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Down memory lane. No 5. Semaphore signals

I’ve been busy scanning old slides today, trying to make a dent in the 1000s that I have sitting in albums which have never seen the light of day since I took them. They never made it onto my old website due to time constraints. Now, I look back at them and remember the old Joni Mitchell song ‘Big yellow taxi’ and the lyrics that “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”…

The selection of slides that I’ve been scanning date from June 1995. I reckon they’re from when I took a break from London and headed back to base myself with my family in Southport in order to travel the North-West. The picture that really caught my eye was taken in Hexham. It wasn’t about trains but semaphore signals – and this one in particular. Now, I’ve always enjoyed the beauty and variety of railway semaphores, and as an old railway volunteer I’ve climbed a few in my time. But I’m not sure I’d have fancied spending much time up this example.

04828. Lattice post bracket signal. Heading for Newcastle. Hexham. 14.6.1995

This particular signal’s long-gone – although I couldn’t tell you the date it disappeared. What strikes me about it is the height. The photograph’s taken from the station footbridge which is the reason the signal was so tall – it needed to be seen by trains approaching it. I don’t know the exact height, but it must be a good 25 ft tall. In a concession to late 20th century safety standards, there’s a (partial) cage around the ladder but little to protect you on the platform at the top.

Cast your minds back 60 years or less when the oil lamp that illuminated this signal would be needed to be changed every day – come rain or shine. A lamp man or signalman would climb this ladder twice a day. I’m sure it gave great views, but can you imagine standing up there in winter (on slippery wooden slats, in rudimentary PPE, with no harness) when it’s either chucking it down or blowing a gale and the post is swaying like a drunk on the way back from the pub? No wonder so many railwaymen were injured in the course of their careers.

The irony for me was that the very day I was scanning this picture the modern railway was talking about the ‘digital railway’ which has the chance to do away with this signals replacement & get rid of ‘lights on sticks’ completely.

Meanwhile, for nostalgia buffs, here’s a close-up of the old signalbox that you can see in the background. Unlike the semaphore it’s grade 2 listed. It was built by the North Eastern Railway around 1896. It will live on beyond its useful life, but many of its brethren are living on borrowed time…

04824. NER signalbox. Hexham. 14.6.1995

Now, contrast that signal with one of its modern replacements. There’s no paraffin lamps, there’s no ladders. You don’t climb to the signalhead, the signalhead comes to you!

DG289559. New signalling. Halifax. 19.2.18

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Huddersfield hiatus

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I’m working from my satellite office in Huddersfield (aka the ACoRP watertower) today as we’ve a funeral to attend this afternoon. Sadly, Dawn’s Uncle, Ronnie has passed away. On the bright side, he lived to the ripe old age of 93 so he had a good innings.

Today’s another Northern rail strike day so the station’s far quieter than normal. The place is littered with Pacers going nowhere. I can’t help feeling these strikes are futile, all they’re doing is losing the railway revenue and goodwill. Passengers are caught between a rock and a hard place with the intransigence of the RMT union and the determination of the DfT. One wants change, the other opposes it. But change is inevitable, it will come whether the union likes it or not – as railway history teaches us. Whether it was arguments about ‘secondmen’ in the past, or new fleets like the ‘Bedpan’ Class 317s being ‘blacked’ over DOO.

Talking of change, I’ve spotted these new PIS screens at the station which have only recently been installed.

They’re far more informative and much easier to see than the old ones. I hope they’re more accurate as well as previous ones weren’t ‘real time’ which meant the delay times were always all over the place as trains often seemed to move backwards and forwards at the speed of light.

This time of day you’d normally expect the stabling sidings to be devoid of Northern stock. Here’s what it’s like now.

 

Weekend wanderings

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After the stunning weather over the bank holiday weekend things have returned to normal here in the Pennines with the onset of low cloud and rain this afternoon. It’s such a shame as this morning was beautiful.

