Learning To Cross The Road

I will begin by saying that this has got nothing whatsoever to do with the Green Cross Code, doing your Kerb Drill or even the Tufty Club. Although as an aside as a toddler some of my earliest encounters with the public highway would have been a short distance away from a very famous zebra crossing in Abbey Road.

Near the village of Castle Caereinion the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway crosses the B4385 road . The railway opened in 1903 and for most of that time a red flag is all that has protected the train, its crew, passengers and cargo from the road traffic has been a man with a red flag. That will come to an end next week when the railway opens for the 2015 tourist season and a new Automatic Half Barrier Level Crossing Locally Monitored officially comes into service.

This weekend train crew have been gaining experience in how the crossing operates. In particular the train drivers have to have a least one trip in each direction over the crossing under supervision.

For trains approaching Castle Caereinion from Llanfair there is little for the driver to do other than to be driving the train at the correct speed. It is detected automatically and once the light sequence has commenced and a barriers have lowered a flashing white light indicates to the train crew that it is safe to cross the road.

A train from Llanfair passing the white light repeater (left) and the limit of shunt board (right)A train from Llanfair passing the Crossing Indicator Repeater (left)
and the limit of shunt board (right)



The train passing over the B4385The train passing over the B4385.
The post with the Crossing Indicator is to the right of the carriage.

Once the last vehicle is clear of the crossing the barriers are raised and the highway re-opened to road traffic. In the event of a failure to detect the exit of a train from the crossing the equipment will time out and the barriers open after three minutes.

Train travelling towards Llanfair stop at Castle Caereinion Station and so cannot trigger the operation of the crossing automatically. Once the Guard has given the Right Away signal the Fireman or Second Man operates a button located in a small cabinet on the platform. This initiates the crossing sequence and when the crossing is ready a Crossing Indicator flashes to show that it safe to cross.

Train crossing the B4385 near Castle CaereinionA train heading for Llanfair Caereinion passes over the B4385.
Because the crossing is not officially in service until 27th March
the crossing is also being “flagged”.

And provided everything works correctly then the whole process is very simple perhaps prompting the refrain from that old song by Peggy Lee

Is that all there is, is that all there is ?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing.



This entry was posted in Castle Caereinion, Heritage, Llanfair Caereinion, railroad, railway, Welshpool, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Learning To Cross The Road

  1. While I’m sure it’s better from a health and Safety point of view I think I preferred the nice old fashioned flag worked approach. Certainly shots of the Earl making the crossing won’t look quite so good with a barrier in place. Glad it seems to be working well though.

  2. Tanllan says:

    Mark, One of the concerns voiced by the people from the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) (formerly Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate) was the risk to the Crossing Keeper (generally the Fireman). All the other crossings on the W&LLR are as they were so if you wish to photograph a man with a flag then Doladdyn Road is the place to go. To photograph trains crossing roads with no flags or barriers then Cyfronydd, Coppice Lane, Cwm Lane and New Drive are easily accessible. If you are looking for something a little different then Dirty Lane LC is an interesting spot.

    • Yes, given that it’s more of a major road than the others then protecting the fireman is clearly paramount. I must get back down and take some proper photos of the road crossings, I’ve only ever seen them from the footplate of the Earl on one of the driving experience afternoons!

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