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Bliss! The pair of us actually had a lie-in this morning! Last night we went round to some near neighbours for a very convivial meal and a few drinks and didn’t get back until 01:30, so this morning we both thought ‘bugger it’ and slept until late, enjoying the comfort of our own home after our Irish sojourn and constant change of rooms.Normal service has now been resumed and I’m busy packing and sorting out my camera kit to head off for a night in Derby, ready for the new East Midlands Railway franchise launch tomorrow. It’s going to be a busy day. meanwhile, I’ll be blogging about today’s travels as they happen, so stay tuned…

17:29.

Slightly later than provisionally planned I’m now on my way to Derby. The reason for such tardiness is the fact I was enjoying being at home and spending time with my other half – even tho’ we were both busy. That said, we did find time to to a detour on the way to the station to nip in to our local pub for a ‘swifty’. In Dawn’s case this was an alcohol-free Beck’s Blue, whilst I had one of these. People who know me will guess which end of the row I gravitated to!

Right now I’m on a TPE service from Huddersfield to York. The station was jumping because at the weekend the Kings Head pub on the Leeds end of the station has live music and the band obviously have a bit of a following. They were belting out old rock and roll classics that I could hear whilst waiting on the platform!18:18.I’m now on one of those services that are a hangover from the BR era that survived the Strategic Rail Authority cull of Virgin Cross-Country services after the problems of “Operation Princess”. In other words I’m on a 10 car Cross-Country Voyager from Glasgow Central to Guildford! I can’t help wondering about the operational value of such services in 2019. I mean, is there anyone on this train that’s going all the way?

19:34.

Isn’t social media such an amazing thing? Whilst I was on the XC service I tweeted about how good the Train Manager in the rear set was. Almost immediately I received a private message from a friend – who happened to be the Train Manager of the front set! We met long enough to say hello at Sheffield whilst I was changing trains.

19:39.

I’m now on my first East Midlands Rail service of the new franchise – and it’ll be one of the first to go.

20:53.

Having checked into my hotel which is right outside the station as it was built by the Midland Railway I’m having a quiet point in a local with a railway theme. No doubt some of my friends will know exactly where I am!

Being here for another new franchise launch has made me introspective as I’ve seen so many. Yet this is very much the passing of the old guard. We’ve seen several owning groups grow, then shrink, and Stagecoach is yet another example. The loss of the East Mids franchise marks their departure from the rail industry after being part of it since they won th very first franchise (Southwest Trains) way back in 1996. They’re not alone. At one point National Express were the biggest owning group with (IIRC) 7 franchises. Now they have none. Nowadays, the ‘big beast’ in the franchise jungle is the Dutch owned Abellio. Tomorrow will be an interesting day…