I’m out and about on the Trans-Pennine trail for a couple of reasons today. First is to have a look at some locations on the Huddersfield to Dewsbury section of the route which is due to have its original four tracks reinstated in a couple of years time. The other is that I’m hoping to catch one of the new Nova 3 trainsets in action.
Right now I’m basking in the sunshine on a footbridge West of Mirfield where the old London and North Western and Lancashire & Yorkshire lines converge. The line to the right is the LNWR route from Huddersfield which I assume will be doubled once more. The bridge in the background still has the empty arch. Until recently the whole area was buried beneath shrubs and trees but Network Rail have chopped it all back.
I’ve moved on again after a pleasant (if slightly sweaty) stroll along the River Calder back to Mirfield station. When you see it now it’s hard to imagine that it once possessed an overall roof and a substantial station building where the flowerbed is sited.
I plumped for the Pacer coupled to the 156 to bounce my way to Dewsbury and connect with a Huddersfield service. Thanks to friends on Twitter I now know that one Nova 3 set is on a Liverpool to Scarborough diagram this afternoon. With luck, I’ll be able to catch it!
I’m now on the 13:10 to Huddersfield which is worked by a 100 mph Class 185 that stops at Ravensthorpe, Mirfield and Deighton. It’s an utter waste of an Intercity train, but the national shortage of diesel units and the vagaries of Dept for Transport policies mean that’s what it’s being used for!
Having crossed the Pennines I’m now in Manchester, which is cooler (and cloudier) than the East. All being well, the Nova 3 set is due in 10 mins…
Success! This being a TPE service it was late of course, which meant I didn’t risk the shot I’d intended to get, but I’m now travelling in it to Leeds after having had a wander through the train from end to end. First impressions are good. There’s certainly a lot more space than on a 3-car 185. Doors are at the car ends rather than 1/3 & 2/3 along the body as per 185s. They’re single-leaf doors, so narrower but they have their own vestibules separated from the passenger saloon by double doors. There are more table bays of four than on a 185 too. One thing some enthusiasts will hate (and ordinary pax ignore) – seating bays don’t line up with windows! Each pair of seats shares one power socket and a USB.
First Class passengers will appreciate the fact they have the coach behind the locomotive to themselves rather than being sandwiched in the middle of a Standard Class coach as on the 185s. This gives them more privacy and the 2 by 1 seating and table bays look very good.
We had another late departure from Huddersfield for no apparent reason. There’s obviously still teething problems with the sets. I’ve noticed the PIS TV screens clock is an hour fast and it’s saying our next stop is York, not Leeds!
We’re now 19 mins late after leaving Leeds. The Train Manager has announced this is due to an unspecified “train fault” which is par for the course with new train fleets until they bed down, so I’m not going to be critical.
We’ve left York still 20 mins late despite a spirited run from Leeds. The sets ride well despite the absence of the underfloor ballast a diesel engine and fuel tank give a 185. The train’s packed now so the extra capacity’s welcome, as is the air-conditioning! Air’s blown up from the cills under the windows, which may disturb some people.
Waiting for the return at 17:44.
I’m now on my way back from Scarborough on the Nova 3 set with the loco pushing a very busy holiday train that’s carrying the “bucket and spade brigade” back from the seaside, so it’s a raucous service with lots of noisy kinds in (aural) evidence. This time I’ve taken up residence in the leading car. First impressions are that this is a step-change from older push-pull BR era stock like the Class 90s and Mark 3s used on Greater Anglia services where there’s constant snatching between the loco and stock dur to the TDM control equipment. I’ve not felt anything on here that would give away the fact the loco’s pushing.
I abandoned the Nova 3 set at York in order to get a picture and followed behind on a ‘bog-standard’ TPE 185. It’s been an interesting day that’s added plenty of pictures to the library. They’ll appear on my Zenfolio website over the next couple of days.
I’m on the final train of the day, Northern’s 19:39 Leeds to Chester which left it’s starting point 15 mins late due to some faffing around with the ex-Scotrail Class 158 that’s formed it and the single car 153 that was detached from it at Leeds. Right now I’m looking forward to getting home, having a shower and relaxing. It’s been a busy day…
Here’s a final selection of pictures from today.