Northern’s new CAF built Class 195s have entered passenger service through the Calder Valley today on the routes from Leeds – Chester and Leeds – Manchester Victoria. Needless to say, I’m out with the camera to capture pictures of this important milestone. It’s the culmination of improvements to the line that have seen the route resignalled, linespeeds increased and platforms lengthened.
I’ll be adding pictures throughout the day. Here’s the first as 195123 picks up passengers at Sowerby Bridge whilst working the 10:22 from Chester to Leeds.
I’ve caught a late-running Chester service which is worked by 195110. These trains are certainly a step-change to the old BR built units we’ve been used to since the 1980s! They’ve far superior acceleration and braking, not to mention all the facilities that passengers have come to expect nowadays, such as power sockets and free wifi. They’ve also got far more seating bays with tables.
Sorry folks, It didn’t turn out to be much of a rolling blog as I was too busy taking pictures! Since I got home earlier this evening I’ve been busy editing them, so here’s a small selection. You can find the full gallery here on my Zenfolio website.
For the number crunchers, the list of units seen in passenger service is as follows. Two car 195002 and 195007. Three car 195103. 195110. 195111. 195119. 195121 and 195123.
I’m out and about slightly later today as I was up and in the office at 06:30 this morning, sipping coffee whilst I edited yesterdays pictures and got them to the client before start of play so that they could make their selection today.
Whilst doing so I caught up on the days news. Apart from the usual Brexitshambles, HS2’s in the public eye as the Oakervee review is allegedly going to be published ln the 19th. What’s interesting is to see how much public support there is for the project. The North’s politicians and business leaders like the CBI and BCC are queuing up to say that any downgrading of the project would be very damaging. In contrast, the dwindling opposition to HS2 is very muted. The remaining campaign group, StopHs2, have neither the money or the recourses to do much. Their ‘Campaign Director’, Joe Rukin spends most of his time playing “Swampy” with the tiny bunch of protestors in woodland camps on the phase 1 route. The penny slowly serms to be dropping that Phase 1 isn’t going to be cancelled and the carrying over of the phase 2a Hybrid Bill onto this Parliaments agenda is sending signals that no-one expects that to be shelved either. The only questions are over phase 2b – hence all the lobbying from the North’s powerful lobby.
There are a few dissenting voices in the North. What’s mildly depressing is the way some here still play regional and party-political politics with a chip on their shoulder about London. They simply won’t accept that HS2 isn’t all about the capital. The positive thing is they’re very much in a minority and have no credible alternatives to offer, just obfuscation and yet more delays.
As a Lancastrian who lived in London for 25 years before moving to Yorkshire I find this envy and resentment of the South both frustrating and (ultimately) self-destructive. It’s daft, not least because many of us “Southerners” were former Northerners who made the most of the opportunities London and the South-East had to offer, rather than sticking with Northern parochialism and the feeling that the North’s “hard done by”.
A case in point was a discussion I had with someone complaining about the fact HS2 tracks wouldn’t reach Newcastle or Teeside. I asked him to make a positive case why they should. All I got back was resentments and political conspiracy theories. Now there’s no doubt the North has been ignored sometimes, but when all it does is moan and say “it’s not fair” it’s easy to dismiss. Concrete evidence of WHY investment in the North should be made and the benefits it’ll bring are harder to ignore, which is why it’s great to see the North’s political leaders embracing the opportunities “Northern Powerhouse” can bring rather than dismissing it as a political stunt. If only others did…
The frustrating thing is there are many inspirational people in the North and some fantastic things happening. If only we could ditch this Southern envy!
I scribbled the above whilst changing trains at Hebden Bridge. I’m now aboard a 2-car Class 150 heading to Victoria to see some of the Northern Rail investment all too often ignored by some Northern politicians because the ‘wrong’ political party wrote the cheques for it! I’ll also be popping back to Piccadilly for a couple of hours to (hooefully) add a few more assistence pictures to the collection. Watch this space…
Passing through Manchester Victoria I couldn’t help noticing how railway enthusiasts have returned to it’s platforms nowadays. A small group of them huddled at the East end of platform 5. For many years few bothered due to the steady diet of DMUs with an occaisional freight. Now, with a resurgence of freight and loco-hauled passenger services, plus new Nova 2 units snd Class 195s, it’s become a place to visit again!
