Watercress Line

Nearly There… Again!

Signal Engineering Report 23 July

We all know the old adage... you wait a long time for a bus, then two come along together. This has also happened to the MHR Signal Engineering Department. Just three weeks ago, after many years of work, the final stage of the Ropley signalling scheme was commissioned. Now close on its heels, the department is frantically completing the final stages of the new work at Alton known as the "Alton Fringe"

Almost one year ago over the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2013, Network Rail closed the signal boxes at Farnham, Aldershot and Ash Vale with the control of the line from Woking to Alton being transferred to a new signalling panel in the Woking Area Signalling Centre. The final piece of this jigsaw puzzle involves the Mid Hants Railway installing all the necessary equipment and new relay based circuits that will interface with Network Rail thus allowing non-electric trains to be fully signalled to and from our line and Platform 2 at Alton.

The "fringe" work has been underway for some time involving installing and re-using many multicore signalling cables, installing two new lineside equipment cases, adding junction indicators and new route indicators to the two signals on the approach to Alton signal box from the Medstead direction, and modifying the operating panel in the signal box. The work over the last few weeks has been concentrated in the Relay Room with the installation of a further 44 plug-in relays plus running and terminating nearly 450 wires between all the equipment for the new signal control circuits. This is just about complete and testers from Atkins, the Network Rail contractors for the "fringe" work, commenced their detailed testing today. The commissioning will start during the week beginning 4th August spread across several days with the final link up with Network Rail and Woking Area Signalling Centre scheduled overnight on the 10th / 11th August to avoid any disruption to the South West Trains services. The most visible change will be the removal of the white gate at the country end of Platform 2 that has denoted the boundary between the two railways for many years.

Rod Wicks
MHR Signal Engineering Dept.

Photo gallery