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A Class 90 at Hazel Grove. 
photos by MLS member Lee Stanford.

On the 14th January Class 90 no 90014 'Over The Rainbow' made a surprise appearance on the electrified Hazel Grove line on a test run from Crewe.

Photo İLee Stanford
The loco is seen passing through Davenport Station.

Photo İLee Stanford
90014 arriving at Hazel Grove.

January News Items  by Andrew Macfarlane

Class 142 Pacers finish in service with Northern
27th November was actually the last day in passenger service for class 142 Pacers on Northern. Their withdrawal was brought forward due to worn tyres. 142004 was the last unit in service and the last working was the 16.36 from Kirkby to Manchester Victoria. Several 142s are to be retained by Northern for route learning between York and Scarborough in advance of the introduction of a Northern service between those places. 24th December was the last day in service for class 142 Pacers on Transport for Wales (TfW). Fifteen class 143 Pacers are now due to continue in service with TfW until the end of May 2021.

Class 86 survives December timetable change
Freightliner class 86/6s continued in service after the December timetable change but have gradually been placed in store since then as they are due for examinations. At the time of writing (23rd January) only 86613 and 86632 remained in traffic.

TfGM £10 payment for tram and train extended to 31st March 2021
TfGM has announced that anyone whose £10 annual payment for tram and train expires in January, February or March can continue to use the tram and train in the TfGM area until 31st March. TfGM do not want people travelling to visit Travelshops at the moment. Greater Manchester residents will be able to renew their £10 payment for tram and train from 7 days before 31st March or they could wait until they plan to use the tram or train. Incidentally Stockport bus station Travelshop has moved to a temporary location in Mersey Square while the bus station is being rebuilt.

Reduced rail timetable due to national lockdown
Northern introduced a much reduced timetable from Monday 18th January. Also Avanti West Coast is currently running only four trains an hour from Euston, one each to Wolverhampton, Liverpool, Glasgow and Manchester.

Local News Items  by Andrew Macfarlane 

Rose Hill Marple line

Northern had planned to withdraw the service from Piccadilly to Rose Hill via Hyde completely from Monday 14th September to Sunday 13th December. Local councillors then arranged for West Coast (Carnforth) to run the service (between Guide Bridge and Rose Hill) for a week from 14th September. In the event this didn't happen because Northern had a slight change of heart and chose to run three trains each way per day to Rose Hill for schoolchildren. Northern plan to introduce a service every 90 minutes on the Rose Hill line from 26th October and an hourly service from 14th December. The episode is a worrying example of what could happen to any service in the present circumstances.
The train service to and from Rose Hill was temporarily suspended in September due to the challenges faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organisations have faced difficulties due to COVID-19 and the railway is no exception.

This is an update to the above:
During the pandemic, training programmes were paused and there was an urgent need to begin this training again to enable Northern to provide a reliable and resilient railway service across Greater Manchester and beyond in the future.
Train operators have now been able to recommence training and through this, Northern has been able to restore a 90-minute timetable between Manchester Piccadilly and Rose Hill, Mondays to Saturdays.
Gorton, in addition to the re-introduced Manchester to Rose Hill service, will continue to be served by the Manchester to Hadfield and Glossop services.
The Ring and Ride pre-bookable taxi service will continue and, between the hours of 1800 and 2100, a shuttle bus will serve the Marple area. Ticket acceptance will also remain valid on Metrolink services between Manchester City Zone stations to Droylsden for customers travelling between Manchester and Fairfield.
Northern has made and is continuing to make several improvements at stations along the line, including:
White lining
General repairs and maintenance
Repainting (including; canopies, railings, columns, benches and fencing)
Relacing assets (including; signage, canopies, doors, gates and fencing)
Deep cleaning

Ian Allan bookshop to close

The last surviving Ian Allan bookshop, which is at 45/46 Lower Marsh near London Waterloo station, is sadly due to close on 31st October. It's loss will be mourned by many who like to browse before they buy.

Pacers return to the Mid Cheshire Line
As from Monday 14th September 9 of the 24 daily trains on the Manchester-Northwich-Chester line are operated by a class 142 coupled to a class 150. Class 142s no longer operate to Sheffield. They have been retained by Northern due to delays in bringing the class 769 bi-mode units (conversions of class 319 units with a diesel engine) into service.

Failure of Manchester South signalling centre
There was a major failure of the Manchester South signalling centre (located on the site of Edgeley steam shed) on the evening of Wednesday 16th September. Disruption lasted until normal working was resumed on Monday 21st September.

Liverpool-Norwich service
The plan for Transpennine Express to operate part of this service between Liverpool and Nottingham from December 2021 has been dropped and the whole service will remain with East Midlands Railway. The service may still be split at Nottingham.

Metrolink resignalling
The section of the Bury line between Whitefield and Bury was converted to TMS operation (line of sight) from Monday 24th August. Trams now have to stop at Hagside Crossing and proceed at 10mph over the crossing. Such is progress?

Euston to Blackpool open access operation is off
It was announced on 10th September that plans by Grand Central to start an open access service between Euston and Blackpool North from May 2021 had been dropped due to the virus. This cancellation came at a late stage after staff had been recruited and class 90 locos and Mark IV stock had been reliveried.

First of new Metrolink trams due to arrive
The first of the new batch of 27 Metrolink trams is due to arrive in Manchester in October 2020.

Stockport-Stalybridge service restarts
The famous Stockport-Stalybridge service restarted on Saturday 19th September after a gap in the service due to the virus. The train leaves Stockport at 09.45 and arrives at Stalybridge at 10.05. It only operates in one direction.

