ABB125's Trip Reports (latest trip: Anglia Day Ranger 30.07.20)

ABB125

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23 Jul 2016
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705
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Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border
NEW REPORT - go to post 12

I thought I would start a trip report thread, because why not?
Apologies if you find this long-winded; it's over 3000 words!

First trip: West Midlands Day Ranger, 06.05.19

This was my first WM Day Ranger; I have been on plenty of trips using a Network Daytripper ticket, but this has a much smaller area of validity, so I fancied a change. As it was a bank holiday, there were some amended services on the WCML:
Virgin Trains:
  • 1tph Milton Keynes-Liverpool, calling at Rugby, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn
  • 1tph Milton Keynes-Carlisle, calling at Rugby, via Birmingham, then Crewe and onwards (not Stafford)
  • 1tph Milton Keynes-Manchester, via the Stafford avoiding line (is that the right name) at Colwich Junction, first stop Stoke on Trent
  • 1tph Birmingham International-Manchester, calling at New Street, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Stoke and onwards
LNR:
3tph northwards from Northampton, two of which ran into Birmingham at 20/40 minute intervals, and one to Crewe via the Trent Valley and Stoke.
All other routes were running pretty much as normal.

First I got 800020 from a station on the Cotswold Line to Worcester. The seat reservation system appeared to be working (all the lights were on (and green)), not that there would have been any issues had it not been as the coach was very quiet. The coach windows were a bit steamed up (or looked like it from the outside) but could be seen out of. The interior was airy and spacious, with excellent legroom (although I was in a priority seat); however, the pillar that holds up the seats in front (there are two, I’m referring to the one next to the side wall) was in the way a bit of my feet – could they not have screwed the seats into the wall and done away with the support on the floor? Speaking of seats, I found them perfectly adequate for the journey I was making, but perhaps a tad hard for a journey of many hours.
IMG_5743 (Medium).JPG IMG_5744 (Medium).JPG Reservations working!

Upon departure, acceleration was brisk, with a slight EMU-style whine; the engines were unnoticeable. The coach felt a bit wobbly side-to-side at speed, although that may have been the track. The ride felt, at times, rather bumpy, as if there was no suspension on the bogies, because it felt like most of the bumps encountered on the track were being transmitted directly to the passengers.

Passing Worcestershire Parkway station, I noticed that, in addition to the main glass footbridge, there was a second one, only accessible by stairs, of the kind that you might see at a relatively quiet rural station. Does anyone know why it is there?

When the guard was dispatching the train from the vestibule behind me, the buzzer seemed very loud, easily the loudest I’ve heard. The guard then came in to check tickets: I had an e-ticket printed off, and the little laser scanner he used to check it with was rather temperamental; it took many attempts and about half a minute for it to read the QR code. I asked the guard if he was able to sell me a West Midlands Day Ranger – he wasn’t sure, having never sold one before, but checked on his machine, and thus sold me one. This was on the approach to Worcester Shrub Hill station; he was still dealing with my transaction as we pulled into the platform, which remarkably hadn’t disappeared just because the driver, not guard, opened the doors. This was a good example of the benefits of the driver opening the doors, as the guard was able to finish with me without having to worry about the doors.

I stayed on the train to Worcester Foregate Street (it’s an extra 50 chains!), whereupon I alighted and waited for the second train of the day, to Birmingham New Street via a reversal at Shrub Hill (another extra 50 chains!). 153371 and 170508 duly arrived; I got on the 153, which was very noisy (I think I was sat on top of the engine). Announcements were also very loud. At Shrub Hill, I decided to move into the 170, but it turned out to be rather full, so back onto the 153 for me! I sat at the other end this time, and it was much quieter. Interestingly the passenger information screen showed ‘Class 153’, presumably something to do with the reversal procedure. Shortly before departure it resumed it normal display. My ticket was not checked on this journey.

Around Droitwich, I decided to change my plan and take a class 323 up the Lickey Incline to see what it was like. Thus I alighted at Bromsgrove, my first visit to the station. It was a bit desolate and bleak. One thing I noticed was the unused platform areas by the stairs and lifts: the platforms extend right to the far side of the lift towers, but from the start of the stairs one side is fully gated off, on the other the gap between the stairs and platform edge is wider so as to allow access to the lifts. A fence right on the platform edge is installed, presumably to stop people from falling off the platform. Rather amusingly, none of the gates I saw in these areas had locks on, so you could just slide the locking bar back and enter these presumably non-public areas.
IMG_5780 (Medium).JPG IMG_5791 (Medium).JPG Unlocked gates!

