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Rolling blog: Westward bound…

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I’m enjoying that desk-free day today and heading West over the Pennines to the Manchester area for the day to catch up with some of the changes to the rail network and grab some shots of the old BR Pacers in their natural habitat before they head off to the scrapyard.

As usual, I’m starting my day at Sowerby Bridge station, which is looking rather resplendent at the moment. Despite the baking hot summer the station friends group have managed to keep nearly all the plants alive – which has been no mean feat! I helped in a very minor way by bringing plastic bottles full of water from home when I was passing through and watering as I waited for my train. Now the recent rains have taken some of the pressure off the group. Here’s how it looks today.

There’s not just flowers to admire on the station, there’s local history to discover too! The friends commissioned dozens of information boards that line both platforms. They tell you about local celebrities or people of note, such as this one about Walter Robinson, a tram conductor who was killed in the Pye Nest tram disaster in 1907.

It’s just as well there’s things like this to read as the train service is a bit of a shambles today. I’ve been here since 09:45 as I was planning to catch the 10:08 to Manchester. Initially it was shown on the station info screens as running a minute late. Then the time came and went and it mysteriously ceased to exist and was replaced by the 10:22 (runing 5 late due to making extra stops as another train was cancelled). At 10:22 the 10:08 rolled in, seemingly from nowhere, much to the confusion of waiting passengers! This is where the information screens both confuse and let down passengers. The information’s neither real-time nor accurate.

I’m now on a busy 2-car (150205) which is heading for the seaside at Southport. As it’s the school holidays we’re jam-packed with families.

10:42

I bailed out of the Southport train at Hebden Bridge to grab some shots of the platform extensions which are really coming along. They’ve been given their tarmac topping and aren’t far from completion.

Once again, the passenger information caused more confusion than anything. As the late running Manchester train approached it was shown on the info screens, yet “Digital Doris” (the automated voice on the PA) announced “the next train will be the 10:41 to Preston”. Grrrr!

It was the Manchester train, and I’m now sat on it!

11:06.

It’s going to be one of those days. We’re currently stuck at Littleborough as the section ahead is occupied by the train I got off! We’re getting later and later cut there’s been no announcements about what’s going on. At 12:08 we finally started moving but we’re going to be crawling from signal to signal now due to the train in front.

12:11

We finally crawled into Victoria at 11:41. I’m still none the wiser as to what the problem was. TPE also have services cancelled due to the meaningless and insulting phrase I hate – “operational reasons”.

The weather forecast hasn’t been up to much today either and the sunny periods it promised have failed to materialise this side of the Pennines. I’m making my way to the East side of the city, hoping for better.

12:46

Here we go, the 12:49 to Sheffield from Manchester Piccadilly, which is about to bounce its way back across the Pennines.

14:17.

I’m deep in ‘Pacer’ territory now, at the attractive station and town of Romily, which is where two different lines from Manchester meet before diverging again. One’s the truncated branch to Rose Hill Marple, the other is the old Midland main line to the South via Chinley. Nowadays all the local services have been strengthened to run a pairs of Pacers like this. Here’s 2S19, the 13:32 from New Mills Central to Manchester Piccadilly via Reddish North with Romily station in the background. The line to the left is the route via Hyde and Guide Bridge

DG305742. 142033. 142057. Romily. 21.8.18

16:53.

I’ve wifi so I’m quickly adding a couple of pictures whilst I can. Here’s the old Midland Railway signalbox at Romily Junction. It’s boarded up now and appears closed, yet the local signals still carry RJ plates, which is rather confusing. The box doesn’t have a straight line to it as it appears to be slipping backwards down the embankment.

DG305760After Romily I moved on to New Mills central, which is the boundary for many services from Manchester as it has a useful turn-back siding controlled from the local signalbox. here’s a pair of Pacers coming out of the siding before working back to Piccadilly.

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One more. Having come out of the sidings, 057 and 033 sit in the platform at New Mills Central before working back to Manchester Piccadilly

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Caveat. (18:33)

I’d update this blog more often but I’ve found WordPress struggles with me doing so from both a laptop via wifi and also my Android phone. I’ll try and add more shortly, but there may be troubles ahead…

21:40.

The final update for the day. Sadly WordPress has let me down today and I’ve struggled to update this blog whilst on the move. I’m intending to work from home tomorrow so I’ll add part two to this blog then.

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Desk-bound…

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It had to happen sooner or later, the the past few days have seen me pretty much stuck at my desk. Admittedly we did get to nip over to Southport for a gathering of the Bigland clan on Saturday, but the rest of the time’s seen me on household duties or trying to deal with a rather large backlog of paperwork. The good news is that I can now get into my  office without worrying about being crushed by unstable piles of magazines and bumpf which were reaching Himalayan heights.

It’s not before time as the next month or so are going to be rather busy. I’ll be embarking on my bi-annual round-Britain trip for RAIL magazine shortly so I need to clear the decks for that and the time to write it up before I head off to the National Rail Awards, which is going to be a little different this time. I’ve been at the awards every year since 2003 as the event photographer. Now Dawn and I will be VIP guests, instead of being on duty with a job to do I’ll be able to chat and enjoy the company of the many people from the rail industry I’ve got to know over the years, like this bunch!

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Thankfully, the NRA doesn’t clash with another important event in the railway calendar as it has in the past: Innotrans.

This massive bi-annual event is the largest rail trade show in the world. It’s held in Berlin and it’s an absolute must for anyone who wants to see what the railway industry’s up to.  I’ve arranged to be there for 4 of the 5 days. The show’s so massive you need that amount of time to get around the place! Outside at the Messe Hall there’s acres of trains on display, inside there’s even more as the event takes over dozens of buildings on several levels. Here’s a link to pictures from the last time I was there in 2014 which will give you an idea of what to expect.

The next few weeks are going to be rather interesting. Obviously, my work for RAIL will be restricted to being published in the magazine, but I’m sure I’ll be publishing a few teasers! In the meantime, there’s a few other trips to do…

 

 

Another Stophs2 (fake) storm in a teacup!

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Sometimes it’s fake news that causes problems, sometimes it’s lazy journalism and other times it’s people who are either utterly incapable of reading and understanding factual material or who twist it to suit their own ends.

The latest storm in a teacup over Hs2 has elements of all this. Here’s the straight story as reported by Rail Technology Magazine.

“The former boss of Carillion’s UK infrastructure business is set to take over Balfour Beatty Vinci to lead its HS2 joint venture.” His name is Mark Davies, which is pretty easy to remember. He’s had a 30 plus year career in the Civils industry and joined Carillion after its acquisition of Alfred McAlpine in 2004. His correct title was Managing Director – Carillion Infrastructure, one of the divisions of the company.

As Carillion imploded in spectacular and controversial fashion, Mr Davies has obviously had some time on his hands, leading him to being recruited by the Joint Venture.

This is where the fun starts. In a combination of lazy journalism, mischief making and downright lies, Mr Davies has been spun as the ‘boss’ of Carillion, taking over at Hs2 itself. It’s complete tosh of course, but those who’re opposed to Hs2 are spinning like tops to make out this is the case. There’s a couple of rather major flaws with their story. Mr Davies was never the ‘boss’ of Carillion. He was never even on the Board of Directors!

The ‘boss’ (or bosses to be more precise) of Carillion when it collapsed were the chairman, Philip Green, along with Keith Cochrane who became its Interim Chief Executive on the 10th July 2017, a position he retained until the company went into liquidation in January 2018.

Whilst the Chairman and the Board of Directors have been quizzed by Parliamentary Committees and been criticised for their actions. I’ve not seen anything to suggest Mr Davies has been accused of anything. Not that this has stopped Hs2 antis trying to smear by association – as usual!

As for the ludicrous claims that he’s been made ‘boss’ of Hs2 –  I despair! He’s the MD of a joint venture that’s won an HS2 construction contract, nothing more, nothing less.

Still, facts eh?

 

 

Calder Valley rail improvements progress

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The Calder valley is seeing a package of rail improvements at the moment. The ones that are most visible to passengers are taking place right now as platform extensions on several stations are underway or just about to start.

The following stations will see platforms extended by varying lengths, with work due to finish by December 2018.

Mills Hill. Smithy Bridge. Littleborough. Walsden. Todmorden. Hebden Bridge. Mytholmroyd. Sowerby Bridge and Bradford Interchange.

Here’s a good example: Hebden Bridge station’s the most historic on the rout as it’s in pretty much original condition, so any work has to be carried out sympathetically. Platform two is being extended by 56m, one of the longest extensions planned. The opposite platform only needs to be extended by a few metres. Here’s a series of pictures showing how the work has progressed.

DG300391. Platform 2. Hebden Bridge. 22.6.18

How it used to be on the 22nd June 2018: Platform 2 just as the work to extend the platforms was starting. On the bottom left of the picture you can see the old wooden buffer-stops to the former goods yard behind the Vortok fencing and the black pipes containing cable runs.

DG301729. Starting construction of the platform extensions. Hebden Bridge. 9.7.18

By 9th July the old buffers had gone, along with the platform ramp and cables were encased in protective plastic tubing.

DG302808. Platform extensions. Hebden Bridge. 16.7.18

16th July: The first precast concrete section of the platform extension were in place, along with the crane that was used to lift them into position during night-time possessions.

DG302816. Platform extensions. Hebden Bridge. 16.7.18

16th July: A closer look, showing the facing to the pre-cast concrete to enable it to blend with the original platform.

DG303340. Platform extension. Hebden Bridge. 23.7.18

Blending old and new.

DG303344. Platform extension. Hebden Bridge. 23.7.18

Here’s a view inside the new platform on July 23. The plastic pipes that protected the signalling cables have been replaced with concrete cable toughs.

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By the 30th July the platform structure was complete. Foundations for lighting columns and much of the hardcore infill were in place.

DG305385. Platform extension. Hebden Bridge. 9.8.18

9th August: The coping stones and tactile paving is in place, along with a drainage channel at the back of the platform and finished bases for lighting columns.

Meanwhile, platform 1, which had a much shorter extension and had limited access was being built by more traditional methods, using breeze-blocks.

DG303363. Platform extension. Hebden Bridge. 24.7.18

Platform 1 on the 21st July, a much more restricted site access than platform 2 means traditional construction methods were being used.

The platform extensions aren’t the only work happening at Hebden Bridge. The signalling is being replaced and the listed Lancashire and Yorkshire signalbox is expected to be decommissioned in October. Here’s one of the new signals which guards the crossover and siding.

DG303348. New signalling. Hebden Bridge. 23.7.18

To enable modern step free access to platform 1 the former goods lift shafts will be refurbished and used for new lifts.

DG303342. Site for new lift. Hebden Bridge. 23.7.18

Meanwhile, over at Sowerby Bridge, the long-abandoned section of the Bradford bound platform has been stripped of undergrowth ready to be rebuilt. Here’s how it looked on the 24th July.

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Here’s a different view taken on the 16th August.

DG305670. Old platform about to be rebuilt. Sowerby Bridge. 16.8.18

 

I’ll keep blogging about the upgrades to the Calder valley line and add as many pictures of the work as I can over the next few months.

Pictures, not words, have been the priority today.

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Today’s been another of those rare days where I get to work from home and try to catch up on some of the back-office stuff I can’t normally get to do on the road. Part of that has involved editing hundreds of the pictures that I took on the last few days travels and getting them on my Zenfolio website. If you want to have a look, follow this link. It’ll take you straight to the various galleries I’ve updated. Here’s a few samples, just to show you the variety.

DG304506. Pax. Leeds. 1.8.18

Changing trains at Leeds after coming back from Beverley and Hull after another day judging stations for the ACoRP awards.

