I stayed in Carlisle last night as I wanted insurance in case the ‘3 Peaks’ train was late and I couldn’t make any homeward connections. Plus It meant that I got to crawl into a proper bed much earlier! Now, after a good night’s sleep and the luxury of a shower after 2 nights sleeping on a train I’m planning my route home. With it being Sunday many rail routes are closed and the dreaded word ‘bustitution’ comes into play. The West Coast Main Line Southwards. closed. So’s the Cumbrian coast line North of Maryport. The Tyne Valley and the Settle and Carlisle are still seeing trains run but the Tyne route is seeing many cancellations this morning, which doesn’t bode well. Bizarrely, Northern haven’t strengthened any services, leaving trains in the hands of 2-car units, which could be ‘cosy’…
So, I have two options if I want to avoid road transport. The first is the 11:54 to Newcastle, from where I could head down the East Coast Main Line to York and come home via Leeds, or the 1223 direct to Leeds via the scenic Settle and Carlise. But the latter’s going to be a long (but scenic) journey on a 2-car Class 158. The first train gets me home later than the second, so I’m going to hedge my bets and see of I can get a seat on the Newcastle train as I can swap to roomier mainline services at Newcastle.
I elected for the first train. It’s busy leaving Carlisle but it’s not as rammed as I feared it might be. I’ve bagged a table and although there’s no power sockets on this 156 there are USB ports so I can keep my phone charged and the laptop’s got enough battery power left to get me to the mainline. My ‘3 Peaks’ return ticket allows me to use any route, so there’s no fear of falling foul of the ‘grippers’ (an old railway term for Ticket Inspectors, who used to use metal punches to mark or ‘grip’ your ticket).
Carlisle station was busy – just not with trains! Services from Scotland were terminating and transferring folks to coaches so most of the action was outside the station front. That said, there was a steady stream of engineers trains passing through from the various possession worksites. This route may get me home half an hour later but there’s plenty to see and I can relax whilst also doing a ‘recce’ for some future projects. My fellow passengers are a mix of families, walkers and also foreign tourists – who’re making a welcome return after their pandemic absence. Sat behind me is a group of middle-aged German men, although I’ve no idea where they’re heading.
After the exertions of the past few days it’s nice to be able to relax and not be ‘on call’ to leap up taking pictures. Instead I can sit, enjoy the scenery and watch the weather which is dry, but cool and windy. ‘Flaming June’ it most certainly isn’t!
We’re well on the way to Newcastle now as we’ve just left Riding Mill which is East of Hexham. The train’s full and standing, despite the numbers that left us at Hexham as even more folk joined us.
We’re on the outskirts of Newcastle after what’s been a lovely journey. There’s some lovely stations along this line that reflect the ownership of the old North Eastern Railway as they still posess the company’s distinctive cast-iron footbridges or signalboxes.
After a very brief pitstop at the magnificent Centurian Bar on Newcastle station so that I could download pictures from yesterday and get them over to the Railway Children for use on social media. Now I’m standing up on a rammed LNER Aberdeen-Kings Cross service as far as York.
It was great to see York station so lively. The tourists who made the place so vibrant have returned in droves. The only downside is it made towing my wheelie bag lash-up more difficult with their being so many people to weave between. Now I’m sat on a 3-car Class 195 working a York – Blackpool North service. This is the final leg of today’s trip as it’ll carry me all the way to Halifax, so now I can relax.
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Chris Ingram said:
Hi Paul, I’ve been following your blog for sometime now after seeing your address in RAIL magazine. I enjoy the mix of railways news and pictures spiced with comments on the British political scene. I wonder how you manage to leap on and off trains and change routes so easily and presume you carry an All-Line Rover or something equivalent. Keep blogging! Regards, Chris