Saturday 9 December 2023

The Shock Of The Old

I was at Lime Street, waiting for a train to West Kirby, hoping, as I always do these days, that it'd be a new one.  I heard the rattle and crash of an old Merseyrail train coming round the corner, but when it finally emerged, I got a nice surprise.

As a farewell present for the old trains, 507 001 has been decorated in a rough approximation of the British Rail livery it had when it first came into service 46 years ago.  Seeing the return of BR blue was a heck of a shock to the system, even if, when I first came to Merseyside, they were long repainted into yellow and white.  There was something so strange about the new, gleaming, white Lime Street Lower Level with this streak of 1970s design poured through the centre.

The train was actually headed to New Brighton but I got on board anyway.  You have to, don't you?  As I've said a million times - and someday someone will believe me - I'm not a train fan, I'm a station fan.  And when I do like a train it's because it's new and modern and gleaming.  I have no nostalgia: steam trains were cold and noisy and smelly, diesels are the same, and old trains didn't have aircon or electronic displays or CCTV.  Trains have got better and smarter over the years and we should applaud that and not hark back to when you sat in a compartment with a murderer bringing up phlegm for the eighteen hours it took to get to Truro.  

That being said, I do like a unicorn, and as the only Merseyrail train in the BR livery, 507001 is special.  I'd have been annoyed if I didn't rid it at least once.  I rode it as far as Birkenhead Park.  Sadly, they've not decorated the interiors to match the exterior; it's still the 00s revamp inside.  I was hoping for a return of those yellow and green seat covers that were always, always, hanging off the cushion underneath.

A quick trip under the river later and I was getting off to wait in the rain for my actual train.  507 001 is going to carry on looking like this until it's either dragged off to be scrapped or Robert and the Class 507 Preservation Society manage to rescue it from the dumper.  They're doing their best to have this train kept alive for future generations to visit and admire and go "Jesus, you mean to tell me they kept these going for nearly fifty years?".  If that appeals to you, please, give them a shout and a hand.  All donations gratefully accepted.

My train to West Kirby was one of the old trains too, but in the boring yellow and grey.  I know they're all dying but is it too much to ask that Merseyrail carry on cleaning them?  My one was absolutely filthy, with long streaks of dirty black marks all over it.  Ah well.  Here's a video of 507 001 on its way out of Birkenhead Park.  We shall never see its like again.  Well, we will, for probably a few months yet, but that's not quite the poignant farewell a blog post like this needs at the end.

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