DG305282. Hs2 construction zone. New Canal St. Birmingham. 8.8.18

Under stormy skies a train from Birmingham New St passes the Eagle and Tun pub which is in the middle of the High Speed 2 (HS2) station site at Birmingham Curzon St. This area will be unrecognisable in a few years time.

DG305428. 156480. Parton. 9.8.18

Northern Rail No 156480, decorated in RAF 100 commemorative vinyl livery traverses the Cumbrian coast line at Parton, just North of Whitehaven. This stretch of line has fantastic coastal views. 

Don’t worry, I’ll be back on the rails again soon!

Stop Hs2 number crunching.

I’ve not written anything about the anti Hs2 campaign for a while now, mainly because there’s nothing going on that’s worth writing about. To be honest, I’ve seen more life in a tramp’s vest! Apart from a few local groups still agitating in Yorkshire, there’s hardly anything to be seen – especially at a national level, where the campaign’s collapsed completely.

The only group that’s active (and I use that word in its loosest sense) is ‘StopHs2’ – otherwise known as the Penny & Joe show. Joe Rukin’s still not managed to find a proper job so he occasionally resorts to punching something out on the groups Facebook page or via their Twitter account. What they put out is very telling, because it’s purely reactive, not proactive. They’ve gone from campaigning to complaining. Everything they put out is a moan about Hs2, or the wider railway industry. There’s no campaign news, because there’s no campaign! Their problem is they’re increasingly shouting into space as no-one’s listening anymore – and that includes their supposed supporters. I’ve crunched some numbers to demonstrate the extent of their problem.

Firstly, here’s a bit of background. Hs2 will pass through 63 constituencies containing 6,567,433 people. In contrast, StopHs2 have 8439 Facebook followers whilst over on Twitter they have 6152 followers. Not exactly amazing numbers after 9 years, are they? That’s just 0.12% for Facebook and 0.09% on Twitter! I can’t help wonder why – if as was claimed – so many people are up in arms about Hs2 they’re not engaging with the sole remaining ‘national’ group set up to stop Hs2?

It gets worse!

How many of those 8439 on Facebook and 6152 on Twitter ever engage or respond? Bugger all! I’ve crunched the numbers for every Tweet and post for August. Here are the results;

stophs2 stats

Embarrassing, isn’t it? Does this sound like an active campaign to you? It’s worth bearing in mind this is after Hs2’s been in the news a lot recently. The truth is, apart from a tiny bunch of die-hards and trolls on social media, most people have given up and moved on. There is no active campaign and hasn’t been for several years now.

Here’s some examples of their tweets and Facebook posts and their responses.

stophs2 tweet 1

tweet 2

More people respond on Facebook than on Twitter.

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Often the responses are so out of touch with reality they’re classics!

res 1

Well, that’s worked really well for the last 9 years, hasn’t it? Ditto this response…

res 2

And then there’s the usual mad UKIPper nonsense.

kipper

Is it any wonder why no-one takes this tiny bunch of ‘eccentrics’ seriously anymore?

Rolling blog: Here we go again…

It will come as absolutely no surprise when I tell you that I’m typing this on a train. This time I’m back on Grand Central’s 07:08 from Halifax to London. Us ACoRP judges are dedicated souls, I’m off to meet fellow Judge Paul Cook in Ashford, Kent to finalise the winners of this years awards. We’d hoped to have finished the job closer to home on Friday, but events got in the way!

At least I have wifi, a power socket and coffee to keep me going for the next few hours. En-route we’ve passed through one of the stations we judged, Brighouse, which is looking splendid right now as the plethora of planters and tubs are in full bloom. Nearby Mirfield is coming on too as the local ‘in bloom’ group have been busy tidying up the massive flower bed that occupies the site of the station buildings and adding more planters and ‘bug hotels’. As my train pulled away I noticed a commuter dead-heading some of the plants as she waited for her train. I love seeing the way ordinary passengers get involved like this.

