13/02 - Mission 43070087

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Techniquest

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The mission was nearly cancelled before it began, having woken at around 0700 with around 4.5 hours sleep. I debated 'Shall I go? Is it worth it?', with a final decision that it was already decided the night before, so that was that. I leave the house at 0722, managing to catch my 0725 bus (I took the second stop, which it reaches at 0727) with 30 seconds to spare. I took off from my house in true Sprinter style! VA51 SAR, Sargeants' Spectra, was running the service, unusual as it's half-term.

Arriving ahead of schedule (0832 booked arrival at the railway station) by around 7 minutes (seemed unlikely en-route, it was a slow journey. The school term driver of the 0650 can do the trip in 40 minutes!), I went to nearby Morrisons to buy meat, bread and a sweet snack to provide the meals of the day. By 0835, the shop opened, and I come out £1.14 lighter, with the quickest service ever! The time before last had seen queues the like you'd expect to see at Kings Cross for LUL tickets! No need for a rush this morning anyway I thought, I'm not due to depart til 0902.

Getting to the station, all ATW services are delayed. The 0828 eventually comes at 0856, departs at 0858! The 0856 arrives and leaves 12 minutes later. The 0902, which I was getting and had 25 minutes to connect at Newport for a BTM service, was originally reported to arrive at 0926. It then gets put to 0930. 175104 arrives at 0927, and we leave at 0929, 28 minutes down on booked arrival time, 27 minutes down on departure time. We leave Cwmbran crawling at about 5 mph. As the unit's rear end, where I was, left the platform, the driver suddenly seemed to realise what was going on and floored it. Pathed straight into Newport's platform 2 (rare! Straight in, never normally happens, usually held at Maindee for mutliple trains to depart first!), we arrive at 1015, 28 minutes down on arrival time. It leaves at 1017, 27 down on departure. So a disappointing morning for Arriva. The name 'Arriva Trains Fail' sprang to mind many times between 0845 and 1015! I had arrived just in time to find 150251 pulling round into platform 3 for Bristol and Taunton. Score, a new bash here too! We leave at 1017 or 1018. Just before this I managed to hear an announcement say a WSX service to Cardiff had been cancelled. Should have known something was up...60054 was seen light engine on platform 4.

Our 150 is pretty full. We stop outside Severn Tunnel Junction, then arrive there. We stay here for a lot longer than usual. We soon get an announcement informing us of an indefinate period of delay, this being due to an earlier train reporting hitting something in the tunnel. ATW's 150260 on the all-stopper to Gloucester pulls in, and I found an interesting to video its departure. It still doesn't depart, then 150251 starts emptying out. I run back to hear the announcement saying to get the Gloucester train and change there for Bristol, as that train could be left there for 3 hours, 4 hours...60074 was seen here going towards Newport.

En-route for Gloucester, I note this has got to be the busiest Gloucester service I've ever seen! Nearly all of us were for Bristol mind. One passenger by me was travelling to Paignton, had been due to catch the 1110 direct Voyager off BTM! I tried advising her en-route of what to do, but she is the sort of person who doesn't like more than 2 changes. An announcement by the conductor tells us we are due into Gloucester at 1125, where we change for the 1135 to Cheltenham, changing again for the 1151 from there to Bristol, where we were due to arrive at 1241! The trainload groaned as if it was a massive theature audience! Many people got on the phones then to advise waiting people for them what was happening. I was annoyed, as I was to miss the event at BTM, and would have covered Severn Tunnel Junction to Gloucester about 15 times now!

We arrive at Gloucester 4 minutes early. I run up the platform to see what was in the yard, which was a good idea, as I scored the CR buffet car and 17173. There was also an ex-VT DVT there, which one I don't know. An un-identified EWS-liveried 60 hauled Murcos down towards Yate, couldn't get the number. Damn. 143618 arrives at about 1136 - 1137, already late. The crowd for this unit on platform 4 is massive. I squeeze on after an exceptionally slow alighter got off with assistance from the conductor. We all squeezed on, and I read a copy of the Metro. We must have left at least 5 minutes late. I was preparing to say goodbye to the connection...

We arrive with many anxious people wanting to alight at 1150, the booked departure time for the Voyager! I jump on 221127, and we leave 4 down. I see a couple more un-identified locos, 662x4 was seen at Standish Junction. Not sure what the middle number was, but I hoped it was 224 (does anyone here know what it was? It was hauling HTAs, where it was going I couldn't tell.). I finally mark off the mail vans at Parkway, and we leave 1 minute down at 1226. Not bad, all things considering. The TSR appeared to have been removed, didn't see it at Westerleigh Junction.

We eventually reach BTM at 1234. I'm about an hour later than I needed to be here, so I continued to Taunton. Booked to have arrived at 1055, an arrival at 1234 is NOT impressive. And they wonder why people drive? We leave on time at 1244, after I see the impressive beast, aka 43002, heading a Paddington service. A boring journey to Taunton ensues, and we arrive dead on the dot at 1317. It seems a loooong time since 0722!

