10:20Today a group of friends from the Big 6 pub in Halifax, under the leadership of Tony Allan (of Phoenix Brewery fame) are having a little outing by train, over the Pennines to Rochdale to partake in the Easter ale trail, a new take on the traditional beer festival. It’s another fantastic Spring day here in the Pennines, so the weather’s ideal. Watch out for updates on our (probably unsteady) progress throughout the day!Before we go, Dawn’s been busy in the kitchen as we’re hosting her parents for dinner tomorrow. Last night she prepared a special marinade for this leg of lamb, which will now steep until tomorrow.12:09The group rendezvous at Halifax railway station.12:57.The group outside the first pub of the day – The Flying Horse hotel which has a great view of the Town Hall.Here’s the token system.15:10We’re on our third pub and it’s a cracker! It’s The Baum in Toad Lane, a conservation area. The pub is adjacent to the shop where, in 1844, the Rochdale Pioneers opened their first shop and started the co-operative movement back in 1844.This has been our lunch stop and I couldn’t resist ordering a traditional Lancashire delicacy: rag pudding with mushy peas and chips!We’ve now stepped through a door into a 5th dimension where it feels like we’re in London, or Paris, not Rochdale – and Otto’s found the piano..18:10.We’re now on what’s probably our last pub, which is opposite the Town Hall. The Old Post Office.
Another day, another early start. Right now I’m sat on a train to Leeds on a frosty but sunny morning that promises to be a glorious day weather-wise. Sadly I’m sans coffee as I left the house slightly later than planned. I had to power walk to Halifax station, arriving with a minute to spare. That defect will be remedied when I reach Leeds!
I’m on my way to Peterborough to meet up with an old friend and colleague from RAIL magazine to do a job for said mag. Years ago Pip and I used to do regular features for RAIL which involved travelling on new trains and seeing what they were like from a passengers perspective. The series carried on for many years and now we’re bringing it back. This time we’re going to be checking out the new (ish) Siemens built Class 700s built for Thameslink/Great Northern services. You’ll be able to read about it in RAIL soon so I won’t be blogging in detail about the trip, but you might get a few teasers!
My connection at Leeds worked without problem and I’m now happily ensconced on LNER’s 07:15 from Leeds to Kings Cross as far as Grantham. I now have coffee and a sandwich, so all’s well with the world…
After a rapid change of trains at Grantham I’m now on an East Midlands Trains Class 158 heading for Peterborough. According to the screens, this service is from Mansfield Woodhouse to Norwich, which is a service I never even knew existed! I’d have thought it would have originated from Sheffield. Still, you learn something new every day!
I rather like the refurbed EMT 158s. They’re a comfortable train, although I know some folk don’t like the high-back seats.v
We’re hard at work, honest! We’ve tried out 4 class 700s, two 12-car and two 8-car. Here’s Pip Dunn checking the technical details on our way to London.
Job done, it’s time to begin the trek North from Peterborough, this time it’s on a rammed LNER service heading for Leeds. I was going to hang around and get some pictures but the weather’s changed completely from this morning full sun to being cloudy and cold, so hardly an incentive to hang around…
I decided to take a short break in Doncaster to get a couple of pictures and (as it’s Friday) visit this little gem on the station for a ‘swifty’ before heading home.
Last train of the day now. I missed an earlier one by seconds as our platforms were too far apart. Now I’m on the 17:97 to Brighouse which is a rammed 2-car ex-Scotrail Class 158. There’s 10 of us stood in the vestibule by the toilets and aisle in the passenger saloon resembles a sardine can.
08:39.I was up at 06:00 this morning to make Dawn’s coffee as she’s on a course in Liverpool today. This gave me time to scan another batch of old slides from 1995 which I should have on my website tonight. Here’s a taster from Warrington Bank Quay.
Right now I’m off out to make the most of the sunny weather and try and catch up with some pictures for clients that I got side-tracked from on Friday. More soon…09:39.Despite the sunny interludes it’s a bit of a nippy day so I was glad the walk down to Sowerby Bridge warmed me up a bit! I arrived a couple of minutes late to catch the train I was aiming for, so now I’m hopping to Hebden Bridge to pick up a Fast train to Manchester from there. My steed is 158845, one of Northern’s refurbished Class I58s that’s had the full make-over. It has new seats, tables and also USB power sockets as well as an improved Passenger Information System.
11:05.I’m back on track as I decided to stay on the Blackpool train and take a detour via Burnley. This was for several reasons including the fact I hadn’t got pictures of the new station building and that I’d always meant to see if I could get a shot across the town showing a train traversing the viaduct on the Colne branch. I managed to achieve both aims with the added bonus that my return trip was on a stretch of track I’d not previously travelled on: the Todmorden curve.Whilst I was at Burnley I spotted this unique planter on Manchester Rd station which celebrates the town’s links with an earlier form of transport, the canals.
17:10.Ok, it’s a long story what I’ve been up to since I crossed Manchester. I visited a location I’ve wanted to check-out for years – and I wasn’t disappointed. After getting the train to Goostrey station on the line from Manchester to Crewe I walked to the Twemlow viaduct. I’ve passed over it hundreds of times, but you only appreciate its magnificence when you see it from the ground
I’m happy with the pictures I managed to get today. Hopefully, the client will be too! So much has happened between now and then to blog about at length as I’m now taking it easy at home. Well, when I say “easy”, I’m actually on tenterhooks, trying to follow what’s happening at the EU summit in Brussels. Will the unanimity of the EU 27 finally break? The UK’s pushed its luck and it wouldn’t be any surprise if one or two countries finally ran out of patience with us. Brexit is an utter shambles, even some of it’s cheerleaders are admitting that now as they don’t want to be left carrying the can when the inevitable happens. God, what a mess this country’s got itself in…
06:18The week begins with me heading South again, with a early start on the 06:26 train from Halifax to Leeds. The walk to the station’s always pleasant at this time of day as much of the town still hasn’t woken up. Apart from the dawn chorus of birdsong, there’s little human life to be seen until I get closer to the station and join some of the early commuters and cleaners sprucing the town up ready for another day.My train, a two-car Class 158 turned up from Huddersfield on time and I’m nwow in the warm, sipping coffee and contemplating what the day might bring. Clearer skies hopefully as the haze that’s been hanging around for a few days now is proving persistent.07:00This two car train is now full and standing after calling at New Pudsey, which is always a busy pick-up point. I’ve never been sure why it’s so popular but then I don’t really know the area. I’m assuming there’s plenty of car parking, hence so many people commuting into the city by train.07:12This time of morning Leeds station hasn’t hit its commuter peak, so my cross platform interchange to LNER’s 07:15 to Kings Cross was easy. The trains worked by one of the TOC’s venerable HST sets – only this one’s in early condition as it’s still fitted with the original IC70 style seats with the awful fixed armrests!08:05We’re now bowling along towards Grantham through the gloom and murk as the haze is sticking with us, which isn’t exactly condusive to good photography!I was surprised to see how many folk on my train were commuting from Leeds to Doncaster. No doubt some were rail staff, but I wonder about the others as you don’t exactly see ‘Donny’ as a thriving centre of commerce.09:05The closer I get to London the worse the murk gets! We’ve just passed Hitchin and visibility is down to 200 metres. If it’s no better in London I may need to rethink my plans for the rest of the day as it’s grim down South. One of my community rail friends has just sent me a picture of sunny Accrington to cheer me up!10:38My luck’s changing at last. The wet weather I was greeted with has changed an the skies are starting to clear. Meanwhile, a friend at Hornsey depot is keeping me abreast of preparations to tow away the first Class 313 (026) to South Wales and the scrap yard. Here it is passing through Finsbury Park on its final journey, hauled by 