Severn Bridge Junction

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last updated 12 August 2010

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Shrewsbury index | Station area diagram | Severn Bridge Junction | Abbey Foregate | Crewe Junction | Sutton Bridge Junction | Crewe Bank | Harlescott Crossing


18/9/06

Severn Bridge Junction A panoramic view of Severn Bridge Junction from the public (Dana) footbridge above the station. The lines to the left go to Wolverhampton and Birmingham via Abbey Foregate; those to the right head for Hereford, with the Welshpool and Machynlleth line branching off at Sutton Bridge Junction about three-quarters of a mile from here. A third chord, known as the loop line, forms a triangle, running from Abbey Foregate, behind the signalbox here and round to the Hereford line at English Bridge Junction, which Severn Bridge Junction also controls.
The junction signal on the up main platform (7) is a real treasure - one of the most unusual I have ever seen. The signal arms are pivoted at their centres, which was not an uncommon arrangement where the available clearance was limited, but I know of no others that had their spectacle glasses built into the left-hand portions of the arms. Originally this signal also had subsidiary calling-on arms under each of the main signals - see below.
The absence of a distant arm for Abbey Foregate under the left-hand signal is also, at first sight, surprising, but harks back to a GWR policy of omitting intermediate distant signals at major stations where all lines are restricted to low running speeds.
Since my last visit a year ago, the wooden arm of the signal to the Hereford line has been replaced...
Up platform homes bracket
Wolverhampton arm on up platform homes This is the arm for the Wolverhampton line. You can see the wood is well weathered, and notice the separate strips of wood that form its edges. It is also possible to see, from the lettering of the round metal plate on which the arm pivots, that this plate itself only dates back to BR(WR) days.
Now look at the Hereford line arm. This is clearly a much newer piece of hardwood, a single piece has been used for the whole arm, and the heads of the bolts that hold the metal spectacle glass casing in place are new and shiny. Nice work, this is a classic example of how the local maintenance staff care about keeping their vintage signals going. Hereford arm on up platform homes
View towards Abbey Foregate A view across the station platforms towards Abbey Foregate. I am standing on the down main platform (3), from which until recently trains could only depart towards Gobowen. The line in the middle is the down main, while the platform opposite (4) is designated the up and down platform as trains can enter or leave it in any direction. The two colour-light signals control departures from the next pair of platforms (5 and 6) which are bays cut into what is a large island platform. The far side of the island is the up platform (7) and beyond that runs the up main line. The connection from the up main to the Hereford line was removed in the 1980s so its signal is the single-armed upper quadrant on the far left.
Built by the LNWR, Severn Bridge Junction is the largest surviving mechanical signalbox in the UK, and a listed building.
The line crossing the others and heading rightwards connects the up platform to English Bridge junction, for trains departing towards Hereford or Machynlleth.
The signalbox
Up and down platform homes The junction signal at the end of the up and down platform.
A closer view of various home signals at the London end of the station. All the up homes
The lines towards Hereford The lines from the station towards Hereford. The signal for bay platform 6 has been cleared for a Birmingham train.
The down lines through the station towards Crewe Junction. The ornate rooftop of the station building can be seen on the left behind the footbridge, which actually carries the public Dana footpath rather than being part of the station. Down lines through the station
Trains crossing at English Bridge A Hereford train runs along the viaduct beyond English Bridge Junction as a Central Wales train from Llanelli approaches.
The view of English Bridge Junction from the station. The loop lines from Abbey Foregate are mostly hidden behind the weed growth. The lines across the centre serve the Up and bay platforms. On the far left is the down Hereford line advanced starter, with Sutton Bridge Junction's lower-arm distant. The junction signal for trains approaching from this direction is the colour-light on the right. English Bridge Junction
English Bridge Junction close-up A closer view of the layout at English Bridge Junction, showing the trailing crossover and the junction with the loop lines immediately beyond it.

17/9/06

A close-up of the junction signal at English Bridge Junction. This more modern signal has replaced the one here previously. Up Hereford line home

28/7/06

Down homes from Abbey Foregate The down homes from Wolverhampton, with the signalbox in the background. See the Abbey Foregate page for a fuller explanation of the layout at this corner of the triangle.
A close-up of the down advanced starter towards Sutton Bridge Junction, with the latter's lower-arm distant. Worked (as opposed to fixed) lower-quadrant lower-arm distants are quite rare nowadays (the only other surviving example I am aware of is Gloucester panel's lower-arm distant under the junction signal at Norton Junction near Worcester). Down advanced starter and Sutton Bridge distant

21/9/05

Severn bridge junction towards Abbey Foregate These are the lines towards Abbey Foregate, whose signalbox can be seen in the background.
On the left-hand side of the station, looking towards Severn Bridge Jct, are the up main (through) and up platform (7) lines. The track on the extreme left is a siding. The signalman has pulled off for a Birmingham train to depart from Platform 7. Up main and up platform lines
Discs at rear of down lines The discs that control reversing movements from the down main and down platform lines. The one on the right has since been replaced by a new signal that allows passenger trains to depart from Platform 3 towards Hereford/Machynlleth.
The up main home for Severn Bridge Jct. The disc opposite it also applies to the up main, signalling a move onto a through siding which runs alongside all the way to Abbey Foregate.
Originally, there was a junction signal here, but the connection from the up main to the Hereford line was removed in the 1980s.
SBJ Up Main home
Unusual centre-pivot junction signal The junction signal on the up platform before its Hereford line arm was replaced.

