Because of Tuesday’s adventure, ‘hunting’ Pacer trains I’ve had little time for blogging as I’ve been busy editing the pictures and getting them onto my Zenfolio website. You can find them in this gallery.
I realise these old BR units aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and many people won’t be shedding tears when they’re finally withdrawn, exactly the opposite in fact! – but I have a sneaking regard and affection for them as they did help save more than a few rural lines from closure. Yes, it can be argued that they were ‘cheap and nasty’, with their 4-wheel underframes and bus-based bodies (on the 142’s at least), but on jointed track and with their excellent visibility from the passenger saloon (plus their fearsome heating – ideal in the winter) they can give other – later – units a run for their money.
A good place to see and travel on the Pacers are the lines I explored yesterday – from Manchester Piccadilly to New Mills Central and Rose Hill Marple, centred on the junction of Romiley. You can see the routes on this map.
The great thing about these lines is that the half-hourly services to New Mills Central and Rose Hill Marple are worked by pairs of Pacers, whilst the service to Chinley and Sheffield will normally have at least one Pacer, along with Class 150s. Obviously, things can change depending on fleet availability, but it’s probably the busiest and most reliable Pacer haunt in the North-West. Oh, there’s another advantage – the lines are very scenic and there’s some lovely towns to visit along the way. Here’s a few pictures to show you what I mean.
Hidden from view to the right before the junction is the old Midland Railway signal box that used to control the junction. It’s looking rather sad now as it’s boarded up and ‘protected’ by palisade fencing. It also appears to be toppling back down the embankment!
Outside the station are two pubs, both serve real ale. There’s the imposing Romily Arms across the road, which is a Greene King pub, or right outside the station there’s ‘Platform One, which is a free house with a variety of real ales, food and a rather pleasant beer garden – as you can see from this picture.
After Romily I moved on to New Mills, which is graced by two stations on two different lines. The one that matters here is New Mills Central, as it’s the boundary for the Pacer service from Manchester – although some services continue on to Chinley and Sheffield. Here’s 142016 rounding the curve and getting drowned by lineside vegetation as it passes the turnback siding before calling at the station en-route to Sheffield.
Here’s a gratuitous blast from the past. New Mills Central back in April 2000! The station was a lot less inviting in those days, with just a primitive brick shelter on the Sheffield bound platform. Old Metro-Cammell Class 101 DMUs operated the service in those days. The L835 number on the cab front gives away the fact this one had originally been a 3-car unit based at Reading on the Western Region before having the trailer car sent for scrap and being transferred to Manchester Longsight. It only lasted another year in service before being withdrawn.
How things have changed in 18 years! The brick shelter’s been replaced, as have the seats and lighting. The station now has information screens, bins and planters. The surface of the platform’s been cleaned and a gritting bin provided. It’s altogether a brighter place. Notice there’s also far less oil in the 4 foot since the old DMU’s have gone…
Here’s 142016 pulling away from New Mills and threading the narrow strip of railway sandwiched between the cliff to the left and the River Goyt below to the right. The unit’s about to enter the 123 yard long New Mill tunnel. The abandoned bore to the left once carried the branch to Hayfield. This was a late closure, happening on the 5th January 1970. Nowadays it would have been a useful commuter link. Notice the train shaped bush to the left of the picture. Network Rail really do need to do some lineside clearances around here!
Here’s another blast from the past, taken above the tunnels back in 2002 as Pacer 142003 arrives from Sheffield. As you can see, it’s rather a photogenic location. Below the railway along the edge of the river is a Millenium walk that was opened in (surprise surprise) 2000.
The town of New Mills is a pretty little town worth a visit in its own right. On the edge of the Peak District, it has a variety of pubs, shops and restaurants. You can learn more about what the town and area have to offer here.
So, if you’re after a chance to travel on or see the Pacers before they go, and enjoy some lovely countryside (and a pub or café or two). Why not try the line to New Mills?
Oh, before I go I should mention that the branch line to Rose Hill Marple is worth a trip too. I’ve not explored the town but the station’s a marvellous example of what station friends groups can achieve. Here’s a view of the station on July 27th, with a pair of Pacers at the single platform. Look how colourful and well looked after the place is.
Compare today with this view taken on a rainy 14th April 2000. Look how bare and uninviting the place is.
Here’s the tiny waiting room, which contains a book exchange as well as artwork, old drawings and memorabilia.
The Pacers may well all be gone by 2020, but their memory will linger on at Rose Hill due to this bird-box on the side of the station building!
If you want to learn more about the friends of Rose Hill station, here’s a link to their website. One last thing to mention. All the routes described can be reached on a Greater Manchester Rail Ranger day ticket which costs £6.80.