I’m on the move once more, this time heading for a break in Surrey, where Dawn’s been for the past few days, house-sitting for her brother whilst he takes a much-needed holiday in Greece. Right now I’m on a Northern service from Leeds that should have been going to Chester, but for reasons unexplained it’s terminating in Manchester – which is fine for me. Like many services I’ve been on recently, the train’s busy with people of all ages having a day out. We’ve had walkers heading for the Pennines, families heading for the sights and young people off shopping. The days of empty trains are well behind us. Most passengers are still wearing masks, which is reassuring, especially as Covid cases are very much on the rise at the moment. It’s almost as if some people have forgotten that and think it’s gone away. I’ll be blogging throughout the day as my journey unfolds, feel free to pop back later to see how I get on…
Walking across Manchester from Victoria to Piccadilly was an eye-opener in more ways than one. The city centre was packed! I’ve not seen such crowds since before lockdown. Two things struck me, one was that there’s an awful lot of young people with backpacks about, presumably because the August bank holiday weekend’s well known as the festival season and these events have reopened again. The other thing that stuck me was young women’s fashions, which have changed a lot during the pandemic. The word ‘skimpy’ springs to mind. Maybe it’s a reaction to being locked down and cooped up for so long? On arrival at Piccadilly I didn’t hang around at the numbers of passengers milling around gave me the impression the London train would be busy. True enough, platform 8 already contained dozens of people waiting for the incoming Pendolino that would form the 11:55 service, which I’m sat on now.
We passed through one of my old haunts (Rugby) a few minutes ago. I once spent Xmas and Boxing day working trackside here for Network Rail during the ill-fated Rugby upgrade, part of the West Coast Route Modernisation. It didn’t go well. In those days the ‘Sentinel’ scheme which monitored people’s PTS (Personal Track Safety) competencies wasn’t too sophisticated. A lot of the Overhead Line Engineers were subcontractors and many simply never turned up as they’d been offered better money to work elsewhere. Ironically, one of the pictures I took that Christmas is still being used by the media on a regular basis. Those in the know can tell the pictures age as full PPE (including high-vis trousers) wasn’t mandatory.
We’re now South of Watford on the way in to Euston so I’m going to shut-down the laptop and blog from the phone…
That was an interesting interlude in London. Whilst I was there I checked out progress on building High Speed 2 around Euston. Every time I visit the area’s changed due to more old buildings having vanished or streets moved. Today was no exception. Now the West side of Euston station’s disappeared, including the old signalbox. I took time to get some shots of the work pinning the Western retaining wall which is having rows of ground anchors added to it. You can see it as your train arrives (look to the right). Wandering on through Somers Town to St Pancras I caught a busy Thameslink service to London Bridge, then an equally busy Southeastern service to Waterloo.
I’m now on a packed 10 car Southwestern train to Woking. Even I’m surprised at how quickly passenger numbers are bouncing back.
I caught this Poole train as far as Woking where I changed for an Alton service which was less busy but had far more passengers than when I was here in July. The stations have recovered from their slumbers too as shops and cafes have reopened. Here’s how Waterloo station looked this afternoon.
I’ll be very interested to see how the railways look over the holiday as I’ll be heading back North on Bank holiday Monday, which could prove interesting.
Time to bring this blog to a close. I’m now safely ensconced in Surrey after a busy but enjoyable day. Dawn picked me up from Farnham station and the pair of us have had a lovely evening catching up whilst taking my Brother-in-Law’s dog for a walk along some of the footpaths surrounding Tilford before having night chilling at home in front of the TV – which is why this blog went dormant. I had a night off!