NCRUG’s 20 years old Parliamentary Special ….

Posted on June 27th, 2010, by The Chairman

Yesterday the “Parliamentary” Summer Saturday’s only train from Chester to Runcorn via the Halton Curve was extended courtesy of Northern Rail and with special support from Merseytravel to call at Helsby and Frodsham and then continuing from Runcorn to Liverpool South Parkway.

Our member, David Miller from Cuddington, made an early start and sends us these pictures from the day.

He says: “Attached are some photos from today that some of you would not have been able to take (because you are in them!) A grand morning out. Thanks to all concerned. Bert Ellery says he has been on a shorter railtour but this one must take the record for earliest finish.”

Platform 4 passengers - (c) David Miller

Passengers disembarking at Liverpool South Parkway, Platform 4.

Usual suspects, and quite a few others - (c) David Miller

Must have been difficult for the driver with that headboard on!

The official shot - (c) Sally Buttifant

Here’s the formal pose as taken by our Community Rail Officer, Sally Buttifant. Those holding the 2nd headboard are Janet Briggs of NCRUG and Mark Barker, Stakeholder Manager West of Northern Rail, with a London Midland class 350 lurking in the background.

From behind at LSP - (c) David Miller

ECS departs - (c) David Miller

The empty train leaves for Liverpool Lime Street.

There then followed a tour of the control room and facilites at Liverpool South Parkway station courtesy of Merseytravel. Interestingly, LSP is attracting far more passengers than originally envisaged. According to the latest RAIL 647, 32,700 passengers a week are now using it, this being 3 times the figure recorded at the stations it replaced 4 years ago, Allerton and Garston.

Due to anticipated traffic jams on the Runcorn Bridge where there are road works and long delays every weekend, the party then travelled on London Midland’s ½ hourly service to Runcorn Main Line station. I hadn’t been there since it was modernised – a vast improvement on the previous tatty 1960’s electrification station.

Then onto the vintage Crosville buses for the trip back to Frodsham, Helsby and Chester.

John Hobbs from NCRUG alongside a boarding SLB178 - (c) David Miller

John Hobbs, NCRUG supervises boarding.

SLB178 & SLB229 (KW229) pose alongside with headboards - (c) David Miller

229 (LFM810) entered service in West Kirby in December 1951 and is owned by John Prince from West Kirby who bought it from Crosville in July 1970. He has spent many years restoring it to ex-factory condition.

178 (LFM759) entered service in North Wales in November 1950 and is owned by a certain John Oates from Mobberley, who some of you may know! He bought it in 1988, stored it in 1998, getting it back on the road last October. 178 is very much “work in progress”, with focus now going into tidying it up more externally before a long-overdue repaint next February/March.

There's another one behind - (c) David Miller

Coach Party - (c) David Miller

You may recognise some of the passengers, including a number of local authority representatives lending their support to the reopening of the Chester to Liverpool via Runcorn service to more easily connect North Wales and Chester to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and South Liverpool.

Journey's end - (c) David Miller

Pictured on arrival at Chester Station. I’m looking forward to 178 looking much more suitable to accompany 229 following its coming repaint.

For those of you interested in these and similar vehicles, they are expected to be at the Malpas Rally on 11 & 12 September, together with SLB175 (LFM756) owned by Ray Jones in Hawarden.

p.s. have a look at the North Wales Coast Railway website – 4 July 2010 edition – for even more pictures!

Please leave a comment

  1. Bert Ellery Says:

    David mentions my participation in a shorter railtour than Saturday’s, so you may be wondering what that was.

    The Branch Line Society DMU tour ran from Manchester Victoria to Manchester Liverpool Road and back. The organiser’s efforts to get the tour to also run into Manchester London Road were thwarted, so that became my shortest rail tour to date.

  2. John Hobbs, NCRUG Says:

    I thought you might like a copy of my “official” report on our event.


    NCRUG, in conjunction with its 20 years anniversary, requested that Northern Rail make special arrangements on the 24 June to extend the 07.53 Chester to Runcorn to Liverpool South Parkway and for it to call additionally at Helsby & Frodsham.

