Kirkby Branch Line

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Green Lane

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Some photos from today, when I travelled from Kirkby to Pemberton and then walked to Wigan.

I don't have great knowledge of what stock would normally be used on this line. I was naively expecting something like a pacer or a 2-car 150 to arrive.

Imagine my surprise when the 09:32 Kirkby to Manchester Victoria was in fact a 4-car train, formed of 2 x 156 trainsets. Although only the front two cars were open to passengers as far as I could tell.

Is this normal on this route?

Only about four people boarded at Kirkby, and I had a whole carriage to myself, well, at least throughout the single-line token-worked section. I saw the token hand-over at Rainford and the semaphore signal there. Didn't realise until today that it was single track all the way to Rainford - makes sense though given service frequency.

The 4-car train, with 156491 forming the rear. All your super-sprinter are belong to us! :lol:


We want information... It was the 09:32 on a Saturday morning


Manchester-bound platform & buffer stop at Kirkby


Orrell from the train window


150142 departs Pemberton en-route to Kirkby


Pemberton


Wigan-bound 150145 arriving at Pemberton


Eventually arriving on foot at Wigan Wallgate
 
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Welshman

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Excellent photos - thank you.

As this is in the "Trip Reports and Nostalgia" section, please allow me to be nostalgic for a moment, and remember that this used to be the L & Y main line from Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Exchange, with express trains every two hours from Leeds/Bradford to Liverpool, and a through restaurant-car express to York and Newcastle via Wakefield Kirkgate, and v.v. Timings from Liverpool to Manchester were about 50-55 minutes with a Wigan stop and 45-50 minutes non-stop via the Pemberton Loop - a good time bearing in mind this was the longest[and most difficult] route between Manchester and Liverpool. There were also stopping services from Liverpool Exchange to Wigan, Bolton, Bury & Rochdale [along part of the line now taken-over by the ELR between Bury and Castleton.]

These stopping services were turned-over to dmus in 1959-1960, using Cravens units, and the express Yorkshire services in 1962, using new "Calder Valley" Class 110 units, some of which were extended to Harrogate.
 

Scouse77

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I used to live near Kirkby station. Being born in 1977 I never saw this route as the double track mainline that it once was. However recently I've found photographs which show that even before the Walton Jcn - Kirkby section was electrified the route was singled from Fazakerley to Kirkby. When did this occur and was it single right through to Rainford before electrification took place? I thought the singling was purely linked to the Loop and Link works and had literally taken place in one go in early 1977.
 

Green Lane

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Thanks both for the replies.

Well, I'll be 40 next year, but I'm still too young to remember the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway in all its former glory. Although I've heard so much about it. I have seen on places like Youtube, drivers who worked the route in the 1950s often lament the loss of such a truly great railway system. It's an education to look at that excellent map of the network which is still at Manchester Victoria station.

So what we do have left is cut down to the bare bones. I'm thankful we can still travel on what remains.

Whilst I agree that the loop and link and electrification of the Merseyrail system is undoubtedly beneficial to many for local travel, I think having the original lines now chopped up into effectively separate systems does affect how people travel and where they choose to go.

It is striking that the vast majority of people to the northeast of Kirkby use the line to travel to Wigan and Manchester and the vast majority of people to the southwest of Kirkby travel to Liverpool.

If the line were not partitioned as it is now, would the elimination of the change of trains promote more travel in the other directions? Quite possibly.

Looking from the Manchester-bound platform towards the Liverpool-bound platform. Note the platform extension and safety barriers.


Where trains might have once roared through, there is actually no track at all for a few yards here!
 
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Welshman

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I moved away to University in 1967, so unfortunately lost track of what happened after that in great detail.

But I seem to remember that through running from/into Yorkshire via this route ceased about 1970, but a local dmu service from Liverpool Exchange to Bolton trundled on until Exchange closed in 1977.

I'm afraid I don't know the exact timescale, but I think parts of the line were singled fairly soon after it ceased to be a main line, whereas any electrification would not have come about until Exchange had been closed, and Southport and Ormskirk trains were diverted to Moorfields.

So that would leave an interim period of about 7 years, to which you refer.

I hope this helps - sorry to be hazy about this period, but there may be others with better recollections who travelled this stretch during this period.
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Green Lane Thank you for your additional photos, which you posted while I was composing a reply for Scouse77.

Actually, I'm 63, and still don't remember the L & Y in its former glory - just its declining years !! :D :D

Referring to your point about through-running - it did seem rather short-sighted to sever the line at Kirkby [and Ormskirk] in such a drastic way.
I did hear at one stage there was talk of the link being restored and Merseyrail running electric services through to Wigan Wallgate. Is anything about to happen on that?
 
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Scouse77

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Green Lane I think it may be worth noting the damage to the remanents of the old platform under the bridge where a 507/508 impacted, not just one....but twice!

Thanks for your replies and information gents. As an aside for Welshman, I too now live in Wales.
 

Johnny Lewis

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At one time, not all that many years ago, Railtrack had a proposal to single the entire line between Wigan Wallgate and Kirkby. This would have meant that there would never again be any possibility of running more than an hourly service over the line. Thankfully, this short-sighted plan was quietly dropped.

The only good thing that can be said for the single line between Rainford and Kirkby is that it has a linespeed of generally 70mph and is CWR, so that, even on a nodding donkey, the ride quality is quite good!

Merseytravel also occasionally make murmuring noises about extending the current electrification a short distance to Headbolt Lane, to give a second station in Kirkby, but, again, no further progress ever seems to be made on this. If this DID go ahead, I'm not sure if the Northern services would then have to terminate there, or whether there would be scope for some shared running over that short distance - it would probably require putting back some of the former double track.
 

Green Lane

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Thanks all for the further interesting replies! It's great to see so much interest in this line.

As an aside, yes, I can quite understand living in Wales, after all it is a beautiful country. I go hiking around North Wales myself very often. My main hobby is in fact hiking - this does happen to fit in really well with my enthusiasm for trains.

From where I live in Birkenhead, it's a 13-mile walk to the Welsh border, or 16 miles to Shotton station. I've done this walk several times. It's OK in the summer, but in the winter, some of the public footpaths en-route are a bit waterlogged.

Of course, to explore more of North Wales, it's always handy for me to get on a Borderlands train at Upton. That's great for exploring the Wrexham area and of course Buckley/Mold/Moel Famau amongst other places. Not to mention the pleasures of the North Wales coast line, Abergele being one of my personal favourites. I also have loads of photos from these trips too, but I wouldn't want to completely derail my own thread. :D

As for Kirkby station, to impact the platform once is unfortunate, but to do it twice, well... :lol:

Glad they never singled the entire line, so there are still options open for the extension of electric services.

What I would really like to see, not on this branch, but not too far away would be the Burscough curves getting reinstated. I would like to see services running between Southport and Preston. The fact that you can't do this now without changing between the two stations at Burscough seems to me something that's crying out to be done. I don't of course understand anything about the practicalities of doing this and how it would possibly impact other services. But I also can't quite see, why both possible routes from Southport to Preston were lost, I thought it might have been prudent to have at least mothballed the route via Burscough. Meanwhile, I suppose the 2X bus does a good job, but we generally all prefer rail travel on here don't we? I'm sure this discussion has been done to death on the main "NR General Duscussion" forum anyway! :lol:

Cheers, all.
 
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Green Lane

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That stone skew arch bridge is a beauty.

You're right, I never really noticed it until now. But, now you mention it, some real skill must have gone into designing and constructing it!

For completeness, I may as well post some of the remaining pics I took at Kirkby station that day:-

The bridge from the other side


508123 at Kirkby


Boarding 508137 at Kirkby


The way out
 
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