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The end of the line beckons for Scotrail’s Class 314 EMUs

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This week Scotrail have announced the withdrawal of three of their fleet of sixteen BR built Class 314 3-car EMUs that have been a familiar sight around Glasgow for the past 38 years, 314207, 314212 and 314213 are now off-lease and will be returned to their ROSCO for disposal. The rest of the Class will follow as soon as they can be released by the arrival of more Hitachi Class 385 EMUs, which will allow other vehicles to be cascaded

The 314s were constructed at York in 1979-80 to the same design as the earlier Class 313s and 315s plus the 750v 3rd rail Class 507s and 508s. What was unique is that unlike the others, they have a top speed of 70mph rather than 75. Built with aluminium bodies and roofs on a steel underframes they were a step change from earlier BR design EMUs. The design followed on from the experimental PEP units of the 1970s. Here’s a look back at each member of the class and some of the places they visited.

DG108144. 314201. Mount Florida. 29.3.12.

On the 29th March 2012 the first of the class approaches Mount Florida station on the Cathcart circle in South Glasgow

DG21205. 314202. Cathcart. 8.4.09.

Back on the 8th April 2009 314202 calls at Cathcart, heading anti-clockwise on the circle.

DG108141. 314203. Mount Florida. 29.3.12.

On the 29th March 2012 314203 in the new Saltire livery leaves Mount Florida with a service to Neilston. This unit’s unusual in that the lead car was rebuilt from a Class 507 vehicle (no 64426) in 1996 as the original 64588 was scrapped after being written off in the Newton rail crash of 1991.

DG150985. 314204. Paisley Canal. 14.6.13.

14th June 2013. 314204 stands at the end of the Paisley Canal branch with a service to Glasgow Central.

DG147891. 314205. Glasgow Central. 15.5.13.

It’s the 15th May 2013 ad 314205 waits to leave the magnificent Glasgow Central station with a Cathcart circle service via Maxwell Park.

DG21295. 314206. Glasgow Central. 9.4.09.

A busy time at Glasgow Central on the 9th April 2009 as 314206 arrives with a service from Neilston.

DG21211. 314207. Cathcart. 8.4.09.

Back to the 8th April 2009 when 314207 is dropping off passengers at Cathcart station on its way to Neilston. As one of the first three sets to come off-lease its next journey is likely to be to the scrapyard.

DG147965. 314208. Glasgow Central. 15.5.13.

On the 15th May 2013 314208 has just arrived at Glasgow Central from Paisley Canal. This line had only been electrified the previous year, allowing the 314s to add it to their sphere of operation.

DG21410. 314209. Glasgow Shields Rd. 9.4.09.

The 314s have spent their life based at Glasgow’s Shields Rd depot. Here’s 314209 receiving an exam inside the depot on the 9th April 2009.

DG107942. 314210. Wemyss Bay. 28.3.12.

The 314s did sometimes venture outside Glasgow, one such place was the superb station at Wemyss Bay, to the West of the city on the coast of the Firth of Clyde.  Here’s 314210 at the town on the 28th March 2012.

DG147810. 314211. Glasgow Central. 15.5.13.

Another of the class that lost the attractive Carmine and Cream livery for the Saltire livery is 314211. Here it is leaving Glasgow Central with a Cathcart circle working on the 15th May 2013.

DG21192. 314212. Patterton. 8.4.09.

The second of the off-lease trio is 314212. Here it is at Patterton on the Neilston branch on the 8th April 2009 whilst working back to Glasgow.

DG107825. 314213. Glasgow Central. 28.3.12.

Also off-lease now is 314213. On the 28th March 2012 it could be found threading its way through the maze of tracks on the approach to Glasgow Central whilst working a Neilston branch service.

DG108133. 314214. Newton. 29.3.12.

Another service covered by 314s was the route from Central to Newton on the East side of Glasgow. Here’s 314214 at the end of the route on the 29th March 2012.

DG121362. 314215. Glasgow Central. 16.8.12.

After being a familiar scene for nearly 40 years, this sight will soon be history. On the 16th August 2012, 314215 approaches Glasgow Central.

DG258538. 314216. Glasgow Central. 9.10.16

The final member of the Class, 314216 at Glasgow Central on the 9th October 2016

Here’s a couple of internal views of the 314s, which were very much in original form. The yellow panelling was shared throughout the various classes from the 313s onwards. The seatsing has changed in other units but the 314s retained their original low-back 3+2 seating arrangement. These views date from April 2009.

DG21183. Interior. Scotrail Class 314. 8.4.09..JPG

DG21185. Interior. Scotrail Class 314. 8.4.09..JPG

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Stophs2? Give over…

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It’s the party conference season once more, which means StopHs2’s inflatable elephant is dug out of storage, checked for punctures and wheeled out for utterly pointless ‘demonstrations’ of Stophs2 impotence outside the events.

Gone are StopHs2’s ‘glory’ days when they could afford a stand inside the conferences and find enough volunteers to staff it. In those days you’d get Penny Gaines tweeting that everyone they talked to was solidly against Hs2 and that *really* every MP (Labour or Tory) privately opposed the project.

It was all tosh of course. Now the money and supporters have dried up, Hs2’s being built and it’s all rather pointless really.

A final effort to save the campaign from oblivion was launched a couple of weeks ago by one of the surviving ‘action’ groups on phase 1 of the route. Not that you’d notice as it’s been yet another in a long-line of damp squibs. The meeting in Balsall Common in Warwickshire. Here’s a couple of excerpts from the email that did the rounds

” We hope to attract members from both the South and the North to this meeting. We recognise that most action groups on Phase1 have faded away and this meeting is called by Richard Lloyd of Berkswell and Archie Taylor of Burton Green. We will offer coffee and biscuits but refreshments are available at next door Tesco’s.
We have a glimmer of a chance to stop the whole project as costs escalate and Brexit approaches while those on Phase 2 are perhaps in a stronger position”

“Glimmer”? Talk about optimistic! The email goes on…

“But we also have to plan for the future. Are any of the Northern Groups planning to lobby the Labour Conference at Liverpool, a week later, on the 23rd? If they are, perhaps, a few of us can help with the pamphlets. As a Labour member, I intend to write to all Labour MPs in the first week of September but articles don’t always get to the MP. But if we can give out leaflets at Liverpool, we can certainly play the northern card with the east to west alternative. If we do have volunteers to leaflet, I might go up to the Conference myself.

Perhaps the Conservative Conference at Birmingham on September 30th is more significant and accessible. Again it would be great if we can get people along. Similarly we can work on leaflets before our meeting.

I would appreciate if you can come to our meeting, or you are ready to go to Liverpool to contact me. I hope people will make this meeting. It will be great to see people from the past. It is going to be very difficult to stop it but we have a chance if we join together. I will give more details about the meeting at a later date”

So, the ‘new’ plan is to re-run the same old tactics, only this time with less money, less people and less interest! Here’s the agenda for the meeting;

stophs2 2 agenda

Note that the other national groups AGAHST and Hs2aa didn’t bother turning up. That’s because they exist in name only. Their written ‘updates’ will probably have been as blank as the Governments benefits of Brexit! AGAHST folded years ago and Hs2aa haven’t been heard from since the summer of 2016!

I haven’t seen a copy of any conclusions from the meeting or list of how many attended, but I not that it’s had no media coverage or mention on the surviving groups Facebook pages or websites other than on from a Groups on the Leeds route which described it as a ‘good’ meeting and err, that’s it!

So, what’s been the result of the relaunch. Well, yesterday a couple of people did make it up to Liverpool with the inflatable elephant and duly set it up outside. How many of them were there? It’s impossible to tell as the only picture Stophs2 tweeted out doesn’t contain a soul!

elele

By this morning the tweet had amassed a grand total of 29 retweets and 39 likes from their 6175 Twitter followers, which tells you all you need to know really…

There is one video, which is an ‘interview’ of a very scruffy and dishevelled looking Joe Rukin, spouting his usual polemical bluster, but no-one else is in sight!

