Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Network Rail have announced that the Farnworth Tunnel works will be completed with a final two-day closure of the route on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December, followed by a full train service from Monday 14 December.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Footbridge Fiasco

I referred to the footbridge fiasco at Rainhill in the blog yesterday, and it occurred to me afterwards that some readers wouldn't know what I was on about, so here's a summary:

There are two footbridges at Rainhill station, one towards the western end for passengers to cross between the platforms, and the other just beyond the eastern end of the platforms, providing public access across the railway.

Both bridges were too low for the overhead to fit beneath them when the line was electrified, so Network Rail came up with what appeared at the time to be a rather good idea, and raised the bridges by adding brick plinths and a few extra steps at the bottom.  This retained the traditional appearance, in keeping with the rest of this historic station which was built in the 1860s (Although I doubt if the bridges are that old.)  The station is listed, grade II, so modern ramped replacement bridges were unlikely to be permitted.

Unfortunately new European regulations require that bridges over electrified lines must have parapets 1.8 metres high.  The EC Directive was passed in 2008 and UK legislation came into force in January 2012.

Apparently these rules came as a complete surprise to Network Rail this year, so an urgent bodge job of scaffolding and timber was required before our electric trains could start, back in March.

Eight months later the temporary structures are still in place, although to be fair there is a sign promising that "a more aesthetically pleasing and permanent solution" is being designed.

Here you can see the western bridge, with the fairly neat extra brickwork for raising it, and the tatty woodwork added for the new regulations.

If you think that's ugly, wait until you see the other bridge!

Let's hope Network Rail come up with a good solution before too long.

Monday, 2 November 2015


Test Trains

A number of Pendolino test trains are scheduled to run on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning.  I believe these are to test the newly completed autotransformer feed system.

5T80 23:24 Edge Hill Depot to Manchester Piccadilly via Lime Street and Chat Moss
5T81 00:41 Manchester P to Manchester P via Chat Moss, Lime Street and Chat Moss
5T82 02:18 Manchester P to Wigan NW via Chat Moss, Lime Street and Golborne
5T83 03:51 Wigan NW to Wigan NW via Golborne, Lime Street and Golborne
5T84 05:19 Wigan NW to Edge Hill Depot via Golborne and Lime Street

I am told that the Wigan runs may be altered to operate via St Helens Central.

If successful, I think this could mark the final completion of Phase 2 at last.  Apart from the footbridge fiasco at Rainhill, which seems to have been forgotten.

Huyton Fourth Track

It may be nothing to do with the railway, but I noticed a gang of people in orange dress in the car park of Huyton Telephone Exchange this morning.  They had a theodolite positioned on the future location of the fourth track.  Could this indicate that work is to begin soon?

Completion of the fourth track will require a slice of land to be removed from the telephone exchange car park (But will just squeeze past the actual building, I think.) and also a longer slice off the side of Huyton bus station.  Permission for these works has been granted in a Transport and Works Act Order.

Once the land has been cleared it will "simply" be a matter of  stringing up some overhead, installing points at Roby Junction, re-modelling Huyton Junction, and altering the signalling.

Unusual Track

The line to Manchester was closed for engineering works yesterday, resulting in the Liverpool to Manchester Airport service being diverted to Wigan North Western, thus giving the west curve at Parkside a rare regular service.

Normally, this route has just one passenger train one way on weekdays, the 06:44 Wigan North Western to Liverpool Lime Street.

At Wigan, the service was reversing in platform 1, not normally used by class 319 units.

I'm not sure why the trains didn't reverse at Earlestown as they did on Saturday.
(Correction:  The service terminated at Earlestown on Saturday, but the trains ran on to Parkside Junction to reverse.)

Update:   For anyone who wants to try out this unusual route, similar operations are scheduled for the first three Sundays in 2016.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Timetable Tweak

I noticed something rather odd in the daily updates to the timetable database this morning:  A number of schedules for the Liverpool / Preston services in the next timetable period (13 December 2015 to 14 May 2016) had been deleted and re-inserted.

Naturally I investigated, looking for the difference between the old and new versions, and I was surprised to see that the trains have been promoted from class 2 to class 1.  So, for example, 2N76 09:28 Liverpool Lime Street High Level to Preston has been deleted, and replaced by 1N82 09:28 Liverpool Lime Street High Level to Preston.

The timings remain exactly the same, and the rolling stock is still indicated as "DMU Class 150, 153, 155 or 156".

I wonder what the significance of this change is, if any?  Perhaps the signalmen will give these priority over the stopping services.