3:30pm. Hooton is a kind of Ringwood - two lines each with a half hour frequency meet there and provide a 15 minute frequency from there to the city. It's quite a nice looking station too.
4pm. Back to Lime St. Must get a timetable so we can get back before the last Buxton train. Now what's the best way to get to Edge Hill? There's a nice stabling depot there. City Line is nowhere in evidence - let's grab this Manchester Oxford Road stopper.
4:40pm. Hey you didn't stop! Oh well, Mossley Hill then. Argh it's raining. Phew, here's a Railbus to take us back to Lime St.
5pm. What will we do now... explore the station of course. Examination of the Metro map suggests there's actually no City Line - but Metro tickets apply to certain bits of the Intercity network.
6:34pm. We get on a London Midland Class 350 EMU, just to get to South Parkway of course. It's a Siemens and looks like one, with an intercity interior of course. It's very smooth - as we go through a tunnel it feels like we've stopped until we suddenly burst into daylight at 40km/h.
6:55pm. South Parkway is a nice looking station, probably fairly new. Six platforms in a Caulfield layout, with an overpass with glass sides - perfect for taking photos from.
7:06pm. The 7:03 Nottingham arrives and we get aboard. Liverpool has ceased to fascinate, and it's getting dark and cold. Just as we pull out a Class 507 goes past! Are there sparks on the City Line after all? There doesn't appear to be a third rail so we're Frankly Baffled. Maybe it was loco hauled, or maybe it wasn't a Class 507 at all. Closing speed was fairly high so it's possible.
7:22pm. Warrington Central has a huge bus bay - all angle parking (must be hell to get in and out of in peak time) but it must have a capacity of 20 buses or more. Also there's a four track electric railway going under us at right angles just before the station. I wonder where it goes.
7:31pm. We pass a MASSIVE pallet depot! They're blue so they might well be ours. Huge stacks of them, parked like containers. My pal's GPS speedo says we're doing 83mph so we don't see much.
8:02pm. Back to familiar territory - Manchester Piccadilly (or, as Northern's web site says, MAN). And we've just missed a Buxton train. What to do? Why take photos of course.
8:30pm. Some thoughts about the Liverpool system. The idea of calling country trains "City Line" is a bad one - it doesn't fit with the rest of the country. Ideally intercity trains shouldn't be doing the Metro task anyway. They have good frequencies (if Sunday is 15min, weekday must be pretty good) and vehicles that are suitable for today's passengers. No idea how they are under the floor of course. The way destos are handled in the loop area is great. The lines (Wirral, Northern and City) are more like our groups, they branch out a lot. I guess it's just as logical as our way, you don't have to worry about Box Hill being on two lines. Underground stations are boring to look at (although VERY functional) but above ground can be just as bad when a solid barrier of trees blocks the view on both sides.