Among the numerous outposts of mechanical signalling along the East Coast Main Line north of Edinburgh, the finest signal box/cabin must surely be the unique 1911-vintage North British Railway box at Arbroath, a listed building which stands some distance north of the railway station and controls a total of seven semaphores, as well as a number of shunting disc signals.
Paying a first return to the town (8 November 2022) since my last visit in June 2021, I was keen to check out a couple of photo-spots to the south of the station and particularly an over-bridge that is close to down outer home signal AH48 and from where there is a panoramic view of the coast looking south and the location, until its closure two years ago, of Scotland’s oldest miniature railway.
Less than a year remains before Ferryside Signal Box and its handful of lower quadrant semaphore signals are consigned to history, as a major West Wales resignalling project known as Port Talbot West Re-signalling Phase 2 (PTW2) nears completion.
But all is not lost for the wonderful Grade II-listed Great Western Railway box at picturesque Ferryside, and a preservation group is gaining financial and political support, as I discovered when meeting the man leading efforts to secure its future while paying a return visit on 3 November 2022.
Spending a few days in New York during a period of glorious autumn sunshine meant the perfect excuse to escape the Big Apple for a few hours and take a trip on 20 October 2022 up the remarkably scenic 73½-mile long Metro-North Hudson Line.
It features in a book I was given called Amazing Train Journeys (Lonely Planet, October 2018) and after the two-hour trip from NYC to the final Metro-North stop at Poughkeepsie (pronounced Poo-kipsy) it is easy to see the Hudson Line earned its place in a book featuring 60 of the world’s most scenic rail routes.
Paying a first ever visit to the delightful US city of Boston meant a chance to sample its newest and its oldest section of underground tramway, as well as the sole remaining section of true street running in the city on one of the branches of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Green Line.
While three of the four western branches of the Green Line feature street level running on reserved tracks in the centre of the road, the only real street running section, where trams run amongst other road traffic, appears to be the final mile of Route E, ending at its turning circle terminus at Heath Street.
Debts of around £6 million (CSK 160m) have led to shock closure from Sunday (2 October 2022) of the privately-operated 79km (50-mile) narrow gauge system based on the town of Jindřichův Hradec in the south of Czechia, despite its huge popularity as a tourist attraction.
Less than three months after I had spent a glorious few days in the area known as Czech Canada for its lakes and forests, services are being halted on the two 760mm (2’ 6”) gauge lines that lead 33km (21 miles) from Jindřichův Hradec to Nová Bystřice, close to the Austrian border, and 46kms (29-miles) on a northern route to a town called Obrataň.
Almost four years after my visit to the works here to see work well underway on SWR’s ill-fated £25m plan to refurbish Class 442 units (“Plastic Pigs are go” – November 2018) for use on the Portsmouth Direct Line, it is time to spend a few hours witnessing the busy railway scene at Eastleigh.
While not able to visit the works this time (27 September 2022) there is plenty of action to see and photograph from the station platforms, as well as from Campbell Road over-bridge, leading to the works south of the station.
A trio of Cornwall’s finest remaining outposts of mechanical signalling have just another year of life left, before a major re-signalling scheme in the Royal Duchy will see the loss of the semaphores that currently signal the main line at Truro, Par and Lostwithiel.
Paying a return visit (22 September 2022) almost exactly a year after last visiting the area, I was keen to capture the scene one more time at charming Lostwithiel, before the sight of its impressive array of semaphores disappears following the re-signalling in autumn 2023.
Among the numerous (nine) surviving outposts of mechanical signalling along the glorious Settle and Carlisle line, the most interesting and photogenic are those controlled by the route’s two most southerly signal boxes.
Spending a couple of midweek days in the area meant a chance to photograph trains passing the eight semaphores at Settle Junction, as well as those are nearby Hellifield, which boasts almost double that number.
Having visited the route on 23 July to photograph the first day of summer specials, it seemed only right to pay a return visit to the charming Poacher Line on 10 September 2022, in order to mark the final day of seasonal Saturday EMR Class 180 workings from Derby to Skegness.
Rather than head to the coastal resort this time, my plan was to make a return to one of the quietest spots along the 58-mile line and attempt to photograph the Class 180s as they passed Hubbert’s Bridge and its pair of working semaphore distant signals.
It seems unlikely that there will ever be a travel offer again as generous as the month-long €9 ticket offered this summer on German public transport, so having bought one for August in order to re-visit the Harz (HSB) narrow gauge system, I felt compelled to return and sample some more narrow-gauge steam action with my €9 ticket.
My destination this time was Dresden, where I planned to stay four nights in the northern suburb of Radebeul and spend a day each on the 16.6km (10.4 mile) Lößnitzgrundbahn nearby, the 26.1km (16.3 mile) Weißeritztalbahn to the south-west of Dresden and at a third 750mm gauge railway, the 16km (10-mile) long Zittauer Schmalspurbahn.