Issue Number 1303 (Items 812 - 919 & MR 70 - MR 79) (E-BLN 66 PAGES) 28 Apr 2018
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society - founded 1955
WEBSITE ADDRESS: branchline.uk
Membership Enquiries, Alan Welsh [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from member7s2; 8a6n7i7nternational section is available.
Opinions herein are not necessaarivlyaitlahbolsee. of the Compilers or the Society.
……………. BLN 1304 is dated Sat 19 MaySo.(cmieitny.dSothcieet3y-.week gap!). contributions by Wed 9 May please
●REMINDER: Have your renewed your membership (due 1 May please)?●
Date Event and details BLN Lead Status
1299 JE OPEN
Sat 28/4/18 The Inverclyde First Aider, WCR Class 37 Crewe - Scotland
Thur 3/5/18 10.00 Calder Valley line boxes, FULL WITH FULL WAITING LIST 1300 NJ CLOSED
Fri 4/5/18 10.00 Hawarden Bridge station for various signal box visits Below BC Enquire
3 to 5/5/18 Island of Ireland Thur - Sat, FULL WITH FULL WAITING LIST 1295 KA CLOSED
Sun 6/5/18 07.30 (Connolly) - 17.45 (Heuston) Dublin Irish Rail railtour 1299 KA OPEN
Sat 12/5/18 The 565 Special - Take 2 (Peterborough call 10.58/17.59) 1298 JE OPEN
Sat 2/6/18 PM: The Arlington Explorer APPLY (WAITING LIST) 1297 JE Enquire
Sat 9/6/18 10.30-13.30 Great Bush Railway (2ft gauge) track/traction 1302 JE OPEN
Sat 9/6/18 14.30-16.30 Bentley Miniature Railway all line railtour 1302 JE OPEN
Sun 10/6/18 The Sopwith Camel with Chiltern Railways to Calvert Tip 1302 JE OPEN
Wed 13 Jun 18.00 Crewe Heritage Centre Class 37 photographic event 1301 JE OPEN
Thur 14 Jun The Nosey Peaker, Stafford 08.30 / Crewe 17.00 FULL 1298 JE FULL
Sun 1/7/18 Ketton Cement Works, Rutland, track & traction event Below JE *OPEN*
11-12/7/18 Wed/Thur: BLS Cornwall Tracker: APPLY (WAITING LIST) 1302 JE Enquire
Sat 21/7/18 Middlesbrough Goods, AV Dawson, new track & traction 1297 JE OPEN
Thur 2 Aug 12.45 Spa Valley Railway afternoon rare track excursion 1301 JE OPEN
Sat 4/8/18 Provisional minor railway 'all liner' on the way to Invergarry TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 5/8/18 Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway standard gauge rides 1301 JE OPEN
Sat 25/8/18 09.30-10.30 Blenheim Park Railway (15" gauge) railtour 1300 JE OPEN
Sat 25/8/18 12.00-16.00 Beeches Light Railway APPLY (WAITING LIST) 1299 JE Enquire
Mon 27 Aug Summer Scunthorpe Steeler tour No16 (Bank Holiday Mon) TBA TBA Claimed
Sat 13 Oct East to West Midlands Railtour with a very unusual first TBA TBA Claimed
26-28 Oct 18 PROVISIONAL Yorkshire weekend AGM, fixtures & film show TBA TBA Claimed
BC-Barney Clark, JE-Jill Everitt, KA-Kev Adlam, NJ-Nick Jones , TBA-To Be Advised, = book online at branchline.uk
812] Borderline signal boxes, Fri 4 May: With thanks to Barney Clark. Short notice visits (may be full);
10.00 at Hawarden Bridge station to Shotwick ground frame (a panel) which should be working, Dee
Marsh, Penyfford, Wrexham & Gobowen boxes. BLS members only, limited numbers; an on the day cash
charity donation applies. Hi-Viz orange jacket required. Bookings/queries to [email protected]
(note underscore) or write to: 1 Onslow Road, Richmond, TW10 6QH (with SAE). Please advise if you are
arriving by car (and how many lifts you can give) or by train - we may need to minimise car use. Due to the
short notice the visits were advertised by 'Branch Line' email and our website Forum on 17 April.
813] The Ketton Osprey Explorer, Sun 1 Jul: (ABOVE - Kev Adlam) Ketton Works (SK 9849 0539), Ketco
Ave, Stamford, PE9 3SX. With huge thanks to the Hanson Cement Ketton Works team (part of
Heidelberg Cement). Identical 'all available lines' tours of the branch railway at 09.30, 11.30 and 14.00
each limited to 50 participants in two brake vans and lasting about 90 minutes. These cover the entire
railway system, exchange sidings to the NR boundary close to the Oakham to Stamford line and some
track that it was not possible to cover on our June 2015 tours: Exchange Sidings 1 & 4, the left loop
north of the silo, and the sought after Axiom Rail (now DB Cargo) stub. Operated by volunteers from
Hanson staff, 'Rocks by Rail' and the Chasewater Railway, the onsite locos (currently 08870 & 08375)
will 'top & tail'. A mobile food vehicle will sell light refreshments, hot snacks and drinks. £45 per
person; no junior discount. All profits shared equally among Hanson's nominated charities. A souvenir
ticket and map will be provided. The Society is indebted to our member Gary Pullan for securing the
original 2015 tour and this exciting sequel, which is expected to fill rapidly. Unusually, a peripatetic
steam miniature railway will be used to transport participants to the specially built platform. Book on
line if possible please (or ask someone to do this for you) or by post with email/SAE to Jill Everitt.
1303 HEAD LINES (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
814] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant passenger service suspensions: *= New/altered
BLN Start (incl) Reopens† Location (exclusive where bracketed) [bold = closed now]
1302.691 18 Sep 17 Unknown *Seaton Tramway, (Riverside Loop) south end - Seaton
1302.698 14 Apr 18 30 Apr 18 *Philips Park West Jn - Baguley Fold Jn - Stalybridge North Jn
1300.441 14 May 18 18 May 18 *(Theale)-Westbury North Jn/Fairwood Jn (and six later periods)
1302.699 02 Jun 18 30 Jul 18 *Liverpool Lime Street (total & partial) details awaited
1300.441 0 4 Jun 18 0 8 Jun 18 *(Theale)-Westbury North Jn/Fairwood Jn (and five later periods)
1302.700 12 Jun 18 15 Jun 18 *(Exeter St Davids) - Barnstaple/(Tiverton Parkway)
1298.214 12 May 18 20 Aug 18 (Aberdeen) - (Dyce)
1286.1612 22 Jul 18 0 8 Oct 18 *(Derby) station/associated lines - a series of partial closures
1297.123 20 Oct 18 29 Oct 18 (Three Bridges) - (Brighton)/(Lewes) (also 16 to 24 Feb 2019)
1302.702 27 Oct 18 19 Nov 18 *Bristol East Jn - Stoke Gifford No1 Jn; Filton Jn - Patchway Jn;
Feeder Bridge Jn - Dr Day's Jn & Narroways Hill Jn - (Clifton Down)
† The date that public service is due to restart, generally in date order of expected reopening.
815] Dovey Junction (excl) - Pwllheli (incl) and 24 intermediate stations: TCP/A Sat 28 Oct until Sun 5
Nov 2017 (half term holiday - there is still heavy school traffic) for repairs costing £1.4M to the 104yd
long timber River Artro Viaduct (Bridge 66, also known as Pensarn River Bridge) between Llanbedr and
Pensarn - actually only 56ch apart! The track was jacked up to access the timber, a new technique that
will be used to repair Barmouth Viaduct. Of note the rail replacement buses took 3½ hours (absolute
purgatory) between Pwllheli and Machynlleth calling at all of the 24 stations except Dovey Junction.
The buses ran directly between Penrhyndeudraeth and Llandecwyn in 5 minutes via the new Pont
Briwet road bridge (previously a deviation was required via Maentwrog due to the weight limit on the
former wooden bridge). Barmouth to Morfa Mawddach, 4 minutes by train, took 30 due to the need
to go inland almost to Dolgellau to cross the River Mawddach. Trains take a mere 2¼ hours for the
57⅔ miles end to end, averaging 25½mph. Presumably there was other unadvertised work on the line
or a compelling reason preventing any trains running between Machynlleth and Barmouth?
PREVIOUS PAGE TOP: Tue 13 Mar 165106 at Theale P3 on the Reading shuttle service, looking
towards Reading, with electrification work in progress on the Down Westbury line, right background.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Theale Goods Loop 'temporary' P3, in the other direction, looking towards
Newbury. (Both Tom Gilby 13 Mar 2018.)
ABOVE: It is good to see freight traffic 'blossoming' again at Hitchin Stone Terminal (to the right of the
East Coast Main Line - looking north). The station is in the background. (Bill Davis 20 Mar 2018)
816] Hitchin Stone Terminal: Recommissioned Mon 9 Apr; ROG Wed 11 Apr 2018 first inward stone
train from Acton Yard (originating at Merehead Quarry) for Aggregate Industries who have leased the
site. Trains are booked WThFO. It was last used in Feb 2015 to deliver ballast for transfer by road to
upgrade the Barrington branch at Foxton. The siding, behind P1(Up side), is accessed from the south
off the Up Slow by Hitchin 'A' Ground Frame (31m 50ch) and is not visible from the station other than
at the far London end of P2. Vegetation was removed in March and the track refettled. Concrete slabs
and posts were delivered to build stone storage hoppers. Langley Stone Terminal (26m 59ch) remains
operational, a private siding south of Stevenage on the Up side (trailing connection into the Up Slow).
817] Acton Dive-Under (5m 20ch - 4m 40ch): (BLN 1302.677) ROP Wed 18 Apr but not available to
electric traction (damaged OHLE supports) after TCA Wed 24 Jan 2018 midday (last service 10.32
Didcot to Paddington EMU) due to a collapsing retaining wall. There is no booked use but it is used by
Up Relief passenger trains when required to avoid conflicts with Down freight trains from Acton Yard
or the Down Poplar Goods Line. No use was observed on 'RailCam' over the first few days at least.
818] Kenilworth station (3m 49ch): (BLN 1293.2340) OP expected Mon 30 Apr 2018, a single 109yd
platform just south of Kenilworth Loop on the Coventry to Leamington Spa line. This loop was to have
been extended south (so two platforms were built but P2 is trackless). Said to be the 2,564th station on
the network, the first departure is due to be 06.16 to Coventry with the first Up train to Leamington
Spa at 06.46. The £13.6M station has a West Midlands Railway Leamington Spa (most from Up bay P4
via Foundry Wood Jn (106m 39ch) new crossover) to Coventry shuttle: 17 trains each way 06.15-21.43
SSuX; 16 on Saturdays (finishes an hour earlier) and none Sundays. Route learning began 6 Dec 2017.
819] Springburn: Up Springburn line (0m 61ch) - Sighthill East Jn & Sighthill East Jn, Down Springburn
(0m 56ch) - (0m 59ch): UPDATE (BLN 1298.215) CP from Sun 20 May 2018. These Connections of
Strategic Importance between Springburn P1/2 and the Bellgrove line now remain in use in the new
timetable. Cumbernauld to/from Dumbarton/Balloch services continue to reverse in through P1 & 2.
The 22.44 (SuX) ex-Balloch continues to be the only train to use bay P3 and bay P4 has no booked use.
X.50] Princes Risborough: BELOW: Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway, Friday 13 April 2018; the
first working to gauge test the new Princes Risborough P4. Despite the date it was absolutely fine!
ABOVE: Later that day returning with ballast. (Both Andrew Taylor, an active volunteer on the railway.)
1303 BLN GENERAL (Paul Stewart) [email protected]
820] Points & Slips: Apologies for the items/amendments held over due to time/space constraints.
●BLN 1301.650] Travelling south from Stirling through Dunblane should, have course, been travelling
south from Dunblane through Stirling (can't get the staff). Electrification work is focused on the Alloa
branch. ●BLN 1302.688] On Fri 13 April 08825 became the first visitor to the new Princes Risborough
P4. Despite the inauspicious date there were no problems! It was initially light engine for gauging and
alignment checks, then returned with three dogfish wagons for a ballast drop. ●706] At Mountsorrel
granite quarry the conveyor belt that now runs from the quarry is mostly on the trackbed of the
former branch to the Midland Main Line. It was not a Midland Railway branch but like the reopened
branch to the Great Central Railway was part of the Mountsorrel Railway which once amounted to
8½ route miles. ●711] The proposed National Railfreight Interchange is near Hinckley not Hinkley.
●719] Thameslink Class 700 EMUs can show 'Corby' as a destination. ●759] There is only one Parson at
Parson Street station but 145,608 persons used it in 2016/17 a 15% increase (or 18,972) over 2015/16.
821] Bradshaw's Railway Companion 1841: Thanks to our member Rod Miebs for kindly supplying an
original 1841 edition, and to our Publications Officer, Martyn Brailsford, for the high resolution scan,
this was available with e-BLN 1302. It will remain on our website document archive - search 'Bradshaw'
or '1841'. There are two parts - railway gradient profiles and the 42 page guide. The latter timetables,
mileages (Euston to Birmingham was only 112½ miles then as it was to Curzon Street) railway maps,
train and Hackney Coach fares, city plans and a wealth of fascinating information. As it says: The
necessity for such work is so obvious as to need no apology; and the merits of it can be best ascertained
by a reference to the execution both as regards the style and correctness of the Maps and Plans….
Bradshaw's Railway Companion 25 Oct 1839 https://goo.gl/cQ1bcE (24 pages) the first 'national'
timetable, (1 shilling = nearly £5) in book format with Thompson's Table at the back to calculate speed.
822] Other E-BLN 1302 Extras: BLNI Extra 39 was about railways in India and Sri Lanka with many
interesting photos. There were seven pages of illustrated notes for the Glamorganshire Canal Towpath
Abercynon to Merthyr walk, with thanks to Railway Ramblers, Stephen Rowson and our member Chris
Parker. Like all e-BLN supplements these remain available to logged in members on our website
document 'archive'. As usual there were also A4 and booklet A5 versions of paper BLN and BLNI 1302.
823] Molly Update: (BLN 1287.1803) ABOVE: Kev Adlam. Our
1961 built and converted standard gauge 4-wheel 20 ton non-
ventilated ex-Ferry Van B786968 'Molly' (named after Kev's
dog and why not?) has undergone a transformation since her
debut. This was on our 25 Jun 2017 tours of AV Dawson
Middlesbrough Old Town and she is due to appear again on
our 2 June trips at Eastleigh Arlington Works. The work at her
'18D' Barrow Hill (BH) home depot, where she is kindly kept
safe, has been entirely due to the time and graft of a small
group of Society volunteers assisted by skilled Barrow Hill
joiners, welders and sign-writers.
The interior has been given a complete makeover with new
anti-slip flooring, internal painting (three coats), the seat
cushions professionally deep cleaned (free of charge by a
specialist train seat cleaning company - well done Kev!) and
their frames cleaned, rubbed down, repainted then refitted.
The seats all now have ex-First Class Gatwick Express
antimacassars fitted. Three damaged panes of glass have been
replaced by a specialist window fitter. The guard's area has
likewise been rejuvenated with a lick of paint, the addition of a
bench seat (useful for storing equipment such as point clips
and flags), a new first aid kit and a new fire extinguisher. Work
has also started underneath the vehicle making sure the
frames are kept in their excellent condition. Molly's smart light
interior now matches her external appearance (see e-BLN
1287 pictures) at AV Dawson.
If you have particular skills that could help maintain Molly
during her planned winter 2018 work, such as joinery or
exterior painting, please contact the Fixtures Secretary.
824] 1962 Transport Act: This prepared the way for the closure of around a third of British Railways
following the initial Beeching report. It simplified the process of closing railways by removing the need
for the pros and cons of each case to be heard in detail at the inquiry. Section 54 (Advance information
about railway and shipping closures) required that advance notice of discontinuance plans for railway
passenger or goods services should be published in such manner and in such places as the Minister
may direct. All suitably vague! PAGE BEFORE LAST, LEFT: A typical Section 56 Notice which relates to
item 872 in the Yorkshire section of this BLN.
PREVIOUS PAGE: The one which had the most
objections (see Item 877). RIGHT: A Section 54
Notice (although a 'public' notice how many of
the general public could understand the lines
described?). Both are thanks to original research
by our local member Andy Overton.
A new procedure for the closure of railway lines,
Section 56(7), required that British Railways (BR)
gave at least six weeks' notice of their intention
to close a line and to publish this proposal in two
successive weeks in two local newspapers in the
area(s) affected. [This resulted in many very short
notice urgent trips to far flung corners of the
country at the time as so many lines were
closing.] The notice would give the proposed
closure dates and details of alternative transport
services, including any new (usually meaning bus)
services which BR was to lay on. Any user of a service affected, and anybody representing such users,
had to lodge objections in writing within six weeks of a date specified in the notice (the date on which
the notice was last published in a local newspaper) to the appropriate Area Committee of the
Transport Users' Consultative Council. The Committee was to inform the Minister and the Railways
Board immediately and the closure could not be effected until the Committee had reported to the
Minister and he had given his consent.
Under Section 56(9), the Committee had to consider the objections and also any representations made
by BR. The purpose of the hearing was not to debate the rights and wrongs of the closure proposal,
but solely to establish whether any hardship would result. The Committee reported to the Minister on
any hardship they considered would result and could propose ways of alleviating that hardship. Under
Section 56(11) the Minister could give his consent subject to such conditions as he thought fit (usually
new bus services) and could vary those conditions in the future. Basically he had a free hand.
1303 EAST MIDLANDS (John Cameron) [email protected]
826] Gainsborough Central: From 4 Oct 1993 (the last time that the national timetables changed on a
Monday) the passenger service was reduced from Sundays excepted to Saturdays only, three trains
per week each way between Sheffield and Cleethorpes which has continued for over 24 years.
From the 9 Dec timetable change trains will call hourly, six days a week, reportedly the best service
since the station opened in 1849! It will be a local Sheffield to Gainsborough Central Northern service,
presumably turning back in P2 via the Retford end trailing crossover in service on departure. This will
accelerate Sheffield to Lincoln services via Gainsborough Lea Road which will run non-stop Sheffield
to Worksop. The Saturday trains to Cleethorpes continue. The new services are the result of
negotiations between West Lindsey District Council, Bassetlaw District Council and Lincolnshire County
Council with Northern trains. Maybe someone will commission an oil painting to celebrate this
improvement which may generate significant new Gainsborough business as Central station is a mere
500m east of the town hall, far better sited than Lea Road, but it can't be said that either is a picture.
825] Pastures New: (BLN 1297.131) On the Cromford & High Peak Railway route Derbyshire County
Council is carrying out conservation work on the wheel pit at the foot of Sheep Pasture Incline. It was
worked by a winding engine (originally steam, later electric) at the top of the incline with a wire cable
that passed down the incline around a return wheel in the pit at the bottom and back up to the top.
[This is true, not a wind up.] Ascending and descending wagons were attached to the cable. The work
involves removal, conservation and reinstallation of the original return wheel and other components,
masonry repairs, timberwork renewal and re-instatement of rails.
ABOVE: A recent picture of the work at the bottom of Sheep Pasture Incline with the A6 overbridge
beyond after which the Cromford & High Peak Railway turned sharp right to Cromford Wharf. (Ian
Mitchell) A very interesting picture we feel sure that you would be 'inclined' to agree?
827] Leicester South Jn: (BLN 1299.347) The resited and faster trailing bidirectional crossover
(or should that be two 'half crossovers'‽ - see BLN 1299) between (98m 64ch) on the Up Main and the
Down Main (98m 69ch) was commissioned on 5 Mar. It can be taken at 40mph in the Up direction and
25mph in the Down. The new faster facing crossover from the Down to Up Main (98m 46ch) was
commissioned 19 Mar available at 40mph in the Up direction and 30/40mph in the Down direction.
1303 GREATER LONDON (Geoff Brockett) [email protected]
828] Uxbridge: (BLN 1302.733) TRACKmaps (Vol 5, p42A, Nov 2008) With thanks to a member for
making a special site visit. This item was incorrect due to a misunderstanding over direction and also
an abbreviation, with apologies for the confusion! In fact, from Mon 9 April the sidings layout was to
be simplified by the removal of 26 Road and a slight realignment of 25 Road. Contrary to BLN 1302, at
the Hillingdon end the connection on to the eastbound line at the east end of the sidings is still there.
The single slip is replaced by a similar length new (flat-bottom rail on concrete bearers) simple
connection with new materials to the eastbound line. The converging speed is 20mph (was 15mph).
It is the connection from the westbound line (Hillingdon towards Uxbridge) to the sidings that has
been abolished and plain lined with new materials. Both running lines have been relaid between here
and Uxbridge station. East of the east end depot exit on the running lines there is no sign that a facing
crossover is intended in future. Double ended depots are favoured to reduce the risk of points or
signal failures or a defective train locking others in the depot. A second entrance is less valuable.
In Uxbridge Sidings (always known thus rather than as a depot) the scissors crossover* between 25
and 26 Roads has gone and all the turnouts trail towards Hillingdon except the trap points at the east
end of the former 26 Road (and except for the lead into the eastbound adjacent to the scissors outside
the station). Loop 24 and Sidings 27-38 all converge into what was 25 Road and connect to what was
26 Road at the trap points. This simplification, a prelude to resignalling, reduces operating flexibility.
The first dot matrix destination signs (now Passenger Information System) on the westbound Piccadilly
stations displayed Hillingdon/Uxbridge for all Uxbridge terminators because it was envisaged that
some would go out of service at Hillingdon and reverse west to east on 26 Road. This didn't happen in
practice and the Met stations did not have dot matrix destination signs at that time anyway.
*Despite TRACKmaps (Vol 5, p42A Nov 2006) appearances, it was a symmetrical scissors crossover.
829] Heathrow Express: (BLN 1302.724) Members are reminded that they can actually travel free
(all day long if you so wish) on Class 332 EMUs, but only in tunnel between the three airport stations
which are not barriered. There is even a shuttle between T2 & 3 and T5 on 25/26 Dec each year.
830] Lea Valley: (BLN 1298.236) From 16 Apr a new facing crossover was installed in the Down and Up
Temple Mills Lines between 6m 40ch and 6m 48ch, near to the country end of Lea Bridge station, with
a trailing connection (both remain OOU) to the country side of the new crossover which will eventually
give access to the new Lea Valley Reversible Line access and avoids any conflict at Coppermill Jn.
X.51] Closure Pending! PREVIOUS PAGE: A passenger line scheduled to close (possibly permanently)
after running on the morning of Fri 7 Dec 2018. On 8 Mar 66118 waits at Park Royal Sidings outlet
signal with the 12.05 empty box wagons to Hither Green yard, as 165012 on the 11.36 (SSuX)
Paddington to High Wycombe PSUL service passes. Behind the second wagon the branch to Park
Royal Goods and the Guinness brewery used to curve round to the left. Right is the Central Line West
Ruislip line. From the 9 Dec timetable the Chiltern train (and its inward working, 10.57 SSuX South
Ruislip to Paddington) are to be diverted via West Ealing due to HS2 construction. (Geoff Brockett)
831] Lewisham Road: This station, west of Lewisham Vale Jn, CP 1 Jan 1917 with the withdrawal of
the Nunhead to Greenwich Park service, is currently occupied by the 'Aladdin's Cave' shop. A planning
proposal submitted to the council would, if approved, result in its demolition and replacement by flats.
The building is locally listed, but the developer claims it is beyond repair. ('Railway Observer')
832] LUL Microgricing: With the help of our Microgricing Guide, a member was recently successful in
covering two crossovers. On 6 Apr he did the facing crossover out of North Greenwich P2 towards
Stratford on the booked 05.29 departure (Train 143). He arrived at North Greenwich on the first train
from Stratford at 05.15, to find the train already sitting in P2 with doors open and the next train
describer showing correctly as Stratford. So unlike his previous experience with 00.36 late night
departure, this one is very much open to passengers! Then on 9 Apr he successfully did the Oakwood
trailing London end crossover (departing southbound from P2) at 05.38 with Train 340 as booked.
However his attempt to do this crossover on Sat 24 Mar on the train booked to do this at a very similar
time failed, as it arrived and departed empty, although actually booked to go into service at Oakwood.
833] Barking - Gospel Oak: (BLN 1302.720) Availability for electric traction from 24 Mar was cancelled
834] Clapham Junction: NR took over management of the station (as well as Guildford) from South
Western Railway in early Apr. NR is developing options to relieve congestion in the short term and
investigating the feasibility of a more significant station redevelopment in the longer-term. Clapham
Junction had 30.7M originating/terminating passengers in 2016-17 plus 27.3M changing trains.
1303 NORTH EAST (Geoff Blyth) [email protected]
PREVIOUS PAGE: Monkwearmouth
Station Museum as at 3 Jun 2001,
before electrification of the line for
the Tyne & Wear Metro extension
to Sunderland. (Angus McDougall)
LEFT: Booking office. (Press Release)
835] Sunderland: Monkwearmouth
Station Museum opened to the
public for the final time on 31 Mar
2017 and officially closed on 23
May, due to the poor condition of
the roof, footbridge and platforms.
The Grade II* listed building, dating
from 1848 and which opened as a
museum in 1973, is on the route of
the Tyne & Wear Metro, although the station CP 6 Mar 1967. It was well-known for its fully restored
Edwardian booking office and its wagon shed. Sunderland City Council announced in Feb 2016 that it
was looking at a possible temporary closure owing to budget cuts and dwindling visitor numbers, while
it looked for an alternative use for the building. The smaller railway artefacts will be returned to their
original sources but the restored ticket office will remain in situ as it is protected by the station's listed
building status. It will present a stark contrast to the new use for the building - the home of a
collection of memorabilia relating to Sunderland Football Club - any lucky black cats?
836] Chester-le-Street & Eaglescliffe: (BLN 1301.594) A cliff edge situation has been avoided with both
stations back on track again after Chester-le-Track ceased trading from 31 Mar. From 3 Apr Grand
Central staffed Eaglescliffe ticket office 07.00-18.00 Mon-Fri (including Thursdays!) and 07.00-13.00
Saturdays, taking on a former Chester-le-Track employee. Volunteer station ambassadors will continue
to provide information and advice at the station on Sundays. Northern is staffing Chester-le-Street
booking office 07.00-13.00 SuX, keeping the waiting room open and providing passenger information.
837] Tees Dock: The Mk 5 sleeping cars for the Caledonian Sleeper, other than those already arrived
from Velim test track (Czech Republic) via the Channel Tunnel, are being imported via Tees Dock.
Moves from there to Polmadie via Norton to Ferryhill (even around 04.00) and the Tyne Valley were
scheduled almost daily week beginning 9 Apr. The cars are manufactured at the CAF plants at Beasain
and Irún in the Basque region of NE Spain, so almost certainly shipped from Bilbao. A 2¾ min video
https://goo.gl/NcSNc4 of one of these trains at Hexham, with added hopper wagons for extra braking.
838] Middlesbrough A V Dawson: BLN 1292.2226 reported in Nov 2017 that tar traffic in container
tanks had been won from road since our 25 Jun 2017 railtours there. This consisted of only the odd
wagon and was not reported in the media at that time. Traffic has now increased to a steady flow of
up to 24 tanks a week from Tata Steel's Port Talbot plant. They are offloaded at the Tees Riverside
Intermodal Park, the first contract to use this, and taken by road to Koppers Specialty Chemicals, Port
Clarence. Koppers is located roughly at the end of the former branch (now lifted) running south east
from Port Clarence along the river. In the past, such tanks would of course be tripped to Port Clarence.
839] Nunthorpe: It is planned to move the station 1 km south east to a new Park & Ride in the next
decade. It is only 1 km from Gypsy Lane so this would achieve better spacing. Presumably this is aimed
at Guisborough and Stokesley commuters. The ambition to reopen the Guisborough line died long ago
even though the formation was preserved for this well after it CP 2 Mar 1964 and CA 31 Aug 1964.
Stokesley, west of Battersby, CP 14 Jun 1954; CA 2 Aug 1965. It has never been a reopening candidate
as the station was 2 miles south of the town and the journey via Battersby would be very circuitous.
1303 NORTH WEST (Graeme Jolley) n
X.52] ABOVE: In case you have not seen this one before 'A
busy day on the Ordsall Chords' (Oto Hppohs 1 April 2018.)
840] Levenshulme & Heaton Chapel: (BLN 1302.738) Online systems (still 'work in progress' in some
areas) now show four per hour SSuX from Manchester in the new May timetable to Stockport (then
Crewe, Hazel Grove, Alderley Edge and Buxton) but only three on Saturdays (compared with four most
of the day now). Going to Manchester there is still the reduction to three uneven services (SuX)
originating at Buxton, Crewe and Stoke. Sundays there are two per hour each way as there are now.
841] New Timetable News: The initial TPE loco-hauled services with Mk5 coaches are understood to
be: Diagram 1: Liverpool Lime Street 05.56, Scarborough 08.46, Liverpool 11.56, Scarborough 14.46,
Liverpool 17.56, Scarborough 20.50. Diagram 2: Liverpool 06.56, Scarborough 09.46, Liverpool 12.56,
Scarborough 15.46, Liverpool 18.56, Scarborough 21.46 (times SuX). Liverpool to Scarborough services
run via Chat Moss, Victoria and Stalybridge instead of Warrington Central (which loses TPE services as
does Birchwood), calling at Lea Green instead of Liverpool South Parkway (also losing TPE services).
However, this reduces the Manchester to Liverpool journey from 52 to 35 minutes. Wigan NW loses
all TPE services; TPE Anglo-Scottish trains run through non-stop ready for later diversion via Bolton.
There will be two TPE trains per hour all day both ways via the Ordsall Chords between Manchester
Airport and York/Middlesborough/Newcastle via Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge. Northern
trains using the chords are cut to a few odd ones, probably just to maintain crew route knowledge.
An interesting working is 05.36 SSuX Airport to Buckshaw Parkway reversing at Victoria (06.00/
06.05). The others are 08.00 (SSuX) Buxton to Manchester Victoria and 23.10 (SSuX) Wilmslow to
Victoria (DMU) via Airport calling at Burnage; SO it leaves Wilmslow 23.20, avoids the airport but still
calls at Burnage! Northern services in the other direction via Ordsall Chords consist of just 06.03 (SuX)
Victoria to Airport with no Sunday Northern trains in either direction. However, from December their
Leeds Calder Valley services are due to be extended from Victoria to the Airport via Oxford Road.
842] Bootle: The Lancashire & Yorkshire branch to Bankfield Goods, down from Strand Road Jn
(on the Southport line, near Marsh Lane and Strand Road station - now Bootle New Strand), wound its
way underneath Derby Rd near to its junction with Bankfield St/Bankhall St. This bridge has long been
demarcated by two long, original looking blue/grey brick and stone parapet walls one each side of
Derby Rd, indicating that tracks had already begun to spread out for the goods yard before passing
under the bridge. The triangular plot on the northeast (landward side) of the bridge, where tracks
came together to take the branch into the first of three short tunnels on the branch has long been
infilled. The site of the goods yard on the southwest (river side) of the road is now used for other
industrial purposes. The association of the area with the railway has been recognised by the placing of
a small industrial locomotive in a paved area mocked up to look like railway lines.
As part of the general widening of parts of Derby Rd/Great Howard St to form a dual carriage way into
the city from Peel Ports Seaforth deep water port development, a start has been made building a new
modern brick wall a metre or so behind the parapet on the northeast side. Several stretches of the
original wall have succumbed and it cannot be long before it will have been entirely removed. There
seems no immediate need to remove the similar wall on the river side so its future seems assured.
Another small piece of Liverpool's once immense and impressive dock railway system vanishing.
843] Blackpool North: An hourly Northern train service to/from Preston was timetabled from
reopening on Mon 16 Apr supplemented by two fast and two stopping buses. This is shown as
continuing until at least 4 May and is due to drivers needing to learn electric traction and the route
after all the changes and not least a Northern overtime ban. In fact 'due to route knowledge problems'
allegedly, there have been many cancellations even of this hourly service. Virgin Trains 16.33 (SSuX)
'125mph DMU' from Euston now calls at Kirkham & Wesham and Poulton-le-Fylde reaching Blackpool
North P2 19.34, it then runs ECS to Barton-under-Needwood (there is no equivalent Up service).
However from 21 May there are Virgin departures from Blackpool North SSuX at 05.30 (DMU to
Crewe calling at Poulton and Kirkham, the stock is ECS from Crewe) and Class 390s at 10.53, 13.02 &
15.00 (non-stop to Preston) reaching Euston in less than three hours. Of note the Crewe train is
booked P2 and the others P1.There are four Down services from Euston (SSuX) 06.46, 08.53, 10.36 &
16.33 all in less than three hours including the stops on the 16.33 DMU which is accelerated. This
suggests that the problem of serving short platforms with Pendolinos may not yet be resolved. The
hourly Blackpool South services run through to Colne again.
1303 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH (Julian James) [email protected]
844] Gatwick Airport: A planning application has been made for work from 2019 for completion in
2022 to reduce crowding and improve airport terminal connections. At platform level this includes
widening P5 & P6 island. Eight new escalators, five new lifts and four new stairways are proposed.
ABOVE: The pseudo-signal box dwelling at Southbourne station from the level crossing, 15 Aug 2008.
Do people knock on the door to ask how the trains are running perhaps? ©Copyright Ben Brooksbank
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence .
845] Nutbourne: At Southbourne a signal box style house with a brick lower floor was built behind Up
P1 next to the level crossing prior to 2008. Now a neighbour has built a similar structure at Nutbourne
with 'boarding' throughout, probably plastic. It is on the Down side, not on railway land, facing the line
and bearing the name 'Nutbourne' on a replica plate. The Chichester Observer reported that despite
the disapproval of officers, councillors on the district planning committee voted overwhelmingly in
favour of the home on Broad Road as an innovative addition to the area. The existing property had not
been lived in for around 40 years and was outside agreed development boundaries, but the parish
council told the committee that the existing former railway building was an 'eyesore'. Some councillors
were worried about the development setting a precedent for future appeals against rejected proposals
outside a settlement area. Noise from trains was a concern, but councillors considered this would be
part of the attraction in this case. [Those of us who chose to live next to a railway would agree - Ed.]
846] Folkestone Harbour: (BLN 1276.553) Kentlive has 17 interesting photos https://goo.gl/9jPfyg of
the completed renovation of the station as an attractive public open space. They report that the
scenes at Folkestone Harbour station couldn't be more different than just four years ago. This includes
the painstaking restoration of an artwork and the planting of flower beds. Work on repairing and
reconstructing the previously dilapidated platforms and canopies began last year. The station has been
renovated to complete a network of footpaths and walkways in and around the harbour and seafront.
It is part of Roger De Haan's Folkestone Harbour Company's regeneration of the seafront which was
granted permission in 2013. The attractive cream and green paintwork, smart platform and gleaming
freshly-painted walkways and walls along with attractive stonework and beds are a welcome upgrade
to the peeling paint, litter and weeds. Comprehensive repairs of the platforms have been carried out
and modern services, walls, iron and glasswork installed. The former trackbed has been resurfaced to
provide a level walking surface, with original rails embedded to indicate the site's railway history.
847] Ashford International: (BLN 1298.257) On 3 April The first Eurostar e320 train called following
upgrade work to equip the station for the trains. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was present for
the arrival of the Siemens Class 374 forming the 14.55 service to Paris after completion of the £10M
Ashford Spurs project. This included the installation of new ERTMS signalling and adaptation of
Ashford's international platforms for the new trains. The project was delivered by Network Rail.
848] South Western Dec Timetable: (BLN 1291.2151) Of the significant changes proposed in the SWR
timetable consultation, reduction of through London to Weymouth services to one an hour has been
dropped. The extended Portsmouth Harbour service will now terminate at Bournemouth. Up Bay P1
(suitable for single SWR Class 450 use) has been very rusty since the hourly Brighton to Bournemouth
service was cut back to Southampton Central (generally P2a). Weybridge services continue to run via
Hounslow; Camberley has more peak through trains and trains will divide all day at Southampton.
1303 SOUTH EAST - NORTH & EAST ANGLIA (Julian James) [email protected]
849] Felixstowe: (BLN 1301.556) The collision was on the single line at Routes No8 level crossing
between Derby Road and Trimley stations. Early NR statements timed it at about 20.20 on 14 Mar.
British Transport Police (BTP) attended alongside medics from the East of England Ambulance Service
NHS Trust. A BTP spokesman said the car driver, believed to be in his 30s, sustained 'life-changing
injuries'. The BTP spokesman said the incident was not being treated as suspicious. The crossing is
opposite the Miller and Carter restaurant in Felixstowe Rd, and leads to the Orwell Crossing Lorry Park.
It is manually operated with red and green lights and a push button to open the gates. (Ipswich Star)
850] Sizewell: A good number of our members were on 'The Mayflower' on Sun 15 Apr run by Charity
Railtours. It reached Sizewell Level Crossing, (TM 4554 6251) on King George's Ave, the last of many
on the branch at 95m 79ch (from London Liverpool Street). This is the Network Rail boundary, 4m 39ch
from Saxmundham Jn. The end of line (TM 4585 6219) at a large concrete apron is 473yd further on
through the disused nuclear flask terminal with its overhead crane. Each part has a separate run round
loop off the line. The previous railtour here was 21 Jul 2007, UK Railtours 'Suffolk Latch'.
Sizewell 'A' Magnox Station once received fuel rods by rail and sent out spent rods for recycling and
disposal but ceased generating Dec 2006; the final nuclear flask train left 26 Jan 2015. Sizewell 'B' is a
pressurised water reactor type, still generating, but only electricity not rail traffic (waste is retained).
The recent tour was reportedly the first train of any type for about 17 months on the branch. It has
jointed track, is in good condition and at times the run was quite fast (with stops to operate some of
the level crossings, mostly with small single high traditional wooden gates). A large number of locals
turned out to see and photograph the train - some Leiston inhabitants even went to Colchester
especially to travel on the railtour to … Leiston/Sizewell and back again to Colchester, then to Leiston!
