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Discussion in 'Trip Planning & Reports' started by 185143, 6 Feb 2017.
I only asked in the unlikely event it has been fixed up and is back in service
《Insert swear word here》
I believe 122 has been out of use for a few years, it might even have been scrapped.
I’ve not been on here much in the past 18 months but really enjoyed this. Well done on your shack clearance in Scotland. I can only dream of that now, a six month year old has pretty much stalled most of my rail related activities!! If I do get out shacks are lower down on my agenda as I try to clear older stock and then there is the newer stuff coming on line.
So how many Spoons have you visited? I must admit my love of them has fallen away a bit as I discovered much much better beer elsewhere (their over the top pro Brexit agenda doesn’t endear me much either). I will continue to try and visit them all though. I have 38 left to visit and have been to 945.
That's a lot! I've done 225-230 and despite my mum living your way I only cleared the Plympton branch a few weeks ago!
I'm on around 210 at the moment.
“It's not an ‘obby, it's a lifestyle!” October 2019.
Day 10. 10th October 2019
I slept surprisingly poorly on the Sleeper. Last time I was in a bed on here I slept very well indeed, but that was most likely down to the fact I'd spent most of the previous night stuck on Preston station due to a cancellation-after having done an early shift at work as well. I was exhausted that night and it really showed. This one was different though. I slept through the shunting at Edinburgh but woke up a few times on my way down South. I've honestly had better nights in the seats! The friendly attendant knocked on the door and informed me that we were 45 minutes from Euston and that we were on time.
I eventually forced myself to get out of bed and went for a PNB. Unsurprisingly I wasn't the first person in the carriage to have that idea! I walked into the lounge car which was open, albeit not serving anything. I got a couple of pictures of the lounge car along with the sofas and tables in there. I was told the facilities in the seated coach were ok to use and the carriage wasn't in use due to a door fault. I took a picture of the empty seated coach as well before returning back to my room. I was told we were 10 minutes from London now so I gathered my things and went to sit on a sofa in the lounge car for the arrival into Euston, laughing to myself at the passenger who plugged his phone in and seemed surprised when nothing happened. If only we'd been told the lounge had no power, eh?
On arrival into Euston I got some phots of 90044 which had brought us down from Edinburgh before heading off to the tube. It was very busy as you'd expect, but no one was interested in the Northbound Victoria line! I pretty much walked straight onto an empty train for the fast run up to Finsbury Park. I headed immediately up the spiral staircase to the Great Northern, remembering to touch out on the way. My next move was the 08:15 to Welwyn Garden City. I immediately noticed there were two 08:15 services to Welwyn, one being an express operated by GTR's Thameslink brand, the other being a stopper operated by GTR's Great Northern brand. I opted for 700114 on the fast service, taking a seat in the rear first class for the 20 minute run up to Potters Bar.
I couldn't help but notice a load of old Sleeper stock parked up near Hornsey (IIRC?), I'd assumed at the time that the stock I'd arrived in on was there too however it turned out to still be at Euston. Arriving into Potters Bar I had one thing on my mind. Breakfast! I left the station with my ticket not operating the barrier as seems to be traditional for the walk down the road to the ‘Spoons. This one wasn't one of my favourite ‘Spoons to have been in, the pub looked a bit tired and the service wasn't great. That said, the breakfast was up to the usual standard and I was more bothered about that. I returned to the station in good time for my next move, winner 717023 to Brookman's Park. This was only my second trip on a 717 so it was nice to think I'd be ticking off a few more this morning.
Today was a day of linear festers so I had half an hour to wait at Brookman's Park. I hadn't properly woken up yet and I'm fairly sure I briefly nodded off in that shelter. Another passenger joined me in boarding my next service, required 717009 to Welham Green. Just before I boarded, I got my first hint of trouble. A train in about an hour was just showing as “delayed", a bit of investigating showed that it had sat down at Watton-in-Stone and I'd be clear of the GN branded trains by the time the effect would hit. Plenty of fast trains roared past whilst I was here. I didn't realise there are so many Azumas in service though! The difference in noise between a HST, 91 and an Azuma was quite a sight to witness as well, the Azuma is far quieter than even a 91. Whilst waiting here, I had the very rare event of a stranger starting a conversation in the South of England! We got talking about what I was doing which he seemed fascinated by. We both boarded required 717007 one stop up the line to Hatfield where we both alighted and parted company.
I was a little confused by the departure boards as to what my next move actually was. I had a shorter fester than I'd mentally anticipated before boarding required 717021 to Welwyn Garden City. As I alighted it was time for a proper “wtf" moment as a 5 coach fully First Great Western HST roared through, in service! I'd forgotten about the Hull Trains HSTs! *makes mental note to go to Hull* A few minutes later 700017 took me up to the only 2 track station I'd visit today, Welwyn North, for a linear 30 minute fester. 700021 promptly took me up to Knebworth 30 minutes later. It was turning into a pleasant day here, the fester passed quickly before 700054 arrived to take me to Stevenage.
At Stevenage I had one thing on my mind. ‘Spoons! I left the station with my ticket predictably not working in the barrier to head across the footbridge into the town centre and down to the bus station. I didn't look at the map properly, so didn’t realise there was more than one ‘Spoons in Stevenage. Oops. Oh well. I need to come back here for the Cambridge line anyway so it could be worse. After a quick pint I returned to the station to see things had not quite gone to plan. My next move was the 12:33 Cambridge service one stop up the line to Hitchin however this service was running approximately 25 minutes late. As such, GTR control had very helpfully decided that this service would run express from Finsbury Park to Letchworth.
This meant I had to both the Peterborough service to travel to Hitchin instead. This train was also 20 minutes late, so had Not to Stop orders at Arlesly, Sandy and St. Neots. This meant a large number of passengers alighted the train at Hitchin as well. There was more sign of trouble however as I noticed a 387 stopped on the fast line. This is obviously not meant to happen and I noticed the train I've just alighted was also held at danger. Something else was clearly amiss. Platform Staff announced that a lorry had just struck the bridge outside the station. Nothing moved for around 5 minutes and afterwards all trains had to pass at caution. This being a busy location on the ECML, congestion built quickly. The next Peterborough train which we were told was around 10 minutes behind us was now running approximately 35 minutes late. The stops at Sandy, Biggleswade and Huntingdon had been taken off this train due to the late running-passengers for Sandy were provided with taxis as they hadn't had a train for over an hour. Finally the train arrived! It arrived but never stopped! Train showed on the screens and was announced but simply failed to call. Needless to say, lots people were rather unimpressed at this! Passengers for Arlesley were offered taxis, but a train was due in around 15 minutes.
700141 arrived to take me one stop up the line to Arlesley. It was nice to finally be back on the train again! Due to the delay I had a shorter fester here than usual, the issues seem to have resolved themselves at around the same time so normal service is resumed. I boarded 700110 to continue to Biggleswade. I had one thing and one thing only on my mind here. ‘Spoons! The pub was a short walk from the station and was a lovely little hotel. I wasn't planning on drinking today, but after that farce at Hitchin, a pint was certainly in order! I swung by Poundland to get some earphones as my phone had decided not to like my current pair, unfortunately the pair I purchased here didn't fit my phone! Boo!
I spent an hour in Biggleswade however this hour was through my own choice rather than at the mercy of GTR control. Returning to the station my next move was 700116 up to Sandy. At Sandy I simply took a seat and awaited the next service. This looks like a very good station for spotting as lots of trains pass through with a good variety on offer. Once again I couldn’t help but notice the difference in noise from a HST, 91 and Azuma. As good as the classic HST is the Azuma is certainly the future. I also noticed in the shelter an old First Capital Connect no smoking sign. After what felt like no time at all, 700126 arrived to take me one stop to St Neots. My ticket predictably once again didn’t work the barrier so it was down to the friendly gateline staff to let me out. When I said I was heading to ‘Spoons he told me it was around a 20 minutes walk into the town centre. It didn’t look that far on the map...
Oh well. You’re only here once. Off I went into town and into a busy ‘Spoons. I was on soft drinks only now due to the annoyance of having to drive when I got back to Manchester. I had a lot of time to waste, so wasn't in too much of a hurry to return to the station. 700135 was my chariot up to Huntingdon, home to another ‘Spoons. Amazingly my ticket worked the barrier here! The ‘Spoons was another pleasant looking hotel and was rammed. I considered indulging in the Thursday Curry Club in here, but decided against it. Clearly most of my fellow customers were taking part as there was a very strong smell of curry near the bar! The manager had to delay serving my drink in order to go and deactivate the fire alarm-I didn't realise the curry was that hot!
