Mersey and Wirral wandering
© 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