The East Suffolk line is controlled from Saxmundham signal box (fringing with Colchester, Ipswich
panel and, until the current resignalling is completed, Oulton Broad North box). This is by track circuit
block with detection by axle counters and replaced Radio Electronic Token Block working in Oct 2012.
ABOVE: 1958 One Inch 7th Series map, the light green spot is the NR Boundary and the pink spot
the present end of line, fortunately the whole branch fits across the BLN page size well.
The Sizewell branch is operated under train staff & ticket regulations with a divisible train staff. In
addition to the train staff section, there are two segments of it which can be unscrewed known as 'the
tickets'. If more than one train needs to run on the branch, in the same direction of travel, the first
driver is issued with segment 1 of the staff. He is also shown the main staff (and segment 2) out of the
staff machine which proves to him that no train can be on the single line section ahead. Stop boards
exist at the end of the branch and once the (complete) first train has arrived within the protection of
the stop board, the signaller will be advised accordingly. He can then repeat the process using segment
2 for a second train. The last train to proceed in that direction will take the train staff itself (with or
without the other two segments attached accordingly). Once the whole train staff is at the end of the
branch, trains can then start to return back to Saxmundham using the same process.
851] Bishops Stortford: (BLN 1299.379) The City IT worker who lost both his legs when he fell under a
train has failed in his £2M compensation bid after a court ruled he must have heard 'Mind the Gap'
warnings. Matthew Robinson (age 34) slipped down the gap between the platforms and the track at
Bishops Stortford station after he had accidentally left his £3,000 season ticket on board. He dashed
back to the Stansted Express as it was leaving the station, in November 2013, to try to retrieve the
ticket, but fell from the platform while peering into the train windows. Mr Robinson, who needed a
double amputation after his legs were crushed by the train, sued train operator Abellio Greater Anglia
Ltd for £1.9M in damages, claiming not enough was done to ensure safety at the station.
However, Judge Martin McKenna has ruled that Mr Robinson was mostly to blame for the accident
and the train firm had taken steps to minimise risk to passengers. While there is no doubt that as a
result of the accident, (he) sustained very severe and life changing injuries, the fact is that he is an adult
who used the station on a daily basis, said the judge. He would have heard the 'Mind the Gap'
announcements on numerous occasions and was well aware that there was a significant gap between
the train and the platform edge. Despite that fact, no doubt because he was stressed and agitated and
anxious to recover his season ticket, he chose to place himself in a position of very real danger as the
train was leaving the station. During the civil trial, station staff testified there is a 'significant' gap at
the station, but said the number of falls is 'vanishingly' small. The judge found Abellio had complied
with industry standards and the driver carried out safety checks before departing. (Evening Standard)
1303 SOUTH WEST (Darren Garnon) [email protected]
852] Feeling a bit Down? - Get on the Up! During the 21/22 Apr weekend all trains to Gunnislake used
the Up Main from Plymouth to St Budeaux Jn (no rare track but unusual). This was, of course, due to
commissioning and testing of the new signals between Menheniot and Bodmin Parkway - naturally‽‽
No trains ran between Plymouth and Par but the Looe branch did run in splendid isolation.
853] Mini-HST: (BLN 1302.762) There is one set at present 'GW01', diagrammed for staff training and
familiarisation. When it is not available, the diagram was/is covered by a DMU or cancelled. The train
normally runs with a power car each end and four coaches, but there have been problems with the
roof mounted water tanks so it has run with three coaches. A second set is expected in December.
854] Swindon: (BLN 1302.760) Details have emerged of the remodelling of Cocklebury Sidings (on the
Up side just east of the station) to accommodate up to 36 EMUs (9x4 car trains). All four sidings of
Network Rail's electrification depot and the main line interface are to be electrified with an
independent overhead electrical feed at Swindon Jn. Siding 3 will be extended from 166m to 186m.
No signalling alterations are required and they will remain a 'Network Facility' (as opposed to a Train
Operating Company depot). Trackside walkways and lighting will be provided. More EMU stabling
sidings generally are required in the Thames Valley area due to the need to vacate the Old Oak
Common site for HS2 construction. Didcot Yard was considered but there is no suitable road access.
855] Bristol Harbour Railway: (MR p6) (BLN 1276.489) 17 Mar was the 40th anniversary of the opening
of this heritage line. Originally called the 'Henbury Locomotive Group' a steam hauled brake van trip
operated over the Wapping Wharf dock lines for the first time in 1978 running a short distance up and
back from the Industrial Museum now known as the 'M' Shed. It was extended (after the last inward
domestic coal train to Wapping Wharf on 11 May 1987) to Ashton Meadow sidings - 1½ miles - in April
1995 this was cut back from 31 Aug 2015 to Avon Crescent to make way for the new Metro-bus public
transport project and due to problems with the River Avon bank. (Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society).
856] Temple Meads Crossed Out: (BLN 1299.332) NR has successfully completed its biggest ever
resignalling project. Bristol Area Signalling Renewal Stage 4, during the five day Easter line closures,
with services resuming as planned on Wed 4 Apr. This was part of a £130M project, with over 500
people commissioning 500 separate new pieces of equipment removing 1970's analogue signalling and
replacing it with digital equipment. Filton Bank (see BLN 1303.702) where requadrupling is in progress
is now controlled by Thames Valley Signalling Centre (Stoke Gifford and Temple Meads Work Stations).
A notable change was the removal of the .X. St Andrew's Crosses between odd & even numbered
platforms sharing the same platform face at Temple Meads (P3/4 to P11/12). Generally, the length of
the odd numbered platform (north) has been extended, perhaps to allow 10-car IETS to reverse, and
trains now proceed right to the signal rather than stopping short as previously. There are signs
displayed warning passengers that stopping points on platforms may now be different. Since 4 April
there has been an operating speed restriction on the Temple Meads through platforms (3 to 12) of
10mph for all trains (notably slower than before due to the permissive working of trains that can vary
from one coach to 10). From 13 April drivers could depart at 25mph before their train reached the
25mph permissible speed indicator at the far end of the platform where their company allowed it.
857] Filton requadrupling: Heading south, visible progress on the ground since Easter has been laying
of two ranks of sleepers on a prepared ballast bed for the 'new' lines south of Filton on the west
(Up Filton) side. The formation has been widened towards where the existing tracks will slew across
and the less well developed new formation takes up the east (Down Filton) side. The bridge span to be
positioned over the actual Stapleton Road has arrived and work on its parapets proceeds. This swap
over of new formation from west side to east side (heading south) is necessary because tracks through
Filton Abbey Wood P1 and P2 are on the other side of the formation to Stapleton Road platforms.
858] Dilton Marsh (BLN 1302.763) A member set out to see if Down P2 is being extended as well as Up
P1. On 11 Apr, he travelled from Westbury to Warminster and left his accustomed six-foot side (off
side) seat, asking an aisle passenger to move, and pretended to go to the loo to view P2, with the
conductor asking our member if he was 'all right'! Both platforms are being extensively rebuilt with
slight extensions. New wood bases will avoid increased ground loading over the previous construction.
859] Trowbridge: At the Westbury end the Down five-car P1 (towards Bath) has been extended, by
about 20m. Construction is complete to surface level but awaits fencing. P2 is already longer at 7 cars.
1303 WEST MIDLANDS (Brian Schindler) [email protected]
X.53] ABOVE: Sat 21 Apr 2018 the 14.30 Castle Bromwich to Southampton Eastern Docks heading
south on the Up Main (middle line) at Leamington Spa. In the 1970s there were more MGR coal trains,
virtually hourly, from here to Didcot (Power Station) than passenger trains to Didcot. (Richard Putley)
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Also on Sat 21 Apr an all green GWR HST roars through Leamington Spa on
the Down Main (middle line) with an OkeRail charter from Okehampton, Crediton and Exeter St
Davids (to Oxford) and Stratford-upon-Avon promoting reopening of the Okehampton line. Standard
Class return was only £47.50 adult. The ECS returned to Oxford for refueling and servicing. Far left is
bay P4 which will be used by most of the West Midlands Railway Kenilworth and Coventry shuttles
from 30 April. ABOVE: The ECS returns from Oxford at Stratford-upon-Avon P1. BELOW: Saphos Tour
headed by D1934/44 on the Up Main Line. NEXT PAGE UPPER: A Marylebone train. (All Richard Putley)
860] Worcestershire Parkway: (BLN 1300.490) One 265m high level platform is to be provided on the
Up side of the North Cotswold Line at about 116m 59ch from London Paddington and two low level
platforms each also 265m on the Birmingham to Gloucester line at about 68m 08ch (from Derby).
On the low level passive provision was made for the station in the Bromsgrove resignalling although a
minor track cant adjustment is needed to align with the new platform faces. On the high level there
will be a track slew, reballast and replacement of rails to align with the new platform. Extensive
modelling suggests that trains calling at the station will not affect performance (something the
Cotswold Line Promotion Group has concerns about) on either line, even after Bromsgrove
electrification. All Cotswold Line trains are expected to call and, at the low level, the hourly
Nottingham to Cardiff service (one reason CrossCountry wish to stop serving Bromsgrove with their
peak trains). The Benefit Cost Ratio is put at 3.7, a good level; a net gain of £40M revenue to the rail
industry is predicted over 20 years. The station is expected to result in a car mileage reduction of 6M
km per year by 2031.
861] Worcester: On the afternoon of 11 Apr the NR New Measurement Train (the yellow HST) on its
way from Swansea to Derby made an unexpected trip from Worcester Shrub Hill to Malvern Wells
and back to Droitwich Spa. It was unexpected because the routine inspection of the line which
happens every 6-8 weeks or so had been made the previous day. En route to Malvern the train made
an unbooked 20 minute stop at Henwick box after when the single line between Worcester Shrub Hill
and Foregate Street (which it covered the previous day in the opposite direction) was closed at 16.19.
The train had detected cyclic top on the single line between the stations (121m 03ch to 121m 05ch)
and 'track gauge exceedance' (121m 12ch to 121m 14ch) in Foregate Street P1. Your Editor had
travelled the line in that direction on a HST just a few hours earlier and the ride seemed as normal in
retrospect. There was inevitably disruption for the rest of the day, although a service with road
connections was provided including widespread unrestricted ticket availability on different TOCs
between London/Reading and Worcester to Hereford via Birmingham, Bristol Parkway, Newport,
Euston to Birmingham (the recommended London to Worcester Foregate Street route) and London
Underground (Paddington to Euston)! (It only takes 10 minutes to walk between the Worcester
stations although many able bodied passengers don't, preferring instead to wait for a connection!)
After Pandrol clips and rail spikes were replaced, tie bars installed between sleepers and gauge stops,
the line reopened at normal speed the next morning. The incident demonstrating the benefit of these
Measurement Trains, preventing a possible derailment, was handled promptly and efficiently. More
monitoring equipment is now being fitted to service trains and this may replace NR's yellow fleet.
X.54 Telford Central: (BLN 1298.275) NEXT PAGE: The megalithic structure that is just part of the new
pedestrian footbridge taking shape recently and will dwarf the station when finished. Perhaps
Gulliver's World is planning to open nearby and it will be part of Gulliver's commute. (Brian Schindler)
862] New stations: The government is to consider plans for re-opening three Birmingham stations that
have not had timetabled passenger trains since WWII. On a recent visit to Moseley the Transport
Secretary said that the DfT would study the proposals for services on the Camp Hill Line at ●Moseley,
●Hazelwell and ●Kings Heath stations. These have been put forward by West Midlands Combined
Authority and Transport for the West Midlands. The Kings Norton to St Andrews Jn line is now used by
CrossCountry, a few West Midlands Railway (WMR) services, ECS and freight. West Midlands Trains is
working on a business case, due to be completed by this summer. With further infrastructure
investment and local funding identified, the stations could be open by 2020, but it is thought the first
Bordesley chord is not included. The stations were in NR's 2017 West Midlands & Chiltern Route Study.
863] Other stations under investigation in the area are ●Willenhall & ●Darlaston on the direct Walsall
to Wolverhampton route, a station at ●Merry Hill Shopping Centre (presumably served by a branch
from Stourbridge Jn via the former Walsall line), there is mention of a Metro stop too although one is
included on the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension. Finally is a station for ●West Midlands Safari
Park near Bewdley, (some WMR Kidderminster services would run over the Severn Valley Railway to
Bewdley). Plans to extend Walsall terminators to Aldridge on the Sutton Park Line have gone quiet.
864] Soho: On 16 Apr the 07.27 Birmingham New St to Shrewsbury West Midlands Railway (WMR)
service halted at Soho South Jn due to an engine oil leak and fire. The engine was shut down and the
train continued back to New Street on round the circle via Perry Barr West Jn to South Jn PSUL curve.
Surprisingly it ran non-stop to New Street P5b where passengers could quickly transfer to the 08.05
service on adjacent P4C. Our member was impressed by this co-operation between WMR and NR.
