Wood before another near roadside section. Finally (with
permission), the line of the Brill Tramway was followed (the trackbed being in a totally overgrown
cutting) to the humped remains of Brill station platform. The London Underground finally petered out
here, 50½ miles from Baker Street; Verney Junction was the same distance! Two railway houses were
lettered 'B&C 1871' and '1888', (Duke of Buckingham & Chandos), original Tramway owner. After this
'brill' walk a bus took the Ramblers to Quainton Road, Granborough Road and Verney Junction.
ABOVE: Oxford; P1 is right and the extended bay P2 is left. Far right is the new staff accommodation block.
3178] Oxford: (BLN 1269.2262) On Mon 5 Dec the new bay P1 and extended bay P2 were almost
complete. Each takes a six-car DMU and the tracks were available up to the buffers. The new staff
building is now accessed around the end of the buffer stops. A small part of the old building remained.
The entire canopy had been removed leaving the two bay platforms (and north end of P3) with no
protection except for a very small shelter on P2. Chiltern staff training continued - 168322/29 were
running, sometimes using the bay and sometimes the Up loop south of the station, where walkway
facilities for reversing have been installed at ground level. Trains were seen arriving back on the Up
main and departing on the new single reversible Bletchley line. Further north they were running
through Wolvercot Tunnel on the easterly track (the other is not in use), remaining on the westbound
track and stopping at the signals. It is thought that on other days some continued to Oxford Parkway.
BELOW: An Oxford Parkway to Oxford Chiltern crew training special on the reversible single track
section after Wolvercote 'Tunnel' (spelt according to the current sign at the Oxford end at least).
The other track is not due to be commissioned until the Oxford area is resignalled (BLN 1269.2262).
The 155 yard long the 'tunnel' now has improved drainage, clearance for electrification and special
measures for the resident bats. A court case over them significantly delayed and could even have
stopped the whole project. (All pictures Stuart Hicks 5 Dec in this item unless otherwise specified.)
BELOW: Woodstock Road Jn (28m 45ch), north of Wolvercote Tunnel (behind camera) where the
reversible single track line from Oxford North Jn (30m 09ch) becomes two bi-directional tracks;
looking towards Oxford Parkway. The DMU is taking the 'right' track, stopping at the right red signal.
ABOVE: Oxford P2 on 12 Dec with a DMU in P1 behind; plenty of BLS members were about! (David Clark)
3178] Paddington - Reading: The 'Freightmaster' forum records lengths yet to be wired. Main Lines:
both lines for about a mile from West Drayton to about half a mile before Iver, both lines through
Slough, the Down Main for about a mile from Slough West Jn to just east of Burnham, and about
500yd between Maidenhead East Jn and the station. Relief Lines: Both lines for about a quarter of a
mile through Dolphin Jn and the Up Relief (UR) for about a quarter of a mile after it, Slough Goods
Loop, the UR for about half a mile between Burnham and Burnham East, and the exit line to P5 at
Maidenhead to the UR. On the other hand, all lines are wired through Maidenhead station and for
about a mile beyond to Maidenhead West, also onto the branch to Bourne End (which is not now
going to be electrified!) at least as far as is visible from the main line. The return wire has been
installed on the Down Main side to Ruscombe and alongside the UR as far as Shottesbrooke.
3180] Recorded Live Announcement: On a recent local DMU from Reading, to Oxford a member
endured automated on train announcements (to Didcot) reminding passengers the line is electrified
and they should be careful when alighting, particularly with long objects! An unfortunate precedent;
May we be saved from do-gooders; define 'long' - Regional Ed…….. Anything long enough to short - Ed?
3181] Reading: (BLN 1264.1755) Progressive energisation of the overhead line system continues
through December. 4 Dec saw the Traincare depot and Relief Lines between Reading West Jn and
Scours Lane Jn energized, with lines in the London area scheduled on other Sundays.
3182] Claydon Jn - Bletchley: A brick arch farm overbridge east of Winslow has been successfully
raised (as an 'experiment') by over 900mm to improve clearances instead of being replaced.
Brick structures are not amenable to being lifted, especially where they are not built on a continuous
foundation. It was chosen as a 'mothballed' line rather than as part of East West Rail electrification!
3183] Abellio East Anglia - Great Tidings: (BLN 1267.2063) Your Regional Editor has seen several
multiple units with the branding 'Greater Anglia' on a label stuck over, but barely obscuring, the
previous wording 'Abellio Greater Anglia' on the sides of the coaches below the centre windows. So,
despite the change from Abellio Greater Anglia to Abellio East Anglia, the 'Great' remains in use!
3184] Cambridge North: (BLN 1262.1531) On 29 Nov most nosing stones were in place on the platform
walls but much remained to be done surfacing the platforms, (apparently prefabricated panels yet to
be positioned). For the third platform, some electrification masts were in place but they were
3185] Oulton Broad
North: (BLN 1268.2165)
Contrary to expectation,
the resited signal that was
commissioned on 27 Nov
is a brand new semaphore
the latest 'newest' on NR;
it is 43 metres closer to
Lowestoft. A picture in
'The Lowestoft Journal'
(online) shows both on
30 Nov with the arm of
the old signal covered
over as in the picture.
(LEFT: NR press release.)
1271 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH
3186] Rochester: (BLN 1266.1970) From 5 Dec the Down Chatham line and the Down Rochester Loop
bi-directional signalling was commissioned between the trailing crossover at the London end of
Rochester Station and the facing crossover on the viaduct at the country end of the previous station.
3187] Bournemouth: Departing west on 21 Nov, your Regional Editor had an embarrassment of choice
as the 14.35 Waterloo to Weymouth started (entering service following earlier disruption) a few
minutes after the booked time of 16.24 from 'rare' P4, (the platform gate had been especially
unlocked). The 14.05, also to Weymouth but 20min late, departed from the usual Down platform to
cross to the Up then back to the Down to pass the 14.35.
3188] Theale - Aldermaston: (BLN 1240.1685) The AHB crossing at Ufton (Nervet) 43m 39ch was to be
replaced by the new road over railway bridge and closed from 11 Dec. It was, of course, the scene of
the 6 Nov 2004 rail crash when a HST was completely derailed by a stationary car killing seven
including the train and car drivers involved. There have been four more fatalities at this crossing since.
1271 SOUTH WEST
3189] Bristol battles on despite the electric being cut off: In the wake of the disappointing
announcement about (non-)electrification, Bristol City Council has commissioned a feasibility study
into potential future rail developments in the city to complement the MetroWest improvements
already scheduled (BLNs 1251.386 & 1254.703). These include frequency improvements, further
consideration of the 'Henbury Loop' and potential new or reopened stations at Ashton Gate, Horfield
and St Annes. Additionally, consideration is to be given to improvements to Temple Meads station to
enhance its role as a city transport hub. The city council will use the study to determine if the
programme is best funded and delivered as a single package, or as distinct projects.
3190] Somerset: A contributor has generously shared notes of a recent visit, covering various closed
lines and station sites including the former Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (S&D) Bridgwater and
Highbridge branches. Their trip began at Bridgwater (latterly North) where all trace of the station and
associated trackbed has disappeared under a large Sainsbury's superstore. Even the S&D wharf on the
River Parrett appears to have gone. The steel bridge over the Parrett which carried the GWR Docks
branch survives as a public footpath. Bawdrip Halt: All trace has gone, though the trackbed can be
identified in the vicinity. The Parish Hall now occupies the station site, a fine S&D stone underbridge
lives on nearby. Cossington is a private residence at the end of Station Road.
