Network Greater Manchester by Martyn Hilbert

Something to spend that Christmas Book-Token on!

The latest in Martyn Hilbert’s series of North-West books is Network Greater Manchester.

Like the previous two excellent titles (Network North West and Merseyrail Electric), this is basically an “album” type book, stuffed full of photos from the authors own camera, stretching back from the 70s up to the present day. Unlike most books of this type though, the captions are detailed and informative, demonstrating Martyn’s depth of knowledge as well as his eye for interesting photographs which capture the infrastructure and atmosphere as well as the trains.

This is highly recommended and an ideal thing on which to spend that book-token / Amazon voucher or Christmas-card cash.

https://www.brownsbfs.co.uk/Product/Hilbert-Martyn/Network-Greater-Manchester/9781781557679

From the publisher…..

Greater Manchester covers an area of 493 square miles and is a diverse part of North West England, it is home to 2.8 million people.

At its heart is the vibrant and ever-changing City of Manchester, the large conurbation having borders with Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire and Merseyside.

It has a complex, varied and historic heavy rail network that contains ninety-six stations on a 142 mile network, part of which was the first passenger railway in the World.

Greater Manchester is also home to the largest light rail system in the UK – The Metrolink Tram system has a current network of 57 miles and 93 stops, its expansion has aided some traffic reduction in an area that has the highest percentage of Motorway network than any other county in the UK.

Network Greater Manchester is a detailed photographic journey over the system that chronicles the constantly changing scene since the late 1970’s to the present day and illustrates how the services, rolling stock and infrastructure have changed with the passage of time.

https://www.brownsbfs.co.uk/Product/Hilbert-Martyn/Network-Greater-Manchester/9781781557679

Grand Central plans new Blackpool to London route from 2020 in major boost for the local economy

Grand Central has confirmed that its plans to run trains between Blackpool and London from Spring 2020 are firmly on track.

These InterCity services were approved in June 2018 by the Rail Regulator, the Office of Rail and Road. Originally planned as Great North Western Railway (GNWR) services they are expected to be operated by established open access operator, and sister Arriva company, Grand Central.

Grand Central currently operates direct trains between towns and cities in Yorkshire and the North East of England and London. The company has an industry-leading reputation for customer service and value for money and a track record of supporting local communities on and around its networks.

In a move which is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the North West, including a boost to tourism, Grand Central will operate up to five new direct train services to run every day of the week between Blackpool North and London Euston. Blackpool will gain direct services to London on Sundays as well as later trains to and from the capital Monday to Saturday. Poulton-le-Fylde and Kirkham & Wesham will each have new direct London services throughout the day, seven days a week. All trains will also call at Preston and Nuneaton, with most stopping additionally at Milton Keynes, connecting leisure and businesses travellers to the capital and offering a choice of operator along with low cost fares.

Richard McClean, Managing Director of Grand Central, said: “We are delighted to announce our plans to operate direct train services between London and Blackpool from early next year. We will bring our operational expertise and industry-leading customer service to this new route, offering more choice for existing rail users and new opportunities for people to travel by train. The expansion of our services will bring significant economic benefits, empower communities along the routes and offer fantastic new career opportunities.

“For more than a decade, we have been dedicated to making travel affordable and enjoyable for people in the North East and across Yorkshire. This new chapter opens up these opportunities to the other side of the Pennines and beyond, ensuring rail remains relevant and accessible to as many people as possible.”

The train operator’s expansion plans will create new jobs over the coming months. Grand Central will be recruiting drivers and on-board crew for its Blackpool traincrew hub. Train driver recruitment will begin soon. More information can be found at www.grandcentralrail.com/careers

More information about the new Blackpool services is available on the Grand Central website at www.grandcentralrail.com/blackpool

From Spring 2020, Grand Central plans to expand its services to new parts of Britain, running services on the West Coast Mainline between London Euston and Blackpool North.

With five return services per day (four on Sunday), and calling at a number of popular destinations, we’ll be giving customers more choice and flexibility in how they travel between North West England and London, in addition to our already popular routes to Yorkshire and the North East.

