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Apologies for the lack of a blog yesterday but it was my wife’s birthday so we had a lovely day away from screens and keyboards. Today I’m back on the road. I’ll try and make this a proper rolling block after the the other day’s failure to communicate. This should be easier as I’m not venturing out into the wilds where’s there’s no wifi or phone signal!

Right now I’m on Northern’s 07:07 from Halifax to York as far as Leeds which is worked by one of their 3-car Class 195s. It’s early enough in the day that it’s not packed so I’ve found a free table where I’ve been able to set up the ‘mobile office’. We’ve yet another beautifully sunny morning here in West Yorkshire and I’m hoping the good weather will stay with me as I traverse the country. I’ve a fair bit of travelling to do today and this is just the start.

The day begins…

I don’t know about where you live if you’re reading this in the UK but here the countryside is alive with Hawthorn blossom. For some reason the flowers seem really intense this year and really stand out against the lush greens of the countryside. I’ll see if I can get some pictures later as my job will be finished by mid afternoon…


Oh, joy! My Cross-Country train to Derby is now running 15 plus minutes late after getting stuck at Garforth for some unknown reason. That means its now lost its path and will accrue even more delays so my connection at Derby to Beeston is looking lost. When a TPE service running in the opposite direction occupied our platform (15a) there was a mad scramble as knowledgeable folk twigged the problem and looked for updates. There were none on the screens and it was only because a member of platform staff had the gumption to ask some of us if we wanted the Plymouth train that we found it had sneaked in on platform 12c. We left a few minutes afterwards and I suspect some less savvy travellers will have been left behind.


The 08:11’s a busy 4-car Voyager, so I’ve taken up position in the former shop area in coach D where I’ve set up the ‘mobile office’ on one of the luggage shelves. I may have to stand and there’s no power socket, but it’s better than being jammed in the saloon. We’re currently 17 late which means that unless we make up some time I’ll arrive at Derby after my Beeston connection has left. But, we have Sheffield to get through and train drivers don’t call it ‘the crucible’ for nothing (you have to get a red before you get a green). On the bright side, the trains CSA has just come through with the trolley, so I have coffee. He’s an affable Geordie who told me the issue at Garforth was with a Northern unit having electrical problems. This train was 2nd in the queue behind it, so was stuck until the Northern unit was fixed.

Now, having left Wakefield, I wait to see what happens at Sheffield…


We left a bright and sunny Sheffield 18 minutes late, so unless there’s a warp drive that’s been fitted to this Voyager there’s no way we can make up enough time to catch my connection in Derby. However, I had a cunning plan – I’ve time in the bank as the train of last resort doesn’t leave Derby until 09:50, I was simply hoping to get to Beeston earlier.


The irony! I made it to Derby only to find the Beeston train’s also running late, albeit only by a couple of minutes. So, I’m now back on track…

Derby’s expanded station


– and to work! I met some of our East Midlands Railway and station friends groups on the train to Beeston where we all decamped to be welcomed by others. Beeston’s a lovely old station (with a fantastic pub next door, but that’s another story). The local friends group in conjunction with local authorities have done a splendid job in transforming previously overgrown areas like this.

The group listening to Sarah Hampton from the station friends explaining what the group’s been involved in.
Beeston station.


Finished! Our trip to Matlock Bath by train proved to be a grand day out. Participants were given leaflets and a running commentary that described the scenic line from Derby to Matlock and included the history of the line as well as famous historical sites along the route. At Matlock Bath we detrained to enjoy an excellent buffet lunch laid on by CMAC, one of Community Rail Network’s corporate sponsors which was served in one of the old station buildings which is now a centre for the local Wildlife Trusts. A few short speeches followed, after which, participants could either return by train or enjoy a few hours exploring Matlock.

My job done I retraced my steps to Derby only to retrace them again to head North to Sheffield. Sadly it’s no longer possible to change trains at the most logical place (Belper) as for most of the day it’s only served by Matlock line trains.


My stop at Sheffield was brief. I’d intended to stay longer but cloud cover started to roll in and a combination of the wrong trains and the wrong weather made me adjourn to the Sheffield Tap for a ‘swifty’ on the way home. Besides, today’s ‘poets day’ (Piss-Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday). I may have lived by that in my day as a Government employee but it doesn’t really apply in the world of the self-employed. Still, the day’s been long – so a pint was in order…

And relax…


My Cross-Country train from Sheffield to Leeds was a double-set so there were seats aplenty. Most of the folk in my car seemed to be young people heading for a night out in Leeds. The Northern service I’m on now is a different matter. OK, it’s only a 4-car but it’s busy but it shares a characteristic with my previous train – it’s full of folks on a night out. What I find interesting is their destinations of choice are Halifax, Hebden Bridge and….Rochdale! I’m sharing a vestibule with a group of young Asian girls heading for Hebden Bridge. Next to me are some middle-aged folk talking about going to Rochdale and Halifax. God knows where everyone else is going but I’ll be fascinated to see who gets on/off in Bradford…

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