09:42

We’re currently flying along the East Coast Main Line near Huntingdon, running 6 minutes late due to trespassers on the line around Doncaster earlier. It’s the school holidays and trespass incidents always increase when they’ve broken up. It’s a serious problem for the railways as vandalism also increases. Despite every effort by the railway companies and British Transport police to educate youngsters, we see this problem every year.

10:33

I’m now in London and I’ve swapped the East Coast Main Line for High Speed 1 to get me to Ashford.

It’s always a delight to use this line. Nowadays it’s so quick and easy to get into Kent. It’s a far cry from the days when you had to get across London by tube to Victoria or Charing Cross to catch an old slam-door electric train that would then take hours to rattle and shake its way through suburban South London before arriving in Kent. Now it takes just 38 minutes! Hs1 provides a taster of what Hs2 will be like (only more luxurious, the Hitachi Javelins in Hs1 are designed for moving commuters in/out of London).

The weather here in Kent’s rather mixed, to put it mildly! We’ve just passed through a veryheavy shower that lasted a couple of minutes before we burst out of the other side. I think my trusty fold-up umbrellas going to be very useful today.

20:20

I’m now on the return trip after a successful conclusion to the ACoRP judging and a chance to mooch around Kent, rediscovering old haunts and grabbing a few photos en-route. I dodged all but one shower and even managed to get pictures in the sunshine. I can’t say I’d rush back to Ashford however. There are one or two attractive old buildings but the town centre was a bit of a disappointment. It was all rather bland and uninspiring. As I had plenty of time I took a circular tour back to London via Folkestone, Dover, Ramsgate and Canterbury along one of the very few lines in the SouthEast I’d never traversed, the route from Dover to Ramsgate via Deal and Sandwich. It’s actually a pretty little line that is still controlled by manual signalboxes and even semaphore signals – a rare beast in this part of the world nowadays. Passing through Deal it’s hard to credit that this area was once the location of the Kent coalfield. The last mine at nearby Betteshanger closed in 1989, just short of the centenary of coal mining in Kent. Coal had been discovered during test bores for an earlier attempt to build a tunnel under the channel. The area has a fascinating history as the railway cuts across the bottom of the Roman fort at Richborough, just outside Sandwich. It was from here the Roman successfully conquered Britain during the reign of the Emperor Claudius. I remember cycling around this area back In the 1990s and I’d love to have the time to scan the slides I took. One day…

After a brief stop at Ramsgate to grab some pictures I headed back into London through Canterbury, another old haunt. When I lived in the East End of London our merry band would often come to attend the beer festival which was held on a farm on the outskirts of town. Fond memories!

The weather deteriorated as I returned to the capital and I fully expected to get soaked but they were confined to Kent and London escaped their attention – as did I.

It’s now 21:07 and I’ve glanced up from my screen to realise that it’s pitch black outside! The night’s are starting to draw in again…

 

 

Rolling blog: Cumbria bound

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I’m on the move again today with three different assignments to fulfil. Hopefully, the weather will play ball. The dull, heavy cloud that blighted me yesterday as given way to a variety of shapes, styles and heights, broken up by long periods of blue sky.

Right now I’m making my way from Sowerby Bridge to Preston. I changed trains at Hebden Bridge as that gave me time to check-out progress on the platform extensions and also admire the collection of old Calder Valley railway prints and photographs on display in the waiting rooms. Here’s two examples from the artist AF Tait.

The first is the rail/canal bridge known as the Whiteley Arch which is West of Todmorden

The next shows the original Brighouse station (built in the Chinese style) from the days when the town was the railhead for Bradford, seven miles away.

If you’ve never been to Hebden Bridge station it’s well worth a look. It’s probably the best preserved former Lancashire & Yorkshire station left on the network. I’ll add some pictures of it later.