ABOVE: 1930/56 one-inch OS 6th Series, showing the S&D Bridgwater branch, delightfully: 'S & D Jt Ry'.
Edington Junction station is top right and Bridgwater (North) terminus is bottom left. The straight
double track line down the left side is from Bristol/Highbridge (top) to Bridgwater/Taunton (bottom).
Edington Burtle (OP as Edington Road in 1856; Edington Junction (for the S&D Bridgwater branch)
from 21 Jul 1890 until 8 Jun 1953) is also a private residence but much altered. The nearby station
house is also much modified. The station is over 2 miles from the village of Edington, where an old
Somerset County Council fingerpost still points to 'Edington Station 2¼ miles' and 'Burtle 2¾ miles'.
The BR 1953 change of station name is odd as it refers to two distinct villages, but coincides with the
Bridgwater branch passenger closure (CP 1 Dec 1952; CG this end 14 Oct 1954).
Shapwick station (sometimes informally referred to in literature as 'Shapwick Road') is about 3 miles
distant from that village and closer to Westhay. The station has been demolished, but a long stretch of
the trackbed is a public footpath signed as 'Shapwick Heath'. Much of this section of the S&D was built
on the towpath of the Glastonbury Canal which was purchased by the Bristol & Exeter Railway, closing
in 1854 just prior to the opening of the broad-gauge Somerset Central Railway Glastonbury to
Highbridge route. Remaining sections of the abandoned canal have been incorporated into the South
Drain, part of the system of 'rhynes' and drains to alleviate flooding on the Somerset Levels. A few
yards along the road is the 'Railway Inn', the sign of which depicts a GWR Class 2251 Collett 0-6-0 in BR
(WR) green livery - a class which did appear on the S&D in the early 1960s. Shapwick CP 7 Mar 1966
with the rest of the S&D Highbridge line except for a 2½ mile branch (CA 2 Oct 1972) from Highbridge
to serve Bason Bridge dairy, also partly used for fly-ash deliveries from Aberthaw for M5 construction.
On the Bristol & Exeter Railway main line, no trace remained of the platforms of the remote
Brean Road Halt, 3 miles from Brean village and significantly closer to the village of Lympsham.
The station OP 17 Jun 1929, long after the line had opened and CP 2 May 1955. A wide iron gate with
posts constructed from GWR bridge rail is extant at the entrance of a wide, overgrown path leading to
the tracks and thus the site of the former platforms. Likewise, all trace of Bleadon & Uphill (CP 5 Oct
1964) has vanished. For some years after closure it became a small railway museum in the care of the
Yeldingtree Museum Trust and was home to two small tank engines one of which was GWR 1338
(Cardiff Railway No5). Both have long since been rehomed elsewhere. During our member's last visit to
Brent Knoll in Apr 2012 there was nothing left of the station. When first proposed for closure under
the Marples-Beeching hegemony
it was reprieved, so BR reduced
the service to a nominal level, only
warranting a timetable footnote.
Closure eventually came on 4 Jan
1971. Brent Knoll remains a large
village, sprawling around the foot
of the hill which shares its name.
Earlier, on a November 1999 visit
to Glastonbury & Street
(Glastonbury until Jul 1886; CP 7
Mar 1966), there were imitation
crossing gates at the station site
with some inaccessible single-
storey, former railway buildings
remaining behind the gates. The
main platform canopy had been
relocated to form a shelter in the
X.192] Tetbury: (BLN 1270.3083) (ABOVE and BELOW) The former Tetbury signalbox was 'tracked
down', after a newspaper item, to Barlow, near Chesterfield. (Angus McDougall 19 Nov 2011)
3191] Any future for Minehead? Railfuture which is an independent campaign group supporting
improvements for passenger and freight services, has leant its backing to a campaign to return regular
daily services to the West Somerset Railway between Minehead and Taunton. Citing the reductions in
local bus services and the need to connect Minehead and other towns on the route to health and
education services, the group supports the efforts of the Minehead Rail Link Group who are awaiting
the outcome of a study by Bath Spa University. The route CP/CA in 1971, prior to partial reopening in
preservation in 1976. Efforts to extend to Taunton were initially blocked by ex-rail staff who had taken
jobs on the replacement buses! All year daily services on heritage lines have generally not come to
fruition in the UK, except for the short-lived experimental services on the Weardale railway in 2010-12.
3192] Progress for Lynton & Barnstaple's Orange Army: Several 'Winter Work Weekends' on the line
have drawn volunteers from far and wide to don hi-vis and assist in clearing the trackbed for future
extension to Wistlandpound. Interesting photographs http://goo.gl/99fxYE from the railway's
website. The 1' 11½" gauge 19½ mile line operated from 1895 to 1935, latterly under the auspices of
the Southern Railway, and crosses remote parts of Exmoor. Given the long period of closure, the Trust
describes their work as 'reconstruction' rather than 'preservation', with little beyond the trackbed
remaining of the line. The railway has operated trains from Woody Bay station to a temporary station
at Killington Lane since 2006. The Trust has ambitious plans to extend the line three miles to Lynton.
3193] North Devon Rail Survey: The Devon Community Rail Partnership is keen to hear both from any
users of the Exeter St Davids to Barnstaple 'Tarka Line' and also those who have yet to use it, to
determine the priorities for rail in North Devon. The line has had a doubling in passenger use over the
last decade, with all but the smallest stations showing increased numbers. Improvements to service
frequency, rolling stock quality and passenger facilities are planned over the coming three years.
The survey http://goo.gl/Wi8Tzy your Editor suggested reopening to Ilfracombe! (We can but try….)
1271 WEST MIDLANDS
3194] Birmingham International: Virgin Trains is investing over £1M to 'transform' the station to an
open-plan style (like Oxford Parkway), its vision for 'stations of the future'. The traditional booking
office window has been replaced with a welcome desk and user-friendly 'service pods'. Other features
of the revamp include a greater staff presence on the station concourse - seen in action recently with
three staff chasing a bag thief down the road (some people will do anything to avoid paying 5p!),
wireless charging for customer devices, free Wi-Fi and refurbished toilets. In the last year alone there
has been a fivefold increase in the number of customers using paperless tickets (although the actual
number is not given!). Staff will walk the floor carrying tablets (but no pills) to assist passengers. Over
5.8M passengers were recorded at Birmingham International in 2014/15, a rise of 700,000 in
12 months but conversely, paradoxically, sales from the ticket office have fallen significantly.
3195] Bromsgrove: The ORR reports that the forecast completion of electrification from Barnt Green
has slipped from Apr to Nov 2017; it was originally Dec 2013! The increased service planned for
Dec 2017 is now unlikely to take place until May 2018. (Re-instatement of the Down Goods from
Cofton to Barnt Green with electrification of all four tracks to Kings Norton was originally intended.)
From 7 Nov the Up Goods and Down Goods south of Longbridge were upgraded to passenger lines.
3196] Coventry - Nuneaton: (BLN 1270.3090) The Vivarail Class 230 train is now expected to start trials
in passenger service on 5 Feb. The 12-month trial had been originally due to start in Oct 2016.
Although ex-LU 'D78' stock the 'D' Train has not been used for mainline services so the approval
process has proved 'more challenging' than originally envisaged. It is hoped to use the train for an
(unspecified) event at Coventry's Ricoh Arena on 5 Feb, followed by the Wasps v Gloucester Rugby
Match on 26 Feb. The aim is to begin the main trial of regular services on 27 Feb. This will all depend
on securing third-party approvals from NR and ORR by 12 Dec. Other milestones that must be met
include Vivarail completing the prototype three-car train by the second week in Dec and beginning
crew training, which will take two months, by the end of this month.
The trial may be for less than eight months, as the current London Midland franchise expires on
14 Oct. The new franchise operator (due to be announced in June next year) will determine if the trial
is continued past then. The usual Class 153 DMU will be on 'standby' to cover in case of failure.
3197] Midland Metro: On occasions, at least since the German Christmas Market opened on 17 Nov,
members have confirmed that the trailing crossover on the (Black) 'Country End' of Grand Central has
been used by trams departing in service from the normal 'arrivals platform'. This is sporadic and
probably an 'on the day' decision and would turn the trams round quicker if the service is running late.
Also at times heavy crowds cross the headshunt where the trams normally reverse ECS. Staff in hi-vis
jackets have also been used to keep the tracks clear of pedestrians in Corporation Street.
3198] Birmingham New Street: (BLN 1270.3093) The new record number of passengers using the
station in one day only lasted 6 days. On Fri 25 Nov ('Black Friday') 242,000 were recorded and over a
quarter of a million the next day when Aston Villa played Cardiff City at home.
X.193] Glow in the Dark Train: ABOVE: Hopefully just the usual nuclear reaction in the sun! A nuclear
flask working double headed by DRS Northern Belle liveried 57305, 'Northern Princess' and 57312
'Solway Princess' turning right just south of Walsall station at Pleck Jn for Darlaston Jn. (Rich Hickman)
1271 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE
3199] Leeds: The City Council plans a new parkway station on the Harrogate line connecting to Leeds
Bradford Airport (said to be the UK's fastest growing regional airport) as part of a £270M package of
transport improvements. The announcement comes ahead of a new Leeds transport strategy following
a consultation responded to by 8,000 people. Two other new stations are also proposed:
(1): Between Cottingley and Morley at White Rose Shopping Centre and Office Park to support 'retail
connectivity' (sic) and employment. (2): Between Cross Gates and Garforth at Thorpe Park to support
job creation and housing growth. The plans would be part-funded from the £173.5M from the DfT
secured following the decision not to proceed with the trolleybus system in May.
3200] Rossington: (BLN 1269.2277) A member was surprised to find that, in addition to the inert spoil,
scrap metal is being loaded at the former colliery site. On 7 Dec, a train of empty wagons arrived 10.14
returning to Belmont Down Yard after loading with scrap at 15.09, destined for Cardiff Tidal Sidings.
The branch may eventually be used as a second access to the proposed 'Port Doncaster'; initial access
is to be off the South Yorkshire Joint Line near St Catherine's Jn (see TRACKmaps Vol 2 Oct 2016 p34A).
3201] Doncaster: (BLN 1256.938) (TRACKmaps Vol 2, Oct 2016 p17C) The new non-electrified 106m
long Down bay P0 (costing an awful lot of money for 'nothing'!) on the east side of the line north of
Doncaster station, was commissioned from 05.00 on Sunday 4 December along with its access points
at Marshgate Jn (156m 17ch) and associated signalling.
ABOVE & BELOW: Doncaster P0 looking south - trains almost reach the buffers. (Martin Compton)
The first picture above shows a train in P0 that used to arrive at P1 then shunt so that the Hull train
(visible in P1) could use that platform. The second, lower picture, shows the position of the buffer
stops and the (red) track circuit interrupters beyond. There is also a new trailing crossover between
the Up Thorne and Down Thorne line at 0m 23ch. Reversible signalling has been extended from
Doncaster P1 & P3 via the Down Thorne Slow to the new crossover (for trains to then join the Up line
which keeps them clear of the Up (East Coast) Slow). Note the 'Up Thorne' is away from Doncaster.
When the new electrified Up Platform Loop (from/to P1 & bay P2) is commissioned the east side of
Doncaster station will be fully reversible from Black Carr Jn via the Up East Slow then P1 or 3 to the
Thorne line. Parallel departures south will be possible from P1 or 2 and 3. Longer term the Lincoln line
passenger services can be moved to bay P2. Freights from the south/Lincoln line will be able to run to
the Scunthorpe/Immingham or Hull lines via the east side of the layout and SETs from the IEP Depot
will be able to run directly to P1 or 3. This is a significant increase in capacity and reduction of conflicts.
3202] Hull Trains: (BLN 1270.3097) As a result of the bi-mode train order, the DfT has announced that
there will be no electrification between Temple Hirst Jn and Hull via Selby, TPE have already ordered
bi-modes. Although the maximum speed of Intercity Express Programme (note that this is not the
name of the trains) Super Express Trains is nominally 140 mph, this is in electric mode only and there is
nowhere at the moment where this speed can be exploited. Their maximum speed under diesel power
is 100 mph and the units ordered by the DfT have an inferior performance to HSTs. The Class 802s that
Great Western Railway has ordered for its West of England services have enhanced performance on
diesel power and larger fuel tanks; it seems that this is the version ordered by Hull Trains. This means
that Hull Trains services will have better acceleration than Virgin Trains East Coast's single Hull service.
3203] Beighton Station Jn: From 27 Nov, the facing crossover and sidings access (47m 42ch) were to
be removed and the track plain lined. The sidings appear on Sep 2006 TRACKmaps but not Oct 2016.
3204] IÉ fleet: A €15M refurbishment funded by the EU of the four De Dietrich 'Enterprise' sets
introduced in 1997 was completed in May, six months behind programme. Work was carried out by
Translink at York Road. Eight Class 201 locomotives were also overhauled, though re-engining of at
least 22 of the fleet may proceed for freight and loco hauled services. In September, stored Mk4
coaches were reintroduced to provide the seven sets required for service, releasing four InterCity
Railcar sets for the new Phoenix Park tunnel service. DART EMUS are 33 years old and replacement in
greater number is being investigated, together with a new depot strategy. ('Modern Railways')
3205] IÉ 30 years: February 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Iarnród Éireann, and to celebrate this
milestone, the company intends to put together a collection of images and memories both to share
internally and for a rolling exhibition to travel around some of the stations on the network.
3206] Dublin - Cork: The final weekend of ballast cleaning for 2016 took place on 3 Dec. It is stated
that a total of 23.7 miles were completed with almost 45 miles achieved in two years. Based on
continuing funding, a multi-annual programme is being developed for the entire Cork line.
3207] GSM Radio: On 1 Dec GSM-R radio was to be commissioned on the IÉ network, replacing the
analogue Train Radio System for direct communications between train drivers and the controlling
signalmen/CTC regulator. Initially the system is to be confined to communications between train
drivers on DART EMUs fitted with GSM-R Cab Radio and the controlling signalmen/CTC regulator. Four
EMUs have so far been fitted. Roll out to the whole EMU fleet is expected to be completed by the end
of 2017. The DART area (Malahide and Howth to Greystones) is the first to be covered.