Route map

Blackpool route map
© Grand Central by Arriva

Blackpool will gain direct services to London on Sundays as well as later trains to and from the capital Monday to Saturday. Poulton-le-Fylde and Kirkham & Wesham will each have new direct London services throughout the day, seven days a week. All trains will also call at Preston and Nuneaton, with most stopping additionally at Milton Keynes, connecting leisure and business travellers to the capital and offering a choice of operator along with low cost fares.

Grand Central’s expansion plans will create new jobs over the coming months. Grand Central will be recruiting train drivers and on-board crew for its Blackpool traincrew hub. Train driver recruitment will begin soon. More recruitment information can be found here.

Proposed timetable (subject to change)

North West route timetable
© Grand Central by Arriva

These InterCity services were approved in June 2018 by the Rail Regulator, the Office of Rail and Road. Originally planned as Great North Western Railway (GNWR) services they are expected to be operated by established open access operator, and sister Arriva company, Grand Central.

To find out more about Grand Central, please visit www.grandcentralrail.com, or follow the railway company on Twitter @GC_Rail, Facebook or LinkedIn.

First Avanti West Coast liveried Pendolino…… Maybe?

There is strong suggestion that the first Avanti West Coast livered Class 390 ‘Pendolino’ will enter service on a press preview run from London Euston to Glasgow Central on Monday 9th December.

If everything goes to plan, and the rumour mill is correct, we should see the 390156 in the sparkling new Avanti West Coast livery working the following,

5Z17 Wembley Inter City Depot to London Euston

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13117668

Camden Junction Camera – 10:00

1Z17 London Euston to Glasgow Central

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13142333

Camden junction Camera – 10:36

Watford Junction Camera – 10:45

Crewe Cameras 2& 3 – 13:27

Crewe Camera 4 – 13:29

Leyland Camera – 14:05

Farington Junction Camera – 14:11

Preston Camera – 14:26

Bolton-Le-Sands Camera – 14:36

Beattock Camera – 16:17

Thankerton Camera – 16:32

5Z17 Glasgow Central to Oxley Carriage Maintenance Depot

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13117669

Thankerton Camera – 18:51

Beattock Camera – 19:08

Bolton-Le-Sands Camera – 20:47

Preston Camera – 21:06

Farington Junction Camera – 21:15

Leyland camera – 21:17

Crewe Camera 4 – 21:54

Crewe Cameras 2 & 3 – 21:56

Bushbury Junction Camera – 22:48

We must stress that this is UNCONFIRMED, so please don’t head out especially on our say so.

First Trenitalia chooses Hitachi Rail to build new InterCity trains for Avanti West Coast

  • New trains improve customer experience and capacity with more seats
  • First Trenitalia chooses British-based train manufacturer in contract worth more than £350m including maintenance services, with trains financed by Rock Rail West Coast
  • Cleaner, greener modern trains with two-thirds reduction in carbon emissions overall

First Trenitalia, whose new Avanti West Coast rail service starts on Sunday 8 December, has today awarded a contract worth more than £350m to Hitachi Rail to provide and maintain 23 new intercity trains (135 carriages), to be built at its County Durham factory. 

Bringing additional capacity to services along the West Coast Main Line and in North Wales, these new, state of the art intercity trains will start operating in 2022. The trains will be a mix of ten seven-carriage electric trains and 13 five-carriage bi-mode trains, with the ability to switch seamlessly between electric and diesel power. The electric trains will operate between London, the West Midlands and Liverpool while the bi-mode version will serve the London to North Wales route. They will be part of the fleet operated by the new intercity operator, to be known as Avanti West Coast, that begins operation on Sunday 8 December. 

These are fast-accelerating 125mph trains which draw from their Japanese bullet train heritage. As a result of their modern design, passengers will enjoy a quieter journey compared to the diesel-only trains they will replace. The new trains will have better and more reliable free Wi-Fi, at-seat wireless inductive charging for electronic devices, plug sockets and USB slots; a brand-new catering offer and a real-time passenger information system that can advise customers of connecting rail services.

