I’m taking advantage of the glorious sunshine to get some rail pictures for a client today – I had planned to visit a line I’ve not been on for some time – the South Fylde line to Blackpool South. It’s a shadow of its former self compared to the glory days of the Edwardian era when tens of thousands would travel to the seaside town by train. Then mills across the North would shut down for the annual Wakes week with people travelling en-masse on excusion trains dispatched from stations across Lancashire and Yorkshire. Now it’s a glorified siding that branches off the main line to Blackpool North at Kirkham and Wesham, but it’s still a useful line used by a Pacer train shuttle service from Colne (another much truncated line). Sadly, due to problems with delayed electrification and a shortage of rolling stock, the service isn’t operated by trains today – only buses. So I’ve opted for plan B. I’m heading for the Windermere branch!
Right now I’m on a Northern service from Halifax to Preston. The Blackpool lines only recently reopened after being electrified. My train would normally run through to Blackpool but a combination of factors mean many services are replaced by buses from Preston, including this one.
Plan B meant changing to a Virgin Trains Pendolino to Lancaster. Then picking up a Trans-Pennine service to Oxenholme. Icould have caught the TPE srvice at Preston but those 4 car trains are always rammed, whilst the VT service was a 9 car Pendolino, giving me a bit more space. Here it is pulling in. A repainted 390047…
True enough, when I caught the TPE at Lancaster,I ended up sitting on the vestibule floor!
I’m retracing my steps towards Halifax after an enjoyable day exploring a railway I’ve rarely visited. It’s been a trip made even more fun by fab weather and old-fashioned loco-hauled trains.
My first surprise was when the TPE guard annouced “change at Oxenholme for the West Coast Railways service to Windermere”. I wadn’t expecting that, but good on them for recognising it was something unusual. As we were late I had to sprint across the platform to make the train, which was made up of 3 old Mk2 coaches in WCR livery topped and tailed by a pair of ex-Virgin Trains “Thunderbirds” (57314 and 57316 for the number crunchers). The train was packed so I ended up stood in a vestibule -right next to someone I knew from the rail industry who was having a ‘jolly’!
We had a real catch-up about mutual friends and what they were all up to nowadays as we made our way to Staveley where I decamped to look for a suitable lineside location to get pictures. Sadly, like many lines, vegetation has encroached to choke off many opportunities. This is the problem when you don’t know a line well and haven’t had time to do much research!
In the end I decided to spend more time exploring than photographing and headed back as far as Burneside where I found the remains of a freight branch that used to serve 3 local paper mills. Only a short section of track is intact but it’s a suprising survivor in this day and age. I never even knew it existed, but a few minutes on the internet threw up this Wikipedia page.
After an amble around the area & noting locations for a future visit I had a run down to Windermere before heading back to Kendal to get a few more pictures like this one.