Friday 25 July 2014

Rest Of The World

This blog has been concentrating for the last few weeks on the work at Huyton, so a round-up of headlines from the rest of the area is long overdue. My thanks go to the many correspondents who have provided updates.

Apart from one mast base on the derelict platform parallel to platform 3, and one "scrape" just off the east end of platform 2, there is nothing visible in the station area. The listed building planning permission was granted on the 16th July.

The new signals here, controlled from Warrington, are of a different design to the new ones at Huyton, and have a side indication ("pig's ear") for drivers stopped at the signal.

I notice that west of Earlestown the mast bases on the south side of the line seem to be far enough back to fit a fourth line parallel with the loop.
There is no visible sign of work on Sankey Viaduct where the planning permission was granted a few weeks ago.

The substation here is partially covered in scaffolding, suggesting work is still not complete.

Thatto Heath
Work has started in the "canyon".

Manchester Victoria
Almost all the masts and portals seem to be in place between Ordsall Lane Junction and Victoria, and the majority have arms fitted.

Phase Two Wires
Wires have appeared at various locations on the Huyton - Wigan line, and also at Wavertree.

The blockade for work on Chorley Tunnel is under way. I was on the Manchester end of this line on Wednesday and timekeeping was very poor, but whether that was due to the extra load on the Bolton to Wigan section I cannot say.

Rolling Stock
A second 319 is rumoured to be arriving in August.

New Timetable
The new timetable, starting 14th December 2014, is appearing in the timetable database; obviously it's all provisional at the moment. Around Huyton, it looks identical to the current one, except that late evening trains are restored (As they are in the current timetable from 8th September). Rather surprisingly, up trains at Huyton are still shown as using platform 2 - Hasn't anyone told them?

Huyton and Roby
The TWA application for the fourth track at Huyton was approved on 23rd July.

David Hull sent this picture of a kinky drain on platforms 2 and 3 at Roby, obviously ready for a mast base!

Monday 21 July 2014

Huyton One Week Later

We've had a week of operation of the new layout at Huyton and Roby (Although no trains yesterday.) and it seems to have gone pretty well, in general.  I've been watching the signal box diagram and trains have been flowing smoothly.

The new configuration has shorter signal spacings than previously, which should help.  

I spotted an unusual overtaking move on Saturday evening, a slow train from the Chat Moss route ran on the Down Chat Moss Fast stopping at Huyton and Roby and was overtaken by a following fast train also from Chat Moss, which zig-zagged onto the Down Chat Moss Slow.

This morning's start was the first time things went wrong, the first two down stopping trains at Huyton were 55 minutes late and the first up was cancelled.  Things gradually recovered over the next few hours, with about six cancellations altogether.  I've not seen any reason for the problem, I wonder if the Sunday possession was handed back late.

At Huyton this morning, finishing works were progressing steadily.

Update:  Only a few hours after I'd written the above I met a friend who was on the 21.47 Liverpool Lime Street to Blackpool North last Wednesday.  This was terminated at Huyton due to a "signalling failure".  The train proceeded ECS to Wigan via Newton while the passengers were left to a non-existent bus replacement.  So things weren't quite as good as I thought in the first week.  Of course, this might have been a problem at St Helens, nothing to do with our new signalling.

Monday 14 July 2014

Up and Running

At 05:22:49 this morning, train 5F10 - An ECS working from Lime Street to Warrington Bank Quay - appeared in the train describer feed at Edge Hill, running six minutes late.  It lost a little more time as it proceeded along the new line through platform 3 at Roby and Huyton, and onwards towards Earlestown.  It was followed by a Manchester Airport service and then 2J20 05:20 Lime Street to Manchester Victoria was the first train to call at the new platforms.

(I did consider getting up to photograph this historic occasion, but to be honest I couldn't be bothered.  I expect someone was there?)

Since then, the service would appear to be running fairly smoothly.  A few trains have been late, but no more than a typical Monday morning.

So far, it would appear that all trains from the Earlstown direction are using the Down Chat Moss Fast through platform 1 at Huyton, with platform 2 reserved for trains from the Wigan line.  The current timetable doesn't call for any overtaking of Chat Moss trains so perhaps this will be the standard.

The new signals are generally two lens LED units capable of showing four, or in some cases five, aspects.

A lemon, a lime and a cherry, looking west from Huyton.  LL9591 is a fixed red for trains reversing in platform 3.
A long view of the new island platform, certainly a transformation over the last week or so.
A Wigan train calls at Huyton's new platform 3.
At Roby, a Warrington service stops at the new platform 3.
Quite a bit of work still to do on Platform 1.
At Roby the departure displays seemed to be incorrectly showing all down services on platform 2.
Unlike Huyton, where platform 4 is pretty much complete, Roby only has this short length.  Still, they've got a couple of years to finish it!

Sunday 13 July 2014

Blockade Last Day

I passed by Huyton station a couple of times on Saturday and the big change is the total lack of ballast trains, big cranes, etc.  In other words, the major trackwork is probably complete.

There was plenty of other stuff going on, platforms were being surfaced, poster boards erected and so on.  S&T engineers were fiddling with wires.

