New Class 331 EMUs Make Their Debut on Hazel Grove to Blackpool Service

New Class 331 EMUs entered service on the Hazel Grove - Blackpool service as from the 16 December timetable. Unfortunately this led to cancellations due to 'train crew issues', with as many as 16 trains per day on the Hazel Grove section cancelled each day in the first week. 3-car Class 331/0 versions, some in double formation, worked most of the services, although at least one 4-car 331/1 was seen. The picture shows 331 008 calling at Davenport with the 15:02 Hazel Grove - Blackpool North (Blackpool N Pole according to a whimsical festive change to the
information screen text).
Photo and text from Charlie Hulme.

Refurbished Class 323s for Northern

Refurbished Northern 323 238 at Manchester Piccadilly on 5th December.  It was intended that the Northern fleet of 17 323s would go off-lease (and presumably be scrapped) as soon as the new 331s are available, but it has now been decided to refurbish them and also transfer the rest of the 323s - 26 units - from the West Midlands and return the ex-Thameslink Class 319s to the leasing company, possibly to be turned into 'bi-modes'. 
Photo and text by Charlie Hulme.

2019 AGM Report

The minutes of the 2019 Annual General Meeting held on the 15th November can now be found on the Members Only (password required) section of the website.  Also the minutes of the November Committee Meeting (No 742).

Mystery Loco and Location

We have an archive of many thousands of photographs.  Most are complete with information, dates, locations etc but this is one that we know absolutely nothing about.  Can anyone provide any clues?

New Northern EMU 331 009 rests at Stockport between empty-stock training runs to Stoke-on-Trent and back, 26 September. 

Class 68 Trans Pennine Diagrams - an update from Charlie Hulme

There are now two class 68-worked diagrams on the Liverpool - Manchester
Victoria - Scarborough route, as below. Route is via Chat Moss and

Monday - Saturday

1E23 05:56 Liverpool Lime St - Scarborough
1F60 09:41 Scarborough - Liverpool Lime St
1E37 12:56 Liverpool Lime St - Scarborough
1F74 16:44 Scarborough - Liverpool Lime St
1E51 19:56 Liverpool Lime St - Scarborough
1P98 22:46 Scarborough - Manchester Piccadilly

1F48 05:55 Manchester Victoria - Liverpool Lime St
1E25 06:56 Liverpool Lime St - Scarborough
1F62 10:41 Scarborough - Liverpool Lime St
1E39 13:56 Liverpool Lime St - Scarborough
1F76 17:44 Scarborough - Liverpool Lime St
1J53 20:56 Liverpool Lime St - Stalybridge


1E29 08:56 Liverpool Lime St - Scarborough
1F66 12:41 Scarborough - Liverpool Lime St
1E43 15:52 Liverpool Lime St - Scarborough
1F80 19:44 Scarborough - Liverpool Lime St

9M04 08:25 Manchester Victoria - Liverpool Lime St
1E31 09:55 Liverpool Lime St - Scarborough
1F68 13:44 Scarborough - Liverpool Lime St
1E45 16:52 Liverpool Lime St - Scarborough
1P42 20:42 Scarborough - Manchester Airport

News Items for the November 2019 Mancunian  by Andrew Macfarlane

Transport for Wales Club 50 Offer
This new ticket offer started on 2nd September for outward travel until 24th November for anyone aged 50 or over. The fare is £29 return to anywhere on the Transport for Wales rail network using their services only. It is not available before 09.30 on Monday to Friday and the ticket cannot be used to travel to or from Cardiff on Saturday 30th November due to a rugby match that day (Wales v the Barbarians). Return travel can be up to 8 days after the date of outward travel (the day of outward travel is the first day of the eight). The ticket can be purchased from any ticket office on the day of travel but there are no discounts for railcard holders or any add-ons using the services of other Train Operating Companies. More details are at

Unit 142045, which was damaged by a low hanging Overhead Line Equipment insulator at Guide Bridge on 22nd July was not in fact withdrawn and remains in service. Unit 142005 was the first and so far only class 142 to be withdrawn this year (with some fanfare) on 12th August.

Freight on the North Wales Main Line
Wednesday 18th September saw the last nuclear flask train from Valley to Sellafield conveying fuel rods from the now-closed Wylfa Power Station. However this is not the end for freight traffic on the North Wales main line because Glan Conwy yard and Llandudno Junction sidings are to reopen for crushed slate waste traffic from Penrhyn Quarry (now owned by Breedon Group plc) and granite traffic is to restart from Penmaenmawr where a large sum of money has been spent to bring the rail loading facilities back into use. This traffic may be in connection with HS2.

