Rare local track 1979-2018 and beyond


 A few local examples of where operating issues have seen some use of rare track not normally used by passenger services. Even on today’s sanitised railway recent years have produced an unexpected “uncommon” bit of track on our 321 and other units.


Hendon Freight lines and Flyover (West side)


45112 on the 1612 St Pancras - Derby on Sunday August 19th 1979 was routed onto the down freight line at Cricklewood, passing on the platform less West side of Hendon station before climbing over Hendon Flyover to join the down slow. Very rare for service trains from St Pancras. The tracks remain in 2014 with limited freight use and remain unwired. Special trains bound for the Southern/Western from/to the Midland could still use this route…



 Viewed from the 1612 St Pancras-Derby high on Hendon flyover is 25243 on an electrification train, 190879


Tring reversing line to Tring North Jn (former US)


Fairly common due farces of late. 321411 on the 1347M.Keynes-Euston was routed via the Tring connection US via  reversing line to call at Tring’s platform 4 iso 5 on Saturday June 14th 2014. May be related to the test train that was following it which also took the same route as phot below


 73213 and 73138 at Tring after using the US-reversable line (aka Tring relief line) connection on 140614



Rugby Flyover (wrong line, via little used crossovers)


Due engineering work on the down lines at Rugby 25207 and 25072 dragging 86218 on a Euston - Holyhead LNER Railtour on Sunday May 13th 1984 was routed wrong line over Rugby flyover before regaining the down line nr the Cement works.


 25207 and 25072 are wrong line on Rugby Flyover with a Euston-Holyhead charter on 130584


Acton Wharf and it’s connection to WCML DF (north of Acton Wells)


47553 on the 1722 Brighton - Derby which was booked through diesel via the WCML was extensively diverted on Sunday October 2nd 1988.  From Clapham Jn the train took in Kew East curve passing Bollo Lane Jn, Acton Central, dropping down at Acton Wharf Jn to the North of Willesden Freightliner terminal and straight onto the DF. An emergency stop was made at Harrow after the guard pulled the cord to detrain a very distressed female student who had hoped to get off at the booked Kensington Olympia stop which obviously we didn’t serve. The guard had tried from the leading coach window to shout to the driver but a big Sulzer in full song accelerating through Wembley Central made it impossible for the driver to hear. 


Euston up empty carriage line “aka rat hole”


85028 on the 2330 (30/9) Glasgow - Euston was routed via the “rat hole” early on October 1st 1988. When we swung over after primrose Hill tunnel I thought we were being diverted to the NLL. On dropping into the long, partially lit “Rat hole” I didn’t lean out for a bellow, it’s a tad tight clearance in there! Assume a signallers error as no obvious farce that Saturday morning. The “rat hole” closed around 1991.


 A dry section of the infamously wet “rat hole” some years after closure with ole removed…Thanks to “AM”



Claydon - Bletchley (incl Bletchley Flyover)


On Sunday September 25th 1983 several Inter Regional services had booked diversions off the normal Birmingham - Oxford main line to make rare use of the Bletchley - Claydon - Bicester - Oxford freight line. The stars of the day were 31102 and 31134 on the diverted 1548 Padd- Manchester


 We could hear the diverted train on approach for some time in the otherwise silent North Bucks countryside. We weren’t expecting 31102 and 31134 on the 1548 Padd - Manchester seen here passing the long closed Swanbourne station on the Claydon - Bletchley section of the freight only Oxford - Bletchley line.


 31102 and 31134 climb up to Mursley again with the 1548 Padd-Manchester on 250983. There are currently plan to reopen this line (finally closed to freight May 93) but I wouldn’t hold your breathe on this, if it actually ever happens!



Bletchley goods loop


Recent track improvements at Bletchley in connection with the WCML upgrade and direct M.Keynes- Bedford services have made the former up and down goods loop more common than before . This is despite LM deciding against M.Keynes-Bedford through services anyway! A special one off from LM saw 150105/153334 work M.Keynes - Bedford through services on Sunday July 17th 2016. In conjuction with the Bedford river festival Bletchley goods loop and the "new" chord at Bletchley station were used en route.