Contrast this pathetic performance with what was going on inside the Labour conference. Firstly, this tweet from train builder Bombardier showing some of their young apprentices meeting the Shadow Chancellor.

bombardier

Or this, from Siemens. Shame about the quality of the picture, but you get the gist,

sie

Or this…

prescott

To say that Rukin and Co have been outclassed and outgunned is an understatement! If this is a campaign that’s been relaunched, then it slipped straight off the stocks and did a submarine impression! I don’t expect any better at the Conservative conference. If I have the time I might even pop along so that we can get some proper pictures to gauge their support by.

Meanwhile, one last word about Liverpool. This is a proper demonstration Joe – oh, and look, that’s your very lonely elephant in the background!

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A relaxing weekend? Sort of…

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It’s Sunday night and the weekend’s flown by. The good thing is that I’ve had time with my nearest and dearest, the bad thing is – there’s no rest for the wicked! Most of the last couple of days have been spent trying to catch up with picture editing and writing. I’m gradually working my way through editing the hundreds of pictures I took in Germany last week. You can find the Innotrans shots in this gallery whilst the general railway shots are here. Here’s a couple of samples.

DG308400. Rebuilding the lines between Ostbahnhof and Warschauer Strasse stations. Berlin. Germany. 17.9.18cropp

Rebuilding the lines between Ostbahnhof and Warschauer Strasse stations

DG308712. Stadler Flirt for Greater Anglia. Innotrans. Berlin. Germany. 18.9.18crop

One of the new Stadler FLIRT 4-car bi-mode trains for Greater Anglia on display at Innotrans

As well as picture editing I’ve managed to get the first of my three-part trip around the UK rail network for RAIL written and sent off for editing. This next week will see me spending most of my time at home to get part 2 written and also finish editing the hundreds of remaining pictures from Germany sorted out as well as the shots to illustrate RAIL. Time and weather permitting, I might even manage to get out for the day somewhere…

After that it’s off up to Scotland for this years ACoRP awards which are being held in Glasgow. Thanks to Scotrail and Transport Scotland there’s a lot of activities going on around the awards so it promises to be a great time. Watch this space for comments and pictures.

 

An unhappy return…

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After a brilliant week in Berlin it’s time to call it a day and head home. Normally, this is something I’d look forward to. The good bit is that I’m coming home to be with my wife. The bad bit is that I’m returning to a country that’s completely taken leave of its senses.

I’ve been busy working at Innotrans, so I’ve not been keeping up with the news – until now, when I’ve seen what’s happening with the Brexit shambles.

The utter stupidity of most of the UK’s politicians (and sadly, a fair chunk of voters) is depressing beyond words. Our arrogance is about to be our undoing as it’s looking increasingly likely we’re heading for a no deal Brexit. If that happens, the UK’s going to get a very hard lesson in humility. Part of me thinks that lesson is long overdue. Let’s face it, we’re a country that has far too high an opinion of itself and its place in the world because of our history. What many haven’t learned is history is just that – the past – and it’s where we’re stuck. We seem incapable of moving on and learning what our place is in a fast changing world – hence our mad pretence that we will prosper after Brexit.

We’ve relied on that arrogance to cushion us from what’s happening in the wider world, the one that many on our island nation know little about. We ignore the fact that what is today won’t always be. Here’s a little factoid I picked up at Innotrans – ironically, it was from an information leaflet published by the UK’s Rail Industry Association (RIA).