26-28/5/07

This wonderful view of the track layout and signals can be seen from the mound on which Laura's Tower is built. Abbey Foregate can just be glimpsed at the very top left. Severn Bridge Junction from the Laura's Tower mound
Train called on into Platform 4 A train from Birmingham is 'called on' into the already occupied Platform 4. The illuminated 'C' indicator is provided because this subsidiary signal can also clear for a restricted acceptance move, if the platform is clear but no clearance is available beyond Crewe Junction's home signal at the far end. In that situation, the indicator would display 'W' (for Warning - the old terminology for that type of move).
The signalbox as seen from Laura's Tower mound... Signalbox from the Laura's Tower mound
Signalbox from Abbey Foregate ... and from the Abbey Foregate direction.

7/8/10

Installing new semaphore signals on the national network is quite unusual nowadays, but the one on the right was added recently to allow passenger trains to depart back from Platform 3 towards the Hereford/Machynlleth direction. It replaced the shunting disc which existed previously for the same route but could only authorise movements for trains not conveying passengers.
A TPWS Train Stop Sensor has also been fitted in the track opposite the signal.
Down main platform to down Hereford home
New facing point lock for 109 points To upgrade this route to passenger status, a new Facing Point Lock (FPL) also had to be fitted to the points (centre left) where the up Hereford line joins the down main. Providing FPLs for points over which passenger trains may pass in the facing (diverging) direction has been obligatory for well over a century.
A rear view of the new signal for departing from Platform 3 towards Hereford/Machynlleth, with the platform and station buildings beyond it. The Crewe Junction signal controlling departures from the other end of this platform can also be seen beneath the Dana footbridge.
The work done recently also allows trains to enter Platform 3 from the Hereford/Machynlleth line - for complex historical reasons, the signalling had not allowed this since the early 1960s, even though the track layout was always capable.
Platform 3 with rear view of SBJ99
View from Laura's tower mound An updated view from Laura's tower mound, with the new signal in the foreground.
Another view from the Dana overbridge, with a train to Wolverhampton signalled from Platform 6. View from Dana overbridge with a train signalled from Platform 6
Down main platform to down Hereford home The new signal from another angle. The pulley carrying its signal wire can be seen below the platform edge.
The signalbox was repaired and repainted earlier this year, and now looks fantastic. Signalbox following refurbishment
New facing point lock for 109 points A closer shot of the new FPL.

July 1984

An Aberystwyth-Euston train approaches English Bridge Junction, where it is signalled into the up and down platform. Train approaching English Bridge Junction
English Bridge Junction English Bridge Junction, taken from the same train on its way into the station.
A rear view of the signalbox, again from the same train. Rear view of signalbox
View towards Abbey Foregate The view towards Abbey Foregate from the same location, with the loop line on the right and Severn Bridge's down homes on the left.
A similar view but taken after passing the signalbox here. I have included a digital enlargement of the signals in the centre of this photo on the Abbey Foregate page. View towards Abbey Foregate
View approaching Abbey Foregate After running round and reversing out of Platform 4, my train heads for Abbey Foregate as a Wolverhampton-Chester DMU waits at the down main homes. In those days, Platform 3 wasn't used for passenger trains, so the DMU has had to wait for us to clear Platform 4.

June 1982

The platform starters when Platforms 1 and 2 (far right) were still in use for postal traffic.
The rear of the second home from the Hereford line can also be seen behind the Platform 2 starter. There was formerly a direct connection from the Hereford line to Platform 3, which ran in the space to the right of the down main - hence the armless doll on the bracket.
London end starters
Upper quadrant up main junction signal In those days there was still a connection from the up main to the Hereford line. The signal on the right here was the up main junction signal - this upper-quadrant version had replaced an older lower-quadrant which you can see below.
A new pacer DMU waits in platform 6. But over the roof you can see one of the signals that used to be halfway through the station on the up main and platform lines, controlled from Severn Bridge Junction. Former up home 1

4/10/77

Former up main homes Thanks to Steve Burdett for sending me this shot of the older, lower-quadrant splitting homes on the up main.

28/7/76

Thanks to Dave Plimmer for letting me use the next three photos. Dave runs an excellent Railways of North Wales website.
Here we can see the lines leading into the former bay platforms 1 and 2, and the homes for trains departing from those platforms. On the left, meanwhile, is the signal that used to be the junction signal from the up and down platform.
Former Hereford line bays
Former up and down platform junction homes A closer shot of the former up and down platform junction signal. Note that 3' goods arms have been used to provide a more compact signal, and there are still calling-on arms underneath.
A closer shot of the signals for departing from the former bays. On the left is the former up Hereford line starter. The remaining arms on this signal lead only to the down main. There was previously a direct link from the Hereford line leading into the down platform, but this has been removed along with the arms that previously read into there. Former up and down platform junction homes

Sept 1973

Centre-pivot bracket with CO arms This is how the centre-pivot signal looked in 1973, when it still had calling-on arms.

Aug 1970

A view taken from almost underneath the signal from 1970. Centre-pivot bracket with CO arms

There is also a good page of photos from here on the Severn Bridge Junction gallery page of John Hinson's Home Signal Page.

The rail video One Day In Severn, which captured a summer Saturday's operations in the signal box in 1990, has now been reissued on DVD.


Shrewsbury index | Station area diagram | Severn Bridge Junction | Abbey Foregate | Crewe Junction | Sutton Bridge Junction | Crewe Bank | Harlescott Crossing


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