Back on the platform

Discussion in 'Trip Planning & Reports' started by The_Train, 10 Jun 2018.

  1. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    Hi guys,

    New to the forum and turning back to a love of railways that I sadly left a decade or so ago. Things have changed quite a bit and as much as I've kept up to date with the mainstream changes to rolling stock, TOC's and infrastructure I sense there is lots for me to get my teeth back into judging by the variety of threads on here.

    I've got a bit of time on my hands at the moment so I'm looking at starting things off by getting back out there and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of various railway stations and seeing and logging the various rolling stocks out on the UK network (must admit though it doesn't feel the same without the loco hauled passenger services that I used to watch up and down the WCML - such a shame that I'll never get to hear that unique sound made by the ultimate loco, the class 87 :'().

    Anyway the reason for posting this was to gauge some ideas from you guys regarding my best options for getting a wider range of rolling stock logged down as I've only managed a couple of trips to Stafford so far and that has nearly cleared up the 390's and by the afternoon of my 2nd trip I was seeing the same voyagers and 350's over and over again. Looking at keeping things low cost to start with so wanted any advice regarding the best places to broaden my sightings of varying TOC stock in the West Midlands area. I have appointments at the start and end of the day in Stafford on Tuesday so was thinking of heading to Crewe in between these to check out some of the Northern/ATW stock although I guess the VTWC services at Crewe will be the same as those running through Stafford? Am I likely to see a greater variety of freight at Crewe compared to Stafford?

    I was also considering Derby to check out the EMT stocks but I guess that's probably worth delaying until the upgrade work has been completed there? Any other places within a reasonable radius of the Stafford area worth a visit?
     
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  3. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    There is still a 87 on hire to Cally Sleeper, normally only for ECS services but it does pop up on passenger work when the sleeper gets diverted via the ECML :)

    I would imagine the freight at Crewe will mostly be the same as the freight in Stafford, although unlike at Stafford the majority of it uses the station avoiding lines (one for @palmersears). Maybe head to Chester to get a bit more ATW stuff, some Merseyrail units & some Northern units?
     
  4. 47403

    47403 Established Member

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    Welcome back. I can certainly sympathise on stuff changing. I done a decade out of the game way back. Although loco hauled aren't the norm anymore. There's still a bit to sink your teeth into.
    My advice to start with is stay local, rope in that, then gradually go from there. Find somewhere freight will go, to maximise what you see and get Real Time trains. If you have a smart phone or lap top
    http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/search/advanced
    then add to home screen on phone or favourite on your lap top. Add a destination and time and it'll help you find both passenger, freight and other special.workings, like test trains, tours and charters.
    Rovers and Rangers will maximise your ability to move elsewhere. I'd recommend a West Midland Day Rover if your going to Stafford and Crewe. You could nip over to Brum, have a look at Bescot and Nuneaton, Leamington Spa for loco hauled services from Moor St with the 68s.
    http://www.railrover.org click on that link and the world's your oyster. However be aware Crewe Station ain't the thriving metropolis it once was but good if your just trying to rope in numbers. Manchester Piccadilly isnt bad either. Plenty on show and a bit freight through too.
    Key is getting advance tickets if at all poss and cheap overnight accomodation, when your ready go move further afield. For classic traction guaranteed. Preserved Railways Diesel Galas.
    Hope it helps, anything I can help.with just ask on here and if I can't answer, there's a good knowledgable bunch on here who'll surely have the answer to your questions.
    Good luck. Hope you enjoy.
     
  5. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    Good to know that there is at least one 87 still working the mainline now and again. I think getting to see that in action will have to be my ultimate aim.

    Chester is not somewhere I'd even considered to be honest. Is it a busy station? Would be interesting to start ticking off Merseyrail units as it's an area I never covered in my younger days for some reason, so these would definitely be first timers for me.

    Your points regarding the freight at Crewe were proven correct when I checked today's traffic on RTT. The only extras I'd have seen at Crewe were a few ex-Scotland/North England runs that terminate there but I'd have missed more down the independents
     
  6. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    Thanks for the info. I've already started to use RTT and I am slowly getting my head around understanding which trains are actually running on the day in question. Some minor things do still confuse me though, particularly those services that show expected pass/arrival times at each of their time posts but clearly never set off. Other than that, it's a fantastic tool to have on a day out.