As I’d been away most of last week the pair of us decided to be home birds over the weekend, staying in the local area. Not that that’s a hardship as there’s some beautiful walks around the Calder valley. On Saturday we met up with a couple of friends in Sowerby Bridge for a night out and a catch-up. As the weather was so good we sat outside the recently refurbished Moorings pub by the canal. Whilst the weather was stunning the service was less than stellar. A particular hate of mine is bar staff who can’t (or won’t) keep track of customers, never look up or make eye-contact, so simply ask ‘who’s next’? – leaving it to customers to organise themselves which is OK(ish) when it’s not a scrum and the place isn’t full of drunks, but it doesn’t make for a great atmosphere. As it was it took ages to get served because of the young staff being so disorganised. It won’t encourage any of us to return.

The next part of our evening more than made up for it. We’ve often eaten at the Café Thai restaurant in nearby West Vale, which we discovered when it opened in a tiny corner shop back in 2011. Now it’s moved to bigger, swankier premises but the food matches the excellent standard they set in the early days. Recently they’ve expanded again by opening a separate restaurant upstairs which serves Thai tapas. It’s a concept that I wasn’t sure about but I have to say it really works – and the food was very good indeed. We’ve always enjoyed sharing dishes, so the tapas format works really well for us. We ordered two dishes each. I plumped for spicy raw mango salad with king
prawns and cashew nuts plus steamed mussels with Thai basil, served with a spicy seafood sauce, with chilli egg fried rice as a side order. Every dish was gorgeous – including the rice, which we all raved about! The food was beautifully presented too, as you can see from these pictures.

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The steamed mussels with Thai basil

Here’s Dawn’s choice, spicy raw mango salad with king prawns and cashew nuts.

20180505_190855 Our friends, Froso and Richard ordered the dish on the right, Steamed dumplings with minced pork, prawn and water chestnut, whilst I ordered the left-hand dish, Stir fried minced pork with hot yellow curry paste (Krua Kling, from Southern Thailand). The final dish in the picture is the bowl of rice.20180505_190813

This is another dish ordered by our friends, Deep fried corn cake with crab meat.

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I hope that whets your appetite! As you can see from the pictures, the food’s well presented and it tastes just as good as it looks. The meal was a great start to what was to be a lovely bank holiday.

On the Sunday we decided to enjoy the sunshine and work off the food with a long walk from home, through the Calder valley and up to Norland Moor to end up at one of our favourite pubs, which was having a bank holiday hog roast. We began by walking along our local canal, the Salter and Hebble navigation through to Copley, encountering this little critter on the way.

DGcrop 295561. Red eared Terrapin. Calder and Hebble Navigation. Copley. West Yorkshire. 6.5.18

I’m informed that it’s a Red-eared Terrapin. Apparently they became a ‘thing’ thanks to the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ cartoon and films, but like most pet fads, as soon as people got bored, they were let loose into the wild. I’ve seen lots of animals along the canal before (deer, mink, and all sorts of birds) but this is the first time I’ve spotted a Terrapin!

Leaving the canal we headed through West Vale and climbed up to the ridge high above Copley which affords excellent views over the valley, as you can see from this picture.

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You can see the 23 arch Copley viaduct which carries the railway from Manchester to Halifax. Built in 1851 it’s a grade 2 listed structure. In the background’s the Wainhouse Tower. Skirting the edge of the woodland we walked on to Norland Moor, the highest point of which is 932ft above sea level. Its 250 acres of heather moorland’s a popular place with dog-walkers and others. It’s a delightful place in summer but an endurance test in winter when the wind and rain sweeps across at gale force as there’s nothing to stand in its way but you!

 

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Norland Moor looking East

 

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Looking down over Sowerby Bridge and along the Calder Valley heading West from Norland Moor. 

 

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The rugged terrain of the moor with Sowerby Bridge in the distance. 

By now our final destination was close at hand. The Moorcock Inn sits at the edge of the moor. It’s a solid, two storey building that’s been a haven to many a walker over the years. It’s undergone several incarnations in the past few years and at one point looked like it was in danger of closing, but the new tenants have transformed the place.