By 2050, Indonesia is expected to be the worlds 5th largest economy. That’s the position we held before the Brexit referendum. So where will we be in 2050? The only way is down…

What makes me angry is the lies and denial of reality. The Brexit vote was a fiddle. It was won by cheating and lying on an industrial scale but few seem to care. Our democracy has become so stale it’s been easily undermined by a few people with the money and will to do it. We’ve been bought and no-one’s really bothered – least of all the Brexit fans who screamed long and loud about how we needed to leave the EU because it was “undemocratic”. What a joke that’s turned out to be, but the joke’s on us.

Our Prime Minister has made a fool of herself in talks with EU leaders through misplaced arrogance and trying to push a deal that the EU said was impossible 2 years ago. The British still don’t understand who they’re negotiating with and pretend this is a negotiation between equals (It’s not) and that threatening to shoot ourselves in the head by leaving without a deal is somehow a credible threat that will make the EU cave in on its fundamental principles (it won’t). After all, why should they? Why would anyone rewrite the rules of the club for someone who’s leaving? Especially when those rules are enshrined in international treaties?

It’s stupidity beyond words. Here I am coming back from an international trade show that I’ve been able to attend and work at because of our membership of the EU. What hoops will I have to jump through next time, in 2020? And all for what? “Take back control” was a sick joke and it looks like we’re about to find out just how big a lie it was – too late.

Arrogance and a misplaced sense of superiority have been our undoing before (see my earlier blog about the fall of Singapore). Now we’ve added complacency about the state of our democracy to that list. Our institutions have proved to be unfit for purpose and toothless in the modern world – just look at the Electoral Commission for evidence of that. But what are we doing about it? Nothing. Most people don’t even care. That’s a sure sign of a country in decline.

We’re wrecking our economy, our international standing in the world and our relationship with our European neighbours and all for what? A bunch of lies.

We have 6 months left to stop the greatest act of self-harm any country has inflicted on itself in peacetime. Will we come to our senses?

Update: 12:09.

I’ve landed back in little Britain…

From what I can see of the UK media we’re heading for disaster. The rhetoric I’m seeing about ‘traitors’ is deeply disturbing. As a country we seem completely out of touch with reality. May’s Chequers deal was never going to be accepted by the EU, so why all the outrage? It’s painfully bloody obvious that we can’t impose our will on the EU, so why’s this a surprise? We ask for the impossible.

Innotrans and Berlin

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It’s my fourth day here in Berlin and apart from the fact i’ve been having a hectic time I’m also having a fabulous one.

Sunday left me shattered after my negative experiences of Stansted airport. Whilst I’ve been here I chatted to other UK colleagues, who share the same view of the place and now refuse to use it. What was once one of the UK’s best airports is viewed as having been ruined by concentrating on wringing every last penny of of passengers. After spending a few hours exploring and getting pictures I headed out to my hotel and ended up falling asleep by 21:30!

In contrast, my experiences here in Germany have been extremely positive. After all the madness that’s going on back home because of Brexit and our mad politicians, it’s lovely to be in a confident and outward looking, stable country. Berlin’s also one of my favourite capital cities. It has a bohemian heart and it’s all the better for it. There’s also massive investment in Berlin’s railway infrastructure, like this view East from the rebuilt Ostkreuz station which shows the new flyover and dive under built for the S-Bahn.

DG308451crop

On Monday I took time off to explore a couple of the delightful old rural tramways that link country towns with the S-Bahn. They’re rather timeless. Here’s the route out from Rahnsdorf to Waltersdorf.

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This one is the route nearby, from Friedrichshagen to Rüdersdorf.

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Right now I’m commuting in from Ludwigsfelde, a town just to the South, which is where I’m staying. It takes 30 mins to get to the amazing Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Hotel prices go crazy when Innotrans is on, so unless you book months (or years) in advance you can pay silly prices.

DG308679crop

Commuting, Berlin style. This is my ODEG service out to Ludwigsfelde from the magnificent Birlin Hauptbahnhof.