    I'm also glad you've linked me to the rover website as that was going to be my next line of questioning as I've read a lot of forum members reports where they have used such things. They seem great value for what you get and create so many options, particularly where you can use RTT to keep your plans flexible even whilst on the move. It was always a planned day out to one station when I went with my dad so station hopping will be a new experience for me.

    Shame to hear Crewe is not what it was. Was always the place to go to see freight action, particularly in the yards but I guess that more and more of that work is being pushed down the independent lines now? Manchester Piccadilly is not somewhere I'd associated with freight traffic as I don't seem to remember there being much there apart from terminating passenger services and my dad never liked going to a terminus station. Are other stations around Manchester worth a visit - Preston, Wigan maybe?

    I will certainly be keeping an eye out for diesel galas on preserved lines through the summer. Are there normally limited amounts of tickets available for these things or can you just turn up on the day in most cases?
     
  7. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    There is quite a few freight paths in the system which don't always run, hence why you get 'ghost' entries on RTT.

    Manchester Piccadilly gets a few freight services to/from Trafford Park :)

    Wigan will be a good shout for passing freight on the WCML
     
  8. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Re diesel galas - just turn up and go The_Train.
    I had a pleasant day at the West Somerset diesel gala on Saturday with runs behind a Peak and a 50 amongst others.
    Certainly raised the echoes and bought back memories... ;)
    Have a look on the PLEG website news page for upcoming events near you. It’ll tell you what locos are running.
     
  9. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    I was unsure about whether to mix Crewe into my trip to Stafford today so thought I would let Stafford make my mind up for me, and a 50% success rate in my first hour there pushed me to take a punt on staying in Stafford for the day and leaving Crewe for another time.

    In terms of winners (learning from this forum already ;)) it wasn't spectacular but considering I was there for nigh on 8 hours my win percentage did suffer from units making return journeys as the day went on (I managed to see 390148 Flying Scouseman 4 times). Still a third of all of the trains that went through Stafford today were winners for me and I am now just 2 short of ticking off all of the 390s. Also chalked off plenty more Voyagers leaving me just 9x 221s to find as well as improving my score when it comes to the 350s - still plenty of those to find though.

    Loco wise, it wasn't too bad. Walked into the station to the sound of 66426 powering down the through lines and then a real highlight as I got to see, hear and feel my first class 68(012) in the flesh and I've got to say I was more than impressed with everything about it. Nice piece of machine that is. Unfortunately 2 batches of double headed 90s that came next proved to be duds (winners, duds - I'm catching on you see) and suddenly I was looking at the departure boards towards Crewe again. I stayed put and was duly rewarded with 5 of the next 6 freights being 66s that were nothing but winners, a test run of a 345 for Crossrail and then a pair of 68s powering through P5. The 66s kept coming and my tally of these drastically improved throughout today, and a triple header of 67s was a nice surprise that was duly followed up by the sight of my beloved class 87s nearest relative as a pair of 86s dragged some empties through the goods line. I delayed my departure for half an hour having seen some quickfire freights scheduled on RTT and when the first of these proved to be another pair of dud 90s I feared a bad end to a good day until yet another 66(506) completed another successful session at Stafford.

    The only major negative was 037J 0900 Polmadie Car M.D. to Leicester L.I.P., which I was told was headed by a pair of 37s, seemingly disappearing from radar on RTT at Crewe Coal Yard. Anyone got any idea what happened with this?
     
  10. 47403

    47403 Established Member

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    A trip up towards Barrow from Preston, will see you pass West Coasts Canforth Depot. RTT will surely help you find a connection at Silverdale or Ulverston.
    At Man Picc or Manc Oxford Road will see you get freight trains passing through.
    Wigan and Preston will get you more Northern Units and the odd freight passing through off to Basford Hall.. Best check RTT though.
    East Lancs Railway summer gala starts on July 6-8. I don't think there's a limit on how many tickets are available at Galas though.
    Another date for your diary is July 21st. Crewe Greaty bridge open day.
     
  11. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    That sounded like a really good day.
    Still a lot of variety for a small(ish) country...
     
  12. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    Thanks Cowley, I will certainly check the PLEG site out. Need some plans for the summer so a good gala or 2 could be just the ticket.

