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Rolling blog: home again, out again…

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12:30.

I’ve been working from my satellite workplace in Huddersfield this morning, occupying an empty desk at the ACoRP office as I had to be in the town for a dental appointment first thing. The weather’s dismal, so I’ve not minded being stuck indoors editing pictures for a client before sending them out via the web. The old days of burning them to DVDs then sticking them in the post seem as antiquated as taking pictures on slide film. Now I can send up to 2 Gb of pictures via Wetransfer almost instantly – for free!

That little chore done I can concentrate on editing a few pictures whilst on the move – if I can find space on the train. It’s all very well folks talking about the value of doing that, but it’s very dependent on getting a seat and space to work, which often no easy feat on our increasingly crowded network.

Right, time to head out. Let’s see what happens…

14:29.

Despite forgetting my passport, I’ve ventured West of the Pennines into Lancashire to pay a flying visit to Preston. I changed trains at Bolton station, which is hoping to undergo a bit of a renaissance, assisted by the father of community rail – Professor Paul Salveson and the station friends group. The huge old buildings retain many original features and offer some interesting retail opportunities. Fancy opening a real ale bar on the station?

Ironically, despite the line having been electrified last October, my train from Bolton to Preston’s a refurbished two-car Class 156, not an EMU.

En route we called at Buckshaw Parkway, which is a station recently opened to serve the massive new residential and commercial development that’s being built on the site of the old Royal Ordnance factory at Euxton. The full car park bears witness to the success of the station. I need to pay a visit in the right weather to get some pictures as an illustration.

17:06

I’m leaving Preston now after a productive if frustrating time. There’s a lot of STP (Special Train Plan) times set up in the railway timetable system for the new Northern and TPE trains out on teat, but not all of them are used and it’s all a bit hit and miss. Quite a few are meant to reverse in the goods loops but it’s clear they’re normally sent into platforms instead to allow staff off and on if needed.

Still, it provides plenty of exercise running up and down stairs and platforms as you try and get a decent shot! I found three different Notrthern units on test today. Two 3-cars and a 2-car. Sadly, none of the TPE sets were out and about. Now I’m sending my way back on an older ‘new’ Northern train, at least as far as Wigan anyway…

17:59.

True to my word, I changed trains at Wigan. I got a telling off last time I blogged about the town as I was less than complimentary!

Here’s today’s experiences. Wandering between the two stations (it doesn’t take long) I noticed the old ‘Swan and Railway’ pub immediately opposite North Western station had closed down and was being turned into I know not what.

To say the pub had a certain reputation as a place where you wiped your feet on the way out will be endorsed by a few old railway enthusiast friends. The tragic thing is that the pub and the adjoining facade are really attractive. In another town they’d probably be prized because of their location.

Meanwhile, the pub next door to Wallgate station has also closed down. The building’s been reopened as a supermarket.

That said, it’s not all negative. Wallgate station’s been restored and the local station friends group (the Wigan Wallflowers) have done a fantastic job creating a garden and lovely plant display on the station. Here’s their new train.

18:14.

I’m currently on the train home to Sowerby Bridge from Wigan, travelling along a railway line I’ve been familiar with since the very early 1970s.

Sadly, (although I travelled on it as a young kid in the 1960s) I only ever remember the years of BR rationalisation and the 1980s industrial decline. This used to be a four-track Lancashire & Yorkshire railway main line that avoided Bolton so cut journey times from Manchester to Liverpool and Southport. In the late BR years it was a pale shadow of its former self.

Now, as I traverse it, I can see a huge amount of vegetation clearance and work being done to improve station amenities. Years of decline are being arrested. The ‘glory’ days will never be restored as the coal and steel industries will never come back, but even so…

I can see I need to have a day out here just to document the changes.

19:06.

The train’s now back in West Yorkshire as we’ve just exited the Summit tunnel. Whilst there’s so much I could blog about I’m going to bring this one to an end. Dawn’s meeting me at the station so that we can pick up some supplies in Sowerby Bridge, but it’s going to be an early night for me as I’m on an 06:00 train from Halifax in the morning as I have an assignment in London.

