LM 150 FAREWELL, Complete report

Discussion in 'Trip Planning & Reports' started by sprinterguy, 13 Nov 2011.

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  1. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Hi there,
    As there is a popular trend prevalent on this forum at the moment for posting reports of ones' railway activities, many of which make for some very entertaining reading, and I do like writing up such reports when I get the time, I thought I would post up my report of the London Midland 150 Farewell.

    I've broken it down into three sections, as it has turned out to be so large that to post it as one single report all in one go would be absolutely unmanageable and a daunting task for the reader!

    I have decided that I am first going to post "Part 2" of the report, which covers the run up the Severn Valley Railway and back, as for me this was the most fun part of the trip. I have yet to finish writing parts 1 and 3, but when I do they will hopefully be posted here in due course:

    PART 2: SEVERN VALLEY RAILWAY
    My travelling companion Andy and I vetoed that we would stay onboard the train for the crossover from the “main line” to the SVR, despite the beckoning delights of the King and Castle just over the footbridge at the SVR station. I was intrigued by just what sort of manoeuvre the crossover to the Severn Valley entailed, as I wasn’t even sure where the crossover was. If all went to plan, we reckoned, we would still have around twenty minutes to get a pint in before the tour was due to leave up the Severn Valley to Bridgnorth, and we would also avoid the initial rush that we presumed would result from a number of those who had chosen to leave the train at the first opportunity when we arrived at Kidderminster descending on the bar as one.

    Our progression from one side of the running lines at Kidderminster to the other and onto the SVR was even more tedious than I was expecting, and I began to doubt my judgement when there was the chance for a(nother) beer at stake.

    I was surprised to see another green 150, which turned out to be 150109, clatter noisily past our cavalcade, rousing me from my stupor that had been brought about by a lengthy fester on the Birmingham bound line while awaiting a clear path to negotiate the link to the Severn Valley Railway. Moments later we received a phone call from Joel (The third member of our group, more on him in parts 1 and 3!), reaffirming us of his consciousness and informing us that he had just arrived in Kidderminster, having just travelled down, as we found out a little while later, on the 150 from Smethwick Galton Bridge and in doing so gaining a greater variety of 150 mileage than many passengers on the Farewell Tour that day!

    Assuming that the King and Castle would be thronging with enthusiasts who had already alighted from the tour earlier, we desperately urged him while had had the ear of our “man on the ground” to get a round in in preparation for our imminent arrival at the SVR terminus and make our lives a little easier. We needn’t have been so concerned: Upon release from the train at the SVR station, we rushed down the platform and across the concourse of Kidderminster SVR, with only twelve minutes to spare, to be greeted by the site of a virtually deserted King and Castle. This didn’t however stop more than one flustered looking railfan who had arrived behind us from attempting to gain seniority in the pecking order at the bar with the impatient comment of “Don’t you know I’ve got a train to catch in five minutes?” While my typically relaxed demeanour may have suggested otherwise to the casual observer, just what did they think I was doing there too?! Over five minutes is more than ample time to get a few pints poured.

    The excitingly titled pint of “Gunpowder Plot” that I had now had in my grasp completely underwhelmed my taste buds and left me disappointed. A quick intended “grab shot” of 150106 at the platform was transformed into a much longer affair when the batteries in my camera chose that moment to give up the ghost, and I with only limited hands to spare, before we finally met up with Joel, our party of three all now replete with pints, and through accident rather than design ended up back on board vehicle 55200.

    Travelling up the Severn Valley on fully enclosed, underfloor engine diesel stock was an experience both frustrating and disappointing, as there was much more appeal, with steam heat and compartments and big, opening toplight windows, to be had from every other train that we witnessed. Indeed, at the first sight of Lancashire & Yorkshire designed “Crab” 42968 pulling capably out of Kidderminster bound for Bridgnorth as our procession awaited the chance to cross over to the SVR, my first comment had to be “I want to be on that!” Not to mention that the wealth and variety of human movement and activity meant that by this point the atmosphere aboard carriage 55200 was becoming decidedly humid, and the feeble draft admitted via the hopper vents, the majority of which were wide open by this point, was insufficient to alleviate this clammy feeling.

