Sunday 29 March 2020

The Optare Solo SR in Preston

Preston Bus Optare Solo SR 20016 on route 75 in Thornton on 29th February

Preston Bus were the first operator of the Optare Solo SR in the country, with eight vehicles (20701-20708) being purchased in 2008 for their Park & Ride services. Stagecoach also currently operate two Solo SRs in a special livery for the Park & Ride service to the Capitol Centre at Walton-le-Dale. Late in 2019 an Optare Solo SR (YJ10 MFV) was transferred from the Diamond Signature operation in the West Midlands up to Preston. Former Diamond Bus Solo SR 20016 (YJ10 MFV) built in 2010 has been repainted in a smart new livery of two tone blue. Whether this colour scheme is to be the new Preston Bus livery remains to be seen, but one of Preston's original 2008 SRs (20701) has also been outshopped in this same livery.

Park & Ride liveried Solo SR 20702 at Preston Bus Station in May 2017

Preston Solo SR 20707 in standard fleet livery on service 89 in August 2016

Stagecoach Solo SR 47923 on a Park & Ride service on 12th March

2008 Solo SR 47707 in Stagecoach in Preston Park & Ride livery in September 2009

Brand new Stagecoach Solo SR 47923 in Preston in August 2014

Preston Solo SR 20701 in unbranded new livery on service 6 on 3rd March

Friday 20 March 2020

Grand Central test train on the Fylde

DB 90039 with Grand Central test train 3P51 approaching Blackpool North on 20th March

This morning's Grand Central route learning train, 3P51 from Crewe C.S. (L&NWR) to Blackpool, was hauled by DB 90039 (in EWS livery) again. At Blackpool North the locomotive was swapped for DB 90036, which was already stabled at Blackpool, before departing as 3K83 to Crewe shortly after noon.

DVT 82231 leading Grand Central test train 3K83 through Poulton-le-Fylde

DB 90036 passing through Poulton-le-Fylde with Grand Central test train 3K83

Monday 16 March 2020

EWS liveried Class 90 in Blackpool

DB 90039 leading Grand Central test train 3P51 into Blackpool North on 16th March

Today's Grand Central route learning train to Blackpool was hauled by DB 90039, still carrying EWS livery. The train ran as 3P51 from Crewe C.S. to Blackpool North in the morning before returning as 3K83 just before midday.

The rear of Grand Central test train 3P51 approaching Blackpool North

DB 90039 on Grand Central test train 3K83, passing Layton station at speed

Saturday 14 March 2020

Debut of repainted Balloon 707

Balloon 707 making its first heritage run to Fleetwood on Saturday 14th March

Flat fronted Balloon 707 was painted into green and cream as far back as August 2019, but after a long running saga with the tram's inability to charge its batteries properly, the problem has now finally been fixed, and 707 operated a successful test run on Friday. It was decided to substitute Balloon 707 for Trawler 737 on the Heritage Gold timetable service on Saturday 14th March. The day was mostly cloudy with rain in the afternoon, but a short break in the clouds while 707 was on a run through to Fleetwood enabled a few photographs to be taken of the tram in full sunshine.

707 beginning its run along Lord Street, Fleetwood on Saturday morning

Balloon 707 in Bold Street, Fleetwood with Flexity 005 and Enviro 423

Friday 6 March 2020

Grand Central on the Blackpool Line

DB 90019 leading Grand Central train 3K83 into Kirkham & Wesham on 6th March

This week saw the first Grand Central route learning trains reach Blackpool North. The trains began running on Wednesday 4th March, and this week have comprised of DB Class 90s 90019 and 90036 with a set of former LNER Mark 4 coaches plus a DVT (Driving Van Trailer). The trains have been originating from Crewe Carriage Sidings, with morning and afternoon runs planned each day.

DB 90036 on the rear of the 3K83 route learning train at Wesham

A close up of 90019 at Wesham on the 1151 3K83 from Blackpool North

Thursday 5 March 2020

TransPennine Express from Liverpool

TPE 68023 Achilles on the 09:53 service to Scarborough

A visit to Liverpool on 5th March provided a brief chance to observe some train activity at the city's main railway terminus, Lime Street Station. TransPennine Express operate two services out of Liverpool Lime Street, to Scarborough via Lea Green, Manchester Victoria, Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Garforth, York, Malton and Seamer, and to Edinburgh via Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth. The Scarborough service sees loco hauled trains in use, handled by Stadler Class 68 diesel locomotives with their distinctive Caterpillar engines. The Edinburgh service is operated by sleek Hitachi Class 802 bi-mode multiple units.

TPE 802214 on the 10:24 service to Edinburgh Waverley

TPE 68019 Brutus on the 15:54 train to Scarborough

TPE driving trailer on the 15:54 to Scarborough

TPE 68019 Brutus entering the deep cutting as it departs for Scarborough

A side view of TPE 68023 Achilles at Lime Street Station