Posted by: wrha | October 18, 2010

A Visit to the Brunthill Branch, by Andy Laing

The Branch Line Society recently organised a railtour (the ‘Route 66’) covering freight-only lines in the North West of England, including the remaining section of the Waverley Route between Stainton and Brunthill, and the Longtown branch. The train consisted of two class 66 locomotives (hence the title) and a rake of 8 coaches, mostly Mk2F air conditioned. The locos (66023 and 66066) ‘top and tailed’ the formation.

 The tour started at Crewe and made its way to Carlisle via the Cumbrian Coast route, with a visit to the Ramsden Dock branch in Barrow on the way. After traversing the various goods lines to the south of Carlisle station, the tour made its way to Kingmoor Yard.

To access the Brunthill branch, the train had to run forward through the down recess sidings, over the top of the former down yard hump (now the down arrival/ departure line – the track has been built up on an embankment over part of the former down sorting sidings to avoid the steep gradient of the hump), and then reverse onto the former ‘N.B. departure line’. This was built to allow down trains from Kingmoor Yard heading to Edinburgh to access the Waverley Route without crossing the West Coast Main Line on the flat. The line heads south as far as Stainton, where trains have to reverse and run onto the Waverley Route proper. Goods trains must have had a difficult start here as the main line climbs at 1 in 100 in order to bridge the West Coast Main Line. Our train ran right to the end of the reversing line, near the site of Stainton level crossing, where it is built up on an embankment, and is noticably higher than the former main line.

We had to wait a few minutes for the points to be changed, then the tour train crossed slowly onto the down main and over the WCML. You don’t see a lot from the bridge as it now has high aluminium parapet walls, presumably for stopping local trespassers from electrocuting themselves. After the road bridge the view to the east was rather obscured by trees. To the west is a lorry park, mostly occupied by ‘Edinburgh Woollen Mill’ lorries (!?). We were stopped at the Network Rail boundary gate at Brunthill, so didn’t see into the sidings. After a few minutes we retraced our route to Kingmoor Yard but this time continued through the yard and on to Floriston where we were held for a while to let some passenger trains pass on the main line. A short run to Mossband then we crossed over on to the Up Goods Line and the Longtown branch. This has a road running parallel to it with a series of large warehouses forming part of the MOD depot on the other side. Anyone wishing to leap from the train, waving their arms about, were stopped short by the sight of a number of policemen armed with machine guns guarding the level crossings, and police cars ‘shadowing’ the train.

The train was hurriedly reversed and made its way to Carlisle station via the Up Goods line, including the flyover over the WCML, and the Up recessing sidings in Kingmoor Yard. (This was the route taken by up goods trains from Edinburgh via the Waverley Route, into Kingmoor Yard). There are huge piles of ballast occupying the former up sorting sidings, now part of a ‘virtual quarry’. Once the train arrived at Citadel station, all that was left was the run back to Crewe via the WCML, although we did manage to visit nearly every loop on the way! It was a very enjoyable day – thanks are due to Gaz Hill and other BLS members for organising the tour.

The private sidings at Brunthill

Stainton looking north. Waverley Route on right, link to Kingmoor Yard on left

Photos courtesy of a certain railway employee taken while carrying out his shunting duties!!!



  1. In the top picture the siding the engine is on (#1 road) is a new post closure addition. Brunthill Box used to stand roughly under where the new line crosses where the cess would traditionally be. Line 2 is where the Cargo wagons are stood & is the original junction for MU14. #3 road being the Down Main now all substantially cut back. Beyond the Carlisle Warehousing buildings lies the main approach to Kingmoor Business Park. The former route can be walked from this point to the remains of Parkhouse Halt beyond which lies the M6/74 & a pleasant stroll is interrupted.


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