Thursday 28 December 2017

Lime Street Progress

I visited Lime Street to see what changes were made over Christmas.  In summary:-

  • Platform 6 (Old number) is closed.
  • New platform 8 is opened.
  • Old platform 8 is renumbered 9 and re-opened.
  • Platform 9 (Old number) is closed.

Work on demolishing the existing platform 6 is well under way.  It is to be rebuilt longer and straighter and will be numbered 5 in the new layout:

The brand new platform 8 and the former platform 8 now numbered 9 share this island:

This ugly board is to hide the platform 7 (old number) exit signal which is just behind the right hand edge of the panel in this shot, from trains leaving the new platforms 7 and 8 on the track nearest the camera:

Some new departure panels have been added at the concourse end, still wrapped in bubblewrap today:

Saturday 23 December 2017

Short Notice Closure?

At about half past five today (Saturday) I was rather startled to see a long string of VSTP (Very Short Term Planning) timetable updates which have cancelled every train on the Liverpool/Wigan/Preston service tomorrow.

I am not aware of any announced closure of this line on Christmas Eve so if this is genuine there will be some unhappy people at St Helens station tomorrow.

I notice National Rail are still showing the trains as running, suggesting this is merely a database wobble.  Let's hope so!   I wonder if someone has pressed the wrong button shortly before going home.

P.S. I checked Real Time Trains, and they also show the trains as cancelled, so at least I can rule out a problem in my software.

Update Sunday 10:00:  National Rail are now showing these as cancelled due to shortage of train crew, and so far nothing has run through St Helens.

Update Sunday 13:45:  A handful of services have just been re-instated, with one train making two out and back trips Liverpool - Wigan.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Problem at Huyton?

I've no idea of the reason, but the northern entrance to Huyton station was closed yesterday.
I couldn't see any obvious cause, perhaps there's a problem with the old wall?

Update:  The entrance had re-opened by Tuesday 12 December.

Thursday 16 November 2017

Lime Street Update

Things are gradually progressing at Lime Street, the next blockade is at Christmas.

Work on the new platforms is moving on:
 .. and at the other end, electrification masts and danglies are in place:
Meanwhile, the replacement platform edge on 8 (old number) is also slowly progressing:

Monday 23 October 2017

Lime Street New Layout

This morning's restart of normal services did not go well, a number of cancellations and an awful lot of late running, although none of this seemed to be related to the new layout at Lime Street.

I took a trip down to Lime Street to see things for myself.  Starting at Platforms 1 and 2 (Using the old platform numbers.) the temporary signals are bagged and the crossover is fixed out of use:
Looking out from the end of platform 2 you can see the layout for platforms 1 to 4 is unchanged:
There's quite a lot of work to be done on the two new platforms, although the track is in place and connected up:
At the far end of platform 7 you can see the new layout:
Platform 8 is currently closed, 9 is in use:
Finally, walking to the end of nine revealed a new mast base for the electrification of the new platforms:
I have updated my live map to reflect the new situation.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Something Wrong?

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:

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Health And Safety Gone Mad?

I noticed these odd wooden structures fixed to the fence at Huyton last week, but forgot to photograph them until today.
Both are next to lamp-posts, could they be something to do with safety clearances from the newly installed overhead?

Friday 13 October 2017


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.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

New Layout Day Two

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 "rat-hole" 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.

Monday 9 October 2017

New Layout Day One

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.

My live diagram at has now been updated to show the new signals and route selections, and also an approximation of what is available at Lime Street at the moment.

Friday 6 October 2017

All Quiet At Huyton

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!

Literally as I was typing the above, one of the new signalling berths came to life on my diagram ( so it looks like signalling testing is under way.

Thursday 5 October 2017

Huyton and Roby Thursday

At Huyton Junction this afternoon a whole line of road-railers were working on the new line:
and another one was near the station:
Meanwhile, at Roby I could see the new signal is in position and lit:
Does anyone know the number?

