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One of the last outposts of traditional semaphore signalling has heard its death knell today. Siemens Rail Automation has been awarded a £40 million contract by Network Rail to renew life-expired signalling equipment from Leamington Spa to Heyford. This will see the signals & signalboxes at Banbury North & South replaced by Siemens’ Trackguard Westlock computer-based interlocking. The modernization will mean improved headways between Banbury and Aynho Junction, as well as a rationalised layout at Banbury Station to improve operational flexibility and minimise on-going maintenance requirements.

The project is expected to take 22 months.

Banbury has long been an oasis of former GWR lower quadrant semaphore signals, although some were converted to upper quadrant by BR. Some of the signals were still illuminated by paraffin lamps, a practice dating back to the dawn of the railways. Here’s a selection of pictures showing what will disappear: