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The old expression “feast or famine” springs to mind this week as I find myself with one of those weeks where there’s just too much happening at the same time, leaving me with an interesting exercise in logistics and juggling.

Right now I’m off to Manchester to check on rail improvement work and the effects of the timetable ‘difficulties’. I’ll report back on what I find. At least my train from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester’s only a minute late. It’s 158905, which is one of the DMUs West Yorkshire PTE funded ‘back in the day’. It’s still providing sterling service, even if it’s carrying a lighter load than usual today.

Funnily enough, I’ve just passed one of its sister units at Hebden Bridge which is still carrying Scotrail livery (158871). It’s the delayed cascade of units like 871 that’s contributed to Northern’s present difficulties

Tomorrow, the fun starts in earnest. I’m attending the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders conference in Leeds then heading straight down to London in readiness for an early morning flight to Germany. I’m part of a Siemens press trip which will preview some of their new products ahead of the massive Innotrans trade fair in Berlin in September. It’s going to be a busy couple of days in Germany but as soon as I land I have to dash again – this time to Crewe as I’ve volunteered to take the pictures on the Railway Children charities annual ‘3 peaks by rail’ fundraiser. This is only being made possible by my long-suffereing wife, Dawn – who will be meeting me (fleetingly) in London for a rapid kit change! Hopefully (Heathrow customs permitting) I’ll make it to Crewe in time to catch the train. If not, I’ll be catching up with them in Bangor at some God-awful hour!

The ‘3 Peaks by rail’ event lasts from Thursday evening until Saturday evening, when I should land back in Preston in time to get home. Last year that didn’t happen. One of the pair of Class 37s had to be changed at Carlisle so we were late and I had to stay over in Manchester. I’m hoping for better luck this time. Dawn’s on standby with the car, just in case…

As you can see, there’s going to be plenty to shoot and write about, so watch this space…


Right now I’m returning from a look at electrification of and expansion to Bolton station. The delays to this project are another reason for Northern’s problems…