    We had selected to take up position in a vestibule due to the inavailability of a set of three seats together and Andy and myself had become somewhat tired of sitting down on the poor 3+2 seating offered by a 150. This also had the added benefit of allowing us to jump out at each station stop up the Severn Valley for a quick leg stretch and the occasional photo opportunity.

    At Bewdley we were passed by heavy freight locomotive 2857 working a passenger train towards Kidderminster, this being the first time that I had seen this testament to the great mechanical mind of George Churchward in action, and I was also relieved to finally be finished with my disappointing pint of “Gunpowder Plot” and be able to move onto my new, “undiscovered” ale for the day in the form of a bottle of Badgers’ “Poachers’ Choice”, which proved to be much more rewarding and a far more enjoyable tipple with a strong fruity flavour.

    Our train proceeded to roll up the Severn Valley, our progress accompanied by the pleasing “clickety clack” sound of the Sprinters’ wheels passing over the sixty foot rail lengths, as we hopped on and off at every station en route. In doing so, we commented on just how incredibly low the platforms on the Severn Valley Railway are in comparison to the height of the door steps on a 150, which is something that is not immediately noticeable with the usual crop of mark 1 coaching stock.

    We transferred over to stand in 150106 from Highley, and I was surprised to notice that the production 150/1s, if 150106 was anything to go by, had a poorer design of interior than the prototype 150001: No bins in the vestibules for a start, a very useful feature when you are drinking multiple bottles of ale, and sloping handrails that make it impossible to gain any purchase while stood resting against the vestibule wall instead of the level ones on 150001. The ride also felt “livelier” than the comfortable motion of 150001.

    We stuck with 150106 through to Bridgnorth though, despite my now apparent preference for the prototype “Scud”, as we realised that by standing in one particular vestibule of vehicle 52106 the doors would be as near as possible to the position of the footbridge on platform 2 of Bridgnorth station and that we would be in pole position to make a dash across the footbridge and be the first ones lined up at the bar of the Railwaymans’ Arms.

    For the second time today I was surprised, as just like at Kidderminster there was no need to rush for the bar, as most of the passengers disgorged from our five carriage formation immediately began to scurry to secure photos of the working as I quick marched across the footbridge to the pub. Many people also appeared to stay on board for the shunt procedure from platform 2 to platform 1, but my interests lay not in a few yards of “rare” track, but in beer.

    As such, securing a pint in the Railwaymans’ Arms was a leisurely affair (I was indeed the first, or very nearly the first, to make it to the bar), and I landed a much more pleasing effort than in the King and Castle in the form of a Hobsons’ bitter. In fairness, the pub did fill up a bit more once the two 150s rolled into platform 1 following completion of their crossover manoeuvre, but still not nearly to the extent that I would have expected as a proportion of around three hundred and forty railway enthusiasts.

    At 14:20 with ten minutes to go until departure time, my companions and I wisely concluded that now would be the perfect opportunity to grab ourselves the pick of the seating, in the form of one of the sets of three nearest the doors that would afford us the most legroom, while almost everyone else was busily engaged elsewhere. So we picked up a drink “for the road” from the Railwaymans’ Arms, but as we made ready to leave our best intentions were foiled as one of the London Midland stewards stuck his head round the door and called out “ten minutes!” to all assembled. And so began the desperate scrum for seats. We were fortuitous enough to get ourselves a bay of four; not what we were hoping for at best but a marked improvement on the cramped 3+2 airline seating conditions Andy and myself had had to endure earlier in the day. Through no intent of our own, we had once again selected accommodation in 55200.

    We departed Bridgnorth on time to begin our sub-25mph trundle back down the Severn Valley Railway back to Kidderminster, a taste of how things will be when some of these fine workaday units are undoubtedly preserved in the distant future.

    Returning from the direction of the toilet and with the train having just come to a stand at Hampton Loade, I discovered to my surprise that my two travelling companions had disappeared, although their bags were still on the luggage rack, and only a few short seconds later the door closing warning tone sounded and our train moved off! I hoped that they had not been caught unawares and strayed too far away after disembarking from the train for a quick breather, and a phonecall from Andy very shortly after as the engines roared and we gradually picked up speed away from Hampton Loade initially did little to dispel this possible theory.

