*New pictures were added on 25th December 2021*
Yet another old British Railways fleet is approaching the end of its life, this time on Merseyside, where the Class 507/508 fleets will soon be replaced by new trains from Stadler in Switzerland.
The Class 507s were built to work on Merseyside, replacing the LMS built Class 502 units on Northern line services from Liverpool to Southport, Ormskirk and Kirkby. 33 sets were built by BREL in York in 1978 followed by 43 Class 508s in 1979-80. Originally, the 508s were built as 4-car units for the Southern region of BR and operated out of Waterloo on former LSWR routes. Between 1982-84 they were reduced to 3 car units and transferred to Merseyside to replace the former LMS Class 503 units that operated Wirral line services to New Brighton, Rock Ferry and West Kirby. Nowadays the two fleets are interchangeable and work both sides of the Mersey. They’re the oldest EMUs working on the UK mainland after the Class 313s.
Over the years a number of the units have been stored or withdrawn as surplus to requirements. Just 27 of the original 43 508s work on Merseyside but only one 507 (507022) has been withdrawn.
Here’s a look back at their lives and times.
The first of the fleets, 507001, arrives at Liverpool Central on the Wirral lines on the 24th April 2008.
On the 30th May 2008 507002 comes off the double track section to run into the single platform at Ormskirk.
A flashback to BR days when the 507s were in original condition (note the original light clusters). 507007 calls at Hall Rd whilst working a service to Southport. To the left is the old Hall Rd EMU depot which closed in 1997 and was demolished in 2009. Picture taken 15th June 1991.
Fast-forward to the 6th August 2012 and the same unit (507007) waits to leave New Brighton on the Wirral with a service back to Liverpool.
On the 13th May 2010 507009 drops off passengers at Cressington on the former Cheshire Lines route through to Garston (now known as Liverpool South Parkway) was only electrified in 1978.
At the end of the 1990s a number of 507s ended up in store. Here’s 507010 at West Kirby on the 9th August 1999.
507013 leads a sister unit into Formby station on the Liverpool – Southport line en-route to Hunts Cross on the 10th July 2018
507014 approaches journeys end at Southport. This short section of line from Birkdale has four level crossings on it! Picture taken on the 26th April 2016.
507015 stabled in the much reduced sidings at Southport on the 11th February 2006. In the past these had been used to store several of the class. They’re still used, but nowhere near as much as they used to be. In the 1970’s they’d have been full of EMUs at the weekend whilst the right-hand sidings would have been a mass of 1st generation DMUs.
Passengers flood off 507016 at Chester on the 18th July 2007. This was another later addition to and expansion of the Merseyrail network. The 3rd rail arrived here in 1993.
Back in Arriva days on the 30th October 2002 507017 arrives at Birkenhead Central with a service from Chester. Stabled in the yard is 507001. By this date the shed was disused, hence the bushes growing up through the tracks.
On the 26th July 2013 507025 approaches Kirkdale station from Ormskirk. The spur to the left is the line into the depot. The abandoned formation to the right is from the days when this section of line was four-tracked. The lines were closed in the 1970s.
507029 is just about to arrive at the end of the line at Hunts Cross. This section of line was part of the Old Cheshire Lines network. The Merseyrail system was extended out here from Garston in 1983. Picture taken 19th April 2012.
507031 at the end of the Merseyrail network at Ormskirk on the 16th October 2008. Behind the train the line is severed by buffer stops but it continues on to Preston.
Here’s a selection of shots of the Class 508s on Merseyside, in store and working elsewhere.
On the 9th August 1999 508102 (wearing Regional Railways branding)sits in store at West Kirby. In 2003 this was one of three units converted for use on the Watford DC lines. It was renumbered 508301. After being displaced by the Class 378s it was withdrawn and scrapped at Eastleigh in 2013.
508104 leaves Liverpool Limes ST down the single bore tunnel whilst working a Wirral line service on the 28th June 2017
508106 in store at MOD Kineton on the 29th July 1995. In 1996 this unit found a new lease of life as 508203 and worked for South Eastern Trains in Kent until 2006 when it was stored once more. It was finally cut up at Eastleigh in 2013
Also in store at MOD Kineton on the same date as the previous picture was 508105. This unit also went to SET and became 508202. It was scrapped at Eastleigh in 2013.
On the 6th October 2016, 508111 arrives at Moorfields to work the 15.11 to Chester. This unit carries unique ‘Beatles’ vinyls.
508127 calls at Bidston, the junction for the DMU service along the Welsh borders to Wrexham on the 4th July 2018.
From L-R 507003. 508127 and 508126 are stabled at Kirkdale depot on the 26th July 2013
508139 leaves the subterranean station at Green Lane, Birkenhead, heading for Liverpool on the 28th June 2017
On the 25th November 1995 units 508129 (left) and 508136 were in store at Southport.
The last of the class, 508143, approaches journeys end at West Kirby on the 6th August 2012.
64664 in use as a translator vehicle for Arlington fleet services, seen at Doncaster on the 18th May 2017. This was originally 508116 before going to SET where it became 508207.
The first unit to be sent for scrap in recent years was unit 507006 which was involved in an accident at Kirkby when it failed to stop and crashed through the buffer-stop in a rather spectacular fashion. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries. The unit was dumped at Kirkdale for several months before being towed away.
Here’s the changing face of Merseyrail. On the 17th December 2021 508128 working a service to Southport passes one of its replacments as Stadler unit 777016 was running between Southport and Kirkdale on a mileage accumulation run. The difference in design between the two units is quite marked.
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