There are 453 seats on a 7-car service and 301 seats on a 5-car service increasing compacity compared to the Class 221 Voyager trains they replace (which have 258 seats). The seven-carriage version of the electric trains will have similar numbers of seats to a nine-carriage Pendolino, owing to the longer 26 metre carriages of the Hitachi trains.

The bi-mode trains will run for most of the journey using electric power only, switching to diesel power for those parts of the network that are not electrified – for example, the North Wales Coast Line to/from Holyhead. 

Due to the high environmental standards of their diesel engines, the new trains are cleaner and more efficient than the trains they are replacing. Particulate matter emissions are reduced by more than 90% and NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions are reduced by more than 60% compared to the engines currently in service. The introduction of these new trains will help to support the UK’s drive for a cleaner, greener environment. Bi-mode technology is an important first step in de-carbonising rail and achieving ‘no net emissions’.

By running on electric rather than diesel power for the vast majority of the route is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by around two-thirds across the franchise. Passengers using locations such as Birmingham New Street and Glasgow Central will benefit from cleaner air within the station due to fewer diesel train services.

The new trains will be built at Hitachi’s factory at Newton Aycliffe in north-east England, supporting thousands of jobs across the country. Hitachi Rail prioritises UK suppliers whenever possible, including with servicing and maintenance operations. This approach has resulted in Hitachi Rail spending more than £1.6 billion with UK suppliers since 2013. To date, wheelsets have come from Manchester; windows from Newcastle, door handles from Leeds, and overhead panels from County Durham, amongst many other parts made in Britain.

FirstGroup is introducing new rolling stock to improve our customers’ journeys across all its train companies – Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, South Western Railway and TransPennine Express. Together with today’s announcement, this represents an investment of £1.8bn in more than 1,000 vehicles. 

Commenting on the new trains contract, Steve Montgomery, Managing Director, First Rail, said: “We look forward to beginning our Avanti West Coast services on Sunday 8 December, and these new trains will help us really improve travel for passengers with more services, more seats, a better journey experience, enhanced catering and added comfort.”

Ernesto Sicilia, Trenitalia UK Managing Director, said: “We are pleased to announce this new fleet which highlights our commitment to innovation and desire to constantly improve our services. We are delighted to provide more efficient and modern trains which are sustainable and environmentally friendly, reducing CO2 emissions by 61%, including new comfortable seats for an improved customer experience.” 

The investment in these new trains is being financed through Rock Rail West Coast, a joint venture between Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments. Rock Rail West Coast will own the trains and lease them to First Trenitalia. As with Rock Rail’s previous new rolling stock deals, debt will be provided by institutional investor organisations (pension funds and insurance companies).

Mark Swindell, Chief Executive Officer, Rock Rail and Director, Rock Rail West Coast, said: “Rock Rail is delighted to be working with First Trenitalia and Hitachi and our institutional investor partners to bring these trains to the region and deliver step changes in the travelling experience for so many rail passengers across the country.

“This new state-of-the-art Hitachi fleet represents Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments’ fourth new rolling stock deal in the UK, and across all deals combined sees investment by the institutional investor sector of just under £2.5 billion in the UK railway. This long term, highly competitive funding enables significantly enhanced value for money to rail passengers and tax payers over the life of the trains, along with significant improvements in passenger, environmental and operational features.”

Andrew Barr, Group CEO, Hitachi Rail, said: “Based on Japanese bullet train technology, our new trains have proven to be the modern intercity train of choice, increasing passenger satisfaction wherever they run. We’re delighted to continue our excellent relationship with FirstGroup and Trenitalia, for whom we’ve delivered hundreds of trains across Italy and the UK. This new order, which will be built at our factory in the North East, is another vote of confidence in the success of our trains, which are both green and reliable.”

The contract announced today also includes an agreement for aspects of the 23 new trains to be maintained by Hitachi Rail. First Trenitalia have also signed a Maintenance Agreement with Alstom enabling the fleet to be maintained by a joint team from Hitachi and Alstom at the existing Oxley depot in Wolverhampton, supporting highly-skilled engineering jobs.

Retro HST Pictures from LNER

For those who haven’t yet seen the images released by LNER this afternoon.

First pictures of repaint released by (c) LNER

Work is well underway at Craigentinny for power cars 43206 & 43312 while the coaches are being prepared by Wabtec in Doncaster.

HST repaint in progress. (c) LNER
Coaches are being repainted by Wabtec in Doncaster (c) LNER

Our thanks to LNER for sharing the images and do let us know if you will be out with cameras for the final tour!

LNER BIDS FAREWELL TO THE INTERCITY 125 HIGH SPEED TRAIN

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) will celebrate more than four decades of service from the iconic High Speed Train (HST) on the East Coast route with a special farewell tour in December.

LNER will mark the retirement of the HSTs by operating a four-day special service taking in the majority of destinations along the LNER route.

To make the farewell tour extra special for those onboard and people keen to see the HST make the final journey along the East Coast route, the train will be painted in the original British Rail InterCity 125 livery.

Money raised from the tour will go towards LNER partner charity, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). The charity works to prevent male suicide and has already benefited from more than £100,000 in donations from LNER customers donating ‘Delay Repay’ claims to help the campaign.

David Horne, Managing Director of LNER, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to express our appreciation for the decades of service from the iconic Intercity 125 on the East Coast route. We recognise the huge transformation these trains gave to rail travel when they were introduced in the 1970s, and want to show our appreciation by taking them around the route one last time.

We’re particularly delighted that on its last service with LNER, we will take the HST on a route it’s not done with us before, from Aberdeen across to Inverness.

Our HST farewell tour gives our customers and communities the opportunity to see the train in its original lively after serving the country so well over the years before being replaced by our new world-class Azuma trains.

I’m also delighted we are able to partner with the Campaign Against Living Miserably charity to help us build on the £100,000 already raised by working together and giving the proceeds of this farewell tour to CALM.”

The tour will begin on Wednesday 18 December when the Intercity 125 HST will travel from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, and then as a special treat for those on board the train will take a special route on to Inverness. The second day will see the farewell service depart Inverness for Edinburgh with day three covering Edinburgh, Newcastle, York and Leeds before a final stretch on day four stopping all stations from Leeds to London King’s Cross.

Tickets will be available from UK Rail Tours and will include free travel with LNER on any of its services either to reach the departure station or to return home. The schedule has been designed to give as many people the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the specially liveried Intercity 125 using power cars 43206 and 43312 as part of the final journey along the East Coast.

LNER’s farewell tour will follow the last day of High Speed Trains in passenger service for LNER with the final service on Sunday 15 December. This is likely to be the 19:35 London King’s Cross to Leeds service with the 17:05 Harrogate to London King’s Cross forming the last southbound service.

Details of the full tour dates, locations and costs for travel in Standard and First Class:

• 18 December – Edinburgh-Aberdeen-Inverness

o First Class £140

o Standard £95

• 19 December – Inverness-Edinburgh

o First Class £130

o Standard £90

• 20 December – Edinburgh-York-Leeds

o First Class £155

o Standard £95

• 21 December – Leeds-London King’s Cross

o First Class £220

o Standard £125

• LNER will offer customers the option to combine Day 1 and Day 2 together with a bundled ticket for £150 Standard or £250 First Class.

Anyone with a seat reservation on the HST Farewell Tour and wishing to book a seat reservation with LNER to join a service to get to or from the special farewell service can contact the LNER Customer Solutions Centre on 03457 225 333 or by e-mailing customer.care@lner.co.uk

Tickets are available for sale at www.ukrailtours.com

The Intercity 125 diesel-powered High-Speed Trains were built by British Rail between 1975 and 1982 to operate on long distance routes in Britain, and have run on LNER’s route since 1978. LNER will be the last train company to operate the HST on long-distance high-speed services – the purpose for which they were designed.

