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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    It was specified to only be used on the 10:52 EMT train. Have to admit it seemed odd to me as well as I didn't think it was possible either.
     
  2. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Some TOCs will sell you advance tickets on the day, which has come in handy for me a couple times with XC
     
  3. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Sorry, took a bit of time getting around to this one. Had a load of nonsense at work to deal with, then our eldest cat fell seriously ill and almost died, not anything any of you would care about but it's the kind of stuff that gets in the way. (The cat is slowly improving but not out of the woods yet if you're wondering!)

    So, on Friday 17th May, I had some cheap Virgin 1st class tickets to go from Wolverhampton to London and back. There was due to be a tube strike that day so I had some alternative ideas on what to do. The strike got called off in the end...but I went for one of my alternatives anyway.

    The day started off interesting. I was booked on the 07:45 Pendolino departure from Wolverhampton. The 07:24 double Voyager that leaves platform 4 at Wolves before us was quite late in departing and my train soon rolled in on it's way down from Manchester Piccadilly not long after it had left. There was quite a few people on board from Manchester and their breakfast stuff was still being cleared away. Nevertheless, I was promptly served coffee on departure, which was bang on time.

    Then at Sandwell and Dudley, things got interesting. The train manager announced that there had been a major signal failure on the south end of Birmingham New Street and all trains had stopped. He then announced that anyone going to Birmingham should alight at Sandwell and Dudley as we would be missing New Street and diverting round to Birmingham International instead. As you can imagine, almost the whole carriage alighted and left two of us sitting there.

    We were treated to a scenic tour of Soho and Aston and rejoined the mainline somewhere on the other side of New Street. The 1st class host was quite excited as she had never been that way before. I had been that way on local trains but never on a Pendolino! A look at Realtime Trains showed me that the double voyager was trapped in New Street and we were now running ahead of it. We were only 15 late on departing Birmingham International which wasn't bad given how many trains appeared to be stuck in the area.

    The 1st class host announced that we might not get our first choice in breakfast as he expected us to become very full due to the delays. In fact the opposite happened, missing New Street meant we were fairly lightly loaded the whole way to Euston and it seemed passengers at intermediate stops had found an alternative train. So everyone got what they wanted for breakfast and as usual, the service was excellent. I forgot to find out what happened to the double Voyager! I guess that one would have been a bit busier once it had eventually left New Street.

    We rolled into Euston 8 minutes late and I walked along Euston Road to St Pancras. Southeastern had a promotion on, I wanted to ride the Kent coastal loop and catch some sea air on the way. I chose a return to Ramsgate and boarded a Hi-Speed service via Folkestone. My itinerary suggested I alighted at Ashford International and changed trains, but doing that would only save me 4 minutes altogether so I decided I'd stay on and ride the long way around to Ramsgate, which the guard had no issue with.

    I have been down HS1 on Eurostar a few times before but was still impressed with the speed and particularly the acceleration of the Javelin. However, after Ashford, it all suddenly felt a bit 'meh'! Some lovely views greeted me between Folkestone and Dover and I was pleased I was sitting on the right side of the train.

    We arrived at Ramsgate. I've been trying to get more healthy recently and have been trying to walk at least 1 mile per day, so the walk to town and the seafront at Ramsgate was useful! However, I really wasn't impressed with Ramsgate Town Centre and had started to wonder if I should have picked somewhere else...but an explore a bit further confirmed that I had absolutely made the right decision...

    At Ramsgate Pavilion, I noticed a sign to the Ramsgate Tunnels. I decided it might be worth checking out so I wandered at the promenade towards it. I was not be disappointed.

    The old railway tunnel dug into the cliff that linked the mainline to the old Ramsgate Harbour Station had been turned into a café and museum, with both actually inside the tunnel! Inside, I talked to a member of staff in there who told me about the Ramsgate Tunnels, a 3 mile network of air-raid shelter tunnels that been dug under Ramsgate in the late 1930s branching off the disused railway tunnel to prepare for the oncoming war. She then said there was a tour of the tunnels that afternoon for £7 if I was interested. So after some lunch and a coffee in their café, I donned a hard hat, was given a torch, and around 15 of us spent the afternoon exploring the network of tunnels under the town. It was incredible... a fascinating story and I urge you if you're in the area to give it a visit. A real unique experience and very interesting. Incredible that Ramsgate was so heavily bombed during World War 2 yet in the whole 6 years, 'only' 81 people lost their lives in the town. The tunnels must have saved hundreds, if not thousands.

    Even though I had set out that morning without a plan and had found the Ramsgate Tunnels by accident, it was the kind of place I would have deliberately made a beeline for had I known about it.

    The tour lasted an hour and a half. Once I acclimatised back to the Kent sunshine, I realised I was covered in chalk! I walked back to Ramsgate station (my daily target of 1 mile now being far exceeded!) and caught a Javelin back to St Pancras via Herne Bay and Gravesend to complete the loop. I admit I dozed off a couple of times on the train though!

    Back in London, I went to the 1st class lounge in Euston. It was surprisingly quiet for a Friday evening. I boarded the 21:03 service back to Wolverhampton and had an uneventful journey. The carriage was very lightly loaded and I was served a cup of tea, a couple of cans of Wreckless Ale, some pork pies and mini scotch eggs in a box (!) and the usual assortment of fruit, pretzels, cookies and uglies.

    I arrived back in Wolverhampton bang on time, ready to go home to bed but very pleased with my day.
     
  4. vlad

    vlad Member

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    I was given that when I travelled with VT last month - it was either that or an egg sandwich.

    I can't help feeling they've stopped offering food in first-class and only offer snacks.
     
  5. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    The tunnels thing in Ramsgate actually sounds quite fun, I must remember it for when I eventually return to Kent! Something a bit different and well worth a look.

    Sounds like you used that non-passenger service curve in the Soho area, one of the few bits in the Midlands I haven't yet done. Your First Class experience sounds like it was really good, and I suspect you were thanking your lucky stars you didn't book onto that pair of Voyagers!

    HS1 reminds me of how fun it is to charge along that on a 395, and that I still need some of them. Ideas formulating...
     
  6. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Yes, I very much was thanking my lucky stars. The half that came from Shrewsbury was already looking quite loaded by Wolverhampton!

    I certainly did luck out with the service I booked that morning! Sometimes, you can benefit from a disruption!

    I have now found that the Voyager twins did eventually make it to Euston that morning...47 minutes late in the end.

    Definitely check out the Ramsgate Tunnels if you get the chance. I'm a history graduate and studied World War 2 intensely...but even if you're not into history, just the experience of being there is worth it.
     
  7. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    A bit of a monster (half) week coming up. Always wanted to do a first class all line rover, but I've only got 3 days off...and they're expensive.

    So instead, I'm spending the next 3 days travelling around on First Advances (and one sleeper).

    Here's the plan:

    Tomorrow:

    Wolverhampton to Aberdeen and back...in a day!
    06:37 Wolverhampton to Edinburgh (VT)
    10:28 Edinburgh to Aberdeen (LNER)
    14:52 Aberdeen to Haymarket (LNER)
    18:52 Edinburgh to Wolverhampton (VT)

    My only concern is that there is a 10 minute connection at Waverley to the LNER to Aberdeen. But I have a through ticket to Aberdeen...and I guess if my Virgin Train up from Wolverhampton is delayed, I could change at Haymarket and get myself an extra 10 minutes to connect. There's a Scotrail 1 hour later so they should take me on that if the connection is not made.

    I have a lot more slack in my journey coming back though. It will be my first time on the Edinburgh to Aberdeen line...though I've been over the Forth Bridge on a diverted Highland Chieftain before.

    Spend Monday night at home, walk my lurcher in the morning...then find a way down to New Street to...

    Tuesday:

    11:17 Birmingham to Plymouth (XC split ticket at Exeter)
    17:15 Plymouth to Penzance
    21:45 Penzance to Paddington (solo berth Night Riviera)

    The aim of the day is to go through Dawlish in daylight...only ever been that way in the dark!

    Wednesday:

    Wake up in Paddington
    08:00 Kings Cross to Edinburgh (LNER)
    14:52 Edinburgh to Wolverhampton (VT)

    So that it...my pre-planned mini rover on 1st advances...hopefully should be fun.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jun 2019
  8. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Enjoy your trip :)
     
  9. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    I'm especially breaking my (temporary) self-ban on posting on the forum to comment on this!

    I see you should be well on the way to Aberdeen by now, but if the VT is late enough to be concerned I'd seek advice from the guard about the Haymarket change, but there should be no issue there anyway.

    The rest of the trip sounds quite intense and a lot of long travels! Must have cost a fortune! You've also reminded me of First Class ALRs and the long-held dream of being able to do one. You're giving me an idea for when I finish clearing my world exploration wishlist...

    Have a beast of a trip!
     
  10. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Yep, now on LNER to Aberdeen, enjoyed 2 hop on board ales already! The train up from Wolverhampton was 11 minutes late so a change at Haymarket was needed, not questioned by the guard though. LNER's Twitter told me it wasn't allowed though, even with a delay.

    Just approaching Montrose and thoroughly enjoying it so far!

    It wasn't cheap but still a lot less than a 1st All Line Rover.
     
  11. Iskra

    Iskra Established Member

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    Enjoy your trip. You’re covering some of my favourite bits of line in Preston-Carstairs and Edinburgh-Aberdeen. GWR is fun after Exeter too but not sure about doing it on XC. I need a trip on the Night Riviera as it suddenly looks good value when compared to its Scottish cousin and I haven’t been on it since the refurb.

    Always nice to do it in 1st too. My kind of trip!
     
  12. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    On my last train of today. Currently at Preston with around an hour to go.

    Extremely satisfied with how today has gone. Mind boggling to think I've done Wolverhampton to Aberdeen and back in a day. Don't think I would manage any further than that by train in one day! (Any ideas? Is there somewhere further?!)

    A much later start tomorrow, looking forward to a good sleep.
     
  13. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    Day 2 off to a good start. Currently approaching Cheltenham on a Crosscountry HST. First Class in very comfy on these, much nicer than a Voyager. Sandwiches, crisps and coffee have been served so all is well. Shame the weather isn't looking too clever for where I'm going.
     
  14. TravellingPhil

    TravellingPhil Member

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    At the end of another very enjoyable day. First Class in the Crosscountry HST was really comfortable coming down from Birmingham to Plymouth.

    Had to move seats on the IET in first class on the Plymouth to Penzance leg, they've put a very annoying table leg on the single seats making it feel cramped. Got a table of 4 to myself after Liskeard though...much better.

    Had some amazing fish and chips in the Barbican area of Plymouth. Plymouth city centre is awful (sorry), but the Barbican is a complete contrast. Very pleasant.

    Just had a shower in the sleeper lounge in Penzance and enjoying an apple juice before boarding the sleeper. Weather here in Penzance is a bit nasty but at least I caught a dry bit to explore Plymouth.
     

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