I’m heading to day two of Innotrans, the world’s biggest rail trade fair. Around 160,000 people will visit over the four days, after which it’s opened to the public for another two days after that. I’m expecting another hectic day as one of the magazines I’m working for has a shortlist of stuff for me to get and today the British Transport Minister, Chris Grayling is touring the show. He’s tipped to be signing some contracts…

Oh, did I mention the weather? Innotrans is renowned for always getting the sun. Yesterday we baked in the heat, today’s expected to hit 26 degrees! I’m just glad us photojournalists are allowed to dress down!

Right now I’m in the Press centre, where I can grab a coffee, use the wifi and all the other facilities provided for Journalists before hitting the stands. It’s quiet at the moment, but here’s what the place looks like.

If you want to see pictures from the show, take a look at this gallery on my Zenfolio website as that’s where I’m putting them. I’ll flesh this blog out more when I have time.

18:51.

I’ve finally left the show and begun my journey home, but first there’s time to stop of at the Alkopole Bar at Alex, have a quiet beer and catch my thoughts. The day was busier than I thought for the simple reason that Chris Grayling visited a lot of trade stalls. We may fundamentally disagree over politics but I can’t fault him for keeping such a busy schedule. David Davis he ain’t!

I did manage to take up a certain train builders invitation to visit their version of platform 9 & 3/4, which was an mock English pub hidden on the back of one of their trains, but I’ll say no more.

The rest of my time was spent flitting between trade stands and the press centre with the occaisional foray to have a look at some new train interiors. The problem was that some of the ones I wanted to check out had a shore supply. This meant they were extremely popular as the air-conditioning worked – a real blessing in this heat!

I’m not sure what the temperature is now but it’s a lovely evening for sitting outside with a beer.

The ‘press pack’ has scattered to the four winds this evening due to a multitude of receptions and events to go to, which has spared my liver, so I’m not complaining. Besides, I have another 05:50 start in the morning…

Rolling blog; Berlin bound…

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Time at home never lasts long. After 48 hours I’m on the road again, this time bound for Berlin. The timing could have been better as I’ve been torn away from a very pleasant afternoon with friends. We’ve been celebrating Tony Allan (of Phoenix brewery fame) 50th anniversary in brewing with a barbecue at his home in Halifax. Tony has set up a cellar bar with two of his beers on – plus plenty of other refreshments.

Now I’ve had to begin the schlep to Stansted airport for a silly ‘o clock Sunday morning flight to Berlin in readiness for the Innotrans rail trade fair. Dawn was kind enough to drive me to Huddersfield to catch a TPE service direct to Manchester Piccadilly so I’ve dodged a bullet in the shape of another futile Northern Rail strike.

Touch wood, things are going well. We left early as Huddersfield Town were playing at home today, so traffic can always be hit and miss. Add to the fact TPE are often late which means it always pays to give yourself a one train cushion. I’d planned to catch the 18:29 but found I was in time for a late running 18:08 which gives me plenty of time to get my London connection.

The trip across the Pennies was, fine. I missed the footy crowds and secured a tip up seat outside the disabled toilet where I heard a fascinating conversation between two TPE chaps with their refreshment trolleys who were on their way home. One was from Greece and the other Georgia. They were talking about their native foods and comparing recipes. It was delightful to overhear but it also made me angry. Not at them, but the whole Brexit shambles and the fact it’s causing such uncertainty for people like this pair.

19:31.

Oh joy. This is going to be a long trip…I’m now on Virgin’s 19:35 to Euston. Not only is this 11 car rammed, it has that delightful combination of football fans, inconsiderate people – and drunks. On the bright side, the football fans are Man City supporters. If they were United fans I’m sure there would be far more of them heading back to London!

The downside? As I was (foolishly) intending to try and do some work I’d reserved a table seat with a power socket. When I arrived I found that a young woman travelling alone had spread her unruly brood (and the contents of of their McDonald’s meal) all over the table & didn’t seem the slightest bit concerned other people had reserved seats as she was too busy talking on her phone (on speakerphone). We had ‘words’ when she expected me to accommodate her noisy ‘bin lids’ and their mess whilst she ignored them as she was far more interested in her phone. One chap behind her’s already told her to take the damned thing off speaker mode, so I know I’m not the only one hacked off.

Meanwhile, drunk woman and her boyfriend 3 groups of seats ahead have broken volume controls….

20:14

Mercifully, phone woman and her brood have left the train at Stoke. In fact, many people have in this coach (B) whilst a handful have joined us. Next stop is Milton Keynes…

20:37

The evening’s not completely wasted. I might not be able to write, but I can edit pictures. The slightly frustrating thing is the chap who’s sat next to me (And who does a very good job of filling his seat) has made no effort to move and spread out into the empty ones around us, but then they’re all backwards facing seats, which I know some people are funny about. Oh well, if he won’t…

21:22

After Milton Keynes this train’s less than 50% full. I can stretch out and work on photos whilst listening to music. The old iPod’s been dug out and I’m taking a bittersweet trip down memory lane, listening to The Waterboys and Fisherman’s Blues…

22:27

Not a vintage journey with VWC: we were right time to Berkhampstead, then ended up crawling the rest of the way on the slow lines into Euston where we arrived around 15m late. The frustrating thing was the complete lack of any real information, just generic announcements. There was no ticket check nor any apology (or explanation) for the delay – which in this day and age really isn’t good enough.

To add insult to injury I’m now on the 205 bus from Euston to Liverpool St as the tube is shut for engineering work! Good job I’m in no hurry…

23:11

When I said I was in no hurry, that wasn’t entirely true. I’m currently sat on the last Stansted Express of the night, the 23:25. If I’d missed this it would have meant spending a night on Liverpool St station until 04:30 tomorrow! I’d like to think my days of kipping on railway stations are long gone.

The bus journey across London brought back many memories. So much of it was familiar yet so much has changed. I passed through places I remember from my days with the National Federation of Housing Co-ops back in the late 1980s, plus areas Lynn and I would regularly cycle through on her way to/from work when we lived in the East End.

Liverpool St itself holds lots of memories, as does the areas of London we’re about to pass through now. Tower Hamlets and Hackney.

Compared the old 317s they replaced on the Stansteds the 379s are a great bit of kit. They fast, comfortable and roomy. The wifi’s pretty good too – which is why you’re reading this now! Here’s a view of the interior of set 026.

Odd to think these EMUs will be surplus to requirements in 2020 isn’t it?

00:23

I’m now ‘settled’ at Stansted airport. It’s times like this you realise how passenger unfriendly these places are. There’s literally hundreds of people here who are on ridiculously early flights who’ve decided it’s not worth shelling out for a hotel room so have decided to stay at the airport and maybe get a couple of hours shut eye. But Stansted (the bastards) – unlike any other UK or international airport I’ve ever used has got a nasty surprise in store. Take a look at this!

To say that I’m not happy is a f*****g understatement!

In all my 40 plus years travelling around the world I’ve never known an airport that holds its passengers in such contempt. I’ve just been told off for reclining on my suitcase as it’s a breach of the rules. Stansted makes its money out of cheap flights at silly hours of the day, but (cynically) it won’t provide the facilities to cater for then and even forbids them from trying to sleep. This is what happened to a young girl who tried to lie down outside an area of closed desks, so wasn’t blocking anything.

Well congratulations Stansted, not only is this the last time I use you. I’ll be publicising your contemptuous attitude to your passengers far and wide.

It’s 03:00 now and the rest of the airport building’s been opened. Until 02:30 it was blocked off, hence us being corralled in a tiny space. The only reason I can see why they’ve opened it is that flights have started arriving, so we’re in the way. I can’t see any logical reason why the rest of the airport was closed other than a desire to save money. I can’t understand any rational security excuse as Heathrow can keep vast spaces open overnight without a problem. So why can’t Stansted – which is far smaller?

04:52.