865] Midland Metro: Tram 18 ran 29 km on its new battery in Feb. Since the batteries are in the roof
space it has a higher centre of gravity so the suspension has been altered. The rest of the fleet will
have batteries fitted at Wednesbury Depot over 18 months. Until they are needed for running over the
unwired extensions the plan is to use them in service between Handsworth Booth Street and Soho
Benson Road to maintain driving competence and keep the equipment in running order. It was chosen
as there is a gradient to the elevated section over Queens Head sidings. The Brierley Hill extension is
to open in two phases: ●Wednesbury to Dudley in 2022 and ●Dudley to Brierley Hill in 2023. On the
Wolverhampton station extension Piper's Row road surface is being removed past the Bus station.
866] Sharpness Branch: (item 911) Berkeley Power Station closed 1989 and was the first commercial
(as opposed to experimental) nuclear plant to be decommissioned, the fuel rods were removed by
1992 and its last train of radioactive material left in 2010. It is now 'sealed' for 64 years while residual
radioactivity decays to allow final site clear up. Nearby Oldbury Power Station shut in Feb 2012 and
the final nuclear power station flask train ran from Berkeley terminal on the Sharpness branch (where
trains still go to run round) on 8 Mar 2016. Metal containers with low level hospital radioactive waste
sealed in special cement grout are now loaded at Berkeley. They are quite heavy and are taken by rail
to Sellafield for storage (50 containers a year) leaving Berkeley Thursday lunchtimes most weeks but it
keeps the branch 'active'. Since 8 Mar pairs of Class 68 locos have worked them instead of Class 37s.
867] Washwood Heath - HS2 coming: The Down Through Siding (covered by our 'Greendale Rocket'
railtour), is OOU rusty, but still connected. The hired Class 08 shunter which shunted the Recess
Sidings has gone, the sleeper factory is believed to be closed (a new one is planned for Bescot Down
side but the local NIMBYs are up in arms) and the sidings are devoid of engineering trains although
there are some piles of sleepers awaiting transport. Stone trains are still using the unloading facility,
70804 was seen with a train of hoppers on the evening of 18 Apr. The single track access to Heartlands
Park (ex-Metro Cammell Works) is blocked just inside the gate by spoil/rubble piled across the track.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER: Wed 25 Apr 2018 with 37219 leaving Worcester heading west on a trip to
Hereford and back, passing the new Henwick Turn Back Siding (which is still out of use). This was part
of a Bescot Down Side (07.53) to Bescot Down Side (15.31) itinerary that also reached Gloucester.
The infra red gauge checking equipment can be seen on the loco. (Brian Thomas)
868] Wolverhampton: Country end bay P6 is blocked to electric traction 15 Apr 2018 to 18 Mar 2019
(not that you ever see any in there) in connection with the station rebuilding. On 10 April the 13.30
ATW Aberystwyth/11.37 Pwllheli to Birmingham International terminated in P3 at 17.00 as it was 50
minutes late, but was due out at 17.45 to Llandudno (the train it normally forms from Birmingham
International) and was announced as, and used (according to RTT), P6 which was relatively unusual.
869] Wolverhampton Steel terminal: (BLN 1302.769) On 11 Apr the early morning steel train from
Immingham was using the curve that formerly led to the Birmingham Canal Monmore Green
transshipment and British Oxygen sidings (some readers may not be aware that oxygen and other
forms of gas used to travel by rail!). It ran right up to the large sturdy concrete block (the stop block -
it certainly would too!) just short of the bridge under the main line left of the steel terminal loop.
This shunting was presumably due to loss of the former sidings. The right hand line, beyond that loop,
continues under the railway bridge to a more conventional end of line stop block (0m 32ch) where the
track is well buried. Work on the new terminal building foundations continues apace, it will be as long
as the existing building, covers the area of the recently lifted sidings, and there will be two parallel
tracks into it on the side furthest away from the main line embankment. On 18 Apr, the morning steel
train was parked in the new siding next to the existing terminal, with its Class 60 on the concrete pad;
'men in orange' were examining the wheels. This was the first noted use of the new concrete pad and
siding. It will be interesting to see what the UK Railtour 'Walsall Concerto' does here on 11 August.
1303 YORKSHIRE & NORTH HUMBERSHIDE (Graeme Jolley; Geoff Blyth for North & East Yorks)
870] Sheffield Tram Train: Connection of the OHLE between the Supertram and NR lines was to take
place between Friday 20th and Monday 23 Apr, postponed from February as some components had
not been received in time. Supertram were also relaying track near Attercliffe. Over the four days all
Yellow route trams from Middlewood terminated at Cricket Inn Road with a replacement bus service
to Meadowhall from Fitzalan Square. On the Sunday the Purple route only ran between Herdings Park
and Cathedral with replacement buses at the standard tram frequency. https://goo.gl/2vgXhs has
pictures of the new OHLE, stops and more information - the work actually finished a day early!
The OHLE was to be regarded as live from 18 Apr (750V dc). This is: ●Tinsley North Jn (0m 0ch) south
to the OHLE Control Boundary (0m 20ch) with Supertram on the transfer line. ●Tinsley North Jn (2m
61ch) north to Parkgate Jn (5m 59ch) ●Parkgate Jn (0m 0ch) north to Parkgate Tram Transfer line. The
NR OHLE is controlled from York Electrical Control Room; NR rules and procedures apply. Supertram
OHLE is controlled by Supertram Nunnery Power Control. The transfer line is jointly electrically fed.
871] Northallerton: LEFT: An interesting 300yd
standard gauge line ('tramway' on some maps)
ran at right angles to the East Coast Main Line
just north of Wiske Moor, at 33m 60ch from
York and 2m 64ch north of Northallerton.
First appearing on a 1912 map, it ran west and
was used to move stores and fuel to a water
pumping station on the River Wiske supplying
Wiske Moor Water Troughs (installed about
1901). There was no ECML connection and it
was lifted in the 1970s; the route is discernible
and the pumping station building survives. Can
you spot it as you are whisked by on the ECML?
872] Dearne Diversions: (BLNs 1297.169 with map & 1298.283) The Mon 5 Apr 1965 date for diversion
of services away from the Swinton Jn - Mexborough No1 curve was incorrect. In the 14 Jun 1965 public
timetable* some trains ran via Swinton/Kilnhurst West ('W' in the timetable) so used the curve to
Mexborough No1. Of these only the 16.02 from Doncaster called at Kilnhurst West. On Sundays there
were Sheffield Midland to Doncaster (but not Sheffield Victoria to Doncaster) trains and none was
booked to call at Swinton. (*Available as a download with this e-BLN and on our website archive - note
how erratic and at time sparse the service was particularly compared with the 2018 timetable.)
There was no public supplement to the timetable until Sep 1965 (in which the calls were deleted) but
these trains were not diverted until Swinton Jn itself was disconnected. Oct 1965 'Modern Railways' &
BLNs 38/42 were therefore correct in saying: Since 26 July 1965 trains have been re-routed from the
Swinton Junction - Mexborough [No1] Jn spur… and this is the effective withdrawal date of passenger
service over that curve. The curve was disconnected on Sun 25 Jul but this would not have affected
these trains from the passenger's point of view as they were not booked to call at Swinton on Sundays.
In the 'Times' of 17 Feb 1965 the BR Board published a notice of its intention to withdraw passenger
services from the lines affected by the 'Aldwarke plan' under Section 54 of the Transport Act 1962.
The first notice under Section 56 of the Transport Act 1962, giving the proposed withdrawal date and
objections deadline, was in the 'South Yorkshire Times' (the Mexborough and Swinton local paper) of
31 Jul 1965, repeated on 7 Aug 1965. Objections had to be lodged within 6 weeks of 6 Aug 1965 - not
later than 17 Sept 1965. This notice did not include Woodburn Jn - Aldwarke Jn, which had appeared
in the original Section 54 notice. The sole purpose of the Transport Users Consultative Committee
procedure was to establish whether any hardship would result. While the notice was retrospective, it
would be hard to classify it as an 'illegal' closure as the notice declared that: The passenger train
services using these lines will continue to run over alternative routes. Had any 'hardship' been
established, it would have been up to the Minister to decide whether and how to alleviate it.
When Swinton Jn went, all Sheffield Midland - Doncaster trains had to go via the Aldwarke Jn South
(Midland) - Aldwarke Jn North (Great Central (GCR)) connection and Kilnhurst Central. In the mid-
1960s the Midland main line to Leeds was four track north of Rotherham Masborough; the Fast Lines
on the west side and the Slow Lines on the east. The Aldwarke scheme was primarily to improve access
for freight traffic to Tinsley Yard, so when it opened the crossovers connected the GCR lines only to
the Midland Slow Lines. All Sheffield Midland - Doncaster passenger trains therefore had to use the
Holmes Jn to Masborough Station South Signal Box connection then the Slow Lines to Aldwarke Jn.
873] Harrogate: The first Virgin east Coast Azuma bimodal train visited the spa late at night on 20 April
for platform tests, visiting P1 and P3 before going on to Shipley, Keighley and Skipton for similar tests.
874] Transpennine Route: At a Northern Powerhouse conference in Leeds, Transport Secretary Chris
Grayling recently announced that £3bn will be available to upgrade the route from the start of CP6 in
spring 2019. He expects NR to begin investing in an ambitious rolling programme of works on the
Manchester to Leeds and York route as soon as possible. NR has begun detailed designs and provided
options for the upgrade to meet the journey time, capacity and reliability objectives. This is a chance
to undertake phased work, although there are no details. The minister said he would work with local
authorities to maximise benefits, such as new stations and opportunities for housing development.
Your Regional Editor considers that the greatest benefit would be to increase the permitted speeds;
even the fastest trains average only 52.7mph between Manchester Victoria and Leeds, at best 49 min
for the 43 miles. The priority is to reduce this to 40 minutes. Electrification (perhaps a dirty word at the
DfT now) would enable faster acceleration particularly up gradients. Apparently the suggestion has
seriously been made that, to save money, only the tracks up a gradient should be electrified!
There are two locations where engineering work could produce a noticeable improvement in speed.
At Stalybridge Jn the Manchester Victoria line is 25mph restricted and the Guide Bridge line 50 mph.
A 45mph curve (18m 07ch to 18m 37ch) starting inside the Huddersfield end of Standedge tunnel and
continuing to Marsden station separates two faster sections. A new curve could be excavated.
There are also capacity issues. Leeds to Manchester was once effectively four tracks and is now almost
entirely two (but at the time of railway decline no one could have foreseen the later upsurge in rail
travel). There are now 6 trains per hour (tph) each way through Huddersfield, 5 fast and 1 slow; the
slow already creates pathing issues. Accelerating Transpennine trains or building new stations, thus
slowing down the local services, will exacerbate the problem. Conversely, reintroducing four track
sections could conflict with the wish to slew the tracks to achieve better alignments and higher speeds.
There are also pathing problems east of Leeds, with 8tph each way (6 fast and 2 slow) to Micklefield,
with no opportunity for overtaking. Micklefield Jn was realigned last year (BLN 1282.1161) in favour of
the more important York line (6tph). It might be possible to requadruple about 3½ miles between
Marsh Lane and Cross Gates. This would certainly be needed to further increase the local service and
run some King's Cross services via Hambleton South Curve - additional to its one SO and ECS workings.
875] HS2: The government has previously set out its preferred route for Phase 2b but was undecided
on parts of the alignment. The Transport Secretary has now confirmed that it will serve Sheffield
Midland instead of the previously favoured Meadowhall. This means that part of the newly built
Shimmer estate in Mexborough will have to be demolished. HS2 Ltd has been asked to take forward
the provision of a northern junction back on to HS2. This would facilitate a city centre to city centre
connection between Leeds and Sheffield of less than 30 minutes as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
876] Bradford Interchange: A £5.65M scheme to improve the main entrance is due to start in spring,
providing a new taxi rank, pick-up/drop-off area, extended pedestrian crossings and 'protection' for
pedestrians on the pavement. Due to be completed by the summer, it precedes major improvements:
A new frontage, better pedestrian access and improved facilities, scheduled to start in autumn 2019.
877] Goole Swing Bridge: (BLN 1302.771) https://goo.gl/krGE5T (aerial view). North east of Goole is
the Goole (or Skelton) Swing Bridge (5m 02ch - 5m 15ch), 830ft long, with five 5 spans each 116ft long
and 2 spans with the 250ft long moveable portion. It was formally 'opened' five months before the line
opened to rail traffic when it was the second largest double track swing railway bridge in the world.
The original intention was to route the line north of Goole further west via the town of Howden, with
a well placed station there, but this was frustrated by the refusal of a landowner to sell some land.
Originally, there was a signalbox each end of the bridge but in May 1933 the LNER abolished them,
installing a Westinghouse miniature thumb switch panel in the bridge control cabin (which became a
block post) as part of new colour light signalling between Goole and Staddlethorpe (now Gilberdyke).
