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”

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”

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?”