I returned to the station having decided to eat in Peterborough, travelling there on 700133 taking advantage of some much needed phone charge. I hadn't realised how far Huntingdon was from Peterborough though so I got more charge than expected. There were two ‘Spoons pubs to visit in Peterborough and I had about 2 hours until my mandatory move back Oop Nowf. I headed for the ‘Spoons nearest the station and decided I was going to eat there. Finding a table was easier said than done, the place was rammed! This seemed a surprise to the staff too, they were unsure why the place was so full.
The service unsurprisingly wasn't the quickest. Not that you mind when there's clearly a good reason for that; a far cry from that quiet(ish) Sunday night in Inverness where every table was piled high with plates and glasses, nothing had been cleared for quite some time by the looks of things. A 15 minute wait for my drink to arrive and in a Carling glass as “we've run out of Kronenbourg glasses". There must have been 5 just on the tables immediately round me! I didn't mind waiting here in Peterborough though, not like I was going anywhere anytime soon. The burger I had went down well along with a couple of soft drinks. Then the tiredness hit... Uggh. I decided finding the other ‘Spoons was too much effort so took my time with the Pepsi before heading back to the station.
I wondered if I was getting an Azuma as the headlights approaching looked very bright. Nope. 91101 was my busy chariot to Yorkshire. I found a pair of unreserved airline seats so just sat there rather than hunting for my reserved seat. It felt like a quick run despite making a couple of stops en route and we arrived into Doncaster on time. It seems criminal that some Mk4s have already gone for scrap. The ride can be a little lively, sure, but the same can be said of lots of traction including a fair bit of new stuff! They don't seem old fashioned in any way shape or form, though I suppose it's underneath what matters. I had the option of running for a fast flymo or waiting for the stopper, which I'd expect pacers on. I saw the stopper was booked on the platform I was standing on, so that made the decision easy! 142092 bounced in, but wasn't unlocked until 144006 bounced in from Adwick to bang together. This was a very quiet service unsurprisingly and on arrival into Sheffield the priority was clearly getting the units onto the shed as we drew right up to the signal on platform 6. Why not just carry on the extra few metres to Manchester(!)
It was quite a hike back to platform 2A as a result where 150140+142003 were waiting on the last Manchester “via the Hope[less] Valley" (and how else are we getting to Manchester...?) This train was busier than I'd expected, though it's the last train from Sheffield to Manchester so I suppose it's no big surprise. The sight of Manchester Piccadilly at 00:35 was very welcome indeed! I rather enjoy seeing stations when mostly empty, it just looks so strange. Balls to that though, my car and then my bed was a more welcome sight. Time for sleep now.
All the 700s
All of them.
With a couple 717s thrown in for good measure
“It's not an ‘obby, it's a lifestyle!” October 2019.
Day 11. 11th October 2019
I slept very well indeed after those two days! I had no real plan for today, so headed down to the station to board the 12:50 to Manchester with 195122 doing the honours. I'd fancied heading over to Sheffield to see if my last 399 was out, but the Cleethorpes train was full and standing. That idea was promptly flagged! I mentally debated going for a pint at Piccadilly but decided against it in favour of 390123 down to Stoke-on-Trent. This train was quite busy too so I ended up in the quiet coach at the very rear and took advantage of the journey to type up more trip reports.
We didn't have the quickest run down to Stoke and for some reason I never heard an announcement on arrival at Stoke. I looked up and saw the platform! After hastily packing up, I alighted and met @agbrs_Jack on the platform in order to head to the nearby ‘Spoons. It wasn't the most pleasant walk I've ever done and I was warned this ‘Spoons might not be great. @agbrs_Jack had intended to get the next train back to his insignificant Cheshire village but missed it. Gave us time for a couple of pints whilst I decided my next move. I opted to head east along the North Staffs line into Derbyshire. I swung by an off licence on the way back to the station arriving just in time to board 158865 to Uttoxeter. This train was fairly busy, most pairs of seats had at least one person sat there.
The ‘Spoons in Uttoxeter was very busy and had run out of both of my regular choices of lager. As such, for a change, I opted to have a suck on the big jugs. (I'm talking about cocktails, grow up!) I had an hour here before returning to the station to catch the next service to Derby. This line is known for having overcrowded single 153s and, sure enough, that's precisely what EMR sent. A full and standing 153374 for the journey to Derby. This was a bit of a special trip for me as one of the ‘Spoons in Derby would be my 200th visited. I jumped on a bus into the city centre before heading to The Thomas Leaper for a quick pint. The next pub, The Standing Order, was literally right next door! As this was my 200th pub, and I was hungry I decided to indulge in the Fish Friday offer. That went down very well indeed.
I headed over to the final ‘Spoons I needed in the City Centre for a swift pint before heading back to the station. It wasn't as swift of a pint as I'd intended so as a combination of that and not being able to be bothered walking, I ordered an Uber to take me back to the station in order to catch an earlier train up to Sheffield. Unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan. As usual. The EMR service I had intended to catch was running late. This would have meant missing the TPE connection back to Manchester from Sheffield. The EMR arrived however the unit was not required. The next CrossCountry service heading to Leeds was a HST so I boarded this instead. Unfortunately due to the late running EMR service we were delayed heading into Sheffield meaning the suitable connection from Leeds would have been missed. Due to this I decided to bail at Sheffield for an EMR service across the Hopeless Valley. What a stroke of good luck that delay was!
The Manchester service arrived and I couldn’t believe my luck. Due to delays earlier in this train’s journey, the service has been restarted at Nottingham. Clearly someone at EMR is a bit of a masochist as 153308+153379 had been allocated onto a Nottingham to Manchester service! Mega! This was the first and almost certainly the last time I had arrived into the shed at Piccadilly whilst travelling on a Class 153. That was a cracking run across the Hope Valley and was certainly very different to the usual Class 158! As northern had very kindly cancelled my train home I took an alternative route instead. A lightly loaded 175102 was taken to Newton-le-Willows instead thankfully without the attention of the Fire Service after a fairly long and fun day.
Some more spoons ticked off in your book
A pair of dogboxes over the vale sound fun
“It's not an ‘obby, it's a lifestyle!” October 2019.
Day 12. 12th October 2019
I woke mid morning, once again with no plan. I'd considered going to Birmingham or Bedford earlier in the week but decided against it. I was glad of this as I saw there had been a fatality near Bletchley so I'd have been delayed en route. I had gen on a TPE 802 in service so decided to head to Liverpool for it. The next service to Liverpool was formed of a full+standing 195001. Seriously these two car units should never have been built. Two carriages on Express services between the North’s biggest cities is far too few. TPE have proved this, XC have proved this but the railway never learns. These trains are overcrowded now, what hope do they have even 5 years down the line? The driver told me later that his return trip to Manchester (on Rugby League Grand Final day!) Had 210 passengers onboard. That's... a lot.
Thankfully my next move was not so cosy. After a supply raid, I headed onto the platform to meet @Kite159 before we both boarded required 802207. Dave alighted at Newton-le-Willows to head back to Scouseland whilst I remained onboard for the full length of the journey. IETs seem perfect for a route like TPE. On arrival at Manchester Victoria the pantograph went down, the carriage shuddered as the diesel engine started. Onwards we went over the hills and I had a little giggle at the RPI who didn't alight in time at Victoria. The 5 coaches made a huge difference here, the train felt lightly loaded on the way over to York. At York, the engines shut down and the pantograph went back up. I love these IETs so was really enjoying my maiden voyage on one North of York. We reached 125mph with seemingly little effort. The busiest part of the journey was between Durham and Newcastle, which was a surprise.
On arrival at Newcastle I'd already decided I was heading down the Durham Coast line. I'd considered getting the Metro down to Sunderland but when I saw the Battersby train on the opposite platform I decided against it. 156472 was my chariot down to Sunderland. It felt like being at home sitting on a former Allerton 156! It took a while to get down to The Cooper Rose due to stopping off in Greggs and Ladbrokes on the way. I wasn't very impressed with this ‘Spoons! None of my first two choices of drink and after nearly 15 minutes my order hadn't arrived. I spoke to a member of staff who told me my order had accidentally been marked as delivered. Clearly this wasn’t the case but they had no problem bringing me my drink. I had planned to head down the coast on the Northern service but couldn't comfortably make this train.
