Posted in Railways on Saturday 7th April 2012 at 10:04pm

It was good to get back out on regular trains today. Whilst the last couple of weekends have seen some very interesting track covered, and given me the chance to escape for awhile, there is something about watching the world go by and being out among folks which I miss sometimes on these trips. With a longer distance foray planned for next weekend in conjunction with a Fence event, today was booked as a bit of an interlude - and in a bit of a panic to get tickets too. The Easter weekend can be a strange time to travel - though, experience dictates that the Saturday is often very quiet in comparison to other days. But the only sign that today was any different was the late opening of a number of the concessions at Bristol. Having arrived on the early train as ever, getting food was impossible and coffee was a challenge. Given that the next train was going to be a three-hour journey this was a concern. Finally got coffee and settled into the set which would form the 07:00.

The run north was uneventful and pretty quiet, with by turns misty, cloudy and then strangely sunny bouts of weather on route. There were perhaps a few extra passengers on board this morning, but they bailed at Birmingham with few getting on, and we set off for Manchester in a little burst of sunshine which lasted most of the way there. I'd got no real goals today except picking up a copy of the 2012 Combined Volume from the Ian Allan shop. This has become a bit of a tradition, and despite not really being able to spare the cash just now it was one I felt I should adhere to. Central Manchester wasn't too busy at 10am, so I wandered up Oldham Street and into the 'Northern Quarter' which led me to Victoria. I'd read - and indeed half thought about trying for the diverted services in Lancashire today, but having got here and found a service to Wigan leaving in a short while I decided it was worth a punt. Grabbed a quick bite of lunch and booked a ticket, before heading onto the 11:07. There was much confusion, with the train not appearing on the screens until very late on - but finally we left with only a few on board the leading 156, and a 142 behind which probably got a few more punters by virtue of being right by the entrance to the platforms. The limited stop meant reaching Wallgate fairly quickly, and I made quick change over the street to North Western. Much refurbished since my last visit, the station looked a lot better at concourse level - despite having a weird arrangement where one needs to display a rail ticket to a small camera to access the toilets! At platform level, there's quite a bit of work going on - in part to extend the platforms for 11 car Pendolinos, which are effectively coming into service right now - although 390156 eluded me all day today!

Over to platform 6 for the Liverpool train, with quite a few uncertain looking shoppers lurking around it. Once off, we crossed over the entire WCML and made bouncily brisk progress past Bamfurlong to Golborne Junction and the original course of the Main Line. Stopped by a red right at the signal which sits on the broken but defiantly extant Lowton Station platform, and again on the Parkside West curve, we took the booked half hour or so to finally make Huyton - the first stop, and where I planned to change platforms. Surprised to find a rather pretty little station with a subway and substantial booking office here, as I crossed to the other platform with just a few minutes to spare.

The train back was less hampered by signal checks and made surprisingly quick progress which meant it was still sitting awaiting departure for Blackpool North by the time I'd crossed back to Wallgate and then passed by on route back to Victoria! This was a sleepy, busy bit of the day and I only really regained conciousness as we arrived in the suburbs of the city. Stumbled blearily over to the concourse and decided to catch a tram back to Piccadilly for the coffee I'd been craving all day. Spend a lazy hour or so writing, people-watching and drinking coffee before a little shopping and then heading over to the arriving stock which would form 1V65. Noted that the schedule had changed somewhat for this, calling at a higher numbered platform at New Street and reversing rather than using the Camp Hill line. Sad to see this, as it has been a reliable and often rather quiet train and I wondered if this change might affect its performance? In the event this train was also pretty quiet from Manchester and I had a lazy trip south after eating a bit too much for my improvised tea! Settled down around Birmingham and had the usual pleasant run back, with the customary switch to the HST home.

I hadn't planned on seeking out PSUL track today, and indeed it wasn't new to me - but it was interesting to do some lines unusual lines for a service train. It was also good to start a week or so off work with a bit of a spin out to familiar parts. I picked my way home a little sleepily, contemplating longer journeys ahead...

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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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