Thursday 27 November 2014

Incident at Bryn

At 03:25 this morning, a very unusual time for a service disruption message, National Rail reported that there will be no trains between St Helens Central and Wigan until about 17:00 today due to an incident at Bryn.

A correspondent very kindly sent me these pictures which seem to show a collision between a couple of road-rail machines and an MPV.

I'm pleased to say I've no reports of any injuries.

Train services resumed at 18:00.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Another Timetable Update

In today's download, the bustitution on Sundays to Thursdays of the last couple of trains in and out of Lime Street has been extended right through to the end of the timetable in May.

Doesn't exactly exude confidence, does it!

Saturday 15 November 2014

Christmas Blockade

I gather there will be no trains east of Edge Hill as far as Earlestown and St Helens Central on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 December.

As far as I am aware this has not been announced before, and at present the timetable database is still showing trains on these days.  The Merseyrail "Christmas and New Year" leaflet doesn't know about it either.

I am guessing that this is for last minute electrification works.  The fact that it has been introduced well inside the 12 week cut-off for engineering works rather suggests last-minute panic.

I wonder if what will effectively be just over a hundred hours of closure is enough to complete the work.

P.S.  I also note that bustitution until 10:00 applies for every Sunday until the end of the year.  Some of these have only been loaded into the timetable very recently.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Confessions Of A Project Manager

Well, the September update to Network Rail's CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan is out at last.  Have they owned up?  Yes, sort of.

Phase 2 (a) and (b) still shows a completion date of December 2014.  Phase 2 (c) also shows December 2014, with the added note "(Will be missed.)".  This is then followed by another Phase 2(c) entry in the table, showing a completion of April 2015.

So, do we think (a) and (b), that is Edge Hill to Earlestown and Huyton to Wigan will be ready this year?  Is it going to be another 30th December job like phase 1 was?

No other future dates seem to have moved, although I was pleased to note the completion date for Phase 1 is now shown as August 2014.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Slow Progress

Still no official announcement of a new date from Network Rail, as far as I know.  The Liverpool Echo has picked up the delay in an article dated 2 November.

Meanwhile, things are slowly progressing all over phase two:

In the "gap" around Huyton and Roby, most of the masts are up and arms have been attached to some.  On the passenger side of things the remaining finishing touches are proceeding glacially.  The car park is waiting for half its setts to be replaced[1], and the access stairs at the front of the station and the north end of the subway are still closed.  This morning I passed a group of workers tapping the render on the public subway walls with a hammer and tut-tutting.

[1] Update - I noticed a few days later the lack of setts problem has been resolved by tarmacking over the lot, leaving just a decorative band of setts across the car park entrance.

 At Rainhill I'm told five of the eight masts are up, and a rather optimistic sign warns "Danger Overhead live wires".

Scaffolding is up at Sankey Viaduct and also at Carr Mill.

At the other end of the line, I visited Victoria station yesterday and an enormous amount of work remains to be completed.  It is not clear to me how the wires are to be supported in the middle part of the station.  The closure of the tram stop has been extended until next year, and the trams continue to wiggle along their temporary single track route.  West of Victoria, reports suggest there are major signal sighting issues caused by the new masts and that this is one of the reasons this part of the project will not be finished until April.

Saturday 1 November 2014

First Service Sweepstake

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.