Remember Greater Manchester’s Railways in 1985? ….

Posted on December 30th, 2012, by The Chairman

I was having a sort out recently and came across this ….

27 years on. What a huge change!

There’s more detail in the pdfs below.

The cover is around 5Mb – GM Rlys 1985 – Outer ….

…. and the diagrammatic map around 3Mb – GM Rlys 1985 – Map

Post-Metrolink, the diversion our Mid Cheshire line trains make via Stockport provides a very useful service.

How much better if we had trains to/from Manchester both via Sale and via Stockport, as set out in the tram-train proposal that Michael Ross and I put together last summer.


The unit on the cover, the first of the class 142s, 142001 is still around. Here’s a picture I took of it last summer at Chester getting ready to work the 1407 back to Manchester.

It was one of the “warm store” class 142s under First North Western (remember those – stored in Blackpool North Carriage Sidings off lease for “emergency use”). Soon after, it was transferred to First Great Western for use in the Devon area. It was based at Exeter and for a few years used as a donor for parts (“Christmas Tree”) to keep the rest of their fleet going. Once Mark Hopwood took over at First Great Western (remember him as Operations Director at First North Western?), he arranged for it to be reinstated, saying they could hardly look credible saying they were short of trains, if they had one they didn’t even attempt to use.

In December 2011 First Great Western had received their allocation of 1985/1986-built class 150s from London Overground and London Midland (LOROL and LM had brand-new class 172s) and rather reluctantly followed the instruction from the DfT to send their class 142s to Northern. We hear they wanted to keep the 142s locally due to the great views from the trains on their shorter Devon services when compared to class 150s.

142001 was one of the three FGW rostered for a class 142 farewell special train run around the Devon branches. Some time earlier, 001 had acquired a “Devon flag” in the centre window of each cab. If you look at the picture, you’ll see the Devon flags are still there.

Please leave a comment

  1. Nodding Donkey Says:

    Ah yes I remember them well. There I am all respendant in my bright orange coat and now 27 years later I am still here but in purple and blue. Who would have thought that one day a long time ago I was a “pin up” train unit whereas now I am relegated to the bottom of the pile in the UK and only kept going by the excellent work of the Northern maintenance engineers in Newton Heath and their other depots on the other side of the border for which I thank them. Ah well another year beckons and by all accounts plenty more to follow. I may even be here to see another external colour, maybe back to orange, who knows the way the DfT are screwing up the refranchisiing of Britain’s railways and there being no DMU replacement programme currently in sight.

  2. Rob Turvey Says:

    Just downloaded the map for a quick peek at it – absolutely fascinating

  3. Morris Minor Says:

    Rathing amazing Mr Donkey.
    Your length of service is magnificent.
    Perhaps one day, you may get residency in York or Shildon.
    Where do all your cousins reside now?
    I do have you in my railway collection in your orange coat, you still look well.

  4. The Chairman Says:

    I’ve updated the post with some words and a picture of the same unit,142001 that I took at Chester last summer.

  5. Nodding Donkey Says:

    Thank you Mr Chairman for an updated picture of me resplendant in Northern colours 27 years on from my debut as a GMR pin up boy. Hopefully I will be the one preserved when my time is up but unfortunately I can’t see that for at least another 7 years the way the DfT operate.
    In answer to Morris Minor my remote cousins still operate down in South Wales for ATW.
    He now needs a model of me in Northern colours for his collection.

  6. Vince C Says:

    Ah yes! Several years before Metrolink, when we had 25Kv electric trains running between Altrincham and Alderley and Crewe via Deansgate and Piccadilly. Very useful they were, too! There was even talk of extending the 25Kv onto the Mid Cheshire line!

  7. Edd Says:

    My dad, who used to use the Sale line was a regular commuter up until the late 1980s, once told me that preliminary work had been done for extending the electrics to Chester but the idea was scrapped because it was deemed too expensive.

  8. Jen Says:

    I understand First Great Western wouldn’t have got the London Overground 150s had they kept the 142s.

    The London Overground 150s were originally intended to be used by Northern but weren’t ready in time for the December 2008 timetable change so Northern had to take on 3 of the class 180s as a temporary measure.

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