Recent reports have confirmed that both Class 142 and 144 Pacer trains will continue in service until the next timetable change in May at the least. The plans are that they’ll be confined to Lancashire and Yorkshire with the Class 142s operating West services around Manchester whilst the Neville Hill based Class 144s will operate set routes around Leeds/Sheffield/Doncaster/Huddersfield and York.
The Class 142 fleet will be reduced to just 22 members from an original fleet of 94 whilst all 23 Class 144s will be retained. the DfT derogation letter confirms that the following Class 142s will be allowed to run but will gradually be phased out by the arrival of new CAF built units.
The Class 142 derogation expires at 23:59 on 31 May 2020.
A separate DfT document that confirms the dispensation allowing the Class 144s to be kept in service also specifies which routes they will be allowed to run on. These are.
• Leeds to Huddersfield
• Leeds to Sheffield
• Leeds to Knottingley
• Sheffield to Adwick
• Sheffield to Huddersfield via Penistone
• Sheffield to Gainsborough Central / Lincoln
• Huddersfield to Bradford Interchange via Halifax
• Huddersfield to Castleford via Wakefield
• Doncaster to Scunthorpe
• Sheffield to York via Rotherham and Moorthorpe
• York to Leeds via Micklefield
• York to Selby / Hull / Bridlington
• Bradford Interchange to Leeds
• Doncaster to Leeds
The permission granted by this dispensation to Arriva Rail North expires at 23:59 on 31 August 2020 but don’t assume that they’ll last until then.
This means Pacer fans (and yes, they do exist!) have a few more months to search out and ride/photograph these gradually dwindling fleets of trains before the last one heads off to the scrapyard. Make the most of the reprieve as it all depends on how quickly the last of the new CAF built trains enter service! If I get details of specific routes that the Class 142s will be operating on around Manchester I’ll update this blog with details. Right now I’d expect that they’ll be seen around Victoria on services to Stalybridge and Rochdale plus at Piccadilly on trains to New Mills and Rose Hill.
If you want to see a pictorial history of the BR built Pacer fleets over the years, have a look at my earlier blog.
I’m back in London today for a book launch and heading down early to do a few other things beforehand. Unfortunately, it’s not a vintage day on the rails. Dawn had a phone-call from a colleague, telling her that they’d be working from home today as a person had been hit by a train at Brighouse, causing many cancellations and uncertainty. This made me change my plans too so I hitched a lift with Dawn into Huddersfield and eschewed the idea of heading down the East Coast by heading for Manchester instead. As usual Trans-Pennine Express services are running late by around 15 mins. The situation doesn’t imorove when the Manchester Piccadilly service I was catching was terminated short at Stalybridge in order to work a service back to Hull. Needless to say, the one following behind it is late too, leaving a lot of disconsolate passengers hiding in the waiting room from the cold weather. The sunshine we had in Yorkshire’s refused to travel this side of the Pennines!
Northern Rail always cop the flak for delays but in my experience TPE are just as bad – yet they seem to escape the same levels of criticism, which has always puzzled me.
The 10:53 has been further delayed until 11:12. To add insult to injury, several TPE’s have passed through on their way to Piccadilly non-stop.
I’m finally on my way to London after taking a slight detour when I got to Manchester. In the adjacent platform was a pair of the old BR ‘Pacer’ trains in original condition with the bus-type seats. As they’ve little time left I took a spin on them out to Guide Bridge in order to get a few pictures.
Now I’m on very different traction, one of Virgin Trains 11-car Pendolino’s which could be my final trip with the company as their franchises ends on Sunday after 22 years. Personally, I’ll be sad to see them go but I’m looking forward to seeing what the new ‘Avanti’ franchise will bring to the network.
We’ve just sped through Nuneaton on our way South and the weather’s picked up again to leave us with a sunny but cold day. My train’s only about 45% full, so I’m sharing a table bay of four with another chap who’s busy bashing away on the keys on his laptop in a similar fashion to me. Most folk in this car seem to be travelling for business, so it’s a very quiet coach. The only noise to be heard is the gentle thrum of the air conditioning as it fights against the exterior temperature to keep the coach warm.
Since arriving in London I’ve been busy taking pictures around Euston station and the nearby streets, documenting the changes that High Speed 2 (HS2) is bringing. That said, the station itself feels very different now it’s full of de-branded Pendolinos and Voyagers. I’ve been taking pictures here since the 1980s and seen several changes over the years, but the scope of HS2 is on an entirely different scale! I’ll add links to all the pictures when I have time, but here’s a couple for now.