I returned to the station via The William Jameson. A swift pint was had in here before heading back to the station. This pub was much busier than the previous one and much more pleasant. I boarded required 180103 one stop down the line to Hartlepool. I’d forgotten firstly how far Hartlepool is from Sunderland and secondly just how scenic this line actually is! I headed off here for another swift pint in the local ‘Spoons which was absolutely packed being a Saturday night. Kite had reminded me earlier that they hang monkeys round here, though I didn't see any monkey corpses on my way to or from the station.
I was heading towards home now, slowly but surely. A busy 142091 bounced in to take me down to Thornaby where we arrived a few minutes late. It was whilst onboard this train I realised my plan was about to all go tits up. The TPE which I needed was terminating at York! That meant less mileage on the 68 I was chasing. Boo! I boarded a very empty 185119 intending to travel to York. I got talking to a couple who boarded at Yarm and sat on the table opposite who mentioned in passing that it was York Races today. Such fun I had to look forward to at York then! I never thought to check RTT did I...
As we pulled into Northallerton, I noticed the Liverpool train I intended to catch at York displayed on the PIS. That was an easy decision! Grab everything and bail. Quickly. A full+standing Newcastle service deposited quite a few passengers on the opposite platform before an empty 185107 dropped in on the Liverpool. Arriving into York, I realised I'd made the right decision. The platform was rammed. The service wasn't as busy as it looked like it'd be on departure though surprisingly. I got more bad news, the 68 I was chasing (and was intending on bailing at Huddersfield for) was cancelled. As such, I opted to simply stay on this train to Newton-le-Willows and head home. The racegoers that we’d gradually been losing were soon replaced by St. Helens rugby fans at Manchester Victoria who had just watched their team win the Grand Final. Shame that, would have much preferred Salford to win. Ah well. At least it wasn't Wigan!
“It's not an ‘obby, it's a lifestyle!” October 2019.
Day 13. 13th October 2019
Last day of my leave today. (For now.) Boo! It was a Sunday and Northern, as usual, couldn't be bothered running many trains. Hmm... do I go chasing new TPE stock or stay at home bearing in mind I'm at work early tomorrow morning?
I thought about this for all of about 5 seconds before a car move to Newton-le-Willows to intercept a Newcastle service. A fairly busy (but not by usual TPE standards!) 185112 dropped in. I mentioned to the guard that I was chasing the Nova fleet, so he very kindly let me see the staff email with unit/loco numbers and diagrams for the day. This was (obviously) a massive help and was very greatly appreciated! I knew not to bother chasing 802s as one diagram was 802207 which I'd gone to Newcastle on the previous day, the other was running as ECS. I now knew that one of the 68s was required, the one on the second diagram. That saved me a pointless bail out at Huddersfield! We tipped out quite a few passengers at Manchester Victoria so the run over the Pennines was very pleasant indeed. I've always liked these 185s, they are excellent trains-when they aren't excessively overcrowded that is! At Huddersfield we picked up a lot of passengers as usual. The extra 2 carriages on the new stock makes a big difference on this part of the route.
I bailed at York and headed down to platform 4 for the Liverpool service. This service was well loaded due to the train ahead being cancelled, but of course everyone got seats no trouble. I settled in to a pair of airline seats for the run to Scouseland. The loco was still very audible through Morley tunnel despite being 2 carriages back! And when I went to the bog in the First Class carriage, MYLORDZ WHAT A NOISE IN THAT VESTIBULE! We were, predictably, kicked off the train at Crime Street for it to be cleaned-despite the guard announcing it constantly, people still kept boarding. Sadly there wasn't really time for ‘Spoons so I just picked up some supplies before reboarding the 68, this time up front in the Driving Trailer. It's quite different up here, far more airline seats and a lot more peaceful. The carriages towards the rear were quite busy, hence being up front. A group boarded at Manchester Victoria and moaned that they'd reserved a table and got airlines. Part of me could understand their point, the rest of me thought they should be grateful they can at least get to their seats, which would have been a struggle on a 185.
One thing I have often noticed when on the Nova fleet is the amount of times-in fact, pretty much every journey-I've heard people commenting that “this is like the poshest/nicest/newest train I've ever been on" (or similar). As an aside, I was privileged to be able to have a nosy on a 397 the other day and... wow. They look like very long carriages inside, it's a mostly table layout and... all the seats are perfectly aligned with the windows! They absolutely... err... relieve themselves on the 350s they're replacing. I bailed at Leeds for a trip on the old stock back across the hills. I'd deliberately gone for the ex Hull, as they're never as busy as anything else.
My prediction was correct and I found a seat onboard 185116 (which had no number on the sides at one end) no problem at all. I noticed Northern had been nice and hadn't cancelled my train from Manchester which is always a bonus. I'd suggest to anyone using TPE if you specifically want Piccadilly from over the Pennines and don't have a reservation, go for the Hull or the Huddersfield stopper. The journey time is the same as they don't waste 10 minutes going around THAT chord and you nearly always get a seat. It was a pleasant run back over to the right side of the Pennines, though calling at Mossley on an Intercity service still feels wrong. Though from December the Mossley call is going to where it rightfully belongs, onto the Huddersfield stopper.
On arrival at Piccadilly I headed over to platform 14 and after a half an hour fester, boarded 195122 to take me home. Nothing at all to report for the following week, as I was at work. Though as I was on an early shift on the Monday (yay(!)) I took advantage of this and had a wee post work spin on required 802218 to Liverpool, mainly for something to do as my train home had been cancelled. It predictably dwarfed the 323 on the platform opposite. I noticed the Manchester Airport train was 14 late due to waiting a driver. Typical...
The guard had opened up and let us board required 195002+dud 195007. The driver arrived a little before our predicted departure... and broke the train! That's what you get for leaving a set of wheels parked up in Liverpool for 40 minutes I suppose! *Ducks* A fitter came and fixed the issue and we eventually left around 25 late.
“It's not an ‘obby, it's a lifestyle!” October 2019.
Day 14. 22nd October 2019
I thought I'd already started this report. Wow they've built up quickly! It was time for yet more annual leave. In that case, To The Trains!
I got to the station later than I would have liked to catch the train over to Liverpool but thankfully it was delayed, meaning I boarded required 195106 with ease. A mandatory breakfast stop at Liverpool South Parkway was called for before heading over for the West Midlands Trains service to London via the world. As you'd expect, WMT had nicely sent one of their highly luxurious 350/2s for the trip. Uggh! I was off at Smethwick though so it wasn't *too* bad, though the service was busier than I'd expected. We were held outside Crewe for a few minutes for a freight service heading the other way and gradually lost time all the way towards Brum. This gave me around 3 minutes to change at Smethwick Galton Bridge, not the easiest place to change.
Thankfully, whilst the LNWR brand was running late, the WMR brand was running later. The Kidderminster train dropped in, the service before the Great Malvern train I was after. The unit leading was 172334, which instantly sounded familiar. It was only my last ex-LM 172! As such I boarded the “wrong train" and unfortunately only realised the “mistake" I'd made at Hagley. I alighted here for the Worcester train I should have been on. This service was formed of a pair of 172s, 172212+172221. The one I sat in had been refurbished and looked of a very high quality indeed.
I bailed at Worcester Foregate Street and crossed over to the opposite platform (via Tesco for some supplies. Obviously) in order to board the Brighton service. I was travelling to Dilton Marsh, so needed to be at the very front of the train due to a short platform. I was stood in the right position then I remembered that we reverse at Gloucester. I shifted to the other end of the train and boarded the rear door on 158955.
Once onboard I realised I'd forgotten about the second reversal at Bristol Temple Meads! I asked the guard about this but he didn't sign past Bristol so was unaware whether we reversed or not. I settled in at a decent table seat and made my intent clear. My intention was one thing, though the reality was somewhat different. We were running late which had potential to put my connection at Dilton Marsh in jeopardy.
As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. For anyone unfamiliar with the line between Cheltenham and Bristol, there is a tunnel between Cam & Dursley and Yate. I felt the train starting to slow down inside this tunnel, which immediately I had a bad feeling about. We came out the tunnel and came to a stand. The guard made an announcement informing us we were at a red signal so, bearing in mind we were the stopper, took to Traksy to see what was ahead. A freight train was stopped at Yate and had been for over 10 minutes. With a green signal. Oh dear...
The guard made an announcement to this effect and we were going to be held until further notice. I went for a PNB and retracted my request for Dilton Marsh. I've amended requests before but don't think I've ever had to retract one. We eventually moved just over 50 minutes late. What a start to my fortnight off... the onboard RPI, who much to his credit stopped focussing on tickets and solely assisted the conductor with customer service, (something I usually find GWR to excel at) passed through to inform us the train was now terminating at Bristol Temple Meads. I now had to try and get back on track, but had a fair bit of notice to try and salvage my plan. The key decision I had to make was “Salvage what I can of this, or do Saturday's plan instead?” the consequences of either were not obvious so I decided to stick with the day's plan.
I bailed at Bristol Parkway for an XC HST move, simply because I was attempting an estimated +3 at Temple Meads and the HST was booked into the platform opposite the train I wanted to catch. Yep. Seriously. 43321+43207 with what I believe is the last XC slam door set took me to Temple Meads. My plan worked and I hurried across to 166209 working a Weston-Super-Mare service which I took as far as Bedminster. So much mileage(!) Bedminster was not a pleasant station to visit and one I'd generally recommend avoiding. Exposed island platforms with little shelter combined with a game of “dodge the syringe" in the subway meant I was glad to see 158956 drop in 10 minutes later.
Back onto my plan now and I had 166215 on the Frome service running approximately 15 minutes late. I took a seat in the declassified first class area for the hour or so down to Frome. It's a lovely scenic run once you get past Keynsham or so, but especially after Bath. (And it's “baff" not “baaarth" by the way) I'm fairly sure I fell asleep briefly after Westbury as that part of the journey seemed to go very quickly. I was changing at the required shack of Frome for an SWR service forward to Bruton. As per usual, I ended up on my SWR stalker 159011. Boo! I opted to sit on one of the tip down seats opposite the facility, which I naturally took advantage of using. I had around 40 minutes here which really seemed to drag.
Eventually 166207 dropped in on the Weymouth service. I headed down to Yeovil on this one in order to head to SWR. I was considering grabbing a bite to eat at Yeovil Pen Mill but decided against it as I didn't have much time. I couldn't afford to miss this next train as it was the Yeovil Junction service and they don't run very often. 159013 was my personal chariot round to Yeovil Junction, arriving sufficiently early to allow me to make the -1 onto the Exeter train. Yay!
159022+159019 were doing the honours for the quick run down to Crewkerne, a fairly long single platform station. The temperature was starting to drop now so I was grateful that the fester wasn't too long. 159004 was next up working a service back to Templecombe. The former platform has been refurbished at Templecombe and looks very nice indeed. It could give some heritage railways a run for their money for certain. It started to go dark whilst I was waiting for the next Westbound service. A busy 159108 rolled in to take me one stop back to Sherborne. I'd noticed a Sainsbury's near the station so popped in there for supplies.
Returning to the station, I noticed the next service was formed of 2 coaches. That felt rather like being at home! It was announced that Standard class ticket holders could sit anywhere on this train, so First was obviously declassified. 158884 arrived, which I assume must have been busier leaving Exeter as there were plenty of seats available. I took a seat in First Class as it'd have been rude not to really! I ate the meal deal I'd purchased before boarding and alighted at Tisbury. The next service back to Gillingham was delayed and eventually arrived 18 minutes late. As SWR are one of the TOCs to operate Delay Repay 15, I made sure to put a claim in. I got all of 88p back for it, which I'll try not to spend in one go! It's not the point though, it's the principle. 88p is almost half a pint in Spoons!
159012 was the offending late runner and was still rather busy as it had left Waterloo in the evening peak. I opted to stand by the door as dragging my bag down the train to look for a seat was too much effort for going just one stop. At Gillingham I crossed over to intercept 159019+159022 again up to Salisbury. I was slightly surprised that they'd only just got back from Exeter though! I had a snooze on this train, making sure I set my alarm first. I'd been working late the previous night, so hadn't had a lot of sleep. Was starting to feel it a wee bit now! I woke up in good time and conveniently my next train was on the adjacent platform. This was the GWR Portsmouth service which any sensible person would've taken through to Fratton where my hotel was. Not me though! I'd had SWR's stalker unit, now it was GWR's turn.
Stalker 158950 dropped in but I was only going one stop on this train. I was too busy trying to comprehend the Romsey rounder timetable to really think about that. The Rounders start at Salisbury, head South to Romsey calling at Dean and Dunbridge on the way, continue to Southampton then back to Romsey via Eastleigh. RTT makes it look confusing at places like Millbrook and Chandler's Ford. The use of false destinations on PIS screens here is excellent, though I'd possibly question Chandlers Ford being used at Romsey for the via Southampton service.
I bailed at Romsey in order to go round and round on 158883 as far as Swaythling. It's not the shortest distance to change platforms here so I wouldn't recommend it if you have a short fester. I wasn't there for too long before 158885 rolled in heading back towards Romsey. Round and Round we go! I hadn't noticed on the way round that Chandler's Ford was only a single platform, that surprised me a bit really. I noticed a promotion in the window of the station building from a local independent bus operator offering a £2 special to Winchester or Southampton for rail passengers. It was primarily aimed at “Train cancelled or delayed again?’ scenarios, so I'm very surprised SWR have allowed that to be displayed! 158885 returned to take me 1 stop round to Eastleigh.
The guard, unsurprisingly, seemed a little confused as to why I was boarding his train again but I soon explained what I was doing. I had pencilled a +3 at Eastleigh onto the GWR service with the intention of bailing at either Hedge End or Botley as there was an SWR Service about 10 minutes behind. However, as you'd expect, that never happened. We were held at a signal outside the station and the GWR service had already departed. Summed up the day really! I suppose it could have been worse. 450081 was only 10 minutes behind so I wasn't waiting for too long.
Base camp in was the Ibis Budget in Fratton, a short walk from the station. I didn't really know what to expect as the reviews are very mixed and I've never stayed in an Ibis Budget before. First impressions were very good. Reception staff were very friendly and checked me in quickly. I had an issue with my room key not letting me into my room (which turned out to be an intermittent fault as it happened several times over the course of the week) but they let me in no problem. The rooms are a decent size, though £5.50 for a pint of Stella in the bar stung a bit! I headed off to bed after that, ready for sleep as I had a fairly early start in the morning.
Other than delays caused by freight trains and signalling, sounded like a good first day
Bit daft to buy a pint in the hotel bar at those prices! Bit jealous of 158884 as it's my last SWR DMU to get, and 166207 is one of my last 2 166s to get so a bit jealous there too.
Good call on claiming Delay Repay on SWR, I'd have done it too. Heck I did with a 15 minute delay on Northern, might not even be worth 50p but it's money in my bank account I could do with! Especially so considering my expensive taste in beer and travelling the world!
It was 23:30 at night and I'd just arrived. Didn't care at that point! That was the only pint I had in there mind...
“It's not an ‘obby, it's a lifestyle!” October 2019.
Day 15. 23rd October 2019
Yawn. (I seem to start quite a lot of reports with that word!) That wasn't the best night sleep I've ever had if I'm honest. Not really sure why as it was nothing to do with the accommodation but hey ho.
To The Solent!
I boarded the 07:13 (uggh. Far too early.) to Portsmouth and Southsea in order to catch the Hovercraft across the Solent. I had some unfinished business to deal with on the Isle of Wight. I'd gone down in June to do the Island Line stations and had a good day despite the diabolical weather. However I missed one. Smallbrook Junction. I was aware of the situation that it only has trains calling when the IoW steam railway runs but, as the calls were displayed on RTT, the NRE app and even SWR's own website, I didn't expect an issue. However the train went straight through! I obviously collared the guard over that and he told me they didn't stop unless the Steam Railway was running. When I mentioned the stops were even shown on SWR’s own website, he did admit that was rather poor! Anyway, that's in the past. Onto today.
444042 took me down to Portsmouth and Southsea where I alighted to await the Hoverbus. (Don't get too excited people, it doesn't actually hover...) Stagecoach's 36925 eventually arrived, after saying “7 mins" for a long time and took me down to the Hoverport. I headed across the Solent half an hour earlier than planned with “Island Flyer” doing the honours this morning. Apparently this is the only regular commercial hovercraft in the world. So that was something a little different. It surprised me last time I came across that we rocked like a boat, but I suppose it makes sense when you think about it. It's only a 10 minute crossing but quite an interesting experience if you've never done it before. We landed in Ryde and I headed over to the bus station.
Why the bus move? Well. When I came here last time, I was unaware of the ‘Spoons in Newport. So off on route 9 I go! Southern Vectis buses are rather expensive but apparently they don't receive any subsidy so all revenue (and profit of course) is from the fare box. Still, £3.50 for a single to Newport didn't seem any higher than on the mainland-though that's to encourage you to buy a day ticket for £4-5 on the mainland. The day ticket here costs £10. E400 1619 was my taxi to the pub this morning along a very scenic route to Newport. The Man in The Moon is a short walk from the bus station and produced a great breakfast as ‘Spoons usually do.
It was time to head back to Ryde, E400 1618 was my taxi to do so. I hadn't really thought of the IoW being as big as it actually is, I certainly wasn't expecting towns and busy(ish) dual carriageways! I headed back to Ryde Esplanade to await my train. I was surprised, and impressed, at how many of the Island Line+IoW Steam Railway rovers that were being sold. As a result of that when 483008 clattered in, it was quite busy! It's a short and lively ride to Smallbrook Junction where a large proportion of the passengers alighted.
Could I REALLY come all this way and make so much effort to visit the station that serves the Steam Railway then not go on it, on a pleasant day such as this? Nah. No chance! I'd booked my rover in advance (about 10 minutes before boarding the train!) As it's a couple of quid cheaper. You still have to go to the booking office and collect your ticket though, which is good. The idea of sitting in a Mk1 carriage showing an E-ticket to a BR era ticket inspector is just wrong on so many levels!
I don't do steam. I'm a diesel man, so I've no idea what class of loco was running. There was just the one train out and it was 41298. The train was absolutely rammed! It's former Southern Region compartment stock that runs and a good couple of carriages were completely booked out by a coach party. The train was already busy with people who'd come from Havenstreet, the main stop for the railway. I joined a family in the emptiest compartment I could find near the back of the train for the run up to Wootton, somewhere I'd already been through by bus. The scenery is lovely on this line, I'd highly recommend a visit. It felt like a decent length journey as well. There were old IoW network maps in the coaches-I couldn't believe how many lines there'd once been! I bailed at Wootton, along with most of the train to see the loco run round and of course get that all important picture of the station sign.
Before I boarded I went and found the conductor to inform him I wished to alight at Ashey. He took note of where I was sitting so the train could be stopped accordingly. There's not an awful lot at Ashey so I simply took a seat and waited for the kettle to return. It duly did, I made my intent clear and commenced the scramble to find a compartment. No standing room on these of course! I travelled up to Havenstreet, the centre of the line. Or, as it seemed today, the centre of the known universe! I couldn't believe how busy the place was! It's a Tuesday morning in mid October and they actually had to turn a couple of people away from the Wootton bound train. That's quite something.
I had a wonder round the shop and museum before returning to join the queue to board. No standing on the platform here! (Now, where have I heard that before...) The train arrived and a phenomenal number of people poured off onto the narrow island platform, North of 200 people easily. I boarded and somehow managed to get a private compartment for the journey back to Smallbrook Junction. We were a little late so the Shanklin bound train had gone, but I had a sole mission now. Get back to the mainland. I thanked the volunteers who were greeting people off the Island Line train and mentioned the issue I had in June. He told me I'd picked one of FOUR days that they weren't running. Ouch.
In hindsight, I was glad of that though. I wouldn't have done the IoW Steam Railway otherwise and that'd have been quite something to miss out on. Smallbrook Junction itself is unique in only existing to serve a heritage railway and secondly in having no access other than by rail. Not even Redcar British Steel can make that second claim as it does have access, just not to the public. 483008 (again) dropped in to take me up to Ryde Esplanade, almost certainly my last trip on the ’38 stock. If you've never been on the Island Line, it's something I'd recommend you do as it's so quirky and unique. I got the obligatory picture of the train leaving onto the pier (obviously) before heading over to the Hoverport. Solent Flyer took me back over to the mainland and, though not as bad as last time, the return crossing was also a bit on the rough side.
After a quick bus move to Portsmouth Harbour, I boarded 444045+444022 for the mega mileage leap to Portsmouth & Southsea. I'd returned across the Solent earlier than planned so I had plenty of time to bail here for a winner ‘Spoons. A swift pint was enjoyed in The Isambard Kingdom Brunel before returning to the trains. I was slightly early for my planned move so hopped onboard 450101+450126 for a run to Fratton. I put phone on the wireless charging point in 1st class which I was stood immediately outside. This baffled the guard as he hadn't seen me do it and wondered where this phone had just appeared from! Obviously I put him out of his misery and told him.
I was stood here for a few minutes before taking 158958 through to Salisbury. This was the first time I'd seen the line to Southampton in daylight and it's surprisingly scenic in places. Obviously once you get into Southampton itself the view becomes very industrial, very quickly. There's no easy way to make that look nice... we picked up a fair amount of people at Southampton Central, most of whom were seemingly avoiding going round and round as they bailed at Romsey. This was the first time I'd done the line from Romsey to Salisbury in daylight so it was nice to see it! I alighted at Salisbury and headed over to the Waterloo service. To the 159s!
159001 was already sat on the platform but the PIS was predicting a delay. Hmm... turned out the portion from Exeter was running late, this was formed of 159005. After a quick bang up the rear we were away. These things can certainly sprint! Again, another pleasant scenic trip was to be had before bailing at Overton which felt a lot further from Salisbury than I'd expected it to.
The next Westbound service was still fairly well loaded with 159105+158887+158880 doing the honours. I headed to Andover on this service in order to double back to get Whitchurch. Got to take advantage of peak frequency haven't you! The same guard who took me to Chandler’s Ford the previous night was working this service and he was keen to hear how I'd got on over on the Island. I bailed off 159002 a short while later and again crossed over to head West. This was another triple unit formed of 159004+158884 and an unknown Brother. A disaster happened on this train. As I was walking along, I could feel a wet patch on my trousers... (Nope. Not there!) An adult beverage had decided to explode it's contents into my bag! Grr! I did what I could with bog roll and emptied out the rubbish I didn't really need, but I knew I was still going to be a walking brewery for a day or two.
I bailed out at the celebrity shack of Grateley, though Lord Kite wasn't home. I spent the fester going over my plans and trying to keep warm! I worked out I'd have enough time for a Spoons move if I was fairly quick at Salisbury, so that was something at least. 159015+158890+159009 took me back to Salisbury for said Spoons.
Where to start... Oh dear. What a let down that was! I was greeted by signs informing you that there was a reduced menu due to an equipment failure. Fair enough I thought. Things happen. That was just the tip of the iceberg! I took a seat and looked at the menu. Wow. It had been decimated. Everything was on one side of A4! The only burgers were grilled chicken burgers. I'd quite fancied an Empire State Burger but that was obviously off the menu. I decided on a ham+cheese panini and opened the app... which despite having details of the reduced menu, had been switched off! Great... over to the bar and do it the old fashioned way. 10 minutes later I finally got served. For most of those 10 minutes there was just one person serving. If it hadn't been a required Spoons I'd have walked out for sure. I wasn't waiting long before my food arrived. A slightly burnt panini and... salad?? I questioned the lack of chips and was told, very apologetically, that the fryer was faulty so no chips. “did they not tell you at the bar?” Nope. I'd have ordered pizza if they did! I've since found out it's apparently been like that for weeks, so I look forward to hearing back from my complaint.
After one of the most disappointing meals I've ever had, I headed back up to the station and boarded 166212 to Romsey. Yup. It was time to go round and round! 158886 had the honour of taking me on the delightful journey round to St. Denys this evening. I bailed here in order to pick up 450005 towards Portsmouth, simple easy shack score that way. I took 450005 to Netley for a short fester. The stations on this line are... functional. They aren't particularly pleasant places to be at, just a simple 2 platform job with a couple of benches and a PIS Screen. Which is fine, just a little cold at this time of year! Next up was 450021 one stop back up the line to Sholing. I had a fairly long fester here as I was waiting for the unit I'd just alighted to return from Southampton. I was very grateful when it did so! This was the last service, so I'd be staying onboard until Fratton. Or... not. There was an ex Waterloo due about 15 minutes behind us at Fareham. That service also called at Portchester.
Easy decision! I left 450021 at Portchester in order to wait for the service behind, noticing a large floodlit area at some altitude above us. A quick look at the maps suggested this was part of motorway road work. Not just us M6/62 drivers that have to put up with that joy then! After a brief wait, 450108 dropped in to take me back to Fratton and bed.
Still say that pint on the first night was a waste of money! That late at night I'd have crashed in the room and that's it, a pint would have been the last thing on my mind!
Ouch to the tinnie bursting in your bag there though, that's not fun. Been in a similar situation before now, can't remember when it happened on a trip but it did on the way home from a food shopping trip a good long while back and it's very frustrating!
I've also had bottles of beer explode on me at work more times than I care to remember, and smelling of beer all day long sucks so badly! That being said, I think the collapsing shelf of Baileys was worse...
I wondered why there was a strange smell hanging around the station when I returned a few hours later having been saying farewell to the 313s on Great Northern
Didn't you want to have the gentle walk into Andover town centre to visit my most used Spoons? Or are you coming back for that one in order to use a bus to Amesbury?
It sounded like a good trip, despite Spoon’s microwave breaking down
I should probably visit the IOW sooner rather than later ...maybe more off season than you though if you found it busy.
“It's not an ‘obby, it's a lifestyle!” October 2019.
Day 16. 24th October 2019
I'd afforded myself the luxury of a lie in this morning. Sometimes 9AM rover starts are no bad thing! I very much needed that sleep. I definitely made the train with soooo much time to spare...! When it arrived, however, part of me wished I'd missed it. Stalker 158950 AGAIN. I boarded this busy train for the run over to Southampton Central, taking advantage of the USBs to keep the phone battery topped up. There was (a not entirely unexpected) mass exodus at Southampton and I had one thing on my mind. Breakfast!
I obtained a bacon barm from The Pasty Shop, not the cheapest thing I've ever bought. But it was nice and I was very hungry so didn't really care! I was heading into Dorset today so had a decent journey ahead of me. I've been to Weymouth before on a cheap promo return in SWT days, ticking an impressive amount of shacks given it was a day trip from Oop Nowf and was only a return! I wasn't stuck to such punitive conditions this time though, I could go anywhere I liked!
444015+444009 were my chariots to the West this morning, ensuring I took a seat in 444015 as this service would split at Bournemouth. This service was surprisingly busy though I got a pair of seats by walking through the train to the front. I'd forgotten how scenic the route through the New Forest actually is! I connected to the SWR Stream service (which seemed remarkably similar to TPEXtream...) and settled into a film as I had a fairly long trip on here. After Poole, we became the local stopper calling at very busy stations such at Holton Heath and Moreton. I was alighting at Moreton as it was a required station. Moreton is a bit of a pain as the trains cross just outside and it's a level crossing between platforms.
Predictably it was just starting to rain as I bailed out. So I had to choose. An hour in the rain, or an hour in the pub... As you can imagine, that was a very difficult decision! *Burp* After a beverage or two, I returned to the station to re-board 444015 back to Wareham. I was about to get an unpleasant surprise when I bailed. My planned move was the 13:05 to Corfe Castle. According to RTT there were Swanage Railway services running from Wareham today, so I was planning to take one of these. On arrival at Wareham, there was no sign of these. A quick check of RTT showed the paths (but only on SR Running Days...) as Runs as Required. Traksy confirmed the worst news by showing a T3 possession on the branch. <Insert Swear Words here>
Well that’s changed my plan somewhat! My original plan was fairly fixed due to taking advantage of some peak hour extras, so I spent the fester at Wareham trying to work out what to do. I decided to stick to my plan as much as I could, whilst also remembering it was a Thursday lunchtime and I was hungry. I'm sure you can guess where this might be going...
I boarded the next Weymouth service, with 444002 doing the honours. I was only going one stop to Wool, but that didn't stop me taking a table seat and getting the excellent London & South East Rail Services map out to work out plans! I'd decided on what I was doing for the afternoon and bailed out rather quickly! I only had around 10 minutes here, which I was glad of as it was raining again and there were a few people in the shelter already. 444029 dropped in to take me up to Poole. I took one of the table seats behind the bog for the journey to Poole. The approach into Poole is one of my favourites as the line actually crosses the Harbour. We had a slight delay at Wareham as a fare evader had told the guard his friend called Tony had his ticket, so she announced for him to come forward or the train wasn't moving. Someone got off the train a short while later looking sheepish, we departed immediately after.
I'd already been to Poole so I had one thing on my mind. Food! And there was only one place to do that... ‘Spoons! I had a quick glance at the all too familiar menu before remembering it was a Thursday. Curry Club! Easy decision then. One very nice Korma and a pint later, I headed back to the station. I'd normally go for something hotter than a Korma but fancied a change! A few schoolkids were waiting to board the Weymouth bound service, a busier than expected 444016. It had finally stopped raining when I returned to the station, giving me chance to properly admire the harbour as we departed. I resumed the film I'd been watching on SWR Stream and settled in for the trip west to Upwey, which I believe was the most Westerly station I still needed to visit. Upwey is quite a basic station but my 20 minute fester passed quickly.
444016 returned from Weymouth to take me one stop up the line to Dorchester South. A PNB was had onboard before alighting after a short bus stop move. I was on a mission to source some refreshments in Dorchester, mainly of the alcoholic nature. I'd noticed a Premier Inn so headed there as they usually have a bar and I had 40 minutes to kill. The bar hadn't been opened yet but the receptionist kindly gave me directions to a microbrewery round the corner. (Out the station, turn left) That was a good pit stop! The seating area is between the bar and the brewery, with a very nice pint poured. Sadly I only had time for the one before returning to the station, swinging by the off licence of course! I'd picked up a couple of cans and some food but the shopkeeper informed me I hadn't hit the minimum card spend. Wonder how I solved that ‘problem'...?
The next London bound train was formed of 444039, which I took as far as Branksome. It was starting to go dark as I arrived in Branksome, though I was only there for around 10 minutes before my next move arrived. The sunset would get much earlier the following week of course... I was boarding a stopper from Poole formed of 450111. I wasn't expecting a 450 west of Bournemouth, but it was a plessant(ish) change from the 444s. I hadn't really appreciated just how much more InterCity the 444s feel with the end door layout compared to the 350s I'm used to. It's much better! And as I mentioned earlier, I particularly like the little “alcove” of just 2 tables behind the bog. It also has the bonus that anyone travelling with a wheelchair user can have a proper seat in the PRM area rather than a tip down.
I alighted at New Milton, after a bit of confusion as to whether it was a required shack or not. Turned out it was-so off I went! It was just another short 10 minute fester here, though the Bournemouth train I was waiting for was running slightly late. No hardship though as it gave me a bit of time to research dinner options. (What was that? Did somebody say Just Eat...) I was soon onboard a busy 444029 one stop down the line to Hinton Admiral. Much like at New Milton, the train I was waiting for had split at Southampton with the express half passing through shortly before my train arrived. 444025 dropped in to take me to Christchurch. This wasn't a required shack, but reducing festers on a cold evening is always a good thing. I bailed and changed platforms before boarding 444021 up to Totton. I'd noticed a McDonalds on the main road by Totton station, so that was dinner sorted.
Even though I was heading back towards base camp, I headed to the Westbound platform. I had a bit of unfinished business to take care of in the New Forest. I only just made it onto 444005, had it been on time I'd likely have missed it. Ashurst New Forest was one of my last two mainline stations West of Redbridge, so it was nice to tick that off. I was thinking of catching the following service and attempting this on a +4, but I noticed that train was 10 late. So I was glad I didn't! The London service was on time so I joined 444029 as far as Southampton Central. It was time to say goodbye to the 444s for today and hello to GTR! I boarded 377139, my first Electrostar (of many, many more...) of the trip for the fast run to Swanwick on the Brighton service. I had just over 20 minutes at Swanwick as I felt catching the Gatwick train for a +6 was an unnecessary risk. Next up was also a GTR move, 377427 doing the honours to Woolston. I was under the impression that GTR calls at stations between Fareham and Southampton, with the exception of Swanwick, was a peak hours only thing so it was a nice surprise to stumble across them whilst planning.
I had another 20 minutes in the cold here before a bus stop move on 450086 to the day's final required station, Bitterne. Yet another cold fester followed as I waited for the 450 to return from Southampton before boarding to head back to Fratton. The refurbishment of the 450s has added plug sockets which is very handy, however they are right in the window seat passenger's foot deployment space. Not ideal! The stops on this line seem very close to each other, almost like on Merseyrail. It was therefore quite a slog back to Fratton and I was glad to bail out and see my hotel bed!
I see you also like the "secret" area in the coach with the large bog, a nice place to sit as it's normally quieter. Although the downside is due to the low room there is no overhead luggage racks.
“It's not an ‘obby, it's a lifestyle!” October 2019.
