The Branch Line Society


EDF Tracker
Saturday 23rd January 2016

It was an overcast but dry morning when we awoke, and still a long way from dawn. After an early start, our car joined a multitude of others at Carnforth station. It was initially very quiet, but the nearby Co-op was open and enjoying an unexpected amount of business. After previous doubts over where, or even whether, the charter would be running, there was much relief when diesel engine noises could be heard from the WCRC depot behind the wall. A trip round the West Burton Power Station tracks had been denied to us at a late stage, due to new security concerns after the recent events in France. Many unusual loops and crossovers were still to be taken, though, and a grand day out was still anticipated. Crowds of familiar faces started to gather on P1, much to the concern of a few locals who had come for the first service train. This came and went.


Why EDF? Ermintrude, Dougal and Florence (of Magic Roundabout fame originally from France) also Électricité de France, the World's largest electricity producer. The coaches were labelled Angus, Brian, Carousel, Dougal, Ermintrude, Florence, Gardener McHenry, and of course, Zebedee.

47786 waiting to lead out of Cleethorpes P3, extreme middle right are original GCR station buildings.
[© Jenny Williamson 2016]

A mobile 'phone rang, and there was a message to be imparted to our tour participants; there would be a delay, as the train was still being shunted. Many of us who had found people to chat to reflected that this was not going to be a 'Brief Encounter'! Two more service trains were booked to call soon after our booked departure time and, in the event, these were given priority. Once they had cleared, our (almost!) ECS came in, with 37706 (top) and 47786 'Roy Castle OBE' (tail), including a very nice Pullman car ('Amethyst') for some lucky first class passengers. Departure, scheduled for 07.20, was at 07.49 (from 'Realtime Trains').

Early morning at Carnforth; just one question:
   "Where exactly is Platform 1?" [© Jenny Williamson 2016]
Two more service trains were booked to call soon after our booked departure time and, in the event, these were given priority. Once they had cleared, our (almost!) ECS came in, with 37706 (top) and 47786 'Roy Castle OBE' (tail), including a very nice Pullman car ('Amethyst') for some lucky first class passengers. Departure, scheduled for 07.20, was at 07.49 (from 'Realtime Trains'). The first highlight of the day, and the reason for such a large crowd this early, was the rare departure to the Wennington line (for a change) most unusually from P1 over the trailing crossover, requiring the presence of a Mobile Operations Manager (who, fortunately, was able to stay on despite the delay). As we headed off, daylight started to arrive, and we could see vast areas still affected by the December floods, topped up by more recent downpours. The tour made steady progress along Britain's longest double track signalling block section (24 miles Carnforth Station Jn to Settle Jn) but was still half an hour late at Hellifield. There were many on the platform, waiting for a delayed steam train (two Black Fives, 44871 & 45407, locums for 'Flying Scotsman'). In its absence, clearly desperation had set in, and we were well photographed running through the Up Goods Loop!

Having not made up any time, some were anxious about the rare Skipton move, but the tour did cross to P3 and back to the Up line, then had to follow a stopping train from Skipton. By this time, our coach was warming up, enhanced by the shining sun! The train gradually started to gain time, importantly without losing any of our booked track (Kirkstall Up Loop, Whitehall Up West Curve avoiding Leeds, Turners Lane Jn, Hare Park Jn and Hemsworth Up Loop). Beyond the disused Wintersett opencast loading sidings near Nostell, significant work was noted to the right on the new Crofton Cooperative drift coal mine (incredibly) due to start production in June. By Doncaster P4 we were nearly back on schedule. After the Down/Up West Slow No1 to Belmont, the routing was via the Up Reception Loop, rather than through the Up West Reception (due to the 'Back Road' being occupied by a long row of stabled GBRf locos) - bonus! It is a 'more desirable', rarer length of track. We were now a few minutes early. After the Up West Reception and the Up Flyover line came one of the highlights of the day for many, the South Yorkshire Joint Line from St. Catherine's Jn (Down line) to Brancliffe East Jn, a 15¼ mile, mostly single track line taking three quarters of an hour to traverse. Sadly, there is now nointermediate freight. At Worksop, the Up Reception received us and we departed from Departure No1. The Brigg line (unusually with 'SO' passenger trains) was taken.

Passing Brigg brought back memories of our 3 Jun 1981 evening trip on the sugar factory branch there. The day had started for 25 Members at
08.00 with comprehensive trips at Bardney Sugar Factory followed by Keadby Power Station then a brakevan trip from Dragonby Sidings to the
closed Normanby Park Steel Works (the railway was still useable) and Flixborough Wharf. LEFT: At Brigg the main line (seen behind the loco)
had rather more passenger trains then! The British Sugar loco is seen at the end of the very long headshunt which ran alongside the main line
then veered off into a field (bottom left on the map) - it is on track, honest! The site is now a gas fired power station)
[© Ian Mortimer 1981]

