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This morning I woke up to the welcome news that Johnson’s Tories had been humiliated in the North Shropshire by-election, losing a seat they considered theirs as a right to hold to the Lib-Dems. It was a massive 34% swing that saw the previous Tory majority of 23,000 become a Lib-Dem one of nearly 6000. One can only hope that this is the start of a shift that will see UK voters reject the kakistocracy we’ve had in charge ever since Johnson was elected in 2019. But I’m not going to hold my breath…

As if to celebrate the news the weather decided to grace the Calder Valley with sunshine. Well, the tops of the valley anyway, the lower levels have been hidden in mist for most of the day! Undeterred I decided to have a day out and head West with the camera, escaping the confines of the office now my computer problems have been resolved. If only every problem was as easily solved by a phone call!

My day out saw me heading West to old haunts, in this case Wigan, Southport and Liverpool where the weather held and sunshine reigned. I needed some pictures of the ‘new’ Class 769s (former electric trains converted to bi-modes with the addition of a diesel engine) and also the brand-new Class 777s for Merseyrail which are being built by the Swiss company Stadler. For once my luck held and I managed to complete my quest. 769s were running services to Southport and when I arrived one of the new 777s was sitting in the station whilst the crew took a break. I had enough time to grab shots of it at the seaside resort before getting ahead of it to take pictures at Hall Road on the edge of Liverpool. Sadly, by that point the sun had been overwhelmed by cloud. Even so, I managed a reasonable shot of old and new together, which is today’s picture of the day.

On the left is a Class 508 unit which was built by BR at York between 1979-80. These units were built as 4-car trains for the former Southern region and operated out of London Waterloo for several years before being reduced to 3-car trains and sent North to Merseyside in 1984-85 to replace the Class 503 electric trains which had been built by the London Midland and Scottish railway in 1938. Now it’s their turn to be replaced by the Class 777s one of which is seen here on a test run from Southport to Sandhills in Liverpool. 52 of these new units are on order and will start entering into passenger service sometime in 2022. There’s around half a century of the evolution of train design captured in that picture. I remember the 507-508 taking over services on this line over 40 years ago. Barring medical miracles I don’t expect to be around in another 40-plus years to see what replaces the 777s! Still, never say never…

If you want to look back at the Merseyrail system over the years you can find pictures going back to the 1990s in two different galleries on my Zenfolio website. Images from 2003 to the present day can be found here. Shots taken when the franchise was run by Arriva (from 1997-2003) can be found here – and pictures from the British Rail era can be found in this gallery, but you’ll have to do a lot of searching!

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