Signaller on TV railway series – and Grantham’s bridge strikes get a mention too

Tom O'Boyle, a signaller at Claypole, appeared in a Channel 5 documentary about the railway industry.
Tom O'Boyle, a signaller at Claypole, appeared in a Channel 5 documentary about the railway industry.
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A man who works for Network Rail as a signaller at Claypole appeared in a documentary shown on Channel 5 on Monday night.

And no documentary on the trials and tribulations of the railway industry would be complete without making reference to the countless bridge strikes in Grantham.

‘Inside King’s Cross: The Railway’ is a series which looks at the people who keep the railway running, the problems they face and the technology they use.

A scene on Monday’s programme, the third episode, showed mobile operations manager Stewart called out to Harlaxton Road in the town, after the railway bridge was struck by a HGV.

Stewart said: “In Grantham we have three routes into town and low bridges, so the chances of bridge strikes in Grantham are quite high.”

He was seen to check the bridge and track – undoubtedly a regular sight to many readers – before contacting the control room to give the all-clear. Viewers heard how up to 20 reports of strikes of the railway’s 28,000 bridges come into the York-based control room each day.

Later in the programme the camera was on Tom O’Boyle, who has worked in the signal box there for seven years.

During his 12-hour shifts, Tom, who lives in Boultham, Lincoln, is responsible for the 10-mile stretch of the track between Grantham and Newark. At any one time, he can be controlling the movements of up to 10 trains..

He is also responsible for six level crossing barriers on the stretch of track – the most important part of the job, said Tom.

He added: “It’s critically important because at the end of the day the trains are going through there at 125mph. And where they are interfacing with the general public at level crossings, that’s where lots of things can go wrong.”

Tom went on to say: “I hope the documentary will be a real eye opener and show people all that goes in to keeping the railway running. There are quite a lot of urban myths about the railway, so it would be great to dispel some of those.

“I haven’t really told many people that I am going to appear in the series, so I think they might get a shock when they see it!”