Phew! After a busy few hours I’m heading back to Yorkshire with my Grand Central train just pulling into Doncaster. The book launch went really well and was attended my many senior people from across the industry as well as many journalists and safety experts. Here’s a couple of shots from the event.
The fun’s not over yet. It seems the fun and games at Brighouse this morning were actually caused by an engineers train splitting the points at Greetland Jn, leaving the direct route to Halifax unusable. To get around the orobkem my Geand Central service is running to Hebden Bridge, where it’ll reverse and head back to Halifax via Milner Royd Jn.
It may be Sunday but it’s no day off for me. RAIL magazine have asked me to cover todays 175th anniversary events at Manchester Victoria station. Train services through the Calder Valley are disrupted by engineering work, so ‘bustitution’ from Hebden Bridge Westwards is the order of the day so So Dawn’s given me a lift to Huddersfield so I could catch the 10:52 direct to Victoria. Weatherwise it’s a glorious sunny day and the autumnal colours of the trees look stunning. Let’s see how the day goes…
The event at Victoria’s worth a visit. Outside the front of the station there’s two old Manchester buses and a vintage tram.
Insise there are stalls on the main concourse and upstairs on the mezzanine entrance to the arena. They include the East Lancs Railway and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway society who have an excellent display of old pictures of Victoria station. Many more are included in this commemorative book which can be bought for £5 from their website.
To add to the fun, Queen Victoria herself has dropped in to admire her namesake!
Homeward bound! I caught a packed TPE service from Victoria to Huddersfield, where I had enough time between trains for a ‘swifty’ in the wonderful ‘Kings Head’, one of the two pubs the station’s blessed with.
Now I’m bouncing my way home to Halifax on the generously proportioned 13:52 Huddersfield to Leeds via Brighouse. It’s a 3-car 144 and 2-car 150 lash-up, which means I’m the only passenger in the lead car! No doubt the train will fill up later in the journey.
After getting back home Dawn and I had some quality time together, enjoying on of our favourite walks from home, down the hill and along the canal into Sowerby Bridge. The sunshine had deserted us, but it’s still a lovely walk this time of year as the leaves on the trees that line our route look stunning. We stopped off for a quiet drink and a chance to read the papers in Williams Bar before strolling back up the hill to home, feeling virtuous having spent Sunday active. Now we’re relaxing at home with a spot of culinary therapy. Dawn’s busy cooking a mixture of chorizo, cannellini beans and spinach which is used as a base for a fish dish whilst I’m waiting in the wings (and a chance at the cooker) with monkfish tails ready to go into a Thai green curry.
I’m out and about slightly later today as I was up and in the office at 06:30 this morning, sipping coffee whilst I edited yesterdays pictures and got them to the client before start of play so that they could make their selection today.
Whilst doing so I caught up on the days news. Apart from the usual Brexitshambles, HS2’s in the public eye as the Oakervee review is allegedly going to be published ln the 19th. What’s interesting is to see how much public support there is for the project. The North’s politicians and business leaders like the CBI and BCC are queuing up to say that any downgrading of the project would be very damaging. In contrast, the dwindling opposition to HS2 is very muted. The remaining campaign group, StopHs2, have neither the money or the recourses to do much. Their ‘Campaign Director’, Joe Rukin spends most of his time playing “Swampy” with the tiny bunch of protestors in woodland camps on the phase 1 route. The penny slowly serms to be dropping that Phase 1 isn’t going to be cancelled and the carrying over of the phase 2a Hybrid Bill onto this Parliaments agenda is sending signals that no-one expects that to be shelved either. The only questions are over phase 2b – hence all the lobbying from the North’s powerful lobby.
There are a few dissenting voices in the North. What’s mildly depressing is the way some here still play regional and party-political politics with a chip on their shoulder about London. They simply won’t accept that HS2 isn’t all about the capital. The positive thing is they’re very much in a minority and have no credible alternatives to offer, just obfuscation and yet more delays.
As a Lancastrian who lived in London for 25 years before moving to Yorkshire I find this envy and resentment of the South both frustrating and (ultimately) self-destructive. It’s daft, not least because many of us “Southerners” were former Northerners who made the most of the opportunities London and the South-East had to offer, rather than sticking with Northern parochialism and the feeling that the North’s “hard done by”.
