Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Phase Two Delayed

The latest edition of Rail carries a report quoting a Network Rail spokesman who stated that the electrified railway would not be ready for passenger use by 14th December, which is when the new timetable starts.

A number of problems have delayed the project, including unexpected abandoned mines around Roby and Huyton, and an incident earlier this year when a worker on a wiring train was injured when wires snapped.  Rumours have been circulating for some time, but this is the first admission by Network Rail that completion will be late.

So far, there has been no formal statement from Network Rail.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Phase Two Progress

A few pictures, mostly taken on Tuesday, of progress on phase two.

At Earlestown, masts are up on the west curve.  Elsewhere on the station there are plenty of bases and holes for bases.











Most of the ironwork is up at St Helens Junction, except for this one incomplete base near the east end of the down platform.









At Rainhill there's plenty of ironwork east of the station, where the long-disused signal box still survives.
At Rainhill station itself, excavations for mast bases are nearly complete, despite the lack of planning permission.
Work was under way on this hole, just beside the western footbridge.













At Whiston the masts and other ironwork seem complete, but no wires yet.












At Wavertree the wiring looks complete, as you can see in this view looking east from the station.











Finally on this whistle stop tour I visited Eccleston Park, where I found two cateneries but only one contact wire installed.










For a much more detailed and more up to date report on the current state of play, see David Hull's spreadsheet which you can find on a link from my progress page.

Meanwhile, rumours continue to circulate that Network Rail will soon announce that parts of phase two will not be ready for energising in November.  The latest report, in October's Modern Railways, suggests that problems including several serious signal sighting issues will mean that Ordsall Lane Junction to Victoria will be delayed until May 2015.  At the time of writing I have not seen any formal announcement, but it surely cannot be long before we get one.

Friday, 19 September 2014

319 Driver Training

The first driver training run for the 319 units took place on Wednesday, when 319363 was seen leaving Allerton depot under its own power at about 12:15, and then heading south towards Crewe.  I arrived at South Parkway about a minute too late to take a picture.

The second out and back trip didn't run.

On Thursday the same unit did the same run, here's a picture of it at Crewe kindly supplied by a correspondent.



No sign of any runs today, so far.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Timetable Notes

Sunday Works

A number of people have commented on the amount of work that remains to be completed on phase two, so I've just done a quick survey of the plans for Sunday closures for the rest of the year.  The current situation is as follows, obviously further disruption could be added.  The changes have been inserted in the timetable and so there is no Engineering Works notice on the National Rail website, and hence they have until now been missing from my Works Notices page.

Sunday 14 September
No trains until 12:00, no trains Huyton - Wigan all day.

Sundays 21 Sep, 28 Sep, 05 Oct, 12 Oct
No trains Huyton - Wigan all day.

Sundays 19 Oct to 7 Dec (Last Sunday of current timetable)
Full train service except for buses after 23:00.

Sundays from 14 December (New timetable)
Full service.

Evening Buses

I have previously failed to report that the hoped for restoration of late trains Sunday to Thursday did not take place this week, and the buses continue until the end of the timetable, 13 December.

319 Training

Schedules have appeared in the database for what are thought to be Class 319 training runs, two out and back trips from Allerton Depot to Crewe on Monday to Friday this week.  At the time of writing none have actually run.

5Z19 12:18 Allerton Diesel Multiple Unit Depot to Crewe
5Z20 13:36 Crewe to Allerton Diesel Multiple Unit Depot
5Z21 15:26 Allerton Diesel Multiple Unit Depot to Crewe
5Z22 16:46 Crewe to Allerton Diesel Multiple Unit Depot

News Headlines

A few items of progress from my own observations and (mainly) from reports received, for which thanks go to my correspondents.
  • The first wires have gone up between Salford and Manchester Victoria.  Almost all of the ironwork is up on this section.
  • Another 319 is expected to arrive this week.  Update:  319363 arrived on Thursday 11 September - Under its own power, I believe.
  • Finishing work at the expanded Huyton station is nearing completion.
  • Long lengths of the phase two lines now have what appear to be complete OHLE installed.
  • The Chorley tunnel work and re-installation of the flying arches has been completed successfully, there'll be more major disruption next year for Farnworth tunnel.
  • Electrification work in the Roby Junction to Huyton Junction stretch, which was held off while the widening was under way, is now catching up, with many mast bases in place, and masts now appearing.
  • New signals are appearing between Carr Mill and Springs Branch Junction.
On the less positive side, there are significant lengths of phase two where a lot of work remains to be done, including Sankey Viaduct, and some correspondents are forming the opinion that it's not going to be ready on time.

An article in Rail Magazine reports on various aspects of electrification in the Northwest.  Network Rail are still planning to have all of phase two ready for service  in December although this is described as "challenging".  Work on the phase three (Preston to Blackpool) section will include re-signalling with the closure of five manual boxes.  It will require the line to be closed "for some time", probably in late 2016/early 2017.
On phase four (Manchester to Preston), major work will be required to electrify Farnworth Tunnel, involving enlarging the Up tunnel to take two electrified tracks and closing the down tunnel.  Work is to start at Easter 2015 and will require a twenty week period of severely reduced services.

Modern Railways has a report about the 319s.  Additional funding has been found for refurbishment of the 319s transferring to Northern Rail.  The work, mostly to be carried out at Wolverton, will include an interior and exterior repaint, refurbishing of seats, and the installation of door controls so the conductor can operate the doors from anywhere in the train.