West Coast Rail Franchise
A consortium of First Group and the Italian national rail operator Trenitalia will take over the West Coast rail franchise (including the running of Stockport station) on 8th December 2019. The Pendolinos will be retained but a new fleet of trains will replace the Voyagers.

East Midland Railway
The Liverpool-Norwich service will be split at Nottingham from the December 2021 timetable change. TransPennine Express will operate the Liverpool-Nottingham service from that date.
Class 323 Electric Units
It has been announced that Northern will be retaining its 17 class 323 units and that they will also be acquiring all of the class 323s currently operating in the West Midlands. The class 319 units will be returned to the train leasing company. They are unable to keep to existing class 323 schedules on the Manchester-Stoke line. Class 323s are currently however banned from travelling via Bolton due to potential interference between their traction motors and the type of track circuits used on that line. The 8 class 769 bi-mode conversions of class 319s are still scheduled to enter service with Northern. 

Minutes of the September MLS Committee Meeting

The minutes of the above Committee Meeting can now be found on the Members Only section accessed by password.  Click on Reports.

8F No 48151 passes through Hazel Grove in torrential rain on Saturday 27th July with a Carnforth to Burton ECS working.
Photo ©Peter Cross

Cemex - liveried 66 780 (ex DB Cargo 66 008), newly named 'The Cemex Express' is pictured passing through Davenport Station with the daily Peak Forest to Salford Hope Street stone train on the 21st June.  This GBRf locomotive, with its special livery, was officially named at a ceremony in Buxton the previous week attended by Peter Waterman. 

Photo: Charlie Hulme.

Introduction to Service of Northern Class 195 DMUs

As seen on TV, the new Class 195 Northern DMUs (should) enter service on
Monday 1 July on Manchester Airport to Barrow (via Eccles) and
Manchester Airport to Liverpool via Birchwood.
The following (SX) daytime diagrams are courtesy of a writer on the WNXX

07:46 Barrow - Man Airport
10:29 Man Airport - Barrow
13:53 Barrow Man - Airport
16:34 Man Airport - Barrow

13:06 Windermere -  Man Airport
15:30 Man Airport -  Barrow

10:46 Barrow - Man Airport
13:29 Man Airport -  Barrow
16:45 Barrow - Man Airport

09:29 Man Airport - Barrow
14:46 Barrow - Man Airport
17:29 Man Airport - Windermere

15:16 Liverpool - Man Airport
16:45 Man Airport - Liverpool

09:49 Man Airport - Liverpool
11:16 Liverpool - Man Airport
12:50 Man Airport - Liverpool
14:10 Liverpool - Man Airport
15:50 Man Airport - Liverpool
17:15 Liverpool - Man Airport

09:16 Liverpool - Man Airport
10:50 Man Airport - Liverpool
12:16 Liverpool -  Man Airport
13:50 Man Airport -  Liverpool
15:16 Liverpool - Man Airport
16:45 Man Airport - Liverpool

May Committee Meeting Minutes

The minutes of the May Committee Meeting can now be found on the Member Page (password required).  Click on the Reports Link.

Local Rail and Metrolink News 
by Andrew Macfarlane

Tornado passes through Altrincham
The famous new-build steam locomotive no. 60163 Tornado came through Altrincham hauling “The Mad Hatter” return excursion from Chester to Darlington North Road on Saturday 11th May. It was the first visit of the loco to the mid-Cheshire line. The special train was routed from Altrincham via Northenden Junction, Cheadle Heath, Hazel Grove High Level Junction and Disley Tunnel to reach the Hope Valley line and Sheffield. 

Tornado approaching New Mills South Jct.  Ken Millward
Transpennine Express Club 55 Offer

TransPennine Express has a current Club 55 offer (until Tuesday 4th June for outward travel) for those aged 55 or over. The prices are £22 return to anywhere on their network in the North of England, £32 return to anywhere on their network in Scotland. First class fares are £42 return in the North of England and £62 return to Scotland. Travel is not permitted before 09.30 on Monday to Friday. There are no restrictions on Saturdays, Sundays or Bank Holidays. Senior, Disabled or Two Together Railcard holders get 20% off (Disabled and Two Together railcard holders must be aged 55 or over). Travel is not permitted to or from Manchester Airport station. A new condition is that tickets must be bought in advance (at least the day before travel) but they can still be bought at stations as well as online. There is no need to specify particular trains or to reserve seats (although you can reserve seats if you wish to). Return travel can be up a month after the date of outward travel.                   