As the weather changes, so do plans. The miserabke weather we’ve been having over the past few days has given way to sunshine and the opportunity to catch some outdoor shots, so Piccadilly’s been postponed. Instead I’ve been getting shots around Manchesters rapidly changing city skyline (pix will be added later). Right now i’m bouncing my way to Wigan aboard an ostensibly ‘stored’ Northern Pacer (142046 for the number crunchers) which has presumably been resurrected to make uo a stock shortage. No doubt the picture will soon change again. Next week the new Class 195s are due to take over Leeds-Chester services, which (in theory) allows more Pacers to bite the dust before the December deadline.
As we approached Bolton I noticed that the huge red brick “Beehive Mill” that’s adjacent to the line and been wmpty for years is in the process of being flattened. Cotton mills were an important part of Lancashire’s past, but they’ve no part in its future. Hopefully in 2019 the site can be put to better use.
I’m taking a short break in Wigan to get some sonshine shots before heading back across the Pennines. Here’s my chariot, which is looking well for a ‘stored’ train!
What a difference a few hours can nake to the weather! As I headed home through Manchester the sun was beating through cloudless skies and turning rail tracks into golden ribbons. I couldn’t resist stopping off at Victoria for an hour to capture some scenes and the opportunity presented by a flag-waving lookout stationed at just the right place on a platform end. I’ll ad some pictures later. Right now i’m on a busy Class 156 heading to Leeds via Brighouse as the 17:37 off Victoria.
Today’s start is a little earlier than yesterday. There’s been no trees down on the road either! Instead I’ve strolled the mile and a half into Halifax and caught Northern’s 08:42 to Leeds. I’m being spoiled today as it’s worked by a pair of 2 car 158s with my unit being one of the fully refurbished ones that has the new style seats and USB sockets – luxury!
The train’s surprisingly quiet but I’m not sure if this is due to the fact it’s still the holiday season or the fact we’ve a 25-50% increase in capacity compared to what we would have had 2-3 years ago. Thos who like to snipe at railways in the North (yes, you Andy Burnham) would do well to remember just how many new or cascaded vehicles Northern’s been able to add to its fleet over the past few years.
I’m en-route to Leeds as I’m returning to London for part of the day to finish a commission, meet up with a colleague and also bag a few more library shots before heading North again to hopefully catch up with another friend and colleague in York, so I’ve a busy schedule. Let’s see how the day goes…
The 08:45 Leeds to Kings Cross Azuma is currently streaking across the Cambridgeshire fens at 123mph with me aboard. We’re 10 minutes late due to congestion at Doncaster earlier. Despite that, it’s been an excellent trip so far and the weather’s looking better than yesterday as there’s far less cloud around. I have to say, I really do like the performance of these Azuma’s. Not only to they go like stink but the ride is really good – especially when you’re sitting swiping at a laptop keyboard. My ‘spull chucker’ doesn’t get half the exercise it would if I was on a Mk3-4 set!
After a really spirited run where our driver managed to claw a few minutes back we’re in the tunnels approaching Kings Cross. It’s time for me to leg it across London again..
Having bitten the Buckinghan Palace cherry twice I made my circituitous way over to Liverpool St via walking to Charing Cross, train to London Bridge then a stroll across the river and through the city. The view across the Thames was worth it!
I’m now North of Peterborough after a day which didn’t plan out quite as expected, but was fun nonetheless! After wandering over to Liverpool St I met up with an old friend who’d just flown back into the UK from Croatia via ‘London Saarfend’ airport. So, naturally I welcomed him back to the tin-pot dictatorship formerly known as the UK and we promptly drowned our sorrows in a local pub named after Lord Aberconway, the last Chairman of the Metropolitan Railway.
After a few beers we parted company and I retraced my way North much in the way that I did yesterday. So much so that I’m now on LNER’s 17:55 from Stevenage to Harrogate HST, and frankly, it’s a nightmare compared to the Azuma I came down on. It’s taken me twice as long to type this as the bloody thing’s performing like a yacht in a force 10. Trying to type is like playing darts, you hope to hit the relevant key but the chances are minimal.
