Forgotten Rail Journeys: York to Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth

A look at the long forgotten overnight train from Yorkshire to Mid Wales

86012 at Crewe 1979
Going Postal: 86 012 seen at Crewe station. Image by Steve Jones, 28 September 1979.

Till fairly recently, a lot of our post was delivered via rail with road for the last mile journeys to sorting offices. Before Railnet’s last hurrah for the Travelling Post Office, the TPO trains were a common feature of our railways. Mainline stations had dedicated platforms for the Royal Mail trains (platform 17 at Manchester Victoria station was one example). For a slight premium (an extra penny on a stamp), you could post your letters through the post box of a stationary TPO train. Continue reading “Forgotten Rail Journeys: York to Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth”

A Northern Snub? Trans-Pennine Electrification ‘Paused’

Northern Powerhouse project put on back burner

Stalybridge Station, signal gantry
Nowhere Fast: the pausing of Trans-Pennine electrification plans is set to see most of Northern England condemned to another decade or so of ancient diesel trains.

The Northern Powerhouse has been dealt a body blow as plans to electrify the Trans-Pennine route have been ‘paused’. As quoted in Hansard, the Secretary of State for Transport, The Right Honourable Patrick McLoughlin MP (Conservative, Derbyshire Dales) stated that: Continue reading “A Northern Snub? Trans-Pennine Electrification ‘Paused’”

Transpennine Express’ Electric Dreams Come True

New Class 350 EMUs to reach Ardwick by Christmas

185129 and 350237 at Liverpool Lime Street
Seen at Liverpool Lime Street, one of the old order and a taste of Transpennine Express’ future rolling stock. Photograph by Joshua Brown (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike).

First/Keolis Transpennine Express’ already modern fleet is set to be augmented by ten 4-car electric trains.  The Siemens Desiro EMUs are set to reach Liverpool and Ardwick depots by December. The new trains will cost £60 million with the addition of EMU depots in Preston and Liverpool. Continue reading “Transpennine Express’ Electric Dreams Come True”

Technical Issues Source of Mancunian Oyster Card Delays

East of the M60 Exclusive Report: Problems over size main issue instead of fare structures

Rochdale tram station, towards railway station
The Metrolink’s Oyster Card style ticket is set to be launched this year, with the one for all modes slated for release in 2014.

From an informed source, East of the M60 has finally found out why Manchester’s answer to the OysterCard has been delayed. It has been said that Greater Manchester’s bus fare structures have been the culprit. In fact, the main reason behind the delay is to do with the card itself. Continue reading “Technical Issues Source of Mancunian Oyster Card Delays”

HS2 Northern Section: East of the M60’s Verdict

East of the M60 on the High Speed Two proposals

East of the M60 would like to apologise for the late arrival of this article and the inconvenience this has caused to your reading.

So, £32 billion for a thousand or so miles of high speed track, new trains and new stations? Sounds good to me. Sounds like an opportunity to bring our rail network towards Mainland Europe during the noughties. The only problem is the wait: 2033 is the proposed year of completion, by which time a great many of us would be working from home. Continue reading “HS2 Northern Section: East of the M60’s Verdict”

Riding the Rails on a Shoestring

Cheaper ways of enjoying our railways

Class 158, platform 2, Preston railway station
The Door That Leads To An Adventure: 158843 at Preston railway station moments away from leaving for York.

The school holidays have just begun, and the sun has made a welcome return to our skies. It may even be warm enough for some people to enjoy their first ice cream cornet of 2012. Heck, we might be able to turn the heating off for once and… leave the house!

The best way of doing that is by train. Though the car is cheaper for some people, there is a certain magic that off-peak train journeys have compared with being stuck on the motorway. Even the most modest of journeys on non-commuter routes has an air of mystique, be it on the world’s worst Pacer unit or Premier Class on the Northern Belle. Sadly, the rail option isn’t affordable enough for some casual travellers. Therefore, I could just close the post by means of these two words: Continue reading “Riding the Rails on a Shoestring”

Mancunian Oystercard Online for 2013 Release

TfGM gains £32.5 million grant for a ‘Digital ClipperCard’ scheme

The Future of Greater Manchester’s Transport: our impression of how TfGM’s Oyster Card may look (Logo © 2011 Transport for Greater Manchester)

In most parts of the United Kingdom, outside of London, changing from bus to train incurs a financial penalty. If a passenger travels from Leigh to Southport, the quickest way on public transport would involve two sets of tickets: a FirstDay ticket for the 582 to Atherton, then a return ticket from Atherton to Southport. Continue reading “Mancunian Oystercard Online for 2013 Release”

Making the Going Easy from Stalybridge: Comparisons Between 1972 and 2012 Rail Services

How Stalybridge’s rail services have changed over the space of 40 years

Stalybridge Trains 1972 and 2012

Forty years ago, we would have been watching On The Buses, Magpie or Dad’s Army, experiencing a three day week or listening to T-Rex on our transistor radios. The 11 and 11A would take a great many residents to Ashton-under-Lyne from Tame Valley or the Albion Hotel. Orange and white buses began to dominate what would become Greater Manchester in two years time. Continue reading “Making the Going Easy from Stalybridge: Comparisons Between 1972 and 2012 Rail Services”

Lost Railway Services of Greater Manchester: The European

The story of Manchester’s former Boat Train service to Harwich Parkeston Quay

The European (Glasgow Central - Harwich Parkeston Quay) map

Since the Edwardian times, Manchester Victoria station’s canopy and tiled map proudly advertised the fact it was possible to travel from there to Leeds and the Hook of Holland. Its ticket office windows also reflect the scale of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway’s ambitions. Today, the railway station is a shadow of its former self, with only six platforms (down from 17) and a leaky roof. Alas, it is almost impossible to get to the Hook of Holland from Victoria without changing at Leeds.

Continue reading “Lost Railway Services of Greater Manchester: The European”

Zen and the Art of Provincial Train Travel

In praise of the turn up and go nature of local train travel

Class 150 Sprinter, 150274, Poulton-le-Fylde
Nothing epitomises local train travel better than the Sprinter unit. This example, 150274, is seen at Poulton-le-Fylde heading towards Blackpool North.

Unenlightened types barely familiar with the machinations of train travel tend to conjure up images of a prosperous past involving steam trains, or a comparatively JG Ballardian present tense. Away from the hyperbole surrounding HS2, packed commuter trains and inter-city services, there is a part of our railway seemingly distant from high speed and overcrowding. I refer to of course, the local services. Continue reading “Zen and the Art of Provincial Train Travel”