I had a lovely evening yesterday as I was invited along to supper along with my old friend to meet some of the people whom he’d been to school with in Ireland. This impromptu alfresco meal was unexpected by very enjoyable and took me back to the days when Lynn and I would host such events in the garden of our home in Crouch End.
A late night wasn’t much of a problem as there was no need to be up at silly o’ clock because of the aftermath of the rail strikes. The tube didn’t start running until 08:00 and trains until after 07:30. The best way for me to start my trek to ‘Rail Live’ was to catch the 07:49 to Reading, avoiding central London entirely. Seeing Clapham Junction so quiet at 07:00 during the week was really strange. There would have been more services running during the pandemic! Still, I’m now on my way West, looking forward to todays events on what promises to be a scorcher weather-wise…
The further West I head the more the railway wakes up. We’ve just left Bracknell where the station’s teeming with passengers heading for London. In contrast, my train, which was packed when it left Clapham, gets emptier and emptier! But then when this pair of 5-car Class 458s turn around at Reading it’ll be scooping up folk heading for the capital. I wonder how busy Reading station will be?
My visit to Reading station was brief but I’m always impressed by the scale of the transformation. It’s unrecognisable as the place I first got to know in the 1970s. It’s grown in both stature and services and the facilities are a vast improvement on what they used to be. It shows what can be achieved with the right levels of investment.
Now I’m on one of GWRs Class 800s. Having sped across Brunel’s ‘billiard table’ along the Thames valley and called at Oxford we’re heading into the Cotswolds and my next stop – Honeybourne…
Apologies for the gap in the blog but it’s been a very busy and a very sociable day. As soon as I stepped off the train at Honeybourne I started bumping into people I knew. This continued after getting off the shuttle train and entering the ‘Rail Live’ site. Often I couldn’t get more than 100 metres before meeting someone I knew – which was lovely after all that time in lockdown. Oh, add in the fact the on-site phone signal wasn’t the best and that were so many stands to visit, things to photograph and folk to chat to I gave up.
I’ll post some pictures later as right now I’m making my way back North, which is proving to be ‘intersting’. I left ‘Rail Live in plenty of time as I’d no idea how train services might pan out in practice. GWR from Honeybourne to Worcestershire Parkway was fine and on time. However, my connection was an Arriva Cross Country service from Cardiff to Nottingham as far as Birminham where I’d have 15 mins to Interchange. Great in theory until you see your trains left Cardiff I mins late and it’s dropping not gaining time.
It arrived 10 down which wasn’t too stressful as my interchange was cross-platform. Well, in the timetable anyway. But right now we’re wheezing our way in fits and starts up the Lickey incline.
We passed Barnt Green at the top of the Lickey 17 mins late, so it looks like I’ll be waving goodbye to my connection. I wouldn’t normally be too bothered if it wasn’t for the fact tomorrow’s a strike day…
Ever been happy that a trains late? I was. Not because my internal service was as it knackered any hope of a cross-platform Interchange. But the fact my following train was 5 down allowed me to make my connection despite an escalator scramble! I’m currently sat on a Cross-Country service heading for Edinburgh, which means I can get home to Yorkshire at least! The journey’s been lovely, despite the train being busy. I managed to blag a table seat after Derby which has given me a panoramic view of a gorgeous evening.
OK, I’m home and it’s time to end today’s blog. I’ve a busy few days ahead of me and lots of pictures to edit. I’ll leave you with a taster from ‘Rail Live’. Here’s a selection of the new CAF built ‘civity’ trains for the West Midlands in store before before they enter service sometime in 2022.
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