Last week, I took a train to a village that hasn’t had a regular rail service since 1964.
I took part in a visit with members of the Joint Committee for Strategic Planning and Transport to consider whether re-opening a rail line might be a possibility. The Robin Hood Line, converted from mineral use to passenger use by Notts County Council has been the most successful local train project in the country, and now the Council’s rail officer is seeing how to build on that success. In theory it would not be impossibly expensive to divide trains from Mansfield to Worksop, and send half the train to Worksop and half to Ollerton, allowing you re-open stations at Edwinstowe and Warsop.
To test how viable this might be, they put on a Special Train for interested parties which departed Nottingham station last Friday, taking the Robin Hood Line out of the city, and turning left at Shirebrook to see the line between Mansfield and Ollerton.
Some things I learned:
- Level crossings are pretty scary from a train driver’s perspective. You can see cars crossing ahead of you when you are pretty close to them and travelling too fast to stop. They cause a lot of accidents, and a lot of drivers do not give them the caution they need.
- Points are pretty simple technology, really. If they don’t work first time, you can squirt them with fairy liquid and bang them with a work boot and then they work!
- There must be some workers in signal boxes without a great deal to do – in some cases they control sections of track with only one or two trains passing a day. The signal boxes have no running water and only portaloos. And some of them have very neat gardens and a lot of bird tables
- Some sections of track have differential speed limits. If you’re a scheduled Sprinter train you can go at 70 MPH. If you’re a special with a diesel locomotive, you can only go at 20. And scheduled services get stuck behind you.
- Somehow, news that there’s going to be a Special Train gets out to the trainspotter community, and there will be at least ten people along your route waiting to take pictures.