3208] Greystones - Kilcoole: From mid-Nov IÉ has been undertaking coastal protection works.
Pedestrian access to the area about half way between the stations is closed until Jan 2017. Access to
Kilcoole station, car park, the beach and the walkway between Kilcoole and Newcastle is unaffected.
3209] Coleraine - Londonderry: (BLN 1270.3099) When observed on 25 Nov from a train, work had
started on clearing ground on the Up side for the new sidings at Bellarena but there is no apparent
timescale for their construction. Castlerock MCB level crossing has been converted to CCTV operation
and Bellarena AHBC level crossing to MCB(CCTV) both supervised from Coleraine Signalling Control
Centre. Supervision of Magilligan MCB(CCTV) level crossing and all existing AHBC level crossings,
including telephone communication, has been transferred to Coleraine SCC. Craig's User Worked
Crossing XL155 has been permanently closed (east of Grangemore - and not shown on Quail).
3210] Fodderty (BLN 1270.3104): The purpose of 'Fodderty' (Kyle line) and 'Evanton' (Far North line)
Token Exchange Points (TEPs) is to allow a Down train to leave Dingwall for the 'other' line without an
Up train having to wait at Garve or Invergordon respectively. If there is no foul move, the long section
token is issued from Garve to Dingwall or Invergordon to Dingwall. They could also be used for
attaching trains but only for booked movements; there are none timetabled. However, if it became a
regular move, it is likely that the two TEPs would be moved closer to Dingwall, as is the situation at
Crianlarich. There is also an intermediate TEP at 'Clunes' (7m 51ch) used only if two trains are required
to follow each other closely in the same direction. 'Halkirk' TEP would, in theory, allow two trains to
occupy the platform at Georgemas Junction. However, this is currently not authorised. There is a
similar facility for trains from Wick at 'Bower' (147m 56ch) but nothing similar from the Thurso
direction. The TEP names generally reflect the nearest closed station rather than their actual locations.
3211] Far North & Kyle Lines: The next generation RETB system was to be brought into use on 4 Dec.
3212] Kintore: Reopening the station (CP Dec 1964), closely linked to improvements to the Aberdeen
to Inverness line, is estimated to cost about £12.2M (two platforms are needed with redoubling).
Aberdeenshire Council and Nestrans have submitted a combined contribution of £3.2M, (26%).
The Scottish Stations Fund recently agreed to provide 50%. A contribution of 60% is being sought, in
line with Reston and East Linton. Indications are that the request would be looked at favourably.
3213] Newton: Transfer of control of Motherwell PSB, Newton workstation to the West of Scotland
Signalling Centre at Cowlairs is expected from 18 Apr 2017. The area affected is from Cambuslang to
Uddingston and Bellshill; Kirkhill to Newton and on to Larkhall and Airbles. Work includes renewal of
Route Relay Interlockings at Hamilton, Holytown and Uddingston with WESTLOCK, renumbering of
signals in the Newton interlocking area and renewal of signals with LED type. Some will be relocated to
improve signal sighting in the Uddingston and Hamilton interlocking areas. Signal prefixes will be GMN
3214] Ebbw Vale: (BLN 1268.2198) A visitor confirms that the second track is laid at Llanhilleth, but
only the Down line and platform are in use. Observation of the car park at Ebbw Vale Parkway
revealed little use, with fewer than twenty cars present in mid-morning, and the station looking
somewhat unkempt. Users of the new Ebbw Vale Town terminus are reminded that the inclined lift is
available Monday to Friday only (excluding Bank Holidays), 07.00 until 19.00. Engineering work at
Cardiff over Christmas week will provide further opportunity to travel the Gaer Jn to Park Jn curve.
3215] Chester & Holyhead Line: (BLN 1270.3112) Comprehensive information is now to hand.
Regarding the four tracks out of Chester, the physical junction at Saltney was removed on 3 Dec 1972;
when it became a line divergence; the former Slow Lines for Wrexham and the Main Lines Holyhead.
This changed 21-23 Oct 1979 with reinstatement of the junction and closure of the Holyhead lines.
Saltney Jn to Mold Jn: The Up Slow closed 3 Dec 1972 and Down Slow 23 Sep 1979.
Mold Jn to Sandycroft: The Down Slow closed 20 Sep 1987 and Up Slow 20 Jul 1995.
(On 3 Dec 1972 Sandycroft to Mold Jn No4 was redesignated as an Up Goods line).
Sandycroft to Connahs Quay: Both the slow lines closed 6-9 Nov 1966. More on this to follow!
ABOVE: 1954/60 OS 1" 7th Series; the area is four miles north east of Port Talbot and a couple of miles
east of Neath. The Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway runs middle right (from Treherbert and Cymmer)
to Port Talbot (off bottom left of centre). The station shown open to passengers is Pontrhydyfen.
3216] Tonmawr: (Near Port Talbot/Neath) A public footpath leads to the Tonmawr end of Gyfylchi
Tunnel (green arrow). The cutting before the tunnel mouth is flooded, although not deeply, and
surrounded by dense woodland. A wall survives at the site of J P Bevan's Tunnel Siding loading ramp.
Much has changed but footpaths follow many of the lines. Worthy of note is the bridge (blue arrow),
near Blaenavon Jn (orange arrow), which carried the South Wales Mineral Railway (SWMR) over the
Port Talbot Railway (PTR) Blaenavon Branch. The yellow cross is the site of the former Blaenavon
Colliery. Also to be seen are walls of the PTR's own bridge over the branch. Further south, the SWMR
trackbed between Efail Isaf and Pontrhydyfen forms a very pleasant public footpath to the impressive
Pontrhydyfen Viaduct (purple arrow). A bridge en route carries a 'BRB Residuary' identifier of
SMJ 04 29, referring to the milepost mileage. The Viaduct gives a fine view of the 1827 aqueduct, built
to supply Oakwood Ironworks.
3217] Magor: A £5.2M funding application has been submitted to DfT by Monmouthshire County
Council and the Magor Action Group on Rail to build a station to serve Magor and Undy, where there
has been substantial population growth since closure of the local station and halt on 2 Nov 1964.
The bid proposes 150m platforms on the Relief Lines and seeks £1.8M of Welsh Government funding.
3218] 'Cardiff Parkway': Meanwhile, a few miles to the west, a private developer plans a 71-hectare
science and technology business park at St Mellons, north of the Cardiff to Newport line, with 1,600
parking spaces, a bus station and a Park & Ride railway station. Besides tying in with the planned South
East Wales Metro, there are aspirations of developing longer-distance rail links.
Outline plans suggest slewing of the Relief Lines to construct a four-platform station. The application is
to be made in the name of Cardiff Parkway Developments Ltd, backed by bankers Investec, and they
have applied to the DfT New Stations Fund for 75% of the £25M cost of the station, with a view to
opening by 2020.
3219] Bow Street: (BLN 1261.1450) Continuing this theme, the Welsh Government (WG) confirms
submission of a £6.8M bid to the DfT New Stations Fund, representing 75% of the cost of the proposed
station and transport interchange at Bow Street; the WG would provide the balance of £1.7M.
If successful, it is planned to commence work in April 2018, with an opening date in 2019.
