Friday 3 February 2012


This photograph taken from Prosperity Way, the access road to Middlewich's Sewage Treatment plant, on Friday 3rd February 2012, shows another new addition to the assorted trackside paraphernalia which adorns the Sandbach, Middlewich & Northwich Railway in the modern age.
It's Network Rail's new GSM-R mast (Global System for Mobile communications - Railway, since you asked).
Network Rail are erecting these masts along every railway line in the country - one every four or five miles - and in many places they are causing controversy, particularly in 'areas of outstanding natural beauty'.
Brooks Lane, Middlewich, does not, unsurprisingly, fall into that category.
Because the masts are on railway property NR do not have to ask for planning permission to put them up. They did, however, inform Cheshire East Council, Middlewich Town Council and other interested parties, including the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign, of their intention of siting the mast in the town.
MRLC did not object to the mast being erected, but pointed out that the site chosen is perilously close to the site of the proposed platform for the new Middlewich Station.
Local Authorities have told Network Rail officials that they must be prepared to move the mast if it is found to interfere with the building of the new platform.
It's interesting to note that with all the new signalling and communications apparatus needed to run railways these days, the trackside in Middlewich is now more cluttered with signals, equipment boxes and safety fences than ever before.
However, this has had the beneficial side effect of making the area more secure and a lot tidier than it was.
Incidentally, an inspection of the track made at the same time  the photograph was taken shows that the rails are nice and shiny - always a sign that the line is being well used.
All the railway scene in Middlewich needs now is that station. And some passenger trains, of course.

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