Tag Archives: Diesel Trains

Some Early Lines – The Spa Valley Railway

Some Early Lines

The Spa Valley RailwayDiesel haulage from Eridge

Diesel haulage from Eridge

A group had chartered this train on the Spa Valley Railway for the day, but invited members of the public to join them for a reasonable fee for a day rover ticket. It was “topped and tailed” by two diesel locomotives. Here, 33063 is at the rear of the train as it leaves Eridge; 37153 was hauling. © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Spa Valley Railway (SVR) is a standard gauge heritage railway that runs from Tunbridge Wells West railway station in Tunbridge Wells to High Rocks, Groombridge, and Eridge, where it links with the Oxted Line. En route it crosses the Kent and East Sussex border, a distance of 5 miles (8 km), along the former Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central Line / Cuckoo Line. The railway headquarters is at Tunbridge Wells West railway station.


The railway was engineered by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway’s (LB&SCR) Chief Engineer Frederick Banister, as part of the East Grinstead, Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells Railway (EGGTWR), itself an extension to the Three Bridges to East Grinstead Railway which had been completed in 1855.

The EGGTWR was part of a regional race between the LB&SCR and the SER, and a specific race to access the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells:

“ The LBSC was becoming concerned at threatened incursions by the [SER] on its territory. So a battle was on. Tunbridge Wells was first reached from East Grinstead in 1866 via Groombridge. Two years later, with the South Eastern Railway (SER) looking towards Lewes, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway countered with a line from Groombridge to Uckfield. ”

The LB&SCR opened Tunbridge Wells West in 1866 as the eastern terminus of the EGGTWR; there was also an extension to Tunbridge Wells Central. From Tunbridge Wells West there were direct services to the South Coast at Brighton and Eastbourne and to London Victoria. The Victoria services ran via Groombridge and Ashurst. As a sign outside the station proudly proclaimed, “New Route to London: Shortest, Quickest and Most Direct. Frequent Express Trains.”

Eridge Station platformsEridge station platforms

This is a shared station. The left hand track here is under the control of the private Spa Valley Railway. The right hand track is owned by Network Rail and served by Southern Railway trains in both directions on the Uckfield branch. SVR has its own part-time booking office on the platform; Southern’s booking office is on the footbridge.  © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The Spa Valley Railway (SVR) has its origins in a charitable society formed on 13 September 1985, to purchase and reopen the Tunbridge Wells West to Eridge line. Named the Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Railway Preservation Society (TWERPS), it began a long struggle to reopen the line. The campaign received a setback in the late 1980s when Tunbridge Wells Borough Council gave planning permission for the construction of a large Sainsburys supermarket complex on the site of the derelict goods yard of Tunbridge Wells West. While the 1891 locomotive shed and station building were protected as listed buildings, the remaining area of the site was obliterated, including the goods shed and signal boxes. However, planning permission was subject to the condition that the developer pay for construction of a new station platform and restoration of the engine shed.

In 1996 the North Downs Steam Railway relocated from Dartford, where it was experiencing vandalism problems, and merged with TWERPS. It transferred its assets and helped establish a base in the former LB&SCR locomotive shed. Also in 1996, the group acquired the line as far as Birchden Junction. Alongside the loco shed a new platform was built, from where services began running to Cold Bath Bridge (about 0.75 mile away) in December 1996. Services were extended to Groombridge in August 1997 and to Birchden Junction in 2005.

In 2007, SVR marked the tenth anniversary of the opening of the line by transforming Groombridge into a busy interchange station, with trains arriving or departing every 15 minutes. The funds raised from this event went towards the “Return to Eridge” appeal to raise £500,000 for the extension to the Uckfield main line at Eridge. The heritage railway finally re-opened the line to Eridge on 25 March 2011Groombridge StationGroombridge station

A view from Station Road bridge  © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The SVR provides a way of getting to other local tourist attractions, such as Groombridge Place, High Rocks and the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. On 25 March 2011 the SVR extended passenger services to Eridge, where there is a footbridge interchange with Southern services on the London Bridge to Uckfield line.

The railway holds a number of special event days, including A Day Out with Thomas weekends, Santa Specials, and both steam and heritage diesel weekends.05190 Topham 0-6-0ST Bagnall 2193-1922 West Cannock

Bagnall 2193/1922 – Under assessment at Spa Valley Railway.

Pictured at work at West Cannock Colliery.  Chasewater Railway Museum Collection.



Some Early Lines Helston Railway, Cornwall

Some Early Lines

 Helston Railway, Cornwall

Helston Phoenix LocoThis locomotive was purchased by three members of the Helston Diesel Group from the Northampton Ironstone Railway and delivered on the same day as another shunter.  In all respects its build history and design is exactly the same as the other shunter.

The shunter first ran under its own power on Sunday 3 October 2010 following overhaul by the railway’s volunteers and is now in use for passenger trains.

 The Helston Railway was a 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge) railway branch line in Cornwall, United Kingdom, opened in 1887 and absorbed by the Great Western Railway in 1898, continuing in existence as the Helston branch.

It was built to open up the agricultural district of south-west Cornwall, joining Helston to the main line railway network at Gwinear Road, between Penzance and Truro. It was 8.5 miles (13.7 km) long.

Its predominant business was agricultural, but in summer it carried holidaymakers, and its terminus at Helston was the railhead for a pioneering road connection service to the Lizard. During the Second World War there was considerable goods traffic at Nancegollan, sponsored by the Admiralty.

The Helston line was the southernmost branch line in the United Kingdom; it closed to passengers in 1962 and to goods in 1964.


MapThe line ran from Helston, in south-west Cornwall, to a junction with the main line of the Great Western Railway at Gwinear Road(50.1972°N 5.3475°W)(50.1070°N 5.2713°W). The connection there faced Penzance.

The line was 8 miles 67 chains in length. As a purely local line running through difficult terrain, it was heavily curved and graded. Although Helston is an important town, most of the intermediate area was dedicated to agriculture, with little population, and the terminus at Helston was some distance from the seaside.

The main line at Gwinear Road gave direct access to London and the rest of England, on the route that is now known as the Cornish Main Line.


Before the advent of the railway, Helston was an important centre for tin and copper mining, as well as being the hub of an area of considerable agricultural production. Local businessmen observed the success that followed the opening of early railways elsewhere in Cornwall and further afield, and from 1825 a succession of schemes for tramroads and railways were put forward, many of them oriented towards Falmouth or Penryn and the River Fal estuary because of the harbour facilities there, (and, later, the arrival of the Cornwall Railway, enabling onward transport of minerals by coastal shipping).

All of these schemes fell by the wayside due to the high cost of crossing the difficult terrain; after the collapse following the Railway Mania in the mid-1840s, money became increasingly scarce, and moreover the shallower seams in the mines began to become worked out, reducing the profitability of local mines.

Finally in 1879 the Helston Railway Company was formed, with a share capital of £70,000, with the object of building a standard gauge railway to Helston, not from the Falmouth area but from Gwinear Road on the West Cornwall line. The Great Western Railway was friendly towards this line, and they agreed to work the line when built.

The line received its Act of Parliament on 9 July 1880, and the first sod was cut at a ceremony on 22 March 1882. Work proceeded but the original contractor found himself in difficulties early in 1884 and work stopped for a period, but was resumed under Lang & Son of Liskeard.

Even as late as 1886 there was debate over the site of the Helston station; the site actually adopted, in Godolphin Road, was some distance to the east of the town centre. Some interests had proposed instead a location nearer the town; however the incremental cost would have been considerable and the proposal was finally dropped. The station was built as potentially a through station, with the idea of extension to the Lizard. This was revived from time to time, but was never acted upon.

The line was opened for the first service train on 9 May 1887

The line today

Although overgrown, much of the alignment of the line remains. Most of the bridges, including the Cober viaduct, are still in good condition as property of the Strategic Rail Authority.

Helston Station, Cornwall The former station at Helston has been surrounded by housing development, but the site is identifiable, north-west of Godolphin Road and between Station Road and Park an Harvey. The former GWR goods shed has been converted into part of a sheltered housing development (Henshorn Court), but all the other buildings have been demolished and the site has become wooded.

North from Helston the first visible trace of the railway is the stub of a bridge on the edge of the Water-Ma-Trout industrial estate.

At Nancegollan, a business park stands on the site of the former station, although the bridges remain in situ. At Praze, a house has been built on the station site and two road bridges either side of the approach have been demolished. The cuttings near to Gwinear Road have been in-filled.

Future Prospects and Railway Preservation

Cober ViaductCober Viaduct

 Since April 2005, The Helston Railway Preservation Company has undertaken extensive restoration work on the southernmost part of the line, between Prospidnick and Truthall.

As of June 2013, 1 mile of track has been re-laid, and public passenger rides are available on Thursdays, Sundays and bank holiday weekends from Easter through to October.

The Helston Railway had constructed a station platform on the Trevarno Estate, however they have now relocated 544 yards north to a new temporary platform site at Prospidnick Halt, as the Trevarno Estate has been purchased by new owners. The Trevarno Estate is now a private dwelling, instead of a tourist attraction and is not available for public access. The Helston Railway track itself is not affected and public access is now at Prospidnick, respectively.

What’s on in 2013

This is our second year of running services for customers, so it is likely that more events will be added as we go through the year. Therefore, please check details below before you come to see us.

Open every Thursday and Sunday and Bank holiday weekend until the 3rd November. Trains run every half hour from 10.30 am until 4pm.

Brake Van rides : Children under 5 free. Adult £5, Children (over 5) £3, Family £12 (2 adults and 3 children).

All Day Rovers: Adult £8, Children £6.

Footplate rides £10.

Special Events

Thursday 31st October. Its Halloween Day – themed buffet and fancy dress welcome! Open 10.30am to 4pm as usual.

December 14th &15th, 21st & 22nd. Santa Specials.



Some Early Lines – Grand Canyon Railway

Some Early Lines

Grand Canyon Railway

300px-First_run_of_Grand_Canyon_RailwayFirst run of the Grand Canyon Railway

Reporting mark GCRY

Locale Coconino County, Arizona, USA

Dates of operation 1989–

Track gauge 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)

Headquarters Williams, Arizona

Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon Railway (reporting mark GCRY), is a passenger railroad which operates between Williams, Arizona, and Grand Canyon National Park South Rim.

800px-4960_Grand_Canyon_train_from_Williams© “cloudsoup”  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cloudsoup/275129363/Licensing:  w:en:Creative Commons  attribution This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


Santa Fe Ownership

In 1901, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway completed a branch line from Williams to Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim. The first scheduled train to carry paying passengers of the Grand Canyon Railway arrived from Williams on September 17 of that year. The 64-mile (103-kilometer) long trip cost $3.95, and naturalist John Muir later commended the railroad for its limited environmental impact. To accommodate travelers, the Santa Fe designed and built the El Tovar Hotel, located just 20 feet (6 meters) from the Canyon Rim. El Tovar opened its doors in January 1905.

Competition with the automobile forced the Santa Fe to cease operation of the Grand Canyon Railway in July 1968 (only three passengers were on the last run), although Santa Fe continued to use the tracks for freight until 1974.

Plans by entertainer Arthur Godfrey to resume service in 1977 fell through. In addition, two other companies attempted to resurrect the line in 1980 and 1984, with each attempt helping to maintain interest in preserving the line and saving it from scrapping.

Inaugural run, September 1901

Max and Thelma Biegert Ownership

In 1988, the line was bought by a Phoenix, Arizona, couple, Max and Thelma Biegert. The railway was restored and in 1989 began operations as a separate company, independent of the Santa Fe. The first run of the restored railroad was on September 17, 1989, commemorating the September 17 debut of the original railroad.

The Biegerts, a couple originally from Nebraska, had made their fortune in crop dusting through Biegert Aviation, founded in 1947, which had a large federal government contract for its B-17 and later C-54 fleet. After leaving the crop-dusting business, they operated a for-profit day care business in Houston, Texas, which became the Children’s World Learning Center and is now part of KinderCare Learning Centers. The Biegerts never intended to get into the rail business. They had loaned money secured by the tracks to another person for the rail line. When they defaulted the Biegerts took over the line. In conjunction with the start up, the Biegerts were principal investors in the short-lived Farwest Airlines which was an air taxi service intended to bring tourists from California, Las Vegas and Phoenix to Flagstaff where the passengers would then take the rail line.


