Phil's Trip Reports (and learning the different class of trains along the way!)

Discussion in 'Trip Planning & Reports' started by TravellingPhil, 4 Apr 2019.

  1. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Hello,

    I'm just another traveller who really enjoys reading this forum, particularly the trip reports. I'm a keen train traveller myself. Even though I don't collect numbers, I do have a general understanding of train classes and history and take an interest but my knowhow is a bit rubbish. My passion isn't so much to see the trains, but to get travelling! Although there are a few types of train that I get a bit more of a buzz travelling on...if you can understand what I mean!

    I've done most of the classic rail journeys the UK has to offer (except Settle and Carlisle, still have that to).

    So that's me, so I'm going to start with a simple question to start off with...

    I've treated myself out to a day out in Glasgow next Tuesday. I passed through Glasgow many times on the way to and from other places in Scotland, but never stopped to explore any of the local lines. (Except one time when me and my wife went to visit a friend on Arran and took the train to Ardrossan)

    I arrive into Glasgow from Wolverhampton at 11:15 and leave again at 18:40, so I should get a good 6 to 7 hours. My thinking was that a trip out to Wemyss Bay to see the magnificent station building and on the ferry to Rothesay might make a good little trip if the weather is good. Or Balloch looks like a good run out too. My other idea is just getting a Roundabout or Daytripper ticket and just seeing where the day takes me. Any advice or experience anyone has to share would be great. Any types of train up there worth making an effort to travel on too?

    Many thanks.
     
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  3. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Depends if you like older BR electric units, but the 314s are being withdrawn and you can generally get one on Wemyss Bay runs, and yes - the station is quite striking architecturally. Or if you like scenic places going out to Balloch for Loch Lomond can be very nice, even without the weather it's still quite pleasant.
     
  4. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Thank you.

    Got a few ideas on what I could do:
    • Just explore away on either a Roundabout or Daytripper. Maybe visit Balloch if on a Daytripper
    • Visit Rothesay, would take up most of my time but could be worth it.
    • Was even thinking of exploring further afield on a line I've never travelled, maybe as far as North Berwick or Tweedbank. Looked at Stranraer but near impossible in the time I have.
    The trip to Rothesay is the most tempting. I've read on Tripadvisor that it's possible to do a round trip from Rothesay to Dunoon by bus, ferry to Gourock than back to Glasgow. But that also looks impossible in the time I have. I could catch a bus from Weymss Bay to Largs or Gourock and get another bit of line scratched off on the way back if I combine a Daytripper with ferry tickets.

    Knowing me, I won't decide until I step off the Pendolino at Glasgow on the day!
     
  5. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Established Member

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    My advice would be avoid taking the train to Balloch unless you like being mugged by junkies.
     
  6. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I wouldn't suggest simply going to Balloch purely to visit Balloch, only if you wanted to see Loch Lomond or catch one of the boats.

    Wemyss Bay is quite small, pretty much a village, Largs has far more to it.
     
  7. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Had a very successful day out in the end.

    Ended up getting a Daytripper (amazing value this ticket, there was so much more I could have done!). Spent most of the day on fairly old EMUs, not great with class numbers but I know the more comfy ones were 318s. The train from Gourock was similar, but it had low backed seats instead and I think it may have been a number close to 318, but wasn't a 318!

    Just one modern 380 (I know that one because it's got the giant corridor connector on the front!). There was a 320 in there somewhere too! I'll get there with these numbers. But it's not what I'm looking for on my days out I must confess, I just like to ride the trains.

    Sorry I'm rubbish with numbers, must do better I know!

    Anyway, my trip went like this;

    Went to Wemyss Bay, bus to Gourock (sadly had to pay a little extra for this). Then back into Glasgow Central. Down to low level. Train to Balloch changing at Hyndland. Had a little explore around the shores of Loch Lomond. Then back to Queen Street low level. From high level caught an unusually comfy DMU for the length of the service to Anniesland (Class 158, I know those ones because they come through Wolverhampton a fair bit!) . Train back to Partick. Subway around to St Enochs. Then back into Central and the train home, changing at Preston.

    The weather was amazing. And my first class tickets on Virgin Trains were pretty good. Fantastic breakfast service between Wolverhampton and Preston, the staff couldn't do enough for you. Then from Preston northwards it all backed off somewhat with just one coffee and nothing else being served between Preston and Glasgow. I was alright because I had had plenty up to that point and was more than happy but felt sorry for anyone joining the train north of Preston.

    Then coming back, a decent evening dinner service on leaving Glasgow. Wasn't expecting anything when I changed to the second train at Preston as it had come down from Edinburgh and I saw that they had all cleared away in first class. Plus I was the only first class passenger joining a fairly empty Voyager coach. But I was very pleasantly surpirsed, the very kind hostess couldn't do enough for me, lots of food put in front of me and kept coming back to top up my glass of red!

    Me and my wife have a booked a bit of a mini trip next month. A night away in York followed by a second night in Liverpool on a journey that will finally see me taking in the Settle to Carlisle railway. Can't believe it's taken me until age 40 to finally get it ticked off. Pleased that my wife wants to come along too.

    Think I'll turn this thread into a bit of a report thread, so if no-one minds, I'll change the title to reflect that.
     
  8. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Sounded like a good little trip to Scotland :)
     
  9. 433N

    433N Member

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    Nice one, Phil.

    The 318s are remarkably comfy and I know which end of a 318-320 combination I will always pick. I do wish they'd clean the windows occasionally though. :frown:
     
  10. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    A nice little journey that there, agreed the Daytripper is excellent value. Not done one for a long time, that will inevitably change at some point in 2019 I suspect.

    Welcome to the trip reporting community too!

    Your low back seating train sounds rather likely to be a 314, they're not long for this world now.

    Sounds like Virgin (mostly) did you proud in First Class except for that bit north of Preston on the way to Scotland. Going to miss VTWC when they go! As for the S&C I didn't get it done for a long time either. Considering I was very busy on the rails in the 2000s that was shocking! I had been due to do it in 2005 or 2006, but the booked diversions with a 57-hauled 390 didn't happen due to flooding which sucked! Eventually I got to do it with a tour hauled by 56312 though so it wasn't all bad!
     
  11. xotGD

    xotGD Established Member

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    Can't count it then - not a service train ;)
     
  12. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    Also done the S&C on a 158 from Carlisle to Leeds in more recent years too, which I had forgotten!

    As for the 56, I wasn't on the scene when 56s roamed free :-P
     
  13. D841 Roebuck

    D841 Roebuck Established Member

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    I was on the scene at the time, but still didn’t get one on a service train. Did randomly get 58037, though... :)

    Anyway, back to Phil's thread - sounds like you enjoyed yourself, which is the whole purpose of leisure time. I hope the Settle and Carlisle, or wherever you choose to go next, is equally enjoyable.
     
  14. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Quick question about another upcoming trip on top of my already planned jaunt across the Pennines.

    Going to have a day in London next month (Fri 17th May) thanks to a recent Virgin Trains sale. Normally, a day in London consists of me travelling around to various interesting places/lines using my contactless.

    However, thinking of ticking off a line or two I hadn't done before a little further afield.

    My first thought was to get the Bedford Bletchley line and the Watford-St Albans line done in a round trip. The best way and cheapest way I can find of doing this is a Watford to Bedford return which would be valid via both routes enabling me to do the full circle. Any thoughts or advice on a better ticket for doing this?

    Another idea is getting the Uckfield and East Grinstead lines done. What would be the best ticket combination for this?

    I may do a circular journey around Kent on Hi-Speed if I can find the right station to get a return to.

    A Thames Branches Rover is also tempting me.

    My final more wacky idea is doing a Weymouth and back on advance tickets. Seeing I have 11 hours in London, it's more than doable but my day will be done in this one journey alone. Some good 1st class advances on that route, my only concern being that SWR's refurbished 1st class doesn't look as good as it used to. Weymouth is on my list of places to get to by train, but might be worth it's own little overnight break rather than part of a day out.

    I may get another brainwave and go somewhere else, or I might just tootle around London again for the day.

    Any thoughts, advice, ideas and experience greatly received!
     
  15. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Ebbsfleet to Gravesend ;)
     
  16. mmh

    mmh Established Member

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    Take a look at the Southern Daysave ticket (a Google search for that will find it.) It's a rover that allows off-peak travel on any Southern branded train (i.e. not Thameslink or Gatwick Express!) Can only be bought in advance and either collected from a Southern operated station, or posted to you, so you'd probably need to buy a week ahead to have it posted to you. (Sadly it seems you can no longer print it at home)

    Be careful to check the evening time restrictions suit your plans though - they're based on the time a train was at London Bridge, Victoria, Clapham Junction or East Croydon.
     
  17. Cletus

    Cletus Established Member

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  18. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    All depends on what the forum member really wants to do I'd say in Weymouth, I'd recommend visiting on a nice sunny day and enjoying a seaside visit properly. Maybe in via Bournemouth and back via Yeovil?

    London has so much to offer that it seems a waste to go there then head straight out on a quick blast to Weymouth and back. The idea about doing the trip via St Albans is not a bad shout, as it means he'd get to try a 230 on the Marston Vale line too. As for the Kent circular idea, it's a good one but I'd be looking for a plan with a break somewhere in Kent. Not Margate before you ask!

    East Grinstead is best left until a visit to the Bluebell Railway can be added to the plan, the branch is rather dull otherwise.
     
  19. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Thanks for the replies. The St Albans, Bedford, Bletchley circular is the most tempting.

    Been doing a lot of trip planning recently, I love the planning bit bizarrely enough.

    I'm also two thirds of the way for saving for one of my bucket list train journeys. Wolverhampton to Narvik in Norway by train via London, Hamburg and Stockholm. However, engineering works between Hamburg and Copenhagen and south of Stockholm this summer means it may be Spring 2020 before we get to go. But more time to save means more overnight stops to enjoy the cities on the way. Sadly, it looks like the ferry between Puttgarden and Rodby may be a thing of the past by the time we go.

    More time to save also means adding on a trip down to Oslo from Narvik and across to Bergen to fly home from there at the end. Such a shame there's no ferries from Bergen to the UK anymore.

    Anyway, got my Settle to Carlisle and London trips to enjoy first.
     
  20. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    You're going to be rather busy by the looks of it! That adventure to Narvik should be awesome, fair play. Not done it myself but I've seen a video about Stockholm to Narvik on YouTube and I fancy doing it.

    Enjoying the planning of a trip, that's a good thing in my eyes. I love the planning phase of a trip, although choosing a destination can be a challenge sometimes!
     
  21. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Probably the same video that inspired me. Originally I thought about flying out to Stockholm to get the sleeper. But me being me, doesn't seem right and where's the fun in that? My wife announced today that she doesn't want to fly home either and wants to come the whole way back by train...which took me aback somewhat! We're now looking at a ferry from Bergen to Hirtshals in Denmark. Just to mix it up, looking at the Holland to Harwich ferry home. This is going to take up all my annual leave, but what a way to spend it!
     
  22. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    That will all take a good while to do! Good way to spend a few weeks off though, admittedly a fair chunk of mine will involve trains and planes as well as a few new countries. Got one heck of a mix of countries coming up in the next 11 months!

    How I will fund it all remains to be seen, but that's a problem for another day :lol:
     
  23. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Looks like the trip may take up more time than I'll get, but you've got to be ambitious and aim high haven't you?!

    So plan C, or D, or wherever I'm up to, involves cutting the end bit off, flying from Oslo, Bergen or Stavenger to Aberdeen and getting the sleeper. That way, I get to try the new sleeper and get to scratch off the Aberdeen line which I'm yet to do.

    And again, my wife liked the idea! After all the rail journeys I dragged her along on last year, I think she might actually be enjoying it.

    The funds are looking good but my problem is that I'm waiting for a new work roster to be confirmed. The majority of booking windows for the trains seem to be 3 months, but the Caledonian Sleeper is a year, and it looks like the sleeper cabins on the Stockholm to Narvik book up quick. So could prove tricky getting it all to fit together. Hopefully, by choosing next March/April to go, it might make the availability a little easier.
     
  24. Adsy125

    Adsy125 Member

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    Unless you particularly want to visit Weymouth, I’d go to Bournemouth if I was you, there’s generally more there a fewer of the slightly... dodgy... people you get in Weymouth. The Heart Of Wessex is nice though so would recommend doing something like Waterloo-Bournemouth-Dorchester/Weymouth-Castle Cary/Westbury- Paddington. Frome, Dorchester and Wareham are all small pleasant places on the way that have well located stations.
     
  25. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    Flying back out of Norway will save you a lot of time I reckon, and as you'll then sample the new sleeper too that's a handy bonus. Just don't forget Aberdeen airport is nearer Dyce than Aberdeen!

    Having a partner who not only tolerates travelling by train but is keen on it, that sort of thing seems quite rare. I know someone at my work place who, from conversations the other week with her, likes exploring, trains and planes. Not many people out there like that! Certainly you chose well with your other half if you ask me :)
     
  26. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Booking tickets for the first leg of my London-Narvik trip next Spring might now be problematic with the announcement today that DB are discontinuing through tickets from London to Germany this November. I think a Brussels to Copenhagen through ticket might be a solution to this with an overnight stay in Brussels. Could make a beeline for Brussels on the Sunday evening so we're already in the continent ready to start the journey proper on the Monday morning.

    Hopefully, by the time I go next year, trains will be running again from Rodby to Copenhagen. Not sure what the status of the train ferry will be from Puttgarden to Rodby though. The new tunnel is still 3 years away but they might stop putting trains on the ferry before it opens.

    Coming back to my more recent upcoming trip to London, it looks like London Underground could be on strike when I go on the 17th May. In which case, a trip somewhere out of either Euston, St Pancras or Kings Cross will have to be done as I won't fancy internal connections if there is a strike. I come into Euston and can easily get to one of those three terminus'.

    The Watford-St Albans-Bedford-Bletchley circle is suddenly looking more appealing...as is the Kent Coast on hi-speed. A little jaunt on LNER in 1st class would also have been nice, but a bit late in the day to get any good advance fares there now.

    I think I can get still get a lot out of the day even if there is a strike on. I secretly quite like planning around these issues, can create a more interesting journey!

    And just one week to go until I go to see what the Settle-Carlisle is all about.
     
  27. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    It can indeed be interesting planning around strikes, agreed. Sort of similar to pulling out a road atlas and working out a new route as a result of an accident ahead, nothing quite like using some map reading skills to plan a route. Yes I can use Google Maps but if it's an area of poor data signal it's no help, and I always like having the ability to use an atlas anyway.

    Surprised DB are ceasing London to Germany tickets, given they were planning to one day launch their own trains to London!
     
  28. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    So I'll start with our trip up north last week.

    Last Monday (13th May), we took the 09:37 Virgin Train in 1st class from Wolverhampton to Carlisle. The first train we can use our Two Together on heading north, and we just catch breakfast in 1st class before Crewe on that service.

    It was a beautiful ride up and we were so lucky with the weather. The 1st Class service was excellent as ever, breakfast before Preston, bacon roll and a beer(!) for the brunch service after Preston.

    The aim of the day was to ride the Settle Carlisle railway, and the weather could not have been any better. We had a 2 hour wait at Carlisle, so a couple of delicious ales were tried in the wonderful 301 miles from London bar on platform 4. We had decided on the 14:04 to Leeds, one of the fast trains. A lot of people were waiting for it, so I told my wife I'll run ahead and find a good seat in the front carriage. However, on entering the carriage on the 2 car train (a 158 I believe), I discovered that the whole carriage had been reserved for a coach party of pensioners...which effectively turned the service into a 1 coach train for the rest of us. Thankfully, managed to grab the last pair of forward facing seats in the rear carriage. At Appleby, we had managed to move onto a table seat which we shared with a lovely lady who was travelling from Glasgow to see family in Ilkley with her Border Terrier, Brodie, who both proved to be brilliant company.

    The trolley came and I had what was a surprisingly good cup of tea. The refreshment lady told us that it was unusual to get a coach booking on that particular service and we had been a bit unlucky.

    The views, as you'll be aware, were tremendous. The weather so spectacular. The train emptied out at Settle as a tour guide was waiting on the platform for the coach party of pensioners. Who I have to say, didn't seem at all in good spirits. The regular passengers seemed to be having a better time in the rear coach. The train filled up again as it got closer to Leeds as people were leaving work/school etc.

    We had an hour wait in Leeds in the evening peak, so we decided to try and find the south entrance as we heard it's worth a look. It was a good move, firstly because it was so much quieter at that time of day but best of all, what they've done with Granary Wharf and particularly the arches under the station is brilliant. Check it out next time you're in Leeds stations...and google it to see what I mean if you've never been down there. We walked around back to the main entrance which is being refurbished at the moment and made our way to platform 11 for the 17:40 to York train (which cost £2 each on our railcard!). We noticed just how busy platform 17 was and were glad we weren't travelling west on a Transpennine Express which were stopping there which was part of our original plan.

    A brand new LNER Azuma was idling in the platform next to us. We also noticed the yellow Network Rail class 43 come through the station, we had seen one earlier in the day at Carlisle and wondered if it was the same one.

    The 158 to York was a straightforward if a little dull journey, it was fairly busy but everyone had a seat. At York, I helped a Spanish visitor who had just arrived in the country find a train to Peterborough as he had somehow got on our train at Leeds instead of heading south. Thankfully for him, at Kings Cross service stopping at Peterborough was soon due in. I don't know what ticket he had as it was a mobile one and he couldn't understand me when I was asked him. I pointed him in the direction of the platform staff and reassured him that he hadn't gone too far out of his way as he seemed quite distressed when he realised he had gone in the wrong direction. I usually find railway staff helpful in those situations so hopefully he found the same and made his way to Peterborough. Also in York, that yellow Network Rail train was waiting again, my wife was now quite suspicious it was following us. 3 times in 3 different stations we had seen it that day!

    Now the reason we were in York, as a thank you to my wife for trying the Settle-Carlisle with me, I had booked us into The Principal Hotel, a hotel she had always wanted to stay in. I had got a reasonably priced deal which included £25 each towards dinner and breakfast. We also got a free upgrade to a larger room. It is an amazing hotel, very lovely and comfortable. Dinner was amazing and breakfast next morning was pretty good too. It manages to balance the traditions of a railway hotel with the brightness and openness of a modern hotel...and does this extremely well. The very expensive rooms give you a view over York Minster...we had a view over York Station roof. Even though there were the sounds of idling engines and squealing wheels coming from the station, it was muffled enough so it didn't disturb us.

    The next morning, (Tuesday), we boarded the 09:39 Transpennine Express service to Liverpool. I had bagged a couple of cheap 1st class advances. We had a very pleasant ride through West Yorkshire and the first class was fairly lightly loaded the whole way down. Transpennine Express won the best coffee of the week award with their Lavazza filter coffee cups. Great little invention those and very good coffee.

    We arrived in Liverpool on time and made our way on Merseyrail to James St Station where we walked to our next hotel, the Malmasion on the docks. A very modern hotel and very different to the Principal in York...but very comfortable!

    We spent the rest of the day being proper tourists in Liverpool, went on the Mersey Ferry, looked around the Beatles story and enjoyed various stop offs for coffee/food/beer. We had another great meal in the hotel and a very good nights sleep.

    The next morning, after breakfast, we took a cab back to Lime St station. We had tickets home to Wolverhampton booked on the 18:27 from Manchester Piccadilly so intended on spending some time in Manchester. When we arrived at Lime St, I went to the ticket office to get 2 singles to Manchester. We wanted to be in Piccadilly to use the left luggage there. The lady sold me 2 singles for £8, which seemed cheap and told me to head to platform 10 for the 10:52 East Midlands Train to Norwich. She then said, "Come back to me if you don't make it," which I found odd. When I looked at the tickets, and looked at the clock, I realised why she had said that. It was 10:50 and she had sold me advanced tickets for that train. My wife had already clocked on to what was happening and was already halfway to platform 10 by the time I had the tickets! (I was impressed with her, she seems to embracing this crazy winging it travelling by train stuff that I love!) We made the train and it was virtually empty all the way through Warrington to Piccadilly. After spending a good amount of time trying to find left luggage at Piccadilly and then discovering it was on platform 10, the other side of the barriers, we took a tram out to Salford Quays to look around the Imperial War Museum North. I had been there before but my wife hadn't. A really worthwhile visit and just as good as it's London cousin.

    We then went back to Exchange Square on the tram to eat in Wahaca. Wahaca is a Mexican food restaurant. We always love Wahaca when we go to London, having lived in the USA for 2 years, we discovered it's the closest to real Mexican we have found in the UK so far and were pleased to see they were branching out of London. The food in the Manchester branch was just as good as the London ones, with the advantage of the restaurant being much quieter than the London ones too.

    After eating, we jumped on a tram at Exchange Square towards Victoria where we could change to a Piccadilly tram. However, the tram just sat in Exchange square and there was a significant queue of trams and buses ahead. The driver announced that there had been a points failure at Victoria (I assume, as what happens in Birmingham when the Grand Central points fail, the drivers were having to get out and manually move them with a bar) and that this was delaying us. So we bailed and walked through the Arndale Centre and Piccadilly Gardens to Piccadilly station. I had a brief argument with the rude man on the ticket gates at Piccadilly. Apparently, when going to left luggage to get my bag, I was walking through the wrong door, I was supposed to use the door leading onto platform 10, and not 11, which was only a couple of feet away. I told him I couldn't see what difference it made and carried on anyway. The staff in the left luggage office told me that have difficulty with that particular person every day when they come to work and he sometimes refuses them to come through to get to their job! In contrast to the barrier staff, the left luggage staff were very helpful and friendly.

    So we boarded the 18:27 Crosscountry to Bournemouth to head home to Wolverhampton, I had once again got hold of some cheap first class advances on our railcard. 1st class was actually fairly full the whole way which I wasn't expecting considering how cheap the advance tickets were for that particular train. Got a weak cup of tea and a bacon roll from the 1st class host, who had a strange method of serving each passenger one at the time which meant him running back and forwards constantly to the kitchen. I was worried he was going to have an accident. Fair play though, he got everyone served quickly...but surely there's an easier way? He was no spring chicken either and we could see how much hard work it was for him. Nice chap though.

    And that was it, back we where we started in Wolverhampton after a pleasant couple of nights away in the north...and the sun was still shining!
     
    Last edited: 19 May 2019
  29. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Sounded like a good few days :)
     
  30. Iskra

    Iskra Established Member

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    Nice report thanks for sharing.

    Yes, I think some people on coach trips only go on them to give themselves something to be miserable about. I think they enjoy that. Glad you enjoyed the trip over the S&C and you did right to take a 'fast' service as it can drag a bit otherwise. Yes, the arches under Leeds station have been nicely re-developed, I like The Hop. Outside the main entrance, The Brewery Tap and The Head of Steam are both recommended. It will have been Platform 16 for Transpennine services at Leeds that was busy- P17 is the bay platform for Castleford/Sheffield/Nottingham services.

    I agree that Leeds-York is dull from a scenery perspective, but I enjoy it from a railway perspective. Thanks for recommending the hotel in York and the Mexican restaurant in Manchester. I've always wanted to try real Mexican food, but the closest I've been is California and the Mexican food I had there was similar to ours here- I will check out the menu.
     
  31. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    A very varied few days, but they sound insanely enjoyable. A ticket office selling Advances for a train 2 minutes away doesn't sound right, or indeed likely, was it perhaps an EMT Only ticket?
     

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