Experience a rare and exciting journey few will get a chance to see. This cab ride on a Class 185 of Transpennine Express from York to Manchester Piccadilly follows a route which is highly unusual. Filmed at the height of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, it takes place against the background of a rail industry that’s been nationalised, and a skeleton service that is challenging managers to keep their drivers current on diversionary routes. This service would normally be run during night-time hours, but we get to experience it during glorious daytime weather which shows off the landscape at its best.
We start from platform 10 at York, travelling south on the East Coast Main Line at the 185’s maximum speed of 100 miles an hour. At Church Fenton Junction, where we would normally turn south-west to join the line from Hull to Leeds at Micklefield Junction, we continue south, reaching Castleford on a route that usually only sees goods traffic. From there, we head north-east past Woodlesford Station to Leeds West Junction, and onwards to platform 13.
After a quick change of ends we’re off again, heading south-east back to Methley Junction before turning west to follow the Calder Valley past Wakefield, Mirfield, Brighouse, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, to reach Rochdale and Manchester Victoria through Summit Tunnel. Finally we thread our way across the Ordsall Chord and along Manchester’s viaducts to platform 13 at Piccadilly Station.
There’s a wealth of information in the full-length commentary which will tell you things you didn’t know about the history of this rail route, or if you prefer you can turn it off to concentrate on the scenery and the sounds of the Class 185. Sit back and relax for an epic journey on a perfect day on railway lines which helped fuel and feed Britain’s industrial revolution.
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