Issue Number 1277 (Items 594- 678 &IssMueRN3u6m- MbeRr 15236)8 (E-BLN 52 PAGES) 18 Mar 2017
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members;7a2n8i6n7te7rnational section is also available.
Opinions herein are not necessarily those of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1278 is dated Sat 1 Apr and Saollccieotyn.tSroibcuiettiyo.ns must be received by Wed 22 Mar
Date Event Details BLN Lead Status
Sat 18/3/17 1273 JE OPEN
'Bound for Craigy', track & traction, 800 mile East HST tour
THE TOUR BROCHURE IS AVAILABLE TO READ WITH E-BLN
Sun 9/4/17 Bubble & Squeak Tracker, Class 121 limited capacity (below) 1277 KA *OPEN*
Wed 19/4/17 Ashover Light Railway 14.00-17.00 Guided walk 1273 JC OPEN
Sat 22/4/17 Y Triongl Gogledd Cymru, loco-hauled railtour to Holyhead 1274 KA OPEN
UPDATE: Wigan NW set down requested; Euston connection
Sat 6/5/17 Scunthorpe Steel Wks 09.30-18.30 internal railtour 1275 PS OPEN
Sun 7/5/17 The Vallum Hadriani Tracker, 09.00 *FIRST CLASS NOW FULL* 1277 JE OPEN
Sun 14/5/17 Moreton Park Railway 11.00 Track & Traction Tour 1276 SP OPEN
Sun 14/5/17 Titley Junction Railway Afternoon Track & Traction 1276 SP OPEN
10 to 15/5/17 Jordan Hejaz Railway Tour confirmed update BLN 1276 1272 IS OPEN
18 to 21/5/17 Long weekend - Dublin / Republic of Ireland 'mixed' gauges 1265 KA Notify
Wed 14/6/17 Rudyard Lake Railway 10.30 Track tour - new layout 1276 JC OPEN
Wed 14/6/17 5½ mile Trackbed Walk 17.30 after Rudyard Lake Railway 1277 JC *OPEN*
Thur 15/6/17 07.30 Stafford - 17.00 Liverpool DRS loco hauled NW railtour TBA TBA Claimed
Sun 25/6/17 Middlesbrough Goods, AV Dawson track & traction (below) TBA TBA Claimed
Fri 4/8/17 Northumberland Nocturnal Navigator 23.59 - 05.30 TBA TBA Claimed
Wed 28/6/17 Kennet Service Train Tracker, Guided group day out 1275 TG OPEN
27 to 30/7/17 Scottish Minor Railways Notify Terry Velvick (TV) 1272 TV Notify
IS-Iain Scotchman, JE-Jill Everitt, JC-John Cameron, KA-Kev Adlam, PS-Paul Stewart, SP-Stephen Phillips, TG-Tom Gilby.
594] Bubble & Squeak Tracker, Sun 9 Apr: A single Class 121 'Bubble Car' charity railtour with Chiltern
Railways for Railway Children. Before anyone asks, despite being 'DMUs' they are no longer able work
in multiple on NR lines. Aylesbury P1 (09.42) connection from London Marylebone at 07.50 - Princes
Risborough - High Wycombe - Gerrards Cross - West Ruislip Up Passenger Loop - London Marylebone
P3 (11.26 break) - Princes Risborough - Bicester Depot Goods Loop - Oxford Parkway - Oxford P1 (rev) -
Oxford Down Sidings (rev) - Oxford P4 (rev)- Oxford Parkway - Bicester Depot Goods Loop - Claydon
(rev) - Calvert - Quainton Road (Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, break, entrance fee included) -
Aylesbury North Goods Loop - Aylesbury No4 Carriage Siding (rev) - Aylesbury (rev) - Aylesbury No5
Carriage Siding (rev) - Aylesbury P2 (18.00). No First Class, toilets or refreshments on board.
BLS Members ONLY due to very limited accommodation: £99 (under 18s - £5 reduction but must be
accompanied). Cheque Branch line Society or CPA (website) to Kev Adlam per back page .NB: PTO….
IMPORTANT: Please do not send emails/texts asking for 'places to be saved' they will be deleted and
not replied to. If demand exceeds 60 from postal bookings received by Mon 20 Mar post, or handed in
on our VTEC tour, then envelopes will be put together and drawn randomly in the interests of fairness.
BELOW: Twilight for first generation DMUs on the national network; Chiltern 'Bubble Car' 121034
which is actually a very smart green in daylight on the 18.06 Princes Risborough bay P1 to Aylesbury
service on 24 Feb (despite appearances it is not going to Shrewsbury). Far right behind the shelter and
blue fence is the site of new Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway P4 (all Stuart Hicks).
595] Y Triongl Gogledd Cymru, Sat 22 Apr: (The North Wales Triangle.) This loco-hauled railtour
from Carnforth (with options to join later and/or leave earlier for a shorter day) now has only a
dozen or so First Class seats available (£110 including complimentary morning tea/coffee with a
Danish pastry and, in the afternoon, tea or coffee with savoury of the day and a selection of fine
cakes); Standard Class seats are £75. Highlights include an Up departure from Carnforth P2, Preston
Up & Down Goods, the Crewe Up Liverpool Independent line and Up Slow Independent, Chester
Down & Up Goods and triangle, Hooton P0 and the Long Siding (run-round side requested). It may
well be the final chance to do the Up and Down Goods Loops either side of the line at Holywell Jn
and also includes Rhyl Down Main, Llandudno Junction west end facing crossover, the Bangor
centre lines, Holyhead P3 (east side) and west side Carriage Sidings train wash line. Crewe: Up
Chester Independent line and Up Through Siding, Stafford P1 (reverse), Walton Old Jn to
Warrington Down Slow via 'THE HOLE' diveunder and Lancaster P5. A booking form was sent out
with BLN 1274 and is available on our website. It is pleasing to be able to report that four quite
different tours (and various other events) are now available to book on our website.
ABOVE TOP: Back at Princes Risborough (rather than Oxenhope) on 24 Feb the DMU arrives into bay
P1 on the 16.39 ECS working from Aylesbury with the evening diagram. These trains may finish in May.
ABOVE LOWER: The guard talks to passengers prior to departure of the 18.06 back to Aylesbury.
596] Leek to Rushton Spencer Trackbed Walk, Wed 14 Jun: To follow our event at the 10¼" gauge
Rudyard Lake Railway (BLN 1276.483). A late afternoon/evening 5½ mile end to end trackbed walk
on a very scenic section of the North Staffordshire Railway's Churnet Valley route by the Lake, its
1½ mile railway, north and the route of the proposed Leek extension. No charge but organised car
positioning is required each end so please advise if you have a car (and how many people you can
take) or if you require a lift (subject to availability). Bookings and enquiries to John Cameron, email
[email protected] or 10 Friar Gate Court, Derby, DE1 1HE with an e-mail address or SAE
(two for confirmation) or 07581178759. Members might stay in the area for our tour next day.
597] PRESS RELEASE: BLS/PLEG Teesside Industrial Event, Sun 25 Jun Middlesbrough Goods branch:
(Date for your diary, repeated for those who do not have e-BLN.) AV Dawson Ltd, a truly multimodal
logistics provider offering freight logistics services across road, rail, land and sea is delighted to
announce a rail enthusiast diesel gala on Sunday 25 June 2017. This will be a rare opportunity for
members of Branch Line Society and Preserved Locomotive Enthusiast Group (PLEG) to visit the
business 100-acre freight terminal and get up close to the Middlesbrough based company's Class 08
locomotives and enjoy a journey around the rail connected elements of the site. The highlight for
enthusiasts will be use of Class 08 08600 and Class 08 08774. For those interested in the journey itself,
the charter is expected to visit the purpose built Automotive Steel terminal, North Sea Supply Base
Wharf, Ayrton Dry Bulk Terminal, Tees Riverside Intermodal Park and Metz Bridge (NR boundary).
Visitors will enjoy a short presentation about the fascinating company, with the opportunity to
purchase light refreshments before receiving an important safety briefing. A fare of £50 per person will
apply, with all profits donated to good causes nominated by AV Dawson. Kev Adlam, Fixtures Team
Leader of Branch Line Society said: We expect to be able to carry a maximum of 250 passengers
throughout the day, which will be a strictly advance purchase ticket event. Final preparations are now
under way and we intend to open the event for bookings soon. (Please do not email etc to try to book
before then.) Charlie Nettle, Head of Marketing and Business Development at AV Dawson added: We
are delighted to welcome members of the rail enthusiast community and look forward to show casing
our capabilities whilst raising what looks set to be a fantastic sum of money for our nominated charity.
598] BLN Index: (BLN 1273.137) With thanks to the compiler, Angus McDougall, the 2016 index has
been completed and is currently being proof read and checked (a major task). It will be distributed to
all who take e-BLN and the six members who only take paper BLN but requested a printed copy and
sent an SAE in by the deadline. Angus is standing down from the task; if any member/s would like to
take on or share this task please contact the Editor (back page) before the end of March to discuss.
599] A Little Bird Told Me…: The BLS Twitter Account @BLSGeneralSec now has over 900 followers,
it includes many up to date pictures from our fixtures and useful information. Our Facebook account
https://goo.gl/awDeTG has nearly 500 members, again with pictures and much useful information.
600] BLS Committee: At a meeting on Sun 26 Feb in Newcastle-on-Tyne, your Committee was
delighted to unanimously co-opt our member Ian Delgado from East Anglia to join them in the position
of Branch Line Society 'Webmaster Designate'. Ian (well known for https://goo.gl/33lMhP his Unusual
Track website) has put a great deal of time and effort into developing our new website that meets the
needs and expectations of the Society and its members in the modern era. This includes electronic
bookings for events and railtours. The Committee was very impressed by the quality, suitability and
amount of progress (85% complete). It is sure that, later in the year, our members will be too.
It can also be reported that our Society has gained over 100 new members in the last six months, we
now have 1,129 full members, compared with about 850 on 1 April 2012 (in addition we now have 62
associate members also). E-BLN is sent to 892 email addresses (each with e-BLNI and various extra
items) and 550 copies of paper BLN are now posted out (anyone who takes paper BLN can, of course,
have e-BLN free as well). Membership applications are always welcome from new or former members.
601] Ian Delgado - Introducing Your New Committee Member: Like a lot of schoolboys in my time, I
first became interested in railways by collecting numbers. Being born and bred in Tamworth, and living
a few minutes walk away from the station, it often found me joining the Tamworth Field Boys after
school and at weekends. I can still see to this day, a fireman leaning out of the cab of his 'Black Five'
heading to Birmingham, his hands hiding the last two digits of the number from the assembled throng.
Again, like a lot of schoolboys, my interest eventually petered away, and it was in fact well over
40 years before it resurfaced following a prolonged interest in bird watching both in the UK (where
I managed to see over 478 different species, of which only around 250 occur regularly) and abroad.
Having taken early retirement (from a career in computing), it was whilst bird-watching in Ely at
Roswell Pits (opposite the Potter Group terminal, the former Sugar Factory site) that I began to pay
attention to the railway once more. Again, locos - and Class 08 shunters in particular - were the main
focus initially, but it was not long before I had acquired my first Baker atlas, and set about aiming to
travel over all Britain's passenger lines. Once this was accomplished, it was a well-trodden track that
I followed to start covering track at the 'Quail' level. After my first railtour in 2008, I took them a little
more seriously as a way to score bits of track that were not otherwise going to be easy to come by.
It would not be until 2011, however, that I would end up on my first BLS railtour (The 'Trent Explorer').
Inspired by our late member John Salmon's regular 'Possible Microgricing Opportunities' posts to
Gensheet, I became increasingly hooked, but decided I shouldn't solely rely on others to establish what
unusual moves were coming up. To cut a long story short, I signed up to be able to download weekly
copies of the detailed timetable data from the Rail Delivery Group and used my 1970s computer
programming skills (which fortunately had not deserted me) to develop a programme which would
enable me to scan the timetable data specifically looking for rare moves up to 12 weeks in advance of
them potentially happening. Hence, Unusual Track was born and, after it had proven its value to me as
an individual, it was made available to a wider audience, latterly for a charity donation. To date, over
£4,700 has been raised for Railway Children in connection with this - it would be nice to hit £5,000!
Somewhere along the way, I joined the Branch Line Society, and recently volunteered to help develop
our website. The new website will not only bring benefits to the Society's members (such as online
bookings, sales and renewals, access to archived documents including old BLNs, and a news service),
but will also benefit some of the society's officers - who are all volunteers, remember - by automating
or semi-automating a number of time-consuming tasks they need to undertake in their various roles in
supporting the society and its members. In addition, making it easier for the society's officers to
update the web content themselves rather than having to rely on a 'webmaster' will hopefully result in
more topical offerings than the current website has offered in the past (challenge laid down!).
