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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.

DG305801

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

DG305805

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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