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07:00.

I’m about to make my way to the station in order to head to London to join today’s Rail staff Carol service.

Hopefully the railways are behaving themselves today. So far things seem to be OK at Halifax but let’s see what happens in the real world shall we?…

08:06.

Compared to yesterday when temperatures were below freezing today’s remarkably mild and the walk to the station was rather pleasent apart from the drizzle. I’m in no particular rush this morning so i’m heading to London via Leeds. My first train of the day is the 07:57 from Halifax to Bradford Interchange which has come from Huddersfield. It’s worked by a single car Class 153. Despite that, the train has seats to spare, even after calling at Low Moor – which is a pleasant change!

08:29.

I wasn’t in Bradford long as I caught the slightly late running 08:20 service which was following behind my ‘Dogbox’. This was formed of a 3-car Class 195 and also had seats to spare.

By pure chance I chose a seat at a table and found myself sat opposite a chap I knew called James who used to be a barman in one of our favourite pubs (The Moorcock Inn). This was the first time I’d seen him since the last time we bumped into each other by chance – on the Staten Island ferry in New York! Funny old world, isn’t it?

Despite the time of day and the hordes of people joining us at New Pudsey there were still seats free for some of the dozens who joined us at Bramley. At one time we’d have probably have left people behind here, so it looks like the capacity and service increase is working.

09:50.

The fact that my Northern service was late into Leeds meant there was no chance of me making a tight connection so I had half an hour to explore and watch the world go by. A look at the huge information screens on platform 11 showed me that whilst there were cancellations and delays, things had improved significantly compared to earlier in the week.

Services were worked by a mix of old and new vehicles but Pacers were nowhere to be seen, which was a real sign of the times. What were very much more in evidence was Northern’s new Class 195s. With the changes going on I was a little surprised when my LNER service turned up as it was worked by 91129 hauling a rake of Mk4s. I’d been expecting a new Azuma. Still, it’s probably my last chance to ride behind this old workhorse.

I managed to get a table seat in the Quiet coach and set up my laptop to get some work done. We’re South of our Doncaster stop and the coach is busy but not overly so especially as we’re carrying extra passengers because the next train (the 0945 from Leeds) has been cancelled. We’re currently bowling along at 114mph underneath overcast skies, so I’m going to take a break and get some work done….

11:26.

We’re on the approach to Kings Cross and the lineside’s a hive of activity as Betwork Rail and its contractors mobilise, ready for the big Xmas blockade that will kick-start the major expansion and renewal of the stations throat.

12:40.

The carol service has commenced.

18:57.

Normal service has been resumed! The Carol service was a lovely event which brought out people from across the rail industry (high and low) as the pictures I’ll add tomorrow will show. Afterwards, a few of us from across the spectrum adjourned to a nearby hostelry to chat about events in the railways and politics. I’ll name no names, but it was a fascinating discussion. 2020 is set to be a very interesting time. Whilst we were carolling, the Queen’s speech was being delivered in Parliament, which made it clear that the StopHs2 campaign’s dead in the water. Few in the industry were in any doubt before, but now Johnson’s government have made it clear.

Right now I’m en-route to Leeds aboard an LNER ‘Azuma’. It’s been a great trip as I’ve a table, power-point, wifi and coffee! OK, the view out of the window isn’t up to much this time on a December eve – but what the hell…

22:10.

I’m relaxing at home before another foray to London tomorrow, so here’s a taster of the carol concert pictures.