    I imagine it was very enjoyable getting back behind some real traction. One of my notable memories of being on platforms as a youngster was the sounds made by 37s and 47s and I'd love to get behind those again
     
  13. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    Thanks 47403, appreciate your help.
    I think I need to sit down and look through the details regarding rover tickets so I understand the boundaries etc and then start to plan day(s) out from there.

    The Crewe Gresty Bridge open day is certainly one I will be looking to do. Was looking at photos from last year's and it looks like a top event
     
  14. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    I’m not sure how much you’ve been following the current scene? But if you like a bit of 37 action then you probably ought to try and get a run on the Cumbrian Coast line behind a 37/4 while they’re still going.
    I managed a pilgrimage up there last year and I’m so pleased that I got off my backside and did it...
    There’s also a 68 turn I believe.
    I don’t take down numbers these days but there were lots of 68s at Sellafield when we passed. It was a very interesting trip and felt like stepping back in time.
     
  15. 433N

    433N Member

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    I'm a bit surprised that no one has mentioned Tamworth.

    Low-level will be pretty much the same as Stafford but high level may bring nice things including a 60 or two on oils.

    There seems a sweet spot for freight around midday which would fit in with your Stafford commitments.
     
  16. Dhassell

    Dhassell Member

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    Very true, each WCML station basically has its own freight flow, I would defiantly recommend days on Stafford, Tamworth and Nuneaton, never had a day day for freight on either!
     
  17. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    Tamworth is a good shout, particularly to see some 60s. I've seen videos and photos of the station but I've never been before - can you see what's passing on the low level lines from up on high or do you have to navigate between the 2 levels?

    I've checked out some of the local day ranger tickets as well. I assume the prices of these remain fixed irrelevant of whether they are purchased in advance or not and more assuming that a particular ranger ticket can only be brought at a station or on a train service that is in the geographical area of said ranger? (Ie I couldn't purchase a ranger for the South West area at Stafford station)
     
  18. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    The price of the rovers remain fixed irrelevant if you buy it in advance of the day or on the day. Depends on the ticket office staff in Stafford station and how good they are at finding some weird & wonderful named rovers on the system
     
  19. 433N

    433N Member

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    You can if you can get one of the prime positions at the top of the stairs but you may have problems picking numbers off the pendos and voyagers below - but you say you're flush with those and so might prefer to concentrate on the upper level cross country voyagers (and 170s).

    RTT certainly helps in concentrating on seeing the things you want to see but I often find it is more relaxing and enjoyable to go to, say, Burton (where you'd see only high level stuff) or Stafford (where you'd only see low level stuff).

    Alternatively, I recently spent a very enjoyable afternoon off-platform at Millmeece (http://www.trainspots.co.uk/locpage.php?ts_number=1043) (Madeley is also good) for a change of scenery from Stafford station - though, again, those numbers get smaller as we get older.

    One thing I have noticed that might interest you is that if you buy a ticket Tamworth - Loughborough (£17.20) you can travel via Derby or Nuneaton / Leicester which should allow stop offs at both (or anywhere else you care to stop off en route - I think a judicious choice of trains might also allow Nottingham) - even though Loughborough probably won't be up to much.* On the journey, you'd be able to peek a whole bunch of heritage locos at Derby RTC, Burton Nemesis Rail and Leicester LIP. It might make a good (and cheaper) alternative to a rover to start you off. You might like to investigate your options at nationalrail.co.uk - I'm sure alot of us spend too much time there, I know I do. (PS : This whole idea might not work - I haven't done it - I live in Scotland - but it should).

    * ON EDIT TO CLARIFY - So you could travel Tamworth - Nuneaton - Leicester - (Nottingham, maybe) - Derby - Burton - Tamworth stopping off where you like for how long you like. The Nottingham issue should work because a normal route via Derby would change Beeston but some trains don't stop at Beeston and so it might be quicker to go via Nottingham depending on the exact time of travel. It depends how much you like a good discussion with the Guard On-board Customer Services Personnel ; they are generally okay if you can argue your case and smile nicely.
     
    Last edited: 13 Jun 2018
  20. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    To look up options of what rovers are available, I find this weekend being more up to date that National Rail:
    http://www.railrover.org/
     
  21. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    Funny you should mention that sort of ticket as I was going to ask whether there were 'open' tickets around that allow stop offs at stations in between. Will the National Rail app allow me to investigate further or is it something for the website? The journey you mention interests me as it covers a number of areas I'd considered visiting anyway.