57312.Tomorrow night, sister unit 313055 is due to head in the opposite direction, from Hornsey to Yorkshire, where the unit will be scrapped.Here’s the new order that will replace them, seen at Hornsey earlier. The Siemens built Class 717s are a step-change in quality compared to the 1970s designed 313s.13:00.Due to the weather I didn’t hang around in London. I began heading North, looking for sunshine. I found it at Bedford, on the Midland Main Line, where these units working the Bedford-Bletchley line are due to be replaced by Vivarail Class 230s very soon.Of course, the times have changed here earlier now that Thameslink are running an entirely new fleet to Bedford.15:36.Northward, ever Northward! My next stop was at Wellingborough to check out progress on both MML electrification and also the massive housing development that’s being built to the North and East of the station. Here’s the view looking North, with the old Midland Railway steam loco shed to the right.17:22.I’d hopped my way up the Midland Main Line as far as Sheffield where I couldn’t resist stopping for a swift beer in the magnificent Sheffield Tap, which gave me time to upload a few more pictures to the blog. Now I’m heading for Leeds on one of Cross-country’s HST’s which are rather a contrast to the one I started the day on! All the way North the weather’s been a patchwork quilt that’s alternated between sunshine and low clouds or haze. Still, it’s mission accomplished – despite the weather and the all-invasive Buddleia! As someone who spent many years travelling on the old Class 313s I wanted to record the beginning of their end. I only hope GN give the last one’s a proper send-off as they’ve moved millions of people in years they’ve served the railways.17:55I made the cardinal error of using one of the toilets on this train only to find coach C has run out of water, so the sight greeting you in the toilet bowl can be imagined. I’m at Leeds. This trains going all the way to Glasgow and there’s no chance of replenishing the water supply…18:22.The last train of the day is a refurbished Northern Class 158 that’s taking me and dozens of other weary commuters home. Like every commuter service, no-one’s window-gazing, they see this view 10 times a week at least! Instead, the vast majority are staring at screens of varying sizes and I’ve only heard the rustle of a single newspaper. One or two are taking the chance to doze. All this means it’s a very quiet train…
09:58.It’s a gorgeous spring day today, so I’ve abandoned the office to head to London with the camera and hunt down some of the new trains coming into service at the moment. I’m on LNER’s 10:15 train heading South after arriving on a Northern service from Sowerby Bridge which was worked by one of the increasing number of refurbished units, this time a 150/2.
My LNER service is very busy. I’m assuming this is because it’s the first post peak train, although to be fair, most of these trains seem to be well loaded. Today the trains worked by one of the three Class 90 locomotives hired in from DB, 90036 named after the train driver who was badly injured in the ‘great train robbery’, Jack Mills.11:12.I changed trains at Doncaster in order to grab a shot of one of LNER’S new ‘Azuma’ trains that was sat in the station, ready to head to York, then caught a following service, so I’m on the move again..12:23.I made another stop at Newark Northgate where I was in time to catch another Azuma working North. This one stopped in the station, allowing the crew and platform staff to practise dispatching the train, which looked very smart in the sun. Here it is, pulling away from the station. For the number crunchers, it’s 800113, the last of the LNER 9-car Azuma’s
Afterwards I caught 1B86, the 12:56 service to London, which is on of the Newark terminators. Out of curiosity I walked through the train to see what the loadings were like. It seemed to be 25% full but I noticed a lot of seat reservations from Grantham, suggesting it would fill up later. 1B86 is also due to call at Peterborough and Stevenage, so I expect it’ll be busy getting into London. Unlike the other weekend when trains were kept busy moving hundreds of thousand of people to the anti Brexit march in London I’ve only seen two men who looked and sounded like they were going to today’s UKIP/Far- right and ‘March to Leave’ bunfight in Parliament Square. They were easy to spot by the gammon colour, beer guts and a loud voices complaining of ‘left wing’ newspapers!14:19I’m now basking in the sunshine at Welwyn Garden City, where the new Siemens Class 717s have entered service. Well, a pair of them anyways. Here’s one of them.
