The Branch Line Society


Eastleigh Lake Railway
Friday 30th September 2016

Report by Gillingham and How Wood

Arriving early, it was encouraging to find the booked locos, D1994 'Eastleigh' and 'Eurostar' 3221, gleaming in the mild autumn sunshine on two rakes of stock. A long train, as requested (equals clearer shed roads!), was ready for the main line and a short train in the bay platform for the sidings (equals better access). As the mixed 7¼"/10¼" gauge railway was closed to the public for the day, the first task was to find the way in! No need to worry though as a disembodied voice, filling the entire spectrum of human hearing and then some, bellowed across the airwaves: 'go round there' (a potential locum if the foghorn in the Bristol Channel ever fails, then).


Eastleigh Parkway station [Jill and Howard Everitt]

So following the sound, we went round there and it was problem solved with a: 'Oh Hi Glen, we didn't see you there'. We were invited to explore the site, visit the sheds and photograph the very impressive array of steam power stabled inside Eastleigh Parkway station (and how many minor railways have a 'parkway' station?) shed. During the next 45 minutes, our party expanded and was boosted to 23 by Carol, who came as a pay on the day guest: because the weather is good today and it would be nice to see what you all do. Really, Carol - are you quite sure about that?

Assembled and ticketed, the party divided into two similar sized groups at the request of railway staff. Group one departed from the Parkway main line platform behind the diesel to cover (guess what?)….the main line. Group two populated the short train for the sidings area and awaited the 'Right Away'.

Once the main line train had cleared the semaphore signal gantry and entered the colour light signalled section, the Eurostar departed, but not before a request to set back one and a half coach lengths to touch the buffer stops. As a test of how well a visit might go, a cheerily accepted request from a co-operative driver is always a good indicator of the day to come. Our driver passed with flying colours. The sidings train then headed south via the first two crossovers, reversed through the third then back up the Parkway station platform avoiding line and into the station headshunt to the buffers.

Eastleigh Parkway is left, the running line goes through the shed behind and the traverser is right in front of the loco shed and workshop. The
'Platform Sidings' are left of the traverser where the shutter type door is partly raised, left of that is the though line with a further dead end siding.
[Jill and Howard Everitt]

A double reversal positioned us to cover the three shed approach lines: to the shed doors in two cases. The traditional debate ensued regarding the supplied track map versus the actual layout; John Cameron won this by one turntable overrun and a traverser connection to nil.

On the main line Monks Brook loop and station were passed nonstop, with the train heading toward the impressive tunnel and main line back up to Parkway. Onboard speculation commenced regarding the feasibility of doing the 'much requested' scissors crossovers or would they be cut out? As if by telepathy (it was cutting edge train planning), driver Simon brought the train gently to a halt beyond Monks Brook 1 crossing. The guard, spanner and lock key in hand, released the points with minimum fuss enabling the train to propel back across the first half of the scissors, around the loop then back over the other half to reposition, right line, for an express run back to Parkway (clever stuff!).

The sidings train, having completed some more of these to the maximum of safe working and a couple of turntable transits, was waiting passengers off the main liner. The track moves were then all repeated, leaving all with the same 'haul' of through lines, headshunts, sidings and cross-overs. At the conclusion of the parallel universe experience, everybody detrained at either the Parkway or the sidings and walked across to board the 'mystery train' stabled in the far siding. Hauled by shiny red 'D92 Florence', it cleared the siding, giving overlap between the two trains, to just past the South level crossing, returning for disembarkation. This avoided moving this stabled set more than once.

We would like to thank Clive for hosting our visit (he even came out especially at the end to check we had done all we wanted to!), also Simon and the train crew for a very enjoyable trip. In conclusion, Eastleigh Lakeside Railway delivered all sensibly available track and a bonus locomotive.