377206 0642 Clapham Jn - M.Keynes - Euston (via up goods loop/carriage sidings aka Bletchley relief line 1) 010313

Due to a wiresdown at Hanslope the WCML was a farce locally. 92038 on a freight was trapped at signals on the DS just North of BY station. 377206 was switched DS-US at Drayton Rd crossover South of Bletchley Station (plat 4) Then via Goods loop, and US throughout to M.Keynes station


321412/415} 1647 M.Keynes - Euston (via up goods loop/carriage sidings aka Bletchley relief line 2) 211013

The fast 350 ahead of the 321’s was late and with platform 4 at Bletchley occupied by the late 350, the following 321’s were routed via the goods loop directly into platform 5 to save on further delays to the 321’s.



Kings Langley Up Goods loop


Recent track improvements at Watford Jn have not seen the demise of Kings Langley Up Goods loop and several freight such as 4L89 are recessed here Monday - Saturday. The loop just South of Kings Langley once saw 1M11 sleeper recessed when running early, but this train is now given a free run to Euston even when 50 early! Very rare to see any passenger trains but 2 recent railtours have made the booked use of the loop although not to allow any following service to pass!


92016 1Z93 Crewe - Euston return "Limestone Cowboy" Railtour on 200811 made a booked visit to the loop.

68023 1Z68 Crewe - Wembley C BLS "Achilles Heel Trekker" mini Railtour on 230616 made a booked visit to the loop. It did need the driver to stop the train in Kings Langley station and request the loop road from the signaller though!..

Sundon up loop, Midland Main line


New freight loop leaving the up slow just South of Harlington and stretching to the former Sundon "Forders" cement works branch. Commisioned Aug 9th 2015 with 1-2 freights daily regulary using it. The loop is electrified for an 8 car length for emergency recess. The return Midland and Great central HST tour visited the loop on May 7th 2016. 66111 and 66110 (top and tail) also did the loop non stop with the Sharnbrook - Acton leg of the "Missing Link" tour on March 17th 2018.Ta to "RM" for the gen.


Thanks to "RM" for this phot of the Missing Link tour leaving Sundon up loop on a wintry March 17th 2018




Radlett stone terminal


Yes a service train has worked to at least the first 50 yards of the Redland Stone terminal. In 1983/4 (while Cricklewood depot was still open) a 317 working a Luton - St Pancras service was wrongly signalled into the stone terminal. The driver reportedly managed to "get the pan down" before entering the stone "branch". Passengers were presumably rescued by ladder! Eventual rescue came from an 8 car 317 setting back and dragging the errant 317 back under the wires and the Midland Main line! Thanks to Driver Phil for this classic rare track gen!


Rare local WCML track 1980-2018

Rare track that has/still sees some passenger (service train) use ?

Tring reversing line to North Jn (former US)

Bletchley goods loop

Bletchley back loop (washer road)

Watford Jn DC-AC DF connection

Northampton down goods loop

Northampton up goods loop

Wembley Yard through roads

Watford Jn-St Albans platform (main line to branch)

Willesden Jn LL-Kensal Rise

Wembley Central bay platform/"neck"

West London Jn connection to WCML DF (north of Acton Wells)

Track that no longer sees any action?

Euston up empty carriage line "aka rat hole"

Rugby Down goods line

Rugby Northampton loop-DF connection

Rugby up goods line

Newton Longville-Claydon Jn


Watford High St-Croxley Green

Watford Lodge Tunnel Up loop

Rugby North bays

Rugby south bays

Nuneaton S-Rugby on US

Brinklow down loop

Bletchley station North crossovers

Bletchley Flyover-Fenny Stratford

Bletchley Flyover-Denbigh Hall

Adderley Park through siding

Track, formerly rare, that now sees or expected to see regular passenger action

Tring Goods loop

Willesden "Suburban" goods lines (the dive under)

Nuneaton "goods"flyover and avoiding lines

Camden Road-Primrose Hill (during diversions)

New track due WCML upgrade

M.Keynes Down Fast "loop"

M.Keynes new terminating platform short bay

Bletchley Flyover – Newton Longville (reinstated after mothballing in 1990)now done by several tours

The biggest of them all..???

Kings Langley Goods Loop (off the up slow) – though the return 1Z93 Limestone Cowboy tour with 92016 made a book call in the loop on 200811, not as good as M11 in earlier times though


Updates to follow with a few examples of passenger trains that used or still use some of the "rare" sections.

There must be more on both our WCML and beyond, contributions welcome

Any more rare local track on service trains to share?


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