(Delayed) Oban 17-19/02/06

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Techniquest

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Hey guys. I've finally got my report by me ready for typing out. It's going to be a bit of a read, any spelling mistakes may get overlooked, if they are I'll correct them later. Sorry it's so late, I've been meaning to type this up for yonks, considering the rush I was in on the 19th of February to get it all typed up. So here we go.

17/02: Kington - Hereford - Newport - Cardiff - London - Edinburgh

After a late beginning of sleeper, I thankfully awake at 0805. YE52 FHA does the honours of getting me to Hereford on the 0850 461. I alight for a much-needed breakfast in the city centre, making a new plan to get the 1149 off HFD to Newport (NP). Getting the 0930 X3 to Cardiff was disbanded when I couldn't be bothered to get a coach. 175002 does the honours of taking me to NP. I miss a HST by seconds! Darn. I eventually end up doing 170630 to Cardiff Central (CCC). I return to NP behind 43020, which results in me bashing 175105 back to CCC. By this point, I've seen FIVE 60s, all in the NP area. For those interested, they were 013, 015, 039, 060 and 085. 66070, noteably seen at HFD doing a run-round on a freight movement, was seen again at NP. I decide to do more bashes would run the risk of missing the Megabus, so off I go to Cardiff Castle. I arrive here an hour early (I was that keen to get to London!), so it's time to start lunch (at 1415! Long time since breakfast at 1000!) as well as this report. I also decide to get some supplies and have a walk around the area. Doing so loses my first place at the bus stop, but the queue later proves to be non-existant anyway, and I end up forcing my way to person #3 to board after the Neoplan arrives at 1506. Sorted. 50134 does the honours of racing us to London, after a lengthy boarding procedure seeing us depart at 1523. We pick up loads more at Cardiff University's pick-up point, and finally set off non-stop to London. Here's to an all-thrash bash to London Greenline!

The all-thrash trip turns out to be rather slow by J10, due to an earlier accident between J5 and 6. Thankfully our driver diverts after J8/9, and we re-join at J6, after a phone call to another Megabus driver confirms traffic to be OK. We eventually hit the M4 bus lane, which allowed us to THUNDER past LOTS of traffic. Thank the Heavens for that invention! I continue to wish I'd bought that CDS at HFD to board the 1134 Adelante to London, as it would have enabled me to do MUCH more around London, mainly the number crunching I now miss. Still, that would have meant spending quite a bit of money.

We eventually arrive at London Greenline at 1955, 1h 25m down. 4 hours and 45 minutes I spent on that bus, roughly half the time it would have taken to do London to Glasgow on the overnight Megabus! Could have been a LOT worse I suppose, but hey. I had 35 minutes to get to Euston now. A rush through to Victoria mainline enabled me to get three new numbers (ooh! Big amount!), then a lengthy wait to top-up my Oyster at the machine (should have done it online before I left home!) finally leaves me with 20 minutes to hit Euston's mainline concourse in order to hit my target of arriving there at 2030. I eventually get on my Victoria line train, panicking I wouldn't make it. I do, and arrive at the concourse at 2028, 2 minutes ahead of my (very much) guessed arrival time. A couple of phone calls finds the rest of the group. We shortly head off to the platform for the 2115 Caledonian Insomniac. Feltham2104 and I board in 9800, a Seated Sleeper car right at the end of the train. The MK2 noise irritates me soon enough, but at least I scored 47802 in Willesden.

Apparently we didn't go via Northampton as usual, but still arrived at Crewe late and left 12 down! Saw 90027 hauling an ECS movements from the LHCS MAN - BHM service into platform 1 before we left.

By now I've been up for 16 hours when I'm writing this, so I'm exhausted. Not enough to sleep apparently. The whole trip to Edinburgh sees very little sleep attained, but at least I finally mark off Preston to Lancaster as done H-O, after seeing 90043 storm through. A very rough stop at Edinburgh sees me nearly fall to the floor at 0345 - 0350 (the time I couldn't be sure of).

18/02: Edinburgh - Oban - Glasgow - Edinburgh - York - London

After our rough stop, it's time for some serious number crunching. Scoring off a load of units and photting some, I finish my 322s! SCORE! We discover 90040 had hauled us to Edinburgh, and find 37416 will be the mighty fine piece of English engineering to haul us to Oban! Much filming of the movements occurs, with a little more number crunching and photting done before boarding of the 0450 to Oban. It's quite a reasonable take-off sound, but 416 comes to life storming out of Haymarket! I can only guess the neighbours are used to that noise by now! I find some sleeping mask things on this set, which assists me in getting some sleep, albeit only for a short time. Still, that bit of sleep came in useful to keep me going. After Crianlarich, it's time for H-O. It's 100% freezing outside, but 37416 on the Oban line made it all the worthwhile! I got some rather cold (near numb!) hands, ears and face doing it, but what did I expect for February in the West Highlands? I was more than willing to do it, but it wasn't easy. Naturally, I'm getting lots of scenic phots along the route, as I'll not get shots like them again, certainly not from a DMU.