3220] Wireless electrification? In the face of ever-mounting media criticism of ATW's overcrowded
DMUs, the idea has been floated (apparently seriously) of hiring in Class 442 EMUs, to be hauled by
diesel locomotives! This would obviously raise many questions in terms of technical adaptation, route
clearance and platform lengths. The greatest problem area for overcrowding is the Cardiff Valleys, but
no vehicle longer than a Class 150 coach is currently permitted north of Radyr. Earlier media
speculation about deployment of Vivarail Class 230 units to the Valleys has now dissipated.
1271 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR243] Great Central Railway, Leicestershire (MR p7): The railway held its 'Last Hurrah Gala' over the
weekend of 19/20 November. Our reporter visited on the Saturday - a lovely bright sunny, if chilly, day.
The event was well supported on this day, with virtually all trains ridden on, or observed, being well
filled. The railway is probably the only heritage line which can operate this sort of event where you can
just stand back and see a procession of trains with an array of different locomotives, without recourse
to studying a timetable - a fantastic atmosphere. The varied timetable had passenger trains over the
full length of the line between Loughborough and Leicester North, shorter workings from
Loughborough to/from Rothley Brook (just south of Rothley station on the single line) - some of which
were 'looped' at Swithland Sidings and freight trains. Five steam locomotives and one diesel operated
these trains, swapping between workings, including double heading and 'top & tail'. At work were:
LMSR 8F 2-8-0 48624, BR 4-6-2 70013 'Oliver Cromwell', BR 2-6-0 78018, LMSR Black 5 4-6-0 45305,
GWR Hall 4-6-0 6990 'Witherslack Hall' and Class 31 D5830. Of special interest was recently returned
to steam 2-6-0 78018 - star of the 1955 British Transport Films 'Snowdrift at Bleath Gill'. On arrival
back at Loughborough on a train headed by this locomotive, our reporter met a certain Welsh member
who was visiting for haulage behind this film star! A Day Rover ticket was £18 adult (or £12 for BR 'Priv'
holders) - excellent value either way considering what was on offer.
(BLN 1268.MR213) The railway announced on 27 October that a design by 'WilkinsonEyre' has been
selected for the new Main Line Museum at Leicester North. The striking design was chosen from a
shortlist of six candidates following extensive public consultation. The design has three two storey
exhibition halls constructed alongside the station. A glass wall will allow visitors arriving by train to see
into the Museum and vice versa. The choice of this design also allows the Railway to retain the existing
station building and platform (which volunteers had campaigned for), while allowing for future
expansion. It will also mean the project budget can be concentrated on the exhibitions and their
educational benefits, rather than remodelling the station area. In 2015, the Railway secured a first
round pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of a £10M grant allocation to build a Museum,
which will house locomotives, carriages and other significant items from the National Collection.
A plan shows five roads into three buildings, along with a turntable. The many exhibits will tell the
story of how the GCR and other railways contributed to the social and economic history of Leicester
and the County. The estimated cost of the museum is £18M with the HLF contributing £10M.
BELOW: LMSR 2-8-0 48624 approaches Quorn & Woodhouse with the 13.05 goods from
Loughborough during the 'Last Hurrah Gala'. (Peter Scott 19 Nov 2016)
MR244] Wensleydale Railway, North Yorkshire (MR p9): Although the railway has a rake of five MK1s,
these have not seen much use. The mainstay is a Class 101 DMU. For two years running they operated
a 'whiff of steam' during August and September. However, there is no infrastructure to support steam;
the locomotives even had to be topped up with water from a children's swimming pool! Steam attracts
more passengers but diesel galas make more money because running costs are much lower. Financial
reality has set in, requiring some cost cutting. There are now only two full-time and three part-time
staff, down from the original ten. The line runs only at weekends in the winter, with special events to
attract customers. £3M capital has been spent, with no government money or grants, all the money
coming from small investors, but the line is now very close to break-even. Although set up as a
community railway, it is unable to offer such a service because of the lack of connection at
Northallerton. The future plans are interesting, but are all unlikely soon in the present financial
situation. In priority order:
(1): A station at Northallerton and relaying the south curve connecting the Wensleydale branch to the
ECML and reinstating the former line towards the main station, which comprised a third track on the
west side of the main line. It would involve relocating signalling and overhead masts and has been
ruled out for now after surveys suggested the work would cost about £6M. This would depend on
grants from the regional development agency. However, Network Rail is unable to support this option
because of 'the possible need to make the East Coast Main Line four tracks through Northallerton in
the future'. (2): A one-mile Castle Bolton extension, a popular tourist destination. This needs a new
bridge over Apedale Beck. The rest of the formation is in good condition, with little tree growth thanks
to grazing sheep. (3): A two-mile Aysgarth extension, giving access to the National Park Centre and
Aysgarth Falls. This would be the natural terminus for the foreseeable future, but cost several million
pounds. The Railway has a holiday cottage let at the station which is occasionally open to the public.
X.194] Otterton & East Budleigh Light Railway: (MR
p15) LEFT: (Ian Hodge, 10 September 2016, during the
'Steam & Teas' charity open day advertised in BLN
1263.1673.) On the trackbed of the former branch
from Exeter via Budleigh Salterton to Sidmouth
Junction (ex-LSWR main line). This is at the original
East Budleigh station (CP from 6 March 1967)
https://goo.gl/Bvm5wy (which has several maps,
details and pictures). A trackplan of this 7¼" gauge
railway https://goo.gl/kZTvTY with more pictures.
MR245] Lakeside Miniature Railway, Merseyside
(MR p20) (BLN 1256.MR82): The 'Southport Visiter'
[sic] web site on 8 November reported that the
railway had received the unwelcome attention of
vandals overnight. The railway is now owned by
Norman Wallis, as is Southport Pleasureland, who is
hoping to bring the 15" gauge railway, opened in May
1911, back to its former glory. The vandals smashed at
least 13 windows in the workshops, damaged and
overturned two benches and also heavily vandalised
one of the shelters. A spokesperson for the railway
said It's heartbreaking as we have commenced a major
investment into this asset with work now being
undertaken on the actual railway line. The track was
completely lacking in investment during the years prior
to its sale to Norman and he is now spending a huge
amount of money on this, having already invested
heavily in the actual locomotives. This damage will put
us back as we will need to spend time on repairs in
order to be able to continue with the project. The
company has reported the vandalism to the police.
MR246] Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Derbyshire (MR p8): The new booking office at Duffield was
officially opened on 19 October. A train departed at 11.15 from Wirksworth to Duffield for a 12.00
ceremony, attended by all staff involved in the building's erection, the people who made donations
and other dignitaries. Refreshments were served in the Pullman Buffet on the return to Wirksworth.
MR247] Seaton Tramway, Devon (MR p32) (BLN 1245.MR196): Lyn Shears has made the first of
several instalments towards a payment of £1M to the charity, which runs the Tramway. The donations
are in memory of her late husband Trevor who was a director of the company from 1991 and chairman
from 2005 until his death in 2014. The money will go to a new terminus at Seaton. Additional sponsors
and donors are being sought for the project, which is currently 60% funded. A permanent terminus
building opened in 1995 but in recent years, with the establishment of the new Tesco store and Seaton
Jurassic Centre, the time has come to build a new terminus in order to complete the transformation of
the Underfleet area and to ensure the Tramway provides all the facilities expected from a top visitor
attraction. The new terminus will be a modern, state of the art building, along with high-level
interpretation of the Tramway's route and history as part of 'A Journey In Time' which will see
passengers arrive at the brand new modern terminus in Seaton, and then be transported back in time
over the three-mile route to Colyton where the old Victorian station reflects the heyday of the railway.
