STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has seized a rare chance to look around one of the region’s last remaining signal boxes.
The signal box, just outside Stalybridge Railway Station, has been keeping trains on the right track since 1886
But in the future the section of the tracks in the Stalybridge region will be managed by a computerised system based in the Stockport area.
The changes are part of a £20m package of improvements that are designed to improve safety, efficiency and capacity on the region’s railway network. And they will mean that within a few weeks the signal box – which still includes the original mechanical levers - will be demolished.
Mr Reynolds was delighted to accept an invitation to see the inside of the signal box, in advance of its demolition. And on Friday he was shown the workings – old and new – of the signal box, by Mike Ballagher, who has been a signalman for more than 20 years.
Following the visit Mr Reynolds said: “The signal box outside the station in Stalybridge is a real landmark – and it was a privilege to be able to get a glimpse of the workings inside.
“The workings inside chronicle the history of our railways for the past 130 years – from the mechanical levers of old to the switches of today.
“It was fascinating to see this and to hear from signalman Mike Ballagher about the work he has done there to ensure our trains run smoothly and safely for more than 20 years.
“Of course it will be sad to think that the signal box will be demolished, but the improvements to the track, platforms and signalling around Stalybridge Railway Station offer the potential for much improved rail services for those in our area.
“And I am delighted that Network Rail are investing in our area to make sure that we have a railway fit for the 21st century.”
Jo Kaye, Network Rail's route managing director, said: "It was a pleasure to have Mr Reynolds visit the signal box before it is taken out of service. We were able to show him a method of signalling that has been the bedrock of signalling systems since Victorian times, and seeing trains safely on their way through Stalybridge for 100 years.
"Romantic as they may seem, we need to update these ageing systems so they can better cope with the demands of the modern railway, which is why we are investing so heavily in Stalybridge."
The £20million modernisation project around Stalybridge Station will be completed by Network Rail by early November.
There will be no train services from Stalybridge Station between October 27 and November 5. Full details of service alterations at www.tpexpress.co.uk/stalybridge
Published 29 October, 2012