A day on the railways....

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SprinterMan

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Yesterday (6th June) I went on quite a trip :P I'm still at uni by my mother was on holiday so she got me a day trip to Looe as a birthday present. With advance tickets and a railcard I managed to to get Bangor-Looe return for £54 :)

I left Bangor on the 0540 to Birmingham, which is quite a slow train. It is overtaken by the WAG train at Chester and waits for a considerable amount of time at Llandudno Junction, Chester, Wrexham General and Shrewsbury. I was the only person waiting at Bangor for the train. I was looking forward to a nice journey on a freshly refurbished 158 when a miserable unrefurbished turned up (in normal Arriva colours). The guard said he really didn't like the unrefurbished ones with their dim lighting, and I agree, they aren't nice inside and the seats are very poor compared to the new ones. WAG1 overtook us at Chester pulled by 67001 but I was too slow to get a picture.

The journey was uneventful until Shrewsbury when a massive number of people boarded the train. Another (refurbished this time, thank god) set was then coupled to the rear of the train so I moved into it as it was almost empty and I wished to experience what I think are the best seats on any train today. There were only about 6 people in the whole carriage despite the other set being rammed so I had a table to myself.

I sat here without incident until Wellington, when alot more people boarded. A mother and two small-ish children were looking for seats, so I happily offered them my table, as it irritates me when on busy trains one person takes up a whole table and I wasn't going to be one of those people. She responded with "Don't be silly", then sat next to me with her children across from me. This was a situation I really wanted to avoid, as I am a bit claustrophobic and loathe children and have a damaged right leg which makes me walk with a limp and it gives me horrible cramps unless I regularly straighten it so I kept accidentally almost kicking her children. I pretended to get off at Telford and moved to the rear carriage until we reached New Street

45 mins and a visit to Burger King later it was time to get my next train. I really don't see why some people hate New Street; I think is great, alot like an airport inside. I am a big fan of New Street. I made my way to platform 12 to get the 1012 to Plymouth. It is booked as a Double Voyager, so you can imagine my horror when 220001 turns up my itself. The seat reservation said all seats were available, so there was anarchy with many disgruntled OAPs all trying to claim the same seat. A conversation with one of the people on the train and the guard later I found out that a northbound train had broken down and our other Voyager had been removed at Derby to replace it. The coach letters were changed (Coach I became Coach C etc.) which is where the confusion came from.

I eventually ended up next to a delightful old lady and her dog, Stan, both of which made the journey on the busy Voyager much more enjoyable. After hearing one or two of the other OAPs who got on at New Street who were in front of us mutter something along the lines of "lynch the guard" I was a little concerned they would make a scene with the guard, but nothing happened. I lost my travelling companion at Tiverton Parkway, where I carried Stan off the train due to he being to heavy for the lady to carry, but having arthritis he was unable to make the jump down to that platform and the lady had said something about him almost falling down the gap between the train and platform at New Street so I carried Stan the poodle off the train for her.

After changing on to a local train at Plymouth formed of an FGW 153 (with great new seats) and an LM 153 I started my journey to Liskeard. The Cornish Mainline is a really great line for scenery with all the viaducts over lonely valleys and rolling green hills. I arrived at Liskeard and changed onto 150248. It started raining heavily around Coombe and kept raining heavily all the way until just outside Looe, spoiling my attempted photo of the Causeway and causing me to worry that my trip would be ruined, but just before Looe the sun came out and it was a lovely day.

After a Cornish Pasty and Ice Cream, a drink at the cliff-top "Raffles Bar & Lounge" and a trip on the harbour ferry it was time to return home. After getting 150248 back up to Liskeard, I changed onto 150126 to get back to Plymouth. The 150/1 still had it's old CT interior, and while the 3+2 seating layout is silly and uncomfortable the actual seats are more comfortable than on a 150/2 and there is slightly more legroom than on a 150/2. Also, they have proper-ish door vestibules like a 317 or 321, and not just holes in the side of the carriage like a 150/2.

I arrived back at Plymouth and got on the 1825 to Birmingham New Street. I got a forward facing window seat on the side of the sea at Dawlish so I was happy, although the odd youths at the table next to me who kept waving at the train dispatcher at Bristol Temple Meads were a little annoying at times. 220028 which was running the service was quite unwell. Only half on the main lights were on, none of the spotlights were on and the side lights in the luggage racks were also all off on my carriage. Also, in between Bristol and Cheltenham something either hit or fell off of the underside of the carriage.

We stopped just outside of New Street on a bridge over a mysterious apparently empty station somewhere with several XC 170s came past on the curve from the line underneath us onto the line we were on. I now know we had gone on the Camp Hill line and the station was Bordesley. The approach to New Street from the East is very impressive at Night, with the Bullring and Selfridge's all lit up. At a eerily empty New Street that reminded me of Gatwick Airport South terminal in the middle of the night I changed onto the 2255 to Holyhead. I cursed my luck as a filthy unrefurbished litter-filled 158 turned up. The run to Chester was uneventful, but at Chester we were herded off the unit onto another (!!!!!) unrefurbished 158 due to there being "something wrong with the engine" (How many unrefurbished 158s are there still, I thought there were only a handful but 3 of the 4 158s I was on today were unrefurbished. Was I just unlucky?). This 158s was even filthier than the other one, and the lights in the front carriage were either not working or off, and I was expecting it to not make it back to Bangor. It did though, 10 mins late. What a lovely day :)

Adam :D
 
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trentside

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An interesting report, thanks for sharing it.

I think lots of people don't like New Street because of the dark underground platforms, but I've always found the facilities to be adequate when I've had connections there - far better than many other large stations (e.g. the old concourse at KGX).
 

150001

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Great report, thanks! I must say that I hate New Street. Dark, cramped and also the number of platform alterations is awful. It must be terrible for a foreigner who comes over and then all this "move down to the extreme end of platform" and "Cross Country Cardiff" is moved to another platform. The Walsall trains seem to be moved this way and that and my Dad got on a train which he soon discovered was going to Worcester, not Walsall. There was no information to say where the train to Walsall was and he missed it. Anyway rant over:D
 

Johnuk123

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Great report, thanks! I must say that I hate New Street. Dark, cramped and also the number of platform alterations is awful. It must be terrible for a foreigner who comes over and then all this "move down to the extreme end of platform" and "Cross Country Cardiff" is moved to another platform. The Walsall trains seem to be moved this way and that and my Dad got on a train which he soon discovered was going to Worcester, not Walsall. There was no information to say where the train to Walsall was and he missed it. Anyway rant over:D
Your dad struck lucky then as Worcester is a much nicer place than Walsall will ever be.
 

387star

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Only half on the main lights were on, none of the spotlights were on and the side lights in the luggage racks were also all off on my carriage.

The run to Chester was uneventful, but at Chester we were herded off the unit onto another (!!!!!) unrefurbished 158 due to there being "something wrong with the engine" (How many unrefurbished 158s are there still, I thought there were only a handful but 3 of the 4 158s I was on today were unrefurbished. Was I just unlucky?). This 158s was even filthier than the other one, and the lights in the front carriage were either not working or off, and I was expecting it to not make it back to Bangor.
Adam :D
Is it really only a coincidence both these trains were run by Arriva? I can only presume there is a good reason why the 158s have been left in such a state for so long, presumably funding not being sufficient in the original franchise?

Regarding Liskeard-Looe I frequented the line when I was at a kid. I stayed at Badham Farm Holiday Cottages which are located close to the line at Causeland station. Every morning I would hear a class 153 unit and whilst playing tennis the 153 would pass by and I would get a wave from the conductor/driver!

They have recently extended the cottages into the woods which was rather a shock (I revisited the line last spring) as there used to be 'a tunnel of green gloom' with a forest of pine trees. There did used to be a dumping problem with armchairs and TVs scattered around but I think the problem has abated.

I don't know if you noticed but there is a rather hideous house between Causeland and Sandplace with a thatched roof. When I last saw it there were two giant dogs closely guarding it. Rather intimidating!

Suggestion: When you are next down alight at Causeland and walk up the hill to Duloe where there are some ancient stones scattered in a field (quite a sight in the mist) Try walking to Heresfoot which is an idyllic village with a church raised high above it. Great for picnics! The walk from Looe to Polperro or Looe back to Duloe via the woods is also recommended.
 

SprinterMan

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Is it really only a coincidence both these trains were run by Arriva? I can only presume there is a good reason why the 158s have been left in such a state for so long, presumably funding not being sufficient in the original franchise?

Regarding Liskeard-Looe I frequented the line when I was at a kid. I stayed at Badham Farm Holiday Cottages which are located close to the line at Causeland station. Every morning I would hear a class 153 unit and whilst playing tennis the 153 would pass by and I would get a wave from the conductor/driver!

They have recently extended the cottages into the woods which was rather a shock (I revisited the line last spring) as there used to be 'a tunnel of green gloom' with a forest of pine trees. There did used to be a dumping problem with armchairs and TVs scattered around but I think the problem has abated.

I don't know if you noticed but there is a rather hideous house between Causeland and Sandplace with a thatched roof. When I last saw it there were two giant dogs closely guarding it. Rather intimidating!

Suggestion: When you are next down alight at Causeland and walk up the hill to Duloe where there are some ancient stones scattered in a field (quite a sight in the mist) Try walking to Heresfoot which is an idyllic village with a church raised high above it. Great for picnics! The walk from Looe to Polperro or Looe back to Duloe via the woods is also recommended.
I go to Bangor university, and the unrefurbished 158s have inspired a hatred of Arriva Trains Wales among the general non-rail enthusiast student population here to such a degree that Virgin trains are near-worshipped and people book their journeys home specifically to go on Virgin trains. I tried to convince people to give the refurbished 158s a chance, but then when they did a 2 car unit turned up with such a large number of people on it the train was having to leave people behind.

Thanks very much for the travel tips. I last went to Cornwall 8 years ago before my trip, and stayed in a caravan near Polperro. Polperro is lovely and had I had more time there I would have visited it this time. :)

Adam :D
 

172212

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Great report, thanks! I must say that I hate New Street. Dark, cramped and also the number of platform alterations is awful. It must be terrible for a foreigner who comes over and then all this "move down to the extreme end of platform" and "Cross Country Cardiff" is moved to another platform. The Walsall trains seem to be moved this way and that and my Dad got on a train which he soon discovered was going to Worcester, not Walsall. There was no information to say where the train to Walsall was and he missed it. Anyway rant over:D
I know. The Cambrian line platform got changed 3 minutes before arrival, and you had about 30-50 people (including me) trying to run up the stairs to get to the changed platform before the train left :lol:
 
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