Designed to ultimately control all the signalling for Network Rail’s LNE Route, York Route Operating Centre is preparing for the commissioning of the new Brough Workstation. DAVID ALLEN looks at the resignalling of the Hull Line
With York ROC preparing for the commissioning of Brough Workstation, DAVID ALLEN looks at resignalling for the Hull line.
York Route Operating Centre (ROC) dominates the south end of the station. Located in the ‘v’ formed by the divergence of the Slow Lines from the East Coast Main Line (ECML), it was built on the site of two former roundhouse engine sheds. Construction started early in 2012 and was completed in autumn 2014.
The first two Signalling Workstations were commissioned in December 2015, when the North Lincolnshire resignalling was completed. North Lincolnshire No 1 and No 2 Workstations replaced 13 signal and gate boxes. The casualties were Appleby (Lincs), Elsham, Wrawby Junction, Barnetby East, New Barnetby, Brocklesby, Ulceby, Roxton Siding, Stallingborough, Marsh Junction, Pasture Street, Barton Road and Immingham East.
Sheffield Power Signal Box (PSB) closed in May 2016, and supervision of the existing colour light signalling - previously the responsibility of five panels in Sheffield PSB - transferred to the Sheffield and Rotherham Workstations in the ROC.
Control extends between Dronfield and Bolton-upon-Dearne. The Sheffield Workstation is largely responsible for the southern end of the control area. North of Meadowhall, the Rotherham Workstation takes over. In addition, the Rotherham Workstation is responsible for the Barrow Hill lines.
An extension to the Rotherham Workstation is envisaged. This would result in closure of the SBs at Woodburn Junction, Woodhouse Junction and Beighton station (sic).
Currently, the Rotherham Workstation fringes to York IECC Ardsley Workstation (Boltonupon-Dearne), Doncaster PSB (Conisbrough), East Midlands CC (Tapton Junction, Chesterfield), and the York ROC Sheffield Workstation. However, the closure of the three SBs will create an additional fringe with Kiveton Park SBs.
In January 2017, North Lincolnshire No 2 Workstation was made redundant after Automatic Route Setting (ARS) was fitted to the No 1 panel. This considerably reduced the signaller’s workload. On a normal day, the No 2 Workstation was not required - it simply duplicated No 1.
The North Lincolnshire Workstation now fringes with Scunthorpe PSB, Brigg, Holtonle-Moor, Immingham Reception Sidings, Immingham Token Exchange, Goxhill, Great Coates No 1 and Pyewipe Road SB. Reception Sidings dates from when the Great Central Railway expanded Immingham Docks in 1912, and retains a delightful pneumatic power frame.
A small extension to the North Lincolnshire Workstation is scheduled, but once again this seems to be delayed. The plan is to abolish Brigg SB and convert the unusual gated crossing to Obstacle Detection (OD). The new fringe on this route will be Kirton Lime Sidings SB.
In January, Phase 1 of the Huddersfield-Bradford scheme resulted in the commissioning of the Huddersfield Workstation in York ROC. This was another re-control scheme, and resulted in the abolition of Healey Mills and Huddersfield SBs. Both were North Eastern Region structures. This short-lived BR Region only lasted 20 years, and the only operational survivors are at Corby Gates ( Wetheral), Low Gates (Northallerton), Freemans (Blyth), Milford, Tweedmouth (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Hessle Road (Hull) and Tees ( Yard).
The Huddersfield Workstation fringes with London North West Route’s Diggle SB on the Trans-Pennine route through Standedge Tunnel; Barnsley SB at Clayton West Junction on the line towards Penistone; Horbury Junction SB towards Wakefield Kirkgate; Batley SB towards Leeds; Milner Royd Junction SB on what was the L&Y Calder Valley main line; and Halifax SB on the diverging route between Greetland Junction and Dryclough Junction.
Apart from Barnsley, all the other fringes to the Huddersfield Workstation are traditional SBs. Batley SB probably owes its longevity to the adjacent gated level crossing. Although a diminutive ex-LNWR structure, its role has increased over recent years. In 1985, control was extended towards Leeds after the abolition of Morley SB. Then, in 1990, the non-platform Down Main Loop at Dewsbury was commissioned.
Batley, Diggle Junction and Horbury Junction SBs are all surrounded by large SCs. Batley is between York ROC and York IECC; Diggle Junction is between Manchester East SC and York ROC; and Horbury Junction is situated between York ROC and Wakefield Kirkgate SC.
Phase 2 of the Huddersfield-Bradford project is due to be completed in October, when the Halifax Workstation will replace SBs at Hebden Bridge, Milner Royd, Junction (Sowerby Bridge), Halifax and Mill Lane (Bradford Interchange).
Although there are no longer any semaphore signals, the relatively old colour lights are being replaced. The new Workstation will fringe with York IECC Leeds West Workstation near Bramley, and the Huddersfield Workstation near Milner Royd Junction and Dryclough Junction on the Greetland curve.
Looking further into the future, Network Rail intends to complete commissioning of the Durham Coast signalling renewals during 2019, when the new Hartlepool Workstation will replace the SBs at Ryhope Grange, Norton South, Norton East, Norton West, Norton Station, Billingham, Greatham and Ferryhill.
Norton South, East and West control the last remaining mechanically worked triangle on NR. Regrettably, Norton East is not normally manned. All SBs except Ferryhill, Greatham and Ryhope control semaphore signalling. Work on the Durham Coast
No significant changes to permissible line speeds are envisaged, but the signal spacing is designed for the 100mph running of passenger trains.
Most of the SBs being abolished on the Hull line date from when the NER quadrupled the 14 miles between Gilberdyke and Hessle in 1901-04. This was one of many similar projects carried out nationwide.
was commissioned in 2010, when Ryhope Grange SB replaced five SBs on the route towards Greatham. Seaham SB - one of three in the town - was retained until 2013, pending replacement of the level crossing by an underpass.
Commissioning of the Brough Workstation, scheduled for April 3, has been postponed. Control will eventually extend from Howden (exclusive) to Ferriby, and include the route between Goole Swing Bridge (exclusive) and Gilberdyke Junction. Selby SB will continue to control the line as far as Howden, and will fringe to the Brough Workstation.
Over the years, what had been Selby West has gradually replaced all SBs in the area. Only Selby Swing Bridge and Barlby GB remain, and these have specific functions. Selby SB is one of those delightful anachronisms. Now one of the oldest on NR, a panel replaced the lever frame when it was over 100 years old.
Confining ourselves to the line towards Hull, in 1972 Barlby SB was reduced to a gate box and Barlby North was abolished.
Barlby North SB had controlled the allimportant junction between the Hull line and the ECML towards Chaloners Whin Junction. The latter line closed after the ECML was diverted in 1983.
The SB at the north end of Selby station, Selby North, had closed in 1971 and been replaced by Selby South. Control of this area was then transferred to the present SB when Selby South closed in 1973. The extension of control to include Howden was carried out by Railtrack in 1997, with the level crossings at Hemingbrough and Howden converted to CCTV operation controlled from Selby.
The Brough Workstation will fringe with Goole Swing Bridge SB on the route to Thorne Junction. This elevated SB, mounted on the Bridge, is probably the oldest on NR. And considering the complexities of this and similar structures, it was not surprising to hear NR suggesting that this and other Swing Bridge SBs would outlive all others. In 2011, it suggested a somewhat arbitrary abolition date of 2045.
Over the years, much damage has been caused by shipping to the Swing Bridge. In 1974, while repair work was being carried out, Electric Token instruments were installed in Goole and Saltmarshe SBs. Then, in 1984, a repair bill of £ 2 million threatened to close the line!
Beyond Goole Swing Bridge, the only remaining SB is at Goole. Prior to resignalling in 1975, it had been named after the adjacent Boothferry Road level crossing. At the same time, the lever frame was replaced by a panel to control new colour light signals. After the closure of Thorne Moor (1979) and Stainforth (1980) SBs, Goole has fringed with the thennew Doncaster PSB.
Hull itself is not part of the scheme. Beyond Ferriby, signalling remains the responsibility of Hessle Road and Hull Paragon SBs.
Hessle Road SB, although a relatively modern unassuming structure, replaced a traditional SB in 1962. At the time, there were 16 level crossings within the city boundaries, and Hull was cursed by them. A census in 1927 showed Hessle Road crossing gates could be closed for around 20 minutes each hour.