Day 17. 25th October 2019
I didn't feel as though I'd slept particularly well this morning. Ah well. To the trains! After a quick trip to Subway I headed down to the station, arriving in better time than the previous day. 158958 was working the 09:30 Cardiff Central service this morning which I took as far as Southampton Central again. There seemed to be a lot of people waiting to board as I alighted. Like yesterday, I was also heading West. But unlike yesterday I was on the Poole stopper rather than the Weymouth express.
450007+450014 were forming this very empty (somewhat of an understatement!) service towards Poole. I needed to be in the front unit in order to alight at the least used station in Hampshire, Beaulieu Road. No one else alighted or boarded and I took a seat for a linear 60 minute fester. I had a doze while I was waiting and 444034 eventually arrived to take me on to Brockenhurst. The weather turned very wet whilst I was on this train, which was very empty. I was heading for the Lymington branch, something I'd been looking forward to-for no particular reason.
450028 was the unit on the branch today. The scenery was quite difficult to see in places due to the grey skies and deluge of rain pouring out of the sky! Most of the passengers onboard had luggage and seemed to be heading for the Isle of Wight, rather them than me in the current weather! You knew it was the end of the line when you follow the Harbour and the Wightlink ferry comes into view. I alighted into the atrocious weather to find a station sign at Lymington Pier. Don't bother. There aren't any. I boarded the same train to return back up the branch to Lymington Town, via Brockenhurst to reduce the fester. If I didn't have such a rigid plan and biblical weather, I'd have gone to ‘Spoons in Lymington. I kind of wish I had opted for the 30 minute fester at Lymington Town though as it's a beautiful little station. A nice cosy waiting room with lots of railway artefacts inside. It's also probably the furthest South you'll find leaflets for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway!
After 10 minutes or so, 450028 returned to take me back up this pleasant branch to the mainline at Brockenhurst. I was heading up to Basingstoke on the next Waterloo service to clear the shacks between Winchfield and Eastleigh. After stocking up on supplies I got my first indication that things were amiss. The next 2 Weymouth services were cancelled “Due to an incident at London Waterloo". That didn't sound good...
In my mind I was expecting a trespass or a station evac or similar. After a quick look online, my heart sank. Numerous reports were coming in of a derailment on the approach to Waterloo, with the RAIB getting involved. Fantastic(!) I boarded 444030+444039 as planned deciding to seek out more information before making a decision on what to do. I wasn't sure doing shacks in the Basingstoke area at the start of a Friday peak period with a potentially decimated service was a particularly wise idea. We were told rather abruptly in the Ashurst area that this busy 10 car service would be terminated at Southampton Central. That was my decision made. Goodbye Basingstoke! Gives me something else to do on the day I return for Corfe Castle I suppose...
I alighted into a very busy and slightly chaotic Southampton Central, slightly slipping into work mode by telling a few people who hadn't alighted to leave the train as it was going no further and also alerting the guard to a couple of bags left onboard. I positioned myself infront of a departure board armed with a map to decide my next move. Is it just me that is seemingly incapable of standing on a platform during disruption without being asked if I work here... (and NO, I'm not referring to when I AM at work!) I decided to pick at Saturday's plan which would allow a few hours of contingency time on Saturday evening. No bad thing. If all goes to plan, I get drunk. If it doesn't.. I get drunk anyway, but while shack scratching! (As it turns out, that was a VERY wise decision...)
It was time, just for a change, to go round and round on 158881. This quiet 158 took me up to Mottisfont & Dunbridge, the first time I'd passed Romsey on a SWR 158. Dunbridge and Dean stations are unusual in being managed by GWR yet no GWR trains call. Just the SWR rounders call at these stations, yet Dunbridge has the appropriate stop boards for 16X stock. (I didn't notice the, at Dean when I went there though, but it was dark) It had finally stopped raining while I was here. Around 10 of us were waiting to board 158883 which I took for the short hop back to Romsey.
I was boarding the Cardiff service which the PIS displayed 4 coaches for. I didn't really know what rolling stock to expect. A fairly empty train arrived formed of 165120+165129, such unsuitable stock for a several hour journey from Portsmouth to Cardiff! At least on the 166s you get some declassified first class... this was the first time I'd done the line between Salisbury and Westbury too, seeing as I'd gone via Frome on the way down. I bailed at Westbury with a now fully charged phone. I made my intent clear and boarded 166210 one stop down the line to Dilton Marsh. I was talking to someone at Westbury who told me it was rare not to stop at Dilton Marsh, indeed around 15 of us alighted. It was a short fester here whilst the 166 went to Warminster and back.
166210 soon returned with two of us boarding. I took this service to Freshford, the last station on this line I needed. This line is a very scenic journey, something which took me by surprise the first time I came down here. 166202 arrived shortly after I'd crossed the bridge to take me back towards Westbury. I neither knew nor cared where I was going to bail, as long as I picked up the Southampton train. I expected to end up needing to cross platforms at Westbury, so bailed at Trowbridge for a same platform connection. The next Southbound train was an SWR service, handy as I needed Warminster. A busy 159011 dropped in, running around 15 minutes late. Not that I minded as it broke the festers up a bit! I shifted from my seat in the PRM area at Westbury as someone else needed it, I opted to stand for the rest of the way as I couldn't be bothered hunting for another seat. Warminster is a pleasant station which had a decent crowd waiting for the Cardiff train.
A full+standing 166218 was in charge of the next Portsmouth service, also running a bit late. I wasn't ready for it being this busy! A fair volume of passengers alighted too. I wedged myself into the rear vestibule area... right next to the trolley! With GWR being the only TOC to serve my main lager of choice, I had no option but to indulge in a can. Or two. I was obviously winging it due to being totally off plan, so had no idea where to bail. After Salisbury I could move a bit at least. A quick look at RTT showed a Rounder running late so, assuming we didn't lose any more time, I was planning to bail at Romsey. The Rounder lost a little more time, so I comfortably made the connection onto 158885.
It had gone dark by now, so I saw little of the journey to Dean. It sounded like the delay was caused by someone having to be ejected from the train-not that I was complaining or I'd have missed it! I had around 45 minutes at Dean which, despite being rather cold, gave me time to sort my plans and spreadsheets out. I was hoping to visit a pub but alas it was not to be. The same 158 returned to take me round and round. An urgent PNB was had upon boarding and I found a table to take me round to Eastleigh. Why Eastleigh? Spoons! When I got round to Eastleigh I headed straight across the road for my dinner. A decent Fish and Chips was consumed before returning to the station.
Guess what? Cancelled! Could have done without that with an early start the next morning. I opted to take a required 444 to Southampton Airport (Parkway) as a fill in move before the next service. That meant going back on the rounder to Eastleigh. Or... not. I'd misread RTT and the rounder was going round and round in the wrong direction. Oops! I'd only realised this after boarding 444013, which I now took to Southampton Central. As such, GTR to the rescue! I'd just missed a direct Portsmouth service, so boarded a late running Brighton train. 377457 was my back up move to Havant on this fast service. A quick crossover at Havant for the Portsmouth train came in well. PEP time! 313215 made a lovely noise on the fast trip back to Fratton after a surprisingly productive day.
A rather long day! Productive indeed, despite the major issue at Waterloo, and from the sounds of it you had more fun than doing those shacks betweeen Eastleigh and Winchester!
The Figure of 6 services, and your description of them, always has a tendancy to put You Spin Me Right Round in my head
Oh wait until the SN Daysave report comes up if you think that was a long day!
Sounds like you'll have got sick of the *bing bong* Welcome to the Southern service to... as much as I did once some years back. I'm rather content doing my 377s between Croydon and Victoria, not on stoppers along the West Coastway
Couldn't complain about my trip from Victoria to East Croydon earlier, on time throughout with comfortable seating, happy days! The screen in my coach of 377102 was pretty much useless, aside from that job done! Whoever said Southern can't run trains on time?!
Indeed. For all the criticism they've had, DOO aside, they aren't half bad. Certainly had far, far better luck in GTR Southern than SWR.
“It's not an ‘obby, it's a lifestyle!” October 2019.
Day 18. 26th October 2019
Today was Saturday. Whilst on holiday. Early start time!
I headed down to the station, still in the dark of course (Boo!) For the first Bristol train at 06:16. Yuck. A very lightly loaded 158959 was doing the honours for this morning's sprint to Westbury. Thankfully it was rather toasty onboard as it was a cold morning. I took advantage of the table to go over my plans and maps as it was a journey of around 2 hours. I heard a familiar sound at around 07:00-several cans being opened. One part of me thought “seriously...?”, whilst the other part of e reached into my bag and though “F*** it, where's my bottle opener!” The sun rose in the Salisbury area and it wasn't long before I was alighting at Westbury.
