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Rolling blog: Another day on the rails.

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08:30

I’m out and about on the rails again today, making the most of the weather and getting client shots on a range of topics, including hunting down more of the news trains which are gracing the North’s tracks in increasing numbers, although many of them are on training runs rather than carrying passengers. At the moment, there’s vehicles for Northern, LNER and Trans-Pennine Express out on test, with more to follow for Hull Trains soon. This creates its own challenges. I was talking to LNER MD David Horne at the Azuma launch the other week. He explained that it was an ASLEF requirement that driver had 20 hours training driving the new trains before being passed out as competent. Real trains, not simulators. David pointed out how difficult it was to find paths for these trains on our increasingly crowded network – one that’s become even more crowded since the May 18th timetable change. Imagine what it’s like when you add in the other operators vying for space at places like Leeds, Doncaster and York, not to mention Manchester and Preston! It’s one of the unappreciated challenges of introducing new train fleets. Still, it makes me laugh at HS2 antis, who (cluelessly) still insist that no – we don’t need HS2 because some trains still have spare seats in the off-peak!

09:15.

I’m currently bouncing my way to Huddersfield on a 2+3 Pacer lash-up of a 144 and 142. Say what you like about Pacers, but there’s plenty of cycle space in 142004!

On arrival at Huddersfield my Oacer lash-up was split. The rear 142 was detached and scurried off, squealing, to the sidings, whilst the 3 car 144 remained in platform 4a ready to work the 10:03 to Castleford via Wakefield. I’m sure this is a new diagram as I don’t remember through services to the town before.

Huddersfield station layout is old and was built for a different age. It has two Easterly facing bay platforms (5 and 6) in the large island platform which are very restricted in length. 5 can only take 2 cars and 6, 3 cars. For a modern railway they’re a bit of an operational nightmare, hence plans to build a new through platform on the site of the stabling sidings to the North of the existing island platform. Here’s a view of the bays with a 153 in platform 5.

No 4 to the left is a through platform but its normally split and used for terminating trains coming from Mananchester in the West and Leeds in the East.

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Rolling blog: Swanning around sunny Yorkshire.

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Well, not exactly swanning you understand. It’s already been a busy morning that’s seen me editing a backlog of pictures of Railtex, Community Rail in the City and HS2 work at Euston then getting them out to clients. I had other plans for today but an email from RAIL magazine means I’ll be off to Leeds for the afternoon. Life often seems to take unexpected turns at the moment with plans changing all the time. Still, any commissions are always welcome as they top up the coffers. Plus, as a photographer, I can’t afford to waste weather like this! Let’s see how the day goes…

10:37.

I’ve just left Bradford en-route to Leeds on a slightly late and rather dirty, disheveled unrefurbished Northern Class 158. The sunlight streaming through the windows makes you realise just how dirty they actually are!This is my first outing since the May timetable change, which the media doom and gloom merchants were waiting to label a fiasco. Only it wasn’t. There were a couple of delays on Calder Valley services but nothing out of the ordinary. It was the same for other operators from what I saw.

12:10.

I’m now pootling around Leeds, looking at various railway locations for a client. Not everything has gone to plan, whilst there’s no timetable chaos there is the perennial problem of the ‘knitting’ coming down on the East Coast Main Line! I did wonder when I saw so many LNER trainsets sitting in the station, the problem was soon confirmed by an announcement that the overhead wires had come down at Retford, so LNER were running a Leeds-Doncaster shuttle service for connections South to Kings Cross using the GN/GE joint line via Lincoln. Part of my mission on this trip was to explore the future site of Leeds HS2 station which will abut the existing station at right angles from the South. Here’s where it will be built across the river.

I also had a look for some aerial views of the city.

14:22.

Having done what I needed to do in Leeds I’ve headed back West and broken my journey in Dewsbury, where I’m enjoying some refreshment at the wonderful station bar. Dewsbury’s an odd place. It’s best days are long gone although some of the shoddy and mungo mills still exist and can be seen from passing trains. Nowadays the town is more known for its poverty and social/ethnic divisions – and the utterly bizarre case of the ‘kidnapped’ girl who was actually hidden by her parents under their bed.

There’s a young chap in his late teens/early 20s on the outside table adjacent to mine. He’s been on the phone telling his mates how he’s just left court, having escaped jail for some unspecified offence. I can see he’s not bulshitting as I saw the court papers kn the table when I passed. When I glanced over he was texting a friend. His mouth was pronouncing each word as he typed.

18:22.

I’ve made it home and I’m potentially regretting not carrying sunscreen today! I’ll upload a few more pictures later.

22;54.

Oops! Things sort of happened so there’s just one more picture of Leeds to add today.

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The age of (un)reason.

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I often wonder, when did dumb become the new cool? When did it become fashionable to parade ignorance, bigotry and intolerance – or just plain stupidity? I wonder this partly in reaction to the shambles this country has turned into since the 2016 Brexit referendum and partly because of my own personal experiences, travels and increasing age – which gives me more years to look back over then I really care to. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this blog, there’s no conclusion at the end of it, merely a series of thoughts

The answer (of course) is complex, although plenty of folk would like you to believe it’s simple, depending on their own prejudices. Normally it’s because they’ve someone to blame for it. It’s the EU, or foreigners, or immigrants. Or it might be ‘political correctness’, or a lack of ‘discipline’, or whatever their favourite tabloid newspaper repeatedly tells them it is.

I’m not looking to apportion blame. I’m just trying to make sense of it all.

I can’t work out when we slipped from a country that valued knowledge to one that spurns it. When did we move from a society that celebrated a thirst for learning to one that’s elevated the right to hold an opinion, no matter how wrong-headed or plain stupid above all else. It’s a phrase you’ll often hear on social media or in pubs. “I’m entitled to my opinion” they’ll say, without once questioning how bonkers, bigoted, fact-free or plain bat-shit crazy it is – and woe betide if you do. Especially if you use pesky little things like facts, reason and (never, ever use) logic.

I suppose, thinking back it’s always been like this in a way. Only now, most of us have this little device in our pocket that allows us to access levels of information we could only have dreamed about 30 years ago.

I can’t remember where I saw it, but someone once wrote a piece on how would you explain a mobile phone to Shakespeare.

“I hold in my hand a machine that allows me to access the sum of human knowledge. I use it for looking at pictures of kittens and getting into arguments with strangers”.

There’s no doubt that some of our interaction has been coarsened by use of things like Facebook and Twitter and yes, I admit that includes me too at times! But it can also be a fabulous tool for good. What I can’t understand are the folk who insist on parading their ignorance on social media then double-down on it when presented with facts.

Which leads me back to Brexit and politics. We now gave a political class that lies through its teeth as a matter of course. Nigel Farage is a classic example. Sadly, much of the media seem to collude in this. How often do you see/hear a politician challenged for outright lying?

Eschewing logic for emotion seems to be partly to blame too. It’s that abrogation of all control. That almost anything is excusable because you were annoyed or worked up and it’s actually the fault of whatever (or whoever) annoyed you in the first place – not the fact you can’t control your words, or deeds. It’s the age old excuse of the abuser: you made them do it. Only now we see it writ large in reactionary politics.

I find it hard to understand because I’ve always loved logic. ‘Star Trek’s’ Mr Spock and Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ were early influences on me, as was a love of literature and an interest in science. Nowadays it seems, emotion and opinion trumps logic and reason and the world is a sadder and more dangerous place for it…

This age of (un)reason frightens me as it’s fertile ground for fascism. Fascists have simple solutions plus people to blame for problems and they’re on the rise in Britain. Brexit has made fascism and the xenophobia that goes with it respectable again. Now the ‘liberal elite’ are the enemy. You know, liberals, people who can think, reason and balance arguments, so are immune to the siren calls of the fascists. But who are the ‘elite’? Why, folk like ‘man of the people’ Farage and the dodgy millionaires and media moguls who fund or prosleytise his views for their own ends. The parallels with 1930s Germany are real.

By nature I’m an optimist. I have to admit the past years have taken their toll on my store of such. Now I seriously wonder what the future holds in store…

The ‘brains’ behind HSUK are at it again…

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Remember that madcap scheme that some retired engineers punted as an alternative to Hs2 called HSUK? They claimed it was a fully costed scheme that was cheaper than HS2 but when you looked at it you realised it was just a lot of pretty lines drawn on a blank sheet of paper rather than overlaid on an OS map – because that would expose how bonkers their claims where! I blogged about their daft plans and a curve in Wakefield a while ago.

Unsurprisingly, the madcap scheme died a deserved death. Only it seems now they’ve revived and rebadged it as “High Speed North” to punt it as an ‘alternative’ to Northern Powerhouse Rail. Here’s one of their tweets from earlier today.

HS North tweet. 18.5.19.

No “major expansion outside of existing boundaries” they say? So what the hell’s that new line with a brand new depot big enough to replace Neville Hill then?  And how on earth do you build new Northern platforms at Leeds, then add a flyover (or whatever it is they’re proposing) to connect it to the existing line to Wakefield without causing massive disruption to existing lines? This is nuts!

Yet again, they use a blank canvas so that anyone unfamiliar with the area can’t see what’s really on the ground. So, let’s have a look at a satellite image, shall we? At the top of the picture just above where Pontefract Lane is labelled sits Neveille Hill depot. This lot propose building a brand new line from there Southwards that will plough through all the industrial estates on the way, cross the Pontefact Lane dual-carriageway (somehow) plough through another industrial estate, then cross the two branches of the river Aire before ploughing through another industrial estate to join the existing railway just North of the Pontefract Rd! Oh, and their new depot would almost certainly be built on the site of that massive sewage works South of Pontefract Lane. Care to guess how much compensation that little lot would cost? And that’s without the construction costs! leeds.PNG

Why anyone would take these jokers seriously is beyond me. Oh, notice the giveaway on their map? They forgot to delete the reference to HSUK on their explanation of the reinstatement of the Farnley viaduct!

No wonder they don’t like drawing pretty lines on OS maps!

 

 

 

HS2 news.

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I’ve not had time to blog about HS2 or the doomed stop Hs2 campaign recently as I’ve been too busy and the news has been anything but positive for the antis. Yes, they’ve had two high profile events in the past week, but one of them was an excruciating failure and the other (which wasn’t much better) will make no difference at all.

The first ‘big’ event was the Taxpayers Alliance releasing a ‘report’ into what they claimed were viable alternatives to HS2. Who did they get to launch the report? David Davis MP, formerly the Brexit Minister until he resigned – just as he has from so many positions before! Why on earth they though the man who Dominic Cummings, former Campaign Director of Vote Leave famously described as thick as “thick as mince, lazy as a toad and vain as Narcissus” would add credibility is a mystery! At the launch, Davis described the plans as worked out in “exquisite” detail. His problem? Many of them were worked out on the back of a fag packet! As usual, Davis was just making stuff up. Then again, so were the TPA, so maybe that was his attraction?

Not only were some of the schemes mentioned sketchy to say the least, the TPA had lifted many of them without permission, leaving their original proposers spitting blood! It got worse. The High Speed Rail Industry Leaders put out a waspish press release which pointed out that the TPA couldn’t even add up! Here’s what they said. Feel the burn!

HSRIL statement

Things got even worse for the TPA when it became clear Northern leaders were having none of their nonsense either. Here’s what Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, had to say in the Chronicle!

“Northern business and civic leaders all agree we need HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and more investment in key road and mass transit schemes for city regions.

Why should hard pressed taxpayers in the North, who pay double the amount of road tax and fuel duty than those living in London, be forced to make a choice between them after decades of underinvestment here?

This half-baked plan is an embarrassment to the Tax Payers Alliance because the sums don’t add up.” He added: “Northerners are not going to stand for cancelling HS2 in order to pay for a list of schemes decided by a bunch of Westminster bubble types trying to impress Tory leadership candidates”.

Another burn delivered!

Of course, it’s no co-incidence that most of the Tory opposition to Hs2 comes from the same Brexity right-wing fringe that David Davis et al inhabit. Much of it is centred on the address of those secretive lobby groups the TPA and IEA: 55 Tufton St.

The next embarrassment came with the release of the House of Lords Economic Committee report into Hs2. It was a wishy-washy, piss-poor bit of work that had clearly decided what it was going to say before they’d even bothered taking evidence. They tried to cast doubts on Hs2, mostly by trotting out the same old stuff the last Lords Committee had (see this earlier blog). Their tactic of trying to play off Northern rail investment against Hs2 is straight out of the IEA/TPA playbook. But that’s hardly surprising as the collusion is obvious, as is the prominence of Brexiters on the Ctte, like Lord Lamont and the Chair of the Committee, Lord Forsyth of Drumlean.

The morning the report was published, Alistair Darling (aka Lord Darling of Roulanish)was trotted out to on the TV to say that more investment is needed in the North – but Hs2 isn’t it. As usual he was given a free ride by the media, none of whom seemed to know his history. I’ll sum it up thus “Man who cancelled major investment in the North calls for major investment in the North”. Hypocritical, no? As Labour Transport Minister and later Chancellor of the Exchequer Darling created the very problem he was complaining about. It was he who pulled money from the Liverpool and Leeds tram schemes at the last moment (Liverpool had even gone out and bought the tramway rails in readiness!). He also stopped the ‘big bang’ expansion of the Manchester tram network. As Transport Minister he oversaw electrification of a piddling 9 miles of UK railway, the section from Crewe to Kidsgrove, and that was it.

The report has not gone down well. The British Chambers of Commerce were less than impressed. Their spokesman said this:

BCC

Worse was to come as others digested the report. Nottingham MP and Chair of the Transport Select Committee spotted a faux-pas straight away, tweeting this;

greenwood

Both Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) piled in too, issuing this well informed and highly critical statement. The Nottingham Post followed up on Lilian’s point, observing that the Lords hadn’t mentioned Toton once! The absence of mentions of the Midlands is hardly surprising when you think about it. The region gets in the way of the Lords trying to play the Northern narrative. I’ve little doubt that this report will be as unsuccessful at stopping Hs2 as the last one, which it’s destined to sit alongside on the Lords library shelves, gathering dust.

On Thursday afternoon I listened to Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister make his keynote speech at the Railtex trade fair. he made it crystal clear that neither the TPA or Lords had changed the party’s stance on Hs2 and they remained solidly behind the project.

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The week got even worse for stophs2 when the latest YouGov opinion poll came out, as it blew out of the water their oft-repeated claim that the country ‘overwhelmingly’ opposes HS2. They often trot out figures claiming 80-90% of folk don’t want it. Here’s the reality.

YouGov May 2019

Note the figure for London where more folks support than oppose Hs2! This will cause consternation amongst the remaining Camden Nimbys. The reality is that a huge amount of work putting the case for Hs2 is now being made by regional political and business leaders across the country. Add to that the fact the economic impact of 1000s of Hs2 related jobs is being felt and you can start to understand why opinions will shift in favour of Hs2. There’s also a lot more positive publicity around the project and there’s an awful lot more to come. The fact work on the ground has started means that what was seen as a vague concept for so many years is now being seen as something that’s tangible.

There’s two other pieces of bad news for Hs2 antis. The two new petitions they’ve started on the Government website are both bombing. They both close in October but they’ve already run out of steam. The one started by the Bucks Herald has a measly 8521 signatures after a month, whilst the one StopHs2 started has just scraped past the 16,000 mark today. It’s only been going 20 days but its already falling well below the daily average it needs to succeed. It’s doomed.

stophs2 petition

The final piece of bad news for Hs2 antis is that the High Court has extended the scope of the injunction governing the (ineffectual) protests at the Harvil Rd site. This will cramp their style even futher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bog-eyed and screen-tied

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After the past few days adventures I’m back at home and glued to my computer screens, trying to edit the hundreds of pictures caught in the queue after so many events, but right now I’m taking a break as we’re off to visit friends in Mytholmroyd tomorrow, so I’ve also been busy cooking a lamb tagine as the pair of us offered to cook. There’s also a queue of blogs building up as I’ve seen and learned some fascinating things at Railtex. Here’s a taster. Alstom (in conjunction with leasing company Eversholt) are ready to rebuild and convert old BR Class 321 electric trains to hydrogen power. It’s a fascinating project which I’ll write about shortly, in the meantime, here’s a couple of pictures of the mock-up of the train, which has been named ‘Breeze’. The basic concept is to provide an alternative to the old suburban diesel trains that run into and between our cities

DG323576. Alstom Class 321 Hydrogen powered train model. Railtex. Birmingham. 16.5.19.crop

DG323588. Alstom Class 321 Hydrogen powered train model. Railtex. Birmingham. 16.5.19.crop

Right, off to bed…

 

 

Rolling blog: back to Railtex

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09:59.

After a decent night’s sleep I feel ready to tackle another day tramping round the Railtex trade fair at Birmingham’s National Exhibition centre. There’s lots to see and photograph, people to chat to and lectures to learn from. Let’s see what happens…

14:30.

I’ve been run off my feet this morning getting pictures for clients and to clients, so there’s been no time for blogging at all. I’m writing this as I’m sending pictures of yesterday’s events to ACoRP right now.

I had a long shortlist to get this morning, which has really kept me busy. Plus, I needed to get shots of the keynote address by the Shadow Transport Minister, Andy McDonald MP. Despite the froth from the Taxpayers Alliance and the Lord’s Economic Committee, Andy made Labour’s unswerving support for HS2 plain

19:47.

Well, this ‘rolling’ blog turned out to be far more static than I thought it would be. There simply wasn’t the time to take the volume of pictures clients required and blog at the same time. I had an extensive picture request list from one client handed to me this morning, which had a silver-lining as I learned an awful lot about some industry innovations that would otherwise have passed me by – which is why I really enjoy working at these events. You get so much from them. Afterwards, a few friends and I decamped and ended up in an old haunt. The ‘Great Western’ pub in Wolverhampton which is sandwiched between the high and (former) low level stations. Let’s just say that it’s not a pub you’ll stumble upon – and they had a long-time favourite beer on, “summer lightning”

Chatham House rules apply to the conversations we had but it was a great end to a hectic few days. Now I’m on the 19:15 from Wolves to Manchester Piccadilly which is just pulling into Macclesfield. I’ve been doing this trip for years and moaned about it in blogs several times so I won’t reprise the argument. All I can say is – roll on HS2!

21:01

I’m now on the last train of the day, heading home from Manchester Victoria to Halifax. As is my wont, I always walk between the two stations, which isn’t always easy with the amount of kit I’m normally carrying. Tonight it had grown because my friends at the Talgo stand had given me a huge amount of unused fresh fruit and snacks to take home with me. In Piccadilly Gardens I spotted a charity that had set up a stand to feed the dozens of homeless people living on the surrounding streets. Without a second thought I went over and donated the food I was carrying. I’ve blogged about this before, so regular readers will understand my feelings about the issue. I know that Carlos, the President of Talgo would approve of my actions…

Rolling blog: community rail in the city.

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In a wonderful contrast to Railtex (which I’ll be back at tomorrow) I’m down in London to cover ‘community rail in the city’. This event showcases all the work various Community Rail Partnerships do around the country. There’s events on several main line stations in the capital, as well as Birmingham New St and Glasgow Central. I’ll update this blog with pictures throughout the day.

08:35. Kings Cross.

We’ve a huge stand on the concourse with several Scottish pipers giving out goody bags. They’re proving very popular with folks wanting pictures

09:28. Liverpool St.

There’s another impressive stand here where you’ll find an 18 foot replica of the ‘Mayflower’ along with goody bags and lots of useful information on the community rail lines in the Anglia region.

11:55.

There’s been plenty of hi-jinks at Kings Cross, where the Scots have been putting on a display of bagpipers and Scottish dancing.

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15:02.

Phew! It’s been a busy day. I managed to get round to all the London stations where events were held and even had time to see the very first (fare paying) passenger run of LNER’s new Azuma trains. 800113 made history working the 11:03 from London Kings Cross to Leeds.

At nearby St Pancras, members of Kent Community Rail partnerships and Sustrans had a stand on the Southeastern railway platforms. As well as giving out goodie bags and leaflets on places to visit on foot, train or bike they were also carrying out a survey into cyclists taking bikes on trains.

Meanwhile, over at Waterloo, staff and volunteers had turned a patch of the concourse into a rural oasis, complete with trees!

At Paddington, folk were advertising the South-West’s connection with the voyage of the Mayflower and the forthcoming 400th anniversary. To keep folk entertained, 25 members of the ‘Kingsmen’ choir sang on the hour.

Now, I’m on my way to Birmingham via Chiltern trains to see what volunteers from the Midlands are up to.

19:53.

Well, that was a whirlwind! I arrived in Birmingham just in time to catch the volunteers who’d been staffing a stall at Birmingham Moor St all day. They were very positive about the reactions they’d had from the public as they were promoting one of four new designated community rail lines (the Shakespeare line). Having caught them I hot-footed it over to New St where there were two very different stalls on the concourse. What was great was to see the way passengers took time out from rushing home to stop and engage, which isn’t always easy as many commuters are on a pre-programmed ‘mission’s & don’t want to be diverted from getting home or to work.

With the final pictures in the bag I decided to have a pint in an old haunt before checking into my hotel, only to find that the Shakespeare was full of old friends from the rail industry who’d had exactly the same idea as me after their day at Railtex! So, one pint turned into a bit more than that..

I was with five people ageing in range from early 50’s to mid 70’s All of them had worked for British Railways (BR) in the ‘good old days’. Some of them still have senior jobs in the rail industry now. So, no names, no pack- drill, but some of the stories they were swapping about that era were both hilarious and criminal in what went on in those days.

Bidding farewell I finally checked into my hotel and dumped several kilos of kit that I’d been lugging around all day. My ‘Fitbit’ tells me that I’ve walked over 10 miles today, so I feel I’d earned that beer!

Food was uppermost in my mind. Hot food at that, so I popped into one of the growing number of noodle bars that you can find in cities nowadays for a spicy fix of Udon noodles, chicken and veg leavened with a very respectable chilli sauce.

I’ve never been a burger fan. In fact I can’t think of the last time I ate one. This is the food for me, born of spending so much time in SE Asia.

22:02.

It’s time to draw this rolling blog to a close. I’m back at my hotel, looking through some if the hundreds of pictures I’ve taken today, but soon it’s going to be time to crash out. I’ve another busy day at Railtex ahead of me…

Rolling blog: and so it begins…

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06:18.

It’s a bright and beautiful morning here at Sowerby Bridge station. The sun’s shining, the birds are singing and I have fresh coffee, thanks to the Jubilee refreshment rooms on the station.

I’m here to catch to 06:23 to Manchester in order to get to Birmingham and the Railtex trade fair.

06:52.

The first chariot of the day was 158849, one of Northern’s refurbished fleet and one that’s been fitted with new seats and USB sockets. It’s only a two car so it’s packed after leaving Rochdale. It’s also remarkably quiet as most people (including me) are staring at their portable devices! This is a great example of how you can have a large group of people who are together in the flesh but are miles apart mentally!

07:38.

I’m now on TfW’s (Transport for Wales) 07:30 to Milford Haven as far as Crewe.

I walked between Victoria and Piccadilly which is always a depressing experience this time of morning as it’s painfully obvious how many people are sleeping rough. Forget the stories about “professional beggars” who return to their council flats each evening, these are real people curled up in doorways or huddled on pavements. A decade of austerity and a government that doesn’t really give a shit has made the problem worse than when I worked in housing back in the 1990s. It’s not going to get any better either. The UK’s flirting with fascism in the form of Nigel Farage and his Brexit party. People who blatently lie through their teeth and have no manifesto or policies other than crashing us out of the EU and who say they won’t tell us what they stand for until AFTER we’ve voted for them! How the hell has the country got itself in this state? I’ve never been more pessimistic about the future of the country as I don’t see much sign of people waking up to what’s going on and the road we’re heading down.

07:50.

We’ve called at Wilmslow, where a sizeable chunk of the folk on this two-car train decanted. Clearly, this time of day this train is a commuter service masquerading as a long-distance train. Next stop is Crewe, so I’ll be interested to see how many get on.

08:18.

I’m now on London Northwestern’s 08:18 to Birmingham New St, which is a 4-car Class 350, which is pretty much full and standing. There’s a few spare seats, but they’re the middle ones in sets of three, which most folk avoid. I’m sharing a vestibule with a bunch of LNW drivers who’re clutching notices about splitting and joining trains at New St. I’m assuming this has to do with the May timetable change. In age old fashion they’re grumbling about the new diagrams and rosters!

09:42.

Almost there! I was delayed changing trains at New St because some of the toilets are closed for refurbishment. New St being New St it was a trek to the alternatives which had folk queuing out of the door! Now I’m on a slightly delayed TfW service to Birmingham International.

14:54.

Phew! It’s been a full on day so far and started as soon as I walked through the Railtex door at 10:00. I’ve finally found time to sit down for a few minutes and get some pictures edited. Here’s a glimpse of the show so far.

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As usual, Siemens have a big presence at Railtex. This is one half of their stand!

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The Talgo stand. The company are bidding for the HS2 train contract (amongst others).

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It’s a Breeze! This is a model of the Class 321 train that Alstom are converting from electricity to Hydrogen.

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The Tratos stand always serves a good lunch for anyone leaving their business card.

19:54.

Right, where were we? Oh, yes – Railtex. I left the show an hour ago and I’m currently on virgin Trains Pendino snaking it’s way to London. Today feels like a bit of a blur as it’s been so manic. Trying to get round the show to take it all in is bad enough. Then there’s the need to be in certain places at set times, constantly bumping into friends and colleagues and trying to blog/upload pictures. By the time the day winds down you’re knackered. That said, the end of the event was fun. Alstom had a really interesting drinks reception to chat about their ‘Breeze’ hydrogen train, so a lot of us hacks met at that, afterwards we moved over to the main networking event which was a great opportunity to catch up with folk and shoot a few more pictures like this one of the band who did a great job of keeping us all entertained.

22:45.

The final update. It’s been a brilliant day. After tearing myself away from a very convivial couple of hours with friends at the end of the show I emerged, blinking, into the light and realised just what a stonking day it must have been weather wise. Now, having caught a train down to London I’m ensconced in the basement of a hotel in Kings Cross that makes me think of scenes from the bunker in ‘Downfall’ – only with better bathrooms. When you realise that to get to your room you have to press -2 you do start to get suspicious…

Hopefully I might actually see a bit of sunshine as I tour the London stations taking part in tomorrow’s event. Watch this space…

The week ahead…

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I’m enjoying a rare day at home, catching some sun whilst doing some gardening, sorting out chores and also working. Oh, and freezing some of the fabulous food Dawn spent yesterday evening cooking. Here’s one of the dishes she made, a delicious baked cauliflower.

Today’s very much one of those days where I’ve a lot of balls in the air. As the weather’s so good I took the long way round when I had to nip out shopping earlier, here’s the view.

Tomorrow the pace picks up even more as I’m working at Railtex in Birmingham during the day, then heading down to London for a night in the capital, ready for ‘Community Rail in the City’ alongside friends and colleagues from ACoRP and community rail groups across the country. We’ll be having a busy day as there’s events I have to cover on several railway stations. There’ll be stalls and entertainment at Kings Cross, Liverpool St, London Bridge, Waterloo, Paddington and St Pancras, so pop along if you can. Events will also be held outside London at Birmingham New St and Glasgow Central. After that I head back up to Birmingham for an overnighter ready to work at Railtex again on the Thursday. On Friday I’ll be back home, glued to the computer, editing the hundreds of pictures I’ll have taken.

No doubt I’ll have time for a few rolling blogs over the next few days, so watch this space…