The bridge has been struck several times by ships, two of which put it out of action for a considerable
time. On 21 Dec 1973 a German ship hit the central pier and then one of the columns supporting a
fixed span, which fell into the river, closing of the line between Goole and Staddlethorpe (renamed
Gilberdyke 7 Jan 1974 during this closure). Through trains were diverted via Selby and a local service
operated between Doncaster and Goole, with buses between Goole and Howden. A Dutch pontoon
crane was brought down from Middlesbrough to lift the span on to the river bank. While the line was
closed Goole Swing Bridge Signal Box was raised 2ft 6in providing clearance for future electrification!
The line ROA 5 Aug 1974. The Boothferry Road - Goole Swing Bridge - Saltmarshe block sections were
amalgamated to form a 3 mile single line Boothferry Road - Saltmarshe section, worked by electric
token. Goole Swing Bridge box remained open to control the bridge but was not then a block post.
Due to the restricted capacity, all Hull - King's Cross trains, all Sunday trains and some weekday trains
temporarily continued to run via Selby. A full service resumed on 7 Oct 1974, when normal double
track working was reinstated and Goole Swing Bridge SB became a block post again. BR served notice
of liability on the master of the ship and the owners but due to the strange quirks of maritime law was
able to recover only a few tens of thousands of the £1M cost. On 2 Aug 1976 a Danish vessel hit one of
the piers and put the bridge out of action again, but it appears for only a relatively short time.
In July 1983 BR began formal closure procedures for the Goole - Gilberdyke line due to costs quoted,
variously as £2M and £5M (now £6.3M - £15.7M) to repair the bridge, coupled with an historic failure
to obtain proper compensation for the damage caused by shipping and a lack of any other funding.
The notice of closure under Section 54 of the Transport Act 1962 (advance notice of plans for the
discontinuance of a service) was published on 1 Dec 1983 and Hull City Council announced that it
would be a 'major objector'. The notice of closure under Section 56 of the Transport Act 1962 (to be
placed in two successive weeks in two local newspapers circulating in the area affected and giving the
proposed closure date) was published soon afterwards. However, the chairman of Humberside
Transport and Planning Committee pointed out that, because the Central Transport Users Consultative
Committee (TUCC) would be processing the Settle & Carlisle* line closure proposal it would probably
be 1985 before they could even start looking at the Goole to Gilberdyke proposal [clever tactic!].
Later in 1984 Humberside County Council offered BR £400k towards the cost of repairs; BR demanded
£1.1M, half the total cost. By early 1985, the TUCC closure hearing was scheduled for May and BR had
softened its stance by suggesting that the £1.1M could be paid over 5 years. In April 1985 the closure
proposal was officially withdrawn following a ceremony at Goole station, where the council leader
handed the BR Eastern Region General Manager a locomotive-shaped cheque for £800k as the
contribution to the £2M cost of the repairs. In 1987 the bridge was Grade II* listed by English Heritage.
On 23 Nov 1988 one of the fixed spans was pushed out of alignment when hit by a Swedish vessel.
The line RO 25 Sep 1989. By the early 2000s, due to girder weakness and corrosion, the permitted
speed on the bridge was reduced to 60 mph for passenger trains and 10 mph for other trains with a
Route Availability of 9 (an axle load above 22.8 tonnes) or more. A £6M modernisation programme
began in 2009. Services to the central pier were routed through piping in the river bed; the steelwork
was repaired and upgraded during a six week line closure starting in Oct 2010 with diagonal transverse
braces and stiffening of the girders of the web; the track was renewed and the bridge painted.
[*The Settle & Carlisle closure proposal was by far the most contentious, over 40,000 people objected
and famously one dog; the exact opposite of poor old Pelaw to Washington with none (BLN
1301.595). They included local people, enthusiasts from all over the country, and influential bodies
such as English Heritage, BLS members and the Ramblers Association. The public inquiry was expected
to last a long time. Apparently Michael Portillo claims some credit for persuading Mrs Thatcher to bow
to public pressure. Your current BLN Editor did write to her as well - and even received a reply. The
writer thinks that the line running through the normally safe Conservative constituency of Penrith and
The Border, which they almost lost in a July 1983 by-election, may have been relevant!]
1303 IRELAND (Martin Baumann) [email protected]
878] : PAGE BELOW: With grateful thanks to our member Michael Walsh the respected Editor
of the Irish Railway Record Society Journal, his original plan from that publication. This shows how the
Green Line extension between Broombridge and Grangegorman follows the Midland Great Western
Railway Broadstone line (if you were not able to do that). It closed to passengers from 18 Jan 1937.
880] Birdhill: Some semaphore signals have recently been renewed at the station on the Ballybrophy
to Killonan Jn (Limerick) line threatened with closure as IR's biggest money loser - €762 per passenger
journey. Both sides of the loop are bidirectional but there are no regular crossing movements.
Down (to Ballybrophy) Home Signal No7 controlling movements to the Up platform and Down
Home Signal No5 for movements to the Down platform, previously fixed to a shared signal post at the
Nenagh end of Birdhill station were renewed on separate adjacent signal posts, in similar positions.
Up Home Signal No23 that controls movements to the Up platform and Up Home Signal No18 that
controls movements to the Down platform, previously fixed to a shared post at the Castleconnell end
of Birdhill Station were renewed on separate signal posts, in similar positions, next to each other.
Up (to Limerick) Starting Signal No21 from the Up Platform and Up Starting Signal No20 from the
Down Platform, located at the Nenagh end of the Station were moved 20m south, nearer Killonan Jn.
ABOVE: the frontage of Dublin Broadstone station on 24 Jul 2007. BELOW: On 4 Apr 1979 passing
Liffey Jn and the former Broadstone line (from a train to Dublin Connolly). (Both Angus McDougall)
879] Limerick Junction: Irish Rail has submitted a planning application to Tipperary County Council
(yes, it was a long way to take it in) for a new 240m Down platform at Limerick Junction. It would
remove the constraints and speed restrictions associated with the current single platform which caters
for all Dublin to Cork/Kerry services in both directions and a few through Dublin to Limerick trains also
reverse in it to call at the station. A new footbridge with high capacity lifts is included. Improved
journey times of up to five minutes for Dublin to Cork/Kerry services, and of up to 11 minutes for
Limerick to Cork/Dublin services due to improved connections will be delivered, thecompany hopes.
It is hoped that subject to planning permission, the €3.5M project (excellent value compared with
what can be done in the UK for that nowadays) will be complete by mid 2019. Those who hanker after
the days when loco-hauled trains at Limerick Junction traditionally went in and out backwards (hence
the 'reversing sidings' on Quail Vol 6 P4A Feb 2004) will be disappointed.
The connections from the Dublin to Cork Down line to/from present P1 would (presumably) become
much more difficult to do. The point about speeding up Dublin - Limerick connections is hard to
understand as with cross-platform interchange they are 3-4 minutes now (and are held if necessary).
Of note Limerick Junction, which is in the middle of nowhere really, but is a major interchange and
significant 'railhead', is staffed SuX 05.50-23.30; SuO 08.30-23.30. The booking office is open SSuX
06.45-18.00; SO 06.45-12.30 & 13.30-16.45 and even SuO 08.30-11.30, 12.30-14.30 & 15.30-20.00.
As for quite a few Irish Rail stations, telephone numbers are even available to ring the station directly!
881] Single Minded? On Sat 21 Apr there was single line working on the Up line between Laois
Traincare Depot facing crossover and Ballybrophy trailing crossover for ballast cleaning/upgrading.
882] Londonderry: (BLN 1301.640) On 11 Apr Translink was granted planning permission for their
proposals. Work is due to start in about three months when existing P2 closes but may be delayed as
the scheme's opponents had said they would seek a judicial review if planning permission was granted.
883] Belfast not Central: Although the STUPID name change is not supposed to happen until December
I picked up a reissued paper timetable today (20 Apr) and Belfast Central station was shown as
'Lanyon Place'. (Readers may have gathered that, like many, our esteemed Ireland Regional Editor is
not too enamoured with this idea.) There is a school of thought that they might want to rename Great
Victoria Street 'Central' when/if it is redeveloped and the Dublin Enterprise services are diverted there.
BELOW: Part of the new timetable (Martin Baumann). The new name sounds rather like
some sort of American soap opera https://goo.gl/aS3LBR to your BLN Editor.
884] Portrush: In a reversal of the modern trend, as part of the station refurbishment, the buffers on
P1 and very rare P2 are proposed to be moved by 7m actually lengthening the line. This would restore
the position to that before they were moved in Jun 1996 (P1) and May 2002 (P2). However, those who
did the line before July 1972 when it was first shortened by two chains won't need to rush to revisit.
PREVIOUS PAGE UPPER: The exterior of Portrush station on 26 May 1980 (Angus McDougall)
885] Ballybrophy: The 7 Apr RPSI 'Branchline Explorer' tour from Dublin Connolly ran to Waterford via
Lavistown North to South Jn curve then on to Limerick. It then ran via Birdhill to Ballybrophy. There
passengers were permitted to stay on the train while it propelled from the Limerick Bay (P1) on to the
Up main. The tour crossed to the Down main by the trailing crossover at the Dublin end of Ballybrophy
and ran to Thurles Down Loop. [Loco-hauled tours at Ballybrophy are something of a lottery as to
whether passengers are permitted to stay on the train to/from the branch. It seems to depend on the
attitude of the inspector and drivers on duty.] https://goo.gl/JXU8Xb has 183 captioned tour pictures.
PREVIOUS PAGE LOWER & BELOW: The 7 Apr RPSI 'Branchline Explorer' railtour at Limerick which has
changed considerably since June 2017 resignalling, straightening out P4 - on the right above and also
buffer repositioning. This has shortened all four platform tracks by about 20m. (Martin Baumann)
NEXT PAGE UPPER: The tour in Ballybrophy bay P3 after arriving from Limerick via Birdhill and before
propelling out ahead (towards Dublin) to take the facing crossover shown back. As can be seen Up P1,
which is unidirectional, is on the left. For the record bidirectional P2 is just in view on the far right the
island, with bidirectional P4 the far side out of view - both these are through platforms. (John Lloyd)
1303 ISLE OF MAN (Graeme Jolley) [email protected]
886] Diesel Loco 21 (The 'Cabbage'): The IOM press has reported that the repaired bogies are back.
The loco (from the USA) cost £420k new and so far £246k has been spent on specialist examination
(£17k) new bogie springs, brake cylinders and bearings (£41.8k) and overhaul and upgrade to the
bogies (£188k). It is not known when/if it will be back in service but repairs are planned during the
summer. Your IOM Regional Editor feels that staff will be fully occupied keeping the steam locos going.
887] Horse Tramway: (BLN 1298.291) The latest plan is to demolish Strathallan Depot and rebuild it to
a new design closely replicating the original 1902 building. It would provide a modern environment to
store and maintain the trams, with first floor offices and staff welfare facilities. Permanent way staff
will also move there in 2021 when the temporary planning permission for their current depot expires.
The new design, costing at least £1.5M, is said to complement the heritage status of the tramway and
enhance the Douglas Promenade Conservation Area. Two thirds of the area would 'stable' 13 horse
cars. Enhanced passenger facilities include an indoor ticket sales area and public toilets with space for
development, perhaps a café. Until then the area will temporarily house five MER cars! The application
will be considered and if approved work might start later this summer (or not, it is the IOM of course!).
1303 SCOTLAND (Mike McCabe) [email protected]
888] Edinburgh Waverley: A footbridge between Calton Rd and East Market St could be reinstated to
help cope with the expected 66% passenger growth over the next six years. It opened in the 1890s
during the eastern expansion of the station but was shut in 1958. The 200m bridge, built into the roof,
originally extended over East Market St to Jeffrey St. The deck was removed as part of the 2009 roof
revamp, but the higher section of the roof, to accommodate it, is still visible. NR says that, subject to a
business case and funding, the possibility of creating an access over the station could be considered.
ABOVE: "15,356 … 15,357 … 15,358 … well they did say we would be working on line blocks ….."
Note the 'monorail' system on the right for transporting the blocks. (Press Release)
889] Forth Bridge: Amey who operate the road bridges, has completed an unusual project filling in a
disused railway tunnel under the A9000 and B981 approach roads north of the First Forth Road Bridge.
It is on the Dunfermline to North Queensferry (and Rosyth Dockyard) line, linking to the river ferry
service until the Forth Rail Bridge opened in 1890. It continued in limited freight use until 1954.
The tunnel 420m long, 4.3m wide and 5.1m high, has a vaulted roof and brick lining. Both ends were
sealed off and the adjacent cuttings filled in, so the only means of access was via a vertical shaft each
end. A structural inspection in Feb 2016 found that parts of the tunnel were degrading and needing
maintenance to ensure structural integrity. Due to the limited depth of cover above the tunnel, a
failure could affect the roads overhead. Two options were considered: ❶A programme of inspection
and maintenance. ❷To fill in the tunnel with a low cost material. The latter was chosen as it would be
more cost effective long term with no more inspections or maintenance then needed ('fill and forget').
