Today I head from Halifax north of the border to spend several days in Scotland for work (and some pleasure). The bag’s packed, the camera’s cleaned and all the batteries are charged. Now all I’ve go to do is get there. I’ll be blogging about my travels throughout the day as I make my way to tonight’s final destination – Stirling. Feel free to keep popping in to see how the adventure unfolds. There’s a storm front passing across the North-West and Scotland at the moment which is already causing disruption and cancellations to rail services, so things could be ‘interesting’ to say the least…
The rain held off to allow me to enjoy my stroll to the station. Gusting winds played havoc with the falling leaves, making them swirl around my feet as I tramped the tree-lined streets into town. There’s some glorious autumn colours around at the moment. Hopefully I’ll have time to capture some of them on camera over the next few days.
Right now I’m on the 09:38 from Halifax to Leeds. It’s made up of a pair of 2-car Class 195s. I’m in the lead car which is quiet. There’s less than a dozen of us aboard. I suspect that’ll change on arrival at Bradford…
Sure enough, our reversal at Bradford Interchange saw the train fill up, mostly with young students and a few shoppers. Depressingly, mask-wearing is almost non-existent.The ominous grey skies have followed me but here they’re breaking up and blue sky is fighting back.
We left 5 minutes late due to being held to let a late-running Halifax service pass but I’m not time-precious today, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
My late arrival meant I missed one train onwards to York and the next Northern service was running 8 mins late so the speedy option was to wait for Trans-pennine Express and their 10:42 to Newcastle.
I managed to find a seat on the train but it was a struggle as there’s no shortage of folk travelling. Overhearing conversations it’s clear most people are leisure travellers going away for the weekend to see family or friends. I know this because there’s a garralous Scouse woman working the refreshment trolly who keeps chatting to everyone she serves! Her job was made easier by the fact we arrived early but left late..
I’ve not travelled the Leeds – York route for a while, so I was surprised to see that electrification masts are marching South from Colton Junction. They look remarkably like the substantial ‘series 1’ type used on the Great Western electrification too! I can see I need to nip out this way with the camera…
I’m finally on the way to Scotland! On arrival at York I changed trains to wait for the next LNER service to Edinburgh which (surprise surprise) was running late. This seems to be the theme of the day. None of the delays are serious, all are in single figures, so I can’t really complain when it’s the leaf-fall season and the weather’s stormy (to say the least). In fact, now we’re rushing Northwards the skies are clearing, which is a good sign.
As I was in the queue to get off the train at York I overheard an exchange between to women with kids which illustrates the problem the railways are facing at the moment. Both were from Yorkshire and one was using the train for the first time for years. She was travelling from Huddersfield with two children and used the train as a treat and different experience for her two young daughters. But…She observed that if it hadn’t been the helpful staff who split her tickets for her, the journey would have cost her £55 – far more than the cost of driving, even with adding in parking charges. Her observation? She won’t be using the train again as it’s too expensive. Next time she’ll drive. These are the people we need to get out of cars, but we can’t do it if people find rail travel is too expensive. Many train companies would like to offer cheaper tickets, but the problem is the Treasury and Dept of Transport, who still see railways as a cash-cow and not a vital tool to help tackle climate change. This attitude has to be challenged, but when we have such a dysfunctional Government (see my comment about cutting domestic air passenger duty yesterday) what will it take to get through to our politicians?
The 9 car Class 801 that I’m on now is busy. Very busy. I’ve managed to find a seat in the leading car but we’ve several stops before Edinburgh yet and the ominous sign “may be reserved later” is showing on the reservation LED above me so I could be turfed out en-route. With the train being so busy the onboard wifi is so slow it’s useless so I’m grateful I’ve get a huge data allowance on my phone contract. This has allowed me to tether my phone to my laptop and post from there. Happy days!
We’ve left Newcastle and I’ve not been thrown out of my seat yet so that’s a result. The composition of the carriage has changed quite a bit tho’ – many people left at Newcastle so we have a new (younger) intake. The atmosphere’s still good with many people chatting and enjoying the trip – although the weather’s deteriorating again. We’ve just called at Morpeth, having clawed back 2 minutes of the 8 minute deficit we had leaving York. I’m optimistic we’ll be near to time by Edinburgh.
Bliss! We’ve now crossed the border, having left ‘little England’ behind – at least for a few days. Our last stop was Alnwick after which we were treated to some wonderful views of the Northumbrian coast and places like Lindisfarne Island which was bathed in glorious sunshine, speeding over the magnificent Royal Border bridge without stopping we’re now hugging the Scottish coast before arriving in Edinburgh. I’ll be busy for a while but blogging will resume once I leave the Scottish capital. I’m not stopping for long…
As we approached Edinburgh from the East I could see the storms approaching from the West. Thunderous grey cloud that looked very uninviting. As we’d only got as far as Drem when it started throwing rain at us. Lots of rain. It didn’t let up for the rest of the trip into the Scottish capital. The conditions made me change my plans and decide to head straight on to Glasgow. I hear from friends that the weather’s no better there either, but I’m going to meet up with a couple of old friends before heading to my accommodation for the night. My revised plan is to get some night shots as standing water makes for some great reflections, but it needs to be properly dark first. So, now I’m speeding West on one of the excellent Hitachi built Class 385 EMUs…