Sunday Bus Replacements

Trains between Stockport and Chester will be replaced by buses due to engineering work all day on Sundays 30th June and 7th July.

May 2019 Timetable Changes

There is virtually no change to the train service through Altrincham but the following changes are happening across the wider Northern network:
 New hourly service between
• Chester and Leeds (via Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Victoria) except Sundays.
• Sheffield and Gainsborough (including weekday services for the first time at Gainsborough Central)
Hourly services between
• Blackpool North and Manchester Airport (via Piccadilly)
• Blackpool North and Hazel Grove (via Piccadilly)
• Preston and Manchester Victoria
Currently the service from Manchester Victoria only goes as far as Buckshaw Parkway so this is a welcome improvement.  

New West Coast Partnership Franchise

On 10th April it was announced by the Department for Transport that Stagecoach/Virgin had been barred from bidding from this and any other rail franchise due to their unwillingness to provide open-ended funding for the railway pension scheme. Stagecoach has now mounted a legal challenge against their disqualification from the East Midlands franchise. The new West Coast Partnership franchise, for which Stagecoach/Virgin were bidding in conjunction with SNCF, is due to start in March 2020.     

Winner Announced for East Midlands Franchise

Abellio (Netherlands Railways) will be the new operator of the East Midlands franchise taking over from Stagecoach. Unfortunately it is planned to split the current Liverpool-Norwich service at Nottingham from an early stage in the new franchise. Either Northern or Transpennine Express will operate a service between Liverpool and Nottingham and there will be a separate Derby-Norwich service via Nottingham operated by the East Midlands franchise.   

Another Special Train Through Altrincham

On Saturday 13th July UK Railtours are running through Altrincham with their “Buxton and Peak Forest” trip on its way back from Buxton to London Euston.

Crewe Open Day Now Sold Out

The Open Day at the former Crewe Diesel Depot on Saturday 8th June is now sold out. 

Metrolink News

The pointwork for the new bay platform at Crumpsall was installed over the Easter weekend. This will be the terminus for the new Metrolink service to the Trafford Centre, due to start in early 2020. The Trafford Centre will be in fare zone 3.

Member Syd Williams has written an interesting, amusing and thoroughly alarming article chronicling a week at Saltley Motive Power Depot in the early fifties.  The article is appropriately titled A Bad Week for Saltley.

There is a very interesting  new feature article concerning loco 37 422 at work on the Cumbrian Coast in 2015 and 2017.  It is written by Charlie Hulme and features the photographs of Dave Garrett and the text of Charlie's recent Mancunian article.  Enjoy.

MLS Committee Meeting  No 738 Minutes (March)

The above document can be found in the Members-only section of the website.   (Password required).

A Mystery Chair

This chair, which has been in the Society's possession for a considerable length of time, was brought back into view recently at our headquarters.  The chair was certainly in use when our meetings were held at Sale Station up to the beginning of the nineties and before we moved to Stockport.  It could very well have been present when the Society was inaugurated at Manchester Central back in 1935!  If that was so, could it's origins be traced back to before the Grouping?

The front legs of the chair have castors which has led to speculation that it could have been used in a dining car,  the castors enabling the attendant to wheel the chair behind the diner, to make the sitting process easier.

Although the leather covering is showing a great deal of distress, the wooden frame is in excellent condition.  It carries simple but pleasing carvings on the woodwork.

Can anyone shed any light on this fine piece of furniture?

MLS Committee Meeting No 737 (January 2019)

The minutes of the above meeting can now be found on the Members Only section (password required).  Click on Reports.

Same Date.........Same Train?  by Ken Millward

These two photographs were taken on May 5th 1980 on the occasion of a family day trip to North Wales.  Stopping off at Helsby to photograph the impressive semaphores, 40038 came by with a fully fitted empty ballast train (left).  Two and a half hours later what appears to be the same working is seen from the town walls at Conwy.  Because I cannot read the loco number in the second shot, it's impossible to be certain whether it is the same train....but it could be!

Trans - Pennine Express Test Working.

68 032 is photographed propelling the 09.38 Carlisle - Manchester International Depot empty stock trial working through Manchester Oxford Road station at 13.00 on the 24th January.  This was booked to run Monday - Friday that week in an 'as required' path, which is included in the winter timetable, but was cancelled on two days. 
Photo and information by Charlie Hulme.

Older items can be found on the 2018 Archive page.

Members' contributions welcome at:

Page updated December 2019