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It has to be said he was glad to see the back of steam.

He drove DMU's, on Warrington/St Helens trips and on more than one occasion I went with him.

The line was modernised and electrified in stages between 19 - initial electrification was in 1959 between Crewe and Manchester and Liverpool, with the rest of the southern section of the line following in stages to 1967; the line from Weaver Junction (where the route to Liverpool diverges) to Glasgow was electrified in 1974.

This era was notable for time consuming and congestion causing routine changes from steam, and later diesel, to electric traction at busy change-over stations like Birmingham New Street, Crewe and Preston.

The original plans drawn up by Railtrack estimated that this upgrade would cost 2bn, be ready by 2005, and cut journey times from London to Birmingham to 1hr (currently 1hr 40mins) and 1hr 45mins from London to Manchester.

This would be achieved through increasing the line speed to 225 km/h (140 mph), in place of the previous maximum of 175 km/h (110 mph).

Paul has kindly supplied these two photos taken around the 1980s.

I also remember as a small boy standing with my mother and/or my grandmother at a bus stop on the town centre side of Central station bridge and regularly seeing a steam engine, normally a Black 5, stabled behind the station wall where Midland Way runs now.

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The line links London and Glasgow on a 401-mile route which runs via the West Midlands, the North West and southern Scotland.The running of express passenger services on the WCML came under the Intercity brand in the late 1970s, which prior to privatisation in 1996, was known as "Inter City West Coast"."Inter City Cross Country", with its hub at Birmingham, was also greatly developed with the introduction of transferred HST units following the electrification of the East Coast Main Line.In 1947, following nationalisation, it came under control of British Railways London Midland and Scottish Regions.This is when the term "West Coast Main Line" officially came into use, although the term is something of a misnomer given that the line only runs along the coast on a brief section overlooking Morecambe Bay just north of Lancaster.

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