Ceremony celebrates 50th anniversary of Cardiff Panel Signal Box

Wednesday 06th April 2016

A special train naming ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cardiff Panel Signal Box took place at Cardiff Central station on Friday 1 April.

A Great Western Railway High Speed Train was named in honour of the signal box which opened in March 1966 and controls the flow of trains in and out of the Welsh capital.

The name plaque was unveiled by Cardiff signaller of 25 years Colin Pritchard and GWR’s managing director Mark Hopwood.

Mr Hopwood said: “Together with Network Rail, GWR are delivering a renaissance in rail on the Great Westernnetwork, with brand new trains that will operate with new signalling managed through a new signal centre - providing faster, more frequent services and a step change in customer experience.

“It does mean saying goodbye to some old friends, and I am really pleased that we can do that in some style for the Cardiff Signal Panel Box – a worthy recipient of a GWR loco nameplate.

Mr Pritchard said: “It’s really good to see the work of the Cardiff Panel Signal Box recognised for its contribution to the railway network.

“I think the automated signalling system we will be moving to next year is progress for signalling.’’

Retired and current Welsh signallers attended the ceremony including former signaller Herbert Farr, 90, from Whitchurch, who was the first person to work in the signal box in 1966.

Mr Farr said: “It is wonderful that the signal box is being recognised. I worked on the railway for almost fifty years and in the Cardiff Panel Signal Box for nearly thirty years. Taking the job in the signal box was a fantastic move, allowing me to meet people from across the railway.

‘’Although it is sad it will be closing I think that the improved technology for signalling is marvellous.”

As part of Network Rail’s £40bn Railway Upgrade plan, state-of-the art signalling technology is currently being installed on the South Wales Mainline, providing more reliable rail services for the growing number of passengers. Under the upgrade work the signal box is scheduled to close next year and the new signalling controls operated from the Wales Railway Operations Centre in Cardiff.

Paul McMahon, route managing director for Network Rail Wales said: ‘‘It was great to meet so many signallers, past and present, as we celebrated this special milestone in the history of the Welsh railway.

“The Cardiff Panel Signal Box was new technology when it was first commissioned and it has served the railway well. The new signalling technology we’re now installing will help move the railway to the next level by giving us more operational flexibility as well as the ability to run more trains to meet the growing demand.’’

The specially named power car will operate up to four routes a day, providing as many as 2,000 people every day the opportunity to travel on board the Cardiff Panel Signal Box named train.