The tunnel has been filled with 21,342 expanded polystyrene (EPS) blocks pre-cut to size and able to
resist the weight of rock and tunnel lining in the event of a localised failure. Unlike aggregate or
concrete, EPS blocks can be easily removed if the tunnel needs to be reopened. A specially designed
sliding monorail system was used to transport the blocks from the access shaft (no you can't ride on it,
Kev!). The work finished in late March and the access shafts were then sealed off with concrete.
890] Ballater: (BLN 1276.576) The station, badly damaged by fire in May 2015 and restored at a cost of
£3M, is due to reopen early in the summer. Unfortunately this does not include train services!
891] Dunbar: The station is a rare example of a single platformed main line station on a major route.
East Lothian Council has now approved plans for a second Down (northbound) platform with a
footbridge and lifts including demolition of the Grade II listed goods shed. NR intends to appoint a
contractor to begin work in spring 2019 for completion in spring 2020. The new 271m platform will be
offset from (and extend south of) the existing platform towards London (removing the requirement for
a new banner repeater signal) and be able to accommodate a 10-car Azuma. The existing bidirectional
platform is 390m. The track appears to be unchanged from the plans and artists impressions. The
£15M project funded by transport Scotland is required to increased local and long distance services.
892] Inverness: NR plans to rebuild the station frontage dating from 1966-68.The ticket office will be
much smaller and the waiting room goes making space for two large retailing areas either side of the
main entrance. There will be improvements to Station Square. The new façade will be glazed, with a
copper canopy supported on steel columns clad in sandstone, all a considerable improvement on the
present bunker! An application for Listed Building Consent has been made, because the development
affects the setting of an adjacent listed building (the former Highland Railway offices, no longer in
railway ownership) and links to it. Historic Environment Scotland is content with the proposal.
ABOVE: The former Dundee Esplanade station from Riverside Drive (the A85); the River Tay is behind
the camera and the Tay Rail Bridge is off to the left. (Angus McDougall 11 Jul 2015)
BELOW: 6 Sep 1975 Dundee Esplande; it is quite possible that no passenger train has called since.
It had been a few years since the previous train ran between Dundee and Forfar. (Greg Beecroft)
893] Dundee Esplanade: The station CP 2 Oct 1939 but the timber Up platform has recently been
repaired as it is a maintenance staff access route. The Angus Railway Group 'Fife & Forfar Rambler' on
6 Sep 1975 tour stopped. The route was: Perth, Dundee, Ladybank, Newburgh (freight only then),
Perth, Forfar, Forfar Old, Perth, including a stop at just about every closed station with a platform!
894] Longannet: On 12 Apr part of the closed power station was demolished by controlled explosion.
895] Diverted Diversion: Trains between Glasgow and Aberdeen were diverted via Fife on Sat 7 Apr.
A member was on the 16.36 from Aberdeen which could not run direct from Dalmeny to Winchburgh
because of a points failure. Instead, it reversed in extended Haymarket P0 (no regular booked use).
896] Elderslie: Easter Dumfries freight diversions due to the WCML engineering resulted in increased
use of the Mauchline branch which has little traffic. Elderslie DRS sidings were used by the 06.40 SO
ex-Daventry. It returned 13.04 Sunday while Mon2 Apr had an 06.16 from Daventry and 19.45 return.
897] Paisley: On Thur 5 Apr our members train, the 20.45 Glasgow Central to Largs, went via Gilmour
Street Up P3, following an announcement from the driver to 'use the right hand doors', it regained the
Down Ayr almost imperceptibly at Elderslie West. A still-occupied 17.56 North Berwick to Ayr Class
380 was stood in P4 and later terminated due to 'disorder' (some passengers not the EMU!). Realtime
Trains showed that all Down Ayr line trains used P3 rather than P4 until 21.15. Bidirectional working is
available on the Down line from Glasgow Central to 26m 08ch just past Kilwinning on the Largs line
and from Bogside Jn (27m 71ch) south of Kilwinning on the Ayr line through to Glasgow Central.
X.55 BELOW: The Glasgow Queen Street high level train shed is begining to be revealed as demolition
of Consort House proceeds, part of the station deredevelopment (Nick Jones 13 Apr 2018)
ABOVE: the divergence of the Alloa line (curving round away) with its new electrification masts and
the Perth line left (with DMU) north of Stirling. The River Forth (curving round to the right in a
horseshoe) is foreground and middle. The National Wallace Monument is upper centre. (Nick Jones
1303 WALES .NB: (Paul Stewart) covering. [email protected]
X.56 Gwaun-cae-Gurwen: (BLN 1301.651) The April 1974 picture (BELOW LEFT) taken by Ian Mortimer
was actually one of the two passenger stations constructed that never opened on the Abernant line.
https://goo.gl/Sk4qpW has another picture
and much information. Gwaun-cae-Gurwen
Halt was just west of the still operational
A474 level crossing on the present branch.
It was a wooden platform served by a steam
railmotor from Garnant OP 1 Jan 1908,
initially with eight round trips daily. It closed
during the General Strike in June 1926.
898] Service Changes: Modernisation and
electrification between Cardiff to Newport will, at
very short public notice, affect ATW services Mon
to Fri services throughout South Wales 23 Apr to
25 May and 25 Jun to 6 Jul. These include services
to Cheltenham, Ebbw Vale, Manchester and
Holyhead with reduced Cardiff - Newport
frequency; GWR and CrossCountry services
continue to operate. Of note (buried in the small
print) advance tickets will not be available for
many ATW journeys resulting in passengers
paying more for their longer rail replacement bus
services! Some lines have no trains at all:
●23-27 Apr; 30 Apr-4 May; 21-25 May; 2-6 Jul:
Direct Cardiff - Cwmbran buses & Newport -
Cwmbran, reduced train service Cardiff -
Newport. ●5-11 May; 14-18 May; 25-29 Jun:
Buses Cardiff - Ebbw Vale; Holyhead service runs
to/from Hereford. ●All dates: ATW Cheltenham
service retimed and runs to/ from Gloucester
(probably use of bay P3). Cardiff Central &
Newport: platform changes/restrictions. Revised
timetables will only be available 5 days before
each week! (RTT etc may be updated earlier.)
899] Why microgricers should commute by train:
On Sun 8 Apr a member had a bonus on his
commute home. The 19.06 Cardiff Central to
Treherbert left from P4 (booked P6), via the new
crossover to the Up Llandaf (was the Up Barry).
900] Rockcliffe Hall: (188m 74ch) These now OOU
trailing and facing connections in the Up Holyhead
line (new name) were due to be plain lined from
Sun 22 Apr. LEFT: Many thanks to Martyn
Brailsford for the 'before' and 'after' diagrams
(helps with understanding BLN 1302.792).
901] Multiple Aspects of Signalling Failures: Sat 7
Apr to Mon 9 Apr saw major disruption between
Newport and Cardiff due to repeated cable
theft/damage, not helped by the Relief Lines
being closed for planned engineering. On the
Saturday, less than two hours after the reliefs
closed multiple axle counter failures, blank signals
and out of correspondence points occurred
between Ebbw Jn and Wentloog. Signalling and
Telecommunication (S&T) staff discovered a cut
650V cable at Alexandra Dock Yard. However,
investigation showed it was a redundant cable!
Total Block Working (TBW) was introduced when enough point clips were to hand. At 20.20, CF2005
signal on the Down Main line in the Wentloog area was passed without authority as well. The cause of
the failure was confirmed nearly six hours after it was first reported: just four metres of 650V cable
was stolen. However, six further metres was discovered stolen three hours later and British Transport
Police (BTP) set up extra patrols. Cable repairs were completed by 02.00 Sunday when a third cable
theft location was identified. 78 trains were cancelled, 156 part-cancelled with 5,825 delay minutes.
Sun 8 Apr evening saw further problems with complete loss of signalling on all lines between Ebbw Jn
and Wentloog, mirroring one of the previous day's thefts. BTP attended, using a helicopter as TBW
was set up. The issues could not be completely corrected and efforts to find a cable defect continued
but failed; on-track water ingress was found to be the cause this time. Normal working resumed early
Monday morning. 14 trains were cancelled, 21 part-cancelled with 1,131 delay minutes.
On the evening of Mon 9 Apr there was yet another complete loss of signalling affecting all lines
between Ebbw Jn and Wentloog again. A block was put on all traffic towards Newport from Bristol
and Gloucester. Three passenger trains were trapped; two on the Up Main returned to Cardiff Central
and one on the Down Main set back to Newport. It was found that signalling power supply cables at
the west end of Ebbw Jn had been severed in an attempted theft. Repairs were completed and
signalling restored just before midnight (yet another 51 cancellations, 100 part-cancelled and 2,820
more delay minutes).
With a total of 133 trains cancelled, 277 partly cancelled and around 10,000 delay minutes (almost
seven days!) due to cable theft the losses far exceed the value of the 10 metres or so of cable taken.
X.57] Pace yourselves - no more 'leeks' in Wales: Those who like riding about in 'Pacers' (and other
such forms of torture) will be delighted to hear that they are now expected to remain in service in the
Principality long after they have been withdrawn elsewhere. There may even be more Arriva-ing from
Northern. However, to meet the 1 Jan 2020 European Union Persons of Reduced Mobility Technical
Specification for Interoperability Accessibility Specifications (take a breath) the toilets may be locked
out of use. This would save £10M on converting them which is not deemed worthwhile for their likely
residual use. One plan is to have more and improved toilets at stations and with the intended 'Metro'
frequency in the Valleys to be at least four trains per hour passengers would be able to take toilet
breaks. Is not locking the present toilets out of use discrimination against able bodied passengers?
902] Really Timed Trains: (BLN 1300.510) A member notes that, on 23 Feb, the 09.05 &12.45 Onllwyn
to Burrows Sidings were empty MEAs (more coal goes in for washing by rail than comes out as some
leaves by road particularly to Margam). On 22 Feb the 13.30 from Onllwyn was a loaded Freightliner
worked train to Scunthorpe recessing at East Usk. That day the 15.45 from Cwmbargoed was a DBC
train to Immingham and on 28 Feb it was a DBC train to Scunthorpe, recessing at Margam overnight.
903] The reformation: (BLN 1300.513) (Avert your eyes if DMU formations are not of interest.) 175004/5
were reformed after corrosion problems. The later reformations resulted from fire damage. 175004
re-entered service on 14 Feb as 79759/ 50759 but 175005 remains out of service, notionally 79751/50705.
904] Serious Service Suspensions: (BLN 1300.517) Services were amended from 28 Feb to 4 Mar,
in part snow related. There were no through services from South Wales to Holyhead and Manchester
or between Newport and Shrewsbury except on 28th when the 05.33 loco hauled Holyhead to Cardiff
ran, but the wheels became damaged and it hid in Canton Carriage shed until 5 Mar. Following the
mass wheel damage from Maindee West Jn check rail, Class 175 units re-entered service quickly from
1 Mar. Three sets worked empty to Carmarthen on 4 Mar with the Bridgend to Swansea closure lifted,
so that five units were there for recommencement of services the following day. The same happened
in North Wales where units were worked to Holyhead from Chester for the recommencement of
through services to Cardiff on 5 Mar, when an almost full service ran, including the Valleys. Swansea to
Llandrindod Wells/Shrewsbury and Llandudno to Blaenau Festiniog resumed on 6 Mar. For a while
some Machynlleth to Birmingham International services were reduced from four to two coach trains.
ABOVE: 1954 Map, showing how straight the tunnel is; Treherbert station is upper middle right.
905] Rhondda Tunnel: (BLN 1287.1797) The single track 3,443yd long tunnel saw light for the first time
in 50 years on 10 April after giant saws cut through a 2ft thick concrete cap over the Blaengwynfi vent
shaft. This was a major step for the plans to reopen the Victorian tunnel as the longest walking and
cycling tunnel in Europe. It runs between Blaencwm in the Rhondda and Blaengwynfi in the Afan
Valley. Project secretary Tony Moon said We .. hope that very soon after the report from the detailed
examiners the tunnel will come out with a clean bill of health. This will then give the all-clear for either
the Welsh Government to take ownership of the tunnel from Highways England or perhaps a joint
share with Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taff Councils and the Welsh Government.
A geotechnical survey followed to check for contamination of the infill that covers the cuttings.
A temporary access road from the main road to the air vent has been installed. Highways England who
is responsible for the tunnel (naturally) but is not allowed to reopen it (of course) is supportive. In Sep
2017 Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund made a £91k community grant for surveys. This led
to a detailed examination and scope of works with a cost estimate and Balfour Beatty was appointed.