The railroad carries hundreds of passengers to and from the canyon every day, totaling about 240,000 passengers in 2006.

The restored Santa Fe Railway Station in Williams now serves the Grand Canyon Railway’s daily Williams Flyer (Williams to/from Grand Canyon), Seasonal Polar Express, and is the terminus for other special events trains operated by the railway. The Williams Depot also offers twice daily Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach service connecting to/from Amtrak’s Southwest Chief trains at Williams Junction.

The Grand Canyon Depot, owned by the National Park Service, remains the northern terminus for passengers of the line.


The railroad operates reconditioned 1970s (EMD F40PH) Diesel locomotives year-round. Passengers ride to/from the Grand Canyon in 1950s climate-controlled coaches. The railroad adds to the Old West experience by having actors dressed as bandits stage a mock train robbery during the return trip from the Grand Canyon to Williams.

During the winter season (November – January), the line runs The Polar Express from Williams to the ‘North Pole’, a station about 17 miles (30 km) north of town. The Polar Express service operates with restored 1920s vintage Harriman coaches. In 2008, this winter service carried about 78,000 passengers.

In February 2006, the Grand Canyon Railway announced that it had established a new logo that unifies all of the operating divisions of the company. The new ‘glyph’ style “G” herald harkens to the native American petroglyphs common in Northern Arizona. As of June 2007, the logo seems to be applied only to merchandise, signs, and official company letterhead, as several cars have come into service or been repainted while retaining the “drumhead” logo on the sides. Even freshly painted locomotives MLW FA-4 #6793 and steam locomotive #4960 have retained the old logo.


In March 2006, owners Max and Thelma Biegert announced to the media that they were placing the railroad and its associated restaurants, hotels and amenities up for sale. The combined properties had an annual revenue of nearly $40 million. The Biegerts sought a new buyer/operator with a possible theme park background, which would ensure that the railroad, hotels, RV park, restaurants (and a possible new amusement park in Williams) would continue to be operated as one entity.

Xanterra ownership

On September 21, 2006, it was announced that Xanterra Parks & Resorts of Denver, Colorado, submitted the winning bid (for an undisclosed sum) and was selected as the new owner for the Grand Canyon Railway. Xanterra is the corporate name and identity for what was originally known as the Fred Harvey Company, a legendary company with restaurant, hotel and service ties to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway as far back as 1876.

Xanterra said that it intended to keep all 480 of the railway’s current employees, and planned to focus on growing the business and increasing the coordination between the railway and Xanterra’s other services in the Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim. In the press release, the railway and Xanterra reported over 225,000 passengers and over $38 million in revenue in calendar year 2005. The purchase of the GCR included all of the railway’s assets, land, depots, hotels, RV park, rolling stock, shops and linear pieces of land along the 65-mile (105 km) line. The Biegert family’s 480-acre (1.9 km2) ranch near Gonzales Lake in north Williams was not included in the sale to Xanterra.

Transition of steam operation

In September 2008, Trains magazine reported that Xanterra would no longer operate its steam locomotives. The decision came as a result of the 2000s energy crisis and the late 2000s recession conspiring against passenger numbers, although it was claimed to be an environmental decision. The railway’s policy of always running a diesel with a steam locomotive as backup however does render the decision environmentally friendly. As part of the end of steam, 20 employees were laid off. Around that time, both steam engines 29 and 4960 were placed on static display on the Williams Depot platform. Limited steam operation returned on September 19, 2009, with the engines being powered by waste vegetable oil. According to the GCR website, the service will be available during the 2011 season with engine 4960. Over the winter of 2011/2012, engine 4960 underwent its 15-year overhaul and inspection, and returned to service in February 2012 for a special Centennial Run on February 14, 2012 celebrating 100 years of Arizona Statehood.