Well, that was an interesting day! After having a spin on one of the new class 717s for the first time in the UK I narrowly missed meeting up with two friends who were in London on business. Instead I took a detour to Parliament Sq to have a look at the pro Brexit demonstrations. Yes, there was more than one due to the factionalism in the Leave camp. Two stages faced each other. One was the Leave campaign’s, the other UKIPs. It was like a gammon Glastonbury, only no matter which stage you went to, the acts were shit! In truth, the whole atmosphere felt weird. As I arrived, so did the “football lads alliance”, who marched in under a West Ham banner, singing “God save the Queen” whilst escorted by police. Looking around the crowd I could see that they were exactly who I suspected they would be: overwhelmingly white and old. This was the Daily Mail and Express letters page brought to life. The placards didn’t exactly fill you with joy either. It was hate, not humour that filled them. MPs were ‘traitors’, apparently and the EU was some sort of dictatorship that was determined to abolish the UK. It was all a bit bonkers to be honest. The stage on Whitehall was the UKIP one and that had the most poisonous atmosphere as it had attracted to football hooligan and far-right element. There’s no doubt that UKIPs new leader, Batten, has turned them into a far-right party. You only had to look at their audience to see that. Here’s a few shots from the event to give you a flavour of it.
I’m now back in Yorkshire after catching the 17:33 from London to Harrogate as far as Leeds, where it arrived 20mins late. The set was an HST and it had a poorly power car which meant our acceleration was pedestrian to say the least! Fortunately, this time of night trains to Halifax are frequent, so I only had a few minutes to wait before catching this, the 20:18 to Manchester Victoria.
After three days cocooned with the computer in my home office it’s time to escape for a few hours and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. I’m out and about with the camera in the Calder Valley today after a slaving over another batch of old slides. These are now on my website, so click this link to see which galleries they’re in. There’s another batch waiting to be scanned this evening if I can make the time. In the meantime, expect a few notes and pictures to be added throughout the day…
I walked down into Sowerby Bridge and cut through across the Calder from the main Street on the old cobbled footbridge. The river’s back to its normal level now after the heavy rains of the other week. Here’s the view from the bridge, looking East.
The old mill reflected in the river was converted into apartments many years ago. When the river flooded on Boxing Day 2015 the lower apartments were wrecked by the rising water levels and rendered uninhabitable for quite some time.
I caught Northern’s 13:22 service to Mytholmroyd, where there’s quite a bit of work going on. The old goods yard is being cleared of trees and scrub to make way for a vastly extended car park. This should increase footfall at the station considerably as trying to drive around here is a pain because the roads to the next two stations are so congested.
At the other end of the station works progressing on restoring the formerly derelict station building, which now has proper doors and windows for the first time since the early 1980s!
The work in Mytholmroyd isn’t confined to the railway. A huge amount has been done to strengthen the town’s flood defences too, as you can see from this picture taken from the beer garden of the local pub which was another victim of the 2015 floods. The pub was closed for about 18 months and the beer garden’s only reopened in time for the 2019 season.
Here’s another view from the other side of the stream.
It’s been a lovely (if frustrating) day, mainly because so much of the Calder Valley line has become a ‘green tunnel’! No doubt I’ll be getting angry responses from Greens about this but the amount of vegetation enclosing the railway nowadays is a nightmare. My concerns aren’t about photography but safety. In the past 40 years trees have been allowed to encroach far too close to the operational railway. They pose a risk to life and also reliability, as a tree coming down across the railway can bugger up a lot of people’s day. The Greens who complain that tree cover’s being cut back have obviously never seen pictures of the Calder Valley back in the 1950s! Sadly, I don’t have any comparison shots to offer. I’ll see if I can find any ‘creative commons’ one’s on the internet.
One of the places I visited was Eastwood, between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, where the line was quite open with a valley side background that could be captured from a footbridge. Now, the footbridge has been replaced with a modern high-sided one and trees have encroached on the line so that’s another photographic location scratched off the list…
Like hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens (and some of our European friends) Dawn and I are on our way to London for today’s march to oppose the madness of Brexit. At the same time as people are assembling the online petition to revoke article 50 has passed the four million mark.
