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After baking on the hottest night of the year that was accompanied by a heck of the thunderstorm overnight I’m getting ready to head off for two more days of judging for the ACoRP awards. I’d have loved to have got out of bed, watched the lightning and tried to get pictures but I needed to sleep as it’s a long day today. It’s also a good job it’s today, not yesterday as the East Coast Main Line (ECML) suffered yet another de-wirement that left services in chaos. I’ve been checking services this morning and luckily, none of the trains I need have been cancelled. Let’s see how the day goes as the pair of us will end up in Exeter tonight…


After last night’s storms and rainfall the weather was fresh and crisp this morning. Much of the valley was obscured by low cloud and most, so the walk to Halifax station was very pleasant. I’d given myself plenty of time so may oacd was quite relaxed too.I’m now on Northern’s 07:17 to Leeds which started in Huddersfield. It’s made up of a 142/144 Pacer combo. Northern have finally bitten the bullet and publically admitted that some Pacers will stay in service until 2020 due to delays in introducing the new trains, which are 6 months late. The 144 fleet is the one granted a reprieve, so the 142 I’m travelling on should be gone by year end.As we squeal around the curve and up the bank out of Bradford the weather’s looking very gloomy with uniformly dull skies, even so, it’s warm and humid. I wonder if there’s more thunderstorms in the offing?08:03.I’m in-between trains here in Leeds, which has given me time to grab a couple of shots like this. One of Northern’s Class 331 EMU’s arrived carrying passengers. It’s seen here before scurrying off to Neville Hill depot as empty stock.I’m catching LNER’s 08:15 to Kings Cross as far as Stevenage. It’s still worked by one of their old HSTs as it originates in Harrogate. No doubt it’ll go over to Azuma’s soon, but now I’ve an increasingly rare chance to travel ‘old style’


We’re currently bowling along the ECML near Retford at 123mph, a few minutes down due to weather damage to the signalling around Wakefield. After our Doncaster stop I wandered right down the train from my seat in Coach B to the buffet. There’s no trolley service today but I didn’t mind as it gave me chance to stretch my legs and also see how busy the train is. I’d estimate it’s about 75% full, with an impressive amount of people busy on laptops, trying to get work done. Just by the clothes alone I can tell there’s a lot of business travellers aboard.10:02.We’re running 6 late, which means I now have a -1m connection at Stevenage with a late running Thameslink service. This could be close.


– too close! I missed it by a minute. I’m now on Great Northern’s 10:40 to Kings Cross which is running 5 down. Luckily, Mark is already at Welwyn Garden City as he came down the WCML and arrived ahead of me.


Having done the first visit and met up with Mark we’ve made our way from Welwyn Garden City across London via Thameslink to East Croydon where we changed onto the Southern network. We’re currently enjoying the air-conditioned comfort of a Bombardier built Class 377 which is carrying us to Angmering. The weather in the South-East is hot, hot, hot! A few wispy clouds filter the sun occasionally, but do nothing to cool the temperature which is showing as 29 degrees in these parts!


After Angmering we headed West to Fratton, travelling past many little stations that had cafes and kiosks open all day, which tells you something about the size of the footfall in Southern stations. Sadly the only one we got to sample was at Fratton which is my least favourite station in this neck of the woods as it’s dirty, rundown and unkempt. Although there’s a cafe, Mark reckoned it served the worst cup of coffee he’d had since we started judging. From Fratton we’ve caught a GWR Class 158/9 heading for Salisbury. The air-conditioning is struggling in the heat and none of the power sockets work, but it’ll get us there.


At Salisbury we had a quick change and swapped our GWR 158/9 for a SWR 159 which has no air-conditioning working at all. Instead the Conductor’s opened all the (normally locked) windows and been through doling out bottles of water to everyone.As I was curious to establish the units identity I wandered through the train and soon realised there wasn’t a single vehicle that displayed a coach number – unlike Northern or Scotrail. They have prominent stickers telling to people to tweet them in if they find a fault. There’s no chance of that here!


The pair of us have had a long day & we’ve now retired to our hotel in Exeter. There’s so much that I could blog about but I’ve simply run out of time. Tomorrow we’ll be off again, so watch out for the next rolling blog…