As Network Rail's silence continues, there's much conjecture as to when the first electric service will run on phase 2. "Early 2015" seems a popular opinion.
We have known for some time that the plan is to start with the Liverpool - Manchester Airport service. The three diagrams are, I believe, nicely self-contained, so it would be easy to infiltrate a 319 on one duty without causing complications.
But there's a snag: Manchester Airport is closed (The station is closed, not the airport!) from 18 January to 8 February, for the commissioning of the fourth platform. I did wonder if cutting back the service to Piccadilly might leave us with just two diagrams to try electrics on, but unfortunately the timings don't work, and as far as I can tell from the timetable database the stock on the truncated Liverpool - Piccadilly services is to interwork with Southport services during the blockade.
So how about the week commencing 9 February for a first electric run? Could Huyton and Sankey Viaduct be finished by then?
On the other hand, maybe the Wigan line (Phase 2b) will be ready first?
It looks like the Manchester Victoria part (Phase 2c) will be last, with Network Rail trying to "move the goalposts" to April 2015. This is certainly needed for May 2015 when TransPennine's Scotland services are scheduled to be diverted to Victoria, to avoid Ordsall Chord works.