Robert Hampton

Rover 2006: Sunday

Depart From Arrive To TOC Train
Scheduled Actual Scheduled Actual
11:10 11:10 Liverpool Lime Street 11:48 11:45 Manchester Victoria TP 185111
12:35 12:35 Manchester Victoria 13:13 13:12 Rochdale NT 142039
13:28 13:29 Rochdale 13:52 13:52 Hebden Bridge NT 150275
14:19 14:29 Hebden Bridge 15:13 15:23 Preston NT 158910
15:30 15:30 Preston 15:52 16:03 Bolton TP 175009
17:05 17:16 Bolton 17:21 17:33 Wigan Wallgate NT 156489
18:02 18:02 Wigan North Western 18:48 18:44 Liverpool Lime Street NT 142067

Sundays are hazardous days to travel, with the reduced frequency of service exacerbating the problems caused by missed connections, and some lines closed entirely for engineering works...

Aigburth station

...including, on 1st October 2006, the Merseyrail Northern Line past my house! Fortunately I was aware of this well in advance and had left extra time for the journey by rail replacement bus. I also took my local PTE Trio ticket so that I could jump on a service bus if it turned up first...

Arriva service 82 on Renshaw Street

...which is exactly what happened. The picture above shows Arriva double decker number 4210, just after arrival at Renshaw Street in Liverpool City Centre on service 82 at 10:20.

I was perturbed to arrive at Lime Street and find a large area outside the station cordoned off with police tape. I was tempted to take a picture but the presence of a couple of large and intimidating policemen dissuaded me.

Lime Street station exterior

Liverpool is undergoing significant renovation and redevelopment in the run up to Capital of Culture year. Lime Street is no exception; the 1960s-built shops at the front of the station will be demolished as part of plans to clean up the entrance.

At Lime Street the first pleasant surprise of the day was to be had: brand new 185111 forming the 11:10 to Scarborough, which I was to ride as far as Manchester Victoria.

185111 at Lime Street

The train was busy but the run to Victoria was uneventful. I was impressed by the overall ambience and build quality of the units, although I noticed the rough-riding which has been commented on by others in the uk.railway newsgroup, especially when traversing points.

Manchester Victoria station exterior

Victoria station building remains an imposing sight, although the station has a “seen better days” feel to it.

L&Y Railway route map at Manchester Victoria station

Above is a reminder of times gone by: the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway map in the station concourse.

On platform 1, 185136 waits for its next duty...

185136 at Manchester Victoria

...while 142039 sits with the 12:35 to Rochdale via the Oldham loop line.

142039 at Manchester Victoria

I've never travelled on this line, and, as it is scheduled for conversion to Metrolink operation soon, I decided to travel on it while I still had the chance. The line is characterised by steep gradients and tight curves, the latter being amply demonstrated by 039's loud squealing as it rounded some of the more severe ones.

Reminders of Lancashire's industrial past are all around. This derelict factory (one of many) is on the approach to Oldham Werneth.

Derelict factory in Oldham

Oldham Mumps, surely the only station named after a disease. This station, and a few others on the route, still have the branding of the long-defunct Network North West.

Oldham Mumps station

At Rochdale the train terminates and heads back the way it came.

155341 at Rochdale

Meanwhile, MetroTrain-liveried 155341 picks up passengers on the 13:18 to Manchester Victoria. This train will run on the direct route via Castleton.

150275 at Hebden Bridge

My next train was 150275, forming the 13:38 to Leeds, which I was to take as far as Hebden Bridge, where my photo above shows the train departing. I was intrigued to see a vintage bus and various other activities going on outside Todmorden station (but was sitting on the wrong side of the train to get a picture). A banner at Hebden Bridge explained all:

Todmorden Fun Day advertising banner

Hebden Bridge is a splendid station, retaining many of its period features, including old-style signs on both platforms.

Platform 1 at Hebden Bridge station
Old-style direction sign at Hebden Bridge station

155343 arrived 6 minutes late with the 13:54 to Manchester Victoria.

155343 departs Hebden Bridge

There were plenty of diverted Transpennine Express services running this way today. Here's 158809 speeding through towards Manchester...

158809 passes through Hebden Bridge

...and 158972 heading in the opposite direction.

158972 passes through Hebden Bridge

And here's another of the same class, 158910, working our next train, the 14:19 to Blackpool North (running 10 minutes late). I was to take this as far as Preston.

158910 arrives at Hebden Bridge

We didn't make up any time and were still 10 late at Preston. Engineering work had closed the WCML south of here, with Virgin services either replaced by buses, or diverted via Manchester. Here's 220015 at Preston with an Edinburgh service.

220015 at Preston

I had a tight connection, but thankfully I only had to cross to the opposite platform face, as 175009 rolled in with the 15:30 to Manchester Airport.

175009 arrives at Preston

In spite of (or perhaps because of) the engineering works, this train was very busy and left Preston full and standing, including a family who had an extremely long journey to Worthing (changing at Manchester and London) and were forced to sit on their luggage in the vestibule.

There was plenty of engineering work in evidence for the short time we were on the WCML before deviating towards Chorley and Bolton. We lost time along the way and arrived into Bolton 10 late at 16:03.

My plan was to take the 16:05 to Southport as far as Wigan Wallgate. Unfortunately the delay, combined with my inability to read my own timetable and match it up to the information on the platform monitors at Bolton led to me missing it. A quick enquiry of the National Rail WAP service could not find any faster way to get back to Liverpool, and so I resigned myself to an hour's wait for the next train.

Bolton station

It was at this point that the heavens opened and the temperature dropped noticeably.

At least I had the chance to see a variety of trains passed through while I was waiting, including this diverted Pendolino being hauled by 57309.

57309 dragging 390011 through Pendolino

You will note that the 15mph sign is blocking the view 57. This was a deliberate stylistic choice, and not at all because I was caught off-guard by the train appearing and had to scramble to take a picture.

Lots of other units to be seen. Below, 221132 brings up the rear of a double Voyager set bound for Birmingham, which called “set down only” at Bolton.

221132 at Bolton

150271 on a Manchester Victoria working:

150271 at Bolton

150149 heads for Clitheroe:

150149 departs Bolton

Another double Voyager set passed through, with 221127 Wright Brothers coupled to 221114 Francis Drake:

221127 at Bolton
221114 at Bolton

150273 heads for Crewe:

150273 at Bolton

150148 is seen here on the 1644 for Blackpool, which arrived at 1709, 25 minutes late:

150148 at Bolton

Finally, 156489 arrived with the 1705 to Southport, 11 minutes late. We lost a further minute by the time we arrived at Wigan Wallgate, where the picture was taken:

156489 at Wigan Wallgate

From Wigan Wallgate it was a short walk to Wigan North Western, which was virtually deserted, all trains except the Liverpool shuttle being replaced by buses.

Empty platforms at Wigan North Western

After a few minutes, the silence was broken by the familiar squeal of Pacer wheels, as 142067 rolled into platform 3 to form the Liverpool service.

142067 at Wigan North Western

The run to Lime Street was enlivened by a man who talked loudly into his mobile phone about an incident where he'd been shot in the leg, and by a scally who boarded at St Helens Central and refused to pay. The guard arranged for police to be present at Lime Street, but the miscreant left the train at Wavertree Technology Park.

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