Reuse of Woodhead Catenary and Track

Greetlander

Member
Joined
3 Mar 2018
Messages
111
Location
Sydney, Australia
Driving recently alongside the Blue Mountains Line here in Australia (electrified in the 1950s at 1500vdc) the sight of the rusting, original catenary transported me back to my family train journeys through Penistone in the late 70s and early 80s.

I got around to wondering if any Woodhead catenary, track or equipment found reuse anywhere else? From pictures some of the track seemed in great condition even after closure. Anyone know?
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

John Webb

Established Member
Joined
5 Jun 2010
Messages
1,822
Location
St Albans
It would seem from this picture and others on the same website that the DC portals were reused with 25kV equipment on the remaining stretches of line:
Electric train in Hadfield station

© Copyright Raymond Knapman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
(Click on the photo to go to the larger original)
I would expect that the catenary wire was recycled as scrap and used to manufacture fresh wire. The steel portals probably went for scrap as well.
A look at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/w/woodhead/index.shtml shows that the infrastructures remained in place for a while after closure. The catenary wire was removed some time late 1983/early 1984 and the portals remained in place until the track was lifted in 1986.
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
23,876
Location
Yorks
I read on here some time ago that the lifted track was re-used to reopen Birmingham Snow Hill.

How true that is, I don't know.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
12,922
I read on here some time ago that the lifted track was re-used to reopen Birmingham Snow Hill.

How true that is, I don't know.
Unlikely, I think, as Woodhead closed in the 70s, and snow hill opened in 1987.

BR certainly re-used track, often on secondary routes if it was too worn for main lines.
Strictly speaking BR reused components - rail, sleepers, chairs etc, with rail being the most prevalent. NR still does, albeit reusing sleepers more than rail. The price of rail forms a relatively small proportion of the cost of rerailing, and the expense involved in salvaging old rail, and then throughly checking it (and repairing defects) and getting the logistics right is such that it is usually better to put down new.

One thing NR does reuse a lot more of these days is ballast; typically a ballast cleaner will return 60-80% of old ballast to the track.
 
Last edited:

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
23,876
Location
Yorks
Unlikely, I think, as Woodhead closed in the 70s, and snow hill opened in 1987.



Strictly speaking BR reused components - rail, sleepers, chairs etc, with rail being the most prevalent. NR still does, albeit reusing sleepers more than rail. The price of rail forms a relatively small proportion of the cost of rerailing, and the expense involved in salvaging old rail, and then throughly checking it (and repairing defects) and getting the logistics right is such that it is usually better to put down new.
I think it lingered on into the early 80's for freight, but I agree it would still be a longish gap.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
12,922
I think it lingered on into the early 80's for freight, but I agree it would still be a longish gap.
Hmm yes, 1981, and according to a Wikipedia article (usual caveats apply) the track was lifted in ‘the mid 80s’.

However seeing as it had been a freight only line since 1970, I can’t imagine that’s the track was in any fit state for reuse. But you never know.
 

WesternLancer

Established Member
Joined
12 Apr 2019
Messages
1,889
Unlikely, I think, as Woodhead closed in the 70s, and snow hill opened in 1987.



Strictly speaking BR reused components - rail, sleepers, chairs etc, with rail being the most prevalent. NR still does, albeit reusing sleepers more than rail. The price of rail forms a relatively small proportion of the cost of rerailing, and the expense involved in salvaging old rail, and then throughly checking it (and repairing defects) and getting the logistics right is such that it is usually better to put down new.

One thing NR does reuse a lot more of these days is ballast; typically a ballast cleaner will return 60-80% of old ballast to the track.
pics here with track in situ in 1986 and still looking pretty good.
http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/w/woodhead/

As Andy R A says this was not some old branch line limited to very slow speed freight due to poor track quality by the end, but as is mentioned, whether the rail was fit for re-use I don't know, but I'd say a reasonable chance some of it was
 

Ianno87

Established Member
Joined
3 May 2015
Messages
7,746
I think it lingered on into the early 80's for freight, but I agree it would still be a longish gap.
Hmm yes, 1981, and according to Wiki (usual caveats apply) the track was lifted in ‘the mid 80s’.