Will any of this do any good? Who knows, but we will not let our country slide into disaster without a fight!
I’ve no doubt the mood on the march will be uplifting. Plus, the day will end with us joining others to celebrate a friends 50th birthday. I’ll blog and post pic through the day as I can. No doubt the phone networks around the march will become overloaded as usual!
We’re half an hour out from London, speeding across Huntingdonshire on a LNER service from Leeds. We’re not the only one’s aboard heading for the demo either, there’s gaggles scattered throughout the train…
Wow, just wow! What an incredible day! Over a million people turned up to march today. As usual, just rondezvousing with folk was a logistical exercise in itself. Here’s some of the #railwayfamily who attended.
This was the view from our bedroom window this morning as the snow had returned late last night and this time it had crept down further from the valley tops.
Thankfully, the roads below us remain clear so we shouldn’t have any problem driving over to Huddersfield to meet up with other members of the ACORP team before catching the train to Sheffield. Watch this space…
Away we go! After a quick visit to ACORP towers we’re now bouncing our way to Sheffield via the scenic Penistone line aboard a Pacer.
It’s a beautifully sunny day here on the Penistone line as we bounce and rock towards Sheffield, where the weather’s not looking as inviting. We’ve been in and out of the snowline several times already. Initially the train was quite empty but we’ve picked up passengers at every stop, especially at Penistone and Barnsley, the main population centres along the line. Now this 3 car train’s earning its keep.
Despite my earlier concerns about the weather the sun’s beating down on Sheffield, making it ideal for a spot of photography before the conference starts after lunch. Here’s one the the unique tram-trains. Hopefully this trial will be a success and we’ll see vehicles like this become a common sight. Ironically, I came to Sheffield for an Acorp conference on tram-trains way back in 2009. After years of plans changing and procrastination, the trams finally started running in 2018!
The conference is in full swing right now. The event was opened by the Mayor of Sheffield, Dan Byles MP, who welcomed everyone to the city and spoke about the importance of community rail.
I’m heading back to London today as I’m picking up a load of old slides that were with a picture library. They were digitised years ago and now the library is moving premises so wants to give them back. Rather than entrust them to the post I’ve arranged to collect them and do some work whilst I’m down there.
Unfortunately, the weather here in the Calder valley’s dismal, I just hope the forecast for the South-East’s accurate. I’ll keep you updated on my travels and any travails.
Having just missed a train I was left kicking my heels at Sowerby Bridge station for 25 minutes in the cold, rain and sleet! Sadly, there’s no warm waiting room to seek refuge in. The station’s facilities were severely pruned in BR days, especially on the Leeds bound platform which I was on. There have been improvements. At least now there are ticket machines on both platforms and simple platform shelters, but they’re not much use in a Pennine winter other than to keep the rain or snow off you.
At least my train was on time, a refurbished three car Class 158 rolled in at 09:04 and now I’m seated in the warmth, heading to Leeds.
Me and my big mouth! We left Halifax packed to the gunwhales but on time. Then it all went a bit Pete Tong. We’re currently crawling from signal to signal for reasons unknown as neither driver nor conductor have made an announcement. Still, this has given me plenty of time to observe all the shiny scarlet painted Pandrol clips which attach the rails to the sleepers. Their colour betrays the fact a lot of the rails on the route have been renewed recently.
We’re now on our way from Bradford Interchange 12 minutes late. The crew have remained mute. There’s not been a single announcement explaining why, far less an apology for the delay. It’s a classic example of poor customer service. It’s not as if the PA isn’t working as the Conductor’s just announced the next station stop!
To add insult to injury, when we approached Leeds the Conductor treated us to the usual long-winded announcement about tickets, security and luggage yet she completely neglected to mention the we were late, never mind even offer an apology! This is simple, basic customer service and it’s where the railway is so inconsistent.
In complete contrast, I’m now on LNER’s 09:15 to Kings Cross. Before we left the Train Manager announced this Mk4 set was short formed (it’s had coach C knocked out for unscheduled maintenance) and offered repeated apologies to passengers with reservations, telling them which coaches had spare seats.