    Just out of interest will any of the HST XC services go via Tamworth?
     
  22. 433N

    433N Member

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    I'm not a ticketing expert, we have a special section but as far as I understand it, you can stop off at any station on a permitted route ... a permitted route being one outlined in a big book somewhere. However should you not wish to consult the big book, the national rail app will highlight permitted routes and give the appropriate fare. If you put in Tamworth and Loughborough and look at the details of the train options, it gives the 2 options I highlighted as valid for an 'off-peak' (or even non off-peak) standard ticket and so both must be permitted routes and you should be permitted to stop off at any station along either the outward or return routes giving the itinerary I highlighted (and, on this basis, travel via Nottingham should also be a permitted route). (Advance tickets don't generally allow such breaks of journey because they are for specific trains). Any question or reassurance that you might need about a specific journey or route can be thrown open to perusal and discussion in the Ticketing sections of this site.

    The answer to the HST XC question is yes but it will depend on the day in question as to when and you would have to investigate the timings for the trains in the Frequently Requested Diagrams thread here ....
    https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/frequently-requested-diagrams-thread.84997/#post-1478549

    ON EDIT : There is an option once you have done a ticket search and you are looking at the details of a journey to show all permitted routes for your journey which will then be shown on a map. (and includes a Nottingham spur for the journey above).
     
    Last edited: 13 Jun 2018
  23. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    Finally got round to playing around with the National Rail site and managed to see what you're suggesting. How would a ticket like this work with the guards on trains because surely my ticket would be inspected and stamped during the first leg of the outward journey? How would the guard on leg 2 (and beyond) then view a ticket that's already been marked as checked?
     
  24. Dhassell

    Dhassell Member

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    As long as you haven't already reached your destination they shouldn't care, as breaking your journey is perfectly legal. If you get questioned just explain what you are doing. But you should have no problems
     
  25. 47403

    47403 Established Member

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    Ah your welcome, it's all about offering a bit of each others wisdom, this very forum was a major help to me and still is.
    A good multi day Rover for your area is the Heart of England Rover, when monies are at least in better supply http://railrover.org/pages/heart-of-england-rover.html I keep telling myself I'll do another but I always find somewhere else to go. The 4 in 8 days for £86.20, even a 7 day one for a £112, for that coverage is in my opinion still excellent value.
    Another venue popular for spotting is Water Orton, never been myself but there's plenty youtube videos to be watched, take a Lucozade bottle, bog roll and wipes, unless you prefer to be one with nature and use dock leaves, as there's no bogs, plenty trains though.
    Also if you did go to Crewe, get the ATW unit that goes to Cardiff or Milford Haven, to pass round the back of Gresty Bridge depot, a return to Nantwich or another station further down the line towards Shrewsbury, with a decent connection, for one going back to Crewe (I always give myself at least 15 minutes connection) that way if your running late, you can always bail the station before, the fester aint gonna be to much longer and come straight back.
     
    Last edited: 13 Jun 2018
  26. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Plus a nearby Tesco Express & a couple takeaways :)
     
  27. 47403

    47403 Established Member

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    At Water Orton kite?
     
  28. 433N

    433N Member

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    Apart from AFAIK the Kingsbury Oil 60s don't go through Water Orton since Kingsbury is between there and Tamworth - that's a big minus in my book cos I likes me 60s.
     
  29. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

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    If you want EMT stuff (especially HSTs), then Leicester is good, but there isn't as much freight as somewhere like the WCML.
     
  30. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    That multi day will probably be the first one I take up but will unlikely be this year due to a funding crisis. Can't really justify going crazy at the moment even though I'd love to be going everywhere. The Cheshire Day Ranger is tempting me as it will allow me to do Crewe and Chester plus adding in Runcorn, Warrington and Manchester Piccadilly.

    Are there better times than others to make that short hop up to Nantwich when there is more likely to be more to see at Gresty Bridge?

    Now this is what I call proper advice :D
     
  31. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    The EMT HSTs are definitely on my hit list. Is it generally a busy station at Leicester with plenty of local stoppers as I'd like to be ticking off more DMUs such as 150/153/156/158?
     

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