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Huyton Wednesday

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.)
Frustratingly, the plate with the number on hasn't been applied yet, so I can't update my diagram at

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?

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Huyton Tuesday

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:

Monday 2 October 2017

Huyton Monday

Nothing much of photographic interest this morning but I did note the following:
  • The fourth track is pretty much fully in place between Huyton and Huyton Junction, although in need of aligning and tamping.  The electrification masts blocking the fourth line have all gone.
  • The fixed red LL9591 at the west end of platform three, no longer required, has been removed.  (This and the next item were done yesterday.)
  • A new fixed red LL9593 at the west end of platform four is in place and lit.
  • A 50mph TSR sign was being erected on the Up Fast (I think) immediately east of Huyton station.
  • On platform four the tarmac has been re-instated and all the barriers blocking the platform since 2014 have been removed.

Sunday 1 October 2017

Huyton Day Two

LL3586 is back as expected, without its feather:
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:

Saturday 30 September 2017

Future Works

On day one of the blockade, let's have look at what's coming up in the future:
  • Christmas resignalling work:  72 hour closure of Liverpool Lime Street.  54 hour closure Edge Hill to Weaver Junction and Edge Hill to Huyton. 
  • Platforms 6 (old number) and 9 (old) will remain closed at Lime Street from Christmas until April.
  • Sunday 21 January, Sunday 28 January, Sunday 4 February, :  Lines closed Wavertree Junction to Hunts Cross / Ditton for resignalling.
  • Easter 2018:  Four day blockade Wavertree Junction to Crewe for signalling work.  Four day blockade at Manchester Victoria for "structures", whatever that means.
  • Sunday 08 April:  Lime Street closed for resignalling work.
  • Platforms 4 (old) and 9 (old) at Lime Street closed from April until July.
  • 14 April to 29 April:  Blockade for electrification between Philips Park West Junction and Stalybridge Junction; also Denton Jn to Ashton Moss North and Baguley Fold Jn to Philips Park South Jn.
  • May Bank Holiday Weekend:  Four day blockade Wavertree Junction to Weaver Junction for resignalling work.
  • Spring Bank Holiday Weekend:  Three day blockade Wavertree Junction to Weaver Junction for resignalling work.
  • June/July 2018:  Major blockades at Lime Street with total closure 02 June to 10 June and 14 July to 29 July.  Very limited service 11 June to 13 July.
All the above are, of course, provisional, especially the later ones.

Huyton Day One

Work got under way last night at Huyton and progress has been made already.

Just east of the station, signal LL3586 has been taken away leaving just a stump:
It's the one in the middle of the picture.  I'm expecting it to come back without its feather in due course.

A little further east at Huyton Junction they're getting on with the changes to the electrification, with a new portal structure being craned in:

Friday 29 September 2017

Last Day

A correspondent (Thanks, David.) reports a notice at Huyton warning that the Up Chat Moss Slow (Roby and Huyton platform 4.) overhead should be treated as live from 12:00 Sunday 8 October.

That doesn't leave much time for testing, as the first train along there is due at 0629 on Monday morning.

(I'm assuming all the track changes will be complete by then, in which case trains for the Up St Helens line will have to use platform 4.)

Sunday 24 September 2017

Five Days To Go

OK, OK, five and a half days!

I paid a visit to Huyton today to see how things are going.  The overnight possession last night was released late, wrecking the service until 10:00.

The electrification equipment at Huyton Junction looks ready, or as ready as it can be before the blockade actually starts.
In this picture just east of Huyton you can see:
  1. Top right, a gallows support from the south side, no changes required.
  2. Right hand mast, planted in the middle of the future fourth track, to be removed.
  3. Left hand mast and short gallows, new support for third and fourth track catenary.
When I was at the station a team of signalling people were testing cables for the new signals, perhaps they were pulled through last night.  Lots of shouts of "There's a ten core plus a two core for the feather" but they didn't reveal any new signal numbers while I was listening.