Wednesday 2 April 2014

Progress Report

One or two people have recently mentioned to me the lack of progress reports in this blog.  Basically it's been a case of "no news is good news", as the work on phase two moves on steadily without any individual exciting events.

However, I took a trip to Manchester yesterday so I think an update is in order:

Edge Hill

I've no idea if this has anything to do with the electrification, but a spare piece of railway land on the north side of the line near Bootle Branch Junction has recently been levelled and a fenced-off compound has been created, with concrete foundations inside.  Could this be the beginning of a sub-station or switching site?

Roby and Huyton Additional Tracks

Construction work on new platforms is proceeding.  The public subway at Huyton is partially closed and the section to be moved has been demolished.  Piling work is under way next to the telephone exchange.

I've not seen an official announcement yet, but it has been reported that there will be a nine day closure commencing 5 July for the reconstruction of Huyton Junction and work on Sankey Viaduct.

Huyton Quarry Substation and Vehicular Access

Work continues slowly.  The foundation for the sub-station is in place and the roadways are currently hardcore, awaiting the tarmac.

Huyton Quarry to Earlestown

Almost all mast bases are in place, and many of them have masts and contact arms.  The only exception is Sankey Viaduct where I didn't spot any indications of work.


Track panels, including switches, are stacked beside the loop, suggesting that work on the track may be about to resume.  The crossover from the Down Chat Moss into the loop is still disconnected.  On the signalling front, some new signals are still bagged, and  I observed some signalling engineers delivering a new relay panel.


Work on the equipment here continues.


Lots of gantries are up between Victoria and Ordsall Lane.  Victoria itself is very much a building site, with the tram stop closed at the moment.

What Next?

It can't be long until the first wires go up, can it?

New Trains Announced

No sooner had I published a whinge on the subject of rolling stock than the Government comes up with an announcement.  You can read the release here, but in summary, two four car electric trains will be operating between Liverpool and Manchester from December 2014.  The two diesel units released will be used to run a service on the new Todmorden curve and to strengthen services through Bolton.  The announcement goes on to say that by the end of 2015, forty carriages will be in service.

It is intriguing to consider what the two units will do in December:
  1. Current stopping trains between Lime Street and Victoria take 62-64 minutes.  Could the improved acceleration and higher top speed of electric trains get this far enough below 60 so that the two trains could provide the entire hourly service?  Maybe, but I doubt it.
  2. Option two would be to keep basically the same service as now, and replace some but not all trains with electric units. 
  3. More radically, how about an hourly electric limited stop service in addition to the existing hourly stopper.  This sounds good, but doesn't release any diesels.
  4. [Update]  Ah, I've missed another option:  Perhaps the units will be deployed on the hourly Liverpool to Manchester Airport services, replacing two of the three diesels required to run this.

Nowhere does the release identify what the units will be nor does the word "refurbish" appear.