2017 was supposed to have been the year that re-signalling of the Leicester to Peterborough line saw its last mechanical signalling swept away, with closure of the nine remaining signal boxes along this important cross-country route.
But as the year draws to a close, there is still no sign of any change to the status quo, and information supplied to me by Network Rail suggests that re-signalling of this route does not now even figure in its plans for Control Period 6 (2019-24).
For lovers of traditional signalling, that means a continuing role for what must surely be the most remarkable survival on the whole of the national railway network – the Midland Railway wooden-posted lower quadrant signal controlled by Ketton signal box, between Stamford and Oakham, which almost certainly dates back to the opening of the box in 1900.
What is quite remarkable is that this is the only remaining semaphore controlled by Ketton signal box, and is its down section signal, located some 400 yards west of the box at a point where the route bears sharply to the left, so for sighting reasons the signal stands on the right hand side of the line.
These views were taken on 28 September 2017, when contractors were working close to the level crossing and signal box – hence the presence of the look-out man in high-vis clothing next to the signal.
Pictured top is DB 66129 passing the famous signal with an aggregates train from Mountsorrel to Trowse Yard, Norwich. Pictured here passing Ketton Signal Box is GBRf 66745 with a train load of empty aggregates wagons from Whitemoor Yard (March) to Mountsorrel
Speaking to the look-out man as he returned to his work-mates and passed me at the nearby foot crossing, I told him that the signal was the rarest one in the whole country, although I’m not sure he believed me!