I’m now airside. Once the rest of the airport opened I managed to find a space to pay my head for nearly an hour before it was time to check-in. To be fair to Ryanair that was pretty quick even though the airport’s buzzing now. Security was pretty good to although my lack of sleep was starting to tell.

Once I got through I realised where all the space I used to remember from the past has gone. After security you’re led along the yellow brick road and a meander through shops. Lots of shops. When you get through you’re deposited in a packed seating area that’s surrounded with-more shops!

Essentially, Stansted treats you as an economic battery hen. Facilities are minimal, this is about squeezing as much cash out of you as possible before you catch your plane. Of course, this time of the morning airports exist in their own time zone. I walked through the huge Wetherspoons at 05:20 and it looked like this.

06:13

We’ve just boarded! Now for some sleep….

I’ll start blogging again from a civilised country later.

Time to change clothes..

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Dawn and I are back at home after attending last night’s National Rail Awards in London. It was a brilliant event made all the more interesting by the fact that, for the first time in 15 years I was a VIP guest at the awards rather than being there to take the photos, which allowed me to spend more time to talk to the many friends I’ve made in the industry throughout the years

You might think “well, what’s the industry got to celebrate with all these strikes, failed franchises and timetable fiascos?”, but as the host of the event, RAIL magazine’s Editor Nigel Harris pointed out – The awards are about celebrating people. Those people who go above and beyond the call of duty to deliver exemplary service – even under incredibly difficult circumstances.

The pair of us arrived shortly after opening. As it’s a black tie event you’ve got to get a selfie, haven’t you?

This year, as I wasn’t ‘on duty’ I’ve had the opportunity to record the event for myself.

The awards are held in the ballroom of the Grosvenor Park Hotel in Park Lane. Around 1100 people attend. This is what the floor looks like from the VIP bar.

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The place soon gets packed with people once everyone is called to dinner after the chance to chat, meet old friends or simply network with colleagues.

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Some of the 114 tables at last night’s National Rail awards

We’ve had some excellent co-hosts over the years but one who always makes a great impression is the BBC’s Steph McGovern. It’s her second time at the awards. Steph is a witty, down to earth Tees-sider who posses a self-deprecating sense of humour and a wealth of anecdotes. Her story of meeting Donald Trump is especially funny – and pithy!

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Last years awards was probably the most memorable of all as it paid tribute to the members of the British Transport Police and station staff who suffered two horrendous events, The suicide bomb at the MEN arena above Manchester Victoria station and also the terror attack at London Bridge when BTP Officer Wayne Marques was seriously injured whilst heroically tackling the knife-wielding terrorists single-handedly when his only weapon was a baton.

Wayne is finally on the road to recovery and returned to the awards this year and received another standing ovation and the heartfelt thanks of the crowd.

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I won’t detail every winner here, but you can find them on the RAIL website if you follow this link.

Now it’s time to ditch my black tie for something a little more suitable for a photojournalist as on Sunday I fly to Germany for the massive Innotrans rail show. Expect pictures and a few reports soon…

Stop Hs2? I had to laugh!…

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This morning there was a Parliamentary debate on Hs2 which had been organised by Bill Cash, the MP for Stone (on the Hs2 route in Staffs). Cash is, how shall we say – not entirely connected with the real world. Not only is he an ardent Brexit supporter (and we all know just how well that’s going), he’s also been rather creative in the past with his expenses.

Still, the debate he secured this morning kicked off promptly. It was meant to help ‘revitalise’ the campaign against Hs2 as it followed on from another opinion poll commissioned by the Daily Express that showed a ‘majority’ of people oppose Hs2.