1277 HEAD LINES
603] Wensleydale Railway, Leeming Bar (excl) - Northallerton West station* (incl): (BLN 1265.1809)
TCP 14.00 on 3 Aug 2016 after 26007 hauling a passenger train collided with a car on Yafforth ungated
crossing. UPDATE: This section is expected to remain closed during the 2017 season. While it has been
determined that the railway was not at fault, the standard of lighting at the three level crossings on
this section must be upgraded to LED. This also involves electrical work and the money will have to be
found from already tight budgets before it can start. *(SE358938) 188m before the NR boundary.
604] Llandudno Jn - Blaenau Ffestiniog and nine
intermediate stations: TCP after the 08.35 from
Blaenau Ffestiniog had run on Thur 23 Feb 2017 after
90mph winds in 'Storm Doris' brought down a very
large tree on to the track near Pont-y-Pant station
disturbing the rock overhang above the line. (LEFT: NR)
A large amount of loose rock, soil and more trees need
to be removed; the cutting is dangerously unstable at
18m 40ch. Trains ran Llandudno Junction - North
Llanrwst Mon 27 Feb (only) with bus connection for
Blaenau Ffestiniog. The branch service has otherwise
been replaced by buses. BELOW: The tree has mostly
gone but the steep rock cutting is unstable (NR)
605] Liverpool Lime Street (incl) - Edge Hill (exclusive)
also Broad Green and Roby stations (only): TCP after
17.38 Tue 28 Feb 2017; a section of wall just east of
Smithdown Lane Tunnel at the end of Albert Street
(SJ 3633 9020) on the Up side collapsed into the deep
cutting taking the overhead wires with it and 200
tonnes of rubble. Five large containers, each holding many tonnes of concrete and cabins had been
stacked by a third party on elevated land beside the wall; over 4,000 tonnes of material had to be
removed to stabilize it (see NW section). ROP 17.27 Tue 7 Mar 2017; the first trains ran that day.
606] Hunts Cross P3 - Liverpool South Parkway (excl) via Merseyrail lines: TCP after 08.15 Wed 1 Mar
until 19.00 Wed 8 Mar (as a consequence of the previous entry to manage capacity/crowd control).
602] Keeping Track, (extra to Head Lines) significant passenger service suspensions: *= New/altered
BLN Start (incl) End (incl) Location (exclusive where bracketed) [bold = closed now]
1251.334 9 Feb 16 31 Mar 17 (Carlisle) - (Armathwaite)
1266.1930 24 Mar 17 31 Mar 17 (Chester) - (Wrexham General)
1275.362 14 Apr 17 17 Apr 17 London Cannon Street - (London Bridge) - (Charlton)
1275.363 14 Apr 17 17 Apr 17 Bristol East Jn/Dr Day's Jn - Bradford South Jn/Thingley Jn
1276.497 15 Apr 17 17 Apr 17 * Wolverhampton North Jn - (Telford Central)
1266.1928 3 Jan 17 29 May 17 ( +/- Birkenhead North) - Liverpool Loop - ( +/- Hamilton Square)
1274.243 8 Jul 17 16 Jul 17 Wootton Bassett Jn - Bathampton Jn/Bradford South Jn
1276.500 7 Oct 17 16 Oct 17 * Welsh's Bridge Jn (Inverness) - (Keith)
1275.365 11 Nov 17 26 Jan 18 Fylde Jn (Preston) - Kirkham North Jn - Blackpool South
1275.366 11 Nov 17 18 Mar 18 Kirkham North Jn - Blackpool North
1222.1799 20 Dec 14 Jan 2018 (London Blackfriars) - (London Bridge) Thameslink work
1222.1799 20 Dec 14 Jan 2018 (London Bridge), Spa Road - Bricklayers Arms Jn
1277 BLN GENERAL
607] Believe it or Not! (BLN 1275.372) While a member was travelling to the 2 May 1964 FA Cup Final
on a football special from Preston (and 53 years later wondered exactly which route he had taken to
Wembley Hill station), he passed another in Akeman Street signal box. This was a former passenger
station on the Grendon Underwood Jn to Ashendon Jn line. Our second member has kindly written to
confirm that all the specials from Preston (12 or more) ran, as expected, from Bletchley via Claydon
L&NE Jn then the curve to Calvert Jn and via Akeman Street, even the Midland Pullman set. He was
also in the box in the evening for the return trains. Specials from the north to Marylebone tended to
run via Aylesbury and the Metropolitan line direct. Interestingly the Down line between Ashendon Jn
and Grendon Underwood Jn was taken OOU from 18 Nov 1965 after a derailment with the Up line,
then used in both directions. Rail traffic ceased south of Akeman Street (Westcott Government Depot)
from 5 Sep 1966 (official closure 21 Jul 1967). BELOW: 7th Series 1958; Wembley Hill station (now
Wembley Stadium),used by our member, is shown by an arrow The cross is the original Wembley
Stadium single platform site, open at the time of the map; the final 'final' train ran 18 May 1968, (the
score was West Bromwich 1 Everton 0 in case anyone was wondering). Neasden curve is bottom right.
608] Points & Slips: BLN 1276.501] (& BLN 1275.457) To clarify the Up direction is from Cardiff Central
to Queen Street. ●504] Rudyard Kipling was named Rudyard by his parents after they met at Rudyard
Lake which (created in 1787) was not named after Rudyard Kipling! It is a good job that they didn't
meet each other at Balderhead Reservoir in County Durham or Virginia Water Lake for example.
●546] (also BLN 1176.17) At Trafford Park 'Containerbase' the Barton Dock Estate intermodal rail
traffic moved to the DBS (as they were then) Euroterminal rather than Trafford Park Freightliner
Terminal in 2012. ●574] In Ireland on the Valentia Harbour branch, the last trains ran on Sat 30 Jan
1960 (no Sunday service) as correctly stated in the caption but the text incorrectly implied 31 Jan.
609] BLN Abbreviations: A reminder; the full list is on the BLN page of our website (and will be with
e-BLN 1278) https://goo.gl/AGrCIU suggestions for updating it would be welcomed by your Editor.
610] Full of Phobias: At the start of April, the Bristol Psychiatrist Ψociety (sic) will publish an update to
their list of unusual phobias. Apt examples already published include Agrizoophobia- fear of wild
animals, Scotophobia - fear of darkness and even Phobophobia - fear of phobias. Fear of railways is
'Siderodromophobia', even if most apparent for steam traction! Your correspondent suggests
'Anoraknophobia' as a fear of train-spotters, based on the startled shrieks and jeers that arise from
fools when they 'spot' train-spotters on platform-ends.
1277 EAST MIDLANDS (& SOUTH HUMBERSIDE)
611] Peartree: Despite the locality being known as the 'Pear Tree' area of Derby, the station serving it
is 'Peartree' just 1m 2ch south of London Road Jn on the main Derby to Birmingham line (single £2.90).
The station OP 12 Aug 1839 (Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway) as 'Pear Tree & Normanton' -
some sources give 'Peartree & Normanton'. Passenger numbers declined after the closure of the
Melbourne Branch in 1930 and it CP 4 Mar 1968. The station ROP 4 Oct 1976 (as Peartree), with the
Sinfin branch which aimed to transport Rolls Royce employees to/from work. The branch CP again in
1998, but Peartree remained open, as it is on the main line. Now (SSuX) one Derby to Crewe train in
each direction calls in the morning with two to Crewe and one to Derby in the evening peak. Saturdays
there are two trains in each direction and none on Sundays. A 2004 article about it was titled 'Britain's
most unwanted station?'! However, 5,022 passengers were documented for 2014/16 and 4,700 the
previous year. Pilning station (for example) with 68 passengers would have been delighted with such
overcrowding! BELOW: Peartree station during the rush hour, a Derby to Crewe train calls on 14 Feb.
A correspondent took the 07.40 Derby to Crewe train on 14 Feb arriving at 07.43. Access and egress
from the platforms to the street above is via ramps. At the top is a large metal gate, opened by
pushing a button. It seems as though the gate is locked at other times, however, as a sign is displayed
telling passengers to use an intercom or phone a helpline if they cannot exit the station!
612] Immingham: A Class 67 has been running on route learning duties light engine from Doncaster in
and around the area. It is believed to be for Toton drivers; Immingham Diesel Shed shuts this summer
613] Killingholme: (BLN 1272.19 & 20) Route learning for the spoil trains from Kellingley Colliery was
due to begin in early March with a view to trains starting in April. A Feb Railway Ramblers walk (not on
the railway itself of course) found that there was very little vegetation on the Killingholme branch.
X.33] Dragonby Sidings: ABOVE: (BLN 1273.144) Normanby Park Ground Frame (right) on an official
visit (all participants had PTS) in early Feb. This is 2m 8ch north from Scunthorpe Trent Jn (behind the
camera) on the branch which curves to right to Roxby Gullet (4m 20ch). Inert spoil from the former
Rossington Colliery site has been brought in by rail to cap part of the landfill tip there. Left is the
connection to Dragonby Sidings which continues as the disused Flixborough Wharf branch.
BELOW: Vossloh Cogifer Ltd - formerly 'VTS Track Technology': (BLN 1210.849) ROG 11 Jan 2017 with
66145 on the 08.59 from Scunthorpe Trent Sidings, arriving 09.17; the light engine returned at 10.02.
It left two empty 'IFA' special tilting Kirow Switch & Crossing Transport Wagons and a third associated
wagon at the new rail served facility. The long narrow building runs north/south with two through
tracks which can be accessed from either end by new connections just beyond each extremity of
Dragonby Sidings. The right hand line runs straight to the factory with three sidings (possibly original)
on the west (left) side. The one furthest (left/west) from the factory is the Flixborough Wharf line.
LEFT: The current state of the Flixborough
Wharf branch (distinctly out of use!). The
final train ran in Jun/Jul 2012; the last
traffic was steel coil from Aldwarke United
Engineering Steels, at Sheffield for export
(see BLN 1202.166).
614] Clipstone: (BLN 1260.1293) Two sides
of the Clipstone triangle and the Rufford
Branch have been OOU for years with the
track and points gradually removed. The
abandonment was made official from
3 Mar 2017. The points and associated
signalling on the Up Main and Down Main
at Clipstone East and West Jns have been
removed and recovered with track plain
lined between 15m 15ch to 15m 40ch.
615] Nottingham - Lincoln: The Sunday
service is greatly improved from the May
timetable change. In the current timetable
the first Nottingham to Lincoln Sunday
train is at 16.33 and 16.55 the other way.
From Sun 21 May there are earlier trains at 09.30, 10.30, 11.30, 12.30, 13.30, 14.35 & 15.29 from
Nottingham; 08.47, 09.59, 11.10, 11.56, 13.00 and 14.17 ex-Lincoln. The 08.47 also reverses to call at
Newark Northgate - a once more common move currently carried out by only one train (SuX) from/to
Nottingham (two each way SuO). The service is already much improved on other days of the week with
considerable passenger growth and recent resignalling has reduced the cost of running Sunday trains.
616] Market Rasen: The local paper reported that passengers are often left stranded on the platform
because Lincoln trains (usually a single Car class 153 DMU) are full to capacity. On Sat 18 Feb the 12.03
to Lincoln reportedly left over a dozen passengers, despite the guard's best efforts to get them all on.
Trains are roughly two hourly with no Sunday service. An East Midlands Trains spokesperson said:
We are sorry that some passengers in Lincolnshire may have faced inconvenience on Saturday.
The number of carriages made available for each train company is agreed with the Department for
Transport at the start of every franchise. Every carriage within our whole fleet is already being used;
we are therefore unable to provide any additional carriages on any of our weekend services at this
time. [Really at a weekend - Ed??] There is, of course, no franchise restriction other than the cost
which is offset by the extra revenue, on TOCs hiring in other rolling stock or buses when required.
617] East Midlands Franchise: Three bidders have prequalified to bid for the next passenger franchise:
Arriva Rail East Midlands Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn's Arriva UK Trains Ltd.
First Trenitalia East Midlands Rail Ltd, a 70:30 joint venture of FirstGroup's First Rail Holdings Ltd and
the Trenitalia UK Ltd subsidiary of Italian state railway FS Group. Stagecoach East Midlands Trains
Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Transport Holdings Ltd. The DfT has exercised an option
for an extension of 'up to a year' of the current Stagecoach franchise scheduled to end on 4 Mar 2018.
The new franchise is likely to run for 7-15 years. Bidders will be asked to submit proposals to improve
the quality, frequency and timings of journeys, to develop new services and to satisfy predicted growth
in demand, in particular to London and on busy local services, such as Derby to Crewe (Market Rasen?)
X.34]: ABOVE: (BLN 1276.511) Stamford Down platform; fine NR refurbishment work (John Kettle Mar 2017).
