Friday 22 November 2013

Phase One Nearly There?

A two page article in December's Modern Railways is highly critical of the work on Phase One, describing it as a débâcle.  They include pictures of missing, loose and disconnected droppers, as I mentioned on my 8th November blog entry.

Modern Railways goes on to say that the latest plan is to open the line to electric traction tomorrow (23 November) with Pendolino test trains scheduled for that day and the 25th.  At the time of typing I can see nothing in the VSTP feed for these.

Other sources report that test coach Mentor ran up and down the line on Wednesday, suggesting things may indeed be ready for this weekend.

Another point made by MR is that Ordsall Lane Junction to Newton-le-Willows has been commissioned as one electrical section because the section switches were not ready in time.  They describe this short cut as a disaster waiting to happen.  Presumably further works will be required to incorporate the switches later.

Update 23 November:
A correspondent reports that this morning at Parkside Junction, temporary earth wires were still present, and "some cables are loosely coiled up over some of the gantries".  Doesn't look promising!

Sunday 17 November 2013

Progress at Roby

I took a stroll down to Roby station to see how they're getting on.  The northern access is now via the "new" subway which is, of course, the original subway re-roofed.
This shot is taken from the down (south) side, with the "new" section in the distance.  Above ground, the old trackbed has been dug out for the full length of the station and is now in use for vehicular access from the work site west of here to locations between Roby and Huyton.

Unfortunately the subway is already leaking, at the join between old brickwork and the new concrete slab.

Meanwhile, on the down platform, the canopy has suddenly gained nine props.  I'm not quite sure what's going on here, the plans do not call for any changes to the canopy.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

350/4 Test Trains

An eagle-eyed reader of this blog has spotted the schedules for what we suspect are 350/4 test runs:

5T72 10.40 Crewe Carriage Sidings LNWR to Carnforth Down & Up Goods Loop
5T73 13.03 Carnforth Down & Up Goods Loop to Crewe Carriage Sidings LNWR

The times are different on Mondays and later in November, see for details.

Today's runs were cancelled.

UPDATE:  The test trains ran on Thursday and Friday, here's a shot kindly supplied by David Hull of the Friday run at Wigan.

Chorley Complaints

The people of Chorley and nearby locations are realising their services are to be significantly cut when TPEx's Manchester/Scotland trains are diverted via Wigan in December, in preparation for the phasing in of electric units.

A correspondent kindly forwarded a link to a report in the Lancashire Evening Post.

As I understand it, the intention is to return these services to the Chorley route once phase four is completed in 2016.

Friday 8 November 2013

Progress Report

I took a trip to Manchester today to see how much progress there has been since my last trip, one month ago.

Starting at Huyton station, building works are in full swing, the old trackbed is being dug out, and they were pouring a new concrete roof for the subway.  To my un-trained eye they seemed to making a right dog's breakfast of this simple task, but I'm sure they know what they're doing!

Further along, there are some mast bases and many 'scrapes' for masts.

At Earlestown, the new trackwork and signalling work appears to have ground to a halt, with some points still disconnected and most new signals bagged.  Nothing seems to have progressed here for a couple of months.

On to phase one, and I can report that contact wire is now in place on the up and down lines throughout, the gaps I reported last time have all been filled.  However, much work remains to be done, many of the droppers are loose or even disconnected, so there's a lot more finishing required before any test train can pass.

After Ordsall Lane Junction (and therefore phase two) there are a large number of peculiar structures either side of the line, consisting of a hole in the ground about the size of a grave, filled with concrete with a smooth flat top.  I'm guessing these are the type of mast base required on the viaducts where it's not possible to drive a pile into the ground, although it's odd that there are no fixing bolts.

Manchester Victoria is a major construction site, with scaffolding everywhere.  Large signs warn of the Christmas closure "for electrification work".

Thursday 7 November 2013

New Train Arrives

The first of the new Class 350/4 trains, destined to run on the Manchester to Scotland services, has arrived in the UK, and was filmed passing north through Rugeley earlier today.  See this YouTube video