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Date: 01/06/17 04:32
Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 86235

Yesterday I took myself off to Whittlesey (Whittlesea in railway speak) in Cambridgeshire, about 75 miles N of London. It's on the busy cross country line between Ipswich and Peterborough that supports five passengers trains in each direction every two hours and roughly hourly freight trains. Despite the volume of traffic Whittlesea is something of an oasis of old style British railway practise, with a signal box working absolute block in both directions (King's Dyke to the west and Three Horseshoes to the east), a slew of operating semaphores and a manual level crossing complete with crossing keeper and shanty.

Apart from the station itself, which has a train every two hours in each direction, there are a number of picture taking locations both east and west which are walkable from the station and the town itself, which is quite ancient, has a selection of pubs and supermarkets to keep one sustained. I caught the 08:44 King's Cross to King's Lynn, changing at Ely for the 10:15 XC train to Birmingham as far as March and the 11:17 March to Whittlesea (10:00 ex-Ipswich).

1: On the Ely to March leg we passed the GBRf operated 6E84 Middleton Towers to Monk Bretton sand train waiting patiently on the Ely Loop at Ely West Junction, that's Ely Cathedral in the background. The PAA wagons are unique to this service with their hydraulic covers to keep the sand dry in transit and their graphics for WBB minerals which includes the rather vacuous strapline 'working together for mineral solutions'.  
2: At March the 6E84 goes into the hole, March Down Reception Sidings, for a crew change and to be passed by the 4M81 Felixstowe to Crewe, one of Freightliner's intermodal services re-routed over the fens to avoid congestion in and around London and on the Great Eastern and West Coast mainlines. 
3: As I left March on the 11:17 we passed another GBRf operated train, empty ballast boxes from Whitemoor engineering depot to the giant super quarry at Mountsorrel in Leicestershire. Unfortunately it caught up with me as I was walking from Whittlesea station to the Aliwal Road crossing so my next shot was of an East Midlands class 158 on the 07:42 Liverpool Lime Street to Norwich (arr 13:08) service. In the background is the industrial landscape of West Cambridgeshire, Hanson brick works and the McCains chip factory.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/17 04:33 by 86235.








Date: 01/06/17 04:42
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 86235

4: Looking the other way at Aliwal Road, and its the 6E84 sand train with 66750 Bristol Panel Signalbox up front, it's approaching Whittlesea's Down Advanced Starter signal
5: Back at the station a view of the platform end Down Starter in the off position. Network Rail has plans to re-signal the Ely to Peterborough line, which is a mix of Absolute and Track Circuit block, but that won't be until their next 'control period' which will not be until 2020 at the earliest.
6: Resignalling will also mean an end to this practise, the gate keeper has a busy life on this line, given the levels of traffic both on the railway and this busy road.








Date: 01/06/17 04:52
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 86235

7: Whittlesea box is of Great Eastern origin, the station had a working freight yard until relatively recently, I can recall the UKF fertiliser depot on the up side just opposite the signalbox. This is a relatively new traffic flow, sand for construction from Norwich (Trowse) to Wellingborough, 66732 GBRf the first 10 years - John Smith, MD on a rake of box wagons.
8: I walked to the Ramsey Road crossing from the station along the Whittlesey Dike navigation just in time for the next eastbound, 4L45 Wakefield to Felixstowe intermodal
9: Between the station and Ramsey Road the railway enters a fine right hand curve which offers some good shots from a nearby nature reserve. This is GBRf's 4M29 Felixstowe to Birch Coppice 








Date: 01/06/17 05:00
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 86235

10: One of the reasons I chose Whittlesea today was that GBRf's celebrity 66 66779 Evening Star was on the Felixstowe to Doncaster Railport circuit. Now the 4Z33 (Felixstowe to Doncaster) is due to pass Whittlesea at 14:29 and Freightliner's 4L85 Doncaster to Felixstowe at 14:40. Of course one (the 4Z33) was late whilst the other was on time, consequently they passed in front of me.
11: I wandered into Whittlesey town for refreshment, returning for the next train, Freightliner's 4L87 Leeds to Felixstowe, by now the (15:40) sun was getting very low and it was starting to get cold again.
12: Finally, whilst I was waiting for the 15:58 back to Ely the Down Starter in the gloamin'

There are some more pictures from the day https://nick86235.smugmug.com/Trains/2017/Winter-2017-January-february/i-VHfRZFQ








Date: 01/06/17 06:25
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: march_hare

Great sequence, thanks for posting.

