Reprieved NXEA promises December improvements
The change of Government and the resultant uncertainty about
the rail franchising process has given National Express East Anglia an
unexpected bonus. Although maligned for having surrendered the East Coast
service last year, National Express will continue to operate its
In a statement delivered on June 17, Minister of
State for Transport, Theresa Villiers said the DfT would conduct a review of franchising policy. It was
therefore postponing the bidding for both the Greater Anglia and Essex Thameside franchises. A revised competition for Greater
Anglia is expected to be advertised by the end of this year.
Meanwhile NXEA has announced timetable improvements
which will come into effect from December. A 07.40 train from
Now the GEML has its own Evening Star
Fifty years after no. 92220's Evening
Star nameplates were unveiled at
The locomotive, whose large and wordy nameplates read
‘The Evening Star: Pride of Ipswich: 1885 – 2010: 125 Years of Serving
Suffolk', was named by Councillor Jane Chambers, mayor of
90013 made a speedy departure after the naming,
running light engine back to
Manned signalboxes and semaphore signals are the way many of us traditionalists like to see trains controlled – but now the days of manual signalling on the Ely – Norwich line are numbered.
Tenders for resignalling this line were issued in January this year. Details of the project are emerging, and correspondent 66714 Cromer Lifeboat has kindly summarised the main points.
It is a 'like for like' resignalling:
existing sections will remain, but controlled by colour lights. Each signalbox will be replaced by a cabin (known as an
'island') which receives signals by fibre optic cable or by radio (GSM-R) from
the controlling signalbox and makes the equipment
respond locally. The controlling box will be at
Signalling will be set up for 100 mph for units where possible, although this may require track improvements which are not yet financed. Most level crossings will have automatic full barriers with protecting signals but, instead of CCTV, radar pods will monitor the crossings for obstructions. Two crossings (not near stations) will have their half-barriers renewed.
The crossovers at Thetford
will be retained, and a new signal at the
At Wymondham, the
Norwich-end ground frame and siding connections will be removed, but the up
siding will be retained. Crossovers will be removed at Shippea
Hill and Lakenheath, but the crossover and connection
The project is scheduled for completion by December
2011. At this time of budgetary restraint all such schemes must be open to
doubt. However Ely –
Somerleyton bridge reopens – briefly
Damage to the pivot mechanism of Somerleyton swing bridge (NRS Newsletter May/Jun) was repaired over the weekend of July 4/5. The bridge,which dates from 1905, had been jammed shut since early May, preventing fixed-mast vessels from passing beneath it. However further mechanical problems arose, and while repairs are carried out NR has arranged to open the bridge to river traffic for two 10-minute periods on Mondays to Saturdays, and for two 50-minute periods on Sundays. This operation involves a gang of engineers winching the bridge round manually.
The Broads Authority continues to press Network Rail for a more flexible timetable and a long-term solution
Trowse swing bridge also remains an obstacle to navigation. The bridge's computer-controlled lifting mechanism failed after a power surge in June 2008, and the bridge can only be opened manually. NR engineers have installed a new computer system and hydraulic valves and are hopeful that the bridge will soon be fully operational again.
It could happen again, warns Potters Bar coroner
Eight years after a King's Lynn-bound train derailed at Potters Bar (NRS Newsletter June 2002), an inquest jury has concluded that there were failures of inspection and maintenance of the points before the crash. The jury, sitting at Letchworth, also pointed to errors made in interpreting and passing on concerns about the track which were voiced the night before the crash.
The train was travelling at a permitted speed of 98mph, and the driver was cleared of any blame.
Judge Michael Findlay Baker QC said he would file a report under the rule which allows coroners to express concern that circumstances continue to create a risk of other deaths. He said: “Where the evidence in an inquest gives rise to a concern that circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will continue to exist....the coroner has power to report those circumstances to a person who the coroner believes may have power to take such action."
A Network Rail spokesman said: “The railways are almost unrecognisable since the days of Railtrack....all of the recommendations made by both the industry's own formal inquiry and the health and safety investigation have been actioned. Today the railways are safer than they have ever been.”
The Office of Rail Regulation spokesman welcomed the conclusion of the inquest and said it would determine whether to bring any criminal proceedings for health and safety offences.
Child injured in
Between Beccles and Oulton Broad South the
None of the 60 or so passengers on the train suffered
injuries, and they continued their journeys by bus.
People wishing to use an occupation crossing are responsible for opening it and closing it. Some are fitted with telephones connected to a signal box, but it is understood that the crossing in question was not.
Easier access at
Nature lovers slam intrusive radio mast
Network Rail has been criticised for erecting a radio mast at Breydon Junction, close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The 30ft-high mast enables train drivers to
communicate with control. It was erected on July 9, just yards from the
If the tour operators' websites are to be believed, steam
fans are in for a treat between now and Christmas. No less than nine
steam-hauled main line trains are due to visit
Diss apprentice gets to work for NR
Having completed their first year at a Hampshire engineering
training facility, more than 200 Network Rail apprentices have begun work at
Network Rail's Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme is a three-year programme which equips trainees with the skills to become a maintenance engineering technician. There are seven engineering programmes: track (Alistair's choice), signals, electrification and plant, signal design, property works, mechanical locking and telecoms.
Network Rail recorded around 200 incidents of trespass and
vandalism in the
During the summer holidays NR's 'No Messin' campaign, fronted by world boxing champion Amir Khan, encourages young people to take up more positive activities instead of creating the risk of serious injury or worse with dangerous 'games'.
