Posted in Railways on Saturday 28th January 2012 at 10:31pm

After a surprisingly but mercifully busy start to the year, these next few weeks are a bit of a hiatus. That's not to say there isn't plenty happening - but for a couple of weeks at least I'm back on service trains, making my own entertainment so to speak. I don't mind this at all, and the opportunities to revisit areas and see them changing subtly or just to people-watch and drink coffee all around the UK are never unwelcome. However, lately I've not had much time to plan these trips - so beyond saying "I think I'll do another West Midlands Day Ranger" I'd not thought in detail about today until this morning at about 5am! I'd used one of these tickets recently and found it to be very flexible, to cover a huge area and to be very good value indeed. Today though I was on my own - no bad thing in some ways after a difficult week, and had perhaps a little more freedom to wander as I wanted. The journey up to the Midlands passed sleepily and uneventfully as I'd hoped. I needed a lazy element to the day, as the week had been a bit fraught and stressful. The warm train sped through a frosty, pale sunrise before depositing me at Birmingham on time. Booked my rover ticket, grabbed breakfast and headed for the 09:01 to Crewe. Again this was a pleasant journey through the wintry morning scenery, with a few surprising locomotives moving around at Crewe just to keep things interesting from a railway perspective! It was clear though, that all was not well here - lots of delays, with some trains inexplicably showing twelve hours late, as a result of a fatality near Atherstone in the Trent Valley. I'd planned on the 10:33 Euston slow train, which would give me another long run - but this was now expected to terminate at Stafford. Given that it was leaving from the relatively unusual Platform 2 at Crewe meant I did it anyway. In the event, after a short delay at Stafford we were allowed to continue - one of the first stopping services to do so, though we omitted the call at Atherstone passing at speed on the Fast lines. At Rugby I alighted and explored the remodelled station a little. It is much improved in some ways - having extra platforms, a more pleasant subway and a sense of space around the rather quiet concourse. However, it has lost it's buffet with a small concession near the ticket office doubling up now, and inexplicably just closed for lunch when I arrived. Didn't hang around long here, not like the old days of hot tea clutched in cold hands watching passing freight trains. The next Birmingham local service was rather packed so I hopped only as far as Coventry before switching to a Pendolino service for the last few miles.

350124 awaits departure to an uncertain destination in Platform 2 at Crewe!
350124 awaits departure to an uncertain destination in Platform 2 at Crewe!

Out of new street and over to Moor Street for the rest of my travels today. The Chiltern Lines have figured large in recent times, not least because I'd neglected them for a while. Also, the arrival of the new Class 172s on London Midland local services has sparked a little interest in the area. Moor Street too, continues to be a welcoming and impressive terminus. There is space, a sense of being a 'real' station in it's historic buildings, and it feels practical and usable too. An excellent refurbishment job overall, and who would have thought when the Snow Hill tunnel was reopened in the early 90s that this station would return to it's former glory quite like this? Grabbed the first service heading north to Snow Hill, which took me as far as Kidderminster. I'd considered a run further on to Worcester or even Great Malvern, but options coming back weren't great. A quick change here for a service back as far as Tyseley. I hadn't been here since the Centenary Open Day in 2008, and I found a rather sleepy, cold station inhabited only by a couple of intrepid trainspotters. Noted a few more of the new units on the extensive depot beside the line, before heading back into Moor Street for much needed hot coffee.

For my final spin of the day, I decided on a run down to Leamington Spa, rather like the last time I used a rover ticket in the Midlands. I like the original features of the Great Western station, and it would be nice to do this in daylight this time. Hopped on a waiting Chiltern service and had a quick run down to Leamington, changing platforms before an equally speedy run back into Birmingham while watching an impressive sunset in the west. A quick, twilight walk back to New Street and a chance to relax with coffee and enjoy watching the busy station life before catching the usual 1V65 back towards home. Noted some problems at Reading delaying services out of Paddington, but the generous layover of my chosen service at Bristol meant that it arrived late but departed bang on time. The trip home was in good company too, with railway acquaintances and former colleagues on the train. So it had been the kind of day I set out to enjoy - lots of winter sunshine, coffee, people-watching and escapism - and when I added it up, surprisingly around 500 miles of travel.

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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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