    However, at Highley all became clear, as the two of them reappeared, strolling down the platform from the direction of 150106, each of them clutching a thin box under one arm which contained the last of the two clocks that were being sold on the tour from the far end of 150106, which they had sped round from 150001 during our Hampton Loade stop to collect, after being told by the group sat opposite us of their dwindling availability. So, that explains that one!

    The remainder of the journey back to Kidderminster passed uneventfully if quite merrily, with all three of us now plied with alcohol in comfortable quantities and showing no signs of relenting. As we returned to Network Rail metals at Kidderminster, passing over the link from the SVR with no complex shunt manoeuvre required as we were able to pass directly onto the Birmingham bound line, Joel cracked open the bottle of mead he had squirreled away in his bag. This bode well for the remainder of the afternoon and evening. Our intended eventual destination: Stratford upon Avon.
     
    Last edited: 24 Nov 2011
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  3. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Nice.

    I did have a go on a London Midland class 150 back last january. Now I am normally happy on a class 150 apart from the ones which have 3 + 2 seating and terrible legroom but the 1 I was on was terrible even worse than th former london overgrounds ones with FGW.

    I do hope that FGW will put some proper seating in the class 150's they have recieved from London Midland etc over the next few years.

    Anyway I look forward to reading the rest of your reports when you post them.
     
  4. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Thanks for the comments. :) I too hope that the 150s that FGW have acquired from LM gain more suitable seating that is more befitting of the longer distance, and more tourist orientated in the case of the Devon and Cornish branches, services they operate.

    Well, for better or for worse, here's part 1 of my report:


    PART 1: SNOW HILL to KIDDERMINSTER via WORCESTER and WALSALL

    I consider myself to be, and I think that there are many other people who would agree with me, a “morning person”. However, it occurred to me that on a morning such as this one there should be a threshold to be considered between what constitutes “morning” and what constitutes very, very late at night. As someone who sees a reasonable amount of that grey area between the two, it’s a line of thought that often crosses my mind.

    The morning of Saturday November 12th was one such time. I rose early at 5:50am, proving once again that the alarm call I had set for 6am was entirely superfluous compared to my own natural body clock. I often feel inclined during these early starts to compare them to my once regular forays to Carlisle seven years ago when I was fourteen/fifteen that entailed 4:50am starts. As I get older, I increasingly wonder where I drew the determination and enthusiasm to pull off such feats on a semi-regular basis in those seemingly far off days.

    Todays’ early start appeared to be bordering on madness in my eyes. Sacrificing a Saturday morning lie-in with the missus for the supposed farewell tour of a type of train that wasn’t even being withdrawn, but merely moved to other areas of the country for many more years of active service. But a few pints in Wetherspoons at the NEC one day with my travelling companion to be, Andy, had seen me acquire a ticket for this run, so here I was, and I was intent on getting my moneys’ worth and making the best of it. I’d had very little sleep thanks to my less than strategic decision to imbibe a number of brightly coloured, vodka based concoctions the night before, the continuing effects of which were clearly going to act to ensure that I was going to have to gently ease myself into the day, much akin to submerging yourself in a bath of cold water.

    I set off into the early morning November darkness of Birmingham at 6:30am for the walk into the town centre and was relieved to find that the bag I carried on my back, loaded to the gunnels as it was with a wide range of interesting ales, was not as heavy as I had been worried that it might have been. Nonetheless, the walk into town was typified by the sound of clanking ale bottles, more than a little reminiscent of the sound of an unfitted freight train from the days of steam and quite atmospheric on the sleeping, darkened streets of Birmingham.

    There was only one port of call that was guaranteed to set me up for the day, and that would be Wetherspoons. So at ten past seven I rolled into the Square Peg; too early to buy alcohol of course but even I have limits and my main goal was to sample the delights of a large breakfast and a hot chocolate. I was joined by my friend Andy a little while later, just as I began tucking in to a large plate of eggs and bacon, who reported that there was no signs of life from the intended third member of our party; Joel. This came as no surprise to either of us, as the guy is notoriously hopeless at early morning starts, or morning starts of any form! The main mystery was whether he would wake up in time to join us later on in the day or if we would see him at all all day!

    I thought it was very thoughtful of London Midland to arrange the departure time of this tour so that it allowed time for breakfast in Wetherspoons beforehand, but even so by the time the two of us had finished our breakfasts time was pressing on. We needn’t have rushed; as we approached Snow Hill station we were greeted by the sight a long queue of enthusiasts waiting to join the tour that weaved out of the entrance of Snow Hill station, and as we passed by the departure boards above the platforms a few minutes later it became apparent that the departure time of 07:57 was seven minutes later than that advertised on our printed schedules. This made sense to ensure that everyone was seated and in place for an on time departure.

    We seated ourselves in a set of three airline seats adjacent to the mid-line of carriage 55200 in unit 150001: Although we weren’t to know it yet, this was to essentially become our “home” for the next ten hours or so. I realised a little while later that we were actually sat exactly slap bang in the middle of the five carriage formation. After just a couple of minutes waiting, with little fanfare or fuss the NT-855 engine beneath our carriage, and the four beneath the other carriages doing the same, rattled and roared into life and our procession set forth from Snow Hill station in an unremarkable fashion for our long-winded ramble around the West Midlands local rail network. The opportunity for a high-octane, pedal to the metal start to our journey was marred by the speed restriction between Snow Hill and Jewellery Quarter, so after only a few seconds of taking power we were reduced to sheepishly trundling through inner city Birmingham, before our driver, Andrew, had the opportunity to open the taps to any extent. Unfortunately, our performance on this initial run down to Worcester was checked at regular intervals by the requirement to slot our non-standard excursion between regular local passenger trains, which was to become a popular theme for the remainder of this tour and goes to show just how well served many areas of the West Midlands are by local train services.

    Once again ,as many times before, I found myself admiring the pleasant hues of the pastoral countryside around Kidderminster, as the train was finally given the opportunity to stretch its’ legs south of Stourbridge. Around Droitwich, and with the time nearing 9am, I felt it was time to break open the first bottle of ale for the day; a bottle of “Forty Niner” to get things off to a gentle and palatable start.

    We had had only a few additional passengers join the train between Snow Hill and Droitwich so that Andy and I could spread out a bit across three seats, but as I had predicted this was not the case at Worcester, where a large number of additional passengers joined the tour and being hemmed into the narrow 3+2 seating became the order of the day all the way to Kidderminster for Andy and myself.

    The departure from Worcester was marked by an exceedingly long, and superfluously dramatic in my opinion, blast on the horn and we made our way towards the Lickey Incline. We were held outside of Bromsgrove for a few minutes for a Crosscountry Voyager to pass and overtake use on the main line before we attempted an assault on the incline. You could certainly tell that we were climbing the Lickey! The engines laboured noisily without ever gaining much additional speed above a steady crawl. Fortunately, as soon as the engines started to sound strained and tired, our driver would find another gear from somewhere to give us an extra welcome burst of power. Once we had breasted the summit at Blackwell, after the driver had shut off power to give the engines a rest for a few moments, we quickly began to gain speed, and it was announced over the PA system around Northfield that we were essentially now cruising at the trains’ maximum design speed of 75mph. Another fifteen seconds or so elapsed before the driver began to apply the brakes: Full speed is clearly too much for the old girls!

    Less fancifully, we were beginning to slow in preparation for Kings Norton station and the crossover to the Camp Hill line. On the Camp Hill line as we blustered round the back of Moseley, I passed within two miles of the location I had started out at 6:30am.
    As we rolled into New Street station for a short five minute break, we still couldn’t get a hold of Joel by the phone. It was looking increasingly likely that he wouldn’t be joining us today. What a waste of £20!

    With another gratuitous extended blast of the horn shattering the air as we departed New Street, off we went to Walsall, running round via the Hamstead link between Soho South Junction and Perry Barr North Junction. There were three class 56s to be seen at Bescot, in the form of 56091, 56115 and 56117, and while it was good to see some proper locos sat at Bescot again, they were just a shadow of their former selves in their faded, weather stained French Fertis grey livery rather than the thunderous, grubby Trainload Coal and Loadhaul liveried examples I remember seeing while growing up in North East England.

    Another brief photo stop at Walsall gave those who wanted to the chance to jump out and take a few more photos for posterity, and then for our driver to give us another extended performance on the horn as we departed, simply because he could. We timed it at 34 seconds, out of curiosity.

    Our reversal at Walsall gave everyone the chance of another bite of the apple at Bescot and to take the pictures and collect the numbers that they had perhaps missed on our first run through, before a fast run, as I have experienced over the same stretch on all the forms of rolling stock I have traversed it on, through Hamstead towards Perry Barr.

    At Witton the hard work done by the Birmingham signallers in fitting our relatively sluggish diesel excursion between the nippy little 323s was exemplified, as we were brought to a stand on the outside of Witton Junction for a few minutes to await a path on the high frequency Cross-City line beyond Aston, with our acceleration away from this signal stop, while exemplary for a DMU as the Sprinters are often noted for their smart acceleration compared to other diesel classes, seeming embarrassingly slow compared to how fast the 323 ahead of us had no doubt shifted away from Aston station.

    For the second time that day we arrived into platform 6 at New Street station. Soon after we had done so, Andy’s phone rang: It was Joel, asking us which platform we were at, having clearly overslept by several hours and only just rushed across to New Street. It was only a few seconds after I remarked that he must surely not have long at all to get from the concourse before the doors were closed, before they did just that, and we set off, with a clear image in our heads that Joel at that very moment must be hurtling down the stairs to the platform to the audible sounds of our once again lengthy two tone serenade fading into the distance…

    Oh well, an unremarkable run to Kidderminster for the second time that day followed for the two of us who had managed to make it out of bed that morning, before many of our trains payload were disgorged at Kidderminster to chart our progress across the link between Network Rail and Severn Valley Railway metals.

    And a few photos of the day:
    1. The queue stretching out of the entrance of Snow Hill station at the beginning of the day.
    2. Joels' first visit to the Severn Valley Railway! Pictured with 2857 at Bewdley.
    3. Milling about on the platform at Bewdley while waiting to continue north to Bridgnorth.
    4. Photo opportunity at Arley, bottle of "Poachers Choice" in hand.
    5. 150 contrasting with the more usual traction and rolling stock at Bridgnorth.
    6. Back on board, departing from Bridgnorth.
    7. Night shot shortly after arrival of the tour at Stratford upon Avon.
    8. Later in the evening, 150105 gets ready to depart from Stratford with the 20:26 back to Birmingham.
     

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    Last edited: 14 Nov 2011
  5. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    it would certainly be good if they got a good a doing as there existing fleat but I cant help but wonder........what happens with them wil show how much interest (or not) First have left in GW.

    A great report sprinterguy and no better man to write it than the king of the sprinters! Trust you to make the SQ Peg your first move of the day but for what its worth id have done the same!

    Advice too would be great on how to stay in a happy fulfilling relationship when your a hardened enthusiast, its cost me several!
     
  6. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    As with any other relationship scenario, it's all about finding the right girl. My enthusiasm for railways isn't what the most part of my social life is based on anyway (Although the transport management degree I'm studying is a bit of a giveaway!); this forum is my main outlet for all things railway related, although I do tend to "get let out" on alternate Saturdays. :lol:

    Plus, I come in very useful when she needs ticketing advice or help during disruption (Like this morning, where there has been very little leaving New Street in the Coventry direction), although she wasn't happy when she discovered the model railway layout that I currently have stored at my parents' house in Sunderland due to lack of space, especially when she found out that it would most certainly be joining us when we settle somewhere more permanent! :lol:
     
  7. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    An excellent read thus far, and I'm looking forward to the final part in due course. I was just about to start writing my lot up from Friday and Saturday, then saw this and had to read it first. I reckon your write-up will be more interesting than mine as I wrote mine up during the evening a couple of hours after the event. We'll see of course.