618] Storm Doris: In common with other parts of the country, train services were severely disrupted
by Storm Doris on 23 Feb. No trains ran between the East Midlands and London due to overhead line
damage further south. A fallen tree outside Ruskington blocked the Lincoln to Sleaford line.
619] Cromford: The Parish Council has agreed to formally adopt the station. For the last two years, the
council and local residents have been improving the area; 1,000+ plants and bulbs have been planted
on the station embankment. The parish will contribute £250 a year (the County Council provided £500)
and step up recruitment 01773 831025 to help! [It looks very attractive and well cared for too - Ed.]
620] Buxton - Matlock: An online petition calling for a feasibility study to be carried out into reopening
the Buxton to Matlock railway line has been signed by over 6,200 people. Campaigners argue that
huge increases in rail passenger numbers in the UK generally mean that another feasibility study is
warranted. The last study, in 2004, found that re-opening the line would not be financially feasible.
To extend Peak Rail to Bakewell would involve the restoration of the Haddon tunnel, Coombs Road
viaduct and the reinstatement of other bridges. North of Bakewell, the former double trackbed is the
splendid outstanding Monsal Trail. This could continue to coexist next to a single track line.
Please sign: https://goo.gl/U2Smqv and publicise if you need the line or would like to support it.
621] Hinckley: Lorries have struck the railway bridge here over the A5 on three occasions already this
year. It has been hit 14 times in just over 12 months, despite there being several height restriction
warning signs. Each results in the usual line (and road) closures for checks with significant delays and
compensation costs. The local government agency has called for lorry drivers to be banned from using
sat-nav systems designed for cars and, instead, be forced to use systems that warn of low bridges.
622] Grantham: On 1 Mar Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) opened a customer lounge for their ticket
holders. It was officially opened by David Horne, Managing Director of VTEC and Brigadier Charles
Smith GM, an 88 year old commuter who has been travelling from/to Grantham station for the last
26 years. The decorated Brigadier annually buys Christmas gifts for Virgin Trains staff and has donated
paintings of steam locomotives to VTEC lounges at King's Cross and Edinburgh Waverley.
1277 GREATER LONDON
X.35] BELOW: A hive of activity at Ilford Depot; new Crossrail sidings under construction
on the site of the former B-Workshop (Iain Scotchman 19 Feb).
623] Barking - Gospel Oak: (BLN 1276.519) Blackhorse Road platforms reopened with the rest of the
line on 27 Feb, but the lifts to allow step-free access will not be available until April. A report of a visit
to the line on 1 Mar https://goo.gl/Vf9xNN from the 'Diamond Geezer' website. Although most masts
are in place, (although not necessarily complete) with cross-spans etc but no overhead wiring installed.
624] Thameslink: (BLN 1272.51) The next stage of the London Bridge remodelling takes place over
Easter, with the route into Charing Cross closed on the Friday and Saturday and the route into Cannon
Street closed on all four days. On completion the Up and Down Cannon Street Lines will be slewed at
the country end of London Bridge station to run over the new P1 and 2 lines through the station area
before returning to the existing alignment on the Cannon Street side of London Bridge station.
Reversible signalling will be introduced on the Up and Down Cannon Street Lines between Borough
Market Jn and London Bridge station (Cannon Street end) and on the Up Cannon Street Line through
P2 at the station. Cannon Street trains will continue to be booked non-stop through London Bridge.
625] Crossrail: (BLN 1276.521) (1) GWML: On 24 Feb a member spent four hours at Ealing Broadway
photographing freight trains and observing usage of the Acton Dive-Under Line. During this time four
passenger trains were routed that way to avoid conflict with a Down freight and the signalling gave an
early indication of the route. The trains concerned were the departures from Ealing Broadway at 12.44
and 14.44 (both Heathrow Connect) and 15.29 and 15.59 (both EMUs from Hayes & Harlington).
The freight trains (with times at Acton) were: 12.40 7C77 Acton to Merehead, 14.40 6C76 Acton to
Whatley, 15.24 7C64 Acton to Merehead and 15.54 6X44 Dagenham to Didcot. However, as previously
reported, there are no timetabled moves this way and on 2 Mar 7C77 left 35 minutes late, so the 12.44
from Ealing Broadway took the booked route over the Up Relief. Crossrail Depot Line No 1 between
Ladbroke Grove and Kensal Green East Jn has been completed but has not yet been brought into use,
although signals and points have been tested and commissioned.
(2) Service Patterns: Latest proposals are for an off-peak service of 20tph between Paddington and
Whitechapel, with 10tph to both Abbey Wood and Shenfield. On the GWML the 2tph semi-fast service
between Reading and Paddington, both peak and off-peak (see table in BLN 1272.41), would be taken
over from GWR, requiring an additional four Crossrail trains to be built. There would no longer be any
timetabled GWR services over the Relief lines into Paddington, although full operational flexibility will
be retained over all four lines if needed for engineering work, failures etc. There would also be no
through peak services to Bourne End and Henley-on-Thames. ('London Reconnections' website)
626] Slade Green: Bexley Council has granted planning permission for a new development at Howbury
Park. This Strategic Railfreight Interchange scheme was originally proposed by Prologis in 2008 and
granted planning permission. However the scheme was put on hold because of the recession and the
permission lapsed. The new plans, put forward by Roxhill, are for a 149 acre rail-connected warehouse
scheme, which aims to attract container traffic from continental destinations via the Channel Tunnel,
the United Kingdom and UK ports. Just south of Slade Green depot a connection to the main line is
planned; the facility is intended to have four sidings equipped with overhead cranes.
627] Lee Spur: Most unusually, on Thur 23 Feb, the 10.31 Gravesend to Charing Cross ran via the spur
and reversed at Grove Park. Storm 'Doris' was causing widespread disruption at the time, but it is not
clear why this train was diverted, as it seems to have been the only one so affected.
628] Brighton Main Line: The study into the London and South Coast Rail Corridor, which investigated
the case to be made for improvements to rail links between London and the Sussex Coast, has
concluded that pursuing NR's improvements on the existing Brighton Main Line (BML) should be a
strategic priority. However the study also said that there was no benefit in going ahead with the
Brighton Main Line 2 (BML2) scheme linking Croydon, Lewisham, Stratford and beyond. In Jan the
government announced an additional £300M for NR to boost the infrastructure on the BML.
The Rail Minister stated: The central finding of the study is that NR's proposed upgrade of the BML,
which would include unblocking known infrastructure bottlenecks around Croydon, could release
capacity across the BML to meet passenger demand for at least the next 30 years. Also the NR
proposals would see the BML able to accommodate 44tph at peak times, up from 36 today. This would
allow passengers boarding at East Croydon station to have access to a train to central London every
85 seconds in peak times. We accept the study's recommendations. In the immediate future, we are
acting on them by working with NR on its proposals for upgrades to the BML. We can confirm the DfT
has agreed further work should be undertaken in making the case for the upgrade. £11.85M has been
invested to date in developing NR's proposals and we will continue to support them in further
developing and refining the proposals. The Minister added that the government will now ask NR to
confirm the study's findings that the BML upgrade could be delivered for £1.2-£1.5bn and that enough
passenger benefits would be delivered to justify this. Further announcements to follow 'soon'.
ABOVE: Farringdon station, LUL looking east. New connections to the former Metropolitan Widened
Lines to Moorgate installed 11/12 Feb17 across site of recently lifted sidings (Iain Scotchman 13 Feb
2017). It is interesting to compare this picture with that in e-BLN 1250 (between items 246 and 247).
1277 NORTH EAST
629] Bardon Mill: (ABOVE - Leon Laga.) The circa 1874 built signal box (with no associated pointwork
or sidings) was due to be abolished on Wed 15 Mar and the signal arms and aspect illumination
removed. In practice it has normally been 'switched out' long term for many years except for some
Tuesdays when used for staff training. The box and signal structures will be recovered at later dates.
The new block section becomes nearly seven miles (Haydon Bridge to Haltwhistle).
1277 NORTH WEST
630] The Hole Truth: (BLN 1276.478) As well as the recent railtour of 14 Jan 2017 a member thinks
that the Down Euston to Barrow sleeping car train may have been routed via 'The Hole' south of
Warrington Bank Quay station when Warrington Power Signal Box was commissioned in the area.
BLN 214 p182 (15 Nov 1972) reports that this happened on 16/18 Sep 1972 but there is no mention of
the sleeper diversion (does anyone know please?). Other diversions that are reported included via the
'emergency connection' at Ormskirk for Liverpool (Exchange) - Scotland services on 1 & 2 Oct 1972.
631] Blackpool lines: (BLN 1275.365/6). Due to the manual signal boxes closing the Blackpool South
branch is being resignalled and will be controlled by Manchester ROC and is being electrified (at least
in part)! The current branch is single track from Blackpool South to the Kirkham & Wesham junction,
with knock-on delays when a train is late off the branch. It is to be re-doubled for just over half a mile
to a new 'Kirkham West Jn' near the 8¾ milepost, both of these lines will be bi-directional and the
'Lytham' (as the branch will be called) Up line will be electrified to just short of the new West Jn to
provide an EMU turn-back/stabling facility. At Kirkham & Wesham station, P1 will be designated for
Lytham line services, P2 for Down trains and a new P3 for Up trains. All platforms there are to be
bi-directional and the Fast Lines will be abolished. At Blackpool North: P7 & 8 will be removed, P3-6
shortened and P1 & 2 lengthened. P2 will have an operational length of 239m for Pendolino sets.
632] Mid Cheshire Line: (BLN 1276.539) It is understood that the enhancement of the mid-Cheshire
line Sunday service to hourly has now definitely also been deferred to May 2018.
633] Horbury Jn: The Ground Frame (45m 00ch) was abolished on 12 Mar and the route from the west
end of the sidings (ex-Bombardier depot) to the Up L&Y line abandoned and the point work recovered.
634] Navigation Road: (BLN 1276.538) There was an engineering possession on Sun 5 Mar between
Stockport and Chester but reportedly the points at Navigation Road were not being replaced so the
single line working on the 'heavy rail' lines between Navigation Road and Altrincham continues.
635] Ordsall Chord: (BLN 1276.545) https://goo.gl/ZfWV00 is a video of the 'network arch' being
positioned on 21 Feb. It was built in Greater Manchester; the inclined hangers cross each other at least
twice (instead of the usual vertical hangers) allowing a more elegant, thinner design that uses less
steel. This is particularly important due to the proximity of the nearby 1830 Stephenson-built bridge.
636] James Street: (BLN 1266.1928) Until 29 May, During Phase 2 of the Liverpool loop renewal,
Chester trains terminate and starting back at little used James Street P2, with its fine murals splendidly
illuminated in purple light. New Brighton and West Kirby trains are booked to use P1 providing a rare
opportunity to ride a tiny section of the Liverpool loop in the wrong direction. [Microdirectionality?].
637] Liverpool: At about 17.38 on Tue 28 Feb, part of a wall
beside the railway between Lime Street and Edge Hill stations,
collapsed onto tracks running through a deep cutting. An EMU
passenger train, the 16.40 Northern Rail service from
Manchester Airport to Liverpool Lime Street, was passing
through Edge Hill station at the time. The driver saw flashes
ahead, the overhead power supply went off and the signal in
front of his train changed to red. He stopped his train and called
the signaller who asked him to proceed at caution and examine
the line and the overhead wires once the power had been
restored. The power was restored at 17.55 and the train moved
slowly along the line. About 18.02 the driver saw more flashes
from the power lines ahead, possibly indicating further falling
material, and the power went off again. The driver braked and
stopped 360m from the collapse. (LEFT: Network Rail.)
The driver of the delayed 17.47 Virgin Trains Liverpool to London Euston service, an EMU travelling in
the opposite direction, was also requested by the signaller to proceed at caution and examine the
track and overhead wires. On approaching the site, that driver reported that there was a large pile of
rubble blocking all lines and his train could proceed no further. The rubble had fallen from the top of
the wall on the north (Up) side of the line. The land at the top of the wall had some shipping
containers on it. These had been converted to workshop and office accommodation. The ground level
in the area where they were sited had been considerably raised at some time. At the time of the
collapse it was raining heavily and had been doing so for around three hours previously.
The wall at the location of the collapse was approximately 20m above the track and the material which
fell over all four tracks amounted to some 70-80m3. The overhead wires on the two tracks closest to
the wall were demolished and that on the third track from the wall was damaged. (Adapted from the
Rail Accident Investigation Branch alert - a full investigation is being held.)
1277 SOUTH EAST - NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
638] Princes Risborough - Aylesbury: (BLN 1274.283) On 24 Feb the green single unit 55034 entered
Princes Risborough displaying 'Oxenhope' on the destination blind. 'Oxford' has also been noted.