After two voyagers had passed through, 323242 arrived, annoyingly not one of the ones I need for ‘rideage onage’ (you can’t really say ‘haulage’ if there isn’t a locomotive). We duly departed on time and ran up to about 30mph or so, performed a running brake test (I think) and then powered up the incline at a good pace. Once at the top the driver really got some speed up (the Sectional Appendix says 90mph here, and that is the maximum speed of a class 323), I actually found it quite exhilarating. We rocketed through Barnt Green, but soon had to slow down to actually call at some stations.

Thus the tedious stops at every station into Birmingham. Perhaps the spurt of speed had made the train early, because we stopped at Longbridge for quite a long time (at least a minute). At Northfield I noticed that the island platform on the fast lines was very scruffy. Not much else of note happened, although the announcements were inaudible. My ticket was not checked.
IMG_5797 (Medium).JPG Sruffy Northfield

I had now lost half an hour compared to staying on the train from Worcester, but happily there was a convenient train to catch, 390134 heading for Manchester. I boarded coach E, and there was a rather strong toilet smell, but either it disappeared quickly or I got used to it! My phone wouldn’t connect to the now-free wifi annoyingly. Initially upon departure there was a very faint but high-pitched buzzing noise that stopped when the air conditioning went off (neutral section perhaps?) and didn’t come back when the air con came on again. The train was very quiet (in terms of passenger numbers) and my ticket was checked fairly swiftly. The journey to Wolverhampton felt like it was really slow (we were crawling along at an infuriatingly dismal pace). Departure from Wolverhampton took ages too, and at Stafford, where I alighted, departure was 5 minutes late.

I then took 350264 to Crewe. Departure from Stafford was 2L, presumably because of 390134 running late (same platform and both trains coming off the same route). Good speed was achieved by the new(ish) flyover at Norton Bridge and we were 2 minutes early at Crewe. The journey was uneventful and the train quiet; my ticket was not checked.

This was my first time at Crewe in daylight, and there was plenty of stuff about, but I had no time to enjoy it as there were only 5 minutes before the departure of my next train: 350122 to Stoke (and continuing to Northampton). The seats looked rather worn, and the ride was a bit bumpy at speed. The train was relatively busy and my ticket was nearly checked (but there wasn’t quite enough time).

From Stoke I then caught 153379 and 153355 back to Crewe. As I was sat at the engine end it was rather noisy. There wasn’t much legroom. My ticket was checked.
IMG_5873 (Medium).JPGLack of legroom!

Back at Crewe, I had a bit more time to take some photographs. Not much of interest happened: 175107 in new TfW livery arrived, and within a minute had gone back the way it had come to Wales; 68022 in TPE livery was in one of the bay platforms, but rather annoyingly, although it started up whilst I was there, I had to go and hop onto 390115 which had just pulled in. I got on, and 68022 left. My destination was Rugby, again a new station for me; there were few passengers on board, and the entire Trent Valley was basically empty of trains. I was in coach U, a letter I’ve not noticed before. The dryer in the toilet was powerful, but very sensitive to hand position: move just a few cm this way or that and it would turn off. Just before Nuneaton we slowed, and moved over to the slow lines; the guard mistakenly announced we were arriving at Rugby, but shortly after corrected himself. In no time at all, we arrived at Rugby. My ticket was not checked, and again my phone wouldn’t connect to the wifi.

Rugby is another rather bleak station in my opinion; there wasn’t much of interest there. I wandered down to the far (south) end of platform 5 and discovered 57304 parked in a siding. There was also a sign that caught my eye (see below). I think it takes the ‘don’t trespass’ message a bit too far! Upon wandering back up the platform, I noticed, tucked away behind some bushed to such an extent that I almost missed it, 86259.
IMG_5937 (Medium).JPG Don't trespass, you risk decapitation!
IMG_5942 (Medium).JPG Do I see a class 86?