Hessle Road level crossing was the first to be eliminated. At the time, there were two different levels of railway, and this posed a big problem to construction of the flyover. A new alignment for what is better known as the Saltend line was also created.
In 1964, another major flyover was constructed at Anlaby Road, and the level crossing and SB were closed. Although rumoured for replacement at the same time, Walton Street crossing remains. It is CCTV- controlled from Hessle Road SB.
Hull Paragon SB is very historic. It opened in 1938, replacing two NER power-operated miniature lever SBs dating from 1904. Difficult to believe that Hull Paragon was one of the busiest NER stations - it boasted 14 platforms, nine of which were under the trainshed.
The 1938 LNER resignalling resulted in colour lights replacing the semaphores. Still novel at the time, the signals and points were controlled by individual thumb switches located on the track diagram. This was the first application of route-setting to a large British terminus.
Paragon SB only controlled the station. Nearby West Parade SB, controlling the junctions between the Selby, Scarborough and (in former years) the Hornsea/ Withernsea lines, was only replaced by Paragon SB in 1980.
Hull Paragon was again resignalled in 1984. This time it was accompanied by wholesale rationalisation, and a new ‘entrance-exit’ panel replaced the ageing 1938 set-up. Although some former platforms have been retained as sidings, the main station was reduced to seven platforms. On the north side of the station, there are now three missing platforms. The
space is partly taken up by a bus station.
The section to be controlled from the new Brough Workstation is presently supervised by Saltmarshe, Gilberdyke Junction, Broomfleet, Crabley Creek, Brough East and Melton Lane SBs. In addition, there are gate boxes at Green Oak Goit, Oxmardyke, Cave and Welton. All of these except Crabley Creek will be abolished. Retention of the latter is a temporary measure while issues with the level crossing are tackled.
All SBs, except at Green Oak Goit, are NER in origin. After completion of this scheme and the planned Durham Coast work, the total of operational ex-NER SBs will be reduced to 47.
Most of the SBs being abolished on the Hull line date from when the NER quadrupled the 14 miles between Gilberdyke and Hessle in 1901-04. This was one of many similar projects carried out nationwide. Schemes carried out by the NER included Church Fenton to Chaloners Whin Junction (south of York) and Milford to Burton Salmon. Fortunately, both these widenings survive.
The delightfully named Crabley Creek
SB is the oldest of the casualties, having opened ten years before the ‘widening’. It seems some realignment of the tracks will have been required, and the SB was extended to accommodate a larger lever frame. In contrast, Melton Lane SB opened 17 years after the quadrupling. Commissioning coincided with the development of the large cement works and the provision of Melton Halt in 1920.
Unlike the other SBs on the line, the older Crabley Creek and Oxmardyke display the characteristics of early SBs. From ground to roof they are made of brick, and the operating floor windows are relatively small. In contrast, Gilberdyke, Broomfleet, Cave, Brough, Welton and Melton Lane have much larger windows.
In SBs working Absolute Block (AB), there is still a requirement for the signaller to check that trains have ‘passed complete with tail light’. However, things have now come full circle, and the widespread use of track circuits has lessened the need for many signallers to see trains. Indeed, when it comes to panels and VDUs, signallers understandably prefer the dark!
Arrangement of the four tracks between Gilberdyke and Hessle was with the Slow and Fast Lines alongside. This is described as pairing by direction, as opposed to pairing by speed.
Regrettably, the quadruple line section towards Hull, so important in the early 20th century, was considered by BR to be surplus to requirements. During 1969 and 1970 the section between Broomfleet and Hessle was tackled, and only the Up Slow between Ferriby and Brough West and a short section of the Down Slow line through Brough was retained.
Then, in 1976, the Up Slow from Ferriby was cut short at Melton Lane. For the time being, this still left Brough with two island platforms serving Fast and Slow lines. Later the same year, following the abolition of Brough West SB, the former Slow lines at Brough were converted into bays facing Hull. These were taken out of use over a decade ago.
It wasn’t until 1988 that the Slow lines between Gilberdyke and Broomfleet were removed. This involved the construction of platforms over the trackbed of the former Slow lines at both Gilberdyke and Broomfleet. This had not been the case at Brough, 18 years earlier. Brough had platforms on all lines.