Expansion proposals

Also in September 2008, the railway sought to double its number of daily trains. The National Park Service requested public comment on allowing “up to three round-trip passenger trains per day from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park and one round-trip evening train ride per day from the South Rim to a short distance outside of the park.”

Philip Anschutz ownership

In June 24, 2008, it was announced that Philip Anschutz would buy Xanterra. Negotiations for the sale began on June 5 and the sale was completed on September 25.

jm1820 dhhttp://www.i2k.com

Some Early Lines – Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway

Some Early Lines

Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway

Leaflet FrontThe Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway is a preserved heritage railway with its headquarters and only station at Chinnor in South Oxfordshire, England. It runs along the foot of the Chilterns escarpment.


The line was part of the former Great Western Railway branch line between Watlington and Princes Risborough. British Railways closed the line to passenger traffic in 1957. The section between Chinnor and Princes Risborough then carried a freight-only cement service until 1989.


The Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway Association was formed around August 1989. It began to operate passenger trains between Chinnor and the site of the former Wainhill Halt (about 1 km NE of Chinnor) in August 1994. In 1995 the route was extended by about 3 km to Horsenden Lane, and then to Thame Junction in 1996. The 4 km route has been unchanged since then.

Chinnor Rly Stn Chinnor railway station

Chinnor station is the headquarters of the preserved Chinnor and Princes Risborough railway line, known as the Icknield Line Link . Chinnor was originally an intermediate station on the branch line which ran from Princes Risborough to Watlington, and which opened in 1872. However falling traveller numbers made it an early pre-Beeching closure and the line closed to passenger traffic in 1957, although freight traffic to Chinnor Cement Works continued until 1989. In the 1970s the station and platform at Chinnor were demolished by British Railways, so the railway preservation company have had to completely rebuild them. Although the line currently stops short of entering Princes Risborough the railway are hopeful of securing access soon.

 Here pannier tank engine 57xx 0-6-0PT 9682, built at Swindon in 1949, simmers gently on a sunny early spring afternoon, awaiting its next call of duty. Despite the classic Great Western Railway scene this engine post-dated the Nationalization of the railways in 1948 so only ever wore British Railways livery.  © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Present day and future route of the C&PRR

The railway operates on standard gauge between Chinnor and Thame Junction, near Princes Risborough. As of 2013, there is no platform at Thame Junction, so each trip from Chinnor is a return journey of about 8 km.

An extension of about a mile (1.5 km) to Princes Risborough mainline railway station is proposed and the railway is in discussion with Network Rail, with a view to running into Princes Risborough station. This would allow passengers to connect from Chiltern Railways services on the Chiltern Main Line. Once the extension takes place, the line would then be 4 miles (6 km) in length.

Pannier Tank ChinnorPannier Tank at Chinnor Station

57XX class Pannier tank 9682 waits while passengers board at Chinnor Station on the preserved Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway.  © Copyright Martin Addison and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Icknield Line’s Scenic Highlights

The journey starts at Chinnor station when the train sets off for the seven-mile round trip by passing under Station Road, then rising through the outskirts of Chinnor village to Keens Lane.  This is locally known as Donkey Lane due to the donkeys who, in the 1930s, used to bring the beech chair legs down from the woods where they had been made for onward transportation to High Wycombe.  Views now open up on both sides of the line.  To the right, a footpath parallels the Upper Icknield Way – a green lane that pre-dates the Romans; William the Conqueror travelled along it on his way from Hastings to London.  The line now descends to Wainhill Crossing and the restored Halt which is no longer open to passengers.  The original crossing keeper’s cottage, now privately owned, is on the right.

This crossing is manned when passenger trains are running and the train will slow down or even stop unless a green flag is being shown by the gateman.  After crossing the roadway, a stud farm can be seen immediately to the right and, to the left, just after some poplar trees, is a small pond where a Roman villa once stood.  The line continues down through a cutting to Bledlow Cricket Club where matches can be seen most Sunday afternoons.  After crossing West Lane Bridge there are watercress beds to the right just before Perry Lane Bridge.  As the train crosses this bridge, the now closed rail level Bledlow Bridge Halt can be seen on the left.  There are now good views across open fields to both sides of the train and on a clear day Whiteleaf Cross can be seen on the right, etched into the chalk hillside above the town of Princes Risborough.  Its origins date back to the middle ages, and it is thought to have been a guide for the old salt route from Droitwich, near Worcester, on the way to the Thames and London.  The train crosses Horsenden Lane and proceeds round the corner to Thame Junction and the end of the line.  The train will now stop while the engine runs round the coaches and attaches to the other end, ready for the return journey.  The line here continues for approximately half a mile to Princes Risborough station, which the Railway hopes to reach in the not too distant future, subject to raising the necessary funds and achieving agreement with Network Rail.

Chinnor SB   Chinnor

The run round loop and sidings of the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway. The line used to continue to Watlington, although the original intention was to continue the construction on to Wallingford and thus provide a through route joining the GWR main line at Cholsey. The line from Princes Risborough to Watlington was closed to passengers in 1957 and from 1961 until 1989 it only survived to serve the now defunct cement works just out of the picture to the left. It is now operated as a heritage railway.  © Copyright David Stowell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Update!!




Wirksworth, 19th July 2013: The summer season has arrived at the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway and this summer is extra special as a vintage steam engine will be pulling passenger trains between Wirksworth and Duffield.

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway no.1300 in its guise as British Railways no 52322 has arrived at Wirksworth and undertook its first trial run to Duffield today in temperatures that touched 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Built in 1896, 52322 is an attractive Victorian lady who hauled trains amongst the cotton mills of Lancashire. Based in Lees, near Oldham for much of her life, the locomotive was purchased for preservation in 1960 and is one of the most attractive examples of a Victorian locomotive in operation on Britain’s heritage railways.

52322 will be the centrepiece of this weekend’s Classic Transport Weekend and will be featuring in several family events over the summer holidays and full details can be found here: http://www.e-v-r.com/summer13/.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Summer

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Summer


Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth.

Some Early Lines – Northampton to Market Harborough Branch

Some Early Lines

Northampton to Market Harborough Branch

Leaflet FrontNorthampton & Lamport Railway

Situated 5 miles north of Northampton, just off the A508 or A5199, The Lamport & Northampton Railway offers a great day out for families and railway enthusiasts alike.

Apart from the many special events, you can ride on a train hauled by one of the steam or heritage diesel locomotives every Sunday from the start of March until the end of October.

The present motive power includes a number of working steam and diesel locomotives, some of which carry the 2E shed plate in honour of Northampton’s steam depot which closed in 1965. Further locomotives and rolling stock can be seen in various stages of restoration.


800px-Peckett_2104_at_Boughton_railway_station_May_2012Boughton, end of the line as of May 2012

History of the line

The Northampton to Market Harborough branch was designed by George R. Stephenson and was opened in1859. It had six stations and two tunnels (Kelmarsh 322 yards and Oxendon 462 yards) along its 18 mile length.

The branch carried goods and passenger traffic throughout most of its commercial life, but had an erratic period during the 1960s and 1970s when passenger traffic stopped and started a number of times. On August 16th 1981, after 123 years of service, the line was finally closed by British Raiilways.

Three years later, the Northampton & Lamport Railway’s volunteers started to rebuild the Railway in the old goods yard at Pitsford and Brampton Station. The first passengers were carried along the re-opened section in November, 1995. The line was officially opened on 31st March 1996.

After seven years of hard work and fundraising by the volunteers and at a cost of £50,000, 2002 saw the first passenger train to cross the restored bridge 13 since the line’s closure. Since then track has been laid on the southern extension and Boughton signal box has been built. A platform and run round loop will be constructed ay Boughton and then work will proceed on the northern section, which will require another £40,000 for the restoration of bridge 14!

EPSON scanner imageBrixworth Station

View northward, towards Market Harborough; ex-London & North Western Northampton – Market Harborough – Melton Mowbray – Nottingham secondary line. The station lost its passenger service on 4/1/60, goods on 1/6/64. The line was reopened for limited periods after that and not closed completely by BR until 15/8/81. Subsequently the Heritage Northampton & Lamport Railway has been able to lease the trackbed and is restoring the route.  © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The line between Northampton and Market Harborough was finally closed (by British Rail) on 16 August 1981, the intermediate stations on the route having been closed for many years.