    Roll on part 3! :)
     
  8. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Thanks for the words of encouragement. :) It's taking me a little longer to get round to finishing writing the final part of my escapades. Should have it done by the end of the weekend though.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Well, here we are, it's been a long time coming but finally here is the last part of my trip report for the London Midland 150 Farewell:

    PART 3: KIDDERMINSTER to TYSELEY to LEAMINGTON SPA to STRATFORD UPON AVON (And home)

    Dusk was falling as we rolled back onto the main line at Kidderminster, and rattled up the Snow Hill lines through Stourbridge back towards Birmingham. The journey was fairly swift up through Cradley Heath, and I recall few specifics of the journey, which probably had something to do with the pleasing warming effects of Joels’ bottle of mead, until we reached The Hawthorns and recommenced running parallel with the Midland Metro.

    There were still the final vestiges of daylight as we passed slowly through Moor Street, but by the time we trundled onto Tyseleys’ entrance road it had grown completely dark. We passed close by the Tyseley Locomotive Works, before drawing to a stand at the west end of Tyseley yard. I had been under the impression that we would be making an out and back traverse of Tyseley, running round the bottom as we had done on the way in, and then back out through the stabling and fuelling roads, where a number of 172s sat parked. This proved not to be the case, much to the chagrin of many enthusiasts on the tour, who stood, straining their eyes into the darkness in an attempt to glean the identities of the three 172/2s and one 172/3 parked by the main line as we sat at the throat of the yard.

    After a procession of 172s had passed through Tyseley station, we moved back out onto the main line for the run down to Leamington Spa. With no daylight remaining, it was difficult to make out any points of reference (except for the brief flash of light from stations as we sped through) to work out where we were, but I was surprisingly accurate at estimating our location when we stopped for a signal check between Solihull and Dorridge.

    Joel had been sleeping since Tyseley, despite having only got out of bed to join the tour at around 11am, which proved to be an unwise decision on his part, with Andy and I having imbibed a good few drinks by this point. He awoke in the vicinity of Hatton, to find that his shoe laces had mysteriously disappeared…Childish I know, but he did get them back by the time we got to Stratford. In the meantime, there were a lot of mismatched shoe laces apparent as Joel sought to make up one pair from any source he could!

    We arrived into the up side terminal platform at Leamington Spa ten minutes early, which changed the ball game completely as regarded a quick trip to the pub when compared to the booked ten minute layover we were meant to have. Our party of three charged headlong down the stairs leading to the underpass, and then burst through the open ticket barriers (Joels’ assorted and borrowed shoe laces flapping in the breeze) into Leamington Spa itself. I reckoned that we would have time to get to the nearest Wetherspoons, since the “Jug and Jester” has conveniently opened quite recently just to the town centre side of the railway, but Andy and Joel made for the pub within line of sight from the station entrance: “The Exchange”, a grotty, seedy little pub selling only the most unpalatable of commercial ciders at an extortionate price for a pub of its’ low standing. Oh well, a drink’s a drink, and without further do we weaved our way back to the station, newly acquired drinks in hand, and rejoined the tour.

    Away we went again at ten to seven, back out into the darkness and towards the link from Hatton towards Stratford upon Avon. I was disappointed that it was so dark, as I would have quite liked to have had a look at the surrounding scenery on this relatively little used section of line that I had yet to traverse before this trip. However, it was not to be and we eventually clattered onto the Birmingham to Stratford line at Wilmcote.

    I had decided some time earlier that I would treat myself, and would be joined by the rest of the group, to dinner at my favourite pub in Stratford upon Avon, The Windmill. My girlfriend, Nikky would be joining us at Stratford, having travelled down on the 18:03 arrival from Birmingham, meaning that she would arrive ten minutes before our tour was due to arrive, which given the no more than hourly service on the Stratford line was as perfect an arrangement as could be hoped for.

    So the tour rolled to a stand in platform 2 at Stratford, and our group of three bade farewell to the 150 Farewell tour. I met the missus on the footbridge, and after grabbing a quick night shot of the tour, the four of us waltzed out into the Stratford evening. Dinner in The Windmill was as superb as ever, exquisitely cooked food combined with good portion sizes, two draught ales available and all in cosy, stone walled and oak beamed surroundings. I started with the celery soup, served with an ample supply of thick, soft, white bread, and then moved on to devour a reasonably enjoyable cheese and bacon burger, though of course still well short of the title of “Best Burger I’ve ever tasted”, which as anyone who knows me well is aware falls to the Purple Moose Burger served by the “Y Gwydyr” in Dolwyddelan.

    With our appetites satisfied and all our wallets (and purse) considerably lighter, we moved back in the direction of the station in time for the 20:26 train back to Birmingham, which ridiculously is the latest direct train departing Stratford for Birmingham. By this point of the evening, having spent so many hours on a 150, we were all desperately hoping for a quiet, comfortable 172 to transport us back to Birmingham city centre, to the extent that Joel would consider avoiding the 20:26 altogether if it turned out to be a 150, and make his way back to Birmingham with Andy on the 21:15 departure via a change at Warwick.

    As we neared the station, we could see the train rolling in that would form the 20:26 back to Birmingham. Lo and behold, it was 150! Cumulative groans issued from our group, but we all advocated to join this train anyway. The unit in question was two-car 150105, and the service wasn’t quiet in terms of passenger numbers: It was filled with the typical Saturday evening selection of “lairy yoofs” and orange painted females. It was easy to understand why London Midland were not keen to make use of one of their shiny, unspoilt new 172s on this service and instead chuck out something tattier, but if the boorish claims of the group of lads seated behind us was anything to go by, then their puny drinking attempts were no match for my typical herculean ale quaffing abilities. At least when I’m drunk, and by this point I think it goes without saying that I was, I can (usually) still act with a bit of decorum.

    So for the last time that day, we squeezed ourselves into a group of three airline sets (two groups, actually), Joel having been on twice as many 150s that day than those who had only travelled on the 150 Farewell. My girlfriend was absolutely astounded that it was the very same type of train that we were now sitting on that Andy, Joel and I had spent our entire day on, and was dismayed to find out that these trains would soon be finding their way onto the Buxton line, her local line “back at home”. It would seem that North West 150s and 156s are pure luxury compared to the cramped confines of London Midlands’ 150s, as judged by an impartial passenger! Both Andy and Joel were asleep by the time we got to Wilmcote. Lightweights.;) Clearly, a life of drinking and railtours is too much for them.
     
  9. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    An excellent tale! One thing to point out though, we left considerably earlier than ten to seven from Leamington! 1751 to be exact ;)

    I don't know how you managed to stay awake all day with so much ale in you, if I'd started as early as your group did I'd have been asleep by Leamington!

    As for the North West 150s and 156s, their being better than the LM ones would most certainly be debated considerably by some of my basher mates from the North! 156423 and 451, both quieter than the LM 150s were when I had them last weekend, but unless Northern have screwed with it too then 156471 qualifies for the loudest and most hellfire DMU I've been on this year. Doubt I'll ever forget that run from Preston to Liverpool Lime Street in February on it, to nick a quote from Hellfire "What a monster!" :D<D

    Personally, I'm looking forward to scooping away with the ex-LM 150s when I'm up that way on Monday, since I've not had them as their 150/1 numbers with exception to 150107. Plenty more required lines in the book now in a fleet that's going to take me decades to finish as it is, bring it on! <D

    As for the orange painted females on the 2026 to Birmingham, I couldn't help but laugh. Easily the funniest thing I've read all day thus far :D
     
  10. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Well spotted! I should, of course, have said ten to six. Had a momentary lapse of concentration.

    I've developed quite a stamina when it comes to ale drinking by this point, whether that's a good thing or not is another matter! :lol: As long as the company I'm keeping is good, then I am generally adept at remaining reasonably lively.

    I think that for most people, it's a question of comfort that is the deciding factor in what makes the better unit. ;) Although with that said, it's shocking to see the state that Northern have let the interiors (and by your report, the mechanical elements!) of the former Northern Spirit 156s get into.
     
  11. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    The louder and thrashier the better I say! Had a refurbished 156 yesterday, dull thing. The unrefurbished ex-Arriva 156s were much better! <D
     
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