Posted in Railways on Monday 28th May 2007 at 11:54pm
Having hardly left home except to work for an entire month, I can hardly describe how much I was looking forward to getting away on this trip. So excited that I didn't even mind the fact it meant an 0500 start and a night in Bristol before the trip! The weather was not expected to be great, and the howling wind and driving rain which greeted me on checking out of the hotel was evidence enough that for once the forecasters seemed to be right. To add to the general feeling of trepidation about the trip, I walked to Temple Meads to find a large crowd of miserable looking cranks locked out of the station. Clearly things don't start this early on Bank Holidays. Once finally in, we watched the stock shunt from the Up Through road into platform three with 59203 at the head of the train. Found my seat in the freezing cold stock and settled in for the run up to New Street - which is always a chance to doze and daydream. The 59 performed rather well, with some impressive starts betraying it's capability to deal with far heavier trains than ours. Informed after Cheltenham of a freebie coffee-trolley deal for genuine first class passengers on the basis that some of the stock in use meant that standard class passengers had first class seats for free. Much advantage was taken of this throughout the day. After sailing uneventfully up the Lickey we arrived at Birmingham New Street with a chance to stretch legs and watch our first locomotive change of the day.
Somewhere during our break in Leeds I realised that I felt pretty grim and suspected hayfever. Shopped for lunch and wandered around the immediate environs of the station. Its a while since I've ventured out into the city - a place I liked very much when I first visited some years back. The station itself remains a pleasant spot - a light and airy concourse with an interesting and frequent flow of trains. Found a vantage point and watched events, including a visit by one of Transpennine's 170s which have been strangely painted to resemble their 185s! Back to Platform 11 in time to watch 40145 arrive with the stock, confusing a large crowd of normals awaiting a southbound Virgin service. A bit of an altercation ensued between on-train staff and Network Rail managers, and we lost a few minutes here - but after a storming start and a clear run we were soon making good time.
The routes across the Pennines have always fascinated me, and in my case Copy Pit is the road less travelled. Enjoyed the pleasant scenery and improved weather as we sped west. 40145 made a brave assault on the climb, breasting the summit at a little over 28mph! An exciting performance from a well-maintained locomotive which is a credit to it's owners. This leg of the tour was the highlight for many, and the reason they booked - not perhaps for me, but in the event I thoroughly enjoyed the performance! Downhill into Lancashire from here, passing through the rather gloomy Accrington and Blackburn before our last bit of unusual track of the day - the curve from Lostock Hall to Farrington Junction which took us onto the WCML and a high speed run into Crewe.
A much swifter loco change at Crewe than usual - perhaps because we were blocking platform 1 which is used by terminating Manchester services! Our new traction, 92030 didn't really get a chance to stretch it's legs as we followed a stopping unit (with an enthusiastically gesturing driver!) onto the Stoke-on-Trent line, and as a consequence staggered fairly slowly along much of this leg. We kept time however, and the 92's solid performance meant a timely arrival at New Street. Feeling pretty grim now, I realised I'd picked up a summer cold rather than just a nasty bit of northern pollen! Struggled out to view 59203 rejoining the train before settling in for the run back to Bristol.
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.