The Anonymous Widower

Level Crossings And Signal Boxes

As I travel around Germany on trains, I am surprised at the number of level crossings and signal boxes.

Level Crossings

On the South Harz Line, there must have been half a dozen between Northeim and Nordhausen.

I don’t know if the Germans have a similar policy to Network Rail of aiming to remove all crossings, but if they do, they have a lot to do.

But the area did suffer the serious Langenweddingen Level Crossing Disaster in 1967.

Signal Boxes

Every station seemed to have a signal box.

Although, I did find this in the Wikipedia entry for the South Harz Railway.

Signalling on the South Harz line will in future use electronic interlockings that are remotely controlled from a centre in Göttingen.

So it does seem there is a certain amount of ongoing modernisation.


I’m very much of the opinion, that there is still a lot of technical modernisation to be done on German railways.

May 4, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Spot Of Bother On The Rother

There is an article in the Sunday Times with the title of Residents Get Up Steam To Halt Eailway Extension.

It has a subtitle of.

A plan to link a heritage line to the national network is dividing a Sussex community.

It’s all about the Rother Valley Railway wanting to create a 2.5 mile link between Robertsbridge and Bodlam.

This section called Future Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Rother Valley Eailway says a lot more.

There is also this article on Kent Online, which is entitled Rail groups get go-ahead to extend Tenterden-Bodiam line to Robertsbridge.

There are a lot of long comments, of which this from Zaphod is one.

Disgusting. The concoction of smoke billowing out of these things is horrendous. To inflict this on an already over polluted part of Britain is insane. Due ti the travelling nature of this loco it will make sure we all get a lung full. All those with long problems, asthma, bronchitis etc etc are going to suffer. They put grotesque pictures on cig packets to discourage us from smoking then inflict us with this … duh. But I do love these machines & their engineering but unfortunately firing one of these up & running it across the countryside is pure and simple LETHAL.

It doesn’t look to be full steam ahead just yet.

If I have a problem, it is that they propose to use a level crossing to cross the A21.

This Google Map shows the route of the line from Robertsbridge station to the A21.

Note that the A21 leads down from the roundabout in the North-East corner of the map.

This map from Wikipedia shows the Western end of the Rother Valley Railway.

My question is the following.

Why would any sane Planning Authority allow the creation of three new level crossings, given the problems and the strong feelings they create?

Perhaps the economic benefits justify the disruption!

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Relief For Ely

Ely station is not only a bottleneck for trains, but because the A142 only has a headroom of nine foot under the railway, a serious bottleneck for road traffic and an accident blackspot that stops both road and rail traffic.

But this article from the Cambridge News is entitled Work to start on new Ely bypass as final designs get the go-ahead.

This is the article’s simple description of the by-pass.

The new route will bypass the railway level crossing, as well as the accident prone low-bridge underpass, by providing a new link between Stuntney Causeway and Angel Drove to the south of the city.

Preparatory works are set to start on January 9 to mark out the site area to build the 1.7km of road, which will include two new bridges to cross the River Ouse and its flood plain, as well as additional railway lines.

I have been at Ely station a couple of times in the past week and these pictures show that work has now actually started.

The first four pictures were taken from an Ely to Ipswich train and the last one was taken from Plstform 3 at Ely station.

This Google Map shows the area.


  1. Stuntley Causeway is the A142, which leads South-East from the station.
  2. The Great Ouse.
  3. The two railway lines meeting at Ely Dock Junction.
  4. Angel Drove is the road labelled A142, that curves from the city to the roundabout at the West of the map.
  5. The work site is in the angle between the Great Ouse and the railway line to Bury St. Edmunds, just to the West of the Hawk Bridge, where railway crosses the river.

As the new road crosses the river, the junction with Stuntley Causeway must be somewhere to the South-East of where the A142 currently crosses the river, which must make the road take a widish loop.

The project would appear to be a well-designed solution.

  • Is the wide loop of the road, to keep noise of heavy traffic away from the river and the city?
  • It should give relief for road traffic at Ely station.
  • Hopefully it will cut bridge strikes.
  • The viaduct over the railway and the river, incorporates a footbridge.

The question must be asked, if the building of the by-pass and the double-tracking of the railway line to Bury St. Edmunds are two projects that will co-operate.

The Hawk Bridge has already got space for a second track, so could this be laid first, so that it could be used as a siding to bring in the heavy components for the viaduct that will be built over the river? Or will they be floated in, using a barge on the river?

The order of construction on this project could be tricky, but the quality of project management has increased greatly in recent times.


