London Midland's Farewell 150 Tour.

Discussion in 'Trip Planning & Reports' started by Lrd, 24 Nov 2011.

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  1. Lrd

    Lrd Established Member

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    This was my first tour, I enjoyed every bit of it! Here's my report:


    I was standing at the bus stop at about 1630, I had left early as I didn't want to have an awkward conversation with my mother about where I was going. It dawned on me that I was going to have a bit of a wait at the station. The buses were due at 1630 and 1637, however it soon become 1645 and three buses turned up at the same time, useful! Since the timetable change the Bluestar 18 route has been late every time I use it, still better than using First Buses though!

    We arrive at Southampton Central at about 1710, enough time for me too see the 1713 Southern service to sit around before getting the signal to leave. Luckily, I was booked on the 1811 so I went and grabbed a baguette from Upper Crust (the baguette cost more than my £2.30 ticket to London!) and went and sat on platform 2, watching the hoards of passengers on platforms 1+4 waiting for their trains. I checked the board on platform 2 and noticed that my train wasn't showing, I had a mini-heart attack then remembered that the Victoria trains were booked to run off platform 3, quick check and it was showing. Saw a XC voyager pull into platform 3, kick off all its passengers, pull forward (towards London) a few feet, stopped and then sped off towards Bournemouth (probably, Southampton sidings) which confused me. Shortly after this happened, my SN unit appeared, which was 377xxx (forgot to look, whoops! Will get it when I get off). We left a few minutes late, there was some congestion in Cardiff, therefore the FGW services to Pompey were delayed. We soon set off, the guard was extremely apologetic about the delay, I wasn't bothered though as I was on this service all the way to Victoria and knew that we would either make up time or there was sufficient padding to make us either early or on time into London. The headphones went in shortly after leaving Southampton.

    I kept checking the departure boards on the platforms throughout the journey and kept noting we were about 5 minutes late, we powered on through, changed drivers at Barnham, we were about 8 minutes late by now, the new driver certainly wanted to make up time though as it felt like we were flying through stations. A RPI came through checking tickets with his mate shortly following, he barely saw that I had something vaguely looking like a ticket before saying thanks and moving on. We get to Gatwick Airport and have made up a few minutes, but also gained quite a few more passengers, with people standing, we got to East Croydon and were about two minutes late by now, left Clapham Junction, still about two minutes late, but then we were stopped just outside Victoria, the scheduled arrival time of 2050 came and went and by about 2055 we started to move and pulled in to Platform 18.

    I was booked on the 2113 out of Euston. A quick dash across the concourse to the underground station, over to the barriers, put Oyster card on reader "Seek assistance" flashed before my eyes, tried again, same thing, then I remembered that my mother had borrowed my card earlier that week so over to the machines to top up, queued up and waited and waited and waited, one person in front had no idea what ticket to buy, asked the person behind, what to do and they suggested a travelcard, which was too expensive for him and he walked away, the next person to use the machine didn't even end up buying a ticket, but spent enough time faffing about, I finally reached the machine, did what I had to do. I went back over to the barriers, put the card on the reader and "Seek assistance" flashed up once more, tried again and it let me through, quick dash down the escalator (first time I've used the "fast" lane, never understood why people did before, now I do!) and straight on to a Victoria line train which was waiting for me with it's doors open. We got a move on, clear run all the way and we got into Euston, mad dash running up the escalators (swear they are longer than at Victoria), Oystered my way through the barriers without a problem, another dash up the other escalators, quick glance at the screens and saw my train still on the screens, I got there by about 2111, saw it was platform 16, so I quickly dashed over, down the ramp, on my way down the ramp, I saw that the orange door lights were off! Thinking that the train was about to leave I stopped, then I looked at the other end of the train and saw a flicker of orange light, turn's out my train was booked as a four car, so I carried on running, saw the departure board and noticed that the train was expected to leave at 2120, I thought that was odd, but carried on anyways. I got to the last coach of the eight car 350 stabled where a couple were trying to open the doors but didn't understand why they wouldn't open, I pointed and said, you want the train with the lights on. I jumped on board the first coach and pushed my way through all the standee's and plonkers sitting on the floor and got to the front coach and sat in a seat, window seat, may I add, with another one spare next to me, and plenty more two's throughout the coach.

