Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Eastern - Saltburn review 1

3/10/08 Middlesbrough to Saltburn

Cost of ticket £16.00 (Tyne/Tees Day Ranger)

Dept Middlesbrough:  14.33  Arrive Saltburn: 14.59

Journey time:  24 mins

Distance: 12 miles     Weather:  sunny

Train type: 2-car Class 142 dmu (double track all the way)

Railway company: Northern

Frequency of trains - one every half hour

Middlesbrough station is now a two-platform station with two by pass freight lines. The station has been modernised but still retains much of its Victorian character. The train I take has come all the way from Bishop Auckland as a shuttle. We pull away and pass Middlesbrough College on the left, a large modern building looking like a stadium, and then see some locks leading out to the sea. We also pass the Riverside stadium of Middlesbrough FC and speed up to about 50 mph as we pass lots of overgrown wasteland, as the first of several freight trains passes us. The scenery is mainly warehouses and scrap yards, especially on the left hand side. Then I notice a pungent smell in the air, which I reckon must be the smell of the steelyards and chemical factories in this area. The track here was once six lanes wide, but now most of it is overgrown. We pass South Bank station, a small two platform halt with a bus shelter and only used by the one train a day in each direction. On the left we pass the Doman  Ley steel works, followed by a large spoil heap. There are more factories on the right followed by the old Lackenby steel works. We then pass Grangetown signal box a freight line goes off to the left to the Redcar Ore terminal. There are more steel works to be seen on the right and we pass BOC on the left. There are lots of sidings on the right, whilst a second freight line goes off on the right, as we pass British Steel Redcar station. This is another two platform halt only used for workers Then there is more wasteland at first, then houses appear on both sides, as we slow for Redcar Central. It's a two-platform station, which once had four tracks and the outside tracks have been filled in. It's been modernised and has the main station building on the right, the other side of the level crossing. On the left (platform 2) there is a bus stop shelter, as well as the remains of the original station walls. Many people get off here and the train is now only half full. We leave and go onto an embankment looking down on people's back gardens and soon arrive at Redcar East station. It has two basic turquoise shelters and we stay on the embankment as we pass mainly terraced houses on the left and newer detached houses on the right. You can now see a cliff on the left in the distance and the northern edge of the North York Moors on the right. We are now in the countryside on the right, though there are still houses on the left, as we arrive at Longbeck station. It has two turquoise shelters, as well as a small signal box on the right. We continue on for just a couple of hundred yards before we arrive at Marske station, which has two shelters in blue for a change. This must be one of the smallest gaps between stations I have ever come across on the railway network. You can see the North Sea in the distance on the left beyond the houses and once these finish you can see it more clearly. We start to see more houses after a short gap with some allotments before them. There are overgrown sidings on the left with a caravan site beyond that. On the right a freight line leaves us to go to Skinningrove and Boulby mine, and then we slow down as we arrive at Saltburn station. It has two platforms on either side of an island with a large turquoise shelter in the middle. The original station building beyond that is no longer in use as a station. The train waits here for around five minutes before starting out again all the way to Bishop Auckland.

Summary: A busy branch line through some of the most industrial landscape in Britain, which is well used and will stay around for many years to come.  MC