Blog number 5 this is, welcome one and all. Another week of nights at work and for once this seems to be coinciding with the promise of some reasonable winter weather!
Today started lovely and clear so I headed off down to Warrington. I didn't do too much on the line to Fiddlers Ferry last year so was unsure what times the trains are currently due. Turns out they haven't changed an awful lot, and dinner time is definately the best time with a few trains booked to run, but it is as still a most annoying line to try to photograph on.
I first checked out Monks Sidings. Last year there was a lot of work being done to the waste ground next to the level crossing, so I wasn't expecting much. It turns out they've landscaped it quite well but there's been too much growth of trees alongside the fence to allow a clear shot. It was a good place to wait in your car on a cold day as you can watch the crossing and signals. Here it is during 2010:
I decided as a result to head to Fiddlers Ferry, well the old station, which is about a half mile east of the Power Station itself. The railway parallels the St Helens Canal all the way from the outskirts of Warrington through to almost Widnes. I hoofed down the towpath to try and reach a location I also did in 2010. It involved making a path through the reeds and brambles between the canal and the railway fence. At the time I found a tree to climb to see over the ubiquitous pallisade fencing. This time I planned ahead and took my stepladder instead; however I had to give up as the plants have grown far too much to get through. I returned with a nicely scratched hand and also missed 70003 as I was trying to get back. At risk of making this a 2010 blog this is the shot I wanted:
So back to the old station as there had been a little bit of reed clearance by the crossing. Whether its been done by Network Rail or another photographer is unclear. It will probably only last a couple of months until it has grown up again. I had only just reached it when 60045 appeared heading east with empties from the Power Station, and 10 minutes after that a DBS 66 on the Gypsum. 3 trains in under 20 minutes heading east then 2 hours before the 60 returned. That is why the line is so annoying!
The 60 is on the afternoon train of empties back to the docks at Liverpool that is routed via Widnes (most other trains do a double shunt at Warrington to enable them to go via Rainhill and Huyton). As a result this working passes this point twice. Following right behind it was a light engine 66, also going towards Liverpool (judging by the fact Fiddlers Ferry's distant signal was off). There should then also have been a Freightliner coal from Ellesmere Port but after a wait in the cold for almost an hour (by when the clouds had rolled in) I got word it hadn't left Ellesmere Port yet-obviously the 70 I had missed earlier was in fact the empties for that train running very late.
As I said before, I always find this line frustrating BUT if you get the light, and the trains actually run, you can get some decent shots. Its just a shame the fencing and reeds stop any shot from the far bank of the canal, and one day I'm determined to manage a shot of a train west of the Power Station on the even less used section of line towards Widnes.
Thanks for reading this blog. Pics from today (all 4 of them!) are now HERE. Fingers crossed for some more good weather Wednesday or Thursday. Bye for now.