A case in point was a discussion I had with someone complaining about the fact HS2 tracks wouldn’t reach Newcastle or Teeside. I asked him to make a positive case why they should. All I got back was resentments and political conspiracy theories. Now there’s no doubt the North has been ignored sometimes, but when all it does is moan and say “it’s not fair” it’s easy to dismiss. Concrete evidence of WHY investment in the North should be made and the benefits it’ll bring are harder to ignore, which is why it’s great to see the North’s political leaders embracing the opportunities “Northern Powerhouse” can bring rather than dismissing it as a political stunt. If only others did…
The frustrating thing is there are many inspirational people in the North and some fantastic things happening. If only we could ditch this Southern envy!
I scribbled the above whilst changing trains at Hebden Bridge. I’m now aboard a 2-car Class 150 heading to Victoria to see some of the Northern Rail investment all too often ignored by some Northern politicians because the ‘wrong’ political party wrote the cheques for it! I’ll also be popping back to Piccadilly for a couple of hours to (hooefully) add a few more assistence pictures to the collection. Watch this space…
Passing through Manchester Victoria I couldn’t help noticing how railway enthusiasts have returned to it’s platforms nowadays. A small group of them huddled at the East end of platform 5. For many years few bothered due to the steady diet of DMUs with an occaisional freight. Now, with a resurgence of freight and loco-hauled passenger services, plus new Nova 2 units snd Class 195s, it’s become a place to visit again!
As the weather changes, so do plans. The miserabke weather we’ve been having over the past few days has given way to sunshine and the opportunity to catch some outdoor shots, so Piccadilly’s been postponed. Instead I’ve been getting shots around Manchesters rapidly changing city skyline (pix will be added later). Right now i’m bouncing my way to Wigan aboard an ostensibly ‘stored’ Northern Pacer (142046 for the number crunchers) which has presumably been resurrected to make uo a stock shortage. No doubt the picture will soon change again. Next week the new Class 195s are due to take over Leeds-Chester services, which (in theory) allows more Pacers to bite the dust before the December deadline.
As we approached Bolton I noticed that the huge red brick “Beehive Mill” that’s adjacent to the line and been wmpty for years is in the process of being flattened. Cotton mills were an important part of Lancashire’s past, but they’ve no part in its future. Hopefully in 2019 the site can be put to better use.
I’m taking a short break in Wigan to get some sonshine shots before heading back across the Pennines. Here’s my chariot, which is looking well for a ‘stored’ train!
What a difference a few hours can nake to the weather! As I headed home through Manchester the sun was beating through cloudless skies and turning rail tracks into golden ribbons. I couldn’t resist stopping off at Victoria for an hour to capture some scenes and the opportunity presented by a flag-waving lookout stationed at just the right place on a platform end. I’ll ad some pictures later. Right now i’m on a busy Class 156 heading to Leeds via Brighouse as the 17:37 off Victoria.
I’m on my way to Manchester from Huddersfield as I’m going to be spending much of the day working at Manchester Piccadilly doing people pictures for a client – although I’m sure a few train shots my find their way onto my memory card whilst I’m at it!
Like almost every day this month the weather’s dull and wet with low cloud at a height of just a few hundred metres, hiding the tops of the Pennine hills and giving the Colne valley quite a claustrophobic feel. Apparently, this October is on track to be the wettest since records began, which is no surprise. I can’t remember another one where the rain’s been so persistant or the showers so heavy. The climate’s changing and all but the most dogmatic and blinkered climate change denier can see that.
Luckily, I’ll be working under a station roof, albeit a rather leaky one! Still, let’s be grateful for small mercies. I always enjoy working at Piccadilly as the staff are a great bunch of people who take a photographer in their midst in their stride. So, let’s see how the day goes…
Whilst I was passing through Manchester Victoria one of TPE’s new Hitachi built Nova sets arrived on a Liverpool Lime St – Newcastle service. Sadly, both sets in service today were unbranded, which is a shame as the new livery suits them far more than the existing fleet of Class 185s
Today’s office – and it’s been a busy one, photographing Network Rail staff offering all manner of assistance to passengers. From carrying their heavy suitcases, pushing wheelchairs or helping VIP’s (Visually Impaired People).
As usual, the staff have bern brilliant, but so have the passengers. No-one’s said no to having their picture taken and some have been really chatty. Every one of them has praised the staff at Piccadilly and the assist system in general. What I found interesting today was how the Network Rail staff I was working with were overwhelmingly young people compared to when I did the same series of shots (for ATOC as RDG was in those days) back in 2005.
I’ve knocked off for the day and begun to wend my way homewards, pausing here and there to get shots of some of the stream of new trains coming into service on a weekly basis. Here’s one of Northern’s new CAF built class 195s at Oxford Rd.
I had a ‘pit-stop’ at the Stalybridge station buffet on my way back to Huddersfield in order to have a ‘swifty’ and use their wifi to upload some pictures to my website. The buffet was its usual convivial self but what I hadn’t expected was to bump into one of the young men who works for Network Rail whom I’d been photographing earlier. He’d finished his shift and (like me) had stopped off on his way home. As we were both out of work we had an interesting chat. He was in stark contrast to my experience on the platform whilst waiting for my train, which was like being in a Victoria Wood sketch. The area was dominated by a young, overweight woman dressed in her best ‘Primani’ shouting into her phone at a female friend whom she had on speakerphone. Most of it was verbal diarrhoea, apart from the memorable line “I’ve just spent four and a half years in prison and he didn’t writ me once”…
I’ve escaped the delights of ‘Stalyvegas’ and returned home to put my feet up, so there’s no more blogging from tonight, just a couple more pictures from the day.
Today I’ve escaped the confines of the Calder Valley to head across the Pennines to Manchester. My plan is to pop in at a charity coffee morning being held at Manchester Piccadilly before working out my itinerary for the rest of the day which will very much depend on the weather. Yes, I know I talk about the weather all the time, but in my work as a photographer it’s a vital component that has enormous influence over what I do – as well as where and when!
I’m hoping to be able to get some library shots of the new trains that are entering service with Northern and Trans-Pennine Express, and possibly an old Pacer or two before they take their final trip to the scrapyard.
Things haven’t got off to a very auspicious start. We’re just pulling out of Stalybridge in the middle of a shower with the wind pushing in low clouds from the West, promising more rain to come. Let’s see how the day goes and where I end up…
The coffee morning at Piccadilly is a great success and a fantastic example of the railway family coming together to help a charity. Cakes were baked by (and the stall staffed by) volunteers from Network Rail, Northern Rail, Transport for Greater Manchester and ACoRP station adopters as well as staff from Macmillan cancer care, the charity funds were being raised for.
I’m on the move again as the weather in Manchester’s living up to its reputation and chucking it down! I’d moved on from Piccadilly to Oxford Rd where, despite the weather, I managed to get several shots of both the CAF units for Northern and one of the TPE mark 5 sets. Sadly, not side by side.
In an effort to escape the rain I headed West, over to Liverpool aboard one of the new 195s. Initially, it was to no avail as the rain was bucketing down when I arrived, but just before I left the skies began to clear and the sun appeared. Whilst I was at the station once of those one chance in a million events occurred. As the rain was so heavy I changed my mind about nipping out of the station to grab a sandwich and decided to get a last couple of shots first. As I walked past passengers waiting for the London train a woman waved at me. At first, I didn’t recognise her. As I got closer I realised it was Annette, an old friend from Southport whom I shared a flat with in when I lived in London’s East End from 1986-96. The pair of us haven’t seen each other for maybe 15 yrs! We ended up chatting for quite a while, catching up on all the events in each others lives over the past few years. It was both a nostalgic and bittersweet experience as it made me think about how many things have happened in my life since the day we picked up the keys to that flat in Bromley-by-Bow back in July 1986…
After bidding adieu to Annette I grabbed that sandwich and a few more pictures before leaping aboard one of Northern Rail’s new 3-car electric trains which was working to Blackpool North via Wigan. This was one of the more numerous 3-car varients of the Class 331 that I’ve spent time photographing around Leeds and the Aire Valley. The unit was packed but I managed to find a tip-up seat in the vestibule that was free. By the time we got to Wigan we’d caught up with the rain and I was treated to several heavy showers. The rain was so torrential that some Wigan – Southport trains were cancelled due to the line flooding. Once I’d managed a few shots of the new trains I caught a Wigan North Western -Stalybridge service made up of avpair of Class 150s, one of which is a unit (107) recently cascaded from London North Western. As you can see, the skies above don’t exactly look inviting…
Having left Wigan and constantly criss-crossed out of weather fronts I pitched up in Manchester to change trains once more. Now I’m heading back across the Pennines aboard a busy commuter service, the 17:19 to Leeds which is worked by Class 156/153 combo. The atmosphere aboard is quite subdued. There’s little sign of people looking forward to the weekend, more a like a lot of knackered folk thinking “thank God it’s Friday!”
