Astley Level Crossing

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neilmc

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Something a bit different ...

Astley signal box controls a level crossing on the busy line across Chat Moss.
One one side is a tarmaced public road (Rindle Road) leading from Higher Green, on the other a rather rutted lane which, I am told, is public access of sorts before leading to Astley Road which takes one into Irlam. It is signposted as a dead end because it would not be conducive to a healthy car to use it as a short cut from Astley to Irlam.

Now this is prime Manchester birdwatching territory; people generally park on Rindle Road and cross the level crossing on foot to scan the other side, normally only occasional local farm traffic use the road crossing. On one occasion (not very recently) there was a good bird found quite a way down the Irlam side and several birdwatchers started to drive across the level crossing which made the signalman irate and, according to one witness, he began to refuse to let birders cross the line in their cars.

What do you think - can a signalman reasonably refuse to let people across his crossing in such circumstances??
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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Something a bit different ...

Astley signal box controls a level crossing on the busy line across Chat Moss.
One one side is a tarmaced public road (Rindle Road) leading from Higher Green, on the other a rather rutted lane which, I am told, is public access of sorts before leading to Astley Road which takes one into Irlam. It is signposted as a dead end because it would not be conducive to a healthy car to use it as a short cut from Astley to Irlam.

Now this is prime Manchester birdwatching territory; people generally park on Rindle Road and cross the level crossing on foot to scan the other side, normally only occasional local farm traffic use the road crossing. On one occasion (not very recently) there was a good bird found quite a way down the Irlam side and several birdwatchers started to drive across the level crossing which made the signalman irate and, according to one witness, he began to refuse to let birders cross the line in their cars.

What do you think - can a signalman reasonably refuse to let people across his crossing in such circumstances??
I can't answer the access question, but it does highlight the odd nature of this AB box in the middle of Chat Moss.
It controls a very short stretch of line (2 miles towards Liverpool and 1 mile towards Manchester) together with the crossing.
It has only relatively recently had its semaphores replaced with colour lights.
However, with electrification you would expect it to be absorbed into the Warrington control area which is just to the west, but nothing has been announced about any signalling changes along the Chat Moss route.
Maybe one day the birders will have to talk to a signaller in Warrington PSB to gain access!

Quail has it as a UWG crossing (User Worked Gates).
Maybe only authorised users are allowed across.
 

The Planner

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Astley box will go as part of the Chat Moss works. The LC remains a bone of contention of what to do with it as apparently it is used as a bit of a rat run from Irlam.
 

Tomnick

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...this AB box in the middle of Chat Moss...
A pedantic point - Astley works TCB in both directions (Eccles and Warrington), not AB. I don't know whether the removal of semaphores here coincided with the change to TCB, but I don't think it has worked AB for some years now.
 

SIGGY56

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I can't answer the access question, but it does highlight the odd nature of this AB box in the middle of Chat Moss.
It controls a very short stretch of line (2 miles towards Liverpool and 1 mile towards Manchester) together with the crossing.
It has only relatively recently had its semaphores replaced with colour lights.
However, with electrification you would expect it to be absorbed into the Warrington control area which is just to the west, but nothing has been announced about any signalling changes along the Chat Moss route.
Maybe one day the birders will have to talk to a signaller in Warrington PSB to gain access!

Quail has it as a UWG crossing (User Worked Gates).
Maybe only authorised users are allowed across.
Think you will find it works TCB to Eccles and TCB to Warrington PSB. It used to be Absolute Block to Barton Moss and then following the fire that destroyed that box the block was extended to Eccles. The TCB to Eccles came into use when Eccles had a panel replacing the lever frame about 10 years ago. The semaphore signals at Astley went a long time ago in the early 1970's in conjunction with the resignalling of Chat Moss under Warrington PSB. The gates are bolt locked from the box and any crossing user requiring the gates open to go across has to advise the Signaller on duty.The present box at Astley replaced an older one - at the same time a new fringe box opened at Norton (Chester lines) built to the same design as Astley (both Type 15).

Astley box is due to go when electrification of the Chat Moss lines is completed.
 

SussexMan

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The OS map shows it as a footpath to the south side of the crossing.

Who is responsible for opening/closing the gates on the crossing? If it is the User it doesn't look like the Google Street View car did as they seem to remain open.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Think you will find it works TCB to Eccles and TCB to Warrington PSB. It used to be Absolute Block to Barton Moss and then following the fire that destroyed that box the block was extended to Eccles. The TCB to Eccles came into use when Eccles had a panel replacing the lever frame about 10 years ago. The semaphore signals at Astley went a long time ago in the early 1970's in conjunction with the resignalling of Chat Moss under Warrington PSB. The gates are bolt locked from the box and any crossing user requiring the gates open to go across has to advise the Signaller on duty.The present box at Astley replaced an older one - at the same time a new fringe box opened at Norton (Chester lines) built to the same design as Astley (both Type 15).

Astley box is due to go when electrification of the Chat Moss lines is completed.
Thanks for all the detail.
I see it on journeys from Chester, and I'm sure it was in the last decade that the local semaphores went (adjacent to the box).
It looks smart too, like many in the area (eg Helsby).
 
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Great thread, love stuff like that.

If it's a public right of way than to my knowledge the crossing keeper has no legal right at all to stop people using the LC.

Is it a NR keeper that looks after the LC or is it private? Either way really, whoever is in charge of that crossing should be informed that it's a public right of way and people who pay their road tax are well within their rights to use that peice of highway.

If I had been refused access I would seriously be considering legal action against the keeper. I have great experience of crossing keepers living in Yorkshire and using user kept crossing in Balne, Fenwick, Thorpe (JC) and Haywood and some of them are little Nazi's at times.
 

Bevan Price

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The OS map shows it as a footpath to the south side of the crossing.

Who is responsible for opening/closing the gates on the crossing? If it is the User it doesn't look like the Google Street View car did as they seem to remain open.
Several years since I last took photos there, but at that time, users had to open & close the gates themselves. Gates are (or should be) kept closed unless a vehicle wants to use the crossing.
 

neilmc

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The user has to open and close the gates.

The track on the Chat Moss side is a public right of way and birdwatching forum members seem to think it's NOT a private road although it's in very poor condition.
 

John55

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I thought that the road crossing here was an occupation crossing with a pedestrian crossing immediately adjacent.

Does anyone know which kind of crossing it actually is?
 

SIGGY56

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I thought that the road crossing here was an occupation crossing with a pedestrian crossing immediately adjacent.

Does anyone know which kind of crossing it actually is?
Its an user worked crossing (UWC) but !!! ...........
The gates are still locked from the box and connected to the lever frame !
 

SussexMan

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I thought User Worked Crossings were for private roads. Are there any User Worked Crossings (for vehicles) on Public roads?

If it's a public right of way than to my knowledge the crossing keeper has no legal right at all to stop people using the LC.
It may be a public right of way but if the public right of way is a footpath that doesn't mean it extends to vehicles so maybe they can stop people driving over it.
 

SIGGY56

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Its an user worked crossing (UWC) but !!! ...........
The gates are still locked from the box and connected to the lever frame !
ASTLEY 2012

Total = 15 Levers (7 working)
Down Chat Moss Signals = AY2, AY3 (protecting the crossing)
Up Chat Moss Signal = AY15 (protecting crossing)

Crossover = Lever 11
Down Wicket Lock = Lever 8
Up Wicket Lock = Lever 9
Gate Lock = Lever 10

The general rule when a train approaches the Wicket locks (8 & 9) are operated to stop any pedestrians crossing. The main vehicular gate is locked by Lever 10, this then releases the signals protecting the crossing (Levers 3 and 15). When the box was new in 1972 it also controlled connection on the Up Chat Moss line to the former Astley Green Colliery (Ground frame released from the box) - also a direct connection from the siding across the Up Chat Moss line to the Down Chat Moss line ; the reason why AY2 is controlled from the box - this was the signal that protected the Astley Green Branch connection. Can become quite boggy here as I believe this is the deepest area of the railway on Chat Moss and many times the main line is prone to subsidence with (TSR) Temporary Speed Restrictions in place.
 

Joseph_Locke

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The road to the north side is public highway, exclusive of the crossing itself.

The vehicular crossing is an accomodation one (registered users and guests only).

The road to the south is private. The footpath crossing is arguably a right of way now (though it wasn't originally provided as one) but good luck with the owner of the land the supposed public footpath on the south side crosses, and the ditch you have to jump ...

The permissible speed over it is shortly to be raised to 75mph (90 elsewhere on the Chat Moss route), then it will be electrified, then Manchester Hub will regularise the headways and the project most likely to do anything with closing the crossing is the new LNW operations centre (possible Ashburys, but who knows). The Port Salford proposals also affect the signalling here.
 

Phil6219

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That's a shame that Astley Box will be going, but it's all part of progress I guess.

I live not too far away from the crossing and have popped down there every now and then, it's quite pleasant but considering it's a road in the middle of nowhere it can be quite busy with road traffic. I must mention the shocking number of people driving through and leaving the gates open, one one day I had 4 do that.

As for the signallers themselves, they have always seemed ok with me standing around with one or two even shouting out when something's due.

As mentioned above, Port Salford will affect this area. I'm wondering if they will build the rail connection just to the east of the crossing? It would make it much more worth heading down there though, all though it would be a bit soulless given the lack of box.

Phil 8-)
 

LNW-GW Joint

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As mentioned above, Port Salford will affect this area. I'm wondering if they will build the rail connection just to the east of the crossing? It would make it much more worth heading down there though, all though it would be a bit soulless given the lack of box.
Phil 8-)
I got the impression that the Port Salford branch junction would utilise the second embankment that exists between the M60 and M62 bridges.
This is just south of the existing line and I imagine was once part of a 4-track section.
If they have a triangular layout off a loop line there it would stretch quite a way alongside the Chat Moss line but not as far as Astley.
One would hope the loop/crossovers could go in while they upgrade the line, but I've no idea if the development has reached that level of certainty.
 

The Planner

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The permissible speed over it is shortly to be raised to 75mph (90 elsewhere on the Chat Moss route), then it will be electrified, then Manchester Hub will regularise the headways
Headways and speed is being done as part of the same scheme and separate to Northern Hub.
the project most likely to do anything with closing the crossing is the new LNW operations centre (possible Ashburys, but who knows). The Port Salford proposals also affect the signalling here.
It is still not decided what they will do with the crossing and how it will be controlled or if it will be closed or alternative means provided, cash will decide that one....

Port Salford will be dealt as a separate issue and as far as I am aware, is not included in this work.
 

Francis

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I grew up in Leigh, and some of my first cycling expeditions were across Chat Moss to Irlam (no, there's not much to see or do in Irlam!). Astley crossing was a highlight of the ride, especially if a train came past, and you could see and feel the ground vibrating and bouncing under its weight. The way the pedestrian gates and main gates interlocked and became unopenable was a source of fascination to a young boy.

That said, I've checked the 1:25000 Ordnance survey map (dated 1975). The footpaths south of the line are only public footpaths, not bridleways, so the crossing presumably only has to be a pedestrian crossing. it would be a shame, though, if no provision were made for cyclists, because this is a good traffic-free - if slightly rough - bike ride for youngsters, from Astley through to Irlam. I think you could get your bike through the wicket gate by lifting it onto its back wheel.

Whether the more up-to-date OS map has different info I can't check right now.
There is another footpath crossing about 200 yards east, just on the site of the old rail triangle leading off north to Astley Colliery, which is also a public right of way on foot.
 

Joseph_Locke

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LNW-GW Joint said:
I got the impression that the Port Salford branch junction would utilise the second embankment that exists between the M60 and M62 bridges.
This is just south of the existing line and I imagine was once part of a 4-track section.
If they have a triangular layout off a loop line there it would stretch quite a way alongside the Chat Moss line but not as far as Astley.
One would hope the loop/crossovers could go in while they upgrade the line, but I've no idea if the development has reached that level of certainty.
Port Salford is a Peel scheme and barely has a fully formed layout let alone a design advanced enough to influence any committed NR project.

Headways and speed is being done as part of the same scheme and separate to Northern Hub.
I wonder what it is I'm designing on the Chat Moss then, as it isn't part of the speed increase project and it sorts out the signalling to provide better headways?

It is still not decided what they will do with the crossing and how it will be controlled or if it will be closed or alternative means provided, cash will decide that one....
Bet you a virtual fiver that the new LNW ROC forces the closure?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I wonder what it is I'm designing on the Chat Moss then, as it isn't part of the speed increase project and it sorts out the signalling to provide better headways?
Good to see our most unsung railway engineer (possibly bar Thomas Brassey) is still building railways...
To have designed most of the original WCML from Birmingham to Aberdeen without substantial tunnels was quite an achievement.
 

Joseph_Locke

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Good to see our most unsung railway engineer (possibly bar Thomas Brassey) is still building railways...
To have designed most of the original WCML from Birmingham to Aberdeen without substantial tunnels was quite an achievement.
Why thank you; I fear Shap was not one of my better decisions ...

Personally, I am most proud of my Bull-head pattern rail, still in widespread use after 170 years or so.
 

The Planner

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I wonder what it is I'm designing on the Chat Moss then, as it isn't part of the speed increase project and it sorts out the signalling to provide better headways?
I was under the impression that the speed increases sort the headways out on the vast majority of it and that only a few extra signals are now needed to get the 3 minute headways.
 

Bevan Price

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Port Salford is a Peel scheme and barely has a fully formed layout let alone a design advanced enough to influence any committed NR project.



I wonder what it is I'm designing on the Chat Moss then, as it isn't part of the speed increase project and it sorts out the signalling to provide better headways?



Bet you a virtual fiver that the new LNW ROC forces the closure?
They can't close it (or any other public footpath or road) without a court order (or Act of Parliament) and given the number of people using it, I would expect the magistrates to receive a lot of objections.
 

Joseph_Locke

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I was under the impression that the speed increases sort the headways out on the vast majority of it and that only a few extra signals are now needed to get the 3 minute headways.
Yes, but the few extra signals are work LLLSI isn't doing!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
They can't close it (or any other public footpath or road) without a court order (or Act of Parliament) and given the number of people using it, I would expect the magistrates to receive a lot of objections.
That depends on the terms of the act: Astley's means that, since it was originally enacted as an accomodation crossing for a local landowner, if that reason is now no longer relevant (as in the land originally divided or accessed is no longer in common ownership) than the railway may have a case to demonstrate that since the need is no longer present then the burden of providing the crossing is irrelevant. The registered users may not have any grounds for an objection.

The current usage is 90% illegal traffic anyway, as the road crossing is not a right of way provided for the public, only the registered users (of which there can't be many) and connects to a private road.
 

Bevan Price

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Yes, but the few extra signals are work LLLSI isn't doing!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


That depends on the terms of the act: Astley's means that, since it was originally enacted as an accomodation crossing for a local landowner, if that reason is now no longer relevant (as in the land originally divided or accessed is no longer in common ownership) than the railway may have a case to demonstrate that since the need is no longer present then the burden of providing the crossing is irrelevant. The registered users may not have any grounds for an objection.

The current usage is 90% illegal traffic anyway, as the road crossing is not a right of way provided for the public, only the registered users (of which there can't be many) and connects to a private road.
That may be true for vehicles, but the crossing also forms part of a public footpath, as shown on O.S. maps. In common with other footpaths across the Chat Moss line (e.g. at Parkside), it cannot be closed without following the specified legal procedures.
 
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Some info i found on the net .
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The layout of the majority of the main drainage ditches on a grid pattern has had a major impact on the arrangement of the roads and tracks. There are 5 private narrow roads, which cross the mossland in a generally north to south direction. However only one of these is a through route, which leads to a level crossing over the Liverpool to Manchester railway line in Wigan, and eventually goes to Astley Green. Another similar private road runs east to west and intersects with 4 of the north to south roads. In addition, a series of rough tracks intersect with the roads. All the roads and tracks are in a very poor condition. This may be due to the differential settlement of the underlying peat soils, a lack of maintenance and the fact that they are in private ownership. The M62 motorway crosses the southern part of Sub Area 2 mainly in a cutting, which eventually passes under the Liverpool – Manchester Railway to leave the eastern side of the sub area. There are no links between the M62 and the private road network with the roads being carried across the motorway on 5 road bridges. A number of the private roads and tracks are designated as public rights of way (with the majority being footpaths and only one bridleway). Another more natural footpath follows the irregular edge of the shallow valley of the River Glaze. This is carried over the motorway on a pedestrian footbridge.

For those interested in full article on the area (non railway):-
the page is now deleted but is still atm a google cached page.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rc...y0jeQs5ZCsX2eaOWQ&sig2=yHOBxV3ywPX5GiZ59QsnWw
 
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