Nine MCB (Manually Controlled Barriers) Obstacle Detection-style crossings will be commissioned. Eastrington level crossing was converted when the SB was abolished in 1989. Although supervised by Gilberdyke, the operation of the barriers is controlled by the passing trains. The level crossings at Saltmarshe, Broomfleet, Brough and Melton Lane are conventional lifting barriers.
However, those at Brough and Melton Lane only date from 2008 and 2009 respectively. Prior to this, the crossings were equipped with boom gates - an early 1960s innovation devised by the North Eastern Region (NER). These were less substantial than traditional gates, and moved horizontally across the road by means of wheels driven by electric motors. Today, only Cutsyke (Castleford) and Urlay Nook (near Darlington) retain boom gates.
The installations at Oxmardyke and Cave are far from conventional. Both use a gate wheel to operate the lifting barriers! This was another development of the NER. Similar arrangements can be seen at Barton Hill (near Malton), Driffield, Norton-on-Tees and Nunthorpe. Manned gated crossings remain at Green Oak Goit, Crabley Creek and Welton. All have gates which
open away from the railway,
and are normally kept closed when the SB is open.
Green Oak Goit is the simplest. There aren’t any signals directly protecting the crossing. If someone needs to cross, the crossing keeper first checks the instruments which repeat the Block instruments for the Saltmarshe to Gilberdyke section. For permission to open the gates, the crossing keeper needs to telephone Gilberdyke SB. If permission is granted, the Gilberydke signaller will use remainder appliances to ensure trains cannot approach.
Crabley Creek and Welton are similar. Though one is a block post and the other a gate box, both control gates released by key locks. Basically, if all the signals protecting the level crossing are at danger, the release lever can be reversed. In that position, it is not possible to clear the signals, but the signaller can remove the keys required to unlock the gates.
For the time being, Crabley Creek SB will continue to control the level crossing using key locks. When Brough Workstation takes control of the signalling, the Crabley Creek signaller will need to reverse Levers 3 or 7 before the signals protecting the crossing (GH1715 and GH1720) will improve to a proceed aspect (an arrangement known as ‘slotting’).
Except for some of Saltmarshe’s colour light signals, the existing mix of semaphores and colour lights will be replaced by mainly 4-aspect signalling. Signals between Goole Bridge and Gilberdyke ( both exclusive) will be plated ‘TG’ (Thorne-Gilberdyke). Between Howden and Gilberdyke (both exclusive), signals will be identified by ‘SG’ (SelbyGilberdyke). Onwards from Gilberdyke to Ferriby, signals are plated ‘GH’ (GilberdykeHessle). The lines between Howden and Ferriby will be known as the Hull lines, and between Goole Swing Bridge and Gilberdyke they will be renamed the ‘Saltmarshe’ lines.
Although there are no immediate plans to electrify the route, the signalling is being installed to overhead line equipment (OLE) standards. No significant changes to permissible line speeds are envisaged, but the signal spacing is designed for the 100mph running of passenger trains.
Changes to the trackwork are minimal. The existing trailing crossovers at Gilberdyke, Brough and Ferriby all remain. The only track casualty is the old Horse Dock at Gilberdyke. The Up Slow between Ferriby and Melton is required for stopping services out of Hull calling at Ferriby. This line remains bi-directional, but the siting of the signals on the Up Hull Slow line will not allow workings to return directly back to Hull from the Up platform at Ferriby.
Of all the SBs under threat, only Saltmarshe does not control any semaphores. Likewise, it is the only SB to be replaced that doesn’t have a lever frame - a panel was installed over ten years ago.
Most of the section between Gilberdyke and Melton Lane is controlled by semaphores. However, west of Gilberdyke on both converging routes, all signals (except those at Gilberdyke) are colour lights.
The method of working with Selby SB has been Track Circuit Block ( TCB) ever since Hemingbrough SB closed in 1997. The section to Saltmarshe remains AB, and Gilberdyke’s 2-aspect G9 signal is an Intermediate Block signal. This signal increases capacity by dividing the section into two.