350240 arrived, and I took it to Northampton, a new line for me. The train was quiet, the journey uneventful, no ticket check. A very quick (less than a minute) change at Northampton from platform 3 to 4 (I know this doesn’t sound hard, but they are at opposite sides of the station and about as far apart as is possible!) saw me taking 350120 back towards Rugby thence Coventry. The seats were rather grotty and one was broken (collapsed base), but otherwise a quiet, uneventful trip. No ticket check.

At Coventry I took 153354 on the Leamington shuttle. The train seemed incredibly busy for the time of day (1536), with most seats taken. Departure was 9L due to an issue which involved discussions between the driver, guard and platform dispatcher; at one point the driver revved the engine, which amused some passengers! Once under way, the guard announced that the delay was due to issues with the door. Again, the information display showed ‘Class 153’.

During the journey, as the guard was walking through, the woman sat in front of me asked how to get to Warwick Parkway; I had seen her ask the same of the dispatcher at Coventry, and it transpired that, somewhere to the south (possibly Banbury) she had been told to catch the train the Birmingham New Street, which she had got off of at Coventry, where she was told to go back to Leamington, where the XC train she had previously alighted from had called. Understandably she was slightly confused and wanted to know how to get to Warwick Parkway; unfortunately, the guard was newly qualified, this being her first day on the job, and as a result her knowledge of the railway network was somewhat lacking. I therefore felt it was best to provide some input, the result being a happy passenger and happy guard.

At the new station at Kenilworth, I thought it didn’t really look like very good value for the £14 million or so it cost to build, but it was well used by passengers from the train (relative to the number of people you can get on a class 153!). At the junction to the main line outside Leamington, we were held to wait for a southbound freight to pass; perhaps a short stretch of additional track should be added here to permit access to bay platform 4 that is independent of the main line. I returned to Coventry on the same unit, but in a different seat. Legroom was good, but there was a heater blowing hot air at my ankles. One of the seats’ armrest was rather bent out into the aisle. Again Kenilworth station appeared well used. My ticket was checked on the return journey but not outward.

From Coventry I returned to Rugby on 350233, with 350101 on the front. A quiet, uneventful journey with no ticket check.

Then on to Stafford on 390040; unsurprisingly the wifi wasn’t working again. The train was quiet and the journey uneventful. I was in coach C; presumably the reason the ceiling reduces in height at the coach end is due to the pantograph well? Also, there was a random luggage rack in between some seats with a plastic duct through the middle of it from floor to ceiling. The wire from the pantograph perhaps? There was no ticket check; the guard was sat in his office next to the shop for the duration of the journey.

After half an hour at Stafford, where amongst other things I witnessed two pendolinos pulling out of adjacent platforms in the same direction simultaneously (obviously the drivers weren’t trying to race each other; that would be irresponsible!), I headed for Rugeley on 350122, which was another quiet, uneventful journey with no ticket check. Having never been to Rugeley Trent Valley before, it immediately became my favourite Trent Valley station: a fairly long, straight run to the north, and a s-shape curve to the south, with Rugeley power station for additional photographic interest. Plus, there are no obstructions to the view in either direction, unlike at Lichfield.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any time to enjoy this brilliant station because 170517 and 153356 were departing imminently for Birmingham. This was a new line for me (at least as far as Walsall), and one thing that struck me about it was the potential extent of unpaid fares. I had a coach to myself as far as Rugeley Town, whereupon a small group of teenage girls boarded. I don’t know if they had tickets, although I did hear what sounded like money being counted, possibly to buy tickets with; however the guard never checked tickets, and I doubt that, if they didn’t have any tickets, those girls would have bought any at the station where they alighted (assuming facilities were available). This is just one case of potential fare evasion; I dread to think how much money is lost on this line.

Although he didn’t check tickets, the guard was visible to passengers in my coach because the toilet was broken, so he went and did some stuff to it. I think he stuck a sign on saying ‘toilet out of use’. Soon after calling at Tame Bridge Parkway, I noticed a teenage boy in the vicinity of the toilet looking slightly confused (presumably at the door not opening). He then disappeared. I wouldn’t want to accuse him of what happened next, but he did look slightly worried. At about this point, there was a sudden sharp brake application, and we stopped. As I was sat near the intermediate cab, I could hear a buzzing/alarm noise, and sure enough the guard sprang out of the cab (ok, maybe he didn’t quite ‘spring out’) and strode purposefully towards the toilet, whereupon he looked around, briefly looked into the other carriage, made some clattering noises, went back to the cab, returned, made some more clattering noises, and then went back to the cab again. Motion resumed, and an announcement was made, apologising for the delay due to the passcom being pulled. (This may be what happened, but is this a satisfactory explanation for a member of the public who doesn’t know what a passcom is? Perhaps ‘passenger alarm’ would be more suitable.) We then continued into Birmingham, going via Soho, in doing so giving me the satisfaction of now having traversed the Perry Bar-Soho line in both directions.

I then caught 158823 and 158820 to Smethwick Galton Bridge, departing 2 minutes late. Rather impressively, the free wifi worked in the tunnel just outside New Street heading towards Wolverhampton. The train was quiet, and not surprisingly there was no ticket check over the short distance to Smethwick. From here I caught 172211 and 172218 to Stourbridge Junction. The train was quite busy, but again no ticket check. I found the seats more relaxing than those on a pendolino. Some of the interior trim was a bit rattly when idling in stations. The automated announcements at every station were incredibly long and tedious: ‘…and please step onto the platform before removing large luggage or pushchairs’.

At Stourbridge I took the shuttle on the branch line, and, in a reversal of Sod’s Law, 139001 was in use, the one I needed for rideage onage. My ticket was checked this time (first time in about 4 hours), and on the return journey I was the only passenger. The ride was rather bouncy and enjoyable with some quite significant sideways motion.

I then took 172219 and 172217 to Worcester Shrub Hill. Interestingly, at Stourbridge the trains arrival time went from being on time to 1L to 2L to on time, all before the train had arrived. Actual departure was 1L. Again the seats were very comfortable. My ticket was checked.

Finally back to my local station, this time on 802101, my first ride on a class 802. It was very empty; I walked through 3 carriages, with 2, 0 and 1 passengers. The lighting was perhaps a bit bright, but personally I didn’t have an issue with it. There was an annoying squeak when the carriage underwent sideways movement. The reservation system wasn’t working (or wasn’t turned on), as all the lights and screens were off. The engines were inaudible, except during acceleration. My ticket was checked, and again the guard struggled to scan the QR code on it.


So to summarise:
  • About 375 miles for £18 on the Ranger ticket
  • Ticket check on 8 out of 21 trains
  • Lots of new routes
Is there anything I should change about my reports in the future? Please let me know.
 
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433N

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Joined
20 Jun 2017
Messages
752
Nice report there, sir. Sounds like you had a good day.

I'm sure that residents of Northfield would be mortified if they knew that you called their suburb 'scruffy' but made no comment on Smethwick. I won't tell 'em though.

Keep 'em coming.
 

Techniquest

Veteran Member
Joined
19 Jun 2005
Messages
17,892
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Nowhere Heath
I'm assuming you're of the right age for a railcard, as a WMDR is nowhere near that cheap for the rest of us! I used to use a WMDR on a regular basis in the late 2000s, and when the new stuff starts arriving next year I'll probably do one again. It'll be nice to have new stuff out of The Ford with WMR!

Welcome to the trip reporting community!

An excellent day clearly for you there, although I disagree with your term 'rideage onage' as it just sounds bizarre to me. 'Haulage' may not be terribly accurate these days, in the most part, but it's certainly an accepted term with just a slightly different meaning these days. I'm a bit old-school though, so 'haulage' will always be my chosen term.

Northfield, yes that island platform does look a bit in need of some love, but so does the same at Kings Norton.

Rugeley TV trains generally go via Soho, just so you know, although in times of need they can and occasionally do go via and serve the likes of Aston. I once joined a 170 at Aston which was a strange feeling! Rugeley TV is good for photos of WCML trains, agreed. The station is otherwise a bit of a miserable place to be!

Can't comment on Kenilworth as I have not yet been there.

Rather enjoyable read there!
 

ABB125

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Joined
23 Jul 2016
Messages
705
Location
Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border
Cheshire Day Ranger, 30.12.19

The two main objectives of this trip were TPE class 68s and Northern pacers.

Starting the day were 170110 then 170103 then 221127 to get me to Manchester via Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Due to various late running, the plan had to be amended several times, including (after asking the guard) going on the wrong train with an advance ticket. Nevertheless, arrival at Piccadilly was only 8 minutes behind schedule at 0955, plenty of time for the next train.

Based on information I obtained online, I went on the 1010 to Rose Hill (Marple), hoping for a pacer; instead 150211 turned up, stacked between 156460 on a Buxton train and 185112, which I think was stabling in the platform. The Buxton train was late departing, and so the Rose Hill train was also, departing nearly 4 minutes late. Having never been this way before, I enjoyed the ride and varied scenery. One thing I noticed was the electrification equipment on the former Woodhead line: is it still the original overhead spans, but at 25kV rather than whatever the original was? I also noticed that there was space for 4 tracks (if you ignore the encroachment upon the alignment by Network Rail “stuff”) pretty much all the way as far as Hyde North, at which point Rose Hill trains turn off. Presumably the route used to be 4 tracks (or even more in places)? Arrival at Rose Hill was 3 minutes late, but despite the 6 minute timetabled turnaround, we departed on time back to Piccadilly. Arrival at Piccadilly just over 1 minute late due to congestion in the station throat.

I was disappointed at the lack of a pacer to Rose Hill, as that was the only journey planned for one. However, during the call at Stockport on the way into Manchester (on 221127) I caught a glimpse of a pacer going south. Using RealTime Trains, this appeared to be a Southport-Adderley Edge train, which, surprisingly conveniently, was due through Piccadilly on its way back to Southport at 1118. The return from Rose Hill was due to arrive at 1115. I decided therefore to try and catch the pacer to Oxford Road, whereupon I could resume the plan and take a TransPennine train to Victoria.

The late arrival back at Piccadilly was concerning, but I managed to get to platform 14 just in time to see that not only was the Southport train in the platform already, but attached to the rear of the pacer (and thus next to the stairs) was a class 150 (the number of which I can’t accurately confirm; it’ll be written down, but I can’t work out which one it actually is, and I haven’t got any pictures of it). Therefore I had to fight my way through the crowds (at 1115!) to reach the pacer, which turned out to be 142011. Departure was under 1 minute late.

A Oxford Road, we arrived in platform 1; I’m not at all familiar with the station, but I gather this is fairly unusual? Anyway, the train arrived, I got off, and the train stayed. It was then overtaken by a succession of on-time and late trains (as far as I could see, using Traksy maps, there was no reason for it to be held here, but obviously there may have been an issue I wasn’t aware of) until the train to Newcastle, which I wanted and was 185149, arrived in platform 2. Where is stayed. Eventually the train in platform 1 departed, seemingly unnecessarily 23 minutes late. Then, slightly bizarrely, I noticed on Traksy that an eastbound train (I can’t work out what it was) was running wrong line through Deansgate, blocking 185149 (onto which I had by now boarded) in platform 2. It arrived into platform 1 (!). Equally bizarrely, just before we departed, an EMR train to Liverpool pulled into platform 3. I’m sure there must have been some reason for this seemingly odd behaviour…

Anyway, a 13 minute late departure from Oxford Road was very worrying, as I had a 12 minute connection (if everything was on time) at Victoria for the class 68 to Liverpool. Fortunately, the Liverpool train itself was 4 minutes late, so connection made!

On this day, 3 of the 4 class 68 diagrams were running, and conveniently they were the 3 I had planned to catch during the day. The next few hours were spent on Mk 5 coaches on the following journeys (about 148 miles in total):

  • Victoria-Liverpool-Victoria 68027
  • Victoria-Liverpool-Lea Green 68025
  • Lea Green-Liverpool-Victoria 68022

The ride was good, the seats OK, interior clean, WiFi not working, reservation light operational (and personally I thought they were better-designed that those on a class 800/1/2). Class 68 power was audible from coach D (with coach E (or is it F?) in the way). Speed was deceptively fast: looking out the window it looked like we were doing about 60mph; in reality it was around 90 (I think, I wasn’t paying too much attention). All in all I felt like the Mk 5 coaches are a good-quality product, although the small toilet I tried was quite odd (and small), being oriented such that the toilet is at the “far” end of the “room” facing the door and other side of the coach, with sink between the door and toilet.

Having arrived at Victoria 3 minutes late at 1632, it was time to head back to Oxford Road to catch the TfW class 67 towards North Wales (9 minute connection). However, the 1639 to Manchester Airport (185146) departed 4 minutes late, and arrived at Oxford Road 8 minutes late. Luckily, we were sent into platform 3, rather than 4 as booked, resulting in a nice, easy (!) cross-platform change. This was my first time on the North Wales Mk 3s, but they weren’t remarkable compared with other Mk 3s. 67010 provided the haulage.

I alighted at Warrington Bank Quay, and then waited for the 1743 to Leeds from Chester (to take back to Victoria). Happily 195121 turned up, allowing me to try one of Northern’s new trains. It was decent enough, plenty of standing space (not that it was needed). I had look at the single toilet, and noticed that the sink arrangement was exactly the same as on the Mk 5s (not really surprising though, considering they are both built be CAF). The exterior doors made a nice whirring sound as they opened and closed. The only fault I could find on my relatively short journey was the lack of bins: the only one I saw in the entire train was I the toilet.

Back at Victoria I annoyingly just missed the late-running train to the Airport, despite early arrival at Victoria by the class 195. With the next Ordsall chord service in 30 minutes running late, and with a 6 minute connection at Piccadilly, I decided to be safe and take the tram to Piccadilly (at the expense of £1.40). This was my first trip on Metrolink, and it was uneventful but perfectly satisfactory. I went on tram 3010.

At Piccadilly I boarded 390121, the 1855 to London via Crewe, where I alighted. A 4 minute late arrival at Crewe (in platform 1, I was near the front of the train) resulted in an uncomfortably close planned 8 minute connection into the Trent Valley stopper (platform 7). Whilst I (and another passenger) did make it in time for timetabled departure, annoyingly departure was nearly 3 minutes late. Formed of 350410 (presumably newly re-liveried) and 350130, we ran on the fast line to Stafford. Is this normal? At Stafford, there was an announcement by the guard that due to a broken down freight train we would not be calling at Rugeley, and alternative transport would be provided. (It had broken down on the slow line between the fast-slow crossover to the north of Rugeley and the station itself, a very annoying place to break down.) Departure was nearly 10 minutes late. We therefore ran on the fast line to just north of Lichfield, where slow line running resumed. I alighted at Tamworth for a leisurely 35 minute connection. However it was running 8 minutes late. 220031 eventually arrived, and continued to be 8 minutes late until just after New Street, when we became 20 minutes late due to “a vulnerable person threatening self-harm on the railway”. The day finished with 170521, which was also running late (by 8 minutes).

So, in summary, a good day out. I hope you enjoyed reading it. This report has about half the number of words as my previous one (not that it feels like it!). Apologies for any grammatical errors.
 

Kite159

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Sounded like a good day in Manchester, shame on missing out on a pacer to Rose Hill. It felt strange when I was in Piccadilly early December to see the Rose Hill Marple/New Mills Central services being 150s
 

ABB125

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23 Jul 2016
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Location
Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border
Sounded like a good day in Manchester, shame on missing out on a pacer to Rose Hill. It felt strange when I was in Piccadilly early December to see the Rose Hill Marple/New Mills Central services being 150s
Thanks. I was a bit disappointed, but at the end of the day I did have a very short pacer journey. I'll have to see if I can make another trip north (or to Wales) in the near future.
 

ABB125

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23 Jul 2016
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Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border
Anglia Plus Day Ranger 30.07.20

Having not set foot on a train since New Year's Eve last year (the report above!) due to A-levels (now cancelled) and then coronavirus, I decided to go on a trip, and chose East Anglia for the combination of new trains, new track and low cost (or not so low, as you'll see!). (I should point out that this was actually my second trip this year, having gone on a day trip to Blackpool two days prior.)
My plan was as follows:
  • Drive to Cambridge North
  • Head across to Ipswich
  • Do the Felixstowe branch, then to Sheringham and back via Lowestoft and Norwich
  • Return to Cambridge North and go home
The total cost for this would have been around £50, including fuel, parking and tickets. Not too bad.

However...

At around 2100 the night before it became apparent that I wouldn't be able to do that, and so any hope of an early night before getting up before 0500 was dashed by the need to replan. Eventually I decided upon driving to Didcot Parkway, then train to Ipswich, which would have the benefit of trying some of the class 745s as well as class 755s. The only downside being the additional £30 or so. (I should also point out that normally I would get the train from a local station rather than drive to a "parkway station", but given the current situation, the sub-optimal timings and lack of cheap advance fares on GWR precluded this.)