Community day freshens up
Complaints have frequently been levelled at the condition of Great Yarmouth station, to the extent that a 'Fix Our Station' campaign has been launched by local Conservatives (NRS Newsletter Mar/Apr 2010).
National Express East Anglia has responded by installing a new customer information screen and erecting new signs, poster boards and litter bins throughout the station. On Saturday June 19 the company organised a Community Day, when NXEA staff were joined by local residents and representatives from Great Yarmouth Borough Council and BBC Radio Norfolk. The group planted flowers in the tubs and cleaned parts of the station concourse and approaches, helping to create a more welcoming environment for passengers.
Get your tickets from the guard
The part-time ticket offices at Attleborough,
Fen line closed after body found
Trains between Ely and
Heritage, Narrow-gauge and Miniature
Local railways and stations are to be featured on BBC TV next year.
Former cabinet minister Michael Portillo, now a
writer and broadcaster, visited
Mr Portillo and his crew also filmed railways and coastal activities in the Cromer area.
Hoveton brake vans rescued at last
For thirty years or more they've stood neglected, their woodwork rotten and windows smashed, opposite the Bure Valley Railway's Wroxham terminus. Now salvation has come at last for a pair of four-wheel brake vans.
On August 4 a hydraulic crane lifted the vans from a
siding on the
'Grid' running day cancelled
A number of fans were disappointed when Class 56 no. 56101 was unable to fulfil its first Mid-Norfolk Railway passenger duty.
The 'Grid', in a smart large-logo livery, arrived at Dereham on May 26 (NRS Newsletter May/Jun 2010). The MNR advertised that it would work all three Dereham – Wymondham return trips on June 20, but a radiator leak was discovered and attempts to repair it proved fruitless. The loco's MNR debut was cancelled at short notice and the Class 56 Group apologised to anyone who made a wasted journey to see it.
No. 56101 is likely to be out of service for the foreseeable future.
Two tracks at Thuxton
For the first time since the line was singled in June 1965, trains travelling between Wymondham and Dereham can now pass one another at Thuxton station.
A band of Mid-Norfolk Railway volunteers was mustered on the weekend on June 12-14 to complete the passing loop at Thuxton. The last track panel was laid across the road, the crossing gate replaced with the aid of a crane and the road surface re-laid. No. 31438 had the honour of christening the new track on June 12, making several passes to ensure that everything was bedded in.
MNR volunteers are now installing signalling so that the loop can be formally opened to traffic for the Class 37 Gala Weekend on September 24 – 26.
NNR to welcome its second 9F
The North Norfolk Railway has confirmed two visiting engines for its Steam Gala on September 3 – 5.
Larger of the two is BR Standard Class 9F no. 92212, privately owned and based at the Mid-Hants Railway. One of the last 9Fs to be built, it was rescued from Woodham Brothers scrapyard in 1979 and has worked in preservation since 1996. This will be the second time a 9F has operated on the NNR, the previous occasion being the visit of David Shepherd's no. 92203 Black Prince in 2007.
The second visitor will the NRM's ex-SR N15 Class
Conflat to become a 'runner'
A recent arrival at the North Norfolk Railway is Conflat (container wagon) no. B502824,
built in 1958. Acquired with two bogie bolster bogies from Buckinghamshire
Railway Centre, the Conflat is to be restored as a
runner for the 03 diesels, recreating how they were used as station pilots in
The EATM had agreed to lend the car for the main
period of the celebrations. In return it was to have borrowed a
Making the connection at Dereham
The footbridge at Dereham station
was removed in 1965, but plans are in place for passengers to be able to cross
between platforms once again. The Mid-Norfolk Railway has secured a footbridge
from Whittlesford, which was replaced when the line
between Bishop's Stortford and
Away from the Tracks
Next stop Holt Central?
North Norfolk Railway passengers who'd like to visit Holt's attractive town centre have to walk about a mile from Holt station (on some days they can catch a Routemaster bus). Now Holt Town Council is considering whether the railway could advance towards the centre of the town. On June 25 council members met David Bill, director of the Norfolk Orbital Railway, and Steve Ashling, chairman of the North Norfolk Railway, and the meeting asked clerk to the council Di Dann to examine possible routes.
With the Sheringham crossing restored, main line trains as well as NNR services could visit the town. The ultimate aim would be to connect with the MNR, creating an orbital railway through Fakenham and Melton Constable.
David Bill was encouraged by the enthusiasm at the meeting. "If we can start moving into Holt," he said, "we will be putting right all the dreadful mistakes that were made 40 years ago.”
'Homestead' carriage's new life
A GER carriage which for years was used as a home has been donated to the North Norfolk Railway.
For the past eighty years or so the wide-bodied carriage has been paired up with a similar vehicle beneath a pitched roof at Kerdiston, near Reepham. The home has been dismantled and on June 10 the 1899-built vehicle was moved by low-loader to Holt station.
Railway companies would sell redundant carriages for as little as £5, and after WW1 many returning soldiers and their families lived in them. Later this year the Kerdiston carriage will be restored to the way it could have once looked, with period furnishings, an outside 'privy' and a small garden.
Remaining for the moment on the Kerdiston site, but also destined for the NNR, is a 1888 built cattle van, later converted to a fruit van. Although one side is missing, the M&GNJRS's Nigel Scarlett is confident that it can be be restored.
Second Southwold scheme planned
Having already received planning
permission for its proposed