Having pretty much been staring at four walls all week (OK, and looking at lots of colourful pictures, but that’s not the point) I’ve made an escape from the office to try and get some contemporary library shots. Unfortunately the weather’s nowhere near as nice as last Friday, exactly the opposite in fact. We’ve low, grey clouds and drizzle, so I’m leaving the confines of the Calder valley to head West for a change of scenery and (hopefully) weather.
After strolling down to Sowerby Bridge station I was just in time to join some of the local rail enthusiasts who were waiting for a pair of DRS Class 20s which were heading to York in readiness for a railtour, which nade a nice change. As I was heading for Preston and the Blackpool North services have stopped calling at Sowerby Bridge I caught a late running Chester service to Hebden Bridge to make the connection. Fortunately, the Chester wasn’t so late that the Blackpool was put out ahead or I’d have been kicking my heels for another hour.
I’m now on a rather careworn and unrefurbished 2-car Class 158, having drawn the short-straw rather than having a new Class 195 on the route.
We’re now at Accrington, an archetypal former mill town with its rows of terraces climbing up the hillsides the the railway gives a fantastic view of as it bisects the town on a viaduct. I keep meaning to take a day out here to explore as there must be several different shots to be had of the juxtaposition of town and railway. Now the new trains are more common this is the year to make the idea a reality.
I’m now on my way from Wigan North Western after leaving Preston to continue my way West. Preston was interesting as the forms of traction really have changed in just a few months. Last year it was a nexus for driver training on Northern’s new trains. Those runs till appear, but now many of the new trains are in service, having taken over from the old BR units that were a staple of the Northern fleet. I’d hooed I might have found some of the new TPE sets in service but it wasn’t to be. Nir did I bag any Pendolinos in Avanti livery but hey ho…
Instead, I’m heading to Liverpool in search of photo-opportunities there as the weather seems to be picking up. I’m currently on one of Northern’s new 3-car Class 331s which have taken over services on this route. They’re a far cry from the pedestrian diesel units that worked the line untol it was electrified. These are old haunts for me as I grew up not far away in Southport and spent many a weekend travelling these routes back in the early 1970s. How things have changed!
Liverpool Lime St was interesting. The station’s changed so much since I first got to know it in the early 1970s. Now it’s busier than ever with new trains, new platforms and new services, like the Transport for Wales route to Chester via the long-abandoned Halton curve. It’s cleaner too as many of the services tgat used diesel units are now electrically operated. That said, there’s a bit of an odd throwback in the shape of the Trans Pennine service I caught to head back East. 5 coaches hauled (or pushed) by a Class 68 diesel locomotive! I’m not going to be too critical as the extended sets mean that I can get a seat unlike on the 3-car 185s. They’re comfortable vehicles too.
Sadly I had to bail out at Manchester Victoria where I transferred to a Northern service to get me back to Sowerby Bridge. The 3-car Class 158 I’m on now is rammed. They always are as far as Rochdale but with this being a Friday we’ve also got a complement of hen parties and other folk heading for nights out along the route.