Posted in Railways on Saturday 21st January 2006 at 10:02pm

The desperate dash through January continues, with more mileage accrued. Customary start to proceedings – off at 06:33 in the dark, with a change at Weston for 1M42. Breakfasted around Yate Middle, a little later than planned. The weather developed into a cold, bright morning with daylight finally breaking somewhere around Cheltenham. As we passed Stoke Works the Malvern Hills emerged from the mist in the middle distance, and I couldn’t help but feel pleased I’d opted for this odd programme of trips to kick off the year. The Malverns have always had a strange effect on me – and I can’t help but think of how I could see them every day from the raised plateau of playing fields behind my first primary school. They stirred something primeval in me even back then, as I distinctly remember getting into hot water for forming a small cult who would sort of worship the hills then run around making silly noises at playtime. Not a great move in a Church of England school I suppose. Into Birmingham via Camp Hill once again, with enough time to get coffee before the empty stock of the Newcastle service arrived at the platform.

A carriage to myself as far as Derby, when a group of real ale enthusiasts got on, and chattered excitedly about their planned day. Almost wish I could have joined them as a wander around Sheffield’s hostelries would have been welcome in the winter sunshine. Resisted however, and on arriving at Sheffield decided to explore the much refurbished station. To put it bluntly, it used to be a dark, filthy hole of a place with outdated customer information systems, nasty little corners where odd people could lurk unseen, and a general feeling of claustrophobia. How different now – a bright new footbridge over light, clean platforms with clear screens. The concourse is open and airy with plenty of shops and facilities, but a bit of a scramble for the solitary working ticket machine. Queued at the ticket windows instead to rebook for Barnetby, before heading out to watch activity in the busy station.

A little before time, 153315 trundled into platform 1B and three of us boarded the Cleethorpes train. In fact, five boarded but a couple realised that a Transpennine service across the platform would get them to Barnetby and beyond much quicker. The guard seemed to guess that I was some sort of crank from the outset, and didn’t even advise me of the faster service! So it was me, a couple of passengers for Worksop, and from Gainsborough Central onwards, a pair of curious spotter types with their bicycles. The train didn’t really get a great deal busier throughout the journey but what can you expect of a service which runs infrequently on a Saturday only? An interesting bit of new track, with some curious little places along the way, including the very attractive station building – now a dwelling – at Kirton Lindsey. But Brigg had been selected as the nominal goal of the day, and nothing prepared me for how desolate it was going to be. A couple of crumbling platforms, a rusting footbridge and an exit onto the back of a small industrial estate. I stuck to the original plan, and pressed onward for Barnetby.

153315 pauses in the sunshine at Barnetby
153315 pauses in the sunshine at Barnetby

I’d been concerned about this connection – twelve minutes off a slow, regional limited service onto a Transpennine train into Sheffield the quick way. As it happened, we ran to time all the way, and entered Barnetby station a little early in fact. Time to attempt a snap of 153315 basking in the sunshine, and to watch several passing freights – even in the short time I was there!

Just about on time, the strange hybrid liveried 158750 arrived – half old style Regional Railways Express and half First Transpennine. Things ran slowly but smoothly from here. The line between Scunthorpe and Doncaster seems prone to delays and slowness in my experience. As ever, we crawled throw Crowle and didn’t really get going until a little before Doncaster where we were held again for a London-bound GNER service to pass into the station. From here, a further sluggish drag along the dull bit of line through Conisborough and into Sheffield, completing the circle for me. More people watching at the station until the 15:53 arrived a little early, and a smooth and uneventful journey back into Weston for my connection home.

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I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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