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Another silly o’ clock start. I’ve been up for an hour getting ready to head South to meet up with my ‘partner in crime’ for a couple of days exploring HS2 railway construction and mitigation sites, but first I’ve got to get to Banbury. The weather’s looking bleak. The rain’s already started here in the Calder Valley so Dawn’s being a star and giving me a lift to the station so that I don’t get a soaking from the off! I’ll be blogging throughout the day, so feel free to keep popping back to see what I get up to…


Thanks to Dee I arrived at Halifax station dry and in plenty of time. Having bid Dawn au revoir I caught the 07:14 Halifax-Hull, an earlier train than planned which gives me an extra 6 minutes in the bank. As it’s starting from Halifax it’s also far less crowded, despite being worked by a 2-car Class 158 today. No doubt that situation will change once we’ve reached Bradford and beyond.

Even so, I’ve bagged a table seat, plugged my phone into the USB socket to keep it charged and begun to catch up with the waking world.

Almost as soon as we left the cheerful Guard conducted a ticket check. With the train being quiet we swapped cheeky banter as I asked when the trolley service came round!


As I predicted, the train filled up at Bradford Interchange. My bay and the opposite table are now full. There’s a young businessman of Indian extraction sat opposite whilst the rest of the seats have been taken by a mother and daughters – also of Asian extraction but further South and East. I haven’t heard them speak so I can’t tell where they hail from originally.

Now we’re heading towards Leeds on a miserable day weather-wise. The sky’s a monotone grey, producing the light drizzle that soon has you soaked as it has the ability to permeate almost any clothing.


My time at Leeds was brief, just 15 minutes. I hardly had time to get the camera out but then there wasn’t much of interest to photograph on such a grey day. Making my way to platform 15 I waited for Cross-Country’s 08:11 to Bristol Temple Meads which arrived spot on time. Consisting of two four-car Class 220s the service was reasonably busy. The was plenty of custom for it at Leeds, although several were only going as far as our next stop at Wakefield Westgate where we exchanged them for more long-distance travellers. The cross-country network is all things to all people. Some use it for short hops as the timings are convenient whilst others appreciate its reach and use it for far longer journeys – students and senior travellers especially.

Cross-country may not be the biggest operator but it’s certainly the most far-reaching. Although the network’s been cut back from its height its tendrils radiate from Birmingham afar as Penzance and Aberdeen. What a shame the dept of transport have no idea what to do with it other than cut its train-fleet by forcibly retiring their high-speed train fleet with no plan for replacement. Their capacity is desperately needed in the summer, especially now passenger numbers have bounced back and the state of the economy’s forcing more people to holiday in the UK.


My trip to Birmingham was uneventful, although it gave great views of the HS2 construction sites at Washwood Heath and Curzon St, where the pillars for the elevated station deck are springing up like mushrooms. I filmed this as we passed.

Building HS2’s Curzon St station.

Birmingham’s wet. Very wet, so I was glad to seek shelter on Chiltern Railways 10:55 from Moor St which will carry me to my rondezvous in Banbury.

In a sign of the times I popped into a shop in New St which sells baguettes. It was always a busy place. For years the filled baguettes cost 99p and made a cheap and tasty meal. Then, post Covid they increased to £1.20. Today they’re £2.20. It may have been the time of day but the shelves were full but the shop empty. I was the only customer.


Apologies for the gap in blogging but we’ve been busy. I’m about to get something to eat then I’ll come back and fill in the gaps. In the meantime, here’s a few pictures to tease..

We were here at the Chiltern tunnels South portal where one of the ‘porous portals’ is being constructed now the area is cleared and the TBMs are over half way to the North portal. This one is over the London-bound track.
Progress on the Colne Valley viaduct is impressive. It’s really come on since my last visit. Here’s a view of the launching girder ‘Dominique’ seen from the Denham waterski club site.
One of the thousands of precast bridge segments that have been made on site at West Hyde is moved along the completed bridge to the launching girder ‘Dominique’ where it will be lifted and then turned before being dropped into position. The segments are made on site then moved from the factory along an internal haul road and onto the viaduct.


Right, time for bed. It’s been a busy day although the latter part was foiled by the weather when the skies opened and stayed open, making photography next to impossible. Even so, we reconnoitered a few more HS2 construction sites which will allow us to pop back tomorrow when the weather’s improved before moving on to look at others.

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