Sunday, 17 August 2014

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Most of you will already have heard of the chaos yesterday morning which was announced as being due to vandalism of overhead wires at Broad Green.  I was otherwise engaged so unable to go out and about to see exactly what was happening, but I could see on the screens that the service was wrecked until about noon.

The silver lining for me was that trains were reversing down to up in Huyton platforms two and three, so examining the detailed logs from my live signalling system allowed me to learn how these uncommon moves work, and I have now been able to add the extra berths and signals to the diagram.

Admittedly, not much compensation for anyone whose journey was disrupted, but it made me happy, at least!

The signalled reversing moves available are:
  • From the Down St Helens into Huyton P3, stopping at fixed red LL9592, and reversing to depart in the normal up direction towards Chat Moss or St Helens.
  • From the Down St Helens or the Down Chat Moss into Huyton P2, reversing to depart under the control of LL9588 onto the Up Chat Moss.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

New Signals At St Helens

I'm told a number of replacement signals have been installed at St Helens recently.  In most cases a new post and head, but at least one is a new head on the existing bracket.

As far as I am aware, these are one-for-one replacements and not a full-blown resignalling project, and the signalling continues to be controlled from the same box.  Certainly, they are still plated 'SH'.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Live Signalling Diagram

Some readers of this blog will have already realised that I have for some time been playing with the open data which Network Rail make available.  It's about time I shared some of my results, so I though I'd offer my live signalling diagram for your entertainment.  Here's a screenshot - Not much going on at three in the morning during an engineering possession, I'm afraid.

To see for yourself, go to
Your username is guest and the password is livesig

Please note:
  • This is very much experimental software, and I am still working on it, so it may change, fail, or disappear at any time.
  • It's a bit finicky about browsers, IE 9 and Firefox 31 seem to be OK.
  • The server is a very low performance one.  If I see signs of overloading, I will have to turn off the guest login, without warning.

With those points in mind, why not have a look?  Let me know how you get on.

Saturday, 9 August 2014


Watching the live signalling today I was pleased to notice that proper overtaking moves have been programmed into the schedules.  Each hour the stopper from Wigan to Liverpool via Newton (The line through St Helens Central is closed.)
uses the crossover into Huyton platform 2 and then waits while the fast Newcastle to Liverpool train behind it passes through platform 1.

So far it seems to have worked quite well.  The schedules have a seven and one half minute stand at Huyton for the stopper, to allow for a bit of late running.

The same was happening last weekend, but I hadn't got the signalling diagram fully working then.

Oddly, despite using the overtaking move, the timetablers are still showing down trains on platform 1 and up trains on platform 2 at Huyton.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Rest Of The World

This blog has been concentrating for the last few weeks on the work at Huyton, so a round-up of headlines from the rest of the area is long overdue. My thanks go to the many correspondents who have provided updates.

Apart from one mast base on the derelict platform parallel to platform 3, and one "scrape" just off the east end of platform 2, there is nothing visible in the station area. The listed building planning permission was granted on the 16th July.

The new signals here, controlled from Warrington, are of a different design to the new ones at Huyton, and have a side indication ("pig's ear") for drivers stopped at the signal.

I notice that west of Earlestown the mast bases on the south side of the line seem to be far enough back to fit a fourth line parallel with the loop.
There is no visible sign of work on Sankey Viaduct where the planning permission was granted a few weeks ago.

The substation here is partially covered in scaffolding, suggesting work is still not complete.

Thatto Heath
Work has started in the "canyon".

Manchester Victoria
Almost all the masts and portals seem to be in place between Ordsall Lane Junction and Victoria, and the majority have arms fitted.

Phase Two Wires
Wires have appeared at various locations on the Huyton - Wigan line, and also at Wavertree.

The blockade for work on Chorley Tunnel is under way. I was on the Manchester end of this line on Wednesday and timekeeping was very poor, but whether that was due to the extra load on the Bolton to Wigan section I cannot say.

Rolling Stock
A second 319 is rumoured to be arriving in August.

New Timetable
The new timetable, starting 14th December 2014, is appearing in the timetable database; obviously it's all provisional at the moment. Around Huyton, it looks identical to the current one, except that late evening trains are restored (As they are in the current timetable from 8th September). Rather surprisingly, up trains at Huyton are still shown as using platform 2 - Hasn't anyone told them?

Huyton and Roby
The TWA application for the fourth track at Huyton was approved on 23rd July.

David Hull sent this picture of a kinky drain on platforms 2 and 3 at Roby, obviously ready for a mast base!