In 1984 (just 3 years after the line’s closure) a group was formed with the intention of re-opening a section of the line as a heritage railway. The site opened to the public shortly afterwards. Following the granting of a Light Railway Order, the line carried its first fare-paying passengers in November 1995. The official Grand Opening Ceremony took place (just 4 months later) on 31 March 1996.

PeckettPeckett 2104 locomotive

Locomotive on the Northampton and Lamport Railway  © Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Currently, passenger trains operate on a section of line approximately 11⁄2 miles (2.4 km) in length, departing from and arriving at the only station, Pitsford and Brampton.

However, As of June 2013, An extension south had currently been under construction which adds another 1⁄2 miles (0.80 km) mile(s) of running line, with around 90% of track-relaying completed around Spring 2012. Once complete it will include a station with sidings and run-round loop at the former Boughton Crossing on the A5199 at the Northamptonshire village of Boughton.

A northern extension of the N&LR currently remains within the planning stage, but before work can start, however, extensive repairs are needed to Bridge 14 which carries the track over the River Nene. In addition Northamptonshire County Council, which owns the former trackbed, will not grant a lease on the land required for the extension until the NLR’s southern extension (to as far as Boughton) is completed. The previous extension opened after several years’ work and around £50,000 was spent on repairs to Bridge 13, (the same amount required for Bridge 14, when the NLR turns it’s intention northwards).

SBPitsford and Brampton Halt

Signal Box on the Northampton and Lamport Railway.  © Copyright Ian Rob and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The signalling system, with two working signal boxes (and a third under construction), makes it one of the most comprehensive and detailed on any heritage railway of its size, within Preservation. The Booking Office at Pitsford and Brampton station was built using the disused Lamport signal box, originally located around 51⁄2 miles (8.9 km) miles away on/up the same line. It had since been converted in such a way that it can be easily converted back into a signal box if whenever required in the future.

A third signal box has been installed at the Boughton Terminus; the former Betley Road signal box from Crewe is being used following its restoration.

The Brampton Valley Way is a “linear park” offering a traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists and pedestrians, and which runs alongside the railway, separated by a stout safety fence. Access is also available to horse riders on other sections away from the railway.

The railway is open for viewing from 10:00 to 17:00 on Sundays. Train rides are available on Sundays from March to October, steam-hauled from April to September (subject to availability).

Cl 47Class 47 locomotive 47205

One of the locomotives at Pitsford and Brampton Station on the Northampton and Lamport Railway  © Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway – Secretary of State for Transport Visits Wirksworth

  Secretary of State for Transport Visits Wirksworth

Secretary of State in the cab of one of the railway’s locomotives at Duffield.

 Hails ‘Tremendous Success’ of Ecclesbourne Valley Railway’s Reopening

Wirksworth, 26 October 2012: Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway today to witness how the railway has been restored from a state of complete dereliction to a vibrant transport link for the town of Wirksworth and surrounding villages.

The Secretary of State with EVR team members at Wirksworth. Left to right, Martin S. Miller, General Manager; Mike Evans, Director; Mike Jacob, locomotive owner; Graham Walker, volunteer locomotive driver; Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport.  

On what was the very first visit to a private railway, the Secretary of State was taken for a tour of the whole line, allowing him to witness its transformation over the past decade. As Member of Parliament for the Derbyshire Dales, the Secretary of State had visited the line on several occasions in the early days of its restoration but while his last journey was in a guards van along an overgrown and partially abandoned line, today’s journey was in the railway’s Royal Saloon, where afternoon tea was served.

“We are delighted to have welcomed the Secretary of State to our railway today” remarked Martin S. Miller, the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway’s General Manager. “This is a proud moment for us, especially as the Secretary of State is not only our member of parliament but a good friend to our railway” he added.

In addition to a tour of the line, the Secretary of State discussed a variety of issues facing the line to Wirksworth and met several of the railway’s volunteers, whose efforts were praised as, in a true example of the Big Society, the railway’s team of 200 volunteers not only brought the line back to life but operate it today.

