Signal novelty

This recently-installed signal on the platform at Deansgate is a repeater for signal MC 461 which is at the west end of the platform and obscured by the station canopy.

The lower screen shows an image in LED lights of the traditional rotating disk 'banner repeater' with the added feature that the disc, normally white, changes to green when the main signal is green, remaining white if the signal is yellow or double-yellow.

The arrow above shows the route set at Castlefield Junction: left for Trafford Park direction, right for Ordsall Lane and either Salford Crescent of Eccles. The lights will be brighter when seen from the driver's cab.

The 'MC' prefix tells us that these signals are controlled from the new signalling centre at Ashburys. which will eventually take over signalling over a wide area.


Quite a number of Class 185 units now carry the silver livery of the 'new' TransPennine operator (First Group alone replacing a consortium including First). Most have the number on the ends as well as the star which has been adopted as a symbol ...

... but more recent repaints have a bigger star and the number relegated to the side.

Go by Waxi

While at Pomona we noticed the 'Waxi' which now offers a public service along the Bridgewater Canal between Castlefield and Old Trafford.

Silent Cargo

Walking from Pomona to MediaCity we noticed that work has begun at
Trafford Wharf, near the War Museum, on re-location for utilities in preparation for the Trafford Centre line which will branch off at
Pomona and dive under the Trafford Road bridge before running along
here to a stop at the Museum. The artwork in the foreground is 'Silent
', commissioned by Trafford Park Development Corporation and
created in 1994-96 by James Wines and John King.

Manchester Locomotives, March 2017

Report by Charlie Hulme

On Thursday 23 March 2017, accompanied by North Wales Coast Railway website contributor David Sallery, I set out on a day's mission to see some locomotive-hauled trains in Greater Manchester, using only trains, trams and walking. Starting at Manchester Piccadilly  we travelled by Metrolink to Pomona station and walked round to the road bridge over the line to capture GB Railfreight locomotive 66 716 Locomotive and Carriage Institution Centenary 1911-2011 pass at 11:40 with the 03:10 Felixstowe to Trafford Park Euroterminal. Notice the person heading along the path to Pomona station: quite a rare event.

We then travelled by tram to Navigation Road arriving just in time for the passing of the 10:00 Dowlow to Theale stone train which passed eight minutes early at 12:21.  66 181 was hauling some of the 80 'MMA' wagons built in Romania for the contract recently signed between DB Cargo and Hope Construction Materials to run trains as required to any of several terminals around the country.

We then made the short trip to Altrincham for a lunch break on the platform. There were several freight trains pathed through there around lunchtime, but a Leeds to Warrington Arpley working and the Knowsley to Wilton 'Binliner' were cancelled. What did appear, on time at 13:12, was the 11:43 Fiddlers Ferry to Ferrybridge Power Station coal empties, part of a short-term contract to move stockpiled coal from the closed Ferrybridge PS to burn at Fiddlers Ferry. 66 618 Railways Illustrated Annual Photographic Awards was hauling a set of 'HHA' hopper wagons. Over 400 of these were built from 2000, most of which are now redundant. A number have already been scrapped, their bogies and brake gear re-used on new box wagons for stone traffic.

The new footbridge was under repair at the platform 4 end, part of a long saga of workmanship problems with this structure.

From Altrincham we travelled to Deansgate, in time to see 66 716 return with the 14:16 Trafford Park to Felixstowe service...

and 66 566 pass soon afterwards on the scheduled light-engine working from Crewe to Trafford Park to collect a train. Note that this platform line is now signalled for bi-directional working.

From Deansgate we travelled by Metrolink to Victoria, changing at Cornbrook on to a Rochdale service in order to experience the new 'second city crossing' line. Passing up the option to travel to Salford Central for the Hope Street to Peak Forest stone empties, we took another tram, by the old route, aiming for the 15:14 train from there towards Manchester Airport.

With a little time to spare we stayed on the tram to New Islington, first stop on the Ashton line, an area which has undergone a great transformation in recent years, although Manchester's original trams did service this area. The 'Hatbox' in the background contains 144 flats in what is described as a 'tranquil setting'. A three-bedroom apartment comes in at 1,600 per calendar month.

Returning by tram to Piccadilly, the 15:14 train (formed of a Class 319) took us to Burnage in time to photograph 66 501 Japan 2001 on the 15:16 Freightliner service from Trafford Park to Southampton.

Returning to Piccadilly on the 15:57 departure from Burnage, we had time to have a coffee and walk over to platform 9 for a vantage point (albeit somewhat against the light) to see 66 532  P&O Nedlloyd Atlas pass with an additional Crewe - Trafford Park train ...

... as 66 566,which passed light-engine earlier, returned from Trafford Park with the 16:18 to Felixstowe.

And finally, a loco-hauled passenger train. 67 014, still in Wrexham & Shropshire silver/grey, brings in the empty stock from Longsight excursion platform for the Arriva Trains Wales 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno, one of two such departures Monday - Friday, the other being the 09:50 to Holyhead.

Not a lot of locomotive variety perhaps, but an interesting day, all the same.

Last update March 2017. Comments welcome: