Supplement to e-BLN 1251 BLN Pictorial 20 February 2016
BLN Pictorial was thinking of having a fortnight off this time, but an opportunity presented itself which seemed really too good to miss, and your Editor and
Sub-editor agreed that the Third Rail Centenary Tracker should have its place in BLN history! Thanks to the generosity of Merseyrail's staff, our member
Mark Haggas was able to ride in the cab of the train for most of the tour, and naturally made the most of the opportunity, taking over 200 photographs of
the day's proceedings. Many participants on the tour commented on how friendly and helpful the Merseyrail staff were, always ready to point out and
explain railway features while a complex itinerary was worked with great efficiency - and mostly in daylight and even sunshine! With equal generosity,
Mark has made a selection of those images available to BLN Pictorial and the net result is a very rare, if not unique, driver's eye view of a BLS railtour.
Except where otherwise noted, all the photographs are Mark's.
To keep the focus on the railtour route, instead of distracting everyone with the usual Sub-editorial ramblings in between photos, the captions are all listed
below. Clicking on the page number beside each caption will take you directly to the picture concerned, and clicking near the bottom left hand corner of
each picture will bring you back to the list of captions. Touch screen users should find a similar set-up. So, with our most sincere thanks to Mark for this
excellent visual record and the work involved in sifting out the best selection from those 200+ photos, and the suggestion that you might wish to keep
David Palmer's tour itinerary and Stephen Phillips's map beside you, we set off to Merseyside.
3. The tour awaits departure from bay platform 1 at Hooton in rather warmer conditions than our previous Merseyside venture. (Ian Mortimer).
4. James Street's platform 2 on the reversible connection between the Wirral and Northern lines, where the tour reversed, is only rarely used by
passengers during engineering work and service disruptions, and deliberately retains 'period features' - note also the latest Branch line Society
'nameboard' taking a photocall on the right. The photo is looking towards Mann Street Junction and the Wirral lines.
5. Birkenhead North Depot Up & Down Through Siding, looking towards Bidston.
6. With the flexibility of modern displays and the willingness of TOC staff to go the extra distance (of which more anon!), most tours get their name
literally up in lights. The display at James Street welcomed the Third Rail Centenary Tracker when it arrived back from the Wirral.
7. Just to the south of Liverpool Central the Northern line passes through the four St. James (not to be confused with James Street) tunnels before
reaching Brunswick station.
8. At Bank Hall station the train is standing on the Up Southport Reversible line, with the route set to join the Down Southport line at Bootle Jn. The
feathers on the left hand signal (above the '6 car stop' sign) are for the disused North Mersey Branch from Bootle Jn to Aintree.
9. Now heading for Southport on the Down line, the train approaches Formby station.
10. Approaching platform 1 at Southport, with the longer platforms of the Wigan line to the right. The space beyond the platforms, now used for car
parking , was originally occupied by another five regular and two excursion platforms. The unit on the left is standing in the Wallside Siding, which is
used for stabling and does not have a platform face.
11. The Southport reversal allowed passengers a short break including a complimentary hot drink kindly provided by Merseyrail. Here the units stand in
platform 1, with the Wallside Siding to the left. (Ian Mortimer)
12. Remember the earlier comment about going the extra distance? Merseyrail did their absolute best here at Birkdale Carriage Sidings No2 road, where
the unit's coupler is little more than 50 mm from the buffer stop.
13. Looking back along the train in Birkdale CS No2 road. On the right a train has just left Southport for Hunts Cross.
14. The end of the two Birkdale sidings, with Southport station beyond. The line immediately to the right divides into three further sidings, the nearest
of which is a through siding forming part of a triangle which can be used for turning units or locomotives if necessary.
15. The entrance to Birkdale Carriage Sidings. No1 and 2 roads are to the left next to the running lines; the line to the right divides into two with the
right hand line being a dead end siding and the left hand one being the third side of the turning triangle. Formerly this was a connection between
the Liverpool and Wigan lines.
16. The view northwards from the Sandhills reversing siding, with the running lines either side and the road set for the train to regain the reversible Up
Southport line in the very rare (for a passenger train) Down direction to Kirkdale Depot.
17. The approach to Kirkdale depot, seen from the Up (towards Liverpool) Ormskirk line. The two tracks curving to the left are the Up and Down
Southport lines; the two tracks straight ahead are the Up and Down Ormskirk lines, and the depot entry diverges to the left just beyond the
18. Now off the passenger line, the tour train is making its way into Kirkdale depot.
19. The calm before the storm, as the train approaches the carriage washer in Kirkdale depot.
20. Entering the carriage washer.
21. By now gleaming from its extra wash, the tour train stands in No19 road with the far end at the buffers adjacent to the A567 road bridge.
22. Before departing from Kirkdale the tour visited No22 road, the westernmost of the four inside Kirkdale's large carriage shed.
23. Approaching Liverpool Central, the familiar sight of our Fixtures Secretary can be seen on platform 2.
24. The Third Rail Centenary Tracker approaches platform 2 at James Street for a final time, this time running on the stock interchange line in the other