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Allington Jn - Barkston East Jn and Barkston South Jn - Barkston East Jn : revised arrangements from 3 October 2005

At a time when GNER were seeking more paths on the ex-GN main line through Grantham, Railtrack (later Network Rail) nervousness about accommodating such additional pathways, and still finding paths between Grantham and Barkston South Jn for Central Trains services between Nottingham and Boston / Skegness that would not risk delaying GNER main line trains, resulted in some Central Trains being rerouted via the direct line Allington Jn - Barkston East Jn. This line had (at least since the first World War) seen regularly scheduled passenger trains only during the summer season. From 30 May 1994 timetable, however, one daily round trip commenced to use the line on an all-year basis - subsequently increased and now standing at 4 trains one way, 6 the other. This, of course, has the disadvantage of not serving Grantham. To eliminate the remainder of these local trains from the ex-GN main line, Network Rail have constructed a third curve, to complete a triangle, at Allington Jn which is between Gonerby Tunnel and Bottesford, at the western end of the "direct line". Thus trains between Nottingham and Boston continue to reverse at Grantham, but then proceed to Boston via Allington and remain clear of the ex-GN main line.

The new east to north link at Allington is officially described as a "chord" (although linguistic pedants may argue with that choice of word) and has been constructed under pre-existing parliamentary powers, rather than specific new powers. The Strategic Rail Authority has stated:

"No TWA order has been sought for Allington Chord and [this] was not deemed necessary following consideration of the following matters: land was purchased by Railtrack by private treaty and planning permission gained; no public or private rights are affected by this scheme; access was negotiated with adjacent land owners."

Planning permission was obtained from Kesteven District Council (Application S00/1271/06) on 19 February 2001.

Parliamentary powers enable a railway company to acquire land required, within the limits of deviation as shown on the deposited plans, but there is no compulsion for them to acquire all the land. The powers also provide the railway company with a defence against nuisance claims which might otherwise arise in the operation of a railway. Generally speaking, parliamentary powers last indefinitely, unless specifically time limited, although usually construction of the railway had to start within a specified number of years of the bill being enacted; once work had started the powers continued. Therefore, if Network Rail wanted to widen a line, they might find powers - within the limits of deviation - in the original applicable Act. This, in effect, is what has happened at Allington as the new curve is on land now in Network Rail ownership and (presumably) within the limits of deviation of the Acts for construction of the original lines there, viz. Grantham to Nottingham: Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston and Eastern Junction Railway Act 1846; and Barkston East Jct to Sedgebrook (Allington Junction): Great Northern Railway (Additional Powers) Acts 1873 and 1875.

The opening of the third side of the triangle at Allington and the putting out of use of the junction at Barkston East and, hence, the complete closure of Barkston South Jn - Barkston East Jn, were co-terminous on 3 October 2005 - although the last trains over the Barkston link ran on Friday 30 September 2005 because of an engineering blockage of the lines between Nottingham, Grantham and Sleaford on the Saturday and Sunday. The permanent withdrawal of passenger trains from this short link was determined by the SRA on 5 March 2004 as Minor Closure SRA 2004 No.8 under S.39(10) of The Railways Act 1993 (the only such use of these provisions for the withdrawal of a passenger carrying service). Trains previously timetabled to avoid Grantham continue to do so under the new arrangements - so all three sides of the new triangle at Allington are regularly in all-year passenger use. A "ceremonial" opening event was staged on 13 October 2005 - even though the new arrangements had by then been in use for a week and a half.

The new junction names at Allington are: Allington West Jn (the original junction at the Bottesford end of the triangle, facing west); Allington East Jn (at the Grantham end of the triangle) and Allington North Jn (at the Barkston end of the triangle). All are controlled from a new signal box, the original having been demolished as part of the scheme. The junctions at Barkston were: Barkston East Jn (at the Sleaford end of the connecting line, facing east) and Barkston South Jn (at the Grantham end of the connecting line, at the junction with the ex-GN main line north of Peascliffe Tunnel - also the site of Barkston station closed 16 March 1955 (deferred from 7 February 1955)).

The British Transport Commission obtained powers, in its 1958 Act (Part II Section 5, Work No. 5) for construction of a similar connecting curve, 1112 yards in length, to run between what the Act described as "a junction with the railway between Barkston and Sedgebrook [i.e. the Barkston - Allington line] at a point 250 yards south-west of the one mile post ... and ... a junction with the railway between Nottingham and Grantham at a point 120 yards west of the 108 mile post". Although it would have has the same effect as the 2005 curve, it would have been constructed east of Barrowby Thorns Farm (whereas today's curve is west thereof) and to a less acute angle than today's line. The Act contained no compulsory purchase powers for the works. The powers were to expire (unless renewed) on 31 December 1964. As explained above, today's curve was not constructed under these powers.

Richard Maund

An earlier version of this paper also appeared in Railway and Canal Historical Society Railway Chronology Group Co-ordinating Newsletter No. 44, October 2005.

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