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I’m on the move again right now, heading for both London and Birmingham, firstly to drop in to St Pancras station and say ‘happy 150th birthday’, then go in search of the massive Stophs2 protest outside the Tory party conference. OK, that last bit was a lie. I’ll probably have difficulty finding them as it looks like it’ll be very much a one man and his elephant sort of protest.

Watch this space…


My first train of the day, a ‘nodding donkey working the 0906 to Southport.

The weather here in West Yorkshire stunning. It’s a beautifully crisp and sunny autumn morning with the temperature in single figures. The railways are readying for the leaf-fall season now as I’ve just passed one of Network Rail’s RHTT (Railhead Treatment Trains) that blast leaves off the rails using high-powered water jets. It’s remindex me that must get some lineside shots later in the month, when the leaves gain their full colour before falling.


I’m now on train number 2 – the 10:2€ Cross-country service from Manchester Piccadilly to Bournemouth via Birmingham. It’s a relatively quiet service (for now) which is just as well as it’s only a four-car. I’ve no doubt it’ll fill up en-route.

Whilst a half-hourly service between Manchester and Birmingham’s an improvement on BR days it’s a pretty poor offering in 2018, mainly because of the time it takes and the type of train. This service will take 1hr 31m.


So, here I am in Birmingham at the Tory conference, Stophs2 elephant hunting. As expected, they were a bit hard to find, mainly because they’re outgunned and outnumbered by ever other demonstration here! Once I made my way past the ‘God squad’ (who had at least half a dozen people  here) I was held up by a very colourful (and noisy) anti-fracking group of men and women – many of whom had dressed up before I found Joe Rukin, who’d dressed down! Apparently, he was accompanied by Archie Taylor from Warks, but he was nowhere to be seen

Here’s Joe on his own, trying (and failing) to give out leaflets whilst the anti-fracking people behind him heavily outnumber him, in the very back, you can see ‘Ellie’ the inflatable elephant all on her own in a corner!


Here’s poor Ellie, looking very abandoned…


So, this is the ‘relaunched’ Stophs2 campaign. Sad, isn’t it? meanwhile, inside the hall, the Government has re-iterated its support for HS2 and there’s several events going on with rail industry leaders throughout the day. Over at New St station, Siemens and the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders have a virtual reality tour of Hs2 and a model of the Velaro Novo…




My tour of two cities turned into one. I got caught up in the completely surreal atmosphere of the Tory party conference and meeting up with colleagues. I also ended up spending an hour or two dealing with picture requests. I have to say, I can’t help thinking this country is screwed, the rhetoric that was coming out of the conference (plus some of the delegates I met) are utterly bonkers. I can’t help thinking that the EU will be breathing a collective sigh of relief to see the back of us…