We travel aboard a Northern Rail class 156 Sprinter for an exceptionally smooth ride. This limited-stop service shows us the whole Airport Branch, the Stockport-avoiding line built as recently as 1909 and the approach and through platforms at Manchester Piccadilly followed by the elevated section through Oxford Road. We then join the very original route surveyed and built by none other than George Stephenson. The stone block permanent way has long since gone but the history is still there to be told by former Calendar anchor Alan Hardwick.
Chat Moss has gone down in railway folklore as one of George Stephenson’s greatest feats, laying a railway line across a seemingly impenetrable bog. See how little it has changed today from the cab and from a helicopter flying overhead! We then travel through Rainhill over the ground covered by Stephenson’s famous Rocket - the winner of the Rainhill Locomotive Trials in 1829. Edge Hill is another place long associated with this pioneering railway and from here the line descends into Liverpool Lime Street through a myriad of tunnels flanked by deep rock cuttings, seen best of all from the Driver’s cab.
Running Time: 65 Minutes