Talking of maintenance, due to the current shortage of Class 91s, I have this on my train! 90036 ‘Driver Jack Mills’
I’ve been too busy to blog these past few hours as I’ve been constantly on the move. I changed trains at Stevenage in order to catch a Siemens ‘people-lover’s in the shape of a 12 car Class 700 to Finsbury Park, then backtracked to my old stamping ground of Harringay on a decript Great Northern Class 313.
Walking down to Green Lanes evoked lots of memories. Far too many to share here. It’s still as vibrant an area as ever with some fantastic Turkish cafe’s and brilliant greengrocers. My destination was the station which bisects the lane high up on an embankment. The ‘Goblin’ as the Gospel Oak to Barking line is known was electrified last year. The electrification was completed late. Even so, the new Bombardier built Class 710 electric trains that were being built for it were even later and still haven’t entered service. The problem is, the old diesels were due elsewhere. Some have already left and the last three will depart on March 18th. As a stopgap, London Overground have converted three Class 378s from five cars to four and are using them instead. Here’s one at Green Lanes earlier.
It’s really rather odd seeing these units on the Goblin as they make you feel you’re on the wrong route and are really on the North London Line!
I’m now hopping across London from Finsbury Park to Brixton via the new Thameslink tunnel, Blackfriars and Herne Hill.
I’m heading Northwards again now after a busy day. It was lovely being back in Brixton again. Living in the Pennines is lovely because of the scenery, but I do miss the hustle and bustle of London and the sheer diversity of the place. After picking up two big bags of slides I had time for a mooch around the Brixton arcade which was very quiet as it was the end of the day. It’s gone upmarket. Now there’s lots of great looking little bars and cafes as we as all the butchers and fishmongers.
On my way back across town I cracked open the slide packets to see what there was and some wonderful memories came flooding back. The pictures date from 1990 to 2003. They’re a mix of social issues and travel photography from across the UK, along with some rail images. I’ve found memories of old friends and places, my days working as a Housing Officer in East London and a whole host of demonstrations and protests. There the Iraq war, ‘Fair’ fuel protest, anti Afgahan war and more. There’s even my nephews and neices! One day, I’ll find time to get the most valuable ones scanned…
Well, my journey back all went a bit Pete Tong too due to late trains and dodgy connections. The East Coast Main Line has had another difficult day due to obstructions on the line and train failures. I won’t go in to much detail as I’d be typing a few thousand words. I did end up ‘doing a Jeremy Corbyn’ on my train out of London but in the peak that’s to be expected!
I’m now on a Cross-country service from York to Leeds! The bright side was that I managed to get a shot of an LNER liveried ‘Azuma’ under York station roof.
It’s definitely been ‘one of those days’! My 125mph capable Voyager got stuck behind a late local service and staggered to Leeds where it arrived 10 mins late, so that was another connection missed. I’m now on the 21:39 Leeds-Manchester Victoria instead.
It’s time to bring this rolling blog to an end. It’s been a chilly walk home but, judging by the amount of salt scattered on the roads around Halifax, worse is to come. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. Goodnight folks!
It’s a beautiful morning in London and the sun’s already cracking the flags. I’m sipping coffee in my hotel room in preparation for the day ahead whilst recovering from last night.
Yesterday’s Bradshaw address was a very interesting event, not so much because we learned a huge amount about what will be in the forthcoming Williams report (we didn’t) more because the event was packed with the great and the good from the railway industry and everyone talks. Afterwards, the Rail Delivery Group held an informal get-together for the media and other colleagues, which was just as informative as the main event, but Chatham House rules and all that. All I will say is that the night ended in the company of a long-time friend called Rupert (whom most in the rail industry will know) so it it was great fun, but I’m paying for it this morning!
I’m going to make my way home by meandering up the East Coast Main Line and have a look at some of the huge changes that are taking place as I go, so expect lots of words an pictures later…
After leaving my hotel near Kings Cross I walked over to Euston to check out progress on building Hs2, the new high-speed railway. Every time I visit something’s changed. There’s a huge amount of work going on as old buildings are torn down to make way for the expanded station, which is spreading to the West. I couldn’t help but crack a grin at seeing all the work going on then thinking of the few remaining Hs2 antis on Twitter who insist that none of this work means Hs2 is actually being built! Talk about kidding yourself!
Afterwards I headed back to King Cross to begin my meander North by catching a Great Northern service as far at Potters Bar, a place I have mixed memories of, and this is why.
Within an hour of the crash happening I got a phone call to my North London home from RAIL magazine, commissioning me to cover the accident. I ended up spending several days at the scene, documenting the tragedy and the subsequent recovery operation. Journalists from all over the place had been scrambled to cover what was a major news story. The best vantage point was stop a wooden fence in the beer garden adjacent car park, which is where many of us ended up. I remember helping a rather posh middle-aged woman to climb the fence and we got chatting. She explains that she was a photographer who normally worked for ‘Horse and Hound’ magazine but had got a call because she lived in the area!
After the first couple of days the weather turned an rain set in, which bade life difficult for everybody. A huge crane had been set up to remove the car of the crashed train that was wedged under the station canopy and we were all keen to get a shot of the lift, this meant hanging around for hours and many of us took shelter in the pub! ITN had set up a huge cherry picker in the pub car park which they used for filming. Whilst they were waiting to go on air the ITN crew joined us in the pub and I got talking to Nicholas McGinty, their reporter. Nick wasn’t exactly dressed for the weather so I lent him my waterproof jacket whilst he did his piece to camera. In return, he arranged for me to go up in the cherry picker to get pictures! We met again a few years later at another rail tragedy, Ufton Herbert, Nick remembered me and I got another go in that cherry picker too. Thankfully, those times have changed and there hasn’t been a fatal rail crash since 2007.
I stopped off at a famous bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line, the two track section at Welwyn North. There’s been talk of quadrupling this section for decades but it’s no easy (or cheap) task at it contains a lengthy viaduct and two tunnels.
I’ve slowly been making my way up the East Coast Main Line, making the most of the stunning weather to top up my photo library with shots at some locations I’ve not visited in years.
It’s been an interesting experience that’s brought back many happy memories but also shown me how rapidly this stretch of railway’s changing. All the Great Northern services to Peterborough are now worked by the Siemens built, 12-car Class 700s. Now they go via St Pancras Thameslink and across London to Horsham instead of terminating at Kings Cross. The intercity fleets are changing too. Hitachi built Class 800s are up and down on test on a regular basis and are due to start displacing the BR built HSTs and Class 91s in a matter of months. They’ll also replace Hull Trains Class 180s. It’s not just the trains either. Network Rail is busy renewing the overhead lines and replacing cable headspans with portals.
I’m gradually getting North now after stops at Peterborough and Grantham. It’s such a gorgeous day that I want to make the most of the weather and get a few more shots in the can. Sadly, after all the rebuilding that’s gone on, Peterborough isn’t the photo opportunity it once was. That said, it’s interesting to observe operations there. The amount of intermodal freight trains that have to cut across the Northern approaches to the station to get to the Ely route and on to Felixstowe must be a train planner’s nightmare! No wonder Network Rail are building the dive-under from the GN/GE joint line.
I’m on the last leg after a final change of trains at Doncaster. Yet another LNER ‘Azuma’ flew past, luckily in full branding. That done, I couldn’t resist a visit to the Draughtsman, the tiny real ale bar on the station which opened in 2017.
Now I’m on Grand Central’s 18:04 service to Bradford Interchange, which takes me straight to Halifax and home. Tomorrow’s weather forecast isn’t great. The run of fantastic weather’s coming to an end, so it’ll give me chance to have a day at home catching up on paperwork and plans – as well as editing all the pictures that I’ve taken over the past couple of days!
Right, time for a ‘swifty’ in my local before heading home. It’s goodnight from me…