Back in 2016, at Barnetby, there was a 'bonus' of Reception Siding No1 (effectively the station avoiding line) instead of the Up slow through P1. Gosh, a few extra crossovers! Of note, the famous semaphores were no more with the recent resignalling. Then the bidirectional Down Cleethorpes Goods in the Up direction to Barnetby East Jn was taken. Everything had gone remarkably well, and we were only two minutes late at Cleethorpes, but… into P3, not the advertised rarely used P4. There was a great outpouring of grief from those who had not previously managed to tick it off. (Much effort was put into trying to move the train to P4, but it was just too long for the track section, and the York ROC signalman could not allow an unauthorised move.) With about 45 minutes to enjoy the delights of Cleethorpes, most people bought fish and chips, which smelt delightful (though a little overpowering for a while back on board!) We were struck by how friendly the town was; every few yards we passed someone who said 'Hello'!. Yes, all right, it may have had something to do with the fact that most of the people were off the tour! The station cat [right](Clawthorpes?) was very friendly too and many 'pawsed' to offer greetings.

An early return to the train allowed a departure two minutes before booked time. Another on the day bonus was a deviation via the elusive Pasture Street Up/Down Passenger Loop (no booked passenger use) which had also been taken into Cleethorpes; pleasing those of our number who are bi-directional! The train went down the Down Goods Line in the more usual direction at Brocklesby West Jn. At Barnetby it was Down Reception No2 this time and subsequently Northorpe loop (in the opposite direction to our 2012 tour) thanks to our diligent traincrew querying the signal for the main line.

Cleethorpes in P3, the elusive P4 is right, but rest assured, our FS is a very determined man!
(P4 was 'eventually' covered on our TPE Class 170 Farewell tour in July 2016 - what took him so long?!)

By Retford, we were nearly twenty minutes late, but still managed to be received by the Worksop Down Reception Line and depart via the Down Departure No1. All was not lost, as there was plenty of recovery time to play with, so we were on time leaving Sheffield, where we reversed in the very choice middle road; Up Slow Siding No2 (not quickly either!). It was dark and the longest row of cats' eyes (OK, ground position signals to you) any of us had ever seen were lit up, just like an airport runway.

Tour section mileages thanks to member Jim Sellens, *loco leading **loco at rear (if there was one).

After a generally bright and at times sunny day, the rain arrived, but this did not dampen spirits on the train. The rest of the return journey was as advertised, including the Roundwood Chord, Kilnhurst Up Loop, Cadeby Up Goods Loop, the Up Sheffield Goods Lines at Hexthorpe Goods Jn, Hemsworth Down Loop, Whitehall Down West Curve and Kirkstall Down Loop. At Skipton, where there was a train in our booked P4, (so it can be done), we perhaps wisely ran through P3 instead. The finale was the Hellifield Down Goods Loop. Arrival back in Carnforth P1 at 21.20 was five minutes early. Despite the West Burton disappointment, there was plenty of interest on this very enjoyable and sociable tour. A few had cancelled their bookings, but there were some late comers, including 'pay on the day' and loco haulage chasers, who paid part fares to enjoy the distinctive noise of a working Class 37 engine from coach 'Angus'.

This Tracker ran in support of the Marie Curie (care) Charity. The raffle, 'loose change collection', Mike McCabe's thought provoking topical quiz, and the sale of coach decals made about £1,000 on the day to add to EDF's (West Burton Power Station) very generous £2,500 donation. All in all, anotherexcellent tour with a great friendly atmosphere. Profuse thanks are due to our FS, Kev Adlam, for all of the hours of hard work, blood sweat and tears, that he put in behind the scenes and on the day. Thanks also to the West Coast train crews, who ensured a good day out and to the stewards, who all worked so. Not to be forgotten are those giving their time and effort behind the scenes before tours, with bookings, stock lists, maps, tickets, itinerary, Unusual Track summaries etc, who rarely receive enough thanks. All unglamorous and low profile but essential tasks.

It is well known that BLS visits reach the parts that others don't reach! This is the view west from the roof of the former Keadby Power Station (coal fired) on 3 Jun 1981, after the track had been traversed of course! It was a very distinctive large brick building with a flat roof, visible from miles around in the flat open North Lincolnshire countryside and operated from 1952 to 1984. There is a gas-fired station here now. The exchange sidings can be seen with a CEGB (Central Electricity Generating Board) yellow locomotive and a freight train from the Scunthorpe to Doncaster direction is passing on the left. Far left is the Stainforth and Keadby Canal, the power station is on the River Trent, behind the photographer. Note the coal stocks (right) were low as the station was on standby only by then.

A 1954 map extract; the power station building (just a few years old then) is just below the 'K' in Keadby and the BR exchange sidings are
to the left leading to the main line connection. Doncaster is to the left and Scunthorpe right. The River Trent flows from bottom to top.
Just south of the power station where the main lines heads southeast to Scunthorpe is Keadby Canal Jn, the straight branch heading
east to the locks is to Keadby (OP 10 Sep 1959, RN 'Keadby for Amcotts and Burringham' 1 Oct 1866, CP 2 Nov 1874, CG 3 May 1971).
On the opposite side of the river is the Gunness Wharf Branch (CG by 1981) from Gunhouse Jn off to the right.

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