That’s the end of this rolling blog folks, I’m now back at home after a long but fun packed day. There’ll be no rolling blog tomorrow as I’m based at home, but expect a few pictures and commentary to appear. If I have time I’ll add some historical stuff too. G’night!
I’m on the rails again. This time judging three stations across Yorkshire for the ACoRP awards. After the fun and games we had last week because of the heat, today could be problematic for a different reason. We’ve had torrential rain overnight and there’s more to come. When I walked down to Sowerby Bridge station this morning I did so along roads that were full of debris washed down from some of the steeper roads, which had been transformed into waterfalls. Crossing the river Calder I could see it was way above it’s normal level, although nowhere near its worst. In 2015 it was so high it flooded the lower level of the building you can see to the left of this picture.
Arriving at the station I walked straight on to a very late running 07:00 to Leeds, which was 41 minutes down after being delayed in the Walsden area due to flooding. This is a regular occurrence in the area due to a stream that runs under the line just by the station.
I’m now waiting for the 08:48 from Leeds to Hull which is being delayed by flooding in the Stalybridge area. It’s currently 12 minutes kate, putting our 15 mins connection in peril. Not a good start to the day!
We were meant to be at Driffield on the Yorkshire coast line 10 mins ago but we did miss our connection in Hull as we were 27 mins late. We’re now on the following service, leaving us 30 mins down. Luckily(due to the vagaries of the service) we’ll still have plenty of time to do our tour.
First visit done, we’re now heading back to Hull from Driffield. Here’s a historic picture displayed on the station. It shows WW1 soldiers on the same spot we were stood, ready to go off to a war many of them never returned from
Driffield’s rather attractive. Here’s the old canal basin which is just 3 mins walk from the station
The weather’s changed and I’m rather overdressed for the rapid rise in temperature now the sun’s appeared! We’ve left Bingley and headed into Bradford and walked across the city from Forater Sq to Interchange. There’s still residual delays, which means we’ll arrive in Mytholmroyd at the right time – just on the wrong train!
The day’s done and I’m back at Sowerby Bridge, having a celebratory pint outside the Jubilee Refreshment rooms on the station before walking home. It’s a beautiful evening and such a contrast to this morning!
It’s slightly later than planned due to circumstances beyond my control, but I’m leaving a wet and miserable Calder Valley behind for a night out with friends in Liverpool. Dawn, plus Fran and Aubrey are already there and I’m catching up. Due to timings it’s not the speediest of journeys as it involves several changes of train, which is why I’m typing this now on the platform of Hebden Bridge station after arriving from Sowerby Bridge on a Blackpool service. Still, it could be worse. In the background I can hear a band playing. I’m assuming there’s an open air gig in the nearby park, which must be well soggy! I’m glad I’m not there – even tho’ the forecast for Liverpool’s no better. I’m off to see some bands too – but in a drier place. Our friends love Liverpool and have persuaded us to join them in seeing a Beatles tribute act in the resurrected ‘Cavern Club’. I’ve fond memories of the area in the 1970s when a club across the road called ‘Eric’s’ was in business. You’d get a real mix of bands in those days, from punk to old hippy bands like ‘Gong’.
We’ve booked a hotel just round the corner as we’re making the most of the weekend. All I need now is for this train to turn up…
A single Northern Class 156 turned up (almost) on time at 16:07 to ferry me across the Pennines, we’re just about to arrive in Victoria now. My fellow passengers consist of families returning home after a day out and younger folk heading out for a night in the cities clubs and pubs – although there’s not that many of them as it’s too early!
Victoria was an even more surreal experience than on a normal Saturday due to the number of young women and girls dressed as cats or book and film characters. I spotted ‘Wonder Woman’ and Rapunzel, amongst others. I’m assuming that some event’son rather than this being some bizarre co-incidence!Whilst I was waiting for the liverpool service a pair of ex-West Midlands trains Class 150s put in an appearance on a StalyVegas – sorry, Stalybridge service.
I’m currently on a TPE 185 to Lime St. It’s another train carrying a mix of families and revellers enjoying different Saturday experiences.
No time for blogging right now, there’s too much going on! Our night out has coincided with Liverpool gay pride and the city is absolutely buzzing!
