It’s a soggy start to the day here in the Calder Valley, but looking at the forecast the situation seems to be the same over much of the country, so my photographic opportunities may be a bit limited today. Right now my first job is to head off to the station without getting too wet and begin my trip Southwards to London. Let’s see how things go…Here’s the view across the Calder Valley and Sowerby Bridge this morning.
On the bright side, the train’s mostly drizzle.
I made it to the station without breaking my neck anyways. The problem is the Yorkshire stone pavements around here look pretty, but they’re like an ice rink when they’re wet. You never know when you’re likely to go arse over tit, so in this weather I usually walk on the road, although that has its own risks this time of morning as car drivers are rushing to get to work.I arrived just in time to catch the late running 07:23 to Leeds which had left Huddersfield 7 mins late. I was surprised to see it was worked by a rather tired looking single car Class 153, which could prove to be interesting to say the least…Sure enough, we’ve just called at the new Low Moor station and now we’re full and standing!
The situation didn’t ease at Bradford Interchange as hardly anyone got off. Fortunately, hardly anyone got on either.08:00.We’ve now called at New Pudsey which was packed with people expecting the Grand Central relief service from Hebden Bridge to Leeds. There were several looks of consternation when our little ‘dogbox’ rolled in. It’s now very cosy aboard!
After spewing out its load of weary commuters, our little 153 filled up completely once more, this time working to Brighouse. I was surprised how many people were travelling in the opposite direction – presumably to work in Bradford. As usual, the station was teeming with commuters coming into the city. The place is the 3rd busiest outside of London with a footfall of over 31.1 million souls so the morning and evening peaks can be quite intense. With that in mind I hung around to see the Grand Central service from Hebden Bridge disgorge its load. The Class 180 stopped at the far end of platform 11, allowing the human wave to flood along the platform and also swamp the bridge over to platform 8.
Now I understand why this train’s such a valuable service!09:15.I’m now on the way to London aboard LNER’s 08:45 to Kings Cross which is dashing through the wet Yorkshire countryside at a very respectable pace. It’s not too busy so I’ve managed to bag a table, plug in the laptop and set to work.
The rain’s never let up all the way, now we’re speeding towards Huntingdon after calling at a very damp Peterborough where there were more puddles than passengers.The railway in this neck of the woods is rather different to my experiences this morning. You’ll still get single car Class 153s at Peterborough, but this stretch of the East Coast Main line’s dominated by 8-12 car Class 700s from Siemens and LNER expresses. The shortest trains you’ll see now are the Class 180s used by open access operators Hull Trains and Grand Central. I must admit I’m looking forward to sampling LNER’s new Hitachi built Azuma’s when they enter service later this month.10:44.We’ve just sped through Welwyn Garden City where more new trains are evident. A Siemens built Class 717 was waiting to return to London on a Moorgate working. They’re such an improvement over the old 313s, which I don’t think many passengers will be sorry to see the back of.
Due to the power of social media and serendipity I’ve just had a meeting with an old friend and RAIL colleague Richard Clinnick as we were both passing through Kings Cross – albeit in different directions!Now I’ve headed across London on something a little bigger and busier than my first train of the day.
I’m now at the Rail Delivery Group offices in Aldersgate for a meeting. It’s an area I used to know well but for a very different reason. It was during my days in housing, when I was on the board of the old National Federation of Housing Co-ops.
After a successful meeting I came out of RDG to find the weather was breaking and the sun was making a bid to shine. This made me head over to Euston to get some pictures of the Hs2 work that’s in full swing. Ironically, I’ll now be back here again on an assignment. Demolitions are ramping up. A few months ago this was the site of the old ‘Bree Louise’ pub and hotels.
Whilst I was here I bumped into a rather sad little StopHs2 demonstration outside the Euston Tap. Apparently, a couple of people had ended up here after walking the length of the Phase 1 route. A tiny group of no more than a couple of dozen folk,including Joe Rukin and the inflatable elephant, some paid lobbyists from the ‘Taxpayers Alliance’ and a trio of ‘Extinction Rebellion’ placard wavers were here to greet them and try to drum up media interest. Needless to say, they were vastly outnumbered by the people wearing Hs2 high vis who are gainfully employed on the project! It was all rather farcical. The genuine protesters (not paid lobbyists, media or hangers on) were almost exclusively retired. When you consider that 6.5 million folk live on the route of Hs2 and this (in one of their supposed strongholds, Camden) was the best they could do…
I left the sad spectacle of the Stop Hs2 flop behind by catching a train from Euston Northwards as far as Bletchley, for a trip across to Bedford on one of the new Vivarail class 230s.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The 15:51 departure to Bedford failed with a defective power unit and had to be swapped. This took over half an hour – in the middle of a thunder and hailstorm! So, rather than tempt the fates further I changed plans and caught a train to Milton Keynes after getting a few pictures. It was a shame as I had chance to have a look around the train before it was declared a failure. Vivarail have done a really good job with them. The interiors are very smart, they look comfortable, have a range of seating as well as plenty of power points and USB sockets.
Now I’m speeding towards Manchester on a rather different conveyance, one of Alstom’s 11 car Pendolino’s. I don’t get to travel on them anywhere near as much as I used to, but their performance never fails to impress – or the way they tilt through curves.
Back in Manchester.
I’m now back in the bosom of Yorkshire and bringing this blog to a close. See you all tomorrow!