TW Metro South Hylton line

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Kryten2340

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I travelled to South Hylton on Friday for the first time in about 8 years and noticed a lot more due to my time spent on this forum. I have a couple of questions about some of the things I noticed/paid more attention to.

1) On the approach to East Boldon I noticed an electrified siding that is linked to the main line at both ends. Is this ever used and if so for what purpose?

2) I know that Network Rail own the Sunderland to South Hylton section but is there a reason why 4 aspect signalling is on this stretch?

On a side note I was glad I wasn't on a refurb for this journey but the pronoun citations of the automated announcements was ever more prominent. I.e. Hewearth for Heworth and Millfill for Millfield. I also noticed how the announcements are out of date in that they don't recognise Sunderland as a national rail station.
 
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1) Its a passing loop, and looks to be used by freight only when going south towards Sunderland. I haven't seen it used by anything else such as a Metro or Northern service.

2) It is signalled to Network Rail standards, and therefore has the full 4 aspect signalling. Most of it looks to be automatic as well, but a bit over the top for a section that gets 5 trains an hour at most times.
 
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