However seeing as it had been a freight only line since 1970, I can’t imagine that’s the track was in any fit state for reuse. But you never know.
pics here with track in situ in 1986 and still looking pretty good.
http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/w/woodhead/

As Andy R A says this was not some old branch line limited to very slow speed freight due to poor track quality by the end, but as is mentioned, whether the rail was fit for re-use I don't know, but I'd say a reasonable chance some of it was
Wasn't the track left in-situ until about 1985 as a sap to the unions in case traffic materialised again? Not that it was ever likely...
 

Foxcover

Member
Joined
14 Nov 2015
Messages
52
I’m fairly sure the track lifting was completed in the second half of the ‘80s - I remember there was some challenge in Modern Railways at the time as to why the last remaining track removal was completed on (as I recall) ‘four successive Sundays’ when the line had been closed for some years!
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,034
Location
Herts
Dare I say it - BR with frugal funding had to be thrifty on track recycling , - relaying on the ECML in advance of electrification resulted in CWR on parts of the Cambrian west of Caersws , - ditto bullhead replacement on very old (probably ex GWR times) , saw the rail chairs examined , and if OK - put onto new sleepers. Mentioned this before. Ex GW main line rail was thriftily put onto freight only lines (such as the Gwaun Cae Gurwen branch -this improving the line , and actually saving on maintenance in the medium term)

Not bad for an organisation defined as "deeply inefficent" by certain political members.
 
Joined
7 Nov 2013
Messages
721
Location
Where my keyboard has no £ key
I would expect that the catenary wire was recycled as scrap and used to manufacture fresh wire ........ The catenary wire was removed some time late 1983/early 1984 and the portals remained in place until the track was lifted in 1986.
I read somewhere (but not sure how true it is) that the value of scrap copper salvaged from the Woodhead route covered the cost of converting the Piccadilly - Glossop/Hadfield section to 25kV in 1984.

1500V DC catenary certainly used thicker, heavier contact wire than is needed for 25kV, so presumably was worth a good few £££.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
12,922
Out of curiosity what did NR (and BR) previously do with old ballast?
Chuck it away. Often on site! Some went to be recycled into bulk fill aggregate, but some is now classed as contaminated and has to be specially disposed of.
 

Greetlander

Member
Joined
3 Mar 2018
Messages
111
Location
Sydney, Australia
Thanks all - it would be interesting to know where equipment gets reused to - I'm warmed at the thought of ex main line track enjoying a quieter semi retirement in some rural Welsh idyll.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
12,922
Thanks all - it would be interesting to know where equipment gets reused to - I'm warmed at the thought of ex main line track enjoying a quieter semi retirement in some rural Welsh idyll.
Second hand ‘serviceable’ sleepers will end up in sidings, yards etc., and occasionally secondary routes. When Whitemoor was (re)built it used rather a lot of them.
 

111-111-1

Member
Joined
20 Jul 2019
Messages
170
IIRC when the Selby deviation opened the CWR from the bit of the ECML that closed was used on a secondary line elsewhere.
 

philthetube

Established Member
Joined
5 Jan 2016
Messages
2,156
Go for a walk in the country and you will be amazed at how many sleepers have been reused to create brides over streams on less popular public footpaths.
 

Trackman

Member
Joined
28 Feb 2013
Messages
674
Location
Lewisham
I read somewhere (but not sure how true it is) that the value of scrap copper salvaged from the Woodhead route covered the cost of converting the Piccadilly - Glossop/Hadfield section to 25kV in 1984.

1500V DC catenary certainly used thicker, heavier contact wire than is needed for 25kV, so presumably was worth a good few £££.
The way I read it the existing copper wire paid for the new copper wire.
I'll see if I can dig out the reference.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
12,922
I read somewhere (but not sure how true it is) that the value of scrap copper salvaged from the Woodhead route covered the cost of converting the Piccadilly - Glossop/Hadfield section to 25kV in 1984.

1500V DC catenary certainly used thicker, heavier contact wire than is needed for 25kV, so presumably was worth a good few £££.

Not an old thing either - the value of the copper recovered from the GEML when that was rewired recently was substantial. I think something like three times as much came out as went in.
 

Top