Tomorrow, RAIL magazine and I will be visiting the HS2 construction work at Euston so watch out for another tolling blog. .

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Rolling blog: more wandering.

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06:50.

It’s a soggy start to the day here in the Calder Valley, but looking at the forecast the situation seems to be the same over much of the country, so my photographic opportunities may be a bit limited today. Right now my first job is to head off to the station without getting too wet and begin my trip Southwards to London. Let’s see how things go…Here’s the view across the Calder Valley and Sowerby Bridge this morning.

On the bright side, the train’s mostly drizzle.

0740.

I made it to the station without breaking my neck anyways. The problem is the Yorkshire stone pavements around here look pretty, but they’re like an ice rink when they’re wet. You never know when you’re likely to go arse over tit, so in this weather I usually walk on the road, although that has its own risks this time of morning as car drivers are rushing to get to work.I arrived just in time to catch the late running 07:23 to Leeds which had left Huddersfield 7 mins late. I was surprised to see it was worked by a rather tired looking single car Class 153, which could prove to be interesting to say the least…Sure enough, we’ve just called at the new Low Moor station and now we’re full and standing!

07:48.

The situation didn’t ease at Bradford Interchange as hardly anyone got off. Fortunately, hardly anyone got on either.08:00.We’ve now called at New Pudsey which was packed with people expecting the Grand Central relief service from Hebden Bridge to Leeds. There were several looks of consternation when our little ‘dogbox’ rolled in. It’s now very cosy aboard!

08:43.

After spewing out its load of weary commuters, our little 153 filled up completely once more, this time working to Brighouse. I was surprised how many people were travelling in the opposite direction – presumably to work in Bradford. As usual, the station was teeming with commuters coming into the city. The place is the 3rd busiest outside of London with a footfall of over 31.1 million souls so the morning and evening peaks can be quite intense. With that in mind I hung around to see the Grand Central service from Hebden Bridge disgorge its load. The Class 180 stopped at the far end of platform 11, allowing the human wave to flood along the platform and also swamp the bridge over to platform 8.

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Now I understand why this train’s such a valuable service!09:15.I’m now on the way to London aboard LNER’s 08:45 to Kings Cross which is dashing through the wet Yorkshire countryside at a very respectable pace. It’s not too busy so I’ve managed to bag a table, plug in the laptop and set to work.

10:20.

The rain’s never let up all the way, now we’re speeding towards Huntingdon after calling at a very damp Peterborough where there were more puddles than passengers.The railway in this neck of the woods is rather different to my experiences this morning. You’ll still get single car Class 153s at Peterborough, but this stretch of the East Coast Main line’s dominated by 8-12 car Class 700s from Siemens and LNER expresses. The shortest trains you’ll see now are the Class 180s used by open access operators Hull Trains and Grand Central. I must admit I’m looking forward to sampling LNER’s new Hitachi built Azuma’s when they enter service later this month.10:44.We’ve just sped through Welwyn Garden City where more new trains are evident. A Siemens built Class 717 was waiting to return to London on a Moorgate working. They’re such an improvement over the old 313s, which I don’t think many passengers will be sorry to see the back of.

12:12.

Due to the power of social media and serendipity I’ve just had a meeting with an old friend and RAIL colleague Richard Clinnick as we were both passing through Kings Cross – albeit in different directions!Now I’ve headed across London on something a little bigger and busier than my first train of the day.

I’m now at the Rail Delivery Group offices in Aldersgate for a meeting. It’s an area I used to know well but for a very different reason. It was during my days in housing, when I was on the board of the old National Federation of Housing Co-ops.

13:56.

After a successful meeting I came out of RDG to find the weather was breaking and the sun was making a bid to shine. This made me head over to Euston to get some pictures of the Hs2 work that’s in full swing. Ironically, I’ll now be back here again on an assignment. Demolitions are ramping up. A few months ago this was the site of the old ‘Bree Louise’ pub and hotels.

