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I’m back in London today for a book launch and heading down early to do a few other things beforehand. Unfortunately, it’s not a vintage day on the rails. Dawn had a phone-call from a colleague, telling her that they’d be working from home today as a person had been hit by a train at Brighouse, causing many cancellations and uncertainty. This made me change my plans too so I hitched a lift with Dawn into Huddersfield and eschewed the idea of heading down the East Coast by heading for Manchester instead. As usual Trans-Pennine Express services are running late by around 15 mins. The situation doesn’t imorove when the Manchester Piccadilly service I was catching was terminated short at Stalybridge in order to work a service back to Hull. Needless to say, the one following behind it is late too, leaving a lot of disconsolate passengers hiding in the waiting room from the cold weather. The sunshine we had in Yorkshire’s refused to travel this side of the Pennines!

Whilst our former train sits to the left after dumping us at Stalybridge, we wait in the warmth for a late running TPE service to rescue us.

Northern Rail always cop the flak for delays but in my experience TPE are just as bad – yet they seem to escape the same levels of criticism, which has always puzzled me.

11:10.

The 10:53 has been further delayed until 11:12. To add insult to injury, several TPE’s have passed through on their way to Piccadilly non-stop.

12:50.

I’m finally on my way to London after taking a slight detour when I got to Manchester. In the adjacent platform was a pair of the old BR ‘Pacer’ trains in original condition with the bus-type seats. As they’ve little time left I took a spin on them out to Guide Bridge in order to get a few pictures.

The traditional seating layout with bus-type seats in 142034.

Now I’m on very different traction, one of Virgin Trains 11-car Pendolino’s which could be my final trip with the company as their franchises ends on Sunday after 22 years. Personally, I’ll be sad to see them go but I’m looking forward to seeing what the new ‘Avanti’ franchise will bring to the network.

13:44.

We’ve just sped through Nuneaton on our way South and the weather’s picked up again to leave us with a sunny but cold day. My train’s only about 45% full, so I’m sharing a table bay of four with another chap who’s busy bashing away on the keys on his laptop in a similar fashion to me. Most folk in this car seem to be travelling for business, so it’s a very quiet coach. The only noise to be heard is the gentle thrum of the air conditioning as it fights against the exterior temperature to keep the coach warm.

16:44.

Since arriving in London I’ve been busy taking pictures around Euston station and the nearby streets, documenting the changes that High Speed 2 (HS2) is bringing. That said, the station itself feels very different now it’s full of de-branded Pendolinos and Voyagers. I’ve been taking pictures here since the 1980s and seen several changes over the years, but the scope of HS2 is on an entirely different scale! I’ll add links to all the pictures when I have time, but here’s a couple for now.

The distinctive tower blocks in the background give the location away as Euston, but not everyone will recognise the remains of the building being demolished to make way for HS2 on the Regent’s estate.
This is a view more familiar to travellers passing through Euston station. This is the remains of one of the ‘black towers’ outside the front of Euston which will soon disappear completely.
The view looking East to one of the Railtrack office buildings at Euston

21:28.

Phew! After a busy few hours I’m heading back to Yorkshire with my Grand Central train just pulling into Doncaster. The book launch went really well and was attended my many senior people from across the industry as well as many journalists and safety experts. Here’s a couple of shots from the event.

Former MP Sir Simon Hughes with his copy of the history of the Rail Inspectorate.
Former Virgin Trains MD (left) with LNER MD David Horne (centre) along with ASLEF Assistant General Secretary Simon Weller (right).
General Secretary of ASLEF, Mick Whelan also came along and picked up a copy.

22:26.

The fun’s not over yet. It seems the fun and games at Brighouse this morning were actually caused by an engineers train splitting the points at Greetland Jn, leaving the direct route to Halifax unusable. To get around the orobkem my Geand Central service is running to Hebden Bridge, where it’ll reverse and head back to Halifax via Milner Royd Jn.