639] Witham - Maldon: A surprising find is that Langford & Ulting station (CP 7 Sep 1964) has recently
been restored! There is a Great Eastern replica nameboard, the platform has been resurfaced, coping
stones fixed and repointed, etc. There appears to be a walkers' information board on the trackbed.
ABOVE: The platform earlier this month looking north; it was just 'Langford' from OP 1848 until 1923.
BELOW: The trackbed display board on a wet day! (Both John Kettle with thanks to Julian James.)
ABOVE: The very inviting trackbed route south towards Maldon (Bill Wilson 11 Mar 2017).
BELOW: 1952/55 OS 7th Series; Langford & Ulting station is top left. Interestingly Maldon is shown as a
'principal' station; its avoiding curve had a brief life and went in the 1890s. Maldon West (white spot)
is bottom left, CP 1939 along with regular services to Woodham Ferrers on the Southminster branch.
640] Maidenhead - Reading: (BLN 1271.3181) In the Reading station area electrification spans above
almost all lines (except the Southern lines into P4,5 & 6!) now have droppers installed - this includes
bays, all lines towards Reading West and lines towards London. No more wires have been installed
since those in and around P13/14 were put up over Christmas. Eastwards most masts and spans are in
place to and beyond Twyford. Wires are being put up from the Maidenhead direction starting beyond
west of the main road bridge at about MP25½ (the live electrification reaches very close to MP 25).
Wires are now up on all lines for about a mile west (to around MP26½). West of there, masts, spans
and droppers are largely in place to the London end of Ruscombe crossovers (MP 29½).
Although masts and spans are mostly in place, there are no droppers from there to outside Reading.
641] Didcot area: A software tweak has fixed problems with electrical interference between the new
Class 800 IEP trains and the signal circuits between Tilehurst and Didcot which delayed test runs; these
have since resumed and apparently went well. The first test with a Class 387 EMU here was successful
- deliveries of these trains (from Bombardier at Derby) are building up now, with some parked at the
far western end of Reading depot and others in new sidings at West Ealing. In terms of wiring work,
it looks as though the plan now for the Didcot area is to wire the line towards Oxford as far as
Appleford level crossing as an interim measure, along with both the Didcot avoiding line and tracks
from the station past the freight sidings to Didcot North Jn. After a lot of new foundation piles were
driven in a few weekends ago, catenary masts have now started to appear on the east side of the line
between Appleford and Didcot. This stretch of wiring will allow Oxford and North Cotswold Line trains
to switch between electric and diesel power at speed on the move away from the GW main line.
642] Luton Airport Parkway: (BLN 1256.920) A planning application for a £200M transit system linking
the station with Luton Airport has been submitted. If granted work could begin in late 2017 with the
system ready for operation by spring 2021. London Luton Airport Ltd, wholly owned by Luton Borough
Council, intends to fund the scheme through its capital programme. It is described as a fully-automatic,
two-way, 24 hour capable people-mover based on latest technology and design innovation. The 2.2km
route will run between two purpose-built stations at Stirling Place and the Central Terminal with a five
minute journey time. It will run alongside the Midland Main Line before crossing over Airport Way by a
new bridge. It continues through the airport's mid-term car park, under a taxiway and to the Central
Terminal. (Transport Briefing)
1277 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH
643] Cowes: (BLN 1275.371) It was possible for a locomotive to run-round a six coach train at Cowes in
P1 (although the official maximum was five!), or a four coach train in P2 without the carriages being
gravity shunted. The latter was done as a labour saving device and was entirely unofficial; one or two
guards even refused to do it. The Isle of Wight Footplate Inspector (for our young members these are
now Driver Managers) was known to have told a group of visiting enthusiasts that he had never seen
it….. It never happened while I was on duty. In practice a phone call would be made to Cowes Signal
Box prior to him visiting so that gravity shunting would not occur then. Your correspondent was
brought up very close to Cowes station and spent many happy teenage hours in that signal box!
Did you do anything interesting in your youth (suitable to share and document in BLN of course!)?
644] Redhill: From 5 Mar a new facing crossover was to have been installed (OOU) between the
Up and Down Redhill lines just to the London side of the existing trailing crossover north of the station.
645] Uckfield - Lewes: The government-commissioned study into the London and South Coast Rail
Corridor concludes that there is no strategic case to take forward proposals to reopen the line now.
The DfT has finally published the £100,000 study into the Brighton Main Line 2 almost two years after
it was announced by then Chancellor George Osborne before the last election. Responding to the
report, Rail Minister Paul Maynard said current plans to invest in the existing Brighton Main Line
(see Greater London section) could cope with demand for at least the next 30 years, even though
service had been 'particularly compromised' recently with levels of on-time performance among the
lowest nationally for some years. The report's authors suggest that other interested parties, including
councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships, may wish to progress work to improve the viability of the
rail infrastructure schemes. The report suggests it could be funded if communities accept 'significant'
additional local housing and commercial development [That won't go down well - local Regional Ed].
646] Feltham - Reading/Ash Vale: Platform extensions at Virginia Water and Sunningdale look nearly
complete. At Wokingham the Up platform extension is in use. Feltham's platforms will be extended
west in 2018 when the level crossing is replaced by a new bridge. Camberley extensions will be to six
cars, so that at least one coach in the rear unit is platformed. NR is upgrading power between Virginia
Water and Reading for 10 car trains to run. Some locations are receiving extra CCTV dispatch
equipment for Class 707s. The units have Automatic Selective Door Opening (that is ASDO not ASBO!).
647] Eastleigh - Fareham: NR is carrying out a study for a new station between Botley and Fareham
near the former Knowle Halt - originally 'Knowle Asylum Halt & Knowle Platform' [single journey's
only unless wearing a white coat perhaps?]. CP 6 Apr 1964 and accessed by an internal hospital road;
the remains of the platform still exist. This is near the proposed new Garden Town development of
Welborne, serving over 20,000 people. Press reports suggest two platforms, though our local member
feels capacity on the single track would not be over taxed, even allowing for the stone trains.
The leader of Fareham Borough Council met with NR senior managers in November to discuss a new
station near Welborne, but the ideas had always been rebuffed. He is surprised that they are now
undertaking a feasibility study. If the plans go through, construction will start in the next two years.
Buckland Developments, is expected to submit a planning application imminently. There is strong local
opposition but the government backs it. Hampshire's last new station (Hedge End) OP 9 May 1990.
1277 SOUTH WEST
BELOW: Railway Clearing House 1909 map; GWR lines are 'shewn' yellow; LSWR lines are dark blue.
648] Terminal Tales of
Millbay: The first main line
railway to arrive in
Plymouth was the South
Devon Railway (SDR) from
Exeter to a temporary
terminus at Laira on
5 May 1848. This was a GWR
backed broad gauge line,
extended to Millbay 4 Apr
1849. A siding into the
Plymouth Great Western
Docks was opened from
Millbay station in 1850.
The SDR was authorised by
an Act of Parliament to
construct a branch from
Millbay to Devonport, which
was more convenient for
the naval dockyards, but
instead powers transferred
to the Cornwall Railway. This was designed to cross the River Tamar on the Torpoint Ferry but
Parliament's rejection led to IK Brunel designing the Royal Albert Bridge! It was originally conceived
that Millbay terminus would be at Eldad on high ground but instead was built in an elevated position
with a short viaduct and bridge across Union St immediately east of the station. The arches were
rented out to local traders for storage and even used as a bus garage for GWR road motor services.
Trains waiting to depart faced north-eastwards but, crossing Union Street on an iron bridge, the line
swung northwards. It then passed a complex of carriage and engine sheds before reaching Cornwall Jn
('South Junc' on map above) near the bridge carrying Five Fields Lane (now North Road West), where
the line to Penzance diverged north-west and that to London (via Plymouth North Road station - the
present one) east. Millbay station was on the right hand side (looking north from its buffers) of the
line to the docks, and Millbay goods depot the left https://goo.gl/JQVqtb (the third photo).
The GWR General Manager's and Railway Executive Committee's reports indicate that the Millbay area
was hit by bombs on all three nights of 21-22 to 23-24 Apr 1941. The first night Harwell Street engine
shed was gutted by fire, some carriages were destroyed or damaged and the goods depot platform
damaged. The second night two arches in the goods depot were demolished, several loaded wagons
burnt out, and blast damage caused to passenger station buildings and district office. The third night
the goods shed, stables, and offices were gutted by fire, and 32 horses were killed, with extensive
damage to station buildings from incendiary bombs. It was noted 'Goods traffic dealt with at passenger
station' - implicitly due to that raid (effectively from 24 Apr 1941). The next monthly (May) supplement
to the working timetable also showed Millbay passenger station '...has been closed to passenger traffic
(except for dispatch of certain parcels and miscellaneous traffic)' - 24 Apr 1941 was the effective date.
ABOVE: 1947 1:25,000 Series. Plymouth North Road (the current station) is top right corner. This map
shows how the line to the Great Western Docks went past Millbay station and round the quayside.
BELOW TOP: The continuation of the Goods Lines beyond Millbay looking towards the Great Western
Docks was over a level crossing in fact and not (as wrongly shown on the map above) an overbridge.
BELOW LOWER: A close up of the signal box at the level crossing. (All pictures by Angus McDougall.)
When the replacement goods shed was erected, the former Millbay passenger station did not ROP but
its tracks were used as carriage sidings. From about 1959 its platforms were removed and the tracks
remodelled as 'proper' carriage sidings until 6 Oct 1969 when their work transferred to Laira.
The station building itself continued to be used as district offices until staff took higher positions and
transferred to the new tower block at North Road station in spring 1962. The goods depot with its
replacement shed CG 20 Jun 1966 (Clinker's footnotes are misleading - there were no private sidings
here; they were in the docks). Its work would have transferred principally to Friary. The vanfits shown
(between the train and the back wall of the passenger station) are standing in the fish dock sidings.
As part of the demerging of the British Transport Commission from 1 Jan 1963, the dock area and
railways beyond Millbay crossing transferred to British Transport Docks Board (BTDB).
Cornwall Jn, Harwell Street to Millbay Carriage Sidings was taken out of commission from 4 Dec 1969.
Wikipedia incorrectly quotes 14 Dec 1969 which was the decommissioning date of everything between
Plymouth Docks Jn (just the Millbay side of former Cornwall Jn) and Millbay Crossing except for the
pair of tracks leading to the docks (until 5 Oct 1958 this westerly pair had been designated the Goods
Lines but were then renamed Main Lines). In other words, the by-then-disused carriage sidings
(ex-passenger station site), goods depot and Millbay signal box were all decommissioned. The BTDB
gave up on rail activity in 1971. Plymouth North Road West - Cornwall Jn - Harwell Street - Millbay
Crossing (junction with BTDB) ceased to be used from 1 July 1971 and all remaining dock rail activity
ended. Everything beyond a couple of short sidings at North Road Jn was OOU from 26 Sep 1971.
Kittridge's 'Plymouth, Ocean Liner Port of Call' (Twelveheads, 1993) states that the last boat train left
Millbay at midnight on 18-19 Oct 1963, the final year of trans-Atlantic liners calling. Ocean Liner traffic
lasted for just under a century, having taken off in the 1870s when steamship operators realised that
depositing both mail and passengers at Plymouth would save a day on the journey to Southampton.
The heyday was in the 1930s and, after a short post WWII surge, a new terminal was opened here in
1952. The first Trans-Atlantic jet in Sep 1958 marked the beginning of the end for Ocean Liner traffic.
BELOW: Millbay Ocean Liner terminal from our 10 Oct 1970 railtour (Angus McDougall)
ABOVE: Plymouth Millbay looking south towards the buffers 10 Oct 1970 (all Angus McDougall).
A recent claim that our 10 Oct 1970 'Plymouth Area' railtour was the only passenger train at the Ocean
Terminal since the boat trains ceased needs to be tempered, as the Plymouth Railway Circle organised
a very worthwhile brakevan tour on 18 Jun 1966, which went right round to the GWR Docks West
Quay! Being brake vans, it was also able to cover the 'much sought after' [© a certain tour operator]
but never granted (for bogie stock) direct link between Tavistock Junction Yard and Marsh Mills.
A very valiant attempt was made by John Vaughan's RPPR 'Mayflower' tour on 12 Oct 1980 to cover
this. The couplings were loosened on the DMU to the maximum and the tour inched forward on the
link from the Yard towards the very tight curve towards Marsh Mills under careful supervision by the
Inspector on the ground. Unfortunately, the buffers became fully compressed and the wheel flanges
started to ride up onto the rail so the tour stopped on the first section of the curve (OG 4 April 1965,
replacing the direct access from Plymouth). Its unusually tight radius was necessary to connect with an
existing road in Tavistock Yard at right angles to the line from Marsh Mills. Passengers aboard still
wonder if a single 'Bubble' car would have made it round safely or, indeed, if the front DMU car had
been split from the other two cars …. [I remember this tour and incident well, so near yet so far - Ed.]