The day's plan was simple and I had confidence in GWR not to balls it up. A leisurely potter around a few shacks before heading back to Hampshire to clear most of what I still needed around Southampton. 166214 was next up to Melksham, a slight annoyance as it isn't served too frequently. Well, relative to other shacks in the area that is. I'd found a service with a decent fester-having earlier modified my original plan to fit an extra station in. Yep, I was having one of those days I'd planned around 84 million times before finding something that I was happiest with! I had a decent plan so all was good. Unfortunately... GWR and Network Rail had different ideas!
165119 eventually rolled in running 15 minutes late. The conductor apologised for this saying that the train was waiting for a signal at Swindon, having seemingly been forgotten about. 15 minutes may not seem like the biggest delay in the world, but it was enough to cause me a massive headache. As we rolled into Westbury, an IET rolled out. Bye bye Exeter connection! This was much to the displeasure of myself, a gentleman travelling to Dawlish and a lady travelling to Tiverton Parkway. East-West services at Westbury are a tax infrequent so this meant we had to travel via Bristol. My connection at Taunton was now long gone, a bit of a pain as it was onto the Summer Saturday Only shuttle service to Bishop's Lydeard on the West Somerset Railway! Ah well, I'd easily make the lunchtime one at least, just a bit of a pain to get there. Plus I was looking forward to that IET!
The next Bristol service was formed of 165122 which got cosy on the way to Bath Spa, though emptied out a bit there. It felt like a long and tortuous journey so I was glad, but annoyed, to eventually reach Bristol Temple Meads. I camped out in a waiting room as it was rather cold here! I could travel on a CrosscCountry straight to Taunton... or I could get the Taunton stopper to Weston-Super-Mare then an XC onwards to Taunton from there. That still gave a 12 minute connection at Taunton, so worked out quite nicely! 158766 was working a busy Taunton stopper, with some extra stops added as the WSM stopper was cancelled due to a train fault (I wonder if that'll come back to bite...)
As I alighted at Weston-Super-Mare [I believe that's all stations served directly from Manchester Piccadilly ticked now] I noticed the Paignton Voyager running a few minutes late. I wasn't overly concerned by that however, and visited the platform pub for a nice cold pint. That was one of the few non-Spoons pubs I've been in with Kronenbourg on draught, so that was a welcome surprise! I looked onto the platform and my heart sank... the XC had more than doubled it's delay. Now I was concerned! An empty (yes. Really!) 220023 rumbled in and I took a seat for the short Voyage through the Somerset countryside. Last time I'd been on this line we lost around 30 minutes outside Taunton due to a near miss. On arrival at Birmingham New Street that day, I watched my connection sail away from the opposite platform just as I arrived. Was not impressed!
Thankfully the trip to Taunton was uneventful. I spoke to the TM who was confident we'd get the road ahead of the Bishop's Lydeard shuttle. I shared his confidence and kept my eye on Traksy. We arrived on the Island platform at Taunton, with the tail lights of the 150 just sailing away. GRRR! (Well. That's not exactly what I said. But I can't type that!) To make it worse, the Bristol stopper had just left too. I had an hour until anything useful could be done.
Right. PUB! It was a wet 10 minute walk down to the nearest ‘Spoons where a burger and a pint were devoured very well indeed. I'd decided to write off Bishop's Lydeard for today, I wasn't too bothered as I'm not counting it as a station whilst trains are just operating on a trial basis. But it would have been nice to have while I was here. Ah well. I returned to the station to pick up 166220 to Highbridge & Burnham. We picked up a lot of passengers at Bridgwater clearly heading into Bristol for a drink or 10, but few others boarded or alighted at Highbridge & Burnham.
Remember that cancelled Weston stopper? The Weston’s and Taunton's interwork don't they. Something I've just learnt the hard way... come on GWR, kick me while I'm down! I had an hour and a bit to sit in a poor shelter in the rain pondering who I've managed to upset within GWR and try to regain my plan. Again. My plan was to head back to Bridgwater then return to Bristol for a Portsmouth service. I pondered doing a linear +60 at Bridgwater as I'd noticed a pub by the platform on the way up, followed by an IET from Taunton to Westbury if I could be so lucky. Whilst searching on RTT, I clicked Taunton instead of Bridgwater out of habit.
What's this? “16:28 Bishop's Lydeard”? Stuff Bridgwater, I was doing that! After a very long hour, I boarded 158766 for the journey to Taunton. I was surprised that the conductor apologised to passengers who may have been affected by the previous cancellation-that's certainly not something that'd happen in Northern Land! I had around 30 minutes at Taunton, not that I was complaining AT ALL about that. A pint was most definitely required before boarding 150261 on the final service of 2019 to Bishop's Lydeard. Talk about cutting it fine... this was the same unit I'd had to Okehampton, but unlike the Okehampton branch we had a WSR crew onboard too. GWR run the Okehampton themselves but Bishop's Lydeard has both crews onboard. A GWR crew for the mainline+traction conducting and a WSR crew for their line and to route conduct once off the mainline. Revenue is entirely done by a WSR TTI, which felt just a bit strange on a 150!
The service loaded quite poorly, though the day was a last minute addition to the schedule and hadn't been well advertised. There was a good mix between locals going out on the beer and enthusiasts onboard, which is encouraging to see. The general consensus onboard seemed to be that if it ran as a normal service, it would be well used. The Okehampton trains are well used, but seem to be on a “because it does run and we don't want to lose it" basis with groups travelling to various destinations each Sunday. I had another half hour or so fester back at Taunton before heading up to Bridgwater on 166220. (Hello again you!)
It had gone dark by the time my Taunton bound chariot arrived, formed of recently reformed 158769. I took a seat in the waiting room and took advantage of a plug socket while I waited for the London service. As much as I like the idea of putting a small worktop in the waiting room, it was too far away from the fixed seats to be of much real use. Well done GWR... After what felt like a while, my IET arrived. A lightly loaded 802114 did the honours from Taunton to Westbury. I'd sat down and got comfy(ish) before noticing a sticky substance leaking from the luggage rack. I was immediately concerned that I may be having a repeat of the incident at Kite Land, so pulled my bag down but thankfully all was fine. I alerted the TM to this, mainly as I was concerned it may be acid leaking from a battery in the alarm unit located above my seat. He was unsure, but didn't seem to think it was from the train and advised me to move seats, which I did.
The rest of the journey passed without event and I headed over to 159107 after around 15 minutes at Westbury. Not too bad for somewhere that always seems to have poor connections! I was hoping to make an unofficial connection at Salisbury so the punctuality of this service was ‘Grateley’ appreciated! Arrival at Salisbury was thankfully on time and I quickly headed under the subway and onto 158881. Once again it was time to go round and round. No shacks though, just back to Southampton. We picked up a few already inebriated passengers en route, but never seemed to get particularly busy. (Maybe everyone else finds going round and round as confusing as I seemed to and kept going the wrong way!)
On arrival at Southampton Central it was 450 time. And it was also time to think about dinner. I boarded a busy 450073 for the slog down to Bursledon. Honestly this line feels. So. Bloody. Slow! Think of Merseyrail for an idea of what I mean. Regarding dinner, no one said Just Eat but someone did say Dominos! I placed an order to collect when I arrived at Hamble after visiting Bursledon. I'd looked on the map and seen there wasn't a lot around so I had little option. 450101 took me on the short hop back to Hamble, where I had a lengthy fester as I had to wait for the 450 to go to Southampton and back. The delivery man called me and actually met me on the platform with my pizza, which I was not expecting! The shelter was most certainly not a shelter, so everything was soaked with rain. I rested my food on the seat and stood whilst I tucked into my very nice pizza.
The pizza went down very well indeed. Or rather, half of it did. I'd just picked up the slice that was just over halfway through the pizza before the box gave way and tipped most of the rest of the pizza onto the platform! I could have cried! (And I'm sure they'll have heard me swear down in Penzance!) I was NOT amused. That just summed up my whole day really. Should have been an easy going simple day but became incredibly frustrating at pretty much every possible opportunity.
450101 returned from Southampton, far busier than this service had been at any point this week for the slog back to Fratton where I once again returned to the Ibis Budget for some badly needed sleep. Another early(ish) start for me tomorrow.