Rhondda Tunnel Society chairman Stephen Mackey said: The funds will pay for three surveys. The main
survey will see a team of skilled tunnelling engineers carry out a thorough inspection to find every
defect and estimate a cost to remedy them. The Rhondda Tunnel Society's technical subcommittee
drew up a specification for this, received tenders and is recommending Balfour Beatty's team to do the
work. In March Rhondda Tunnel Society members met European Parliament officials in Brussels.
The reopening campaign began with the simple aim of restoring the commemorative cover stone,
found under a bush. Long tunnels from little stones grow and Sustrans estimate £14.4M economic
benefit over 30 years if the tunnel is reopened (cyclists and pedestrians only before you all get too
excited!). The infill material from the cuttings could be used nearby and visitor centres, cycle hire
facilities and car parks could generate income to fund maintenance and create local employment.
ABOVE: Treherbert end of line, John & Jenny Williamsons' extremities exploration on Sun 24 Jun 1984.
There were quite a few tracks here once. Those with particularly good eyesight will be able to make
out a DMU, upper right, in Treherbert station stabling sidings. The line has been cut back here since.
BELOW: In the other direction, in 1984 there was still disconnected track on the Rhondda River bridge
north of Treherbert, the line swung sharp left just after here in front of the high ground, through a
right angle to the tunnel. Abranch went off right to Fernhill Collieries. Standing far right on the bridge
is our Committee Member Dave Monger with Nigel Eacock third from the right. (Angus McDougall)
A preparatory visit inside the Tunnel in Dec, through a drainage channel, inspected conditions.
Significant water enters just beyond but is managed by the track drainage, although leaving deep open
joints for much of the first 300yd. Stonework distortion caused by mine workings was first noted in the
1930s, resulting in speed restrictions, limited relining and some 300 steel strengthening ribs to resist
the crown being pushed up. Beyond these ribs, the condition is dry over 900ft underneath Mynydd
Blaengwynfi. Some 22% of the tunnel was originally unlined causing the Board of Trade inspection
prior to opening in 1890 to require full lining for passenger traffic. Arched sidewalls and a brick arch
were inserted in just 8 weeks to allow opening; they are still in good condition. Progress is then
hindered by a timber structure inserted after the 1968 closure (with central walkway) to resist further
movement of the arch where a hinge had appeared. This wooden support structure does not appear
now to make contact with the stonework despite the timber rotting, suggesting that tunnel movement
has long since stabilised. There is then a little dampness in the last 500yd and the remains of a fixed
distant signal, before the ventilation shaft's chimney that was recently uncapped to allow fuller
investigation and hopefully confirm that there are no major engineering obstructions to reopening.
Due to serious concerns over the Tunnel's condition, the Civil Engineer abruptly suspended all traffic
between Treherbert and Cymmer Afan on 26 Feb 1968. A slow replacement bus service ran over the
top of the mountain taking 65 mins (the train, usually a one-car DMU, took 16 mins!) until the closure
date of 14 Dec 1970. Your GS remembers that bus journey in amazingly deep snow on a School Railway
Society trip visiting Maesteg NCB (to see Pannier Tank 9642) and Barry Scrapyard, the only time he
managed to travel from Cymmer Afan towards Bridgend by rail. Track beyond Treherbert had to wait
until John and Jenny Williamson's innovative and excellent BLS 'Rhymney & Treherbert Extremities' on
Sun 24 Jun 1984, using a DMU entering traffic (ECS) early that morning from the sidings, reversing on
the headshunt and back into the platform. The end of line beyond Rhymney towards the Heads of the
Valleys route was similarly covered that day to the enjoyment of 33 members aboard. Treherbert
headshunt was shortened by 18ch when cut back to a new stop block at 23m 69ch on 4 Aug 2012.
Can any member share their recollections of travelling the line and the tunnel by rail prior to closure?
PREVIOUS PAGE: Rhymney end
of line Sun 24 Jun 1984. Former
Society Membership Secretary,
Nigel Eacock, climbs back up to
the DMU - quite normal then.
LEFT: The end of line north of the
station from the DMU, which was
the fuelling point.
BELOW: The fuelling point when
still in use as such 29 may 1977.
(All: Angus McDougall)
Earlier BLN correspondents wondered if the chance to walk/cycle through the longest tunnel in Wales
would attract the public. The success of tunnels recently opened up with internal lighting suggests it
would! The 'Two Tunnels Greenway', Bath, offers access through the Somerset & Dorset Railway's
Devonshire and Combe Down Tunnels (the latter over a mile), linking Bath with Midford. In 2011 four
railway tunnels on the Monsal Trail (Headstone, Cressbrook, Litton and Chee Tor) were similarly
reopened, each about 400m long, on the former Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction
Railway, built by the Midland Railway in 1863. Anyone wary of walking/cycling through the Rhondda
Tunnel could assuage any fears or concerns by listening to the Beach Boys' hit 'Help Me Rhonda' …
906] Aberthaw: Coal traffic has ceased as Colas's contract to deliver imported coal ended on 28 Feb,
with 70806 on the afternoon working. The wagons were left after off loading at Aberthaw PS and the
loco ran light to Cardiff Canton. This recently completed contract is reported as moving 0.5M tonnes of
imported coal to Aberthaw. A new contract for the next 3 years is to be put out to tender from winter
2018-19; the final period of deliveries is expected for winter 2021-22. (Cardiff & Avonside Railway Soc.)
1303 MINOR RAILWAYS (Peter Scott) [email protected]
MR70] Dean Forest Railway (DFR), Gloucestershire (MR p6): A request at the Cardiff Central ticket
office for a 'through ticket to the Dean Forest Railway' led to a long delay and much head-scratching
before the necessary code was discovered. Four tangerine tickets resulted, two being 'Cardiff Central
to Lydney' and return, and the other two 'Lydney to Dean Forest Railway' return ('Valid any permitted
route!'). Lydney Junction DFR station was unstaffed, and their travelling ticket inspector confiscated
the latter tickets in exchange for a paper Day Rover. On a cold and damp Easter Saturday 31 March the
train comprised an incongruous-looking Longmoor Military Railway 0-6-0ST (RSH 7139/44) and four
ex-BR MK1 coaches in varying degrees of grubbiness. A problem with this year's timetable is that the
booked seven minute stop at Norchard High Level does not allow time to explore the facilities.
Not mentioned on the DFR website, however, the three booked steam round trips were each followed
10-15 minutes later by a 3-car Class 108 DMU, affording opportunity to sample both platforms at both
termini. It should be noted that there is a six minute walk from the DFR to the national station at
Lydney, but if connecting into a Down train it is essential to allow additional time as there is no station
footbridge, and anyone arriving once the level-crossing barriers are down is stranded on the Up side!
X.58] BELOW: Lakeside & Haverthaite Railway ECS in the 'rare' grass platform (used by participants on
Kev Adlam's BLS/PLEG trip of 17 May 2014) looking towards Lakeside. (Ian Hughes 28 Apr 2018)
ABOVE: Hayling Seaside Railway: (Was East Hayling Light Railway- 'EHLR') - 'Jack' hauls a train away from
Beachlands station. The main station and loco shed used to be here. (Rod Bryant 31 Mar 2018)
MR71] Weardale Railway, Durham (MR p9): The railway has purchased a 2-car class 108 DMU from
the Bodmin & Wenford Railway (MR p6), which was made spare there by the arrival of a single car
Class 122 from Chiltern Railways. Supporters of the railway line raised more than £50,000 in just two
months to secure the unit, which arrived at Wolsingham just before Easter. Built at Derby in 1960, the
2-car set is able to carry up to 120 people - twice as many as the single-car Class 122 unit currently in
use. Having the additional train will also provide a back up should one breakdown. It is hoped cleaning
and repairs will be completed within a month. The 2017 service ran between Stanhope and Witton-le-
Wear, as in 2016, but in 2017 all trains served Witton-le-Wear (only open only on 15 days in 2016).
MR72] Hayling Seaside Railway, Hampshire (MR p18) (BLN 1297.MR15): This 2ft gauge railway runs
along and close to the seafront on Hayling Island. A visit was made on Easter Saturday, 31 March.
The 11.00 from Beachlands was hauled by 0-4-0DH 'Jack' (Alan Keef 23 of 1988) with three coaches.
Patronage was light due to the weather being very inclement. The passing loop at Mengham Road is
only used on the inland side, the other side having no regular use. Arrival at Eastoke Corner was
greeted by a crowd of 20 people awaiting the train. The staff were very friendly and helpful, with a
shed visit not being a problem to view and photograph the other locomotives. Return was on the
12.55 - also lightly loaded. A very interesting railway worth a visit with excellent opportunities to take
lineside photographs unhindered (the whole line, except at the terminal stations, is unfenced - unique
in England but a distinction shared with the Fairbourne Railway, both because of shifting sands).
MR73] Keith & Dufftown Railway, Moray (MR p10): One of the K&DR staff told a BLS member that
Towiemore request stop reopened 'at the start of the 2017' season (but see update in BLN 1304…).
MR74] Bridge House Light Railway, Gloucestershire (MR p17): This private 7¼" gauge railway located
in Frampton Cotterell normally has public open days between 14.00 and 16.00 on Bank Holiday
Mondays. A senior member visited on Easter Monday, 2 April despite the poor weather forecast -
heavy rain all day was promised, later changed to heavy showers. In fact it was a dry afternoon, with
weak sun! The railway was running, although badly flooded, but over only about 100 yards (of a 400
yard circuit). It was quite busy with a lot of families. No fare was charged, but donations were invited.
A bridge over a small river is usually two feet above the water, but actually the water was a foot over
the bridge! Working was 20108 'Daisy' a BoBo BE Class 20 - propelling out and hauling back. Lined up
beside the shed were: 'Eileen Feldbahn' 1401 0-6-0T (Station Road Steam 2017 or 2018), a 0-6-0T with
no name or number and 'Baloo' 0-4-0ST (built 1990). In the shed were: LMSR 4-6-2 'Duchess of
Hamilton' and a dismantled Leek & Manifold 2-6-4T. In the carriage shed was 'Lady Jane' - a tiny 4wBE.
PREVIOUS PAGE: Aln Valley Railway - the train climbs steeply and sharply left away from the original
branch formation back up to Alnwick Lionheart station. (Rod Bryant 2 April 2018)
MR75] Aln Valley Railway, Northumberland (MR p9) (BLN 1298.203): A visit was made here on a
bitterly cold Easter Monday, 2 April to sample the new extension along the former Alnwick branch
previously closed to passengers 7 October 1968. Snow showers greeted our reporter's arrival in the
mid afternoon. At work was 0-6-0ST 'Richboro' (Hudswell Clarke 1243 of 1917) with two coaches and a
brake van - riding was only permitted in the coaches. The train propelled down the gradient onto the
old formation, stopping just short of the first overbridge (No6, 46 chains from the station). Track is laid
for a ¾ mile, but fencing and associated works need to be completed before any further passenger
extension can take place. The weather deteriorated and the railway decided to finish running around
15.15 as no more visitors arrived. An interesting place with various locos on display and friendly staff.
MR76] West Parley Miniature Railway, Dorset (MR p15) (BLN 1299.MR34): The problems with this
railway appear to be due to the Garden Centre in which the railway operates going out of business.
By late March the message on the railway's web site stated: As many of you may have seen, especially
if you live near Ferndown or West Parley, events have somewhat overtaken the Garden Centre that has
been home to the Railway for several years and as such we are not sure how this will affect the possible
re-opening or re location of the Railway. Whatever the outcome, this site will be updated as
appropriate. Plowmans Garden Centre web site carries (when checked on 24 April) a 'Closing Down
Sale' banner and information from another web site states the owning group Home & Garden Group
has been placed in Administration. However, the 'Daily Echo' website reported on 13 April that the
Garden Centre is still owned by Vic Plowman and only leased to Home & Garden. Vic Plowman states
the Garden Centre would remain open and trading at the centre is strong and there is no cause for
concern. As it stands, the company [Home & Garden] will continue to run Plowmans until someone is
found to take over the lease. If that doesn't happen, I will keep it open myself.
MR77] Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, Powys (MR p30) (BLN 1290.MR193): On Thursday 5 April,
at around 11.45, a train hauled by 0-6-0T 823 'Countess' collided with a red Chevrolet car at Cyfronydd
Level Crossing. The driver of the car escaped unharmed, along with the 77 passengers and crew on the
train. Operations were suspended and Dyfed-Powys Police attended the scene. The Rail Accident
Investigation Branch was informed and despite being cleared to resume operations, services for the
remainder of Thursday were cancelled and the railway organised road coaches for the passengers.
A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police added: Dyfed-Powys Police received a report of a collision
between a car - a red Chevrolet Spark - and a steam engine at Cyfronydd railways [sic] crossing, at
11.50am on Thursday. The road was blocked ... and reopened around 3pm. No injuries were reported.