Eleventh hour dawns for Wales’ finest working signal box

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In only one month’s time – over the weekend of 24/25 March – a key stage in Network Rail’s £50m North Wales Railway Upgrade will see closure of five mechanical signal boxes, including the finest working box in Wales, at Rhyl.

Rhyl No 1 Box is one of a pair of Grade II listed boxes London & North Western Railway boxes that flank the station. Its larger cousin is the disused Rhyl no 2 Box at the western end of the station, which closed in 1990 and boasts a 126 lever frame that makes it comparable in size to Severn Bridge Junction Box at Shrewsbury. Continue reading “Eleventh hour dawns for Wales’ finest working signal box”

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A railway museum for Edinburgh?

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Edinburgh has pretty much anything a tourist could be looking for, with its castle, Royal Mile, Holyrood and a plethora of fine buildings and open spaces. What it does lack, though, is a railway museum, with the nearest being some way out of the city at Bo’ness, home to the Scottish Railway Museum.

IMG_7443While it is good to see that a pair of junction signals from Stirling (SN18/SN11) have pride of place in the National Museum of Scotland, there is scope for much more, so it seems high time to consider a magnificent and listed building that stands in an ideal location, within a stone’s throw of Princes Street.

Waverley West Signal Box was built by the London & North Eastern Railway in 1936 to control early colour light signals on the western side of Waverley station. It lasted just 40 years before being decommissioned in November 1976, so has now stood empty and unloved for longer than it was actually in service. Continue reading “A railway museum for Edinburgh?”

The great HS2 fares conundrum

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On Friday (16 February) I made what must be one of the world’s cheapest inter-city train journeys, when I travelled the 111 miles from London to Birmingham for a fare of just £5.50 (without using any railcard). Later that day I returned from Birmingham, again in the comfort of a spacious Mark III carriage and a loco-hauled train, for just £5.50.

IMG_1737.jpgLondon to Birmingham is by far the cheapest long-distance rail journey in the UK because it is pretty much the only one on the franchised railway where there is genuine on-rail competition between operators.

After more than 20 years of privatised railway, the only other significant point-to-point journeys where passengers have benefited from competition are on the East Coast Main Line, where presence of the two “Open Access” operators – Grand Central and Hull Trains – has led to fares competition from York and Doncaster to London. Continue reading “The great HS2 fares conundrum”

Semaphores and NER signal boxes on the Blyth & Tyne

IMG_1733For a route that has seen only freight traffic since its closure to passengers in 1964, the line heading north east from Newcastle to Bedlington and Ashington has done remarkably well to retain its traditional infrastructure.

Much of the route is double-track and there is a fine group of six North Eastern Railway signal boxes still in use and controlling a large array of semaphore signals, as well as level crossings at each of six locations. Continue reading “Semaphores and NER signal boxes on the Blyth & Tyne”