A missed opportunity for more loco-hauled services in Scotland

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ScotRail operator Abellio commendably uses two loco-hauled sets for weekday commuter services on the Fife Circle, but from an enthusiast point of view seems to be missing a trick when it comes to stock utilisation.

Pictured above is 68020 at Haymarket on 8 March 2017 with the 17.11 departure for Glenrothes with Thornton

Looking at the movements morning and evening of the two Class 68-powered six-coach trains reveals that they spend far more time working empty from and to their Mossend and Motherwell bases near Glasgow than they do in revenue-earning service. Continue reading “A missed opportunity for more loco-hauled services in Scotland”

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North Wales Semaphore Finale

IMG_4931Readers of my previous blogs will know that in less than a week’s time the North Wales Main Line will be closing for the week-end as new signalling is commissioned and five mechanical signal boxes between Talacre and Abergele & Pensarn will be signalling their last trains before final closure.

IMG_4836Having already featured the boxes at Prestatyn, Rhyl and Abergele, following a visit kindly arranged for me by Network Rail, this seems a timely moment to take one final look at the signalling that is about to disappear from these locations, as captured on last month’s visit (23 February 2018) and on my previous visit to North Wales one year earlier, in February 2017. Continue reading “North Wales Semaphore Finale”

The madness of split-ticketing

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The pressing need to simplify railway ticketing has been a long running theme on Britain’s fragmented network, but nothing tangible ever seems to happen, and we continue to live in a crazy world where getting the cheapest fare for my most recent day return journey involved buying no less than four separate sets of tickets.

My Sunday trip from Haslemere to Cardiff – for the Wales vs. Italy Six Nations rugby international – would have cost me £55.50 (using a railcard) had I opted for the cheapest direct ticket, a super off-peak return (not via London), travelling to Guildford, then on to Reading and from there directly to Cardiff. Continue reading “The madness of split-ticketing”

Goodbye, Abergele, Farewell, Prestatyn!

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In less than three weeks’ time a key milestone will be reached in the £50 million North Wales Railway Upgrade, with closure of five mechanical signal boxes between Talacre and Abergele and the commissioning of new colour light signalling that will be controlled by the Railway Operating Centre in Cardiff.

IMG_7592On the day of a visit last month to Rhyl No. 1 box (featured in my previous post) I was also fortunate to be able to visit two of the other doomed boxes, those at Abergele & Pensarn and at Prestatyn.

As with Rhyl No. 1, Abergele & Pensarn is another Grade II listed LNWR box, dating from 1902, which stands between the running lines at the eastern end of the Grade II listed, but unstaffed, station. Continue reading “Goodbye, Abergele, Farewell, Prestatyn!”

Somersault survivors on NI Railways

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When Castlerock Signal Box closed in November 2016 it brought an end to regular use of mechanical signalling on Northern Ireland Railways, but did not completely spell the end of its distinctive somersault signals.

IMG_8082Pay a visit to Portrush, at the end of a short branch line from Coleraine, on the Belfast to Londonderry main line, and you are in for a signalling treat.

Although having long since ceased to see daily use, the signal box remains, together with five of the distinctive wooden-posted somersault signals. Continue reading “Somersault survivors on NI Railways”