    I saw the Highland sleeper, sat on the opposite platform (14 or 13) and then it disappeared into the darkness. Shortly after, the doors closed and the driver got RA and we left about 5 minutes late. The guard come on the PA and said that he was delayed on an incoming service thanks to a points failure at Leighton Buzzard (a failure that I'm actually thankful of). We came to a stand at Watford Junction station but carried on moving forwards on caution signals, we then came to a stand further up the line, a few minutes later the dreaded announcement come over the PA from the PIS saying "Would the guard please contact the driver" this cleared, and then the guard come over the PA once more and said that "we were following the sleeper train and that we can't go very fast". We moved off once more, crossing on to the fast lines and called at Leighton Buzzard where I noticed we were now about 20 minutes late and that, according to the PIS, was due to a signalling equipment failure, so I still had no idea why we were late. We carried on towards Birmingham and eventually arrived at about 2335, approx. 15 minutes late (we were due in at 2319).

    I walked off to my hostel through a rough looking part of town (Digbeth), when I got there I saw and heard a Chiltern 67 (+ coaches) idling away on top of the viaduct. I checked in and went up to my room and noticed the only bed left was the top bunk of a bunk bed so I went and got changed and then climbed into bed, as I was laying there, I could still hear the 67 idling away. I had an awful nights sleep, kept being woken by a VERY loud snorer.

    I got out of bed at about 0600, noticed a plug socket in the corridor and put my phone on charge, went in to the bathroom to freshen up and then left the hostel, collecting my phone and charger on the way, at about 0630. Looked on Google Maps(love that app!) for the nearest McDonalds for brekkie, ordered a double bacon and egg muffin meal (after the staff finished chatting), the guy asked me what sauce I wanted, I pointed out I wanted the muffin and not the bacon roll, he gave me my food and I left without saying thank you (give them a piece of mind and all that) I opened the bag and realised that I had received a double sausage and egg muffin instead, but as I was too far away to be bothered to walk back, I ate it anyways. Another quick look on Google maps on found a Tesco Metro just around the corner and stocked up on crap. Whilst checking the maps, I noticed that Snow Hill station wasn't actually that far away (original plan was to get a train from Moor Street) and decided to walk there.

    I got to Snow Hill about 0720 and noticed a few people hanging around on the concourse and then heard an announcement being made to meet on the concourse and not to go down to the platforms. Eventually more and more people turned up and we were told to make some sort of line on the bridge, we all did with more people joining at the back, I looked back at one point and could only see a hoard of "railway enthusiasts". Some London Midland staff worked their way through checking tickets and giving out bright green wristbands. The queue started moving and we worked our way down the stairs to be greeted by 150106 and then 150001 with "Special" on the the roller blind, and a poster saying our head code (1Z50) in the cab window and a "150 Farewell" board hung on the front (or rear).

    I opted to sit in 150001, in the third carriage of the five car train. It slowly filled up, but with there plenty of seats to spare. We left a few minutes late and made our way to Worcester Shrub Hill, picking up more passengers on the way. As we were just outside Worcester, there was a 172 in the siding, and couldn't help but notice as to how clean and shiny everything was, including the entire engine and underfloor gubbings, we pulled in to Shrub Hill and had a quick turnaround before heading up to New Street, via Bromsgrove and the Camp Hill lines (with Bromsgrove goods loop not being available). We left New Street for Walsall with the driver being extremely horn friendly! We had roughly ten minutes in Walsall before we departed for New Street, again with a lot of horns! We then left New Street and moved over to the Snow Hill lines via Smethwick Galton junction, we then went fast to Kidderminster via Rowley Regis down goods loop. On arrival at Kidderminster, a lot of the train emptied out and we then carried on forwards in to the turn back siding, a short turnaround and we moved back towards the Birmingham bound platform at Kidderminster, not going into the station, as we waited for our path in to the Severn Valley Railway, 150109 passed us heading towards Worcester which caught a few people by surprise. We sat here for a few minutes, we then set back on to the crossover for SVR, the guard come on the PA and said that the signaller was having troubles clearing the signal and the driver had to make sure the path was set, finally we made our way into the Kidderminster SVR station being greeted by the rest of the train load and their cameras, I quick footed it over to the buffet in the station and got myself a sausage roll and hot chocolate, the sausage roll was amazingly nice, the hot choc, not so nice.

    We made our way through the SVR and we pulled into Bridgnorth station at the other end. I stayed on for the crossover shunt from platform 2 over to platform 1, just to get as much track in as possible. We pulled back into Bridgnorth and I got out and had a look around the platform and trains, not being able to take any pictures, because my battery had died by that point. As we left Bridgnorth, they announced the winners of the raffle, I had bought a strip of five tickets and didn't win anything! Oh well. We made our way through the SVR and back on to Network Rail metals avoiding the Kidderminster SVR station.