There was only one problem

The anti Hs2 ‘campaign’ (and I use that word loosely) is so short of political support that hardly any MPs turned up to the debate! I counted 5 that actually spoke to criticise Hs2. Cash delivered a long ramble which was nothing new, it was just Cash rehashed. You might as well have played one of his old speeches on a monitor and saved the old boy the bother. The usual suspects followed, the most prominent of which was the MP for Chesham and Amersham, Cheryl Gillan. Embarrassment followed embarrassment when it became clear that the anti MPs were matched and indeed surpassed by MPs who’d turned up to speak in Favour of HS2. These included Sir Robert Symes MP, the former Chair of the phase 1 Hybrid Bill Cttee, Graham Stringer MP (former leader of Manchester City Council), and of course the under secretary of state for transport, Nusrat Ghani MP, who wound up the whole sorry shambles by pointing out the political arithmetic by highlighting the overwhelming numbers of MPs and Lords who supported HS2 compared to those who opposed. In short, it was a humiliation.

Here’s a couple of pictures of the ‘packed’ meeting room. You’ll notice that the gallery outnumbers the MPs

debate

minister

So, what of the Daily Express poll? Well, it’s a gauge of the number of people who’ll grumble about Government spending, but apart from that it’s worthless. If you inserted a multiple choice question that said “OK, so what are you actually going to do about HS2” you know what the answer would be: nothing – as we’ve seen from hard evidence over the years in local and general elections (much to UKIP’s chagrin). It’s just not an issue that will make people change who they vote for.

Thin gruel…

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There’s not much of a blog tonight folks, just a few observations and musings. I’ve been working from home again, trying to catch up with writing, picture editing and all those household bits and bobs that I need to before I’m back on the road again in a few days time.

I’ve added more than two hundred rail and travel pictures from around the UK to my Zenfolio website – which you can find by following this link to the latest updated galleries. One of my favourites is this moody view of Inchkeith, seen from the footbridge of Kinghorn station, Fife.

DG308136. Inchkeith seen from Kinghorn. Fife. Scotland. 9.9.18

Much as it’s nice having this time at home, I can’t wondering if our cat (Jet) hasn’t taken out a life insurance policy on the pair of us as he’s started to lie here…

JET

Meanwhile, in Alice in Wonderland, the Brexit shambles limps on. The group of fanatical Brexit supporters in Parliament known as the ERG (European Research Group) have launched their report on the ‘benefits’ of Brexit. As expected, it’s batshit crazy and has already been torn apart by real economists and lampooned by others. Here’s my personal favourite – it’s a picture from the launch by Dan Kitwood of Getty Images in a tweet from Otto English.

otto

And on that note – goodnight!

Time to get my breath back – if only for a moment.

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Phew! After 8 days continuous travel around the UK by train it felt rather odd to be sleeping in our own bed and not having to head off anywhere this morning. Instead, the furthest I’ve had to travel has been from the bedroom to the kitchen and then my office at the back of the house. I’ve spent the day writing the first of the trilogy from my trip, plus editing the pictures and catching up on all the bits of life I couldn’t whilst out on the rails. It’s also great to be eating home-cooked food again, rather than living off sandwiches and supermarket meals.

I’ll be trying to get back to blogging again ASAP. It’s not that I’ve nothing to talk about or pictures to show – anything but as yesterday was a fascinating trip down the Fife coast after leaving Perth. Here’s a couple of shots to whet your appetites.

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Harvest time in the kingdom of Fife.

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Crossing the River Tay on the railway bridge

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A lovely poem on display at Kirkcaldy railway station

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The original Burntisland railway station. Opened in 1847 it was the site of the worlds first train ferry until it was made redundant by the opening of the Forth Rail bridge in 1890. Derelict for many years, it now houses artist studios and community groups. 

The difficulty (as always) is time. I’ve got the next two days at home, then Dawn and I are off to the National Rail Awards in London as VIP guests. After working there since 2003 as the event photographer, that’s going to feel very different. On Friday we’ll return home for some time with friends back in Halifax, but I’ll be on the road again later on Saturday as I’m off to Innotrans, the massive rail trade show in Germany from Sunday – Friday. Expect a few blogs from there!

In the meantime, I’ll be finishing my RAIL articles, doing my best to add all the recent pictures to my Zenfolio website – and also have some down time – somewhere (somehow).