Our 10 Oct 1970 Plymouth Area railtour was certainly the last passenger train to leave Plymouth
Millbay Ocean Terminal. Pictures show the 3-car DMU at the furthest extent there, against a
background of somewhat rundown appearance. Industrial use of the site continued within the fine
warehouses. (The tour also visited Plymstock, Cattewater to Maxwell Road LC, Friary and North Quay).
Today, Millbay station site is occupied by the Plymouth Pavilions leisure complex. Two granite gate
posts (still showing traces of bomb or enemy plane cannon damage from the Plymouth blitz) outside
the Millbay Road entrance are all that is left of the station. The former Ocean Terminal buildings and
the warehouses are totally eradicated along with any buildings that stood on Millbay Pier with some
new housing alongside. The whole topography of the site has completely changed and little visual
remains of the terminal station or the viaduct and bridge towards North Road. The triangular junction
immediately west of North Road gave access to the west over the separate Stonehouse Pool Viaduct.
The girders on this remained for some years but were replaced on the original piers some years back
with a steel work of art reminiscent of railway infrastructure. At North Road, the triangular connection
is evident and the initial course of the Millbay line could be walked as a green space a few years ago.
649] Westbury: (BLN 1273.214) On Thur 26 Jan some of our members joined an RCTS visit to the
Power Signal Box (PSB) kindly arranged by Stuart Hicks. It controls the routes centred on Westbury:
●Southwest, about 20 miles to Somerton tunnel (8 miles south of Castle Cary) fringing with Exeter.
●Just south of Castle Cary (130m 00ch) on the Weymouth line (fringing with Yeovil Pen Mill box).
●The Merehead and Whatley Quarry branches via Frome; most stone train crews change at Westbury.
●Southeast to south of Beechgrove ground frame (115m 4ch) fringing with Salisbury Signalling Centre.
●East to almost Lavington (88m 6ch), fringing Thames Valley Signalling Centre (TVSC) at Didcot.
●North, to beyond Freshford (Up line) and Bradford Jn (Down line) fringing with Bristol Power Box.
●From Bradford Jn via Melksham to 97m 12ch (Chippenham line), just short of Thingley Jn (to TVSC).
There is just one automated half barrier level
crossing which is at Greenland Mill, east of
Bradford on Avon. In theory it is automatic, but
the signaller has to control the strike time
depending on whether the train is stopping at
Bradford on Avon or not. There are also several
farm crossings in the Bradford on Avon area.
Westbury PSB is also notified when a train has left
Maiden Newton for Yeovil Pen Mill.
Ten grade six signallers work shifts 06.00-18.00
and 18.00-00.00 in pairs; 00.00-06.00 is single
staffed. Westbury with an 'NX' (entrance/exit)
panel opened in June 1984 and is scheduled to be
transferred to the TVSC in 2026, but it is
suspected that this will be delayed! Interestingly
HSTs terminating or calling at Frome have a
distinctive 1Jxx headcode to remind the signallers
to turn them off the main line!
BELOW: 26 Jan 2017 (all pictures Stuart Hicks).
650] Where there's a Wilton there's a Parkway: (BLN 1243.1946) Over 60 people gathered at Wilton
Baptist Church on Wed 15 Feb, (thereby perhaps hoping for divine intervention?) for an update from
Paul Johnson, Chair of TransWilts, the group spearheading the ambitious Wilton Parkway station
scheme. He explained the proposal on land close to the A36 Park and Ride facility alongside the
existing railway between Salisbury and Tisbury, already described as 'ideal' for a low cost platform
solution. However, the indicative £5.5M cost, in Sept 2015, might not appear low to many of us!
Councillor Peter Edge has reported that the scheme is now at GRIP Stage 2. Further stages include
securing the funding through to building the railway platform. Stages 4/5/6 are about the actual
'delivery' of the project, maybe simpler than Stages 1-3 that focus on planning and selecting the best
option. Wilton Estate has joined Wilton Town Council in financing the latest work, including drawing-
up the necessary documents for Stage 2. 2019 is earmarked as an initial timeframe for the station to
open. Similar schemes being worked on for Royal Wootton-Bassett and Corsham are much further
behind in their planning stages, but hint at possible opening by 2020.
651] Weymouth Quay Resurfaces: (BLN 1256.879B) ABOVE: Surprisingly and very pleasingly, road
resurfacing which started 21 Feb is protecting the Weymouth Quay Tramway, despite reports that the
rails would be covered or 'capped' to avoid slippery surfaces. See https://goo.gl/0e42NN (pictures).
652] Bristol Airport Loop-the-loop: A further [rather 'pie in the sky'?'] proposal for an LRT system
serving Bristol International Airport has been identified by Flight Logistics (FL). Increasing passenger
numbers at the Airport are putting great pressure on local roads and official airport car parks, with
local landowners offering their sites as car parks. Where actioned without proper planning permission,
North Somerset Council (NSC) is quick to close these down. The airport, formerly Lulsgate, suffers from
poor public transport, with buses from Temple Meads serving the streets of Bedminster en route.
NSC applied in 2016 for £2M funding towards transport improvements, now under consideration by
the West of England LEP. FL's proposal is for the Airport to be served by a loop, rather than a direct link
from Long Ashton, to increase access opportunities and revenue. A separate subsidiary 'FL (Air Loop)'
has been set up to raise funds for an initial feasibility study if the consultation http://goo.gl/a01p17
(ending 31 Mar 2017) does not identify any immediate obstacles. A suggested route is Temple Meads -
Long Ashton - Flax Bourton (two new NR stations) - Airport - Bishopsworth - Parson Street - Temple
Meads, subject to 'tram-train' technology, allowing shared usage of NR metals. There would be
clockwise and anti-clockwise services to promote non-Airport traffic as a significant income stream.
653] Sandford & Banwell: (BLN 1256.929) This station on the Bristol & Exeter Railway's Cheddar Valley
line at Sandford in Somerset, is now Grade II listed. It can be viewed from the Strawberry Line Trail,
based on the Yatton to Cheddar trackbed, which is adjacent to the site. St Monica Trust has fully
renovated the building and platform area to a high standard, conserving original features and
replicating others, developed as part of the 108 home Sandford Station retirement village (get your
name down quickly), Under a Section 106 Planning Agreement with North Somerset Council, the main
station building with ticket office and waiting rooms is designated for community use. Sandford
Station Railway Heritage Centre https://goo.gl/by9OF0 occupies it at a peppercorn rent. A Mark 1
coach (70826 from EMU trailer set 4-TC 415) and an open wagon are displayed on rails with a Sentinel
steam engine (9387/48), as used to move stone between Sandford Quarry and the station. Sadly the
loco is only externally restored so no rides! It is open Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays,
Sat 25 Mar until Sun 30 Oct, 11.00 (last entry 16.00). Admission is free but donations are welcome.
654] Okehampton: (BLN 1276.558) The Dartmoor Sunday Rover seasonal services start on Sun 24 May
with four trains each way between about 10.00 and 18.00 (three hour early afternoon gap).
1277 WEST MIDLANDS
655] Kenilworth: From 6 Mar a set of new points forming a trailing connection between the Down
Kenilworth line and the Up Kenilworth line at 106m 39ch were due to be provided (initially out of use).
Anyone needing the present loop here is advised that it is being extended for the station reopening.
Interestingly it was covered in both directions by Pathfinder Tours 'Waste Train' on Sat 11 March.
656] Norton Bridge: (BLN 1276.568) London Midland services to London Euston awaiting the signal for
the Up Fast here is normal. The hourly LM daytime services from Crewe to Euston are the 'poor
relations' when allocating paths; there are pathing issues around Virgin and Cross Country trains at
Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford. Therefore LM services are timetabled for five minutes pathing time
at both those stations with quite slack timing in between as well. Indeed, if the service is not held at
Norton Bridge signal, arrival at Stafford is usually four minutes early, with nine minutes wait.
Before the Norton Bridge remodelling the signal controlling access to the Up Fast towards Stafford was
on the Stone line well before the junction, and not within passenger sight of Norton Bridge station.
A wait of 3 to 4 minutes here was typical, and the guard often announces that this wait is timetabled,
so would not cause late running. Since the remodelling, there is a much greater length of chord before
the Up Fast is joined and the signal has been moved forward (so that stationary trains do not block
Yarnfield Jn) and is now adjacent to the disused Norton Bridge station. Even if a passenger did manage
to alight there, they would be stranded. The footbridge has long gone and there is no escape!
657] Stratford-upon-Avon - Honeybourne: Worcestershire County Council is leading a £10k study to
assess the economic impact of reopening the line, taken OOU in Mar 1980 (north of Long Marston).
The Cotswold Line Promotion Group and the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group have joined forces to
support the project and 5,900 new homes are due to be built in the area by 2031. Recent house
building has helped drive a well above national average passenger growth on the North Cotswold Line
and some station car parks are being further enlarged. If the line was reopened, some North Cotswold
stations would have a direct service to/from Stratford, for Solihull, Birmingham and Leamington Spa.
The Rail User Groups said that a 45 minute direct rail journey between a new Long Marston Parkway
station and Birmingham might be possible and they would also lobby for the doubling of the remaining
two single-line sections of the North Cotswold Line between Worcester and Oxford.
658] Grand Central: On Mon 6 Mar, due to a point failure, trams terminated at, and departed from,
the arrival platform, a member to experience the facing (Black) 'Country End' crossover on departure.
X.36] BELOW: A HST from London Paddington leaving Worcester Shrub Hill station on the single line
round to Foregate Street. The external cleanliness of GWR trains passing your Editor's house in recent
months has been exemplary, including right through the difficult winter period (Rob Pritchard 23 Feb).
X.37]: ABOVE TOP: (BLN 1274.305 with map) The site of Dudley station (CP 1964) in early March 2017
after tree clearance work, looking north from Castle Hill Road. The work is ready for detailed survey
and design work on the proposed Midland Metro Brierley Hill extension. Dudley station was on the left
(latterly a BR Freightliner Depot), the Oxford Worcester & Wolverhampton line (subsequently GWR)
used to continue straight on to the top left for Wolverhampton Low Level station via Priestfield.
The South Staffordshire line went off sharp right to Dudley Port Low Level & Walsall (Rob Moorcroft).
ABOVE LOWER: Looking south, it is now possible to see the north end of Dudley Tunnel for the first
time in years. The line continues to Round Oak steel terminal and is then open to Stourbridge Jn.
659] Llanymynech - Blodwell Junction: (Map BLN 1274.302) About half of this section was in Wales,
half in England; the border also runs down Llanymynech's main street and divides the village. The line
was authorised (to reach Nantmawr) by the 30 Jun 1864 West Shropshire Mineral Railway 'New Lines'
Act, although it soon merged with the Potteries, Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway (PS&NW).
Its modest career to 1880 was in BLN 1274.303, as was the 'revival', by the Cambrian, the next year.
Left to its own devices, the Cambrian would have had no intention of repeating the PS&NW's dismal
experience with passenger traffic but the promoters of the Tanat Valley Light Railway (TVLR) at the
turn of the century had other aspirations Under an agreement of 10 Jul 1901 with the Earl of Bradford
(whom we have already met as one time owner of Blodwel (sic) Quarry), the Cambrian had undertaken
- as an adjunct to the terms for operating the light railway - to open a direct south-west Blodwell Jn
curve ('Rly No2' on the sketch BELOW from the Cambrian's files at Kew - RAIL1057/1925 - Richard
Maund) which would have allowed direct running Llangynog - Llanymynech. From then on, archived
files reveal continuing prevarication against replacing the existing south-east curve (i.e. the Nantmawr
branch) with what was generally referred to as 'Lord Bradford's loop (or curve)' - so that, even though
the TVLR's contractors had provided the earthworks, the curve was never completed
ABOVE: Tanat Valley Light Railway passenger services with OP 6 Jan 1904 (Llangynog was 19½ miles
from Oswesty by rail). Llanymynech to Blodwel Junction was 2½ miles - the connections at the latter
are not bad. (The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey with thanks to Richard Maund.)
As a sop to the Earl, the Cambrian Railways reluctantly provided a connecting passenger service with
Llanymynech (three trains one way, two the other), which started on the same day as TVLR passenger
trains (6 Jan 1904 - see timetable). The Cambrian doubtless saw the Railway Executive Committee's
quest for train mileage reductions during World War 1 as an ideal opportunity to abandon an
unprofitable service - it was withdrawn (along with many others services elsewhere) from 1 Jan 1917.
Meanwhile, the Cambrian had taken the opportunity to overcome one of the strong objections of the
Board of Trade's railway inspectorate under the Regulation of Railway Act 1889 - the original method
of working Llanfyllin branch trains at Llanymynech involving the reversing siding (BLN 1274) -
by constructing a link between that branch and the Nantmawr line at Nantmawr Jn (Llanfyllin Branch
Jn from 1917). It was close to the later Carreghofa Halt and is the un-named 'Junc' shown 61ch west of
Llanymynech South on the plan at BLN 1274.302. This link OP 27 Jan 1896 enabling Llanfyllin branch
trains to run directly to/from Llanymynech and Oswestry via a short section of the Nantmawr branch.
Freight traffic continued to use the Nantmawr branch until the Tanat River bridges were damaged by
flooding on Fri 2 Jan 1925, and through working stopped (note that this change to Nantmawr traffic
working via Llynclys was not formally recognised by timetable alteration until 13 Jul 1925).
Various dubious dates have been bandied about regarding the abandonment of this section of the
branch but the following is drawn from GWR engineering records. The line was not regarded as
permanently 'closed' or 'severed' (reportedly used for wagon storage), despite the diversion of train
service, until 15 Sep 1938 when Llanfyllin Branch Jn and a short section of track there were removed,
as shown on the GWR plan BELOW (from Kew Archives with thanks to Richard Maund).
On 13 Mar 1939 the bridge at 1m 44¼ch (7 spans) was formally recorded as having, by that date, been
demolished, and in Jan 1940 the line was lifted from the site of Llanfyllin Branch Jn to Tanat bridge
(2m 13ch). The 19ch on to Blodwell Jn (2m 32ch = 2m 45ch TVLR mileage) was converted to a siding,
used as a headshunt for TVLR crossing movements to be made there.
On the section thus abandoned, an interchange siding with the canal had existed at Wern (SJ258208) -
shown on the 1876 OS plan but removed between the 1887 and 1901 editions. It is unlikely to have
reopened after the 1880 closure as the Cambrian would have no need of it - it is not shown on a
Cambrian plan dated 3 Oct 1893 (Kew file MT6/632/10) - and anyway its alignment was severed by the
1896 curve to the Llanfyllin branch. There was a public goods facility, Rhydmeredydd (SJ251224) -
shown on the 1876 OS plan survey. First booked calls ('if required') were not until the Jul 1904 working
timetable (WTT); it first appears in the Railway Clearing House's Hand-book of Stations 1904 edition,
not having been included in any amendments issued since the previous edition. The last 'if required'
calls were in the Oct 1913 WTT. From 12 Jul 1914 WTT the location remained in the table without calls,
until removed entirely with GWR's Jul 1924 WTT. It was not deleted from the Hand-book of Stations
until amendment leaflet L62 of Jan 1927 (GWR bureaucracy belatedly catching up with actualité!).
1277 IRELAND Please send contributions to Martin Baumann (back page).
660] Irish Rail: An Inspection car ran from Rosslare Strand to Waterford on 28 Feb 2017. Excluding
inspection cars, Irish Rail passenger traffic grew 7.9% in 2016 (to 42.8M). Interestingly 50% of the
Republic's public transport passengers are carried by Dublin Bus (125.3M in 2016). The busiest stations
on the 2015 census day were all in Dublin: Connolly (nearly 30,000 passengers), Pearse (27,000),
Heuston (19,300) and Tara Street (17,350), which together handled one third of all traffic. Least used
station was Carrick-on-Suir (1 passenger documented on census day) on the Limerick Junction to
Waterford line which must be regarded as under threat of closure (as is Limerick to Ballybrophy).
Despite the poor use of this line, Underbridge 154 near Carrick-on-Suir was recently renewed with
work completed on 24 Feb. Carrick-on-Suir loop was decommissioned during a possession on the
weekend of 29/30 Nov 2013. However, it remains a staffed block post (where the signalman can use a
bicycle to transfer the single line token); but trains can no longer cross there, perhaps now uniquely in
the British Isles? All five stations
between Ballybrophy and Limerick, all
four stations between Limerick Junction
and Waterford, and three stations
between Ennis and Athenry were
among the 15 least used on the network
with less than 40 passengers.
661] Lisburn: Until further notice the
21.45 (SuO) Portadown to Bangor train
is booked to run via Lisburn P3 thus
traversing the rarely used southern
entrance to this platform.
X.38] UPPER LEFT: Firehose protection
'somewhere in Ireland' (Chris Tottey).
RIGHT: Carrick-on-Suir station
13 May 2006; an MRSI railtour
before the loop was lifted
1277 ISLE OF MAN
662] Laxey: (BLN 1274.312) Following the significant tree fall mentioned and resulting damage, the
remaining trees in the area have all now been felled. The station looks very bare as a result
663] Cleland: The Up Siding and Ground Frame (3m 60ch), where there is a trailing crossover, has been
reinstated for the Holytown to Midcalder Electrification Project, under a long term possession.
664] Border's Railway: Your Northern Editor recently met with David Adams who is Treasurer and
Membership Secretary of the Campaign for Borders Rail. He advised that Borders Rail membership has
now increased to over 800 (good value at £5 per year see https://goo.gl/LP6Azo or 017683 62022).
The Group is preparing a Summary Case for the Cross-Border (Waverley route) link including
proposals, a summary of benefits, some case studies (for example timber by rail) and a list of priorities.
With the success of the Tweedbank line to date it is interesting to see the proposals for a through
route to Carlisle and the business case being put together by the group to promote the reopening.
665] Thurso: On 6 March 1,100 new 60ft rails were delivered by sea (for the first time in Scotland and
said to have saved 110 lorry movements!) to Scrabster Harbour to relay this 6½ mile branch. Work
begins this month, NR has already renewed the signalling and plans to raise line speeds over level
crossings and improve earthworks and structures. Sadly passenger numbers have declined by 9.5% at
Thurso and 8% at Wick in the past year. This is attributed to long rail journey times and unreliability.
ABOVE: Keith Junction. Note the freight working (left). There were two Society 'Bubble Car' railtours in
Scotland in the late 1970s. On 28 Aug 1978 the Fiddichburger [with extra relish and chips?] ran on
Bank Holiday Monday (a normal day in Scotland), as a support fixture to the usual annual Saturday
tour. It went from Aberdeen to Inverness (one way) visiting Dufftown, Burghead and Forres Goods
(the latter line is due to become part of the new passenger line here from 7 Oct 2017), with a side trip
to Longmorn Distillery (which then had an isolated standard gauge internal line once connected to the
former Elgin to Craigellachie line at Longmorn, the first station south of Elgin). (All Ian Mortimer.)
ABOVE: The former station platform at Dufftown then the terminus of a freight branch from Keith Jn
to serve several local distilleries; the main traffic was incoming grain. It is still possible to catch a
passenger train here now on the Keith & Dufftown Railway but this scene has changed out of all
recognition. Note the remains of the other platform on the left; there used to be a passing loop here.
BELOW: The Fiddichburger at Burghead passenger station (CP 14 Sep 1931); the line curving away left
is to Alves Jn and Elgin and has just been traversed by the tour. The loop was the run round for the
grain trains (usually Class 47 hauled) which had an unloading facility behind the photographer.
ABOVE: Forres Goods, the tour had already run further west towards the former Forres West Jn (the
Inverness end) then back to this convenient loading dock for a photo stop. It was quite normal to
(safely) walk on the track in those days during these stops! Forres East Jn (the Aberdeen end) is to the
left, with the main line behind the signal. Who would have thought then that nearly 49 years later this
section would become the passenger line again?
Our other 'bubble car' tour then on 16 Apr 1979 was the ' Waterloo & Buchan Tour' from Aberdeen to
Aberdeen Waterloo and a farewell trip on the lengthy 38 mile Fraserburgh branch(CG 8 Oct 1979).
666] Mostyn: (BLN 1274.328) Connections for the new bidirectional Up side 'Mostyn Goods Loop'
have been designated Mostyn East Jn (198m 42ch), where there is a facing crossover from the Down
Main to Up Main east of the loop and Mostyn West Jn (199m 23ch) with a trailing crossover back from
the Up Main to the Down Main at the west end. There is also a trailing connection from Mostyn Docks
Exchange Sidings into the new loop, but all infrastructure (installed by 5 Mar) remains OOU.
667] Transport for Wales: A public consultation is in progress to identify priorities and preferences in
respect of the Wales & Borders franchise and South Wales Metro; responses are invited by 23 May,
and the consultation document can be accessed at https://goo.gl/jfa99A online. There is a very wide
ranging questionnaire and you can really make a difference by filling it in and submitting your ideas.
St David's Day saw formal sign-off of the Capital Region 'City Deal', of which some £734M is earmarked
for the Metro. The Welsh Government has meantime issued an outline of transport plans for
North Wales, including a 'North East Wales Metro'. With regard to rail, this is largely just a pulling
together of projects already widely trailered, such as electrification and resignalling of the North Wales
main line, more redoubling between Wrexham and Chester, and redoubling of the Halton Curve.
There are new commitments to improve line speeds on the Wrexham to Bidston line, and to
enhancing capacity at Chester, albeit without any specific detail. Also included is a commitment to
'work with partners to identify opportunities to develop rail freight facilities at Holyhead Port'.
668] Porthcawl Branch: (BLN 1276.583) Amending this, Cefn Jn was not created until the opening of
the Ogmore Valleys Extension line in 1898, and the actual commencement (zero milepost) of the
Porthcawl Branch was at Tondu Middle. It opened as a 4ft 7in gauge horse-worked tramroad on
22 Apr 1828. There is evidence that passengers were being carried as early as 1836, and a surviving
timetable of 1850 lists intermediate stops at Park (1½ miles from Tondu), Foes (2¼), Cefn-Cwsg (3½),
Bryndu (4), South Wales Junction (4½), Tydraw (5¾) and Cornelly (7). The tramroad was converted to
a railway in 1861, with 'proper' passenger trains introduced from 1 Feb 1865; the only intermediate
stations then were Kenfig Hill (named Cefn until 1 Aug 1885) and Pyle.
The GWR took over operations from 16 May 1873, and a flat crossing with the South Wales main line
was replaced by a bridge with the branch passing underneath it on 13 Nov 1876, with new connections
laid in at Pyle station. There was a short-lived north-to-east connection between 1861 and 1864 and,
much later in time, a west-to-south connection was opened on 7 Mar 1947. Following closure of the
Inner Dock at Porthcawl, the passenger station was relocated 12ch further south on 6 Mar 1916;
unusually, no turntable was provided, locos turning via a triangle of former docks lines.
An intermediate private halt was in use between 1897 and 1917, known as Porthcawl Golfers'
Platform. This name was given the 'elbow' and it reopened as a public halt, Nottage Halt, on
14 Jul 1924, although passengers were never carried between Porthcawl and Nottage, Down trains
being to 'set down on request to the Guard' and Up trains 'to pick up only'.
A member of Railway Ramblers kindly telephoned about Nottage Halt (BLN 1275.461). It is not near
the farm building described. There is a wall over which the remains of the platform can be found.
A picture can be taken of the platform from top of the wall. The map reference is (SS 8200 7846).
Photos are in 'GWR Halts Vol 2', Robertson, p44 and (trackless) 'Lost Branch Lines', Atterbury, p69.
669] Port Penrhyn: (BLN 1276.585) Learned friends, quoting James Boyd as the ultimate authority on
all such matters, state that the official closure date of the branch was actually 30 June 1965, although
this may in fact simply reflect the date at which the main line connection was removed.
1277 MINOR RAILWAYS
X.39]: ABOVE: An ECS run at Rugeley Power Station Society of Model Engineers on Sun 26 Feb 2017.
BELOW TOP: Every home should have one… BELOW BOTTOM: Langley Common Halt (which is not
used) - note the ironwork. Sadly this railway closes from 1 April after 'notice to quit' (Stuart Hicks).
MR46] Swindon & Cricklade Railway, Wiltshire (MR p6): Sometime between 12 and 14 February 2017,
vandals daubed graffiti over a 'Moonraker' dining car set coach and the class 119 Cross-Country DMU.
The Railway is going to contact Swindon Borough Council's graffiti team for expert advice because of
the risk of damaging delicate paintwork underneath. This comes after the Railway was told the
suspects arrested on suspicion of causing last May's fire, which destroyed a class 207 DEMU trailer-car,
would not be prosecuted. Suspects were arrested in the wake of the arson attack, but the Railway was
told by the Crown Prosecution Service that the case had been dropped because there was no realistic
chance of a conviction. It was also discovered that the insurance company will only cover 15% of the
£80,000 claim. As well as the DEMU car, two wagons with rare electrical equipment collected to
extend the signalling system were obliterated and the insurance company refused to pay out for.