Back in Halifax I’m meeting up with Dawn for an evening at the pictures and something the English do far better than dealing with the present or future: nostalgia. We’re off to see the ‘Downton Abbey’ film…
It’s day two of working for Network Rail’s ASPRO (Asset Protection) team and this time the focus is on the Manchester area, so I’m on my way to meet them at NR’s Square 1 offices next to Piccadilly station. This is a ‘local’ job so I’m not encumbered with my overnight kit, which makes my bags a bit lighter!
I’ve caught Northern’s 08:06 service from Sowerby Bridge to get to across the Pennines. Made up of a Class 150/156 pairing it’s a surprisingly quiet train. I can only assume the holiday season’s in full swing. Needless to say, I’ve plumped for the 156 where I’m almost the only passenger in the rear car.
Unlike London where it’s meant to be even hotter than yesterday, it’s relatively cool here in the Pennines at 19 degrees with a blanket of high level cloud. At least I won’t have to cope with any harsh shadows today.
We’ve got a very busy schedule and plenty of sites to visit today so I’ll blog as and when I can. Hopefully there’ll be a few interesting pictures to add, although I don’t think I’ll be able to compete with the dramatic skyline pictures I took in London that are displayed in yesterday’s blog!
We’ve now passed under the Pennines into Lancashire and our trains beginning to fill up with passengers from stations on the way like Littleborough and Smithy Bridge. Rochdale always provides a good crop of commuters so I expect we’ll be pretty full by then. This service is bound for Southport so it’ll probably be picking up the ‘bucket and spade brigade’ from Manchester.
That went well then! Very sorry for the complete absence of blog updates. That’s partly because we were really busy and partly because not everything went to plan. Anyways, here’s a couple of pictures that give you a flavour of the assets we were looking at today.
Brick arches at Salford. Below them is a compound for building new residential housing right next to the railway.
I’ve been at work since 07:30 this morning, busy editing the mountain of pictures from yesterday, sorting out paperwork and job enquiries and all the other stuff that comes with being a freelance photographer, writer and ACoRP judge. Sometimes I feel like I could do to clone myself as there’s just not enough hours in the day to get through everything. On the bright side, my commute from bedroom to office takes about a minute – or possibly 10 if I go downstairs and make coffee first!
Editing the pictures I took yesterday made me realise just how much the railways in the North are changing. The location I picked in Central Manchester is one I’ve not used for a few years. Since then, several of the franchises passing through (EMT, Northern and Transport for Wales) have or are changing hands, whilst a number of new services are using it due to the extension of electrification and the opening of the Ordsall Chord. Here’s a couple of pictures I didn’t add to yesterday’s blog that illustrate what I mean.
Here’s 319374 working 2F17, the 1318 Crewe to Liverpool Lime Street. The 319s started appearing in the NW in 2015, displacing many of the Class 323s on Crewe trains when the service was extended to Liverpool Lime St thanks to electrification.
A sight you never used to see. 323223 works 2A90, the 1428 Liverpool Lime Street to Crewe whilst 319370 is working 2N69, the 1502 Hazel Grove to Blackpool North.
I’d never seen a five-car on this train before. Here’s 175107 in the new Transport for Wales livery and 175109 in the old ATW livery working 1D30, the 1536 Manchester Airport to Llandudno. These units will be replaced by brand new stock in the next few years.
Another train that’s due to be replaced by new stock is this, TfW’s 1H89, the 1307 Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly which still uses ex-Virgin Trains Mk3 coaches and a DVT. The DB Class 37 still sports the old Wrexham and Shropshire livery, despite that company ceasing operation in January 2011.
185117 just after leaving Oxford Rd whilst working 1P76, the 1255 Middlesbrough to Manchester Airport which has passed through Manchester Victoria and traversed the Ordsall chord.
As you can see, it’s a changed network and it will change even more over the next few years as the CAF built Class 195s enter service en-masse and if the West Midlands Class 323s are cascaded to Northern to replace the 319s in order to allow 6-car trains to run. Then there’s the new TPE stock which will (hopefully) begin to enter service later this year. The North’s railways are going through some exciting and positive times, not that you’d know that from listening to the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, who only mentions the railways when it’s an excuse to stick the boot into the Northern Rail franchise. Despite an invitation to attend the launch of Northern’s new trains, he was conspicuous by his absence.