Right now I’m passing through a succession of old Cotton Mill towns (Burnley, Accrington and Blackburn) along a line that once used to be full of freight trains carrying coal, the raw materials for the mills – and the finished products to market. The decline since those heady days is evident, both in the towns and the railway that serves them. Yet the railway rationalisation of the 1960s-80s is now in reverse. The decline in the towns is harder to put right, especially after a decade of Government imposed austerity. Things are set to get worse thanks to the Brexit shambles as these towns were persuaded to vote Leave (against their own interests) and many folk are living in blissful ignorance of the gathering economic storm that’s coming their way and that will hit these shores in 2019.

I’ve arrived in Blackburn the same time as a passing shower! Fortunately, we’re heading in opposite directions.

Northern Rail seem to be having a few fleet issues today. Many Calder Valley services are short-formed. I’m jammed in the vestibule of a 2-car Class 158. This service is a normally a 3 car. The Class 153s that are used to strengthen many other trains seem noticeably absent today.

Preston. 10:44.

On arrival at Preston I’ve connected seamlessly with Northern’s 10:44 to Barrow in Furness. A 2 car 158 is a bit of a let-down after the TPE 185s that used to ply the route. There’s no power sockets or wifi so it’s not much of a mobile office. However, the Conductor has done his bit to make the trip more interesting. Look what’s on the PIS!

12:18

After another seamless connection at Barrow I’m now heading up the Cunbrian coast to Whitehaven and the weather’s ideal. Heres the view as we approached Ulverston.

16:52.

I’m heading home now, but things didn’t quite go to plan! When I arrived in Whitehaven the rain Gods had arranged to co-incide and a band of rain cloud sat over the town. Luckily, it didn’t hang around so my walk along the old mineral tramway Northwards towards Parton was blessed with sunshine. I do like this area as a photo location (you’ll see why later) but Parton itself is a sad place nowadays.

Unless you knew the Cumbrian coast 40 or so years ago you can be forgiven for not knowing about its industrial heritage. Coal mining, steel-making and chemicals were the backbone of the economy. Now they’ve all gone – along with the fishing industry. Today, the area’s biggest employer is the Sellafield Nuclear plant, followed by the tourist trade.

Add to the mix a decade of austerity since 2008 and towns like Parton are suffering. They never made the transition from industry to tourism as they have little to offer.

19:09.

I’m on the move again, this time from Barrow in Furness to Preston. The journey was gorgeous. The weather’s been perfect and the views across the beaches sublime. Here’s a sample

I stopped in Barrow in Furness for an hour to explore a little as I’ve not been here for 12-13 years. Now I can see why. Barrow was (and is) a shipbuilding town but there’s a problem. Britain is no longer an Imperial power or Empire and we certainly don’t rule the waves anymore. Our Navy’s shrinking in line with our reduced place in the world, yet towns like Barrow cling to a past that’s not coming back. Now Barrow is reliant on building the ultimate baroque arsenal – Nuclear submarines. They’re great for getting a seat at international tables – even more so after Brexit as it’s all we have left – but can our enfeebled economy still afford them? I suspect Barrow’s obvious love of the past may be the harbinger of its doom. Like many old industrial towns, the walk in from the station is past numerous derelict shops and reminders of a better past, like this:

Rolling blog: Weather-watch…

Today’s original itinerary has had to be revised due to the change in the weather. The locations I’d hoped to visit are under cloud so I’m winging it a bit and falling back on my ‘to do’ list of shots I need. When you’ve got the whole of the country to cover that’s a bit of a challenge!

Right now I’m on my way to Birmingham via Crewe rather than the direct (but slow) Cross-country route via Stoke-on-Trent.

16:06

I’ve finally had time for a blog update. I’m on my way back from Brum, this time on the direct Cross-Country service. We’ve just stopped at Stafford where a young ‘family from hell’ who’d joined at New St have got off. You know the ones, disruptive and annoying kids whose parents just let them scream, a young father who seems intent on showing off in front of the entire coach with his incessent verbal diarrhoea but who doesn’t have the wit to see no-one in the coach is impressed, they’re just too British to tell him to shut up and stop talking shit – (and tell your whiny brats to behave too)!

