It’s a bright and beautiful morning here at Sowerby Bridge station. The sun’s shining, the birds are singing and I have fresh coffee, thanks to the Jubilee refreshment rooms on the station.
I’m here to catch to 06:23 to Manchester in order to get to Birmingham and the Railtex trade fair.
The first chariot of the day was 158849, one of Northern’s refurbished fleet and one that’s been fitted with new seats and USB sockets. It’s only a two car so it’s packed after leaving Rochdale. It’s also remarkably quiet as most people (including me) are staring at their portable devices! This is a great example of how you can have a large group of people who are together in the flesh but are miles apart mentally!
I’m now on TfW’s (Transport for Wales) 07:30 to Milford Haven as far as Crewe.
I walked between Victoria and Piccadilly which is always a depressing experience this time of morning as it’s painfully obvious how many people are sleeping rough. Forget the stories about “professional beggars” who return to their council flats each evening, these are real people curled up in doorways or huddled on pavements. A decade of austerity and a government that doesn’t really give a shit has made the problem worse than when I worked in housing back in the 1990s. It’s not going to get any better either. The UK’s flirting with fascism in the form of Nigel Farage and his Brexit party. People who blatently lie through their teeth and have no manifesto or policies other than crashing us out of the EU and who say they won’t tell us what they stand for until AFTER we’ve voted for them! How the hell has the country got itself in this state? I’ve never been more pessimistic about the future of the country as I don’t see much sign of people waking up to what’s going on and the road we’re heading down.
We’ve called at Wilmslow, where a sizeable chunk of the folk on this two-car train decanted. Clearly, this time of day this train is a commuter service masquerading as a long-distance train. Next stop is Crewe, so I’ll be interested to see how many get on.
I’m now on London Northwestern’s 08:18 to Birmingham New St, which is a 4-car Class 350, which is pretty much full and standing. There’s a few spare seats, but they’re the middle ones in sets of three, which most folk avoid. I’m sharing a vestibule with a bunch of LNW drivers who’re clutching notices about splitting and joining trains at New St. I’m assuming this has to do with the May timetable change. In age old fashion they’re grumbling about the new diagrams and rosters!
Almost there! I was delayed changing trains at New St because some of the toilets are closed for refurbishment. New St being New St it was a trek to the alternatives which had folk queuing out of the door! Now I’m on a slightly delayed TfW service to Birmingham International.
Phew! It’s been a full on day so far and started as soon as I walked through the Railtex door at 10:00. I’ve finally found time to sit down for a few minutes and get some pictures edited. Here’s a glimpse of the show so far.
Right, where were we? Oh, yes – Railtex. I left the show an hour ago and I’m currently on virgin Trains Pendino snaking it’s way to London. Today feels like a bit of a blur as it’s been so manic. Trying to get round the show to take it all in is bad enough. Then there’s the need to be in certain places at set times, constantly bumping into friends and colleagues and trying to blog/upload pictures. By the time the day winds down you’re knackered. That said, the end of the event was fun. Alstom had a really interesting drinks reception to chat about their ‘Breeze’ hydrogen train, so a lot of us hacks met at that, afterwards we moved over to the main networking event which was a great opportunity to catch up with folk and shoot a few more pictures like this one of the band who did a great job of keeping us all entertained.
The final update. It’s been a brilliant day. After tearing myself away from a very convivial couple of hours with friends at the end of the show I emerged, blinking, into the light and realised just what a stonking day it must have been weather wise. Now, having caught a train down to London I’m ensconced in the basement of a hotel in Kings Cross that makes me think of scenes from the bunker in ‘Downfall’ – only with better bathrooms. When you realise that to get to your room you have to press -2 you do start to get suspicious…
Hopefully I might actually see a bit of sunshine as I tour the London stations taking part in tomorrow’s event. Watch this space…