The odyssey’s begun! I’m on the first of over 80 trains that will carry me around the UK’s rail network for the next 7 days as part of my bi-annual adventure for RAIL magazine. I’ll be blogging about some (but not all) of the adventure. You’ll be able to read about the whole trip over three editions of RAIL from October.
Right now I’m on train No1, the 07:17 from Halifax to Manchester Victoria which is a crowded 2-car Class 195 heading to Chester. The weather here in West Yorkshire’s turning gloomy and the forecast for where I’m headed is wet, so today could be ‘fun’. Feel free to keep popping back to see what I get up to – and where…
I’ve just left Blackburn having taken a rather roundabout way (and several different trains). My trip took me to Bolton, then along the mostly single-track line via Darwen to get here. Now I’m on my way to Preston aboard a relatively busy 2-car Class 158 on an all-stations service.
Well, that was an interesting interlude. My train was 10 mins late into Preston, leaving me just four minutes to kae my connection, which I managed due to it being put into an adjacent platform for a change. My next stop was Blackpool South. The predicted rain never arrived so the 40 minute walk between South and North stations was dry but hot as a consequence. Then things started to go wrong.
I’d planned to get the 11.59 back to Preston but it was cancelled due to staff shortages, leaving me with no option but to catch the 12.28 instead. Thankfully, my timetable has some slack in it and I can catch up with myself later this afternoon before traversing a route where you really don’t want to miss a train!
As you can imagine, this time of year Blackpool services are very busy. My two car diesel to Blackpool South was rammed as far as the Pleasure Beach. Blackpool North station was heaving as people queued for trains at the end of their holidays.
A lot’s happened since I left Blackpool although one constant has been late trains eating into my connection times and opportunities to take pictures. That said. I did manage to catch up with myself at Lancaster as I’d arranged a layover to visit the excellent ‘Tite and Locke’ pub on the station. OK, my time was halved, but that still gave me time to sample the beer and get pictures.
Leaving Lancaster I headed up the stunningly scenic Cumbrian coast line. The first leg was to Barrow in Furness where I changed trains. Now I’m on the final leg into Carlise. There’s so much that I could write about but now’s not the time. I arrive in Carlise very soon, then head back South on another clasdic scenic railway – the Settle and Carlisle.
What a stunning journey down the Settle and Carlisle – made more interesting by the moody weather. The stations along the line are all well-kept, despite the harsh climatic conditions. The only station that seemed to be suffering was Kirkby Stephen, where both the BR era signalbox and old Midland Railway footbridge needed propping up with scaffolding. Here’s some views from my train.
The last leg of today’s trip. I had time for a quick pint in Shipley where I changed trains (there’s a story there for later). A quick walk across Bradford got me from Forster Sq to Interchange and now I’m on yet another Class 150 for the last leg home…
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