Gladstone Road is a terminal station near the heart of a conurbation in North West England. The area is also served by a station on the West Coast Main Line, but its remote location means that most local passengers use Gladstone Road instead. The line was built by the LNWR, but during the mid-1970s engineers discovered serious weaknesses in the imposing North Mill Viaduct. The demolition of this massive structure forced the closure of the line to the west of Gladstone Road in 1976. The whole line would probably have closed but for the support of the newly-formed NorWest Passenger Transport Executive (PTE). The long-term survival of the line was again in doubt when Priory Wood Tunnel suffered a partial collapse in 1981. Again the PTE produced funds for resignalling to allow single line working through the repaired bore.
The early 1990s have seen a change in the line's fortunes. A two-hourly service front Newcastle-upon-Tyne was introduced utilising the new Class 158 Express units, followed by the commencement of a service from Cardiff Central. Class 156 Super Sprinter units run hourly to Blackpool North and heritage units run half-hourly to Sheffield. A 20 minute headway on the Manchester Oxford Road service is operated with Pacer units, complemented by an hourly Sprinter to Liverpool Lime Street. Some locomotive-hauled trains are still run, either replacing defective unit trains, or working the booked commuter 'Club Train' service. One of the most significant events in the line's history was the recent announcement of the electrification of the branch for suburban services and work on the necessary infrastructure has commenced.
A limited freight service survives to serve the catalogue shopping warehouse.This involves bulk deliveries in Speedlink vans and outward parcels workings. With an electrification depot being established, engineering trains are likely to start running. The terminal is still sufficiently busy to justifya pilot locomotive, although it spends most of its life in the gloom under the Gladstone Road bridge.
More properly this should be Gladstone Road II. The original was built, mostly, by the children at the Bridge Centre. However we liked it so much, and a lot of those youngsters have moved on up to join us, that we recreated it. If you're wondering why the picture of the wiring is here because I did almost all of this and am moderately proud of the result (well at least everything works). The control panel incorporates a rather special CDU built by Steven Spreadborough which has a slight time delay built in to reduce arcing damage to switch contacts.
30 December 2011
I was shocked to see it's been nearly three years since the plan to extend the layout however, this is now all but finished. The short pieces to allow longer trains have yet to be built but we have added two baseboards so through trains can be run. Electrics have been reworked and existing scenery has had a bit of an overhaul to suit the change of configuration. All being well the layout will make its public debut at the Calne show in the new year.
26 March 2009
Over the years there have been any number of debates and discussions about changing the era and/or location for Galdstone Road but never any actual action. Well that's just changed as a plan has been agreed to extend the layout at each end and upgrade the front two platform roads plus the engineers siding to full through capacity. Consequently the extension beyond the road bridge will provide a new fiddle yard plus some scenic trackwork to approach and enter this. At the other end of the layout there will just be a short extension to allow the fiddle yard to hold longer trains.