Northern Rail - 156 Super-Sprinter

156 home page

The Northern Rail franchise, run by Serco-NedRailways, provides local rail services across the north of England.

It was created in December 2004 from the routes that had been operated by First North Western, and by Arriva Trains Northern (previously Northern Spirit).

Northern leases 46 Class 156 units, from both Angel Trains and Porterbrook.

The 28 Angel Trains units were refurbished while operated by Northern Spirit, and the 18 Porterbrook sets were refurbished for the North Western franchise.

The Porterbrook units have been undergoing C6 overhauls at Wabtec Doncaster, in the process being repainted.

Northern inherited ten units painted in First Group livery, and four in plain blue. Four sets were still wearing North West Regional Railways livery, but these had been repainted into Northern colours by May 2005.

156461 at Irlam, 12.May.05

156.461 photographed at Irlam with a Liverpool - Manchester Oxford Road service on May 12, 2005.

This unit was last in the Newton Heath fleet to be overhauled by Wabtec and was painted in a third version of Northern livery.

156425 Liverpool Lime St, 29.January.05

156.425 photographed at Liverpool Lime St. on 29 January 2005.

This Porterbrook unit was the first of three painted in the second version of Northern livery by Wabtec.

156.451 at York 18-December-2004

For the launch ceremony on 13 December 2004, 156.451 (an Angel Trains unit) had a new lilac and white Northern livery applied.

The unit is seen five days later at York.

156.438 at Sheffield 03-July-2004

Most of the Angel units in the fleet carry the light blue livery of Northern Spirit.

156.438 is pictured at Sheffield about to form a train to Hull on July 3, 2004

156.459 at Hindley near Wigan. 21 August 2004

Following the anouncement of Serco-Nedrailways as prefered bidder for the new franchise, several First North Western units were painted in all over indigo blue.

The first to appear in this plain livery was 156.459, photographed at Hindley near Wigan on August 21, 2004.

156423 at Liverpool Lime St, 29-January-05

Ten sets were painted in First Group livery - these have now had the branding removed.

156.423, in the de-branded 'barbie' livery, photographed at Liverpool Lime Street on January 29, 2005.



Porterbrook units (North Western scheme) Seating Capacity DMS(A) details DMS(B) details
146 seats 70 Standard seats,
2 luggage stacks,
76 Standard seats,
luggage van with parcel shelf.
156.441,455,459,460,461 148 seats 72 Standard seats,
luggage stack,
76 Standard seats,
luggage van.
Angel Trains units (Northern Spirit scheme) Seating Capacity DMS(A) details DMS(B) details
152 seats 74 Standard seats,
76 Standard seats,
2 tip-up seats,
luggage van.

Allocation and Duties

NH Newton Heath, Manchester 33 units: 18 Porterbrook, 15 Angel
HT Heaton, Newcastle 13 Angel Trains units

The Northern class 156 fleet is now shared between 2 depots. Since June 2005, several 'Angel' units have been re-allocated from Neville Hill (Leeds) to Newton Heath. This was completed in May 2007, with units also moving Heaton.

The units are not restricted to working their own depot's duties, but will usually return to their home depot for scheduled maintenance. However, Heaton depot is now responsible for all C4 exams on Northern 156's.

Newton Heath's duties include Liverpool - Wigan, Liverpool - Manchester Airport, Liverpool - Blackpool North and Barrow, Blackpool North - Buxton, Southport - Manchester Airport, and Carlisle to Barrow.

Heaton based units work local trains in the Northeast along side class 142 'Pacers', including the Whitby branch and most of the Carlisle - Newcastle - Middlesborough services.

Until May 2007 the 156s at Neville Hill used to work the Leeds - Settle - Carlisle route, Sheffield - Leeds, Sheffield - Hull - Scarborough.

Two early morning trains see Northern 156s in Scotland - The 06:34 Dumfries to Newcastle, and the 07:31 Dumfries to Carlisle.