At Taynault, we have to wait for a southbound 156 to clear the way, so we get a bit of time here to phot the 37 in this location. Thankfully for me it's 156465, which I needed to see! Off we go shortly, back to facing the cold. 37416 continues to provide its awesome show all the way to Oban, which we hit on time at 0916. Of course, it's time for a huge amount of photos and videoing (a bit of which I accidentally filmed over the next day. Nothing too serious though thankfully). 416 begins its reversal procedure by first reversing the stock a bit, uncoupling, moving over the crossover, along the other line to reverse onto the other end of the stock and reverse it into the platforms. After this is completed, it's time to go find some food and look around the town. We think about going to Mull, but the time isn't really there, and if it's late, we miss the train...No, not worth the stress. When you're on advance-purchase tickets you don't need worry about missing trains. We eventually get going and yorkie is obsessed with finding a Pizza Hut. Good luck. Maybe the nearest one is Fort William or in the Glasgow area. After a little exploration around town, some of us purchase from the bakery, whilst the others end up in the pizzeria they found. Those of us who did the bakery (they were mighty friendly in there, nicest catering people I'd seen anywhere all weekend) went to warm up in the ferry terminal. After a while, I venture off to indulge in drinks for the trip home, and ended up in the chip shop nearest the station. Never again, they were very expensive and weren't nice at all. Avoid at all costs. I'm soon back at the station, after we had recovered yorkie's mobile, tickets and FAM! Lucky we had rung his mobile there! He'd only gone and left them on the sleeper...Thankfully the nice staff returned it to the ticket office who had answered our call and returned the goods. Imagine if we hadn't made that call...In any case, I return these to yorkie on 156457, which I board shortly after I take the last few photos of Oban. It's a very different environment on the 156 compared to the sleeper! Goodness knows how we passed the time altogether on the lengthy trip to Glasgow! 156496 joins our unit at Crianlarich.

We hit Glasgow at 1543, with thankfully a cross-platform interchange and a high-speed run up to 170433 on the 1545 to Edinburgh. The 170 is by far much nicer than the 156 we'd just stepped off, you could hear your own conversations on the 170 much easier than the 156! The journey is fairly eventless, and we reach Edinburgh with 25 minutes to spare. A bit of number crunching sees me get a few more new numbers, then I get a chocolate dessert from M+S. Not much of a tea that wasn't mind! The HST arrives 20 down from York, and I storm onto it once the doors open up, to the annoyance of the crowd by the door. I did warn that a personality change was imminent when it came to the HST. Which didn't fail to disappoint whatsoever. Even the take-off from Edinburgh was fantastic, the trip down through Drem was HELLFIRE! Having now made the correction to my H-O map, it's time to return to a seat for eating. Passing Berwick-upon-Tweed was a nice little bonus for me. I was surprised how packed the train was though, never expected that! Newcastle revealed one nice little bonus, in that I finally scored off 67022 here! Sweet! The HST becomes very busy from here, was it a match day? It emptied out again at Durham! Now it's time to get some more H-O done, as we would be going over the freight-only line shortly! It's a very slow run over this, never more than 30mph I'm sure. Thankfully things wake up once we hit the passenger lines again at Stockton, and the hellfire trip returns. A doubled-up Voyager seemed to be waiting for something at Stockton. By Northallerton, I deem it time to finish doing H-O, as I'm rather cold again now! Nice bit of red to add to my maps now though! We soon enough hit York, and its time to get a few numbers written down before getting on the coffins to London, although not before finding I had had 43118 at the front to York. Quality bash it had been, I'll be hoping for 118 again sometime! I also end up with just one more ex-FNW 158 to see! SWEET! A connection from Aberdeen runs late, so we leave rather late. 82224 leads us to London, and I'm already bored out of my head. The Mallard experience was not one I will ever recall being pleasant. Indeed, I'll probably be on my death bed still cursing GNER for ever Mallardising the MK4s in such a terrible way...

As it should have been expected, I am pretty hungry soon enough, so a trip to the buffet (at least GNER got the name right, unlike Virgin...) resulted in a bit of snacking. Something feels wrong with the buffet, something not right with it at all. Can't say what it is, I don't know myself, but I have horrid feelings in those coffins.

We discover, thanks to Chris J joining us at Stevenage, that we are going via Hertford North because of a fatality further down the line. At least I get the spur onto the Hertford North line and off it at the other end done now. No announcements south of PBO though, which seemed strange. We certainly wouldn't have known why we went so slowly otherwise if it hadn't been for Mr. J! We FINALLY reach KGX at 2306, 30 minutes down. The rest of us on this trip part off, and I meet Sprinter here. After another Oyster top-up, its onto the Victoria line to Walthamstow, after an unexpected termination at Seven Sisters, as I was staying with Sprinter this evening.

19/02: London - Cardiff - Newport - Hereford - Kington

An early start is still required, as we're due to get the 0718 Victoria line train (how we made it I'll never know!) to Victoria, so that I can make my 0800 Megabus (booked originally as I was planning an overnighter around London) back to Cardiff. We make it to Greenline at 0748, to my surprise, after being surprised how busy our Victoria line train was on the way down. Very busy considering the time on a Sunday morning! Getting a drink and a Mars, it's time to board 13609 to Cardiff, an Olypmian. Nice. I get the seat I'd usually accquire on the Spectra in Kington, which is nice. We reach Cardiff Castle 15 up, a nice surprise! Time for a few FGW HST bashes! Managed to do 5 such trips, including one leaving from platform 4 (not very common that!) from CCC. This had been due to the set running ECS from Bristol due to the other set (which had been late arriving from London) having broken down, apparently. The staff on that train had said something completely different, something about signalling between Reading and London (I forget where now)! The set didn't seem to be broken, as it was running again later back to London!

Time to get the 1456 off NP to HFD comes soon enough. It's run by 158842, and left so busy people (including myself) were packing the vestibules, meaning the trolley couldn't get on and people were actually left to wait two hours for another train up the route! I'd have been MORE than angry if that had happened to me, especially as it was purely due to mean people (I am actually calling them worse than that here, but mean will suffice for the report) not shifting up inside the carriages, and leaving bags on seats or not shifting up to the other seat...This I discovered at Cwmbran, the next stop from NP, where I accquired my seat so as to work on this report, which occupied me all the way to HFD. I decided I'd wait to see the HST come in from London, as I had plenty of time before my lift home, and wrote up the rest of this report in the ticket office. I then went and saw the HST and walked over to where my lift would be waiting for me and my sister shortly.

So all in all, a worthwhile, if expensive and lengthy, trip. Thanks must go to yorkie for having helped with ticketing, as well as to those who attended the trip and made it enjoyable. I still say I'm glad I went because I know I'd have regretted it forever if I hadn't gone, and those who missed it will have missed out too.

Comments are, as always, welcome.
 
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Techniquest

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Cheers, I was waiting for someone to reply! Makes it worthwhile me having hammered my keyboard to death to get it online!
 

Mojo

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Re: M4 Bus Lane

Ineeed, the M4 Bus Lane was probably the most genius piece of traffic engineering ever.

I don't know whether you all know this or not, but the M4 Bus Lane was a true genius in itself, probably the most misunderstood piece of traffic engineering ever created in this country, actually being introduced by the HA to improve the flow of normal traffic - not just buses, taxis and motorcycles.

You see, at a point between junctions 2 and 3, one of the lanes closes (with the loss of the hard shoulder), so the motorway can mount a viaduct, which would be very expensive (or even impossible? with the new buildings around it) to widen. The point between junctions 2 and 3 where traffic had to merge into 2 lanes caused a very serious bottleneck, so it was decided to move the point where the 3 lanes merge back, all the way back to junction 3, where lots of people leave the motorway anyway.

Now, it'd have been simple to have just hatched out that extra lane, but motorists would probably have got annoyed with that, so the HA and the govt. saw it as a PR excersise, as an example of "integrated transport" which the government seemed to be keen on at the time - remember those days?

So, the moving back of the merging point, together with the associated reduction in speed limit allowed more cars to flow freely, rather than the serious congestion that happenned before.
 

Techniquest

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Didn't know much of that, but I agree it's a genius scheme! If it hadn't been there, delays of at LEAST 4 hours would have been expected on our Megabus service. I would never have made it to Euston for the CI up to Oban and hence would have missed the 37s there, so it's more than worth its weight in gold that bus lane! I can also see why so many people commute by rail from Reading, the M4 is insanely busy between those points!
 
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