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It’s a beautifully sunny day here in West Yorkshire, so after being cooped up in the office since Monday I’m venturing out and heading West to give myself and the camera an outing and make the most of the autumn light. I’ve also arranged to meet a friend who’s over from Ireland and pick up some exotic food shopping from Manchester’s Chinatown as I can’t get the ingredients in our neck of the woods. I’m hunting Kecap Manis, the Indonesian/Malaysian sweet soy sauce which is a staple of Asian cousine in that part of the world. Anyone who’s been to Indonesia and eaten locally will immediately know what I’m talking about. The little plastic bottles of sweet chili sauce and Kecap Manis are ever-present on the tables of Rumah Makan’s (food stalls) across the archipelago.

Right now I’m sitting on the 10:44 from Halifax to Manchester which is made up of a pair of CAF built 195/0s. It’s busy, but not overly so. Passenger numbers on the railways have really bounced back, especially leisure travel. Commuter and business numbers are still down but climbing. The bounce-back has confounded the sceptics who predicted a much slower recovery. I’ll be interested to see how busy Manchester’s main stations are later today…

Watch out for regular updates and pictures throughout the day…


Sorry! I take back (with embarrassment) what I said about regular updates. I’m now on my way home from Manchester after a really good day but one that went anything but to plan. I’d intended to head West to get pictures of the Porterbrook leasing Class 769 bi-mode trains and also get a few shots of the new Stadler Class 777s which are on test runs before being introduced into service on Merseyrail. But today was ‘one of those days’. For once I had company on my quest. I met an Irish friend who’s over in the UK for a break but who’d never explored the routes I was looking at, so it seemed like a natural synergy. Having hooked up at Victoria we headed West on a pair of 156s to Wigan with the intent of catching up with the 769s there. It wasn’t to be. On arrival we checked ‘Real ‘Time Trains’ only to find the bi-modes were few and far between and certainly not on any train we were waiting for. There was only one thing for it. Adjourn to the pub and plan..

The Swan and Railway is a great refurbished multi-room pub that’s kept all its original features. It also has a cracking range of real ales. You can find it opposite North Western railway station or two minutes down the hill from Wallgate station.

Admitting defeat when it came to finding Class 769s we moved on via old rattletraps (aka Class 150s) to Burscough Bridge where we stopped for a pint at the Hop Vine, a brew pub that’s well worth a visit. We’d held out a forlorn hope that we might find a 769 going our way, but it wasn’t to be. However, our cunning plan was that we’d arrive at our next destination (Southport) ahead of a test run of one of Merseyrail’s new Stadler built Class 777s. Like most plans that involve test trains, it soon fell apart as the train path wasn’t activated. So, yet again, there was only one thing to do – adjourn to the pub after a lightening tour of the town.

(to be continued)…