Steaming into extra time at Wolsztyn


Scheduled steam services will continue to operate from the world-famous depot at Wolsztyn in Western Poland for at least the next two years, under an agreement between the depot and the Marszalek (Marshal) of the Wielkopolskie province, who comes from Wolsztyn and is determined to see steam working continue.

There had been fears that the twice daily services to Leszno on Mondays to Fridays and two Saturday returns from Wolsztyn to Poznan would finally come to an end on Saturday, 27 November this year, after which there is the usual seasonal break in services until mid-January.

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Mixed signals at Gobowen

My successful August visit to photograph trains and signals at Sutton Bridge Junction in Shrewsbury prompted me to pay a return on Friday, 1 October 2021 to another of the locations on our national railway network where semaphore signals go both up and down. 

Gobowen is a very pleasant spot on the GWR route from Chester to Shrewsbury and a junction with the former Cambrian route south to Welshpool that awaits eventual re-opening as far south as Oswestry, to which rails remain in situ and a bay platform awaits a return to use.

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Daily narrow gauge steam action around Dresden


Finally resuming an extended tour of the wonderful narrow gauge railways in eastern German, my travels take me on 22 September 2021 to the city of Dresden and a return to the two steam-worked narrow (750mm) gauge lines I last visited back in 1990.

Much has changed over the past three decades, but it is reassuring to see that daily steam-hauled services still continue to operate on the 16.6km (10.4 mile) Lößnitzgrundbahn to the north-west of the city and the 26.1km (16.3 mile) Weißeritztalbahn to the south-west of Dresden.

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Lovely Lostwithiel – and more Pullman dining

After an enjoyable visit last month (2 August 2021) to Par and St. Blazey, it is time to pay a return visit to another of the doomed trio of Cornish signal boxes and spend a few hours photographing trains and semaphores at Lostwithiel.

Like the box at nearby Par, Lostwithiel Crossing Signal Box enjoys a Grade II Listing and, until its planned closure in autumn 2023, controls more semaphore signals (14) than any of the other mechanical signalling outposts in the Royal Duchy.

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Cracking Cupar

Taking another rail excursion from the Scottish capital following an enjoyable day at Stonehaven, my destination this time (3 September 2021) is the first, rather than the last, of the ten remaining outposts of mechanical signalling between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Cupar is a pleasant place to visit, even on a gloomy day, being just one hour by train from Edinburgh, with an attractive and historic station building and a 1910-vintage North British Type 7 signal box that stands north of the down platform and controls three semaphores from its 32-lever frame.

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Stunning Stonehaven

After my early summer trip to Arbroath and Inverkeilor (blog post: 10 June 2021), it’s time to take another train trip from Edinburgh to North-East Scotland, to see and photograph trains and signals at the final outpost of mechanical signalling on the East Coast Main Line to Aberdeen.

Stonehaven, 16¼ miles south of the Granite City, is home to an attractive and listed Caledonian Railway Type 2 box dating in its present form from 1901, but the extension of a much earlier Caledonian Railway box dating from the opening of the station in 1849, and now controls a total of six semaphores.

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Mixed signals at Sutton Bridge Jct.

SHREWSBURY is by far and away the finest area for mechanical signalling in Britain, with four signal boxes controlling the station area, one being the largest mechanical signalling box in the world, two enjoying Grade II Listings and one controlling the last working lower quadrant distant signal.

Having spent time appreciating the magnificent listed boxes – Severn Bridge Junction and Crewe Junction – at ether ends of the station, it is time to take a walk of just under a mile south through the town centre to re-visit another of the town’s quartet of signal boxes and spend a few hours on Wednesday, 18 August 2021, photographing trains and signals at Sutton Bridge Junction.

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Above and below Par

CORNWALL has long been one of the country’s most remarkable outposts of lower quadrant semaphore signalling, but time is fast running out for much of its marvellous mechanical infrastructure, with a major re-signalling project due to be completed in autumn 2023.

After an enjoyable visit to see and photograph the signalling at Liskeard in October (2020) it was time to make an overdue return (on Monday, 2 August 2021) to what is arguably finest of the five remaining junctions to retain semaphores along the 56-miles of route between Liskeard and St. Erth.

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GWR lunch back on the line

Restaurant car services on our national rail network were all but killed off by privatisation in the mid-1990s (GNER being an honourable exception) and the move towards airline-style at-seat service to first class passengers, so it was good to learn that GWR had restored one Plymouth-Paddington dining service.

While it is not the full Pullman Dining experience which was provided on three daily round trips to the South-West until halted by the pandemic, my lifetime’s enjoyment of dining on the move meant I just had to sample the current limited offering, now being extended to two other services. 

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Bye-bye Bridlington

Almost three years after my final visit to see the wonderful collection of semaphores on Humberside between Gilberdyke and Ferriby it is time to pay a return to East Yorkshire on Saturday, 17 July 2021 and to another place that is poised to lose its mechanical signalling. 

The seaside resort of Bridlington is one of just two remaining outposts of semaphores along the Hull-Scarborough Yorkshire Coast Line, but time is almost up for the handful of signals controlled by the magnificent Bridlington South Signal Box, with re-signalling due in October 2021.

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