ABOVE TOP: A pre-Christmas sale; the track and signalling diagram.
ABOVE LOWER: 66707 was working on the railway. (Both: Kev Adlam and little helpers 27 Nov 2016.)
BLN 1271.MR248] Sale Area Model Engineering Society, Greater Manchester: On the way to the
Trafford Centre for some seasonal retail activity, the Fixtures Secretary and his two little helpers called
in at this elevated line located in Walton Park, Sale for a breath of fresh air, on Sunday 27 November.
Services run every Sunday except when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. The track is dual 3½"/5"
gauge and has eight signals allowing for safe operation with up to five trains running at any one time.
Fare for all classes is a remarkable 30p! There is approximately a quarter of a mile track. Like many
elevated model railways, there is a separate pick up and set down area, but the short missing distance
was soon covered on request (from Brodie). Petrol, battery and steam traction was available to enjoy,
ranging from a Class 66, to a Class 46 and an LMS 8F! The park can be accessed easily from Brooklands
Metrolink stop followed by a short walk along the canal path. See https://goo.gl/8MR7wF for more.
MR249] Lynton & Barnstaple (L&B) Railway, Devon (MR p15) (BLN 1262.MR143): For over 30 years
the railway has tried to buy 'Fairview', a detached house by the trackbed in Churchtown, Parracombe.
The stretch of trackbed from Cricketfield Lane to Churchtown Bridge has been part of the garden for
many years and is clearly required to allow the railway to be rebuilt. Fortunately, the railway has been
able to purchase this property and now the L&B Trust, along with Exmoor Associates, owns all the
trackbed from Woody Bay to Churchtown Bridge, Parracombe. Otherwise, the railway's planning team
is working with Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) to answer further points and questions raised
about the five planning applications to extend the railway. According to the latest information these
will be heard by the ENPA Planning Committee in the next few months. Work on the new build
Baldwin 2-4-2 locomotive (No762 'Lyn') continues at Alan Keef Limited at Lea Line. Visitors to the works
on the open day in September (BLN 1267.MR204) were able to see the locomotive - almost in one
piece. The boiler was not fitted - it was stored outside with its dome and chimney in place.
The side tanks were not on and the cab is in store. The bunker is on - and lined and painted as well.
It is intended that 'Lyn' will be unveiled at Woody Bay at next May's Gala - in steam and hauling trains.
BELOW: Helston Railway: A signpost, hopefully soon to become relevant again! (Peter Scott 13 May 2008)
BLN 1271.MR250] Helston Railway, Cornwall (MR p6) (BLN 1251.339): The railway's programme to
reinstate Truthall platform was underway again in November. Track has now been laid to within a few
feet of the site of the platform itself. A drainage sump has been installed to stop the 'swimming pool'
effect and a start has been made to dig the foundations for the platform uprights. This, coupled with a
grant from the Downsland Trust, means that further work will proceed over the winter and it is hoped
to be able to use the platform next season - giving the railway a proper southern 'terminus'. Keep an
eye on http://www.helstonrailway.co.uk/ which is the railway's website.
MR251] Leighton Buzzard Railway, Bedfordshire (MR p12) (BLN 1260.MR118): The 2ft gauge railway
opened its new station building at Page's Park on 29 October. The opening was performed by their
Society Vice President, Alan Moore CBE, witnessed by guests including local MP Andrew Selous, local
councillors, their Society members and officers of the Heritage Railway Association. The official
opening train was hauled by newly restored 0-6-0WT 'Pedemoura' (OK10808/1924).
3221] FIXTURES REPORTS: Scottish Minor Railway Weekend, Wester Pickston Railway, Fri 28 Jun:
(MR p28) (BLN 1236.MR98) This visit https://goo.gl/85l6Mv (video) had been flagged up in BLN as
early as Dec 2015 so there had been a long period of anticipation. (Ditto this fixtures report!). The
remote site is extensive covering some seven acres situated a few miles northwest of Methven,
Perthshire. Extensions and alterations had been made since a previous BLS visit on 10 Aug 2007 and
further additions were in progress, but delayed by the wet weather during the winter (Plan BELOW:
shows the operational railway, work in progress and the planned extensions - Simon Mortimer).
The party of 20 gathered in the early afternoon for a brief introduction to the railway by the Chairman
Graham Burhouse, before joining a train of sit-astride coaches at Pickston North station with Loco No3
'Auld Reekie' for the initial trip. This gave an overview (or reminder to those who had visited 9 years
ago) of the layout including the new additions, those in progress and the partly built groundworks.
A feature of the railway is the somewhat strangely named junctions and halts such as Ducks End,
Muggles Meet and Clacks Junction as well as the more conventionally named Pickston North station
and Geoffs Halt. Several slightly varied circuits were undertaken to achieve as much track as possible.
After this, further locos were used to do the 'BLS bits' of track not already covered and naturally, not
normally, done on the four occasions per year of 'Public Service Dates'. (See 'Connections' for 2017
running dates). Locos 'Cloister' and 'Puffin' served us well doing the 'BLS bits', including a partly laid
siding, shed branch lines, across the turntable etc. Then the men were separated from the boys as
generous refreshments were offered in the Clubroom during which a manually pushed wagon was
available (used by those who so wished!) to do the Ballast Siding to the Level Crossing.
Note that the former elevated 5" gauge circuit is now severed and long out of use but the 7¼" ground
level is over 1,000yd. Thanks and a donation were given to Graham for a very comprehensive and
enjoyable afternoon at this complex railway and also to Terry Velvick for making the arrangements.
A 3-hour drive followed to a reasonable location for overnight stays before a further one and a bit
hour drive on Saturday morning 4 June to a private little railway, in Aberdeenshire .
This is at present a small croft railway https://goo.gl/1unoMl but, extensions (= a return visit
required) are planned. A comprehensive and enjoyable morning was spent. A further drive via the
Maud Station Museum (closed at the time of our visit) and Cullen for a brief lunch stop took us fair
and square (with a Doc present amongst the larger party of 36 this day) to another isolated private
remote railway in the area around a house and an adjacent field. Thanks were given and a donation
made to the owners for looking after us with rides and refreshments, and to Terry again for obtaining
the information about these relatively little known railways in remote locations and arranging visits.
Since we were now so far north, most members had plans for visiting the few and far between
railways both in this part of Scotland and during the long trek back South on the Sunday (and into the
early hours of Monday even for some!). A Very Good Weekend was had by all. (Peter Green)
BLN 1271.3222] Derby Day, Tue 19 Jul: It is amazing the variety and number of fixtures we have
enjoyed in the Derby area in recent years. At 14.00 a full party of 20 members met outside Derby
Roundhouse (ABOVE) for a guided tour including the associated buildings. We were met by Phil, a
Derby City Council tour guide, who was at pains to point out that he was not an expert in railway
history, inviting us to chip in at any time with any corrections or additions to his commentary (we did
and he was impressed!). He still gave us a fascinating and entertaining tour which included many
interesting facts about what is widely held to be the first railway roundhouse in the world. Some of the
original railway tracks into it remain in situ, although bricked in to make a level surface for pedestrians.