(more shortly)…

 

 

 

When the StopHs2 campaign’s ‘out in force’ in Trowell!

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Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh at the antics of what’s left of the anti Hs2 campaign. It’s rare that I blog about them nowadays as there’s really nothing going on at a national level and very little at a local one either, but I couldn’t help but have a chuckle at this abject nonsense from today.

Apparently, two ‘action’ groups on the Phase 2b route (Trowell and Erewash) combined ‘forces’ to stage a march along part of the route of Hs2 in order to draw attention to the scheme. Instead, what they’ve drawn attention to is how few of them there are. Here’s the piece from the Nottingham Post, which helpfully provides a video and pictures (link). Don’t worry, the video doesn’t last long – this isn’t exactly on the scale of a Soviet military parade! I count around two dozen people (including babies) – as the photo illustrating the article demonstrates.

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So, let’s crunch some numbers. The Erewash constituency contains 95,778 people. The MP is Maggie Throup, who has voted to build Hs2. Trowell is in the Broxtowe constituency of MP Anna Soubry, who’s also voted to build Hs2. It contains 97,032 people. That’s a combined total of 192,810 people – of which two dozen have turned out to protest about Hs2.

One freelance journalist got a little carried away and described the demonstration on Twitter thus;

snow

I think Ms Snow may have confused the words force and farce…

There’s also a piece in the Derby Telegraph and a very optimistic interview with someone called Brent Poland, who claims they’re going to stop Hs2. How a few dozen people are going to do this without any political support (including from their own MPs) he never actually explains…

 

 

Coming soon: New Trains for the GN Moorgate lines

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Earlier this week I was a guest of Siemens and GTR, who allowed the press to have a look at the new Class 717 trains Siemens are building to replace the 42 year old, BR built Class 313s that work services from London Moorgate to Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City. The 313s are the oldest trains still in daily passenger service on the UK mainland. Having travelled over 150 million miles in their careers, they’re overdue retirement.

DG268105. 313018. Oakleigh Park. 27.3.17

On the 27th March 2017 a pair of Class 313’s with 313018 leading arrive at Oakleigh Park with a service to Moorgate.

Their replacements will be 25 6-car variants of the Desiro City. GTR already operate them as the Class 700s on Thameslink and Great Northern services in 8 and 12 car formations but the 717s are different in several ways. The main difference is that, because they have to work though the old single bore tunnels to Moorgate, they need to have a door in the cab front to allow passengers to be evacuated in an emergency. Unlike the 313s which use an old wooden ladder, the 717s are fitted with a folding staircase which can be deployed in seconds, either by train crew or passengers.

DG295238. Emergency ramp. 717005. Wildenrath. Germany. 2.5.18

Here’s a video of the staircase being deployed.

 

It’s safe to say the 717s are an enormous step-change from the old 313s as they’ll have air-conditioning, plug sockets, free wifi, a passenger information system (PIS) and an area for persons of reduced mobility. As the seats are cantilevered off the side of the body they’ll also have a lot more luggage space as well as be a lot easier to keep clean. The seating arrangements are also more spacious as they’re 2+2 not 3+2. Plus, there’s no chance of the seat squabs being thrown out of the hopper windows by vandals as often used to happen on the 313s! As the 717s are 6 cars with open gangways and not 2 3 cars coupled together they can carry a lot more passengers (albeit with less seats). Here’s the numbers.

313s: Seated 462. Standing 384. Total 846.

717s: Seated 362. Standing 581. Total 943.

As someone who used to live on the route and used these trains regularly I think this is the right balance. There’s no point in having more seats on a train if you can’t get on it to get to work and have to wait for the next one! But in the off-peak there should still be sufficient seats.

Other differences include the fact that, whilst the 313s maximum speed is 75mph, the 717s is 85mph. GTR told me that the higher speed, along with the 717s quicker acceleration and better braking will allow some minutes to shaved off the present timetable in the future. Also, the 25 717s will be covering 21 diagrams, so the slack in the fleet will allow for extra service to be introduced at some point. Reliability is a factor too. The MTIN figures (Miles per Technical Incident = failure rate) for the 313s is 6,000 whilst the 717s will be at least 10,000.