So, it's all looking good.  Of course, there's lots of finishing work to be done, and then the small matter of electrification to deal with.

After posting the above I took a Sunday lunchtime stroll .  Huyton has gained an "OFF" indicator half way along platform 2, and departure displays on platforms 2 and 3, both lit. Another feature I've not reported before is a red signal at the west end of platform 3.  Presumably trains will be able to reverse in 3 as well as 2.

A lot of rail joints remain to be welded, but these can wait for night-time possessions next week.

At Roby, the edge of platform 3 is complete, with some final grouting under way.

I have been checking my notes for the previous re-modelling of Huyton Junction which was in 2007 when it was changed from a traditional double junction to the simplified double junction we had until last week.  This was completed in a four day Easter blockade and my logs show the trains running normally on the Tuesday morning.

Friday 11 July 2014

Blockade Day 7

I visited Huyton station once again today:

Line 1 (Down Chat Moss Fast) is back in place, it has been relaid through the station, unlike line 2 (Down Chat Moss Slow) where the original track remains alongside the platform.
As you can see, line 1 still awaits ballasting, but is otherwise complete.

Here are the two signals just east of Huyton station.  The far one is for Up trains on line 3 (Up Chat Moss) with a position 1 junction indicator for trains towards Wigan.  The nearer one seems to be a new head on the original structure.  It is for trains reversing in platform 2 before heading towards Manchester.

NEWSFLASH FOR DATA GEEKS:  Since 11:25 this morning the Network Rail train describer data feed has been showing describer heartbeat and other signalling messages from describer "M1" which I believe is the new signalling here at Huyton.

UPDATE 19:30:  Line 1 has been ballasted during the afternoon.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Blockade Day 6

Just a brief update.

At lunchtime today 70002 was on a ballast train on the newly re-laid line 2 (Down Chat Moss Slow), the ballast was being used to form the replacement trackbed for line 1 (Down Chat Moss Fast).

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Blockade Day 5

We've reached the half-way point, and lunchtime on Wednesday found the track replaced on line 2 (Soon to be the Down Chat Moss Slow) but not yet ballasted.  Two rail-mounted cranes were operating on the new line 3 (Up Chat Moss).

Confused?  I posted a diagram in the blog last year.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Blockade Day 4

The Orange Army were hard at work when I visited Huyton this afternoon.

New signals have been erected.
A new shelter has appeared on platforms 2 and 3, matching the one which appeared on platform 4 last week.
Tracks 1 and 2 have been removed completely at the point where they pass over the subway.

It really is difficult to get a good view of what's going on without trespassing.  This is the best I can do, looking west from the east end of the station.

At the far end of the station you can just about see a giant signal gantry.

Returning to Huyton at about 19:30 I discovered a works train on the new third line with a class 60 on the front.
Later, on my way home from the pub at about half past ten, 70003 was doing the honours on a train carrying
new ballast which was being dumped on to the path of tracks 1 and 2.


Regular contributor David Hull was also out today, and he provided this shot of the new signal gantry at Roby.

David also provided this daylight shot of the missing lines 1 and 2.

Monday 7 July 2014

Blockade Day 3 - Brief Update

Very little to report except for steady progress.  Huyton signal box is no more.

Saturday 5 July 2014

Blockade Day 1 - Now You See It, Now You Don't

Nine days to complete the work, and things are progressing well.  Central Huyton echoes to the irregular clanging and crashing of demolition.

Working from east to west, we start at Huyton Junction, where the up Wigan line has already disappeared.
On Huyton station itself, the shelter on platform 2 disappeared a couple of days ago.  The surface of platform 1 has been dug up.

The temporary bridge between platforms 4 and 3 has gone.
At the other end of the station, demolition of the box is under way.  At the time of my visit the top floor had gone but the frame remained in place, with the levers sticking up incongruously above the remaining structure.   You can just see a class 66 loco on a works train.

Unfortunately, the closure of the station means it's much more difficult to get good pictures of what's happening at Huyton.

Down the line at Roby platform 3 is nearly complete, while men were apparently dismantling the shelter on platform 2.  Amusingly, the loudspeakers here were still announcing trains.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Huyton Countdown - 12 Days

Things are moving on rapidly:

The "missing" steps in the public subway which were bare rebar on Tuesday night were being cemented on Wednesday morning.

The shelter on platform 2 has been demolished.

Ballasted track has appeared through platform 3 and onwards towards Huyton Junction.  You can see the temporary "bridge" between platforms 3 and 4 in the distance in this shot taken from the east end of the station on the new pedestrian access to platform 4.
Here's the same view as I showed last week and the week before, looking east along the edge of platform 3 from the temporary bridge.  As you can see, apart from platform edging and surfacing, it's nearly there.
Looking the other way from the same place, towards Liverpool.  There is a decided kink in the track which strongly suggests the signal box will be demolished next week.
Finally, the new subway staircase on platform 4.  I'm not sure why they've boarded over the hole.  Perhaps to keep the rain out until a roof is installed?

Elsewhere, new signals are appearing throughout the area, folded down or standing up.