Watercress Line

Medstead - Here We Come!

2014 was a hectic year for Signal Engineering with the Phase 2 commissioning of Ropley Signal Box in July, closely followed by the Network Rail “fringe” interface in November. In addition to the ongoing maintenance and fault fixing of our signalling infrastructure, our attention has now turned to another mammoth project – the complete refurbishment of Medstead Signal Box. This LSWR Type 1 box was originally at Wilton South before arriving on the MHR in a rather sorry state.  After many years work, the box was finally commissioned in October 1985 and has therefore seen nearly 30 years of constant use.

The refurbishment of the Signal Box will take approximately 18 to 24 months as it not only includes installing a new frame and mechanical locking, but also enhanced signalling to enable full bi-directional operation through both platforms. Whilst this work is undertaken, all the points could be “clipped and padlocked” to allow through running using just one platform but this arrangement would not allow us to pass trains. This would entail “long section” operation between Ropley and Alton with only one train in that section at any time that, in turn, creates a very imbalanced timetable. Following discussions with the Operations Department, it has been decided to install a temporary signalling scheme to enable us to still pass trains at Medstead – affectionately called ‘Medtemp’.

Before work can start, a new temporary home is required for the signalmen. This will be in the form of a Portacabin large enough to have an operating area at one end and a relay room at the other to house the relay based interlocking required. The new building arrived on the back of a truck two weeks ago and was initially deposited in the Yard. The following week, utilising one of the MHR steam cranes, it was winched into its resting place in the cess next to the footbridge. Work will now start kitting out the building, installing track circuits throughout the station area, changing the points to motor operation and modifying the semaphore signals for electro – hydraulic operation.

Watch this space for updates as work on ‘Medtemp’ continues throughout 2015 with an estimated commissioning early in 2016.         

Rod Wicks

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