York’s 21st Century Steam Locomotive Turntable Opened by Rail Minister

Published 1st February 2013

Steam age technology facility allows construction of a Network Rail Operating Centre to begin

Network Rail has opened a new turntable in York for visiting steam locomotives and other vehicles. The turntable replaces the former engineer’s triangle next to the station, which will be the site of a major Network Rail Operating Centre (ROC).

The company is building a network of 14 ROCs around the country that will eventually handle signalling and operations for virtually the whole railway network. The one in York will be the largest, employing nearly 500 staff with up to 90 on shift at any one time. It will also house a Workforce Development Centre for training needs, as well as being home to operating staff from relevant train operating companies.

Why was the turntable needed?

The land adjacent to the station was an ideal location for the centre, but it was also the site for what was known as The Engineers Triangle, used for turning steam locomotives. Network Rail was obliged to continue to provide turning facilities in York for visiting steam locomotives and other users once they decided to use the land for construction of the ROC.

The solution was to install a new turntable nearby so that the turning triangle could be removed. The turntable chosen was originally used in Cleethorpes before being moved to Ferme Park, London, in the 1970s used until a decade ago. It has now been installed and fully commissioned adjacent to the Network Rail stores building in the former York carriage works, and is accessed from the freight lines that bypass the station.

The land has a long railway history and used to be the location of Victorian built circular locomotive sheds known as roundhouses. These were demolished nearly 50 years ago but their foundations uncovered when groundworks commenced a year ago for the ROC.

The turntable was officially opened by rail minister Simon Burns MP and NR route managing director Phil Verster. Together they cut the ribbon on January 16 before turning the first loco No. 5672 ‘Olton Hall’, in its guise as red-liveried Harry Potter engine ‘Hogwarts Castle’, which had been provided by West Coast Railways.

They said:

“The city of York has always had a proud railway heritage and I am pleased to see this latest success story taking shape,” said Burns. “This Government is committed to modernising the railways and this regeneration scheme provides another example of us making good on our promises through our partnership with Network Rail.”

“These operating and training facilities will allow us to deliver a modern, efficient railway while at the same time maintaining York’s position as an important rail city” said Verster. “The centres will retain jobs in the city and, over time, see all of our rail operations for the London North Eastern route consolidated in one place.”

Where to now, Hogwarts Castle?

After the event the engine steamed back to its secure and private base at Carnforth crewed by the UK’s longest serving railwayman, Albert Seymour who has completed almost 61 years on the footplate.

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