We had a fab night listening to songs from the ‘fab 4’ which brought back a huge amount of happy memories as well as one or two sad ones. The Cavern was far better than I expected. It could have been touristy and tacky but it was anything but. Yes, there were plenty of tourists but they were there because they loved the Beatles music. It made for a great atmosphere.
The new Northern Rail trains have been in a long time in the pipeline and their introduction’s been delayed by six months, but this weekend the new CAF built Class 195s have actually arrived – even if it is on text runs. On Saturday and Sunday the trains are on test between Bradford Interchange and Todmorden, where they reverse to head back East. If you want to see them on Sunday, here’s a link to the times they should be running at.
I managed to catch a couple of the runs today as Dawn and I were enjoying a leisurely day in the valley so nipped out to Sowerby Bridge. Here’s 195110 returning to Bradford Interchange after a run out to Todmordon.
I’m really looking forward to these units entering service on the Calder Valley route in the next couple of months as they’re a step-change to anything we’ve had before. Here’s a look at the interiors.
So, if you have time to nip out tomorrow, enjoy the sight of our new trains!
07:29.It’s a beautiful morning in the Calder Valley today, full of sunshine and feeling like summer, but I’m already Westward bound on the 07:21 to Chester as far as Manchester. Unlike earlier in the week when this was a rammed 2 car Pacer, today it’s a 3 car Class 150+153 lash-up so there was no problem getting a seat and no-one’s been left behind anywhere.Whilst I was waiting at Sowerby Bridge a unique service passed in the opposite direction. Grand Central work an early morning service from Hebden Bridge to Leeds on behalf of Northern Rail. This calls at Sowerby at 07:17.
I’ve always wanted to get a shot of this but didn’t fancy wandering down to Sowerby Bridge at 7am unless I really had to!
We’ve just left Todmorden and summer’s drawing to a close in front of me. There’s some humongous grey clouds towering on the horizon and it’s looking like once we pass through Summit tunnel into Lancashire the weather’s going to be a bit wet! Fortunately I’ve a folding umbrella on the camera bag but the conditions might make today’s shoot ‘interesting’ to say the least. PR shots and rain are uneasy bedfellows…I’m off to the Alstom factory in Widnes to shoot pictures of one of Transport for Wales repainted and refurbished Class 175s. I’m not sure if I’ll be allowed to share any pictures just yet, so watch this space…
There’s fun and games at Manchester Victoria (where we arrived 5 mins late due to congestion) as a points failure at Earlstown’s having a knock-on effect. I’m now on TPE’s 08:10 to Manchester Airport which I’m taking as far as Oxford Rd. I’d normally walk but those grey clouds I mentioned earlier a currently dumping their load on the city! A sign of how much Victoria has changed in recent years was the fact that as my TPE service pulled in, all four through platforms were then in use by the TOC. It’s a far cry from just a few years ago when Northern had the monopoly on services through Manchester’s second station.
I’m on my 3rd train company of the day as I’m now on an East Midlands Trains service from Nottingham to Liverpool Lime St as far as Widnes.
The rain’s stopped for now but the threatening, low clouds hold the promise of more at any moment. There’s just the occaissional tantalising glimpse of blue sky and sudden shaft of sunlight to tease me.
I’m still at Alstom in Widnes. After completing a whole series of internal and external shots we’ve taken a coffee break in the hope the weather might change just enough to get a sunny external shot. After that I’ll be calling it a day. The guys need to finish working on the train at it needs to head back to Chester tonight. The bodywork looks really good as thus is a proper paint job, not just a vinyl wrap.
Job done! Patience paid off, we waited patiently for a break in the cloud and finally a break in the cloud passed over us in the perfect place for the sun to shine upon us long enough for me to get the shot I wanted.
Now I’m heading into Liverpool to grab a late lunch (and a few more pictures) before heading back across the Pennines.
On the way in we’ve just passed Allerton depot. Talk about changing fortunes! For many years the depot was derelict. Then Northern took it over as a base for the Ex-Thameslink Class 319 electric fleet which were displacing diesels. Now the depot is full of Northern’s next generation of trains, the CAF built 195 and 331s. The picture was the same at Edge Hill carriage sidings. There’s literally dozens of new Northern trains ready to enter service over the next few months as mileage accumulation and driver training is complete.