This gave rise to an optical illusion that made the gauge look broader than standard, with a lively
debate and discussion. However, when the rails were seen to run continuously from outside up to the
internal turntable there was no doubt – they were standard gauge. Many historical features were
pointed out and explained including:
A very high doorway; access from the former bridge over the tracks from Derby station west side.
The Victorian parish boundary stone set into the roundhouse (initially the citizens of Derby would
not allow the 'smelly railway' into their city and it was built in Litchurch, then a separate parish
outside the city boundary - this is why the Midland station is peripheral to the city centre today).
The beautiful carriage workshops.
More modern buildings on the site were also explored. The Stephenson Building is very modern but
designed to complement the older buildings around it. There was some debate amongst participants
about how successful this was, particularly where the building joined, with some finding the new
buildings sympathetic and others who would prefer a more traditional design.
BELOW: The carriage shed, original roof and natural daylight - spot the BLS Members. (All John Cameron)
ABOVE: Part of the inside of the restaurant which retains its original floor and supporting metal poles.
Most of the buildings are now part of the Roundhouse Campus of Derby College. One faculty is
catering and the highly recommended students culinary achievements can besampled in a swish
restaurant https://goo.gl/EU8FYL (for menus etc or 01332 387487) called the Engine House (with
original wooden flooring) at very modest prices. It is advised to visit near the end of the academic year
when they have become more accomplished, rather than the beginning! Some beautiful original
engineers' drawings for some of the Midland and LMS Railways' most famous locomotives adorn the
The tour concluded in the magnificent roundhouse itself, restored to a very high standard with original
features retained and incorporated wherever possible. This includes later 20th century additions such
as several electric cranes and hoists. One of the pits is displayed, lit from beneath and covered with
glass that can be walked over. The Roundhouse is used throughout the year for a wide variety of
events. The fixture organiser had visited previously to attend a beer festival (where he bumped into a
BLN Regional Editor!). On the day of our visit there were many bright gold cloths swathed around the
pillars - a large Indian wedding had taken place the day before.
It was suggested that the BLS could hire it as a future AGM venue but the 'higher' (!) prices indicated a
lack of financially viability! Phil was heartily thanked for his tour (see 'Connections' for details of public
tours). Even the most expert of the party learned something new from our visit.
BELOW: The former gatekeeper's house at Egginton Crossing, now a private residence (June 2016).
Many then made their way to Derby bus station to catch the 'V3' bus to Egginton Junction for an eight
mile walk along the former double track Great Northern Railway (GNR) 'Friargate Line' trackbed back
to Derby. The bus driver appeared somewhat surprised to have 19 extra passengers all asking for the
obscure middle of nowhere 'Birch Tree Farm' bus stop where a couple more joined in. First the site of
Egginton Jn was investigated. The former level crossing gatekeeper's house and modern level crossing
hut were seen on the North Staffs line. The crossing was observed in action for a passing EMT Crewe to
Derby service. The station building, now in private use, was observed behind a fence and some hedges.
The joint NSR/GNR Egginton Junction station OP 1878 when the original North Staffs Railway Egginton
station closed. The junction station building was in the triangle between the two lines with platforms
on all four tracks. It CP 1939 (to Derby Friargate exclusive); excursions called until 1959; CG 1962.
The day was the hottest of the year, making walking conditions less than optimal. However, 21 hardy
souls started and completed the 5 miles to Mickleover station. If the organiser had brought 21 medals
with him, they would have been deserved but his extra water supply was enjoyed instead! There was
much to see, firstly the original Egginton Junction brick bridge carrying Egginton Road over the
trackbed. Next the contrasting 1997 built A50 'Tunnel Bridge', allowing walkers and cyclists to continue
on the trackbed, although lowered considerably to allow the route to pass under the road. Soon after
was Kingfisher Bridge, an original metal bridge over Etwall Brook, before passing under Hilton Road
Bridge. It is known as the 'Pink Bridge' and signed as such with, unsurprisingly, bright pink brickwork!
Etwall station site was marked by a sign. The station house was in private hands until 1987, when it
was demolished to build new housing including over the former goods yard. Next was the A516 Etwall
bypass road bridge. This road was built across the trackbed in 1990, sadly causing the line to be shut as
a test track from 9 Jul that year and was lifted by the October. A bridge has since been built under the
road, but deviates slightly from the original trackbed.
ABOVE: Group picture near the start of the walk, the path surface here is typical of that between
Egginton Junction and Mickleover. The trees provided much appreciated shelter from the sun.
A much-deserved short break was taken on Heage Lane Bridge. The original metal panels are painted
various bright colours. Bottles of water were handed out and swiftly consumed before setting off -
some had trains to catch from Derby in the evening. Various items of railway interest were spotted by
the eagle eyed on the way including signal posts and ground signals as Mickleover station was
reached, (OP 1878; CP 1939; (with excursions until 1959); CG 1964. Originally 'Mickleover for
Radbourne' (various 'Radbourne' spellings were used until it became
'Mickleover'). From 1965 to 1990 the station and goods yard was
https://goo.gl/st301Y the BR Research test track operation centre. The
station building is now a private house in very good condition.
LEFT: A leftover signal post near Mickleover.
A platform survives with some track set in concrete from test track days.
Some retired to the appropriately named 'Great Northern' pub for 'R&R',
rest and re-hydration. 15 continued to Derby Friargate station. Much of this
part of the trackbed (CA 1964) is impassible, but some sections and
structures were visible. The 464yd Mickleover tunnel is filled in and no
trace can be seen. After that the trackbed runs in Mackworth Cutting.
However, so does a stream waterlogging it. The path through Mackworth
Park alongside was taken - our local member guide was excellent and had
done his homework!
The slip roads of the Kingsway roundabout were built over the trackbed but,
the eastern portal of the GNR Kingsway bridge that carried the original road
over the railway remains. It is filled in and was viewed from a footpath.
After this most of the track formation is lost beneath industrial units until
nearing Friargate, except for a small recreation ground behind houses on
Cheviot Street. This allowed access to a short stretch of the trackbed
leading up to a bridge that carries a now disused road above.
ABOVE: Derby Friargate on 30 Mar 1970; CG 4 Sep 1967; beyond the station (top left) to Stanton Jn
(Ilkeston) CA 6 May 1968. The line was retained as a branch from Egginton Jn until 26 Nov 1971 for BR
research but was then cut back to Mickleover. The GNR goods warehouse is right. (Angus McDougall)
ABOVE: Derby Friargate bridge, 12 Apr 2015 and the ex-GNR Engineers Office (right) - Angus McDougall.
At last Friargate Station was reached; OP 1878; CP 1964; CG 1967. Built with four through platforms,
in practice only the central island was regularly used. The goods yard and warehouse were very
extensive. The entire site remains undeveloped since closure despite being so close to Derby City
Centre. All platforms survive but are very overgrown with brambles, silver birch, etc. Concrete station
sign posts and lampposts were seen, as was the staircase leading up to the central platforms from the
station building below. The famous Friargate Bridge is immediately east of the station and was viewed
from the platforms. The enormous Grade II listed GNR warehouse also survives, although the victim of
fires and now open to the elements. It seems beyond hope for renovation sadly. One participant, who
lived in Derby when Friargate was open, had not been back since the day he last caught a train from
the station! He was amazed at how much of the station he remembered so well was still there, despite
being abandoned for decades (the site is easily accessible by public paths and well worth a visit).
