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Well, it’s a long time since I’ve done a rolling blog! Today, despite the fact it’s cold and raining here in the Calder Valley I’m trusting in the reliability of the weather forecast and venturing out to document more modernisation of the rail network.

Over the next few weeks Network Rail is working on the section of the Harrogate loop East of Knaresborough which contains several manually operated level crossings and single track sections that are controlled by semaphore signalling and tokens. It’s a system that dates back to the early days of the railways. My mission is to record it before it disappears. So, shortly I’ll be heading off to get the train from Halifax to Leeds. Stay with me to see what happens…


Well, that was predictable! The large lineside fire in Bradford that occurred a couple of days ago is still causing chaos with many trains either cancelled or ‘bustituted’. My 08:30 to Leeds is now a bus so I’ve opted for plan B, which will save me a couple of bob anway.

I’m now waiting for the 08:50 Bradford Interchange to Huddersfield which is starting from Halifax. A Class 150 is sat here now, burbling away merrily, although the two of us who’re waiting to catch it are out on the cold platform as the Conductor’s not here to open the doors!

This diversion will lose me an hour but it can’t be helped. I suspected I wouldn’t get all the pictures I wanted today so another trip was on the cards anyway.


By the time we departed there was a grand total of seven passengers on the train which is now bumbling its way to Brighouse. The Conductor has already been round to check tickets, which was good to see.


Brighouse station had just three passengers waiting. Only one boarded my train, swapping places with a chap from Halifax. Now we’re trundling along to join the Trans-Pennine main line. On (literally) the bright side, my trust in the weather forecast seems to be paying off as the earlier rain’s disappeared and blue sky’s in the ascendency!


Funny how things work isn’t it? In one of those serendipitous moments my arrival in Huddersfield coincided with an email request for an article about a group based there! This gave me time todo a quick recce and get some useful pictures, so the delay to my day worked to my advantage. It also made up for the fact my 09:46 TPE train to Leeds was running late as the Redcar service it forms wasn’t due until 10:07. Never mind, I thought, I’ll catch the 09:49 Huddersfield – Leeds ‘stopper’. I’m sat on it now. It’s still here – as the Driver who’s due to take it forward is on a late-running Manchester – Huddersfield stopper ans won’t be here before 10:00. Fair play to our Conductor for telling us this on the PA in a world-weary but entertaining fashion! So, which goes first? Us or the Redcar Express? Watch this space…


In the end our driver arrived in time to take us out a 09:59, ahead of the Express. As we left, our Conductor made an apologetic announcement and updated the safety message by saying “and if you see anything suspicious – like a train running on time – please contact the relevent authorities”!


Finally, I’m on the right track – as it were – as I’m currently on the 10.59 from Leeds to Knaresborough having left Yorkshire’s premier city 90 minutes later than I’d planned. My train from Huddersfield was a lot busier than I’d expected, but still only 30-35% full. In contrast Leeds station was deserted as it’s the cities that are hardest hit by business closures and travel restrictions, as this photo shows.

Even so, work on the railway continues and the new platform 0 is really beginning to take shape. The temporary structure I used on my RAIL rover has been swept away and the line closed once more as the passenger platform is integrated as one side of a pier serving 0-1. The new steelwork for the canopy’s in place and most of the resurfacing is complete. The main focus of work now is around the bufferstop.

Right now I’m going to kick-back and enjoy the scenery from my seat on a comfortable but quiet Class 170…


I’m enjoying a brief interlude at Knaresborough in-between trains to soak up some sunshine whilst I can. There’s a much more intensive service as far as the pretty little town, but Eastwards too York it becomes hourly. The station is still controlled by this tiny North Eastern Railway signalbox, which is starting to show its age as it’s developed a distinct lean compared to the row of houses it was built up against!


That was an interesting few hours! I managed to get as far as my target, Hammerton and spent a very interesting hour looking at the historic railway kit and chatting to the young signaller who was on duty. A friendly chap who’d only been in post for 6 weeks, he filled me in on some of the work that’s happening between now and the new year. In Hammerton’s case little is changing other than the replacement of the life-expired crossing gates with new ones and the replacement of the electic token system and physical tokens with electronic ones. This old 10 lever Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company frame in its own little shed on the platform will remain controlling the station.

When I called in on Cattal, it was obvious there’s a much bigger job in hand. The loop at the station’s being extended to the West and the present set of points which have a 20 mph speed restriction on them are being replaced with a higher speed version the will raise linespeed to 40 mph. Here’s the sight that will disappear from this weekend as the new electronic system replaces the physical tokens that the signaller handed to the driver.

Here’s the view from Cattal level crossing showing where the loop will be extended.


I’ve resisted the temptation to hang around and be a laggard on the way home so Leeds was my last stop. Seeing the station so deserted during the evening rush is quite something, but I’ve got the pictures I wanted and services on my line are still disrupted so I’ve caught the 16:42 from Leeds to Manchester Victoria which is being diverted via Brighouse, so it reverses at My home station of Halifax before resuming its route through the Calder Valley. It’s actually quite busy but I’m assuming that’s because some of my fellow passengers didn’t want to be stuck on a bus!


Time to draw this rolling blog to a close now I’m safely tucked up at home and adding some of the pictures I took earlier. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip out as much as I have!

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