Another day dawns back in the septic isle, dear old Brexit Britain feels a world apart after a couple of days in Austria. But ho hum…
My day’s starting at Clapham in South London, as I stayed with an old friend last night. We’d met up at the magnificent St Pancras station, along with some friends and colleagues from Irish railways. We spent a convivial couple of hours remembering old times and old friends before calling it a day.
Now it’s a new one and my plan is to head back to Yorkshire in a roundabout way, via various changing points on the UKs rail network, getting pictures for a client en-route. My starting point’s Clapham Junction station, which I can look down upon from my bedroom window. It’s Britain’s busiest railway station, so there’s plenty to see…
I’m on my way to Basingstoke after spending an interesting interlude at Clapham Junction observing SWR staff dispatching trains whilst dealing with the commuter hordes quickly and efficiently, keeping the railway running and getting people to work safely, despite near crush conditions on some of the services into Waterloo.
As I watched I couldn’t help noticing that it seems a happy place to work, despite the pressures. Senior Managers put in an appearance, were recognised and greeted warmly, whilst dispatch staff smiled and joked with each other, clearly enjoying their jobs.
Now I’m on a slightly late running 12 car service to Poole, which – in the finest tradition of the old Southern railway – splits en-route. As we’re swimming against the tide of London-bound commuters it’s a pretty empty train. There’s only about half a dozen of us in the coach.
After a brief break at Basingstoke to get a few pictures I’m on the move again, only now I’ve swapped from SouthWestern Railway to GWR and their shuttle service to Reading which is operated by one of the “Thames Turbo” DMU fleet. Whilst the 3-car Class 166 is still in the old First group blue livery it has been fitted with 3pin and USB sockets, which are proving useful in keeping my phone topped up and Fitbit charged.
I’ve not travelled this route for a few years, so it’s nice to be reaquainted with it, especially this time of year when the rapeseed’s flowering and the countryside a patchwork of bright greens and yellow.
I still can’t get used to how much Reading station’s changed since the days of my youth. A billion pound rebuilding project, electrification and the arrival of new train fleets has left the place almost unrecognisable apart from the clock tower of the Victorian station building sticking its head above all the glass and steel.
At Reading I doubled back towards London to spend some time getting shots of a much altered Great Western Main Line. Gone are the Turbostars on the Thames valley services, now it’s all four or eight car Electrostars. Crossrail Aventras are very much in evidence too. Here’s a panoramic look at one of them at Maidenhead.
I’m finally heading West towards home after bagging some Aventra pictures. This time I’m on another GWR 387 after transferring from Class 800. One thing I have been disappointed in is the external cleanliness of the trains. Both my last two have had dirty windows which is a shame.
The sunny weather I enjoyed this morning has given way to dull, hazy skies, so I’ve decided to begin my journey Northwards from Oxford after grabbing a last few shots. I’m now on Cross-Country’s 15:39 to Manchester Piccadilly. It’s a five car Voyager with enough empty seats to make it a quiet and pleasant journey – although I suspect that may change when we hit Birmingham! Ideally I’d have liked to have bagged a table so I could have got on with some picture editing, but tables are as rare as hen’s teeth on these trains!
I’m on the final leg home now after passing through Birmingham in the rush hour with crush conditions on most trains. I’ll finish off this blog when I get home as I’ve several pictures to add but I don’t want to eat up all my data allowance! I’ve been doing so many rolling blogs recently that I’m getting perilously close to my monthly allowance.