The first stage of a major electrification programme in the North West is now complete, with the section west from Manchester via Eccles and Parkside to the WCML now live and cleared for passenger running.
The first new trains using this route are the Siemens Class 350/4 for Transpennine Express, which began public service this week on the 0715 Manchester - Glasgow service.
The unit works into Piccadilly from Ardwick TMD, where I took these pictures. Then it goes out again to Longsight in order to return once more to Platform 13 for the departure westwards.
As we set off, I was struck by how quietly and smoothly the train ran, compared with the growl and grunt of its diesel classmates of Class 185. We ran gently to Ordsall Lane Junc but then we soared away, reaching 74 mph before Eccles. There seemed to be a 60 mph limit over Chat Moss but we then had a quick burst to 89 before slowing for the succession of junctions onto the WCML.
We then got away smartly, touching 91 at Bamfurlong before the stop at Wigan North Western. The getaway from there was even quicker and we reached 100 by Langtree and touched 102 at Coppull, High speed was maintained until Farington Junction when we began to slow for Preston, reached on time.
I left the train there, returning with the growl and grunt of a 185 via Bolton. I was impressed with the quiet efficiency of the new units and the ability to go west and north from Manchester with electric traction.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures