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Signalling a big change
THE OLD signalling panel at Swindon train station has been handed over for preservation for the sum of just £1 ahead of a reform of the system next year.
Next Easter the network signalling system is being centralised in Didcot, and the panel in Swindon, which has directed trains around the town since 1968, will be the only model to be preserved when it is passed into the care of the newly formed Swindon Panel Society.
Danny Scraggins, Network Rail operations manager, said: “This is a western region design of panel, only seven of which are still in use, all concentrated in the West Country.
“This is 45 years old, and we would like to preserve it so that future generations can see how it used to run.
“This system will close next May, when all the signalling moves to Didcot.
“It will be hooked up to electricity so that it looks operational and people can have a play with the controls.
“There is no other project like this around, “We will ceremonially hand over the panel with a £1 coin, which is the fee for the transfer from Network Rail.
“The new model will be computerised rather than mechanical, so it is far superior. It is easier for us to have co-ordinated equipment at the central hub in Didcot.
“While this is a two-man station, in Didcot there will be 12, making it far easier to co-ordinate when everything is in the same room.”
Peter Martell, Network Rail route asset manager, accepted the £1 fee on behalf of the company.
He said: “I am glad to be able to support the initiative that the society have set up. Network Rail have a number of these around the West Country, and several have already been decommissioned in Wales.
“We will be donating the £1 to Network Rail’s corporate charity, Action for Children.”
Tom O’Flaherty, the chairman of the Swindon Panel Society, said: “We started the society this year, because we thought it would be a good idea to preserve a panel for the future.
“The hardest part for us is finding somewhere to house the panel, because of its sheer size. We do have a place in mind but it is not yet confirmed.
“We can say it will be reasonably close to Swindon.”
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