HIS­TORIC SIG­NALS ‘SENT TO SCRAPHEAP’

Rail user group says NR could have han­dled Black­pool mod­erni­sa­tion with more com­pas­sion.

Steam Railway (UK) - - News | Focus - BY BARRY McLOUGHLIN

His­toric me­chan­i­cal sig­nalling equip­ment that could have been used on pre­served rail­ways has been scrapped by Net­work Rail, cam­paign­ers claim. The Black­pool North-Pre­ston line was one of the last ma­jor bas­tions of sem­a­phore sig­nals, which have been swept away by the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the route and the con­cen­tra­tion of sig­nalling in Manch­ester. Three sig­nal boxes – Black­pool North No. 2, Poul­ton No. 3 and Kirkham North – all fea­tured orig­i­nal Lancashire & York­shire Rail­way lever frames that were more than a cen­tury old. Poul­ton ’box, with its 74-lever frame, un­der­went an his­tor­i­cal sur­vey be­fore it was knocked down, and the levers were re­moved be­fore de­mo­li­tion. Kirkham and Black­pool North No. 2 were torn down with­out cer­e­mony. Two smaller ’boxes, Sal­wick and Car­leton Cross­ing, were among the other ca­su­al­ties. Black­pool and Fylde Rail Users’ As­so­ci­a­tion, while recog­nis­ing that the re­moval of the ’boxes was the price of progress, said some of the equip­ment could have been saved and used on pre­served lines. In the as­so­ci­a­tion’s news­let­ter, Branch Line, Chair­man Paul Net­tle­ton wrote: “Con­sid­er­ing the poor state of some of the bracket sig­nals that stood sentinel for so long, it was maybe un­der­stand­able why NR was so keen to con­sign them to the scrap­yard. How­ever, Mr Net­tle­ton said progress on ‘drag­ging the area into the 21st cen­tury’ was stag­ger­ing and added: “NR is on a hid­ing to noth­ing: it has to get the job done, on time and within bud­get. “But I’m sure it could have dealt with the mat­ter in a much more com­pas­sion­ate way, and I doubt whether it would have de­layed pro­ceed­ings by very much. “Those levers have been lit­er­ally tossed into the scrapheap. As a long-stand­ing rail­way en­thu­si­ast, it was par­tic­u­larly painful to watch Kirkham be­ing torn apart.” He added: “Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion will bring faster jour­neys, usu­ally in three or four-car sets rather than two-car trains. “Sim­i­lar up­grades to the Manch­ester and Liver­pool ar­eas will give the in­dus­try bet­ter flex­i­bil­ity of rolling stock.” NR says it had no alternative but to de­mol­ish the boxes, and claims they could have be­come a trig­ger for tres­pass and van­dal­ism.

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