My, Liverpool Lime St’s changed in just a few short weeks! Not only are Class 195s much in evidence, so are some other interlopers in the shape of Transport for Wales who’re operating a new service to Chester. Here’s a couple of images.
Understandably, there are still teething problems with the new Northern sets. Two were being coupled together when something ‘fell off’. After a bit of head scratching and investigation staff on the scene told me it turned out to be nothing more serious than a spanner someone had left where they shouldn’t have! It caused a minor delay.
After heading back into and across Manchester the same way I came I’m now on Northern’s 18:21 from Manchester Victoria to Sowerby Bridge. As it’s a 3-car and today is ‘POETS day’ (Piss-Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday) my trains neither crowded nor the passengers stressed. That said, I feel sympathy for train crew working this evening as many stations are awash with folk on their way out and expecting to have a good time, as the amount of empty bottles & cans they’ve left behind attest to!
It’s day two of working for Network Rail’s ASPRO (Asset Protection) team and this time the focus is on the Manchester area, so I’m on my way to meet them at NR’s Square 1 offices next to Piccadilly station. This is a ‘local’ job so I’m not encumbered with my overnight kit, which makes my bags a bit lighter!
I’ve caught Northern’s 08:06 service from Sowerby Bridge to get to across the Pennines. Made up of a Class 150/156 pairing it’s a surprisingly quiet train. I can only assume the holiday season’s in full swing. Needless to say, I’ve plumped for the 156 where I’m almost the only passenger in the rear car.
Unlike London where it’s meant to be even hotter than yesterday, it’s relatively cool here in the Pennines at 19 degrees with a blanket of high level cloud. At least I won’t have to cope with any harsh shadows today.
We’ve got a very busy schedule and plenty of sites to visit today so I’ll blog as and when I can. Hopefully there’ll be a few interesting pictures to add, although I don’t think I’ll be able to compete with the dramatic skyline pictures I took in London that are displayed in yesterday’s blog!
We’ve now passed under the Pennines into Lancashire and our trains beginning to fill up with passengers from stations on the way like Littleborough and Smithy Bridge. Rochdale always provides a good crop of commuters so I expect we’ll be pretty full by then. This service is bound for Southport so it’ll probably be picking up the ‘bucket and spade brigade’ from Manchester.
That went well then! Very sorry for the complete absence of blog updates. That’s partly because we were really busy and partly because not everything went to plan. Anyways, here’s a couple of pictures that give you a flavour of the assets we were looking at today.
Brick arches at Salford. Below them is a compound for building new residential housing right next to the railway.
I’ve been at work since 07:30 this morning, busy editing the mountain of pictures from yesterday, sorting out paperwork and job enquiries and all the other stuff that comes with being a freelance photographer, writer and ACoRP judge. Sometimes I feel like I could do to clone myself as there’s just not enough hours in the day to get through everything. On the bright side, my commute from bedroom to office takes about a minute – or possibly 10 if I go downstairs and make coffee first!
Editing the pictures I took yesterday made me realise just how much the railways in the North are changing. The location I picked in Central Manchester is one I’ve not used for a few years. Since then, several of the franchises passing through (EMT, Northern and Transport for Wales) have or are changing hands, whilst a number of new services are using it due to the extension of electrification and the opening of the Ordsall Chord. Here’s a couple of pictures I didn’t add to yesterday’s blog that illustrate what I mean.
Here’s 319374 working 2F17, the 1318 Crewe to Liverpool Lime Street. The 319s started appearing in the NW in 2015, displacing many of the Class 323s on Crewe trains when the service was extended to Liverpool Lime St thanks to electrification.
A sight you never used to see. 323223 works 2A90, the 1428 Liverpool Lime Street to Crewe whilst 319370 is working 2N69, the 1502 Hazel Grove to Blackpool North.
I’d never seen a five-car on this train before. Here’s 175107 in the new Transport for Wales livery and 175109 in the old ATW livery working 1D30, the 1536 Manchester Airport to Llandudno. These units will be replaced by brand new stock in the next few years.
Another train that’s due to be replaced by new stock is this, TfW’s 1H89, the 1307 Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly which still uses ex-Virgin Trains Mk3 coaches and a DVT. The DB Class 37 still sports the old Wrexham and Shropshire livery, despite that company ceasing operation in January 2011.
