I’ve had an ‘interesting’ journey back from Reading today, mainly because the railways were so busy! It’s bizarre that we still run a Sunday timetable (less frequent and often shorter trains) in this day and age as Sunday is anything but quiet. After leaving my hotel I went for a wander around Reading in order to buy some breakfast and also explore. We’d had heavy rain overnight so the streets were a mass of puddles. Even so, it was remarkably mild. The detritus of Saturday night’s bacchanalia could be found in shop doorways and at bus-stops. As you can see here!
There’s some lovely old buildings in Reading, but despite the fact that it’s ostensibly a wealthy town, there’s a lot of dereliction and decrepitude. Having filled my stomach thanks to Greggs I headed for the station to catch a GWR service to London. The station was quiet, but the train wasn’t. I was surprised when a 5 car IET arrived from Oxford as the thing was absolutely rammed! I ended up jammed in a vestibule, standing all the way to London which wouldn’t have been too bad but engineering work had closed the Fast lines East of Slough which added another 10 minutes to the journey. Hardly a good start to my trip. I was in no rush so I hung around at Paddington for an hour in order to get some pictures and update the archives before heading for the Elizabeth line. It’s now possible to get from Paddington to Kings Cross without once using the tube by catching a ‘Lizzy line’ train to Farringdon, then picking up a Thameslink service to St Pancras, which is what I did.
At the Cross I headed for the 14:00 to Leeds. At least this was a 9-car ‘Azuma’ – and it needed to be! Sadly, the reservation system was kaput so I hedged my bets by securing space in the lead vestibule behind the drivers cab. It was a wise move. By the time all were aboard there wasn’t a spare seat to be had anywhere, but at least I had the vestibule to myself! I rather enjoyed the trip, despite being relegated to the floor because engineering work had closed the main line North of Peterborough, so we were routed through the Werrington ‘dive under’ (a new route for me) then along the GN/GE joint line via Lincoln to reach Doncaster the long way round.
Finally, on reaching Leeds there was on last surprise in store for me. The 17:19 Leeds – Manchester Victoria was another packed train but I was amazed to find it was a 5-car, which is unheard of! We were treated to a pair of CAF Class 195s in 3 and 2 car formations which meant I managed to secure a seat in the front car as most people hadn’t realised we’d got the extra set attached. Even I had to double-check with the Dispatcher!
So, now I’m home and looking forward to a few days away from the rails, catching up with editing all the pictures from the past few days. Expect to see them appear on my website over the next day or two. In the meantime, here’s a taster from Paddington.
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