However...

It took longer to get to Didcot than I had anticipated, wherupon I wasted another 5 minutes trying to find the long-stay car park and paying for parking (and I almost missed the junction from the A34 because there wasn't any sign anywhere for Didcot Parkway. Only the presence of a Didcot Railway Centre brown sign made me exit at the last moment!). Then I had to actually get to the station and buy tickets to London (I'd already bought some cheap advances from London to Ipswich, but these also needed collecting from the ticket machine), and I'd just got to the machine when I realised I'd left my mask in the car. So back to the car park! When I finally got to the machine again, it turned out to be the most slow and unresponsive machine I've ever used. Eventually I managed to purchase tickets to London, split at Slough, and went up to the platform.

However...

I'd missed both possible departures which gave enough time to get to Liverpool Street from Paddington in time for the train to Ipswich (if only Crossrail was open!) and, when I was looking at my tickets I discovered that not only had I accidentally bought a single rather than return to Slough, I'd also only got the outward ticket to Ipswich! So, back to the concourse again, where I asked the man who'd just finished at the ticket machine whether he had found an Ipswich to London ticket. He had, and gave it to me luckily. I was then first in the queue at the ticket office when it opened at 0700, and decided to upgrade to a through ticket to London so that I could catch the next fastest train and make my connection at Liverpool Street. This was done by the lady in the office, but at the additional cost of £20. Total cost now double that originally planned....
Things seemed to be going ok once I'd boarded the IET to Paddington (800308), an I managed to get to Liverpool Street in around 25 minutes with around 8 minutes to spare.

However...

I looked at the departure board and saw that the 0830 to Norwich was cancelled. So I asked a member of staff whether I could take a different train (as I had an advance ticket) and the said get the delayed 0806 to Ipswich. At this point I noticed that everything going beyond Shenfield was in meltdown, apparently due to a broken down freight near Shenfield. So I went and bought the ranger ticket from the ticket office (once I'd found it...), where the man couldn't work out how to apply my railcard discount and had to ask a passing colleague; eventually a ticket at the correct price was obtained however. I then returned to the concourse and waited.
And waited.
Eventually I caught the 0900 to Norwich (745001), which departed at 0944, and finally arrived in Ipswich over an hour late. That's £10.55 delay repay please.
In terms of my impression of the new train, it had a very nice new smell, decent acceleration, very bright headlights, nice seats, and different braking characteristics between the Norwich and Stansted units according to the driver (overheard, as there is rather a lack of soundproofing between the cab and the rest of the train!).
IMG (724).jpg745001 ready to depart

Once at Ipswich, I had time to photograph the selection of Freightliner class 66s in the yard and see a freight from Felixstowe roll slowly past, before catching 755333 to Lowestoft. This looked and felt exactly the same inside to 745001. We were delayed by 12 minutes at Woodbridge waiting for 66722 to come off the single line ahead, but made up over 5 minutes on the way to Lowestoft. From there I caught 755337 to Norwich.
IMG (725).jpgIMG (728).jpgLots to see at Ipswich!
IMG (731).jpgIMG (736).jpgWaiting for 66722 at Woodbridge
IMG (737).jpg755333 and 755337 at Lowestoft

At Norwich, I took some more pictures, and then boarded 755410 to Sheringham.
IMG (738).jpgIMG (739).jpgIMG (741).jpgStadler Central!

However...

No sooner had I sat down and the train departed than I realised I'd left my coat on 7555337, which typically had now headed home to Crown Point. If it had been due out on another passenger service the extra cleaners who go through each train when it arrives would no doubt have found my coat and left it at the station.
This would not normally he an issue, however all my tickets and money were in my coat pockets! So not a very ideal situation to say the least.
I informed the guard, who called the station to let them know and ask to look out for my coat, and then sat back for the two hour round trip to Sheringham.
IMG (740).jpg755410 at Cromer

