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It’s Sunday afternoon but there’s no rest for the wicked! I’m en-route to Derby for a night in a hotel before an early morning commission and an appointment with a Government Minister.

These short December days make it feel far later than it really is. As I type this on my phone I was surprised to see the time in the corner of the screen only showing 16:40.

I’m on a Grand Central service that was going to take me to Wakefield for an onward connection to Derby, but (surprise surprise) it’s been delayed by other late running trains, so I’ll miss my connection. Instead I’m going to stay on this train and go via Doncaster and Sheffield before heading down to Derby. This service (the 16:14 off Halifax) is actually quite quiet, which makes a change! I normally struggle to get a seat on GC services nowadays!

What’s good about this train is that omits the stop at ‘Pontycarlo’ (as Ponfefract is often known) as we run via Hare Park Junction to gain the East Coast Main Line from Leeds, which speeds up the journey considerably as there’s no crawl along the normally freight only line from Knottingley.

16:15

Best laid plans, etc!

Luke, our Guard has just announced we’re stuck behind an all stations service into Doncaster, which means we’re already late (again).

On the bright side, there’s a frequent service from Doncaster to Sheffield, so I won’t have long to wait when we do arrive…

17:37.

That went well! I stepped straight off the Grand Central service (which loads of passengers were joining) and crossed the platform to the bay where A rather special Pacer was waiting to head to Shefgield – the unique rebuilt 144012.

18:45.

On the move again after having a quick break in Sheffield between trains to grab a sandwich and a pint at the ‘tap.

Now I’m on a packed East Midlands Trains Meridian. As is often the case, I’m stuck in a vestibule. It was quite amusing as a group of young football fans asked me to take a picture of them with somebody on one of their iPhones. I’d no idea who it was but apparently they’d me a football commentator on the train and he agreed to a picture with them. As I’m not a footie fan I wouldn’t know him from Adam (unless he was Gary Linaker) but they were well happy and he seemed quite pleasant and unassuming.

19:48

I make it to Derby only 3 minutes late – and into the new island platform too!

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I’m now checked into the old Midland Hotel opposite the station and sorting out some work and pictures before nipping out for an hour to meet someone. Thanks to the power of social media a friend who lives here has realised that I’m in town, so for the second time in 4 days I’m meeting another of my Ride India friends, at the Railstaff awards I saw Katerina Deligianni, this time it’s Martin Ward.

21:38

What a lovely evening in Derby, chatting about the industry with Martin and an ex-colleague of his who now works for WMT. Here’s a clue where we were.

Now it’s back to the hotel for me as I have research to do and a busy day tomorrow.

Expect a rolling blog that takes in Government Ministers, trains, travel and Carol singing…

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