Right, enough of the number crunching. Meanwhile, over in Germany we started our day at Siemens Krefeld factory where the 717s are being built. First on the agenda was a briefing by Siemens (the train builders, GTR (the operators) and Rock Rail (the financiers). Here’s Richard Carrington, Siemens Project Director, rail systems giving us a run through of the project.

DG294992. Richard Carrington presents...Krefield. Germany. 2.5.18

After a thorough briefing on the 717s,  gave us a tour of the production line. Here’s the birth of a 717. After the individual aluminium sections are welded together the windows and doorways are cut out.

DG295028. Assembling Class 717 bodyshells. Krefield. Germany. 2.5.18

This is the upside down underframe of a 717 . Workers are positioning and welding in place brackets and other components. These used to be positioned using templates. Now, lasers mounted overhead mark out the positions.

DG295033. Assembling Class 717 bodyshells. Krefield. Germany. 2.5.18

In a building known as the ‘Cathedral’ the different body-shell parts (sides, floor, roof and ends) are welded together.

DG295070. Assembling Class 717 bodyshells. Krefield. Germany. 2.5.18

Once the bodyshell is complete it’s cleaned down before being taken to the paint shop where it’s given the livery of the company it’s going to be used/owned by.

DG295094. Assembling Class 717 bodyshells. Krefield. Germany. 2.5.18

Afterward the paint job’s been applied the shell is transferred to the fitting out line for final assembly. In this next picture you can see what’s behind all the cosmetic panels passengers will never see.

DG295132. Fitting out 717015. Krefield. Germany. 2.5.18

The next picture shows Sabri Esslimani, the factory’s Head of Assembly explaining the computer controlled inventory and monitoring system to RAIL magazine’s Paul Stephen and Modern Railways Philip Sherratt.

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Here’s two cars from 717015 on the assembly line. A few months before, this area and the bays to the right would have been full of Class 700 vehicles. The big TV screen in the foreground records how the construction of each car’s progressing.

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One of the cars from 717014 in final assembly, having its seats fitted.

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Before leaving Krefeld for Wildenrath we were given the opportunity to try out the emergency ramp on one of the lead cars of 717013 which was ready to leave the factory. It’s a far better system than the little wooden ladders used in the 313s and capable of evacuating 30 people per minute. Even so, I hope I’ll never need to use one of these for real!

DG295189. 717013. Krefield. Germany. 2.5.18

Here’s the group, including staff from Siemens, Rock Rail and GTR.

DG295200. The press group, GTR and Siemens. Krefield. Germany. 2.5.18

The next part of the day was a chance to see the 717s on the test track at Wildenrath (a former RAF airfield) which has several different loops for train testing, the largest of which is just over 6km. Sets 717001-012 were already at the centre, with several inside the 410m long shed that had been built as part of the Class 700 programme. Here’s 717005 and 004.

DG295230. 717005. 717004. Wildenrath. Germany. 2.5.18

Outside the shed were 717007 and 002.

DG295208. 717007. 717002. Wildenrath. Germany. 2.5.1

The highlight of the trip was the chance to travel on and explore a completed set, then take turns to drive it around the test track!  Here’s the cab layout of the set concerned, 717003. As you can see it’s very different to a 700/707 cab due to the gangway. Some of the controls have been mounted on the door which closes off the cab from the gangway when it’s not in use. When it is, the door’s swung out at an angle before being locked in place.

DG295268. Cab. 717003. Wildenrath. Germany. 2.5.18

Here’s a look through the train, as you can see, it’s a step-change in quality from the 40 year old class 313s.

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I’ve added some more pictures here to show details of the seats. Here’s a standard pair showing how much space is underneath them because of the way they’re cantilevered off the body side

DG295275. Seating. 717003. Wildenrath. Germany. 2.5.18

Tip-up seats adjacent to one of the doors.

DG295277. Tip up seating. 717003. Wildenrath. Germany. 2.5.18

A Priority seat (that’s marked multiple times) right next to the wide doors.

DG295278. Priority seating. 717003. Wildenrath. Germany. 2.5.18

Finally, 717003 whizzing around the test track. Soon these will be a common sight on the ECML between Hertford, Welwyn and London. GTR told me that as each 717 is accepted into service a pair of 313s will come off lease and be returned to the ROSCO until all 44 Class 313s used by GTR are replaced

DG295309. 717003. Wildenrath. Germany. 2.5.18

If you want to see more pictures from the trip, follow this link to a gallery on my Zenfolio website.

A post-election political blog

I woke up this morning to find that nothing I hadn’t expected had occurred in the local elections. To the surprise of no-one (except perhaps, party die-hards), UKIP voters had drifted back to where most of them came from in the first place – the Tory party. meanwhile Labour, the worst opposition in living memory facing the worst Government in living memory, had managed to gain 50 seats. As I type this, the Tories have actually managed to GAIN 11! In fact, all parties bar UKIP (who’ve lost 110) have gained seats! The Lib-Dems have managed to win 33 so far and the Greens just 4. The final numbers will make interesting reading, but not, I think for Labour.

That said, Corbyn supporters are busy on social media, trying to claim this is (somehow) a ‘victory’. Quite how they work that one out is a mystery. It’s like kicking at an open goal, missing, then saying “Yeah, but the ball only missed by a bit”.

Contrast these results with the final ones of the 2014 local elections (before Corbyn became Labour leader), when the Tories lost 236 and Labour gained 324.

2014 election

This was the last year that Labour gained seats. In 2015 they lost 203, a further 18 in 2016 and another 382 in 2017. A grand total of 603 seats.

Here’s another result Corbynistas won’t want to hear. In May 1995, under Tony Blair, Labour won 1,802 seats whilst John Major’s Tories lost 2,018. Paddy Ashdown’s Lib-Dems picked up 487. Yes, it was all downhill from there until 2010 when Gordon Brown picked up 417 seats, but even Ed Miliband  as Labour Leader managed to pick up 857 seats in 2011 and a further 823 in 2012. He then added another 291 in 2013 and 324 in 2014 before losing 203 in 2015, a fact overshadowed by his General election loss.

Here’s all the Labour’s local election results since 2010, showing the percentage of the vote and any swing.

results since 2010

This puts Corbyn’s results into perspective. I, like many others have no enthusiasm for him or his party now. He’s betrayed Labour supporters over Brexit and there’s no sign of that changing. The hard left seem to be in full denial of reality mode, so the charade will continue.

God help us…

UPDATE.

The final results are in and they make interesting reading.

final election results

Despite former UKIP voters heading back to the Tories they still lost 33 seats, but that’s hardly a disaster. In the light of political events that’s not a bad result. Labour are crowing about having won 77 seats, but when you consider they’re up against such a disastrous and shambolic Government, this is underachieving on a grand scale, especially when you consider that the Lib-Dems are only behind them by 2 seats. The Greens will probably be happy gaining 8 as their recent showing in the polls and performance at local elections has been poor.

From these results I’d suggest it’s pretty clear Brexit has played an important part in who people chose to vote for. The Lib-Dems did very well in some places that were heavy Leave areas, again, I’d suggest that this is an obvious sign of ‘Bregret’. Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB on Twitter) has compiled this rather useful chart which demonstrates how opinion has changed recently. Does anyone seriously think this isn’t feeding into who people choose to vote for?

bregret

Another mobile office…

After a hectic few days at Infrarail (with a press trip to see Siemens in Germany in the middle) I’m heading back North in another ‘mobile office’ c/o Grand Central trains. My laptop’s full of pictures to edit and get out to clients so I’m making the most of the journey to get as many as possible done. I’ve plenty to blog about too, but that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow. I can’t upload pictures from the train due to the wifi’s file-sharing restrictions, but expect a few later.

Titbits…

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I’m just about to fly back from Dusseldorf after a whirlwind visit to examine the new Siemens built Class 717 trains for GTR which will operate on the routes out of London’s Moorgate station.

I’ll be blogging about the trip at length, but here’s a taster, this is the set I drove earlier today on the Wildenrath test track.

Here’s a video showing our take-off from Dusseldorf and journey across the city

By fluke, I was sitting on the side of the plane that allowed to notice we flew past the test track on the way home. Here’s what it looks like from the air. The circular tracks really stand out.

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Here’s another selection of pictures from the plane, starting off with crossing the UK coast at Sherness, on the Isle of Sheppey.

1. Passing Sheeness.

From here, our plane headed over to the Thames before flying along the North bank of the river. Here’s a series of shots of Tilbury docks and the Queen Elizabeth 2 bridge on the M25. In this shot you can see the patchwork of fields giving way to urbanisation and industrialisation. 2. Tilbury Docks

Here’s a closer look at the port of Tilbury.

3. Tilbury docks

Looking back at the Queen Elizabeth Bridge

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Intermodal (rolling blog).

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I’ve become a London commuter for rhe day. Starting off by using ‘Shanks’s pony’ to get to Gipsy Hill station on the first leg of my trip to ExCel in the docklands.

Things have already fallen apart. Due to a points failure at West Croydon the 08:00 Southern service I’d planned to catch has been cancelled and the following 08:12 is delayed for unspicified reasons. Still, I’ve given myself leeway and it’s a beautifully sunny, crisp morning, so let’s see what happens…

08:33.

A 4 car 455 finally arrive to take me one stop down the road to Crystal Palace. I had no problem getting a seat as most passengers were waiting for the following train to take them into the capital.

I always enjoy a visit to Crystal Palace, it’s a huge, labrynthine place whose fortunes have waxed and waned over the years. Now it’s very much on the up as a lot of money’s been spent restoring it and making platforms accessible (it has some mammoth staircases).

As well as having Southern services, nowadays the station’s the terminus of Overground services from Highbury & Islington in North London. I’m using one of them (the 08.36) for my next leg to Canada Water.

14:41

No time for blogging earlier, it’s been a busy day at Infrarail shooting pics of the speakers, networking and catching up with old friends. Here’s Transport Minister Chris Grayling taking questions after his keynote speech.

Now I’m on a Flybe plane from London City airport to Dusseldorf for phase 2. The great thing about flying from here is that the airport was only a 25 minute walk from ExCel!

16:24.

Landed in Dusseldorf after a fascinating flight over London and the port of Rotterdam. You really appreciate its size from the air. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any decent pix, but here’s London from above, showing the Eurostar reception sidings at Temple Mills.

Monday movements, today’s rolling blog.

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It’s great to be on the move again. Much as I’ve enjoyed my time at home it doesn’t take long before I start getting itchy feet!

I’m currently en-route to London but i’m not quite sure what to expect as the weather forecast seems to be mixed to say the least. It was certainly cold when I left Halifax this morning. Despite the sun making every effort to break through the clouds, a chilly wind dispelled any temptation to think it was summer. I was very happy to see my Grand Central service hove into view so I could settle in a lovely warm coach with a coffee and soak up the scenery on the way. The trees along the lineside have really burst into life in the past week. Leaves are appearing at a rapid rate, which is making the areas Network Rail’s been busy clearing really stand out.

Despite claims in the Guardian newspaper that this has somehow been carried out in secret, it’s hard to miss where dozens of trees have vanished! Then again, the clearences have been such a ‘secret’ Network Rail had posted details on their website – as NR Chairman Sir Peter Hendy pointed out on Twitter!

The imminent arrival of summer’s not just evidenced by trees. As we raced down the East Coast Main Line I noticed dozens of bright yellow fields where the rape seed’s flowering. I can see I’m going to be busy with the camera soon…

Right now my train’s flying along the ECML South of Sandy and the closer we get to London the moodier the skies are becoming, so my photographic plans may have to change…

On the bright side, despite the weather warnings, the ECML’s behaving itself and the “knitting” (as the overhead wires are known by many) is staying firmly in place!

