After the recent completion of re-signalling at Pitlochry and Aviemore, another of Scotland’s wonderful manual signalling outposts will disappear this summer, when completion of Phase One of a £170 million programme to upgrade the Aberdeen to Inverness route will see the loss of semaphores at Inverurie.
Together with the historic signal box at nearby Dyce (sadly demolished in August 2019), Inverurie box will be closing as part of a project that should have seen a re-doubling of the 17 route miles to Aberdeen by December, introduction of half-hourly Aberdeen to Inverurie services, and provision for a planned new station at Kintore.
Inverurie once boasted a major locomotive works, but all that now remains are a few rusted sidings to the north of the station. It is a significant location however, with many Class 170-worked services from Glasgow and Edinburgh terminating here and supplementing the two-hourly Inverness to Aberdeen services to already give a commuter frequency on the soon-to-be-doubled section to Aberdeen.
Signalling at Inverurie is currently controlled by a Great North of Scotland Railway signal box dating from 1902, which stands some way back from the line to the north of the up platform (2). This platform only sees a handful of trains each day, with most using the main down platform (1).
At the south (up) end of the station stand four of Inverurie’s eight remaining semaphore arms, comprising up starters IE26 (platform 2) and IE28 (platform 1) with a bracket holding down junction home signals IE4 and IE7 just beyond the end of the present passing loop.
An identical pattern of signals controls the northern end of the station, where down starter IE5 controls exit from platform 1 and IE21 stands closest to the signal box and controls exit from platform 2. Beyond these another two arm bracket holds up home signals, with IE29 controlling access to platform 1 and IE27 on the left for platform 2.
A lengthy closure of the route through Inverurie is due to begin on Saturday, 4 May, starting with the section between Dyce and Inverurie, then extended northwards on 15 June to Huntly.
This will be followed by complete closure of the route from 10-13 August, then no trains from Aberdeen to Huntly from 13-19 August. So the last semaphore controlled passenger services to Aberdeen will be on 3 May and to Inverness on 14 June.
Pictured here (on 5 March 2017) are 170433 on the 14.58 departure for Aberdeen and 158717/715 forming the 15.43 for Inverness. My new book “Britain’s last mechanical signalling” is being published by Pen & Sword in July.