The station exterior is extant at street level, from Friar Gate (the street is two words but the station
was usually one). This includes the large wooden canopy on the north side, the former main entrance.
Friar Gate Bridge was appreciated from the street level. Several then had to depart for trains home.
ABOVE: the GNR Grade II listed Derby Friargate warehouse on 14 Jul 1996 (Angus McDougall).
However, a small band of eight continued across the road into the building that used to house the GNR
Engineers office (PREVIOUS PAGE) for the third and final (evening) event of the day. Now divided into
multiple offices the building houses several firms, including DCR Rail. Employee and BLS member Steve
Chandler kindly showed us the control room for DCR's freight operations. He gave a fascinating insight
into how train paths are requested and assigned and the work involved in running trains on today's
network. After answering questions thanks were given to Steve and to DCR for allowing the visit and a
collection was made, very appropriately, in aid of another occupant of the building - 'The Friends of
Friar Gate Bridge', some of whom had joined the walk earlier. The Friends are 'a newly created
charitable group whose mission is to achieve a comprehensive restoration of Derby's lovely old railway
bridge in its Georgian setting'. See https://goo.gl/DK1Gv9 email [email protected]
01332344 566. Thanks to John Cameron (who can see Friargate station from his home) for this
excellent half day with the three contrasting fixtures.
3223] The Fisherman's Friend, Sat 19 Nov: By Rob Moorcroft.
Blackpool in late November, what was the appeal? Not the
Illuminations, they had finished on the 6th, and it certainly
wasn't for sunbathing on the beach. Perhaps to watch the
popular BBC celebrity ballroom dancing show, taking place in
the Tower this weekend? No, it was 'Strictly' to take part in
the BLS mega-tour of the Blackpool Tramway. DMU 150143
was boarded at Preston along with quite a few other BLS regulars for the
short journey to Blackpool North. Something fishy was going on. On arrival,
I considered taking a few pictures, but they do things differently here and
wanted everyone to exit so the doors at the platform ends could be closed
and that was that. There was plenty of time for a walk to the Promenade
with rolling waves breaking on the beach, a strong bitterly cold wind and
rain along the Fylde coast. A group had started to assemble at Rigby Road
depot gates when I arrived; eagerly anticipating what was to come.
We could have done without the shower of rain and hail, but to our rescue
and appropriately named 'Fisherman's Friend Fleetwood' (this was not
coincidental!) tram 737 sailed out from the depot, stopping near the
entrance. The driver opened the doors and it was 'all aboard'; we even had
our Rod with us (from Carlisle).
ABOVE: The illuminations had finished but it was certainly the start of a very illuminating tour as Tram
737 appeared out of Rigby Road Depot Road 7 to pick up participants (Rob Moorcroft all 19 Nov 2016).
Once loaded it was off to 'catch' No7 Pit Road into the depot, reaching half way and stopping just short
of the stabled trams, no buffer kissing with these vehicles. Then a reversal out to the depot gates and
disembark to allow the rest of the party to repeat the manœuvre.
With a 'wave' farewell to 737, the main event was on 'Balloon' tram 723 which looked splendid on
Road 11 in Blackpool Corporation livery. There was no problem in viewing or photographing the other
trams and BLS stewards were deployed to ensure no one wandered too far or fell in the pits. Boarding
instructions were straightforward with tickets stating 'upstairs' or 'downstairs' - no reserved seats.
The tour was fully booked with capacity for 90 participants and, as the tram filled up, sardine like,
personal space became a luxury. It had clearly been designed when people were much smaller and 723
was even narrower upstairs! Once all were seated and settled, we set off towards the depot exit
halting just on Hopton Road; a bonus track perhaps? Yes, the driver changed ends and slowly we eased
towards Roads 16/17, but there was some resistance to our progress though as the tram ran aground!
Very clearly designed when people were much smaller….! The driver returned to the front and the
tram left the depot. Street running commenced, joining the 'main line' at Manchester Square, with the
first reversal via the trailing crossover just south of Central Pier.
Full traversal of the Pleasure Beach outer
loop was sunk by a faulty point, but the inner
loop was covered and we soon headed off
north. However, Blackpool Council's mobile
jetting truck was 'flushing' to help clear debris
from Tower crossover point blades (thank
you!) and we were soon heading south again
for Starr Gate depot, arriving over the facing
crossover; then, after entering the depot,
took the complete length of Road 4.
Restarting the tour took us to North Pier and
a reversal over the north crossover. Bright
sunshine illuminated the landscape as we
journeyed south and around Starr Gate loop,
through the washer (switched off) to cover
the depot headshunt to the end of line.
Additional rare track was netted as we took
Road 3 into the depot maintenance area. The
very rare trailing crossover just north of the
depot allowed a comfort break by returning to
Starr Gate depot. Our tram stabled on the
single track just far enough south of the
platforms to allow the Flexity trams room to
reverse back into service. (RIGHT: Starr Gate
loop/headshunt south of the stop, Jim Sellens)
After 'Starr boarding' and doing the line (not used in service) from the head shunt to the departures
platform, the tour headed north past the various frontages of guest houses and hotels, some a bit of a
wreck and in need of more than just a coat of paint. The ever resourceful Kev then produced 90 gift
tins of Fisherman's Friend lozenges, which he had coughed up for one to each participant (how sweet).
Heading past the Pleasure Beach I glanced upward at 'The Big One' rollercoaster and reflected on
riding it as being a different form of (extreme) track bashing!
We traversed the middle roads at North Pier and Bispham en
route to Cleveleys, where a reversal scored the crossover on
the way to Cabin. Paul and Tim were mobilised on raffle
ticket duty and squeezed their way through the tram taking
money off the captive audience, 100% of the 'Pieces of Eight'
(£310 actually) went to Heritage tram operations. Cabin
crossover was used to reverse before turning on Little
Bispham loop to reach Bispham. The north end connection
to the middle road was OOU; we ran past and reversed in via
the south end link. Our tram anchored and with passengers
aboard, surprised the Flexity drivers passing either side. In
the break, many naturally bought fish and chips to keep them
on an even keel.
LEFT: This was close to where Bispham tram depot (closed
1966) was. (Stuart Hicks)
BELOW: Lunch break at Bispham looking south towards Starr
Gate. (Rob Moorcroft)
Participants fed and watered, the tour resumed with Thornton Gate Middle Road and around the
Fleetwood Outer Loop, passing by the 'North Euston Hotel' to pause at Fisherman's Walk (close to the
Lofthouse factory where the FF lozenges are made). Reversal via the crossover and taking Fleetwood
inner loop, the Knott End ferry boat 'Wyre Rose' (sounds painful) was in. Fleetwood's first terminal
station was on the Port side here from 1840 to 1851. Incredibly between 1841 and 1848, the fastest
route from London to Glasgow was, surprisingly, by train to Fleetwood, packet boat to Ardrossan
then train. A stay in the North Euston Hotel often featured.
In 2016, back at Thornton Gate a reversal
scored the middle road connection, where it
was assumed we would stop and reverse, but
no, it was off northbound to cover
Fisherman's Walk crossover in the other
direction! Heading south through North Pier,
two rapid reversals 'tackled' the south and
north end crossovers. By now well ahead of
time, it just remained to head back to the
depot over the 'inward' street running line.