Mersey and Wirral wandering
Overground Underground
© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2023
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
13 September 2023
not travelled this way before, so we’d better include it in the itinerary. While we’re at it, the other member of this small party had never ridden on the Merseyrail link from Liverpool Parkway to Hunts Cross… Returning on the same train from Hunts Cross to Liverpool Central, we’re on foot, via the waterfront, to Water Street. Downhill all the way here! Refurbished in 2015, it’s an interesting and impressive throwback to earlier times. From James Street, we travel (pausing for lunch near Hamilton Square) to Bidston, nicely in time for the next train for Wrexham (an hourly service), formed of 230008 - yes, a former D78. What an impressive train! A smart and clean exterior and livery, and a well-rebuilt interior with comfortable seating - mostly 2+2, with just a short section of the more-familiar underground-style seating. It’s a smooth and pleasant ride too. The acceleration is striking, particularly as we watch the train pull away from Shotton - hard to believe it’s not a conventional electric train. We’re leaving the 230 at Shotton partly because that’s the southern limit on the Wrexham line of our day ranger, and partly so that we can travel via Chester to Warrington, where we join a southbound Pendolino for the run back to Crewe, and our last leg train back to Nantwich. What an interesting day out we’ve had!
In July, on our way to the Isle of Man ferry, I’d left Liverpool’s James Street station by the exit to Water Street - not realising that, in place of the usual escalator and/or lift, it led to street level by a long and steep passageway. Not a great imposition - except that we were heavily burdened with luggage. As we ascended - slowly! - I realised that this dated from the original Mersey Railway underground line from Birkenhead to Liverpool Central. Might be worth a return visit with the camera. While considering other possible objectives for this outing, another underground-related possibility occurred to us - the former London Underground D78 trains. Converted to diesel-battery hybrid propulsion and fully refitted internally, a small fleet was brought into service earlier this year by Transport for Wales on the Wrexham to Bidston line. Can we get a ride on one? We’re on a “Cheshire Day Ranger” (yet again) so we’ll enjoy and interesting and roundabout route. Starting from Nantwich, our first destination is Crewe, where we can catch a train to Chester. A bonus at Crewe - a railtour, hauled by two immaculate 1960s-liveried class 47s. From Chester, we’re heading for Liverpool - not by the direct line via Birkenhead, but on the recently-introduced service via Runcorn and the Halton curve. One of us had
350 departure from Crewe D1924 and D1935: railtour duties Chester: cl 507 for Liverpool Chester: cl 507 departure Entrance steps Booking hall Long steep passageway To the trains Hamilton Square station tower Cl 508 approaching Bidston Cl 230 from Wrexham Cl 230 for Wrexham: Bidston Interior - reminder of underground origins Interior: 2+2 seating Shotton High Level Warrington: Pendolino (not ours - next stop Euston) Avanti trains: Voyager and Pendolino Mersey Railway: Water St entrance Chester:cl 197 for Liverpool via Runcorn Cl 508: Liverpool Parkway Hunts Cross Caption not needed! Longboat in the dock Canning Dock