I enjoyed a very convivial night with an old friend in London last night. We didn’t bother going out. Instead we enjoyed a quiet evening in at his home overlooking Clapham Junction station, eating home-made chicken casserole and sharing a bottle of red wine whilst we swapped news and stories. This morning we were both up bright and early to shoot some local railway interest in the shape of railhead treatment trains (RHTTs) and a steam train which was working through on a special. Here’s the shots I took on the camera that I couldn’t post earlier.
Bidding adieu I stopped off at the station long enough to grab a few more pictures but as the weather was grey and miserable I didn’t hang around. Instead I did a mini-tour of London’s Major stations rather than sit on the underground. My first stop was Waterloo. As someone who lived i
n the capital for 25 years but who left a decade ago I’m fascinated by the way the city’s skyline has changed – and the mass of skyscrapers you pass on the railway through Vauxhall on the way into Waterloo is a supreme example of this. The area has changed out of all recognition, yet new developments are springing up all the time.
At Waterloo I swapped from South-Western to South-Eastern metals to head across to another place that’s nothing like when I was a Londoner – London Bridge station. Its £1bn makeover has turned it into a place you’d expect to find in Mainland Europe, not the UK. I didn’t tarry and caught a Thameslink service across the river to another station that’s been transformed – St Pancras International – although that redevelopment’s 14 years old now which seems hard to believe.
What hasn’t changed much was the streets of Somers town which I strolled through to reach Euston. There’s been some gentrification, but it sill has the feel of one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Central London. One can only hope the redevelopment of Euston station that’s about to happen will deliver on its promise to make deliver positive change to the area.
I’ve now taken my leave of London on another Avanti Pendolino, this time bound for my birthplace. Liverpool. We’re already North of Rugby, but the weather remains just as gloomy as it was in London.
I changed trains in Crewe as I was hoping to catch some of the new Welsh or West Midlands trains out on test but today wasn’t my lucky day as nothing was running. The weather was grim and I’d had a message from an Irish friend that he was in Manchester this afternoon so I didn’t hang around. As ‘luck’ would have it a Transport for Wales service to Manchester was running 35 mins late due to the weather and stuff being blown onto the line, so I caught that the 2-car 175 when it turned up.
Only to find out it was being cancelled at Wilmslow! Well, if it gets there! Right now it’s struggling to get through Sandbach in what’s known as ‘poor railhead conditions’ (greasy rails).
My Wilmslow wait was a short one. No sooner had we arrived and unloaded that the Avanti Pendolino we’d held up came in on the adjacent platform and we were away again! The weather here’s crap. Wet and windy, so I can see why there’s some delays.
Once at Manchester Piccadilly I decided discretion was the better part of valour as heavy rain and electronics don’t mix – and don’t another trip to the camera shop again, so I sought refuge in a nearby hostelry where I waited for Neil, my Irish friend to catch up with me off his train from Southport. Whilst I waited the clouds gradually cleared and the temperature dropped as a result which made for an attractive if chilly afternoon. Neil arrived in time for a swift pint before we went to catch the 15.29 To Scarborough, one of the few locomotive-hauled passenger services to cross the Pennines nowadays. Typical of today – the train was late coming off Longsight depot so we left Piccadilly 15 minutes late. Even so, it was a pleasant trip East as we had the front carriage to ourselves, an unheard of experience on Trans-Pennine Express before Covid struck and still unusual today. Our time together was brief as I bade Neil farewell at Huddersfield as Dawn was working at the CRN office in the old station water tower so the pair of us drove home together.
It’s now the end of the day. The wind’s really beginning to gust and howl outside as the next storm’s reached us, but we’re out of harms way at home indoors preparing for tomorrow’s jaunt. The two of us meet up with other Community Rail colleagues in the morning to begin the trek by rail to Southampton in order to prepare for the Community Rail Awards on Thursday. I wonder how that trip will go? Will this new storm Barra make things awkward I wonder, as there’s already reports of flooding in Hampshire. We may be in for an interesting journey…
I’ve a favour to ask…
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