New Freight on the Calder Valley
With the introduction of regular coal trains from Immingham Docks to Fiddlers Ferry power station a twice weekdays return (when demanded) service is a regular sight on the Calder Valley cross Pennine route. The eastbound services take advantage of the passing loop in Castleton yard when needed. Together with the Biomass services from Liverpool docks to Drax power station Class 66 locomotives make a welcome change for enthusiasts.
With greener operation in mind, Drax P.S. has converted two of its six units to burn biomass, and is in the process of converting a third. Some biomass is and has been for some time, imported through East Coast ports, but further import is made through Seaforth on the River Mersey. This has resulted in additional freight services on the west end of the Calder Valley route, with flows to Drax from Liverpool Bulk Terminal and the returning empties. Whilst flows are adjusted on a daily basis to reflect customer demand and other factors, there are usually at least two return trips daily. Unfortunately, some of these are in unsocial hours, but a convenient service to observe is the 1000 Drax-Tuebrook 4M51 which passes Rochdale Station at 1343, and featuring a GBRf 66 heading twenty-five totally enclosed bogie hoppers with a very tasteful paint job, presents a very impressive sight.
The Immingham-Fiddlers Ferry P.S. services referred to above have not run for some time, and with the station having been scheduled for closure, may not resume.