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I’m currently on my way back to West Yorkshire after escaping the latest London ‘lockdown’ as I stayed over in the capital after my trip to the isle of Wight – or ‘littler Britain’ as it could be called. To be honest, it was a lovely trip with perfect weather and a blog about the unique Isle of Wight railway will follow later in the week. In the meantime, here’s a taster. This was the view from my hotel window yesterday morning. We couldn’t have asked for better weather either!

What was also good about the break was that it was planned just before the latest local and national shutdowns were introduced, as it may be some time before we can do such a thing again – because I have no trust in the Government to come up with anything resembling a coherent strategy to deal with Covid. It reminds me of the anarchic 1970s American sit-com ‘Soap’ where the trailer for each episode would include a plot recap and end with the words “Confused? You will be – after the next episode of Soap!” – only in this case substitute Government briefings for Soap…

Leaving London was weird. I stayed in Clapham so wandered down to the Junction to get a train into the city. I’ve never seen the place so quiet on a Saturday. It was the same when I caught the Northern line tube from Waterloo to Euston. This picture was taken on my train between Charing Cross and Leicester Square which is normally on of the busiest parts of the route on a Saturday as its teeming with tourists who don’t realise how close together the two stations are and the fact it’s far nicer to walk!

At Euston I took time to have a look at progress on the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway work around the station and the ridiculous and totally ineffective ‘protection’ camp in nearby Euston Gardens. You’ll be able to find the pictures in this gallery in the next 24 hours.

Right now I’m heading back (stage by stage) up the West Coast main line via LNW trains. Sadly, the weather’s nowhere near as good as it was in the Isle of Wight, but even so, I’ve managed to get some useful library shots and hope to get more when I reach Manchester. Leaving London the trains were very quiet but the further we get from the capital the more people are joining us. Even so, the numbers are abysmal compared to pre Covid levels.


After changing trains at Crewe I’m now on my wat to Manchester. Crewe was eerily deserted. The new lockdowns are obviously taking their toll on passenger numbers which had grown over the past few months as restrictions were relaxed. Sadly, as I’ve headed further North I’ve seen more people (almost all young) ignoring the regulations on mask wearing. You can easily spot the stereotype they conform to. Either young girls made up to the nines or ‘chavvy’ young men, both too arrogant and ignorant to consider others.


I’ve just walked across central Manchester from Piccadilly to Victoria stations, which was an instrutive experience. The city centre was busier than parts of London! The majority of folks out and about were young and the pubs were doing a steady trade. One thing I noticed was couples where the woman was wearing a mask but the man wasn’t. Is this some bizarre macho thing? On the plus side, more people of all ages were masked as they walked around compared to a month or two ago – so the message is getting through – albeit slowly. Another thing I noticed was more folk up North use disposable masks whilst in the South the pattern is for people to have washable ones where they can also express some dress sense or individuality through the patterns and designs.

Watching people’s behaviour makes me think we’re not going to be out of the Covid woods for some time yet. How much damage it will cause economically, socially and healthwise in the meantime is a question I don’t think anyone can answer.

Sitting on my 3-car train from Manchester to Halifax I can’t help noticing it’s busier than many trains I’ve used today- but then it’s half the size! Even so, there do seem to be more folk travelling in the North.


Home again! Now it’s time for me to relax and put my feet up before sorting and editing the hundreds of pictures I’ve taken over the past few days and getting them on my Zenfolio website. Here’s one last taster. Whilst I was at Clapham Junction I caught one of SouthWestern Railways new Bombardier built Class 701 trains out on test. The company has 60 ten-car and 30 five car trains on order which are intended to replace their old BR built fleets. Only they’re late. Very late – and they’re proving troublesome – so when they’ll actually enter service is anyone’s guess right now.

701002 approaches Clapham Junction on its way to London Waterloo. This was the first set to be delivered by Bombardier in June 2020. The whole fleet of 750 vehicles was meant to have been in service by the end of 2020. To date, none have entered public use.

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