The Secretary of State praised the railway’s management and volunteers for the significant impact the railway has had on tourism and local businesses in the Ecclesbourne Valley and was presented with a special brochure describing the railway’s restoration and its crucial role in the economic life of the locality.

Miniature Railways – The Swanley New Barn Railway

The Swanley New Barn Railway

Established in 1986 this wonderful 7 1/4″ railway runs over 950 metres of track through cuttings and over embankments to pick up passengers from the car par in New Barn Road. You will disembark at Lakeside station on one of three platforms and view the signal box, turn table and station building. The railway is operated by a group of dedicated volunteers that not only drive the trains but also build them and with 16 locomotives (steam, diesel, petrol and electric), 30 carriages and over a mile of track its a big job. See it all in action! For more information visit their link below.


The Swanley New Barn Railway is a 7 1⁄4 in (184 mm) gauge railway located in Swanley Park, Swanley, Kent, United Kingdom. It has eight steam locomotives, with five more currently being built on site. In addition to this it also has ten diesel locomotives. It is signalled throughout with the signals being controlled from Lakeside station which also serves as a terminus.

Swanley Park Miniature Railway

Featured engine is locomotive Sir Goss, a firm favourite with all visitors to this lovely park.  © Copyright Keith Cook and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The stations

Lakeside Station

This station is the largest on the line. It has three platforms, a turntable, a ticket office and a signal box. All trains stop at this station, so they can be turned around and be prepared to travel back along the line.this process will often be performed by the juniors giving the drivers a quick break. Passengers are required to go through the ticket office and obtain tickets before they board the train (in the case of those starting their journey at Lakeside) or get their tickets as they disembark (if they have travelled from New Barn Halt). The platforms have recently been upgraded to the same standard as New Barn Halt. Though this station has capacity for three trains at one time, this rarely happens except on gala days. There are three platforms and a loco line where trains can run around and hook back up to the train. the turntable is man powered and a signal point the operator to a centain line

New Barn Halt

Swanley: New Barn Railway halt

Swanley New Barn Railway goes round Swanley Park, and here we see the halt at the western side of the circuit.  © Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 This station is a single platform station located near the car park. Passengers board the train here and then proceed to Lakeside station to disembark. The journey from this station to lakeside should take around 3 minutes. This station was made higher when the platform was redeveloped in 2006, making it easier for passengers to board and leave the train.

The signal box

Swanley: Lakeside Station, Swanley New Barn Railway

This 7¼-inch narrow gauge railway takes passengers on a fairly generous circuit of Swanley Park, from and back to here. The station buildings are to the right, with the signalbox the more prominent building to the left.  © Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The signal box is located at Lakeside Station, which is the larger of the two stations on the line. During the first year of the railway, a signal box was created to help control the points and signals around the station area. The signalman can see where the trains are by using the track circuits which are installed throughout the line. The track layout has been changed several times, all of the major changes are recorded to the left of the track diagram.

The signal box has two automatic modes of operation which means that if there is a lack of staff the railway can still function. The signal box frame has 35 levers, all of which are fully interlocked. The interlocking works with the track circuits and point detection. Which levers are locked is decided by the signal box computer which receives points positions, Track circuit data and lever information to decide if it is possible to set a route that will not cause a train to be sent in the wrong direction or be sent on a route where another train is set to cross the track in front of it. The points are worked by 12 V Windscreen wiper motors which have been adjusted so that they stop in one of two positions. They are controlled by the signal box computer which is in turn controlled by the levers. The direction that the points are set to is detected by two microswitches located under the points.

The majority of signals are powered by a 12-volt AC supply. The main signal that everyone sees is the one that passengers pass on their way into the station. It has three 20 W bulbs which allow the signal to be seen clearly no matter what the conditions are. The signal located at the platform on New Barn Halt is powered by a 110 V transformer located in the signal box.

Swanley New Barn Railway Station

This miniature railway runs on a circular track in the park. This station is close to the main buildings of the park on New Barn Road.  © Copyright David Anstiss and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.