Grade II signal box restored

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Signaller Robert Berry on duty

The refurbished signal box at Rye railway station looks resplendent in its 1925 Southern Railway colours of mustard yellow and green. Careful research from the railway archives has inspired great attention to detail, said Network Rail’s Senior Asset Engineer, Elliot Austin. Even the down-pipe gutter clips accord with the historical specification. Externally, the roof and windows have been repaired. Later, in the coming months, interior works will commence as part of an overall budget expenditure amounting to some £150,000.

Rye Signal Box

Rye station was chosen first, as part of a larger scheme to restore heritage assets, because of its grade II listed status, as reported recently in Rye News The next structure to be refurbished will be the Hastings signal box, marking the end of the Marshlink line.

The signal box is in use every single day of the year. I spoke with Robert Berry, signaller on duty. He was relatively new to the job, which involves points-switching with what he called a paddle-switch and operating the road crossing barriers. He told me that the refurbishment work follows an upgrade earlier this year to the safety access from platform 1 to the signal box, with yellow handrail and non-slip grip walkway.

I asked him about Network Rail’s policy as regards closing the road barriers at each end of the station at Ferry Road and The Grove crossings. These are electronically activated but manually controlled. Often, the closure is short-lived and geared to the arrival of one train at the station. At other times, the barriers remain down till both trains have arrived and departed, leaving inconvenienced motorists in a tailback of sometimes more than 30 vehicles. Tactfully, he replied that there was no Network Rail direction on the matter but that the duty signaller would judge the operational requirements at the time.

The Director of the national Railway Heritage Trust has expressed interest in the refurbishment project and has mooted its submission to next year’s National Railway Heritage Awards, which take place in November each year.

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .

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