MR47] Didcot Railway Centre, Oxfordshire (MR p7): This well-known railway centre was visited on
Saturday 18 February 2017 - at the end of a week of running for the school half-term. Running on the
Branch Line was GWR Steam Railmotor No93, operating without its trailer, which was stabled near the
turntable. Trains ran on this line 10.30-12.00/13.00-15.30. On the Main Line was Class 14 'Teddy Bear'
D9516 and Auto Coach W231 - running 10.30-12.50/13.50-15.30. GWR King 6023 was hauled out of
the workshop to the foot crossing, near the entrance, and back by 08604 to settle it on its springs
before weighing. The Broad Gauge Line has not operated for a while, as both broad gauge locomotives
('Iron Duke' and 'Fire Fly') are out of service. The Centre's web site records that 'Firefly' was completed
in 2005 (the year the Broad Gauge Line first carried passengers) so it would have not run since at least
2015 (assuming a 10-year boiler certificate). As for 'Iron Duke' the web site states: After a few earlier
visits in 1986/7, this locomotive returned to Didcot Railway Centre in December 2013 and will be
cosmetically restored for static display. Therefore the Broad Gauge Line will not carry passengers again
until/unless 'Firefly' is overhauled (which given the current shortage of GWR steam motive power here
would seem unlikely in the medium term). Adult admission was £9.00 (£10.00 with Gift Aid).
BELOW: Didcot Railway Centre 'Main Line'. 'Teddy Bear' D9516 and GWR Auto coach W231 (Peter Scott 18 Feb 2017).
MR48] Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway, Falkirk (MR p9): The Scottish Railway Preservation Society (SRPS) is
applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and other grant-funding bodies in an effort to raise £2M
which, if successful, will go to the construction of a modern steam maintenance facility ('Linlithgow
Gazette', 21 February 2017 https://goo.gl/yJnpXW ). The project would create new jobs and
apprenticeships, working through Scotland's Modern Apprentice Scheme, as well as a programme for
existing and new volunteers; it will become part of an improved visitor trail. The SRPS has to raise
matching funding of around £800,000. Decision on HLF funding is expected later this year.
MR49] Waterford & Suir Valley Railway, County Waterford (MR p27) (BLN 1252.MR44): Work is
continuing on the Waterford Greenway cycle and walking route alongside the railway. It is expected to
be completed and opened on Saturday 25 March - exactly 50 years since the passenger service ceased
on the Waterford to Mallow line. The railway is planning to extend the coffee shop at Kilmeadan to
cater for cyclists and walkers. They are fundraising to build a log cabin to house the coffee shop.
MR50] Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Gwynedd (MR p29) (BLN 1246.MR197): A correspondent
has kindly compiled some detailed notes about the connection at Pen-y-Mount between the Welsh
Highland Heritage Railway (WHHR) and the Welsh Highland Railway (F&WHR). The link has been used
on occasions. According to the illustrated record on the 'Isengard' website:
The official opening of the WHHR's extension to Traeth Mawr loop took place on 23 March 2007.
The original intention had been that it should continue to Pont Croesor but this proved to be beyond
its resources in the time available - which could be said to vindicate the FR's 'muscling in'. Trains only
ran to Traeth Mawr for the 2007 season; the last train was on 28 October 2007 and the loop was lifted
the following week. During the 2008 season WHHR trains ran in push-pull mode to a point approx
250m short of its site, just south of Farmyard Farm LC. The final such working ran on 2 November 2008
and WHHR services were further cut back to Pen-y-Mount for 2009. F&WHR tracklaying reached
Traeth Mawr on 31 August 2008 and the physical connection to the F&WHR here was finally
completed on 4 December 2008; the link at Pen-y-Mount had evidently already been made as
following completion of work near Cae Pawb (flat crossing with the Cambrian Coast line) the following
day the first works train immediately ran through to Dinas. Subsequent use of the link:
●25 June 2011: the first WHHR test train ran on a Saturday evening double headed by locos 'Gelert'
and 'Gertrude' from Gelert's Farm to 'the foot of Nantmor Bank' i.e. just beyond Hafod-y-Llyn to test
braking systems (WHHR stock is air braked whereas F&WHR is vacuum braked). After successful
completion, 'Gelert' ran light to Beddgelert and back to take water; the locos then ran round the train
at Hafod-y-Llyn. A portable stop block had to be removed at Pen-y-Mount with the aid of bolt cutters
as it had not been moved 'for a while' and the points at the F&WHR end of the link line unlocked.
●23 July 2011: 'Chaloner' transfer from Caernarfon to WHHR.
●6 August 2011: 'Chaloner' made the transfer from the WHHR back to the WHR.
●13 November 2011: 'Gertrude' was dragged to Minffordd for the Warley Model Railway Exhibition.
●26 November 2011: 'Gertrude' returned via Minffordd hauled by SBR No9.
●22 April 2012: Mike Hart's Simplex was transferred to the WHHR for a Bank Holiday Weekend event.
●21 July 2012: A WHHR AGM Members' Special train travelled from WHHR to Hafod-y-Llyn.
●15 - 16 September 2012: During a WHR Gala some Penrhyn Quarry locos visited the WHHR terminus
overnight before continuing to Boston Lodge.
●21 September 2012: Photo Charter freight from WHHR to Hafod-y-Llyn on.
● 29 December 2012: The WHHR's 'Gelert' made a loaded run to Beddgelert hauling five coaches to
test the couplers and kinematic envelope of the WHHR coaches on the sharp curves either side of
Bryn-y-felin bridge. It crossed the Porthmadog to Caernarfon service train on which the correspondent
was travelling with a Railway Ramblers group at Pont Croesor and had .earlier crossed the southbound
service at Beddgelert, the first (and, so far, only?) such meetings of trains of the two companies.
●27 April 2014: The highlight of the WHHR's gala event over the Bank Holiday weekend of 3-5 May
2014 was to have been 'Russell' returning to service after overhaul. When it became obvious that this
would not be completed in time the F&WHR loaned the pioneer Garratt 'K1' and a short rake of
vacuum braked stock. The transfer took place via the Pen-y-Mount link with 'Blanche' on 27 April 2014.
●The date of transfer of 'K1' and of return of loco and stock to the F&WHR isn't recorded.
●1 August 2015: The WHHR's Chairman reported that they had offered to loan 'Russell' to the F&WHR
to take part in its SuperPower gala the following month in return for being allowed to operate a couple
of trains to Beddgelert themselves. This had been declined. It was thought that a dispute over land at
Pen-y-Mount could have influenced this decision.
● 30 June 2016: Bob Washington's funeral special, the only reported use of the connection since.
Apart from the events of 29 December 2012 this is all gleaned from FR, WHR and WHHR related
websites. The link was traversed by our BLS special with 34 passengers on 1 November 2008, part of
the Society's North West Wales visit programme of 31 October to 2 November 2008. It took in the
WHHR on the Saturday from around 15.00 and included the 7¼" gauge Porthmadog Woodland Railway
and shed and workshop visiting. After arrival of the final advertised passenger round trip back from
Pen-y-Mount, the special proceeded to Pen-y-Mount where it traversed the link and continued to the
head of steel near Portreuddyn, reversing there and returning to the WHHR terminus in Porthmadog.
MR51] Seaton Tramway, Devon (MR p32) (BLN 1271.MR247): The Tramway's 2017 season leaflet
states: Please note from 1st October 2017 until Easter 2018, our tram service will operate from and to
our Riverside Depot, with the benefit of a behind the scenes tour included in your ticket price. A vintage
shuttle bus will run between the old Seaton terminus and Riverside Depot whilst construction of our
new terminus takes place. Whether in-service cars will run from/to the Depot approach tracks, or
merely from/to Riverside Loop remains to be seen!
X.40] BELOW: The 2ft gauge South Tynedale Railway (MR p14) extension, taking the line to 4½ miles
is almost at Slaggyford level crossing, just south of the station there (both Ian Hughes early Mar 2017).
NEXT PAGE TOP: The impressive new signal box at Slaggyford nears completion.
ABOVE: Slaggyford station, in early Feb looking
south (towards Alston) the wooden building on
the right is original (Ian Hughes).
LEFT: 1951/55 7th Series map showing the 1¼
mile extension, opening later this year, in
standard gauge days: Lintley (bottom right) is
the present terminus from Alston. Top left is
Slaggyford - the 13 mile branch ran from
Haltwhistle (off top left) and may do so again!
MR52] Mountsorrel and Rothley Community
Heritage Centre, Leicestershire (BLN 1274.
MR29): The Prince of Wales recently visited this
Community Heritage Centre and met with
volunteers and businesses that have helped to
create the centre and restore the Mountsorrel
Railway. Tarmac, operators of the nearby rail-
served quarry, are the largest donors
contributing £754k over three years via the
Landfill Communities Fund. Tarmac has also
donated construction materials and provided
professional advice during the project.
A significant number of Tarmac employees
have also volunteered on the project.
MR53] Post Office Railway, Greater London (BLN 1269.MR231): The planned opening date for the
Mail Rail exhibition and railway seems to have slipped and is now 'Spring/Summer' - a member was
told at their stand at Stampex in Mid February. The website states 'mid-2017'.
1277 FIXTURES REPORT: 670] Teesside Signal Box Visits, Fri 17 Feb: (BLN 1273.133) It is probably best
to start by describing the method of working between the boxes visited. Track Circuit Block (TCB)
working applies Tees - Redcar signal boxes and Middlesbrough - Nunthorpe, except the Absolute
Block (AB) on the Middlesbrough - Whitehouse Goods Lines. Train Describers are not provided on the
sections worked by TCB; trains are described by single stroke bell. In all cases apart from Grangetown
and Redcar (which have buttons on the panels) the bells for the TCB operated sections are the bottom
sections of BR standard block instruments. Absolute Block also applies between Redcar and Longbeck.
The Longbeck to Crag Hall single line is worked by British Railways (BR) Tokenless Block instruments,
originally designed by the Western Region https://goo.gl/bSS3wf for the rationalization of the Exeter
to Salisbury line. The Crag Hall to Boulby Mine single line is worked under No Signalman Key Token
(NSKT) regulations but that between Nunthorpe and Whitby is worked under No Signalman Token
Remote (NSTR) regulations - it has multiple sections, all supervised from Nunthorpe by telephone.
https://goo.gl/p6M8iR is an extensive and interesting collection of 101 photos taken during our visit
with thanks to our member Andrew Gardiner (also for those with this item except as noted).
12 members met at the former Sussex St Level Crossing, just west of Middlesbrough station and were
joined by our NR host, Tim Johnson. The first visit was to the NER Type C1 ('C' denotes the former NER
Central Division) Middlesbrough box dating from 1877 (Middlesbrough West prior to the abolition of
the East box in the 1960s). There is a small IFS (Individual Function Switch) panel commissioned in
1978, which also controls Cargo Fleet Rd Level Crossing on the branch, and works to Tees box (located
in Tees Yard control tower) to the west and Whitehouse and Nunthorpe boxes to the east.
There is a Direction Switch used to accept trains on the 'Nunthorpe Single Line'. Five block bells sit side
by side to the left of the signaller's workstation - a full block instrument for the goods lines to
Whitehouse and the bottom sections of block instruments for the four TCB operated sections. Each
has a 'ring' hanging from the tapper, so that the signaller can actually see which ring has rung!
ABOVE: Middlesbrough with the five adjacent block bells, each can ring and has a ring (see below).
Middlesbrough station has two platforms (there are proposals for a third) and a stabling siding at each
end. The Down platform is reversible and the 'Up' can also be used for east departures (not clear on
TRACKmaps Oct p47B 2016). There used to be a middle line, for stock stabling, and an east end Down
platform 'Whitby' bay.
We then continued east to Whitehouse, an NER 1874 type C1 box, extended in 1900 and subsequently
refurbished. It has a McKenzie & Holland type 17 lever frame with 41 levers (27 spare) with tappet
locking. The box controls a normally lightly used level crossing which comes alive on match days, as
Middlesbrough FC's Riverside Stadium is close by. The Goods Lines end here. The diagram still shows
the short Stockton Haulage branch, where the internal system was covered on our Cleveland Area
Industrial railtours of 5-7 May 1989 (BLN last reported rail traffic in Jan 1994).
Amazingly, the 'BSC Coke Works' line is still theoretically available for traffic! This heavily rusted and
distorted track is the former Down Goods line, left as a single track branch when the line to
Grangetown (South Bank Jn) was reduced to double track from 5 Dec 1982, for coal trains to serve
South Bank coke ovens (which closed 19 Sep 2015). Track which once diverged south west from the
box and was still embedded in the road was the subject of some speculation amongst the participants.
