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It’s been another damp start to the week here in the Calder Valley with little sign of autumn sunshine, just murky low cloud and mist. It’s a great excuse to stay indooers and catch up on paperwork, picture-editing and chores in the hope I can get out and about for the reat of the week to catch-up with the changes on the Northern rail network and also farther afield as I’ve a long list of shots that I need to get for a commission…

The weekend was a chance to have a lie-in and catch up on my sleep deficit, even if Jet (our cat) had other plans by waking me up at 06:20 on Saturday morning! The little bugger wanted feeding and made a real hue and cry until I did.

The weekend wasn’t all down time. I had to finish editing the pictures from the ACoRP awards ready for Monday morning, so the moggie did me a favour in some ways as I’d got them done by Saturday breakfast-time. On Sunday I started tackling another long-standing job – scanning the 1000s of old rail slides that I have to get them onto my Zenfolio website and available for sale. The album that’s in the queue now is pictures from 2000 when the railways looked very different. I scanned a small selection of pictures from the Manchester area, a few samples of which appear below. In those days Virgin trains were all still loco-hauled as the introduction of the Pendolinos and Voyagers were still a couple of years away. First group ran the North-Western franchise and used an assortment of old BR built trains, including first generation Class 101 DMUs built by Metropolitan-Cammell back in the late 1950s – early 1960s, along with old electric units cascaded from London and the South-East in the shape of ex-Eastern region slam-door Class 305s and 309s. Apart from the liveries, very little seemed to have changed then despite several years of privatisation, but change was certainly in the offing…

On the 14th April 2000 a pair of Metro-Cammell Class 101 DMUs pass at Guide Bridge whilst working services out to New Mills. On the left is 51230 and 45056 whilst the other pair is 51201 and 54347. All four cars were built in 1958. The last handful of 101s were withdrawn in 2003.
Former ‘Clacton’ unit 309623 stands in Manchester Piccadilly on the same day. Seven of the units were brought out of storage for use in the North-West in 1994 and remained in service until later in 2000. The 309s were BRs first 1000mph capable electric units.
Also on the 14th April 2000, Fragonset Railways 47712 crosses the Stockport viaduct whilst on hire to Virgin trains. It was working the 15:36 from Manchester Piccadilly to Birmingham New St. Fragonset went bust in 2006 and the loco was sold to Direct Rail Services (DRS) who still operate the engine to this day.