March 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

West Anglia Route Improvement – Meridian Water, Road Traffic And Level Crossings – 1st March 2017

This map from the Meridian Water web site shows the area of Meridian Water outlined in red.


And this Google Map shows the Lea Valley from the North Circular Road in the North almost to Tottenhsm Hale in the South.



  • Tesco and IKEA are in the middle of the Meridian Water site with the West Anglia Main Line and the main North South road to their West.
  • The River Lea and the River Lea Navigation Canal pass between the Meridian Water site and the Banbury Reservoir.

With the building of Meridian Water, traffic in the area is only going to get worse.

The main North-South route shown in the second map starts North of Enfield Lock, where it has rather dodgy connections to the M25 and is generally a single carriageway road, all the way to the Tottenham Hale Gyratory, where traffic is heavy at all times.

One problem is going or coming West from this North-South route, as vehicles need to cross the West Anglia Main Line.

Starting from the North, the crossings of the railway are as follows.

  • A level crossing at Enfield Lock station.
  • A level crossing at Brimsdown station.
  • A bridge for the A110
  • A bridge at Conduit Lane, just North of the current Angel Road station.
  • The North Circular Road, which is not well-connected to the North-South route.
  • A bridge at Leeside Road, just South of the proposed site of Meridian Water station.
  • A level crossing at Northumberland Park station.

Another bridge over the railway delivers you into the jams at Topttenham Hale.

STAR is currently envisaged to provide a seven-day-a-week services of four trains per hour (tph) between Angel Road and Stratford with calls at Northumberland Park, Tottenham Hale and Lea Bridge stations.

However the current local service up the Lea Valley from Stratford goes to Hertford East and Bishops Stortford stations with a rather erratic stopping pattern at stations North of Tottenham Hale.

So will STAR be based on these services or a separate train turning back at Meridian Water station?

But whatever happens it will increase the number of trains through Northumberland Park station.

The Bridges Are For Four Lines

It has now been announced in the last few weeks, that the level crossing will be closed.

Drivers wanting to go across the level crossing, following the closure will now do one of the following.

  • Go South and over the railway to Tottenham Hale.
  • Go North and cross the railway on the Leeside Road bridge.

They could always use the train.

I think the following would help mitigate the loss of the crossing.

  • Some road improvement at the junction of Leeside Road and the North-South road.
  • A decent pedestrian route between the new Meridian Water station and Glover Drive for Tesco and IKEA.
  • The STAR service going North from Meridian Water station, as well as South to Stratford.

Hopefully, it will all be clear by the end of 2018.




March 3, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Wildlife Problem That Network Rail Don’t Have

Network Rail might get trouble with newts and bats, when they try to build a station, but at least they don’t get this problem that happened in India.

How do you make elephant-proof level crossings?

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

West Anglia Route Improvement – Level Crossing Issues

There are major level crossings on the section of the West Anglia Main Line between between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne stations.

They will all need to be closed when the line is four-tracked.

Why Will The Level Crossings Need To Be Closed?

When the line is four-tracked, there will effectively be two fast lines and two slow lines.

  • Each slow line will when Crossrail 2 opens have between ten and fifteen trains per hour (tpi) all day and possibly even at night.
  • Each fast line will have at least eight to ten trains per hour, based on what Greater Anglia do now and what they have said they’ll do in the future.
  • There will also be the occasional freight or engineering train.

So that means something between 36 and 50 trains will go through each of these level crossings in every hour.

So if you take the lowest figure and assume each train needs the crossing to be closed for an average of a minute, the crossings will be closed for about forty minutes of every hour.

Note the following.

  • As these crossings are by stations, trains could be delayed by say a wheelchair passenger needing to be assisted, which would increase the average time of the closures.
  • Very precise driving will be needed to meet the times when the crossings are open to trains.
  • What happens if say a train fails and everything is delayed?
  • What happens if an HGV with a dodgy sat-nav blocks a crossing?

So the mathematics say that keeping the crossings open is as near to impossible as you can get.

What Do Crossrail 2 Say?

This Crossrail 2 factsheet, which is entitled Services between Enfield Lock and Tottenham Hale, says this about the level crossings.

The proposed increase to the frequency of train services
will make it impractical to retain the existing level crossings
on the Broxbourne branch. We would seek to remove these
crossings to increase safety, reduce risk to both users and
rail passengers and help improve local road connectivity.

When our plans are further developed we will carry out
further consultation in the local areas about the potential
impacts of closing any level crossings. However, we would
welcome early input from the local community as part
of this consultation.

The Local Alternative

The Southernmost three of these crossings; Enfield Lock, Brimsdown and Northumberland Park, are close to the A1055 which is variously called Meridian Way or Mollison Avenue, which was built to serve the various industrial and residential sites between Tottenham Hale and Waltham Cross.

This road should obviously be improved, but look at this Google Map of the Northern End of the road.

Note the West Anglia Main Line crossing the map, in a North-South direction. Waltham Cross station is on the other side of the M25.

Surely this could be a site for a new Park-and-Ride station for Crossrail 2!

But it doesn’t have to wait for Crossrail 2.

Meridian Water

The Meridian Water development will be both a problem and a solution, in Network Rail’s desire and need to close the level crossings.

Angel Road station is being developed and renamed Meridian Water, but how many people in the new development will want to drive from the development to their place of work?

An Alternative Solution To Closing The Crossings

The only alternative would be to reduce the number of trains on the line and thus reduce the need to four-track the railway.

This would mean that an extra  lane would need to be added to the M11.


These crossings are exceedingly busy and there’ll probably be a fight to close them.

The level crossings should have been dealt with years ago. I used to use Brimsdown level crossing twice a day in the 1960s on a bicycle and it was a nightmare then.

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

West Anglia Route Improvement – Enfield Lock Station – 22nd February 2017

I took these pictures at Enfield Lock station.

This Google Map shows a closeup of the station.

Enfield Lock Station

Enfield Lock Station


  • The level crossing.
  • The Google Map shows an underpass so that pedestrians and cyclists can bypass the level crossing.
  • The truly dreadful footbridge.
  • The tired station facilities.
  • Will the houses behind the London-bound platform like having 20 tph, thundering past their back gardens.

There isn’t much space to the West of the line, but with a bit of selective demolition and moving of line-side equipment, I suspect that two extra tracks could be squeezed through.

In a related post I’ve proposed a Level Crossing Replacement Station.

This might be a way of doing the following.

  • Removing the level crossing.
  • Building a new modern station.
  • Providing easy level access across the railway at all times for pedestrians, cyclists and those in wheelchairs.

The good people of Enfield would get a modern station and the railways would get rid of a troublesome level crossing.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Is There A Worse Station Than This In London?

I took the last train for some time to North Sheen station, which I had been told was bad, but I couldn’t believe what I found.

This Google Map shows the station layout.

  • It must have one of the longest lists of fundamental faults of any station.
  • To get into and out of the station, you need to climb up and down a step footbridge.
  • It has the worst step-free access I’ve ever seen.
  • There were no staff.
  • It has an inconvenient level crossing.
  • There was no car parking or even anywhere to drop and pick up a passenger.

In some ways, what makes matters worse is that the station has ten-car platforms which at times must bring large numbers of passengers.

The only good thing about the station, was that a ticket machine was on the platform.

It is a truly dreadful station.





January 1, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Mortlake Station With A Level Crossing

I walked West from Barnes station and came to Mortlake station.

It also had the inevitable level crossing.

The only positive thing to be said for the level crossing, is that it is at a station.

This means that train schedules can be arranged, so that trains can go through the station a few minutes apart and utilise the same level crossing closure.

January 1, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

A Level Crossing In White Hart Lane, Barnes

perhaps five hundred metres to the West of the level crossings I wrote about in A Pair Of Level Crossings At Vine Road, Barnes, there another one in White Hart Lane, Barnes.

When this line was built in the 1840s, they certainly left a big problem for Network Rail.

This Google Map shows the area around the crossing.

A Level Crossing In White Hart Lane, Barnes

A Level Crossing In White Hart Lane, Barnes

You can find a lot of news items about this crossing on the Internet.

This article in the Local Guardian is entitled Campaigners claim ‘dangerous’ level crossing in Barnes is putting children’s lives at risk.

This is an extract.

Concerned residents have launched a campaign calling for Network Rail to install a footbridge to cope with the “very high footfall of schoolchildren” using the crossing.

They were also expecting help from the local MP; Zak Goldsmith.

Whatever happening to him?

A footbridge could work, but it wouldn’t be easy.

  • Kids being walked to school, as I witness every day outside my house, are often accompanied by scooters, bikes, siblings ion buggies etc.
  • How many of the local residents would object to a footbridge outside their house?
  • Would the footbridge have lifts for those in wheelchairs?
  • There is no station, which makes a solution easier.
  • How difficult is an alternative driving route?

An affordable solution will be very difficult.


January 1, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments