End of the line for semaphore on Derry rail track

Signaller Kevin Brown is pictured with Derry-based Train Guard Russell Craig & Driver Campbell Allen holding the single line token for the section ahead in the final few days of semaphores & token operations at Castlerock. Picture by Chris Playfair.
Signaller Kevin Brown is pictured with Derry-based Train Guard Russell Craig & Driver Campbell Allen holding the single line token for the section ahead in the final few days of semaphores & token operations at Castlerock. Picture by Chris Playfair.

The old signal cabin at Castlerock - the last old-style lever framed operational box in the North - will close its doors at 9pm on Wednesday marking the end of an era.

Signalling for the line north of Coleraine to Derry, will in future be controlled from a new signalling centre within the station building, which is due to go live on Monday, November 21.

This will result in the Derry to Coleraine section of the line being closed for 18 days to allow the new signalling systems, which will let trains pass one another at Bellarena, be tested.

To mark the occasion on Sunday, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland ran a steam special from Belfast to Castlerock in order to mark the end of semaphore usage on the local railwayline.

It was a day of mixed emotions for some.

Signaller Kevin Brown, who has worked at the Castlerock signal cabin for the best part of the last 20 years, said: “It’s beginning to hit home that the cabin is going. I’ve had some great times and will leave with fond memories.”

It was a nostalgic day for rail workers and trainspotters on Sunday as the old Great Northern Railway (GNR) Locomotive No.85 hauled six mark two carriages to Castlerock, marking the last run round at Castlerock for a locomotive and coaches. As part of the new £46m upgrade works, the loop will be removed at Castlerock and replaced by a new passing loop at Bellarena. The work is scheduled for completion in December.