13.35

Now i’m passing Hadley Wood and the sky’s gone from moody to leaden! The only colours are in the PPE of the dozens of Network Rail’s ‘team orange’ that we keep passing every few minutes as they carry out a host of trackside assignments.

14.08.

‘Tis cold and wet in the capital today, so i’ve not moved far from Kings Cross, just over the road in fact – to St Pancras, one of my favourite stations.

Here’s the statue of Sir John with the latest art installation in the background, this one’s from Tracy Emin. As I was here I thought I should pop into the newly refurbished bar which carries the great man’s name. The Betjeman Bar has undergone its 3rd incarnation since it opened in 2007. Thus time the changes are more cosmetic and less profound. The bar’s stayed in place. Most of the work appears to be confined to tiling areas such as the one opposite the bar, repainting and redecorating. It does look rather smart.

I wandered on down the road to Euston to check out what’s going on with Hs2 building work. As usual, there’s constant change! Footpaths have been moved to allow construction of the temporary taxi rank

Here’s the diverted footpath which cuts along the edge of Euston Sq gardens, forming 2 sides of the square. I might add 30-45 seconds to the journey from Euston to Euston Sq tube but I’ve already seen someone grumbling about the ‘inconvenience’ on Twitter!

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With the weather remaining gloomy and cold I decided to head over to nearby Drummond St (a mini Indian quarter full of great places to eat) to sit and have a meal at an old haunt – Ravi Shankar, an Indian vegetarian restaurant I’ve been frequenting for nearly 30 years.  As it was ‘early doors’ the place was very quiet with just a handful of customers. As is often the case, none of them were local – all were from outside of London. Next to me were two Doctors from the Midlands who’d been on a course at UCH. Besides them were a couple of friends who’d also popped in to eat before catching their train – from Paddington! I couldn’t help cracking a wry smile at this because local anti Hs2 campaigners had made a great fuss about how Drummond St would suffer at the hands of the project, yet it’s clear an expanded Euston station will bring in more business, not less – and it’s not the locals who’re frequenting the place that much anyway. I saw this when the nearby pub the Bree Louise, closed a couple of months ago. Yes, there were some locals in there on the final night, but all those who moan about Hs2 on a regular basis were noticeable by their absence. A few months later there was a minor Twitter furore when a Journalist mentioned the pub had closed. The replies made it obvious none of those who were outraged at the news were regular drinkers at the pub. Funny old world…Anyways, I had a delicious Chana Masala with a couple of chapattis at Ravi’s and enjoyed a few moments to reflect on past times…

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Oh, and admire the stunning wisteria display on the building across the road…

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19:29.

Sadly, the weather’s never picked up so I’ve found myself caught in Euston’s gravitational pull. Having explored (on a full stomach) I’ve visited another old haunt, the ‘Doric Arch’ pub in Euston station. I’ve not been in here for years as other watering holes like the Bree Louise and Euston Tap took precedence, but the Doric (the former Head of Steam) used to be somewhere where I’d often arrange to meet friends when I still lived in London. Despite it being taken over by Fullers and seeing prices hiked as a result its still a busy place. The old railway memorabilia’s been preserved, so – although it’s been spruced up it really doesn’t feel that different. What has changed is the range of drinks, like most places they’ve added craft beers. The Doric shares something in common with a lot of railway station bars, it’s a popular location for ‘secret assignations’. You could often spot couples who weren’t married to each other. They may have met through work (or on the train) but there they’d be, having a smooch before going home to their respective partners! Not that I’m levelling any accusations about anyone in this picture, obviously…

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Meanwhile, one thing that I’ve always cast envious eyes at is the huge model of a BR Class 9F that sits atop the bar. I’m glad to see that it’s still here.

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Right, it’s time to head off. I’m staying with old friends in South London, so it’s off to the Victoria line I go…