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Humble apologies for the lack of blogging recently but I’ve been taking advantage of the country slooowwlllyy opening up to get some work done away from the confines of the Calder Valley. Much as a I love the Pennines and home it’s so refreshing to be able to get out and about again, visit places old and new – and start to see what’s being happening whilst we’ve all been constrained.

In order to do that I’ve been popping over to Merseyside most days (bar today) in order to experience life in the big city and see what’s been happening with the rail network whilst we’ve all been doing our Rip Van Winkle impressions. I’ll blog about some of my experiences in greater detail when I have the time as my wanderings have given me a huge amount of material – and pictures. The pictures are slowly starting to appear on my Zenfolio website in the ‘recent’ section but there’s a few tasters in this blog.

I’d hoped to have been able to capture shots of the new Stadler built trains that will be taking over Merseyrail services from two of the oldest train fleets in the UK – the BR built Class 507/508 fleets. There’s a blog looking back over their lives and times here.

Sadly, the only 777s I could find on the network were a handful confined to barracks at Kirkdale, as you can see here.

Four of the new Stadler built Class 777s grounded at Kirkdale.

Also at Kirkdale was one of the older Class 508 units which had had an ‘interesting’ time at Kirkby when it tried to make its way to Wigan, despite the lack of track, electrification or that there was a chunk of platform in the way. In my day a ‘Kirkby kiss’ was a metaphor for a head-butt. Here’s the Merseyrail unit that tried to recreate the old tradition with a nice little board in front of it explaining what it failed to do…

– and failing at 42mph too…

My wanderings took me over the river to Birkenhead and the Wirral exploring some areas that I hadn’t visited for forty years, which was a bit of an eye-opener. To start with, here’s another ‘new’ train that’s having a few teething problems. OK, I admit, it’s not really new at all, this is ex-London Underground D78 stock converted to diesel power to be used on the Bidston – Wrexham line. The Vivarail conversions cover a variety of traction packages and are actually a clever idea.

As a former East Londoner I may very well have travelled on this old District Line train when it ambled its way across London from East to West. I’m looking forward to see how they work far away from London in the Welsh borders.

Whilst visiting Birkenhead North I was drawn to the dereliction of the old docks which once had an extensive rail network – although that was already well in decline during my last visit in 1981! Now the area looks like a backdrop for a ‘ColdwarSteve’ montage. I spotted this which summed things up for me. Derelict shipyards and docks occupied by a pair of mothballed Royal Navy ships and – what the hell’s an old Blackpool tram doing there?

I’ve got a whole host of pictures to finish editing yet which will appear in another blog. Tomorrow I have a couple of ‘Zoom’ meetings but hope to get them done before then. After that, there’s a lot more blogging to come…

I’ve a favour to ask…
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Thank you!