‘Bridge Bi-Mode Breakthrough

Class 769 bi-mode trains reach Stalybridge

At 1714, arriving three years and nine minutes late on Platform 5 at Stalybridge station was the 1531 train from Southport to Stalybridge. Though the journey itself seems far from headline-grabbing, the kind of rolling stock and its delay is even more so.

Instead of the usual Class 150 Sprinter unit, the 1531 was operated by 769 442. The four-car unit is one of eight Northern trains that are bi-mode units.

Continue reading “‘Bridge Bi-Mode Breakthrough”
Class 142, Newton Heath depot

Back By Unpopular Demand: Northern’s Pacer Units

Nodding Donkeys ‘home’ till Christmas

Today, East of the M60 has learned that a small number of the universally derided Class 142 Pacer units will be making a comeback on Northern rail services. Thirteen of the units will be reinstated to provide extra capacity, and to ensure that social distancing practices will be maintained.

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Northern Class 195, Manchester Airport

Should Northern Rail Be Nationalised? Be Careful What You Wish For

Or: is the Grayling Curse to blame for Northern’s woes?

The rail franchising system is dead. Long live the rail franchising system. In the last year, we have seen a recasting of the rail franchising system in favour of management contracts. Since 1994, rail franchises in Great Britain have mirrored former British Rail profit centres, which in turn have roots in BR’s sectorisation programme by Sir Robert (Basil) Reid.

Continue reading “Should Northern Rail Be Nationalised? Be Careful What You Wish For”
Greenfield Platform Sign, Ian Kirk (2018)

Greenfield Station Snubbed in Access For All Funding Scheme

Why is Greenfield station – the only railway station in Oldham Council boundaries – still inaccessible for mobility impaired passengers?

The Trans-Pennine route via Huddersfield should be given the same level of importance as the West Coast Main Line. Or at least any commuter route in the South East of England. Between Manchester and Huddersfield you have six trains per hour. All good and proper if you travel between the two points, but what if you want to travel from Stalybridge, let alone Mossley or Greenfield?

Continue reading “Greenfield Station Snubbed in Access For All Funding Scheme”

Packed Pacer Problem Solved for 2019 Deadline

East of the M60 EXCLUSIVE: Nodding Donkeys become beautiful bi-modes with revolutionary technology

  • 10-car Pacers set for DDA compliant overhaul;
  • New breed of Nodding Donkeys go electric.
40 more years? Imagine these units, only five times longer, with a pantograph, a steam funnel and a tender.

Set to carry on for a longer period of time than the UK’s Brexit negotiations is the fate of Northern’s Pacer units. Due to disability legislation, the much-maligned family of diesel units were scheduled for withdrawal in 2019. In reality, the delivery of Northern’s replacements have delayed the Pacer family’s withdrawal. So much so that one of the units scheduled for inclusion in the National Railway Museum’s collection is still in service.

According to reports from an informed source, East of the M60 can confirm that the Pacer family of units will be seeing continued service for another 40 years.

Continue reading “Packed Pacer Problem Solved for 2019 Deadline”

Manchester Victoria Station to Reopen

Station reopens on 30 May after terrorist attack

East of the M60 Loves Manchester

In the last week, you will have heard about the appalling terrorist attack at Manchester Arena, after Ariana Grande’s concert. As well the loss of 22 lives and severe injuries to 59 concertgoers, this led to the temporary closure of Manchester Victoria station. Tram and train services were affected. At face value, this could have stopped the city going about her day-to-day activities. Continue reading “Manchester Victoria Station to Reopen”

An Accidental Circumnavigation: South Lancashire by Bus, 03 January 2017

The World’s Our Bus Stop: 2017 Edition

Some of the best laid plans are never planned at all. Some of them are made on the hoof, or they just fall into place. Serendipity and spontaneity can make for the greatest of journeys as we lose ourselves in another town, village, open space, or on a bus you never thought of catching.

My first circumnavigation of 2017 was a classic example. I left Chez Vall thinking “my first work day of 2017”. So I caught the 220 to Stalybridge bus station for the 0746 train to Salford Central. Continue reading “An Accidental Circumnavigation: South Lancashire by Bus, 03 January 2017”

Defining Features of Northern Rail’s Franchise: The Not So Perfect Ten

Ten key characteristics of Serco/Abellio’s 12-year franchise term

Class 158, platform 2, Preston railway station
The Class 158 DMU, one of Northern Rail’s more classy rolling stock, seen at Preston station. Alongside its incumbent 158s, there will be further examples, cascaded from Scotrail. These will be diagrammed for Arriva Trains North’s Northern Connect express services.

By the start of next month, the Northern franchise will be taken over by Arriva/Deutsche Bahn Rail. This will be Arriva’s second stint with a Northern English heavy rail franchise (the previous being Arriva Trains Northern) and, most notably, it entails the withdrawal of Class 142 and Class 144 railbuses. Continue reading “Defining Features of Northern Rail’s Franchise: The Not So Perfect Ten”

Serco Loses Northern Franchise to Arriva

FirstGroup and Keolis retain Transpennine Express franchise

  • Pacers peddled with new rolling stock in place;
  • Evolution of Smart Ticketing and free WiFi at stations;
  • New connections throughout Northern England.

The Department for Transport today [09 December] has awarded the Northern franchise to Arriva/DB Regio today. As part of their franchise, the unpopular Class 142 and 144 Pacer units will be scrapped. In their place would be a mix of brand new and nearly new rolling stock. Their franchise term will be active from April 2016 to March 2025. Continue reading “Serco Loses Northern Franchise to Arriva”

Greater Manchester Set to Lose Another 17 Trains

Anger as bankers move electric trains to the West Midlands

Class 323 EMU, Manchester Piccadilly station
The Class 323s first arrived in Greater Manchester in 1996, originally for services to and from Manchester Airport. Following issues with Railtrack’s Safety Case, the Hunslet TPL built units’ introduction was delayed by two years. They first appeared on the Hadfield line in November 1997, replacing slam-door Class 305s.

Almost a year after the DfT’s imposition of an evening peak for Greater Manchester’s rail users comes another body blow. Porterbrook Leasing, who owns most of Britain’s trains has refused to offer 17 Class 323 electric trains to Northern Rail’s successors in 2016.

Instead, the rolling stock leasing company (owned by Alberta Investment Management Corporation, Allianz Capital Partners, EDF Invest and Hastings Fund Management) has decided to move them to the West Midlands. At present, the Centro West Midlands boundary sees a number of local services utilising Class 323, and the move allows for greater standardisation. The reason, to reduce maintenance costs. Continue reading “Greater Manchester Set to Lose Another 17 Trains”