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In a wonderful contrast to Railtex (which I’ll be back at tomorrow) I’m down in London to cover ‘community rail in the city’. This event showcases all the work various Community Rail Partnerships do around the country. There’s events on several main line stations in the capital, as well as Birmingham New St and Glasgow Central. I’ll update this blog with pictures throughout the day.

08:35. Kings Cross.

We’ve a huge stand on the concourse with several Scottish pipers giving out goody bags. They’re proving very popular with folks wanting pictures

09:28. Liverpool St.

There’s another impressive stand here where you’ll find an 18 foot replica of the ‘Mayflower’ along with goody bags and lots of useful information on the community rail lines in the Anglia region.

11:55.

There’s been plenty of hi-jinks at Kings Cross, where the Scots have been putting on a display of bagpipers and Scottish dancing.

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15:02.

Phew! It’s been a busy day. I managed to get round to all the London stations where events were held and even had time to see the very first (fare paying) passenger run of LNER’s new Azuma trains. 800113 made history working the 11:03 from London Kings Cross to Leeds.

At nearby St Pancras, members of Kent Community Rail partnerships and Sustrans had a stand on the Southeastern railway platforms. As well as giving out goodie bags and leaflets on places to visit on foot, train or bike they were also carrying out a survey into cyclists taking bikes on trains.

Meanwhile, over at Waterloo, staff and volunteers had turned a patch of the concourse into a rural oasis, complete with trees!

At Paddington, folk were advertising the South-West’s connection with the voyage of the Mayflower and the forthcoming 400th anniversary. To keep folk entertained, 25 members of the ‘Kingsmen’ choir sang on the hour.

Now, I’m on my way to Birmingham via Chiltern trains to see what volunteers from the Midlands are up to.

19:53.

Well, that was a whirlwind! I arrived in Birmingham just in time to catch the volunteers who’d been staffing a stall at Birmingham Moor St all day. They were very positive about the reactions they’d had from the public as they were promoting one of four new designated community rail lines (the Shakespeare line). Having caught them I hot-footed it over to New St where there were two very different stalls on the concourse. What was great was to see the way passengers took time out from rushing home to stop and engage, which isn’t always easy as many commuters are on a pre-programmed ‘mission’s & don’t want to be diverted from getting home or to work.

With the final pictures in the bag I decided to have a pint in an old haunt before checking into my hotel, only to find that the Shakespeare was full of old friends from the rail industry who’d had exactly the same idea as me after their day at Railtex! So, one pint turned into a bit more than that..

I was with five people ageing in range from early 50’s to mid 70’s All of them had worked for British Railways (BR) in the ‘good old days’. Some of them still have senior jobs in the rail industry now. So, no names, no pack- drill, but some of the stories they were swapping about that era were both hilarious and criminal in what went on in those days.

Bidding farewell I finally checked into my hotel and dumped several kilos of kit that I’d been lugging around all day. My ‘Fitbit’ tells me that I’ve walked over 10 miles today, so I feel I’d earned that beer!

Food was uppermost in my mind. Hot food at that, so I popped into one of the growing number of noodle bars that you can find in cities nowadays for a spicy fix of Udon noodles, chicken and veg leavened with a very respectable chilli sauce.

I’ve never been a burger fan. In fact I can’t think of the last time I ate one. This is the food for me, born of spending so much time in SE Asia.

22:02.

It’s time to draw this rolling blog to a close. I’m back at my hotel, looking through some if the hundreds of pictures I’ve taken today, but soon it’s going to be time to crash out. I’ve another busy day at Railtex ahead of me…