I chat to some spotters on platforms 3 and 4, who confirmed that what I went for indeed ran. So I hung around for some time, and they showed up. Yes, I was here for 43070 and 087 on a stock move from Minehead. It appeared to be moving all the carriages I saw there in September 2005! I video'd this impressive set arriving. Unfortunately I didn't have my digi cam with me, but my camcorder has a photo feature, so I use this and record some sound in the background with it. When I find out how to get them off the camcorder, I'll upload them. They depart only a few minutes later, with me missing the filming of the inital clag from 087, but the rest of the departure was amazing! HELLFIRE! doesn't come close to describing it. Combine it with MY LORDZ!, and you come a bit closer. Didn't take long for the driver to find full throttle, indeed only a couple of seconds after the initial movement he was thrashing it to the maximum it seemed! All in all, I'm glad I video'd it! The sound and clag stayed in the air for a while, which I enjoyed immensely.

After a bit of photting, the others in the gang left. 43004 graced us with its presence shortly. It didn't seem long until the 1451 Voyager now, which was formed of 220031 to Glasgow on a fast via the WCML! I take this with a Newport resident to BTM. The TM advised passengers for South Wales to leave here, as it was a tight connection at Parkway. What she DIDN'T know or see was that the 1550, the next South Wales service, was cancelled, due to a train failure. It had been 30 minutes down when we looked at Taunton. Tut tut. Getting off the 220 was hard, as the passengers at BTM insisted they got on before us, so we politely told them, these being my used words 'Let passengers alight the train first, the train will not go until everyone gets off and on'. I felt like kicking the kid off that had got in our way just before that, especially when he said 'I'm stuck now'. That drove me to the point of kicking him off just enough to fall down the gap between the step and the platform edge... I hang around for a bit, as it's some time until the 1558 to Parkway. We phot the stoneblower and move up to platform 3, where the Newport resident got 158870 to Parkway, which loud and clear announcements were made for passengers to South Wales to get. I go see the airport coach in the lounge, not getting the number of the first one, but got the second. An announcement is made for the 1558, which arrives 11 ahead of departure time! I see the nameplate 'Sir Francis Chichester' from the lounge, thinking 'That one sounds like the one I need...', so a storm out of the lounge to check results in an amazing thing:

IT WAS 221115! YES! I FINALLY HAVE FINISHED MY VVVs! SCORE! GET IN THERE!!!

What a day this was made to be then, getting a new 43 sighting for the first time in 2006, having spent over 2 years looking for it, then finishing the Voyagers! I really, really, REALLY wanted to run down the platform and celebrate football-player style! I held this until I got a couple of photos to prove I've seen it, then having a semi-quiet celebration in the gents. It became difficult to control the celebration, but I resulted to silent, continuous celebrations for a while. I take it to Parkway, where I get another photo and film its departure. I get a toot from the driver and his horn, and it stormed off. I see one of the locals who I hadn't seen for a while, so we have a chat about stuff for a while. I find 67008 and 027 are due up from Avonmouth soon, so I let a HST and 180 go before I get the delayed 1707 to Swansea, as they still hadn't arrived. 43138 continues the recent tradition of not letting me have new 43 haulage to Newport. A nice free cup of tea goes down well now! I alight at Newport to decide whether to get the 1804 to Hereford. I decline this, and get 143611 to Cardiff.

At Cardiff, it's a huge crowd getting on and off surprisingly. I find the 1800 is delayed and this unit goes back to Taunton! Don't know what happened to its original unit, but it left 15 down. I get treated here with sighting 150285, my last 150 with ATW for haulage, and I see why I haven't found it til now. It's got new seating and everything inside! Seeing it from platform 2, it looked pretty nice! I get 43156, my first new 43 haulage in yonks, to Newport. Arrival here sees the ex-VT set in use again to Swansea. I get on this behind 43174. It humours me to remember how this set was only to be used on Swanseas if FGW were desperate. An uneventful trip, apart from the realisation that almost the SC carriages on this set had been had for haulage by me, and I alight in Cardiff again. An unidentified loco passes on the other side of the HST with loaded steel rings. DAMN! Now I have time to waste until the 1920 to Holyhead, so I go to the bus station after the harassment by Axa health insurance (man they're ALWAYS at Newport and Cardiff!) to see if there were any First coaches in. I sight 20364 just leaving on the X2 to Porthcawl. Seeing nothing else of interest, I return to the station. 60047, seen earlier in ADJ, came through with covered steel wagons, and I video its arrival. 158835 pulls in soon to run the 1920 to Holyhead, and I board it. Thankfully I had a copy of The Times to read, I would have been bored otherwise! 60044 in Godfrey Road was the only interesting thing there, with a couple of 66s in there, 037 and 210 I noted.

Back at Hereford, 66053 pulls up soon after us, the loco I had been unable to obtain a number for at Newport on the way back. I soon get my 2107 bus home, to find they were only then working on the barriers to get them up and running just before then! A boring trip home, except our 462 was booked to go via Credenhill and Kinnersley. Did we? Nope! Via Lyonshall we went!

By the time I got home, I was astounded I had drunk no coffee all day, but I was shattered by now! 2205 or so, I get home, and go to bed about 30 - 40 minutes later. Naturally, I had no plans for the 14th, spotting or otherwise, so I get a deserved 11 hour sleep!

Comments welcomed.
 
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