Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Photo: Daily Record

Calling all photographers and video makers! Anyone fancy getting up early on a couple of Saturday mornings? Virgin trains are currently running an ECS (empty coaching stock) train from Crewe to Holyhead on Saturday mornings between now and the 7th September. The train is timed to be in Sandbach around 8.10am and in Middlewich at around 8.35. I'm saying 'around', although Network Rail's working timetable gives exact timings at 8.10 and thirty seconds and 8.35 and thirty seconds. How they can be so precise is a mystery. The train, apparently, stops in Middlewich for about one minute (for 'operational reasons') and then makes its way to Northwich. MRLC would love to have some photos and/or videos of this train, as we can show the line being used for passenger trains in our publicity (some people still refuse to believe it happens). Anyone fancy having a go at railway photography? If you do take any pictures/videos and send them to us we will, of course, as usual, give full acknowledgments and use them also on the Middlewich Diary. The fact that the train is running every Saturday between now and September gives opportunities to photograph it at various points on the line between Sandbach and Northwich.
Dave Roberts, Middlewich Rail Link Campaign.


  1. In the Working Timetable, section CF03 details the movement of trains on the Stockport to Chester via Northwich line, which also includes the Middlewich line. Section CM01 details movement from Crewe, and others, to Manchester and includes the movement of the empty stock movement from Crewe through to Sandbach.

    The head code for this empty stock movement in particular is 5D40 leaving Crewe C.S. (carriage sidings) at 07:57 to Holyhead. The exact timings are as follows:

    Crewe C.S. departs at 07:57
    Arrives in Crewe station (platform 5) at 08:00 for change of staff.
    Departs Crewe at 08:03
    Passes through Crewe Sydney Bridge at 08:05½
    Passes through Sandbach at 08:10½

    08:35½ is the time listed for departing Middlewich following a stop for "operating reasons" of about a minute. This is likely to be the location of the old station, though I can't say for sure.

    Arrival at Northwich SOUTH Junction at 08:50½.

    The train will then reverse at Northwich to continue on to Chester, passing through: Northwich WEST Junction at 08:52½,
    Greenbank at 08:56,
    Mouldsworth at 09:05,
    and Mickle Trafford at 09:10.
    The train stops at Chester (platform 3) at 09:14½, again for "operating reasons".
    The train then continues onward to Holyhead.

    The Working Timetables are available here with May 2013 - December 2013 being the latest.

  2. If I've read the timetable correctly, there appears to be a regular train that stops at Middlewich every evening (except Sunday). It passes Sandbach at 19:01, arriving Middlewich at 19:17 dep. 20:03. Search for Middlewich in the timetable here:
    Other entries show trains passing through Middlewich station.

  3. Thanks for the additional information - in particular to 'The Shillito' who gave us the tip-off about the Virgin Saturday morning ECS train in the first place. Any information on trains using the Middlewich line is always gratefully received.

  4. Nice find Anonymous. I didn't think to check the other timetables. Seems that they are all freight trains though, rather than the Virgin train in the other timetable. It would be cool to coordinate an effort to follow a train from one side (Sandbach) to the other (Northwich) at various points. I will try to check out this train on the way home from work tonight.

  5. You can simply search all the timetables for "middlewich" using Google, and specifying Network Rail's Working Timetables page as the source. Go to and enter:

    middlewich documents/timetables/

    Or for a specific year:

    middlewich documents/timetables/working timetable (wtt)/may 2013 - december 2013/

  6. Anon- Thanks once again for your input.