All LNER’s existing fleet of HSTs and Intercity 225 electric trains are being replaced by new Azuma trains built in County Durham.

Those all important schedules and camera passes,

Wednesday 18th December

1Z43 Edinburgh to Inverness via Aberdeen – https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13147812

Thursday 19th December

1Z46 Inverness to Edinburgh via Highland Mainline

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13147871

Friday 20th December

1Z48 Edinburgh to Leeds via York

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13147937

Cramlington Cameras – 12:19

York North Cameras – 14:18

York ROC Camera 1 – 14:25

York South Cameras – 14:54

Doncaster Camera – 15:14

Saturday 21st December

1Z50 Leeds to London Kings Cross

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13147937

Doncaster Camera – 11:41

Peterborough Camera – 13:21

December 2020 timetable consultation is now open

  • Major changes planned for East Midlands Railway (EMR) services from December 2020
  • Includes thousands of extra seats and quicker journeys to and from London St Pancras International
  • Consultation runs for 12 weeks and closes 14th February 2020

The public consultation into EMR’s December 2020 timetable is now open to passengers, businesses, stakeholders and local communities across the East Midlands route.

December 2020 will see a significant change to EMR services, particularly those travelling to and from London St Pancras International. It includes the segregation of services between EMR Intercity and the introduction of a new service, EMR Electrics, which will run between Corby and London St Pancras International.

Combined, these changes will provide:

  • Up to 30 minutes’ quicker journey times for some EMR Intercity services
  • Up to 13,000 additional standard class seats to and from London St Pancras every week day
  • Earlier morning and later evening services
  • Simpler and more consistent timetable with a more even spread of departure times
  • Improved services for London Luton and East Midlands Airports

There are also proposals for improvements to EMR Regional services, including:

  • Extending Crewe to Derby services through to Newark Castle, providing additional service between Derby and Nottingham
  • Later evening services between Leicester and Nottingham
  • Services from Grimsby will extend to Leicester every two hours, providing the first direct service to Nottingham and Leicester for over a decade

There are further timetable improvements proposed which are a step towards a more substantial improvement for EMR Regional services in December 2021. A further consultation for these changes will take place towards the end of 2020.

The consultation runs for 12 weeks and will close at midnight on 14th February 2020. The consultation document and survey for responses are available online at www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/december2020

The consultation document is split by line of route and includes a separate page for each station on the Midland Main Line. This is intended to help passengers and communities easily understand what the proposals will mean for them and their journeys.

Julian Edwards, Managing Director, East Midlands Railway, said: “Our proposals for the December 2020 timetable would deliver a step change in capacity, improve journey times and introduce a simpler and more consistent timetable.

“Although some of the changes, such as the introduction of electric services between London and Corby, are a requirement of our franchise there is still the opportunity to fine tune and improve our plans.

“We know how important a reliable and punctual railway is for the towns and cities we serve. December 2020 is a vitally important part of our promise to deliver more seats, more services and better journeys for our customers and we look forward to your feedback.”

To read the proposals and respond to the consultation, please visit www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/december2020

LNER HST Farewell

Details have today begun to appear concerning the expected LNER tribute to the HST.

An earlier tweet from Tim Dunn has got the ball rolling with LNER stating they will provide further information in the coming days to confirm final details.

© @MrTimDunn

It is believed that 43302. the World record holder for the fastest diesel locomotive, along with a set of 7 MK3 coaches and a second power car will be repainted, not vinyled, into original BR HST colours for the special charity journeys.

© @MrTimDunn

The charity journeys are expected to be –

18 Dec: Edinburgh to Aberdeen

19 Dec: Aberdeen to Newcastle via Inverness

20 Dec: Newcastle to Leeds via York

21 Dec: Leeds to Kings Cross

The charities to benefit are believed to be,

The Samaritans

https://www.samaritans.org

The CALM Zone

https://www.thecalmzone.net

We are awaiting confirmation from LNER on the final details, but it appears the cat is well and truly out of the bag!