AB working presently applies between Saltmarshe and Melton Lane. Beyond Melton Lane, TCB was established in 1980 when Ferriby SB was closed and colour light signalling installed. The present position of TCB working to Hessle Road was established in 1983, when Hessle Haven SB was abolished.
Gilberdyke is an example of a classic double Junction, protected by semaphores. For trains coming from Hull (Up direction), two straight post signals standing side by side act as routing signals. In an age of standardisation, this arrangement is cheaper than a bracket. The taller G13 (right hand) signal controls the Selby line, and the G7 signal controls the lower speed divergence towards Goole.
After resignalling, this will be replaced by a 3-aspect signal with a Position 1 Indicator for the lower speed route towards Goole. When the route is set for Goole, the yellow proceed aspect will be accompanied by the Position 1 indicator being illuminated. To warn drivers the slower speed route is set up, the preceding two 4-aspect signals will display a Flashing Double Yellow followed by a Flashing Single Yellow.
Approaching from the Selby and Goole direction, the protecting stop signals have Distant arms below. Between Gilberdyke and Melton Lane this is quite common, and there are ten similar signals (a reflection of the close spacing of the SBs).
Those protecting the level crossing at Welton are bracket structures. - a clear reminder of the former Slow lines. Indeed, brackets boasting a single arm are not unusual (for example, Broomfleet). There are also 13 traditional ‘fishtail’ distant signals between Gilberdyke and Melton Lane.
Although commissioning has been deferred, work continues and the line will be closed to passenger trains on various dates. Four blockades during March will be followed by a complete shutdown over the Easter weekend (March 30-April 2). It seems ‘communication’ issues are the problem. No new commissioning date has been released.
Preparatory work so far in 2018 has included conversion of the points at Brough and Gilberdyke to electric operation. In addition, new lifting barriers have been installed at Broomfleet, Cave and Welton, although they are out of use until April 3.
Melton Lane SB won’t be celebrating its 100th birthday! Having opened with the new Melton Halt in 1920, it is the youngest of the SB casualties. This view from 1995 shows the boom gates, which were replaced by conventional lifting barriers in 2009. On the left is the Up Slow line, now the only reminder of the LNER widening of 1901-04. On the Up Main, note the signal protecting the level crossing. When the Stop signal is “off”, the Distant arm will only clear if all the signals towards Brough are ‘off’.
Thursday May 19 1904 was a busy day on the Hull line. In connection with the addition of the Slow Lines (then known as ‘Independents’), Marr House SB (east of Broomfleet) was abolished and the existing Broomfleet SB was commissioned. In addition, Cave gate box was opened. This view, taken in October 2012, shows the single-storey structure still in good condition. The barriers, operated by a wheel, are shown in their usual position (closed to the road). The wicket gates are for the use of pedestrians.
Oxmardyke was commissioned at the beginning of the widening between Gilberdyke and Hessle in 1901. Unlike nearby Gilberdyke and Broomfleet, it is built to an older style. Note the operating floor windows are not continuous. The locking room windows are a delight. The metal staircase and outside toilet are not original! The barriers are operated by a wheel and not a pedestal.
Brough East SB is typical of the SBs provided for the NER widening towards Hull, with the continuous windows for the operating floor a great improvement compared with earlier styles. Unfortunately, the decorative locking room windows have been bricked up. On August 8 1979, 55009 Alycidon heads the 1245 Hull-King’s Cross. The SB is still known as Brough East, despite Brough West being abolished in 1976.
At Gilberdyke on May 27 1979, a Class 124 ‘Trans-Pennine’ diesel multiple unit forms the 1445 Hull-Leeds. The footbridge affected signal sighting. The platformmounted bracket routing signals needed to be low, and a Fishtail Banner Repeater was required for Oxmardyke’s distant signal. Following removal of the Slow lines in 1988, the platforms were shortened and widened over the vacant trackbed. The Horse Dock, to the right, will be taken out of use as part of the resignalling.
Cave gate box in November 1995 with Kevin Taylor on duty (complete with Railtrack short-sleeved sweater). The Capstan Wheel originally operated gates, but is now used to operate the lifting barriers. Prominent here is the blue/brown No 4 Barrier Release Lever. When the signal levers are normal in the frame, this lever can be ‘reversed’ and the barriers raised.