After yesterday’s early start today’s assignment has allowed me the luxury of a later start. I’m currently in transit from Halifax to Leeds aboard the 09:52 to York in order to head to the Fens for a job at a station near Ely.
The 09:52’s worked by a 3-car Class 195 and it’s busy with people having a day out to either Leeds or York. Many of the passengers are either holidaymakers, retired (or both).
Admittedly, when we stopped at New Pudsey the throng of younger shoppers who joined us did take the average age down a notch or two!
In contrast to yesterday’s appalling weather we’ve actually got some blue skies and sunshine today which should make my job easier later. I’ve given myself plenty of time to get there so that I can enjoy a stop or two en-route.
I didn’t hang around in Leeds as my next train was already in and a short stroll over the footbridge soon deposited me on LNER’s 10:45 Leeds to London Kings Cross which is worked by a 9-car ‘Azuma’. I made a beeline for the rear coach (A) which is normally quieter. It contained a few reservations but I’d no problem finding a free bay of four where I’ve set up the ‘mobile office’ for the trip to Peterborough. Heading down the East coast feels like a novelty as most of my recent journeys South have been down my old stamping ground of the West Coast or even Midland main lines. This journey’s going to be easy, so I’ll be back soon after I’ve cracked on with some work..
I’m changing trains again. This time at another old haunt. Back in the late 1980’s when I was living in London I was up here nearly every other weekend, spending time with a friend from my Southport days. The station’s changed dramatically since then, having gained three through platforms, had others extended and lost one South-facing bay which was too short for the new Thameslink fleet.
The island platform to the left is new as is the platform face to the very right which was built up to the Up fast line to London. The footbridges at either end of the platforms have been extended too. Mind you, it’s not just the station that’s changed. The Crescent Rd wagon repair shops are gone, as are many of the sidings as the locomotive fleet’s shrunk. Nene sidings to the South are too small for 12 car trains so new ones have been laid to the North-East. New England yard is deserted but the nearby GBRf depot has grown. I really should do a ‘down memory lane’ blog on the area…
I’m now en-route to Ely on a 2-car East Midlands Railway Class 170 cascaded from West Midlands services. Working to Norwich, the trains reasonably loaded and even has the luxury of a trolley service!
I always enjoy a trip across the flatlands of the fens. Maybe it’s because it’s such a contrast to where I live now – high up on the side of the Calder Valley in the Pennines. It’s the ‘big skies’ that catch my attention as well as the acres of vegetable and cereal crops.
I’m now taking a break in the Cathedral town of Ely where there’s sunshine occasionally interrupted by cloud. The peace is sometimes interrupted by massive military transport aircraft or pairs of fighter jets lazily circling around the city.
Ely is yet another location that’s changed in recent years due to the introduction of new train fleets. Anglia’s replaced their entire diesel fleet with Stadler built bi-modes. Great Northern have disposed of my old favourites (the BR built Class 365s) in favour of Bombardier built Class 387s, East Midlands now have cascaded Class 170s, leaving Cross-Country with the only original fleet since it took over Stansted Airport services from Central trains back in 2007.
Even so, it’s a bit of a surprise to see ex-Gatwick Express stock in its distinctive red livery working GN services to/from Kings Lynn!
I’m heading home again after attending a lovely event at pretty Downham Market station, where various groups celebrated the achievements of the local community in improving and tending the station. The WI have been looking after maintaining the gardens and planters on the platforms whilst pupils from Downham Market Academy and Athena Sith Form College have designed and produced flower themed artwork which has been fixed to platform fencing (pictures later). The station cafe was kept open especially to cater for guests which was also nice touch. The whole event was well patronised with between 30-40 people attending.
Now I’m on a Cross-Country service from Ely heading back to Peterborough then Northwards to home via a couple of changes.
Well, that was a bonus! I made a very tight connection at Peterborough that’s slashed my journey home by 30 mins as I no longer had to change twice. Instead I made an LNER service to Skipton that’s delivered me to Leeds. In a double bonus it gave me enough uninterrupted time to get the pictures I’d taken at Downham Market edited and resized all ready to send off tonight when I get home!
Now all I have to do is relax on the final train home, which is yet another Northern Class 195, which is keeping company with this interloper at Leeds …
Tomorrow’s going to be a rather different day. I’m back in London again but this time it’s for pleasure, not business. Dawn and I are attending the National Rail Awards as guests of an old friend, so there’ll be no rolling blog tomorrow – although there might be a few pictures. Right now, it’s time to pack the Tuxedo which hasn’t seen the light of day since the last NRA back in 2019. Thankfully, it still fits!
I’ve a favour to ask…
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