185117 just after leaving Oxford Rd whilst working 1P76, the 1255 Middlesbrough to Manchester Airport which has passed through Manchester Victoria and traversed the Ordsall chord.
As you can see, it’s a changed network and it will change even more over the next few years as the CAF built Class 195s enter service en-masse and if the West Midlands Class 323s are cascaded to Northern to replace the 319s in order to allow 6-car trains to run. Then there’s the new TPE stock which will (hopefully) begin to enter service later this year. The North’s railways are going through some exciting and positive times, not that you’d know that from listening to the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, who only mentions the railways when it’s an excuse to stick the boot into the Northern Rail franchise. Despite an invitation to attend the launch of Northern’s new trains, he was conspicuous by his absence.
The rest of this evening’s been taken up with planning the logistics of the next couple of days work for a client. Thursday – Friday will see me in London and Manchester and I’ll be travelling down to London later tomorrow. It will involve another early morning commute to the office as I’ve plenty to do before I head South. So, it’s goodnight from me! Watch out for a rolling blog tomorrow…
Today’s an important one for Northern Rail as 9 of their new CAF built trains are used in passenger service for the very first time. So I’m off to do two things, get pictures of them and also visit a community rail project that involves them.They day’s not started well. The hot and sticky weather we had on Saturday has given way to wind and unexpected drizzle, which make the walk to the station fun. Northern aren’t having much luck with Calder Vally services this morning either. I’m on the late-running 07:45 which didn’t leave Halifax until 08:01. Despite the fact it’s a 3-car Class 158 it’s rammed!
We’ve just left Bradford Interchange and it’s sardine conditions aboard now! 11 of us are crammed into the cab end vestibule and we’ve not even got to New Pudsey yet!
We’ve just left New Pudsey and there’s now 14 of us crammed into the vestibule! There’s hardly an inch of floor left free as we’ve taken as many onboard as we can but still left some behind. The atmosphere’s stoic – and humid! I’ll be glad to get to Leeds…
Due to the crush the train doors seemed to open with a louder pop than normal when we reached Leeds. Grateful to be in the cool I’m now on something very different – a Class 331 in public service. It’s 331106 on the 09:21 to Doncaster.
Having visited Fitzwilliam station to see the unveiling of the new artwork on the adjacent footbridge. Here’s a sample. I’ll add the pictures I took on my camera later but it’s a great bit of work that’s full of interest as many of the windows contain pictures of the area.
Update, here’s a couple of camera pictures.
Afterwards I headed back to Leeds to grab a few more Class 331 pictures before heading across the Pennines to Manchester to catch the Class 195s in action. We’re just approaching Manchester Victoria now. The weather’s a bit better over here in the the clouds are interspersed with blue sky and sunshine. Most of my time on the train was spent editing the pictures from this morning, so I had little time to enjoy the views.
I’m now in position on the corridor linking Piccadilly and Oxford Rd stations as it’s an interesting backdrop to the railway and all the Class 195 diagrams are filtered through it. So far I’ve managed to capture two Northbound units, one Barrow bound, the other off to Liverpool.
Time to go home! I’ve had a successful day in Manchester as even the sun played ball in some if the pictures. I’ll upload a few later. Now I’m at Piccadilly, making my way home via the Colne valley rather than the Calder.
Sorry for the huge gap. I was hoping to stop off on the way and use the wifi in the Stalybridge buffet bar but the weather was so nice I ended up enjoying a quiet pint outside. I’ve been back at home several hours and spent the past few editing pictures, so here they are.
331106 waves it’s way through the maze of tracks to the West of Leeds station with a service from Doncaster. On arrival it formed the 09:21 back to Doncaster.
The honour of being the first Class 195 to carry fare-paying passengers fell to 195116, which left Barrow around 5am. It’s seen here between Piccadilly and Oxford Rd stations in Manchester whilst working 1C55, the 1329 Manchester Airport to Barrow-in-Furness.
Here’s 195121 working 1U97, the 1353 Barrow-in-Furness to Manchester Airport
Right, that’s all from me tonight folks. I’m working from home tomorrow, so expect to see a few more photos on my Zenfolio website.