The rest of this evening’s been taken up with planning the logistics of the next couple of days work for a client. Thursday – Friday will see me in London and Manchester and I’ll be travelling down to London later tomorrow. It will involve another early morning commute to the office as I’ve plenty to do before I head South. So, it’s goodnight from me! Watch out for a rolling blog tomorrow…
After another long morning editing pictures for my website and clients I’ve escaped the confines of the office to sally forth to Manchester again, this time to swap some of the shopping I picked up for Dawn in time for her to pack for her break with her Brother in Surrey. Admittedly, I also gave me chance to pick up some resoled shoes from the cobblers in Halifax which have been left with D in Huddersfield.As usual I caught the local train from Halifax to Huddersfield. It’s hard to believe now, but this service only started in 2000. Before then, the line from Salterhebble to Greetland Junction was a mothballed freight only line. My service was worked by the first Class 144 ‘Pacer’, 144001, which is very much living on borrowed time. All the Class should have been withdrawn by now but delays to the introduction of the new trains has seen them soldier on.
Sadly, the sunshine I basked in yesterday’s given way to far more typical Pennine weather – grey skies, low cloud and rain.On the bright side, I’ve actually managed to grab a seat on the TPE service that’s taking me to Manchester Victoria. Normally there’s more chance of finding Lord Lucan riding Shergar!
The weather in Manchester’s been miserable. The rain increased in intensity before I arrived and continued since, leaving the place reminiscent of those city scenes in the film ‘Bladerunner’ where it’s constantly raining. Many Mancunians have resorted to hiding under umbrellas, leaving the place looking like it’s infested with mobile mushrooms…
Now I’m on a TPE service back to Huddersfield. I most the first one at Piccadilly. The next service was routed via the Ordsall chord and Victoria, where we’re now stuck awaiting a driver. As I type this, two women cyclists who were doing passable impressions of drowned rats have (optimistically) pitched up, hoping to get on this 3 car train. I can’t see that happening as the Conductor had to appeal to people to move down the aisles so that we didn’t leave any passengers behind. They were saved by the fact the far more lightly loaded 18:02 service was in the platform behind us.
As we sped through Stalybridge I cast an envious glance at the station buffet bar from my position jammed up against the train door window.
Time for bed! When I got home I ended up glued to the laptop screen editing more pictures whilst Dawn was a domestic Goddess, cooking Spanish prawns for supper. Tomorrow there’s another change of pace as I’m back down to London for a couple of days, so expect more rolling blogs…
I had planned to work for a Client in London today but the capital’s weather wasn’t ideal so we postponed the job. That gave me the luxury of an extra hour in bed this morning! It also allowed me to make a start at editing the pictures I’ve been taking on my Scottish trip and getting some of them on my Zenfolio website.This afternoon’s rather different. I nipped into Halifax to sort out some chores before catching to train to Manchester for a few hours in order to meet up with a friend who’s coming over from Ireland for his stag weekend. Neil and a group of his friends have got the ferry to Holyhead then the train to Manchester on a ‘rail/sail’ deal which are excellent value tickets. I’ll add a link later.The train I’m on is one of the new Leeds to Chester services which is full of groups of women laden with a panoply of alcoholic liquids. You can tell it’s a Friday! I can’t work out if they’re heading for Manchester or Chester. No doubt all will be revealed soon…- and it was! The women were heading for Manchester. In fact, the city’s absolutely awash with women, young and more ‘matronly’. At first I couldn’t work out why until I started to see a common theme, ‘girl power’ T-shirts in abundance. Then the penny dropped. The reformed ‘Spice Girls’ are playing in Manchester this weekend!
Having spent a few hours with the ‘stags’ (Irish railways must be particularly understaffed this weekend) I’m heading home for the evening. I have to say that I was really impressed by the atmosphere in Manchester this evening. The city’s teeming with people and the vibe is lovely. I can’t help thinking that’s because of the gender balance. Women outnumber men and the ambience is all the better for it. Apparently Olly Mus (who he? Ed) is also playing which has added to the attraction. Give me this over the testosterone fuelled football crowds and daft rivalries any day…
Such events can only be good for Manchester and the city’s reputation and economy. Hotel rooms are at a premium and the pubs, bars and restaurants are packed. It’s good for the railways too as many of these visitors have arrived by train. Victoria never used to look like this. A few years ago it was a place you definitely didn’t linger at – unless you’d missed your train!
A poignant moment was the display at Manchester Victoria which commemorates the very recent 2nd anniversary of an atrocity at a concert at the Arena above the station.