Still, Birmingham was interesting. I popped in to have a look at the High Speed 2 (Hs2) railway construction site at Curzon St. The old church grounds that will be used as part of the site have been closed off by hoardings as archaeological excavations and exhumations are taking place between now and 2019. I wonder what they’ll reveal about Birmingham’s 19th century past?

Whilst I was there the increasingly murky skies began to spit with rain so I retreated back to New St. It was a wise move as a heavy shower arrived the same time as me! I’m hoping the weather in Manchester will be better, but looking from my train window I can see the clouds chasing us as we head North…

18:40

I abandoned my Cross-country service at Stockport. I decided to chance the weather and head off down the scenic Buxton branch to see if I could add some shots from the one or two of the pretty and well-maintained stations the line’s graced with. The sun did play ball (sort of) and I managed a couple of locations before I ran out of time and had to head back.

Rolling blog: From Hull to Helsby (via Frodsham)…

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I’m off on my travels today although my style’s being cramped by the need to be in Huddersfield for a dental appointment later. Still, I made an early start and headed over the Pennines to Manchester before catching an Arriva Trains Wales service out to Cheshire. My timing was perfect as the train I was aiming for from Piccadilly was one of ATWs loco hauled sets, providing a bit more capacity than the normal Alstom Class 175s used on the Holyhead services.

That said, the extra capacity was needed as the train was busy with lots of Mancunians heading off to the North Wales coast whilst other travellers were off to the Emerald Isle. I stayed on the train as far as the pretty little station of Helsby, the junction for the line via Ellesmere Port to Hooton. Looking back, I don’t think I’ve visited Helsby since the early 1970s. Probably 1973 or 74. In those days British Railways used to sell a ‘Merseyrover’ ticket which was priced at the princely sum of 50p for the whole weekend! I’ll have to dig one out but I think we must have ‘bunked’ the train from Ellesmere Port to Helsby as I don’t think they were valid that far. It explains why I only went once – twice might have been risking it!

Whilst Helsby station’s delightful architecturally it’s also a bit of the building site at the moment. The reason for that is the footbridge is being shot-blasted as part of an extensive refurbishment so it’s swathed in plastic sheeting. In the meantime access across the platforms is provided by two temporary footbridges. Their lightweight construction means they have to be held in place by multiple water tanks acting as ballast!

Here’s the main station building which was built out of Coursed rock-faced red sandstone in 1849 for the Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Junction Railway Company. It’s grade 2 listed. Although recently refurbished, the main part is vacant and available for letting. I was surprised to find the rest (to the left of the picture) has been occupied by a craft beer bar called Beer Heroes (see link) since 2016. Sadly, it was closed when I was there, but I’m definitely going to have to pop back in the future!

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Here’s the signal box with the footbridge beyond. The box is a London and North Western Railway Type 4 signal box dating from 1900 which is also grade 2 listed. The box retains its original 45 lever London and North Western Railway Tumbler frame.

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Here’s a shot of one of the two temporary footbridges. This one crosses the Ellesmere port lines. Not the big plastic tanks full of water which hold the lightweight structure in place! Sadly, trains on this section of line are few and far between. There’s a total of six across the morning and evening peaks between Helsby and Ellesmere Port.

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An ATW service from Manchester Airport to Llandudno worked by 175116 approaches the station past a semaphore signal guarding the line in the opposite direction.

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Unfortunately, the weather didn’t play ball as much as I’d hope it would so I moved on and headed back to Frodsham to try my luck with some other shots. If only the cloud had stayed away for this one – as an ATW Class 175 crosses the Weaver Viaduct to East of Frodsham.

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Halifax. 21:23.

It’s time to draw this one to a close. The day’s been a bit rushed but the good news is I sailed through my dental check-up for another 6 months! Now I’m enjoying a quiet night at home – emailing pictures that a magazine has requested…

As usual I’ve plenty of pictures to process and tomorrow is another day. I’ll be off on my travels again then, but I’m not sure where until I check the weather forecast first thing. Let’s see what happens in the morning.

G’night!