Meet Britain’s most remote signal box

Blea Moor signal box – on the scenic Settle to Carlisle line – is the most remote on our railway.

This small wooden building sits in the mist near the famous Ribblehead Viaduct on one of the country’s most beautiful railway routes.

From the window is a striking view of Ingleborough mountain, one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks.

Hop on a train on the Settle to Carlisle line and you might catch glimpses of some of our historic signal boxes. You can even step inside decommissioned signal boxes at Settle station and Armathwaite station.

At Settle, the signal box works but is no longer attached to the railway. At Armathwaite, we own the signal box but today it’s a non-operational heritage asset leased to the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line.

But Blea Moor is still home to a dedicated team of signallers who continue to perform an essential job on our modern railway.

The view from the window of Blea Moor signal box - Ingleborough mountain, one of the Three Peaks
The view from Blea Moor signal box – Ingleborough, one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks

Part of our heritage

Signal boxes, which control the safe passing of trains through their areas, enabled centralised signalling operations more than 130 years ago.

The 1889 Regulation of Railways Act led to the enforcement of a system known as absolute block, according to The Railway Heritage Trust, funded by Network Rail.

The levers inside Blea Moor signal box, with signaller
A signaller inside Blea Moor signal box

It also enforced the interlocking of signals (basically the railway’s traffic lights) and points (movable sections of track that allow trains to move from one track to another).

We’re modernising signalling for more reliable journeys so we’re increasingly moving controls to state-of-the-art Rail Operating Centres, which cover much larger areas.

In some cases, keeping our historic signal boxes up and running is still the best option, like at Blea Moor.

In fact, we’ve just given it much a faster connection to our IT systems to give you better journeys. In March, we connected Blea Moor to our next generation ​fixed telecoms network (FTNx), bringing it in line with faster, more resilient and reliable network connectivity.

This means we can ensure rail transmission services remain resilient and reliable, so we can continually deliver a better rail service for you.

Signallers working at Blea Moor now have faster and stronger internet connection to our corporate local area network (LAN) – an important step for safety and incident management. The improved connection means our people can respond quicker if there’s an incident on the railway.

The levers inside Blea Moor signal box
Blea Moor signal box remains a hard working part of our modern railway

Read more:

Our history

Our signalling heritage

What happens to signal boxes when they retire?

The Architecture the Railways Built – Severn Bridge Junction

Step back in time… and inside Britain’s busiest signal box

Film: Ribblehead Viaduct

Railway heritage designation

Working with railway heritage

Network Rail graduates step into history