After the gloomy skies and heavy rain we had yesterday, today couldn’t be any more different I woke up to wall to wall sunshine here in Clapham but with windows streaked with Saharan sand! I’m looking forward to exploring again today but my focus is going to shift to areas of the network I’ve not really visited for a while. When I still lived in London I’d regularly pop over from leafy Crouch End to travel on and photograph the South-Eastern suburban network but in recent years my focus has been elsewhere. Now change is upon the railway yet again. Now some of the BR and Metro-Cammell built ‘Networkers’ that have been the staple of suburban services since the early 1990s have been stored and replaced by Siemens Class 707s displaced from South-West Rail. Judging by my travels yesterday passenger numbers are recovering well with some services back to the levels of overcrowding we saw pre Covid. I’ll be interested to see what they look like today.
Feel free to pop back later to see how my day unfolds. But for now, it’s time for coffee and breakfast…
Remember I mentioned that Saharan sand? Here’s how it’s left a SET Class 707 looking…
I’m often remarking on how London’s changed since I left. My next stop was a great illustration of that fact. I called in at Lewisham to photograph trains traversing the famous scissor junction to the East of the station and I was gobsmacked at how much the place has changed. It’s another mini-city skyscraper complex nowadays. Huge blocks dominate with cranes busy building more. The spot on the station where I’d once have stood in sunshine is now in deep shadow. More shadows fall across the junction itself. This development’s not unsurprising as the area has excellent transport links. The arrival of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) cemented that as it bridged the Thames and provided access to Canary Wharf and beyond. I’ll add some pictures later…
“Mind the gap” – as they say on the London underground! Apologies for the absence of updates but it’s been a very bust day with me constantly moving around so having no time to put finger to keyboard. My travels took me around South-East London and afar afield as Tonbridge in Kent, a place that I’ve not visited for many a year! I’ve fond memories of it being a hub for mail and engineers trains back in BR days when the yard was full of stuff. It’s changed, but not too much. The yard’s now an important base for freight operator GBRf – hence these newly converted class 56s keeping company with those traditional old Southern region electro-diesels.
From there I made a speedy return to London and explored a few more old photo locations to make the most of the glorious sunshine. I’ll be adding pictures later. My final act was to meet some old rail industry friends at St Pancras for a swift libation before heading back North on an Avanti service to Manchester. That passenger numbers are recovering was evident at Euston as the ‘100 yard seat dash’ is back in fashion. In pre Covid times you’d see this in action daily. Just as soon as the platform number of the service you required was displayed on the board there’d be a mad dash from the concourse to the platform as hundreds of people all tried to get to the train first to find an unreserved seat. Now it’s back.
My Pendolino was packed, but part of the reason for that was the first stop was Milton Keynes where a large number detrained. This is the problem with some ‘inter-city’ services. They’re actually neither fish not fowl and end up serving multiple markets. Thankfully (on the WCML at least) HS2 will solve this problem to allow much faster intercity times and also allow a better frequency of services to places like Milton Keynes – and beyond. The other stop on this particular train was Nuneaton, another town that’s normally by-passed by the Manchester run. Clearly, these stops are slipped in because there’s a market – and there’s no paths available to allow them to be served any other way.
I’m now on the final leg. My Pendo was late due to trespassers on the line North of Nuneaton but the 10 minute delay didn’t affect my connections. I was in half a mind to stop for a pint in Manchester just to enjoy the ambience but the Northern Quarter was packed with young revelers so with one eye on the rising Covid statistics I opted to give it a miss. Instead, I’m on a Northern 3-car back to Halifax which is pretty quiet. It’s taking a few folks home who’ve either stayed late at work or (like me) decided to call it an early night.