Posted in Railways on Saturday 26th June 2004 at 11:32pm
Resolved to go somewhere reasonably distant, following a long and trying week and a few weeks of mainly local wanderings. Had been at a loss however, as to where to go. Spent hours last night playing with times, but found myself hampered by absurdly inflated ticket prices (mainly around Virgin services I note) or the very Filton blockade which provided last weeks points of interest.
Finally settled on a run on South West Trains Reading to Brighton service, travelling via Basingstoke and Winchester to the south coast. Set out on the 0809 - allowing me the luxury of getting up at my usual time, and happily found the staff at Weston able and willing to sell the combination of Cheap Day Returns, which made a quick change at Reading possible. Tried to get breakfast on the train, but the absence of a "Travelling Chef" until after Bristol and the lack of announcements led to just having a coffee. Quick change at Reading with time to purchase refreshments before boarding an SWT 170 on Platform 1. I fully understand that the 170/3 units are newer than Central's but at least SWT seem to clean these. Comfortable trip to Brighton, if a little crowded at times in the 2 car unit. Notice I was travelling with a poet too, and was proud to notice that she took interest and noted down the name of my chosen reading matter.
On arrival, decided that being this close to new track, without a purpose demanded a trip to Lewes via London Road. I've almost always been going somewhere when I'm in Brighton - visiting Russell Hill or heading for the UNISON conference - so I've never had time to scratch the short bit of track between here and Lewes. Grabbed a ticket from the machine and hopped on a 377 waiting on Platform 1. A short but pleasant trip - the views from the viaduct over Brighton being particularly interesting. Interesting to see how Lover's Walk is dominated by 377 EMUs now, in comparison to my last visit some years ago when slammers populated the depot. I must confess I find the 377s both comfortable and quick - and whilst they are soulless plastic, they are pretty good units.
Headed into Brighton. Previous visits have given me a good navigational start on the place, and I was amazed to remember most of my way around the shopping areas. Headed straight for the shops, homing in on HMV where I bought Belle and Sebastian's "Dog on Wheels EP" many years ago (eight maybe?). Commemorated by buying their newly released "Books EP" from the same shop. Also got a USB hub and cable to get the printer going. Back to the station in record time, wishing I had more time to wander in fact, despite crowded streets and low-flying birds!
Spotted a 450 waiting to return to Basingstoke, so changed my vague plan to go via Gatwick and Guildford and decided to take my first trip on a 450. As reported, a pretty basic unit. Some confusion with the computerised announcments too, which announced a station just as we left it! All-in-all, a fine suburban unit akin to the 458s in use between Reading and Waterloo. Doesn't feel nearly comfortable enough for the Portsmouth services they find use on, or indeed this rather long run. Almost relieved to transfer onto a 165 for the run back into Reading!
Long, wet journey back to Weston. Hampered by more trespassers near Parson Street station. New track, new units and a bit of shopping thrown in. Can't complain at all.
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.