Subsequent research, after the visits, showed that it formed a short branch from the former
Cargo Fleet Sidings to the Redpath Dorman Long engineering works
ABOVE & LEFT: The unusual floor glass panel at Redcar
box to see pedestrians; 'see below…' (!!) (John Cowburn).
Tim wished to go to Grangetown box on the afternoon
shift as he did not want to impose a group of visitors on
the relatively new morning shift signaller, so we headed
for Redcar, an LNER type 13 box dating from 1937 with an
IFS panel installed in Feb 1970. It controls a busy level
crossing and is very close to the road. Because of this there
is an extension jutting out over the pavement with a glass
panel in the floor for the signaller to see pedestrians
directly beneath. The crossing has prototype sliding gates,
with pads to detect obstructions when closing, because
there was insufficient room to install barrier equipment
without demolishing the box. These replaced the old life-
expired NE Region motorised boom gates. The box
controls a Down loop east of the crossing and Church Lane
Level Crossing beyond.
Longbeck (BELOW) is a tiny 1932 LNER type 12 box.
Four at a time just about fitted in. It survives to control a
level crossing. An IFS panel was installed on 8 Feb 1970 to
supersede Saltburn Station and Saltburn West Jn boxes;
another panel replaced the lever frame on 13 Sept 1980.
The former Up Main is now the single line access to the station. Occasional loco hauled trains run
to/from Saltburn. These run round in the Jubilee Sidings; No2 was the Down Main, connected at the
east end by a ground frame.
Crag Hall, next to British Steel's Skinningrove works is the quietest box in the area and the only one
that is Grade 2, the lowest category. It is an 1878 NER type C1, with significant later alterations.
When the line to Loftus (and Whitby) was open it was the end of the double track from Brotton,
where the lines from Nunthorpe and Saltburn West converged. Crag Hall to Loftus CA 12 Aug 1963
but the box did not close until 8 Feb 1970. It reopened 31 Mar 1974 in connection with ROG to Boulby
the next day. The box has a McKenzie & Holland type 16 lever frame (tappet interlocking), with 30
levers (17 spare). The BR Tokenless Block system is used and unusually no bell communication is
provided. We observed that the class of train and time offered were communicated by telephone. The
key tokens for Boulby are in a Tyers No9 instrument. There is a passing loop on the Boulby line here
but the Skinningrove works branch diverges before the loop so the steel trains do not require a token.
The shift change had taken place so we retraced our tracks to Grangetown, the largest box visited.
All four running lines have to be crossed to reach it so Tim obtained permission to do this safely by
phone. Although dating from 1954 it is an LNER type 15 box, with significant alterations. There is an NX
(Entrance Exit) panel commissioned 4 Dec 1982 with a replacement fascia plate circa 2005. The writer
surmises that a much larger box was required here for the new lines that opened in the area after the
War: ICI Wilton (1946/47); the Beam Mill Jn to Lackenby Grids flyover line (unknown date after 1951);
Tees Dock (c1963); Teesport Shell refinery (1968) and Redcar Ore & Mineral Terminals (25 Mar 1973).
Although the oil refinery closed in 1984 and the line is now lifted it is still shown on the panel!
ABOVE: Part of the Grangetown panel with the Wilton branch bottom centre.
Nunthorpe was our last visit, now the only box on the Whitby line. The signaller controls the entire
branch and has a 'mimic diagram' to 'track' the trains manually; magnets can be placed on the sections
to identify their locations. Drivers are given permission by telephone to withdraw key tokens
(Tyers No9) from the instruments at Battersby, Glaisdale and Whitby and the intermediate instrument
at Grosmont (for movements on and off the North Yorkshire Moors Railway). The points at Battersby,
where trains reverse, are not controlled but work automatically for arriving trains on a first come, first
served basis. Battersby has the only signals on the branch which, together with the points, work for
departures by the withdrawal of the appropriate token. They can also be operated by a route set
plunger, which must be used if either a train is delayed in leaving the station and the points indicator
has reverted to 'not set' (red) or a movement is required without a token being withdrawn.
At Nunthorpe; the points at the Middlesbrough end are train operated, with a point indicator where a
Down home signal would normally be. The layout is designed to allow trains to turn back in the Down
platform without shunting between platforms unless there are consecutive Down trains, in which case
the first arrival shunts to the Up platform via the Battersby end of the station. The level crossing
barriers are (unusually these days) controlled by a gate wheel with the road warning lights controlled
separately by buttons on the block shelf. The box is a 1903 NER type C2b. Due to the unusual hipped
roof it is Grade II listed so cannot be demolished without the agreement of English Heritage. It has a
McKenzie & Holland type 16 frame with tappet interlocking. In 1966 the box was reduced to 16 levers
with 6 spare, a direction lever for acceptance of trains from Middlesbrough, a gate release lever and
2 wicket releases. This was almost certainly with the abolition of Nunthorpe East with singling of the
line. Here the current Whitby and the then closed Guisborough (CA 31 Dec 1964) lines diverged.
The line between Guisborough Jn (Middlesbrough) and Nunthorpe was singled from 26 Jan 1986.
Our grateful thanks for this very interesting day are due to Nick Jones for making the arrangements
and to Tim and his boss Andrew Thexton for making the visits possible. Thanks also to our members
Nick Jones, Andrew Gardiner and John Cowburn for their help in compiling this report - Geoff Blyth.
ABOVE: Group photo at Crag Hall (no trains signalled) taken by the Mobile Operations Manger from
the single line token 'pulpit' - he was preaching to the converted here. (Roger Carpenter). Second
down from the top of the stairs is Nick Jones who organised the visits. Third down is our BLN North
East Regional editor Geoff Blyth, furthest left is 'Branch Line' Email message operator Nick Garnham.
Please mention the BLS when booking or enquiring. .1277 CONNECTIONS… .Details must be checked with the organisers.
X.41] The Trials and Tribulations of the Railway Pioneers at Work, Wed 29 Mar 19.30-20.30: At the
Ebenezer Room, Hope Baptist Chapel (side room), Hebden Bridge A talk by Peter Jeffrey orgainsed by
The Friends of Hebden Bridge Station. Suggested minimum donation £1. The Friends of Hebden
Bridge Station website https://goo.gl/KKf8Va includes a history of the station, pictures, events and
useful information about tarvelling. Contact [email protected] to receive emails etc.
X.42] Severn Valley Railway Steam Gala 17-19 Mar: (BLN 1276.591) Highley brakevan rides with loco
813, Friday and Saturday from 13.00 to 16.20. Sunday loco 813 from 11.00 to 12.30 and 7714 from
14.15 to 13.30. Available on a first come, first served basis for a small donation. The latest information
is that the cattle dock will be the joining point with the ride proceeding north on No1 Siding.
671] South West Trains: Until 9 April £14 adult and £3 accompanied child (5-15 tears inclusive) off
peak return between any two SWT stations, (where SWT set the Anytime fares) no further discounts
(validity per journey planner). Discounts on Hovertravel to the IOW. Tickets to Portsmouth stations are
valid on Island Line trains. Weekend first class upgrades. See SWT website for full details/purchasing.
672] Apedale Valley Light Railway Gala, 13 & 14 May: (MR p23) Military re-enactors in the recreated
WWI trench system and visiting locos; rides on the normal line only - see website; Adult £6 Child £3.
673] Lea Bailey Light Railway, 13 & 14 May 'Compressed Air Gala': At an obscure location in the
Forest of Dean! Heading south on Hawthorns Road from Lane End take the first left (unnamed) minor
road through the forest to (SO 6445 1957); turn first right down a drive in the trees (E-BLN 1267.X163
with pictures). Visitors can sign up as members on the day 'Driver for a Fiver' for the Simplex or WR8
locos. This is the only way to travel over the main running line of this 2ft gauge non-passenger railway.
On the 17 & 18 Sep 2016, this allowed coverage from the mine tunnel entrance round the curve onto
the original standard gauge railway formation*, via both sides of the loop, to the buffers under careful
supervision. This may also be possible on their 5th Anniversary Open Day, provisionally 16 Sep targeted
the same day as Alan Keef Ltd's Open Day (rides should be available as in 2016). The 13 & 14 May Lea
Bailey event will have the two locos in the UK powered by compressed air operating, the resident
'Whistling Pig' and the visiting 'Issing Sid'; perhaps an 'air-raising occasion? [*The Mitcheldean Road &
Forest of Dean Junction Railway, (later GWR) was built from Whimsey (Cinderford) to Mitcheldean
Road on the Hereford, Ross & Gloucester Railway, but never used north of Drybrook Quarry.]
674] Appleby Frodingham Railway Preservation Society (AFRPS) Summer Tours: 15 mile circular
tours of the internal Scunthorpe steelworks railway take place on selected Saturdays 13.30 to about
16.00 (with a refreshment, comfort and locomotive viewing break at the AFRPS shed). These are
booked for steam haulage with DMU coaches. A commentary explains steelmaking around the site.
There are 90 minute Brakevan trips (minimum age 10) at 16.30 (both types of trip can be done some
days). 20 May: 13.30, 3 & 24 Jun: 13.30; 10 Jun: 13.30 & 16.30; 8 & 22 Jul: 13.30; 29 Jul: 13.30 &
16.30; 5 & 19 Aug: 13.30; 16 Aug: 13.30 & 16.30; 2, 16 & 30 Sep: 13.30; 23 Sep: 13.30 & 16.30.
No charge but donations are welcomed towards the upkeep of the Society's locos and stock.
NOTE: Our local member and expert on the railway, from Hull, Alan Sheppard (an AFRPS member)
will be present on the brakevan trips as 'Route Director' except when they clash with a BLS event or
mainline track railtour. Then they will be more like 'our' Scunthorpe tours; please do support them.
Email [email protected] or 01652 657053. All trains depart from the platform just
inside 'Gate E', Brigg Rd, Scunthorpe, DN16 1XA, a short walk from the station and has free parking.
675] Kidderminster Railway Museum Event Sat 18 Nov 2017: The Institution of Railway Signal
Engineers (IRSE)'s Minor Railway Section of is holding its sixth bi-annual seminar. PowerPoint
presentations (of up to 20 minutes) and attendance are open to all; membership of the IRSE is not
required. They can be about signalling or anything that may assist the S&T department such as access
equipment or transport arrangements etc. The section officers will present a paper outlining the
section's Level Crossing training project. 'The application of technology to Minor Railway Signalling' is
the overall theme. Space is available for companies to display products they may feel will assist S&T
departments and an event sponsor is sought. The museum's working standard gauge demonstration
line may be available for use if required. Please pass this request on to anyone who might be
interested. Assistance can be given with the presentations. Any queries/offers or to book a display
stand please contact Major Ian Hughes by the end of April [email protected] (Green Dragon
Rail) or 0191 2871399, presentations are needed by September for collation onto the equipment.
676] Railway & Canal Historical Society (RCHS): The newly relaunched website now has a page
dedicated to 'Railway Passenger Stations in Great Britain - A Chronology' by Michael Quick (original
volume out of print) including free download of the four supplements he issued with an index and
extra information https://goo.gl/eEsPUI from the RCHS Railway Chronology Group newsletters.
It is an open resource. The Railway & Canal Historical Society's Railway Chronology Group seeks to
bring together RCH members interested in producing databases of railway Acts, line and station
opening and closing dates, station renamings, etc, with a view to eventual publication. A regular
Newsletter is issued to members which includes both full-length articles and listings and also shorter
contributions in the form of Notes and Queries. This is sure to be of interest to our members as well.
677] E-BLN Distribution: E-BLN is distributed by a small team of volunteer members (and thanks to all
of them), led by Andrew Taylor with Brian Schindler. Graeme Jolley and Jerry Holmes are 'reserves'.
There is a 'generic' email address [email protected] (the link at the bottom of the email
sent out with e-BLN. Please use this to contact the team if you do not receive e-BLN or for problems
receiving or loading e-BLN. It can be used to notify a change of email address or if you are a paper BLN
subscriber and wish to take e-BLN (FREE) as well. Our membership Secretary Alan Welsh (below) can
also arrange this and should be notified of any change of postal address and/or email address please.
X.43] BLN 1276, Guess the Location: (BLN 1276.X31) BELOW: (Ian Mortimer) This 'medical visit' was to
the standard gauge Ciba Geigy private sidings/branch at Duxford (actually a chemical factory) on
Wed 23 Sep 1981; a repeat of a similar fully booked trip of 7 Jul 1981. The day had begun at 09.15 with
a railtour of the Barrington Light railway, cement works and quarry system there. Duxford was the
111th BLS fixture arranged by your Editor in his youth. The branch opened in 1980 replacing sidings at
Great Chesterford and Whittlesford when BR was still developing Speedlink. 'Works projects and
Railways Act 1974 Section 8 Grants' were then available to help towards the cost of private owner
sidings and rolling stock to transfer freight traffic off the roads or retain it on rails.