    We are pleased that “Northern” were able to comply with this request and the event went off very smoothly; sixty six interested passengers travelled over Halton Curve on the “Parliamentary Train”; they were supported by Mark Barker, Customer Stakeholder Manager from Northern Rail West, a Driver Manager and an On Train Customer Support Attendant and the usual Driver and Guard.

    Incidentally the train does not appear in the Great Britain Timetable (GBTT) this year; Mark Barker explained that this was due to the large number of errors in the Summer’s timetable and the fact that Halton Curve does not fall into any timetable slot; however he pointed out, it does appear in the Northern Rail Timetable leaflet No15. In addition, if interrogated the National Rail computer also advises that the service operates.

    Enquiries at Chester revealed that the 07.53 train was destined for ALLERTON, so that was different and raised a few smiles! However it proved possible to by tickets from Chester to Liverpool South Parkway at very reasonable prices – £2.90 with a “Senior Railcard”!

    At Chester elements from the Shrewsbury to Chester Rail Users Association (SCRUA), the Branch Line Society (BLS), Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association (MCRUA), and also representatives of Cheshire West & Cheshire (CWAC) Council were ready for this unique experience.

    Helsby’s contingent included members of Helsby Parish Council and Fran Miller representing her husband Andrew Miller; at Frodsham “The Mayor” greeted the train while representatives of Frodsham Town Council joined it; furthermore Steve Eccles and colleagues from Halton Council also joined us for the ride over Halton Curve to Runcorn Main Line. The importance of elected representatives and council officers on the Halton curve service cannot be over stated as it all adds to the impact of the Chester to Liverpool Airport Project (CLARP).

    The train ran on time and even carried one additional “normal” passenger from Runcorn to Liverpool South Parkway (LSP, also formerly known as Allerton!) and it also unusually arrived at platform three.

    Mark Barker had made arrangements for a head board to be produced for the train, which proved to be the first scheduled train from Chester to the new Liverpool South Parkway station. Replica headboards were presented to Janet Briggs (NCRUG Chairman) and Christine Garner from Cheshire West & Chester (CWAC) on arrival at Liverpool South Parkway.

    Once all the photography was completed and the empty stock had departed, passengers were guided to the refreshment bar where cups of tea and bacon sandwiches, etc were enjoyed, this being due to the necessarily early start required to travel over Halton Curve.

    At 9.30, fully refreshed we all enjoyed a guided tour by the Assistant Station Manager of the facilities at LSP, which took us to all the platforms and covered the environmental aspects of the station and the modification undertaken since its completion. These included increased car parking facilities, a luxury waiting lounge and a more user friendly travel centre.

    Arrangements for return to originating stations required road transport and John Oates of MCRUA kindly provided two vintage single deck “Crosville” buses (fleet nos SLB178 & 229) for the return journey. Due to lane closures on the road bridge, it was thought prudent to have these vehicles waiting at Runcorn Main Line; the participants therefore travelled to Runcorn (Main Line) on the 10.44 London Midland Service to Birmingham.

    After a suitable interlude for photographs, we departed in 50’s style to Chester calling at Frodsham & Helsby; passengers were given the chance to swop vehicles at Frodsham so that they could “cop” both vehicles! Much amusement was caused en-route by potential passengers attempting to flag us down; I know it was Chester Race Day, but do the public really think that sixty year old half cab buses in “Crosville” livery provide stage carriage services on this route!

    Thanks to John Oates for providing the vintage vehicles, “Northern” for making the necessary arrangements with “Network Rail”, Merseytravel for their support and tour of Liverpool South Parkway, Arriva Trains Wales for facilities at Chester, London Midland for their assistance, Halton Borough Council, Frodsham Town Council, Helsby Parish Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council and all other bodies who supported this venture.

    Finally our thanks to Cedric Green who put the whole plan together and is presently recuperating from a sudden illness; get well soon Cedric, we need to do this again next year!

    John Hobbs, NCRUG –

  3. John Hobbs, NCRUG Says:

    Very nostalgic.

    That smell of gear oil and rexine!

  4. The Chairman Says:

    I’ve added a further picture – the “official shot” with Janet Briggs from NCRUG and Mark Barker from Northern posing with one of the headboards.

    I’ve also added a link to the North Wales Coast Railway website, where there’s some very good pictures, too.

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