    We made our way back to Snow Hill, going via Stourbridge Junction goods loop and Rowley Regis Up goods loop. We then went through Moor Street without stopping and straight on to the Moor Street Up/Down goods loop and straight on to Tyseley depot's Down through road where we sit at the signal waiting for a path on to the mainline, we sat for about 30 odd minutes, waiting for the various 172's, 168's and 165's to pass in front of us. The signaller gave us an early path and we made our way on to the mainline at 1658, we then had an almost clear run to Leamington Spa. On arrival at Leamington I watched a Voyager leave for Southampton and 220030 on it's way to Manchester, started to think to myself if that unit would turn up on the 2003 off New Street as I wanted to test the Wi-Fi! Everyone piles back on to the train and we make our way to Stratford-upod-Avon, which didn't take long. We had a booked 30 minute wait here, in which time I spent most of the time queuing for the little cafe, I finally get to the front of the queue and buy a Ginsters Meat Feast slice, packet of crisps and a much needed drink for a reasonable price (can't remember what it was though) all of which tasted great!

    We piled on to the train once more and made our way back to Birmingham for the last time, we had a fairly decent run and must of been on time or a little bit early, but the signaller decided to hold us just outside Tyseley, we waited for a good 20 minutes or so, the guy sat next to me mentioned that that he used to use the line every day a few years back and wait's like that happen every time, which I couldn't believe, surely they can make a better timetable to overcome that? Whilst waiting, I started to worry as I was booked on the 2003 off New Street and we weren't booked to stop at Moor Street! Thankfully the guard came on the PA and announced that we would in fact be stopping at Moor Street, phew! We were soon on our way, now about 20 minutes late and we pull in to Moor Street, a lot of the train empties out and we all make our very to the end of the platform to watch the 150's absolutely blast it out of the station and in to the tunnels!

    Can't remember the time but can remember that I had about twenty minutes to get to New Street and find my train, this would be my third time at the station (not including the tour) and still wasn't familiar on where things were so I hot footed it over and found the departure boards, found my train and saw it was booked for Platform 4a (I think) so went and got a sandwich for the journey and made my way down to the platform, which was fairly busy, luckily all the passengers were for the Manchester voyager and disappeared down the other end of the platform as their train pulled in.

    My Voyager pulled in to the platform (Not 220030) and I made my on board to find my booked seat, unfortunately all the reservation screens were all blank, I found my seat only to discover someone else sat in it, I contemplated kicking them out but I noticed plenty of other seats available in the carriage, so decided to sit in one of them. We soon leave, on time, and make our way to Birmingham International where the train filled up a bit more, only for most of it to empty out at Coventry. On leaving, the Train Manager came through checking tickets, I noticed it's the one that I normally have on my XC journeys, he sticks out as he is chatty, really friendly, makes good announcements and just overall a good Train Manager, better than some of their staff. From what I have worked out, he is a Bournemouth Train Manager. (Also had a SWT Bournemouth Guard the other day and he was just as good) It was a fairly uneventful run back down South (yes I know Birmingham isn't in the North!), I was occupied with music and Sudoku on my phone, but then got bored and turned it all off. I started to nod off, woke up at Reading to see that we were on time and then fell asleep again and woke up again near Shawford.

    We pulled in to Southampton Central on time at 2241 and with the next bus to Millbrook due at 2050, I dashed over to the bus stop and met my brother, who had just finished work, he reminded me that Saints were playing and that he was unable to get on the last bus because it was too busy. The 18 showed up with a double decker and it was fairly quiet, so well done Bluestar for putting the right buses on at the right times! Can't wait for the Mercedes-Benz Citaro bendy buses to start running the 18, there should be plenty of room then. I get in, update my route coverage map and fall asleep.

    Overall I had a brilliant time. It was fairly cheap too, in terms of travel; it cost me a whopping £3.30 for Southampton to London, and another £3.95 for the London to Birmingham train, the XC fare from Birmingham to London cost about £10.50 and the hostel cost £15 for one night's stay, although I wished I had stayed in a hotel at the time thanks to one very loud snorer!

    Now need to plan another trip!

    P.S. Didn't realize how long it was until I posted it! Sorry if you made it this far. :D
     
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  3. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    An enjoyable read, I must say I was amazed when I saw you made it from Victoria to Euston in that short a time! You were so lucky to make that I reckon, that fare from Southampton to London was an incredibly cheap deal, not bad at all for the mileage involved.

    Shame about the hostel move, maybe you should try Travelodge next time. They usually have very reasonably priced rooms, from £19 if you book far enough in advance and don't book somewhere during an event. I love Travelodge personally, I even tick off the Travelodges I've stayed at. Only on around 10 at the moment, over 450 to go!
     
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