Tornado Visits the North West

Pacific no 60163 'Tornado' was in charge of 1Z63NC, a West Coast Railway charter from Darlington North Road to Liverpool Lime Street on Saturday September 19th.  As expected, some of our members turned out to record the occasion on film.

Photo: Andrew Macfarlane
The special passes through Manchester Victoria station.

Photo: John Tate
Approaching Rindle Lane Crossing, Astley at 12.34.

Photo: John Sloane
Passing through Earlstown.

Photo: John Sloane
Admirers gather on Lostock Hall platform.  Is the gentleman taking a low shot or is he on his knees in awe?

Photo: John Sloane
This fine photograph, taken at Standish, highlights the locomotive's superb lines.

Bury Diesels - Green and Blue.   Photos by John Tate

First the green - Classes 40, 25, 47, 24, and a glimpse of diesel-hydraulic Class 14

-and then the blue.  English Electric Type 4 and 3.  Photos taken by John Tate on September 20th 2020 at an organised photographic day event.

A most unusual event on the evening of 27 July  was the appearance, for reasons unkown, of Freightliner electric  loco 86 607 reversing at Hazel Grove, as part of an intinerary which began and ended at Freightliner's depot at Basford Hall, Crewe. Is this a genuine 'first'? Picture by Peter Cross.

Committee Meeting No 746 (July) Minutes

Because of the social distancing and travel restrictions required in view of the current Covid 19 pandemic, it is not possible to hold a Committee Meeting at present. In order to ensure continuity of MLS Committee business, the minutes report has been produced based on email submissions by Society officers and on-line discussion by MLS Committee members.

The minutes can be found in the Members Only password protected area

Note: Password Change

On the evening of Sunday 12 April the password for access to the Members-only section of the website will change (the username remains the same). Members of the MLS email group have been notified of the new password; if you are an MLS member not in the email group, or otherwise have not received notification, email:

so we can confirm your membership and send you the password. We recommend that members join the email group, which helps to keep the Society together during these difficult times. If you wish to join the email group, mention this in your email and we will send you an invitation.

April News - from Andrew Macfarlane

The Trafford Centre Metrolink line opened as planned on Sunday 22nd March (despite the virus). The initial service is a 12-minute frequency shuttle from Cornbrook. Metrolink services were reduced to a 12-minute frequency across the system (with the Altrincham-Bury service withdrawn) as from Monday 23 March due to reduced demand because of the virus (and also because fewer staff were available). Where possible services have been formed of double trams to enable social distancing to take place. The service will be further reduced to every 20 minutes from Monday 6th April.

The Northern franchise was taken into public ownership as from 1st March. Nick Donovan is the new Managing Director of Northern. He was previously MD of Transpennine Express. Experienced railwayman Robin Gisby is Chairman of the new company Northern Trains Limited.

Since February Freightliner have been using class 70 locomotives on the Greater Manchester binliner trains  The Dean Lane refuse transfer station at Newton Heath is currently being rebuilt and rail traffic from there has temporarily ceased.

The last four Northern class 142 Pacers have been withdrawn and are currently parked at Newton Heath depot. Plans for a farewell tour to the Northern class 142s have been cancelled due to the virus.

In March it was announced that a feasibility study is to be carried out into the possible reopening of the Skelton Junction to Glazebrook line.

Freight Variety - by Charlie Hulme

It's perhaps an interesting fact that in March 2020 the three main types of freight loco - classes 60, 66 and 70 - can be seen in action in the Stockport area. These three views were taken at Stockport station before the current crisis.

On 11 March, the 09:54 from Cemex, Peak Forest to Hope Street, Salford was powered by 66 780 'Cemex Express' in its special livery, named by Peter Waterman in June 2019. The wagons behind  the locomotive are former coal hoppers shortened for limestone usage by cutting out the centre section. The company name 'Cemex' is a clue that Dove Holes quarry is now owned by a multinational based in Mexico.

Freightliner hold the contract for Greater Manchester Waste trains, which currently run to the Runcorn Folly Lane branch where there is access to an 'energy for waste' plant.These have been hauled by Class 66s in recent times, but in February Class 70s took over.Seen at lunchtime on 11 March was 70 010 with the 11:12 empty containers from Runcorn to Brindle Heath waste terminal in Salford. Until February some of the wagons would have been detached at Brindle Heath and tripped to Dean Lane waste terminal in Newton Heath, but this has ceased, as the Dean lane building is being demolished for rebuilding in another form. The last train to enter the sidings was a railtour on 7 March.

Another regular flow is of 'biomass' (wood pellets) from Liverpool Docks to Drax power station. The loaded trains take an indirect route via the Mid-Cheshire line and Stockport to avoid the climb of Miles Platting bank. The empties return via Rochdale, Manchester Victoria and Eccles. The wagons are a special design to carry a maximum load of the relatively light material. GB Railfreight is the hauler, using Class 60 locos purchased from Colas, such as 60 096 'Impetus', seen on 14 March approaching Heaton Norris Junction where it will take the route towards Guide Bridge. The 'unofficial' names on these locos reference celebrity marine tugboats, 'tug' being an enthusiasts' nickname for the Class 60.

New Look Pendolino


Pendolino No 390 155 in the new Avanti West Coast livery calls at Stockport on January 8th while forming a service to Manchester Piccadilly.
Photograph by Charlie Hulme

Older items can be found on the 2019 Archive page

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Page updated January 2021