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I had planned to be working from home today, then two things happened. The sun shone and (after many trials and tribulations) electric trains did finally start running to Bolton in normal service – so how could I resist?

I’ll do a separate blog on the story of Bolton electrification as I have many archive shots of the work underway. This rolling blog will simply describe today’s foray. Right now I’m on the slightly late-running 11:22 from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester Victoria which is being worked by a Class 153/156 combo. As it’s post Peak it’s actually quite a quiet train, for now anyway…

Today’s going to be a busy one. Right now there’s a major conference underway which is discussing the future of transport in the North, including Northern Powerhouse Rail and Hs2. There’s no doubt that the vast majority of Northern politicians. businesses and business groups are determined to push for expansion and investment in transport for the North, but at the same time a small bunch of Londoncentric Tory right-wingers are launching their latest attempt to influence Government policy by attempting another hatchet job on Hs2, a project they hate as it doesn’t fit in with their political world view. Tonight Channel 4 will screen a Dispatches programme fronted by one of the band of right-wingers. It has the entirely neutral title of “Hs2, the great train robbery?” I’ll be blogging about it in detail after it’s been aired and I’ve had a chance to see it, so watch this space…


A quick hop across platforms at Victoria has enabled me to catch the 12:08 to Blackburn which worked by ex-GWR units. I’m in another 153, which allows a direct comparison of interior. The first shot is Northern’s 153363, the second is ex-GWR 153380.


Whilst in Bolton I had time for a wander and noticed this statue to one of Bolton’s more famous residents.



With the sun sinking I’m making my way back from Horwich Parkway, which was my last port of call. Today’s been another cat and mouse contest with the sun but I’ve managed to get a few reasonable shots. Here’s 319361 working a Buckshaw Parkway – Manchester Victoria service at Bolton.


A number of different diesel diagrams went over to electric on this first day. 319s worked a Manchester Victoria – Buckshaw Parkway service and also Manchester Airport – Blackpool North and Airport-Preston. A pair of 156s shared the Buckshaw Parkway services, so the introduction of electric services is obviously phased. No doubt more will go over to 319s soon. Here’s another shot from Bolton.

DG318773. 319368. Bolton. 11.2.19crop

If you want to see a few more shots I’ve added them to this gallery on my Zenfolio website.


I’m currently bouncing my way back to Yorkshire by Pacer (The 16:37 Victoria-Leeds. Today’s electric launch must be the beginning of the end for these units now. They were already living on borrowed time – half the fleet should have gone by May 2019 yet all remain in service at the moment. Soon, sights like this will be a thing of the past.

To add to the fun of the journey, this car has a wheelflat, so there’s ‘thud, thud, thud’ to complement the usual Pacer noises!



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