Since midday on Tuesday, no passenger trains have used the Up Fast through Roby and Huyton platforms three. Trains for the St Helens route have used platform four as usual, trains for the Chat Moss route have also used platform four, and crossed over after Huyton. Here's Wednesday's 12.14 departure from Huyton with the appropriate feather:
My first thought on Tuesday was that there was a track or signalling fault on the Up Fast, but an ECS on Tuesday evening, and another one on Wednesday ran along there OK. So my best guess is a lift fault or something similar. I couldn't see any sign of this at Huyton, maybe it's at Roby. Or perhaps someone's made a decision that all up stoppers will use the slow line. They've not done that in the past on the down lines.
Most freights are also using the up slow, although one late on Wednesday evening used the fast. Here's 6E10 on its way to Drax on Wednesday lunchtime:
A brief visit to Lime Street today revealed the following:
The track in platform 7 (old number) has been replaced, it was missing earlier in the week. The edging still needs to be done:
I was surprised to see that not only have they dug out the trackbed through the little arch at the far end of new platforms 7 and 8, but they have laid track and connected it up, because a train of ballast hoppers was on platform 8 (new) with a loco in the throat out of sight from the camera:
The 14.45 to Wigan was a class 156:
I keep hoping I've had my last ride home on a diesel, but they keep turning up. I think the diagram must go somewhere not electrified, because this service was a 156 yesterday as well, so it doesn't look like a substitution for a failed 319.
Everything seemed to be running fairly smoothly this morning apart from the first train to Manchester which was cancelled due to a "diagram error", which I think means someone forgot to organise a train or a crew.
I wandered up to Huyton at lunchtime to admire the new platform 4:
Everything seems to be finished, although a number of TSRs apply while the track beds in.
Next, off to Lime Street to see what's happening there. There's just a single track available between Edge Hill and Lime Street, the Up Slow, and only platforms one and two at Lime Street are in use. A new crossover has been installed between the two platforms so that trains can use the single bore "mousehole" tunnel. There's just room behind the two temporary signals for a four car train on each platform:
Here's a train leaving from platform two and crossing over:
Unfortunately my train was the last movement on platform one for some time because after the above departure the signaller was unable to get point detection in the platform one position. Everyone on the Wigan train in P1 was moved to P2, and then the service was cancelled altogether. Eventually an orangeman arrived and cleared a few stones away from the blades, but this was no help:
As I left on a train from platform two a further team of staff were arriving, and normal service was restored for the 13.45 departure which ran from one.
Elsewhere at Lime Street, lots of the work is hidden behind hoardings, but I could see that platform seven has no track:
In the throat there's lots of new track, and a new ladder crossover has appeared half way along the tunnels - I think this is to be the new Crown Street Junction. Two class 66 locos were powering works trains in the tunnels and at Edge Hill.
Well, things got off to an inauspicious start this morning with 15 cancellations, but things seem to be running a little more smoothly now. The problem was with the temporary single line working between Edge Hill and Lime street, and not our new track at Huyton, which seems to have been fine, although I did notice all up trains used platform four for a while.
I paid a brief visit to Huyton station this morning and in a marked contrast to yesterday there was almost nothing going on. I take this as good sign that the work is pretty much complete.
One gang of orangemen were digging a hole adjacent to the fourth track for a new sign, another TSR board maybe, or perhaps a permanent "Restricted Clearance" board.
So I think everything is looking good for Monday morning, I'm guessing we'll see a test train on Sunday. Anyone going for a ride on 2P11 06:15 Liverpool Lime Street to Preston on Monday, the first passenger train over the new track? No, me neither!
I wasn't intending to do a post every day, but there's so much progress to report!
I visited Huyton this morning to find another new signal erected, on the Up Slow a little east of platform four. It has a position 4 feather for trains heading to the Chat Moss lines (It's the far one in this picture.)
More importantly, and just about visible in the picture above, the overhead for the fourth line is in place. To the untrained eye it looks complete - catenary and contact wire, and I couldn't spot any temporary pulleys etc.
I'd forgotten how much more copper-coloured and shiny new overhead is, it was obvious from some distance away that some had been put up, as soon as I could see the line.
Update: Lo and behold, a few hours after I wrote the above, the signal's plate has been fitted! LL5580. Coincidence, or is someone reading this blog?
Actually, we'll start on Monday evening: At 19:30 a tamping machine was standing on the Up Fast just east of Huyton station. By 22:00 it was hard at work on the new Up Slow.
On Tuesday morning the improvement was clearly apparent, with the fourth line nicely fettled into the distance:
As you can see, the orange army were busy tidying up the details. I could see that the new pointwork at Huyton Junction was apparently complete. No signs of any overhead yet, but I'm told some wires are up at Roby.
While I was there, a rail-mounted digger arrived from the west:
Some more track panels seem to have been delivered, if you compare this picture with yesterday's. Or perhaps they've just been moved from elsewhere on the site.
At Huyton Junction, spoil from the line of the fourth track was being loaded into a train worked by 56113:
If you look just above the loco you can see a strap supporting the catenary for the Up Fast, because the mast in the way of the new line has been removed. (See picture in my post last week.)
On the other end of the spoil train was 70811: