I’m currently heading up to Scotland as part of a recce for a job and to get some library pictures. Only to say that it’s all going a bit pear-shaped is an understatement!
The trip started well. My train from Sowerby Bridge to Preston was worked by a pair of ex-GWR Class 153s and I had no trouble securing a table on which to set up my laptop and do some work en-route. The ex-GWR units are comfortable enough and the journey flew. At Preston I managed to race across platforms to catch the 09:41 Virgin service to Glasgow. Congratulating myself on making the connection I looked for somewhere to sit and found the train was only around 30% full, making it easy to get a seat with a table and power socket in Coach C. I even treated myself to a ‘meal deal’ for £5.50 as I hadn’t had time to have breakfast. To catch up on some work I bought myself the £10 for 7 days wifi access, but I have to say the speeds are a bit pedestrian. The wifi was good when it was first introduced, but now that the world and his wife’s carrying a gizmo that can connect to it, it’s far too overloaded, and sloooowww…
Bowling North through under some turbulent skies everything was fine until we got to Carlisle where we sat, and sat and sat. Eventually the Train Manager came on the PA (apologised for not having done earlier) and explained a combination of a fault on the train and a signalling problem had delayed us by 25 minutes. Finally, we were on the move and I enjoyed watching the Scottish borderlands fly by and the weather improve. Then we came to a halt outside Carstairs…
Very quickly the Train Manager was back on the PA. You could hear the pain in his voice as he explained that there was another signalling fault ahead and that we were expected to be delayed by another 30 minutes. His apologies were profuse.
So here we sit. It’s 12.20. I should have been in Glasgow 21 minutes ago…
We’re on the move, but how far? As we crawl closer to Carstairs I can see another Pendolino slowly rounding the curve from the station towards Edinburgh. We’ve passed another heading South in the station and now we’re free and accelerating to line-speed. Phew!
Well, I made it to Glasgow and hour late, which rather cut down on what I was planning to do as this was a flying visit after all. Still, I did get chance to have a look at the work that’s being done to improve Glasgow Queen St – which really has made a huge difference to how it looks. The awful 1960’s buildings that boxed it in have been demolished, so now it’s possible to appreciate the span of the roof – in the same process that’s made such a huge difference to Liverpool Lime St station.
Goodbye to all that…The arch of Glasgow Queen St emerges from the ruins. Note the North British lettering on the building in the background
I also managed a quick trip on a ‘happy train’, which is the nickname given to the Class 365 EMUs that are on short term lease to Scotrail whilst the technical issues with Hitachi’s new EMU’s are sorted out. I’m a fan of the 365 as I used them all the time when I lived in London. To my mind they’re the best of the BR built EMUs. I was impressed with their performance in Scotland as I took one as far as Falkirk High. They go like stink! On the return I travelled on a modern Siemens Class 380. The passenger ambience is better as they have a/c, plug sockets and bigger tables, but the acceleration was little different.
Ex-GTR Class 365 ‘happy trains’ No’s 365537 and 365509 call at Falkirk High whilst working a service from Glasgow to Edinburgh
Now I’m heading back South on the 17:40 Pendolino. I’d loved to have stayed in Scotland longer but I’m back on ACoRP judging duty for the next three days and I’ve got to get home and back as I’m off to Dawlish in the morning!
I’m kicking my heels in Preston waiting for my connection, so there’s time to use the wifi and upload a few pictures. I’m kicking myself as it’s been a beautiful evening which would have been ideal for some lineside pictures, but I’ve no time to spare…