Upon arrival back at Norwich, I asked the gateline assistant whether I could go through and speak to Customer Services. Unsurprisingly he refused (because, in reality, who has a coat with them on a hot sunny day in East Anglia which just happens to have been left on a train two hours ago with the tickets needed to get though the barriers...) and directed me to the staff from whom I could buy a ticket prior to going through. I repeated my story to a rather unconvinced ticket man, but he went and asked Customer Services who confirmed they had had a call from a guard confirming my story. I was given a generic Lost Property number to call, which I did, but it was an automated system where they only reply if they find your property. I then waited by the barriers for over 40 minutes (what else could I do with no tickets or money and suspicious staff members?). I happened to be next to the Metro newspaper rack, so eventually out of boredom I picked up a copy and started reading it. Within a minute I had been spoken to by two members of staff who agreed to let me through the barriers and speak to Customer Services (I assume they though I was engaging in the "newspaper trick", but that genuinely hadn't even crossed my mind). Thus I went and explained my situation to Customer Services, and eventually a call was made to Crown Point, asking them to look for the coat. About half an hour later, a reply came that they had found my coat, but there wasn't anything due off the depot for some hours so they couldn't send it back. I could, however, walk there and collect it myself.
Thus, armed with a note some apologetically vague directions from the Station Supervisor, I set off, and eventually found my way to the depot. I went to the security booth and informed the very cheery security guard why I was there. He said he'd had a call to expect me about two minutes prior to my arrival. He called the relevant person in the depot to say I'd arrived, and we then had a pleasant chat until a member of staff leaving for the day dropped my coat off on their way past. All was well, everything was still in the pockets.

However...

There was also a white iPhone in my pocket. It's not mine! Presumably this had also been left on the train and put in my coat pocket by someone at the depot. I gave it to the security guard, who informed the relevant person in the depot, then I left for the station.

continued in next post
 

ABB125

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From this point onwards, the day went much more smoothly, although I had to go straight to Ipswich via Diss rather that via Lowestoft. This was done on 745006. I then went on a jolly little excursion to Felixstowe and back, courtesy of 755334, passing two freights heading for the port on the way back. Whilst waiting at Ipswich for the London train, 66544 rolled past very slowly. At this point in the day, photography looking "north" towards Norwich was very difficult as the sun was directly ahead and low in the sky. "How can this be?" I hear you ask. "The sun sets in the west!" Well, it does. Here is a map of Ipswich:
Screenshot from 2020-07-31 20-56-23.png

The station is oriented pretty much east-west, with Norwich direction being at the west end. (Incedentally, this means freight from London to Felixstowe is pointing in the exact opposite direction to the port at this point!).
IMG (743).jpg

The position of the sun does allow some nice pictures looking in the London direction though.
IMG (747).jpg

Unfortunately a trio of class 321s arrived on the London rather than another class 745, but that can’t be helped and I’ve hardly been on any class 321s. In this case, 321446 took me back to Liverpool Street.
IMG (748).jpg

Given that I had a through rather than split ticket from Paddington to Didcot, there was much less time pressure to get to Paddington, so I elected for a relaxed Underground journey: walking slowly, going on the Central then Bakerloo line via Oxford Circus. Finally I caught 802005 back to Didcot, whereupon I drove back home.

~

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this.
 

306024

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Enjoyable read, plenty of drama there. That freight failure nearly messed my day up as I was heading in the opposite direction to you. Glad you got your coat and belongings returned though.

Presume you caught the 19.30 Norwich to Liverpool St back from Ipswich, which is booked to be a 12 car 321.
 

ABB125

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Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border
Glad you had a good day in East Anglia (except for the coat incident!!) Some good photos there
Thanks, it was a good day out.
Enjoyable read, plenty of drama there. That freight failure nearly messed my day up as I was heading in the opposite direction to you. Glad you got your coat and belongings returned though.

Presume you caught the 19.30 Norwich to Liverpool St back from Ipswich, which is booked to be a 12 car 321.
That failure was rather irritating as had I known it would cause that level of delay, I wouldn't have needed to spend an extra £20 at Didcot; I could have taken the TfL stopper from Reading and still arrived at Liverpool Street with time to spare (although I suspect there is a grey area around purposely arriving late at a station because you know your booked train is delayed/cancelled).
Yes it was the 1930 from Norwich.
 

xotGD

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So you can now say that your coat has yellow-penned some track that you haven't!

Good to hear that it all worked out OK in the end.
 

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