Heritage Painting (http://www.heritage-painting.com) will take care of the Powercars, and they couldn’t be in better hands, judging by their recent work with the 125 Group on their fleet of MK3s.

The MK3 coaching stock is believed to be being taken care of at Craigentinny Depot.

Interest in this final HST fling is likely to be off the scale, we recommend keeping a close eye on LNER social media accounts in the coming days if you want to be part of this fond farewell.

East Midlands Railway introduces ground breaking support for local communities

  • Two brand new funding pots available for Community Rail Partnerships and Station Adopters
  • Over £100,000 available until April
  • Part of EMR’s commitment to empower local communities with over £2.5million available over next eight years
  • Funds designed to improve local stations and enhance community opportunities

East Midlands Railway is encouraging Community Rail Partnerships and Station Adoption Groups to apply for a share of significant new funding to bring their ideas to life and transform their local stations and enhance their local communities.  

It is part of EMR’s commitment to invest more than £600 million to improve all parts of the network for passengers, communities and to support a thriving East Midlands.

The funding is split into two schemes; ‘Community Development Fund’ and ‘Station Improvement Fund’ and will be available every year.

The Community Development Fund is used to support initiatives that have significant impact in the wider communities EMR serves, including programmes to work with local schools and other community groups.

The Station Improvement Fund supports ideas to significantly improve local stations, to ensure they are welcoming and integral parts of their local communities.

Donna Adams, Community Engagement Manager, EMR said: “Both of these funding streams are vital in making a difference to the communities that we serve and understanding what their needs are.

“We are looking forward to receiving applications from our Community Rail Partnerships and Station Adoption Groups and bringing their projects and ideas to life”.

Jools Townsend, ACoRP Chief Exec said: “We are delighted that East Midlands Railway is supporting community rail partnerships and groups with the introduction of these two funding schemes.

“This will empower groups to bring their stations and railways closer to the community, helping local people get the most from their railway, and promoting sustainable travel opportunities”.

To find out more about how to apply for funding, please contact stationadoption@eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk

Latest on floods affecting Northern

Northern warns flooding disruption in South Yorkshire may continue until Monday morning – Updated 6pm Saturday 9 Nov

Northern is warning customers in South Yorkshire that some routes are likely to stay closed at least until Monday morning.

While flooding in the area continues to subside, tracks in several locations remain under water.

Flooding at Todmorden

Northern is working closely with colleagues at Network Rail to return normal working to the railway as soon as possible, but conditions are difficult and many assessments can only take place once all water has been removed.

A spokesman for Northern said: “Flooding in some parts of South Yorkshire continues to have an impact on our ability to run services.

“The rail industry is doing all it can to deal with the issues caused by flood water, but in many cases the full picture will not be apparent until all water has been drained from the tracks.”

The spokesman added: “Until further notice we are still advising customers not to travel in some areas as rail travel is not possible and roads are also badly affected.

Rotherham tracks

“Colleagues from Network Rail are working around the clock to try to return to normal working conditions and we would like to thank our customers in South Yorkshire – and across the North – for their ongoing patience and understanding.”

Northern customers across the network are advised to allow extra time for travel and to check ahead as there remains potential for disruption to services and timetables may be amended on some routes.

Status at 6pm on Saturday 9 November

Customers are advised not to travel on the following routes until further notice:

  • Doncaster – Scunthorpe, due to flood water at Kirk Sandall the line remains closed with no estimate as to when the route will re-open
  • Sheffield – Goole, flooding continues to cause issues and there is no current estimate for when the route will re-open
  • Sheffield – Doncaster, due to severe flooding at Rotherham and between Mexborough and Conisbrough disruption is expected to continue and there is no current estimate for when the route will re-open

There are also problems still affecting other lines in the North:

  • Sheffield  – Leeds via Moorthorpe, flooding at Rotherham Central and Consibrough means services will not call at Rotherham until further notice

For up-to-the-minute train running information please check National Rail Enquiries.