I will add this to the list of locations to visit the next time.



Date: 01/06/17 07:11
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: King_Coal

Very nice! No catenary to be seen. The old signal boxes are amazing.



Date: 01/06/17 07:32
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 86235

King_Coal Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The old signal boxes are amazing.

Whittlesea dates back to 1887. I have been inside in the past, when things were more relaxed than they are now



Date: 01/06/17 14:51
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: SOO6617

Very nice set of pictures. Thanks for making the effort.



Date: 01/06/17 16:44
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: cabsignaldrop

Excellent series of photos, well done!

Posted from Android



Date: 01/06/17 18:18
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: krm152

Like each and every one.
ALLEN



Date: 01/06/17 18:21
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: tq-07fan

Ah, a new level crossing gate keeper. I visited Whittlesea in 2013 and liked it so much I visited it again in 2014. One of the gate keepers had retired but the other one remembered me.

I really like the shot from the footbridge at the station at March.

Jim



Date: 01/06/17 23:38
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 86235

tq-07fan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ah, a new level crossing gate keeper.
>
> Jim

Transferred from the Peterborough to Lincoln Joint Line apparently. Very friendly, waved we off when I headed away from the station.



Date: 01/07/17 12:17
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 1019X

Enjoyed the photos, all of the freight trains seemed to either intermodal container or bulk haulers and operated as what we would call in the states, "unit trains". It seems that most photos I see of current British freight operations are similar. In regards to old style railroading are there any customers that receive single of a few freight cars and freight trains of mixed freight?
Charlie



Date: 01/07/17 12:38
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 86235

1019X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In regards to old style railroading are
> there any customers that receive single of a few
> freight cars and freight trains of mixed freight?
> Charlie

Basically, no. DBC do move small numbers of wagons for the Ministry of Defence, the trains resemble old style wagon load workings but in truth are unit trains as the only customer is the MoD. BR tried to breath new life into wagonload in the 1980s with their Speedlink network, but the plug was pulled during the recession in the early 1990s. When Wisconsin Central turned up in the mid 1990s they too tried under the Enterprise brand name, I recall lengthy wagonload trains through the Channel Tunnel at the time (30+ cars), but wagonload is on the decline in France and the illegal immigration crisis in 1999 hammered the final nail in the coffin.



Date: 01/07/17 19:05
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: dwatry

Nick - some of these locations look strangely familiar. Nice series!

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/08/17 03:13
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: kgmontreal

Great to see some freight trains.

KG



Date: 01/08/17 04:19
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 86235

dwatry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Nick - some of these locations look strangely familiar.
>
> Posted from iPhone

For sure :-)



Date: 01/11/17 20:36
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 567Chant

The mesh of the screen on the level crossing gate would exclude all but the smallest housecats.
...Lorenzo



Date: 01/12/17 11:50
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: spflow

567Chant Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The mesh of the screen on the level crossing gate
> would exclude all but the smallest housecats.
> ...Lorenzo

It would be have to be a pretty small cat to get through that mesh!
 



Date: 01/12/17 13:45
Re: Old style railroading in Eastern England
Author: 86235

spflow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 567Chant Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > The mesh of the screen on the level crossing
> gate
> > would exclude all but the smallest housecats.
> > ...Lorenzo
>
> It would be have to be a pretty small cat to get
> through that mesh!
>  
Easy to get under the gate though.



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