Whilst I was here I bumped into a rather sad little StopHs2 demonstration outside the Euston Tap. Apparently, a couple of people had ended up here after walking the length of the Phase 1 route. A tiny group of no more than a couple of dozen folk,including Joe Rukin and the inflatable elephant, some paid lobbyists from the ‘Taxpayers Alliance’ and a trio of ‘Extinction Rebellion’ placard wavers were here to greet them and try to drum up media interest. Needless to say, they were vastly outnumbered by the people wearing Hs2 high vis who are gainfully employed on the project! It was all rather farcical. The genuine protesters (not paid lobbyists, media or hangers on) were almost exclusively retired. When you consider that 6.5 million folk live on the route of Hs2 and this (in one of their supposed strongholds, Camden) was the best they could do…

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The guy in the green ‘Taxpayers Alliance’ windcheater was one of several at the demonstration. The TPA is a political lobbying group that refuses to admit who funds it. One thing’s for sure, it’s not ordinary taxpayers!

14:29.

I left the sad spectacle of the Stop Hs2 flop behind by catching a train from Euston Northwards as far as Bletchley, for a trip across to Bedford on one of the new Vivarail class 230s.

16:21.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The 15:51 departure to Bedford failed with a defective power unit and had to be swapped. This took over half an hour – in the middle of a thunder and hailstorm! So, rather than tempt the fates further I changed plans and caught a train to Milton Keynes after getting a few pictures. It was a shame as I had chance to have a look around the train before it was declared a failure. Vivarail have done a really good job with them. The interiors are very smart, they look comfortable, have a range of seating as well as plenty of power points and USB sockets.

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17:13.

Now I’m speeding towards Manchester on a rather different conveyance, one of Alstom’s 11 car Pendolino’s. I don’t get to travel on them anywhere near as much as I used to, but their performance never fails to impress – or the way they tilt through curves.

18:32.

Back in Manchester.

22:08.

I’m now back in the bosom of Yorkshire and bringing this blog to a close. See you all tomorrow!

Back to the keyboard…

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To be honest, I never left it. It was just my energies have been directed at other things than blogging over the long weekend. I’ve got plenty of things to write about, just not the time to do it as I’ve been concentrating on picture editing and also time with my wife. Well, it was a bank holiday!

Anyone who visits my Zenfolio picture website will notice that rather a lot of recent pictures have been uploaded. There’s lots more to come as I’m going to be out and about quite a bit over the next few weeks. I’m back in London tomorrow for a meeting with a client, so expect both a rolling blog and pictures. Meanwhile, I’ve still got a blog about the rebirth of the station building at Mytholmroyd to complete. Expect that shortly. There’s one or two interesting jobs coming up soon too which should add more fun and I’ve not even touched on the continuing political farce that’s the Brexit shambles. No doubt I’ll have the chance to vent my spleen soon! I’d have loved to have done so after the local elections and the way ‘Magic Grandad’ (aka Jeremy Corbyn) managed to spin his party’s appalling showing as an endorsement of him wanting Brexit.

Right, it’s time to go, but I will leave you with one last picture. One of today’s chores was sorting out my picture database and filing all the backups to ensure nothing can get lost and also free up space on my laptop. Yesterday Richard Wellings, a self-styled transport ‘expert’ from the shadowy lobby group the ‘Institute for Economic Affairs’ tried to make hay out of an article claiming 500 Crossrail train drivers are getting paid for doing nothing because the central core has been delayed. Wellings knows sod all about railways, he just spouts whatever line his anonymous paymasters tell him to, so of course, he didn’t realise that Crossrail are already running trains under the TfL Rail banner either side of the core. Funnily enough I’d pictured several a few days before. Here’s one at Paddington on May day. Pop over to Liverpool St and you’ll see plenty more!

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Genuine rail expert William Barter put Wellings in his place on Twitter.

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A history of stop Hs2 petitions and their failures.

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There’s been a real embarrassment of riches recently. We’ve had not one, but three petitions on the Government website about trying to stop Hs2! The first one closed on the 24th April, having received just 16,356 signatures. I’ve not had the time to crunch the numbers on it yet, but the map makes it very obvious where the most signatures came from, and yes – it was from a tiny bunch of Nimbys on the route! It’s easy to trace where phase 1 of HS2 is going on here!

map 1

Just before that petition closed, the Editor of the Bucks Herald started another, which runs until the 17th October (see this blog). After just 16 days it’s already run out of steam and underperforming on its daily target. At the time of writing it’s received just 7,802 signatures. Let’s have a look at what the signature map tells us, shall we?

map 2

My, what a surprise – it’s almost identical to the first! The constituencies Hs2 phase 1 are clearly visible, along with a couple that Phase 2 passes through! So much for the idea those opposed to Hs2 aren’t Nimbys! Now, lets have a look at the very latest petition which was started by Joe Rukin of StopHs2 six days ago. So far it’s not reached ‘peak Nimby’ and it’s been touted by some environmental groups and celebrities like Chris Packham. Now, on that basis you expect it would have far greater coverage, wouldn’t you? Let’s have a look at the map then…

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Well, well, well, it’s almost identical to the other two! The only major difference is the numbers of constituencies (in grey) where no-one’s signed it! Yet again, the route of Hs2 Phase 1 sticks out like a sore thumb!

Bear in mind that 6.5 million people live in the constituencies that Hs2 passes through. So, if all these people are against the project, why are the numbers of signatures so small? Even the last doomed petition which closed in 2018 didn’t make it to 30,000 signatures (link).

Just for a bit of fun, let’s have a look at the map for the 2018 petition. Can you guess what it’ll look like?

map 6

Well, blow me down with a feather! Spot the route of HS2!

The only question now about the two active petitions is what number they’ll fail at. Rooting through some archives I came across an even earlier petition, started by Rukin back in 2012. That closed on the 4th August after getting a measly 26,262 signatures!

map 5

These petitions do make me laugh, all they ever do is expose the fact the Stop Hs2 ‘campaign’ is (in reality) driven by a tiny bunch of people living close to the route of the line. Despite all their claims about the ‘majority’ of the UK opposing Hs2 they can never get more than a few thousand signatures on a petition, but they never learn…

Rolling blog: another diverse day…

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10:23I’m currently on a train to Leeds after being a guest of the friends of Mytholmroyd station who invited myself and local stakeholders to view the restored 1874 station building. I have to admit, I was amazed – both by the size of the building, and the quality of the work. It was a privilege to be invited and have chance to take pictures. I’ll blog a selection separately later. Here’s Geoff Mitchell of the friends group welcoming us in the ground floor booking hall. Also present were two former members of station staff who worked here in the 1960s! The old ticket office window can be seen in the background.Old buildings like this are a pleasure to photograph because of the shadows and light.

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The original ticket desk in the old ticket office has been restored.

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The staircase in the public side of the building, linking the three floors.

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One of the restored rooms in the old Stationmaster’s residence which has been derelict since the 1960’s

Right now I’m off to look for something completely different and bang up to date. I’m looking for the new trains being built for Northern services that will mean the end of the Pacers.12:34.I’m currently at Doncaster, along with 3 of Northern’s new 4-car Class 331 EMUs which are here for driver training and testing.DG322061cropTwo more (331102 and 331105) are stabled in the nearby sidings.DG322072cropI’m looking forward to these trains entering service as they’re a real step-change to the ones they’re replacing.16:11.I’m back at Leeds on my way home after getting various shots at Doncaster. It’s a shame the weather was so overcast, but I shouldn’t complain as the forecast was worse. It’s been a good end to the working week as in-between taking pictures I’ve spent a fair bit of time lining up several jobs that will keep me occupied for the next few weeks. I’ll blog about them in good time. In the meantime, here’s a shot of the decluttered concourse at Leeds station which was built by the LMS railway. There’s some heritage trains in heritage deliveries knocking around too. This is a former Scotrail Class 156 in the old First group livery that reminds me of when they ran the North-western franchise post privatisationRight, time for home…

Time to catch up with myself.

After spending the best part of a week travelling in the UK and Austria I’ve rather enjoyed having a day at home to start catching up with the plethora of pictures and notes. Mind you, the weather’s been conducive because today we’ve had some cracking showers and dark brooding skies that would’ve suited a horror/end of the world sort of movie.

After wading through my email inbox the first task was to get a load of old slides that I’d scanned last week edited and onto my website. Here’s a sample, taken in April 2000.

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And people complain about Pacers! On the 12th April 2000 1st generation diesel multiple units Numbers 51189. 54085 and 53211 sit at Manchester Piccadilly. Unit 101657 was ready to work the 13.08 to Rose Hill Marple.

I’m gradually wading through several hundred new pictures to load to my Zenfolio website (you can find them here). I hope to have the job finished by the weekend, but I’m on the road again tomorrow as I’m visiting the rebuilt station building at nearby Mytholmroyd tomorrow along with the local station friends group who’ve been the powerhouses behind the project.

Meanwhile, here’s a shot from yesterday, showing how much services out of Paddington station in London have changed.

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Gone (mostly) are the diesel ‘Thames Turbos’ that dominated suburban services out of Paddington since the early 1990s. On the left we have one of GWR’s ‘Electrostars’ which have taken their place on most Thames Valley services. On the right is a new ‘Aventra’ which is working the London Overground services to Hayes and Harlington. 

 

Rolling blog: back in Britain…

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07:00

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…

09:06.

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.

10:11.

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.

11:02

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.

12:42

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.

14:31

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.

16:07.

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!

19:58.

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.

Rolling blog: the Viennese whirl, part 3.

07:13 (all times in German time for now).Another day, another early start. The weather’s pretty dismal in Vienna today but there’s lots to look forward to before I fly back to the UK later. At least I managed some decent sleep – even if there wasn’t enough of it! Here’s the view from my hotel room, looking back to the hill and the location of the vineyard we ate at last night.

The hotel’s in two parts as there’s offices above until you get to the roof, where there’s a restaurant and bar. Here’s the view from last night.

08:35After an excellent breakfast we’ve checked out of our hotel and been loaded into a coach to head off to our first assignment. The chance to see an autonomous bus at the new Viennese suburb of Aspern Seestadt.10:08.Here’s the bus we came to see.

The whole area’s fascinating. The suburb’s designed to be a modern city that has a low ecological impact. I’ll add some more details and links later. Right now we’re on the move again..11.29.We’re currently being conducted around Siemens Vienna factory which is building a variety of main line, metro and light rail vehicles. Here’s new vehicles being constructed for Nuremberg.

This is one of the cars for the Rhine-Ruhr Express.

13:32.

It’s been a fascinating tour of the Siemens factory and chance to learn a lot about developments at the plant since my last visit in 2012. I’ll add more pictures and details later. Right now it’s time to head off to the airport and begin the journey back to the UK…

14:51

A small group of the British contingent and a friend from Siemens UK are now camped out at Vienna’s Terminal 3 where we’ve got a couple of hours to kick our heels before we catch the plane to Heathrow. Sadly, this new terminal has been ‘Jamie Olivered’. I’ve nothing against the guy but when all three eateries in the place are his, it’s a bit overkill!

May 1st Update.

I’ll add more to the end of this rolling blog when I get home. Right now, another day’s got in the way!

Rolling blog: the Viennese whirl, part 2.

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05:05.Oh, the joys of early starts. Here’s Heathrow terminal 2 as I wait for Austrian airlines 06:00 flight to Vienna.As airport terminals go T2 is one of the better ones, even if it can be a long walk to your gate. I’m flying from B47, which is a long way from the main terminal. To get there you disappear deep underground and cross a large chunk of the airport via travelators.05:48.Having bumped into another colleague at the gate we’re now on board and waiting for take-off. The musak on the plane is the Viennese waltz used in “2001, a space odyssey” when the Pan-Am space shuttle is docking with the space station. Hopefully, my flight will be less problematic. Next stop, Vienna!09:32We had a pretty good flight, although much of mainland Europe was covered in cloud. Ironically, this made the numerous power stations we passed even more obvious.Now we’re stuck in our chauffeured limo which has taken 25 mins to move 200 metres! The queues to get out of the airport car parks are horrendous!10:03.We’re still in the limo. Having finally escaped the airport we’re now enjoying a tour of industrial Vienna (docks, chemical plants etc) en-route to the hotel.10:33.Finally, we’ve arrived at the hotel. Nice!11:27Journalists from various EU countries have all gathered at the hotel, now we’re being bussed to Siemens HQ for lunch.12:33Chance to eat before the hard work starts. The foods very good and beats the sandwiches that are a staple of so many UK events.13:00.The presentations are underway. The first one I’m attending is on autonomous trams. Siemens have one test system running in Potsdam, but (like the concept of driverless cars) it would be many years before a successful system could be developed and rolled out – if at all. The concept is far more suitable for closed systems rather than unpredictable streets. Think of Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester!The second presentation is an interesting one on ‘digital solutions for seamless transportation’. How technology is allowing people to access the information they need to choose integrated transport options.The mining and analysis of data from peoples travel plans is fascinating! I’ve now learned that the band Depeche Mode has a strong following in the former East Berlin because the band gave a concert there before the wall came down and this fan base can still be seen in data today!15:11.The third and final session of the day is “Seamless digital chain in material supply – the easy spares app”. How a mobile phone app can identify parts of a vehicle, find the spare part number and order it for you – amongst other things!

Rolling blog: The Viennese whirl, Part 1.

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18:56.

It’s Sunday evening and I’m on my way from Halifax to Heathrow in readiness to fly out to Vienna in the morning for a press trip to see what Siemens have been up to ahead of the UITP conference. We’ll be seeing the latest cutting-edge transport technology, but the start of my trip is on the antithesis of all that – an old BR built ‘Pacer’ eking out the last months of its life after decades of service acro2ss Yorkshire…

19:45

Having bounced our way sedately and peacefully to Leeds (the train was very quiet as only a handful of passengers were aboard) I’m now on something a little more modern, but also soon to be displaced. I caught LNERs 19:46 Leeds – Kings Cross which is worked by a Mk4 set of coaches pushed by a Class 90 (90026) hired in from DB.

The joys of TDM control mean the set judders like it’s got St Vitus dance. The effect is magnified by the fact I’m in the coach nearest the loco, thank God I’m only on this to Doncaster as it’s taken me 10 mins to type this ‘cos my fingers are all over the place and my ‘spull chucker’ is working overtime!

21:13.

I’m on my way again after a pause at a rather deserted Doncaster. Much of the station had shut up shop and from what I could see the town wasn’t far behind. The platforms were patrolled by the British Transport Police, who clearly expected some form of fracas, although the place was quiet when I passed through. The only thing that was open was a branch of ‘Subway’, which was doing steady business.

The train I’m on now is LNER’s 18:00 Edinburgh to Kings Cross. I took a stroll from the coach I’m sitting in (C) to the buffet and did a head count. It’s good! I don’t know what the ticket yield is, but judging by the number of folk on the train, it’s certainly more then paying its way.

23:20

I’m heading for Heathrow on an old friend – the Piccadilly line. There are so many memories attached to it – apart ftom Heathrow. Back in the very early 1980s I used to use it to get to Manor House in North London where an old friend from Southport lived. Mary and I had a fling for a whole, so I used to hitch-hike from Southport to London at weekends to see her. Mary had rented a room with a very orthodox Jewish family, this meant I had to make sure I turned up before sunset, otherwise the door wouldn’t be answered & Mary would have to throw her keys out’ve the window! A decade later, when I was living in London with Lynn in Crouch End, the Piccadilly was one of our local lines. We’d have to get the bus to Finsbury Park to connect with the Picc or the Vic, but they took us to so many places, and to do many memories. Now, Dawn and I use it to head North from Heathrow- although the journey nowadays is a bit further north than Crouch End!

Looking around this train I realise what I miss with living in West Yorkshire. There’s 40 plus folk in this car and I’m probably the oldest one! It’s a young multi-racial crowd, a world away from some of the ‘old’ bits in West Yorkshire who’re still re- fighting the second world war.