Chance to see York rail history at your feet

First come, first served basis. Visitors should come to the site entrance on Cinder Lane in York and wear sturdy footwear suitable for rough, dirty terrain.

Foundations for the North Eastern Railway roundhouses which were abandoned in the 1960s have been uncovered by Network Rail in York and are being opened to the public this month.

They are believed to date from around 1864 and can be seen on the attached plan which dates from 1888. The roundhouses were used to service steam trains and were uncovered by engineers carrying out site inspections for a planned rail operating and training facility on the site

Phil Verster, route managing director for the London North Eastern route, said: “This site is a great example of respecting our rail heritage whilst at the same time making exciting plans for our future.

“We are working closely with experts to make sure the roundhouses are recorded and looked after. Meanwhile, the plans for operating and training facilities are being developed to help us to deliver a modern, efficient railway. They will allow us to maintain York’s position as a proud rail city by retaining jobs here as well as bringing future employment benefits which are vital for economic growth and prosperity.

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“The operating centre is the largest of just 14 proposed centres across Britain and will bring all the expertise and technology we need to operate the LNE route into a single location. Meanwhile the investment in modern training facilities will help make sure our rail employees continue to be among the best in the world.

“We also hope that the location of the facilities, on the edge of the York Central development site, could act as a catalyst for further investment in the area.”

The intention is that the rail operating centre (ROC) will eventually control all rail operations on the east coast. The workforce development centre will consolidate training services already provided to rail employees at a number of locations around the route into a single, purpose-built facility. Around 500 jobs will be spread over the two facilities when fully operational.

The land identified for development is known as the engineer’s triangle and lies between York station and Holgate bridge.

The development will require the relocation of the current turning facility which is used by some charters. The final location for the new facility has yet to be decided. The engineers turning triangle will not be removed until it is replaced by a new facility in York.

Network Rail is working with a trained archaeologist to fully uncover and record the roundhouses.

A planning application for the development has been submitted to City of York council, planning reference 12/01176/FULM.

Operations strategy

Network Rail plans to consolidate all signalling and control activity into 14 modern rail operating centres over the next 15-30 years.

Six new ROCs would be built to supplement the eight locations already identified. They will have the latest technology and tools to better manage and control the network.

There are significant benefits for Network Rail and the broader industry including passengers, freight users and train operators including:

  Less delay – better technology will help restore normal services much quicker following disruption
  More flexibility and capacity – more reliable performance and better train regulation
  Reduced operating costs. A more affordable railway with more passengers will help create a sustainable future for the network.