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Yesterday I talked about the frustrations of freelance life and the way things can change at the drop of a hat. Well, it’s happened again today, only this time in a very positive way!

My plan was to work from home staying in the warm and ignoring the sleet and snow showers outside. I was content researching/writing my next article on HS2 and finishing off some other bits and pieces. Then the phone rang…

A client who I’d discussed some work with just wondered (as much as they knew what fantastically short notice it was) if I was free to work on a line blockade they were involved in South of London tomorrow? Oh, and was I free on Monday for another job too? Crikey!

A few frantic phone calls later I’m now sat on a train from Halifax heading to London via Leeds. I managed to sort out staying with a friend as you really don’t want a four hour journey starting at silly o’ clock before you go working trackside – especially in the land of the 3rd rail. Accidentally standing on something that contains 750v DC can ruin your whole day – although the juice should be turned off in a blockade as no services will be running in that section we may end up at other sites too.

Digging out my PPE and packing my overnight bag Dawn gave me a lift to the station and that was it – I was off to a very different say to the one planned…

I’ll update you on my progress when I get to Leeds.


I’m now speeding my way to London aboard LNER’s 17:15 service from Leeds. The amount of passengers passing through the station at Yorkshire’s premier city left me in little doubt that the railways are throwing off the constraints of Covid as people return for commuter and leisure travel. This was the busiest I’ve seen the station all year.

There’s another welcome if noisy return. Trans-Pennine Express have allowed their Class 68 loco fleet to spread their wings again. They put in regular appearances in Leeds as they cross the Pennines.

My London train isn’t exactly quiet either. We’ve just left Wakefield where dozens disembarked after using the train as a fast commuter service. It’s still busy so I’ll be curious how many disembark at Doncaster and points South.

As we left ‘Wakey’ we crossed over the River Calder where the adjacent floodplains are awash with water, bearing testament to just how much rain we’ve had these past couple of weeks. It’s a sobering sight, especially as we still had sleet and snow higher up the river in the valley these past 24 hours.


Our stop at Doncaster was as I suspected, loads of people detrained but with a fair few joining. Even so – the wifi is noticeably faster now! Another welcome development is the fact it’s still not yet dark despite some of the heavy cloud handing around. The days are getting noticeably longer which is a welcome sign that (despite the weather conditions) we’re actually beginning to leave winter behind.

As I write this we’re calling at Retford where more people are leaving us only this time they’ve not been replaced by a new influx. I’ll have to have a walk-though the train later just to gauge what the loadings are like.


And walk through I did. I count 168 in Standard Class (I’ve no idea how many in 1st). Not a bad loading.


Well, that was a fun day! I’m currently lying on a bed at my friend’s house with a grandstand view of Clapham Junction station. The journey across London took me from Kings Cross, along the Victoria line tube to the route’s namesake. It was interesting to see how many people think that Covid isn’t an issue anymore so there’s no reason to wear a mask.

At Victoria with its nice new colour passenger information screens (when did that happen, I was only here a month or so ago!) I caught a Southern Class 455 working to Epsom Downs as far as the Junction – which was remarkably quiet by the time I arrived, but then it was after 20:00.

As the pair of us are working tomorrow we’ve spent the evening indoors chatting, eating and watching the tragedy in the Ukraine unfold on the TV and social media. This must be the first war broadcast on Smartphones by people in the right place at the wrong time. I’m having to hold my spleen firmly in place, otherwise I’d be tempted to vent it in all its rainbow colours about Russia, Oligarchs and the way they’ve bought the collection of nare-do wells who call themselves our Government. What an increasingly difficult world most ordinary people are forced to live in nowadays as power is concentrated in the hands of the few who laugh at the needs and concerns of the many.

Anyway, enough for now. Tomorrow is another day and it’s going to be a busy and complicated one. I’lll blog about the day when I can…

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