I've been meaning to start doing this for a while, but here goes. I'll be posting reports on my more significant outings, which tend to be around once a month. Greater Manchester bash, 03/01/14 My first trip of the year was a bash around Manchester using a Greater Manchester Rail Ranger on January 3rd, travelling in from Newcastle. The day started quite early indeed with a 5am alarm and a rather cold walk down to the bus stop for the 0550 service to Newcastle St Mary's Place. Being early on a Saturday morning, it was fairly easy for the bus to run early, getting me into town shortly after 6am, allowing me to catch an earlier Metro for the two stops to Central Station. This was the first rail journey of 2015 for me, and the service, the 0606 to Pelaw, was formed of units 4003 and 4077. It was inevitably lightly loaded and I was soon enough on the concourse and making my way onto Platform 4 for the 0623 XC service to Reading, which I was to take to York. The service was formed of single Voyager 220007 and was very lightly loaded indeed, with me having Coach F to myself for the entire duration of the journey. The journey was uneventful, and it was still pitch dark outside so there wasn't much to look at for the duration. I arrived into York at 0721 at the far south end of Platform 5, and then decided to see if I could make it onto the 0724 to Manchester Airport, which was waiting on Platform 4. The distance between 4 and 5 is longer than it sounds! I proceeded to dash over the bridge and down onto the platform, and onto a waiting 185139 for the journey to Manchester Piccadilly. The departure from York seemed very slow and sluggish, as we were chasing a late running Newcastle-Liverpool service, but we seemed to eventually pick up speed as we approached Garforth, our first stop. Daylight then began to poke through as we got to Leeds, resulting in a pleasant sunrise by Huddersfield. The service remained lightly loaded throughout, making the journey all the more relaxing, and soon enough, we had arrived into Piccadilly at 0848, 5 minutes late. From here, the bashing began. I had 25 minutes to kill before my next intended service, the 0916 to Glasgow, so I decided on a quick leap to Oxford Road and back. 156426 arrived on the 0855 to Liverpool, and I then took 156482 back to Piccadilly on the 0901 to Manchester Airport. I arrived back at Piccadilly to find a double 185 splitting, with one portion going to Blackpool North and the other to Liverpool Lime Street. This seemed to cause quite a lot of confusion with people as the entire train was displayed as being the 0912 to Blackpool on the departure board. The Liverpool section departed first, followed by the Blackpool. This also caused slight delays on the very busy Platform 14. But soon enough, my train, the 0916 to Glasgow, arrived, being formed of 350407 which I was to take as far as Wigan North Western. This was my first journey on a 350/4 and I was rather impressed by it. The lack of diesel engines gave a very smooth, relaxing journey through Eccles and Patricroft before diverging and joining the WCML before arriving into a rather cold Wigan. I left North Western and headed for Wallgate where there was a 0953 to Manchester Airport due, which would take me back to Piccadilly via Bolton. This was formed of a rather busy 150118. It was still a reasonably quick journey, running non-stop from Bolton to Salford Crescent, but the train seemed very tired looking indeed. It looked to have not been refurbished at all except for the addition of Northern moquette on the seats. Arrival time was however punctual into Manchester Piccadilly at 1035. From here on in up until departure back to Newcastle, everything was unplanned so I just picked whatever took my fancy. I noticed 323236 working the 1046 to Stoke, so I hopped aboard. I do have quite a soft spot for 323s, and I do really enjoy riding on them, not to mention their acceleration sounds! I took the train to Stockport, before returning on the 1059 back to Piccadilly, formed of 175002. This had been an early service from Carmarthen and it was very busy indeed, and we arrived back in Manchester at 1111. By now the heavens had also opened, and the rain became rather heavy, but it didn't really bother me. I then headed for a 2nd return to Stockport on the 1115 to Euston, only to find that it wasn't there and it was running late, so I opted for the 1114 to Manchester Airport which was formed of 323237. However, there seemed to be an issue as the driver was speaking to other members of staff and his cab door was open. 1114 came and went and as I saw a member of staff with a 'Not to be moved' sign coming down the platform, I took it as a hint that the service was cancelled, so I alighted and headed for a Tram as my ranger was valid in the City Zone. I boarded 3038 which was headed for Altrincham as far as Deansgate-Castlefield. I quite like Metrolink and I really should do a proper bash on it this year as the last time I bashed the network was when it consisted only of Eccles/Bury/Altrincham and St Werburgh's Road and it was dominated by T68s. How things change. (Continued- Part 2 below) I headed for Deansgate G Mex where I joined 156460 on a delayed 1130 service to Oxford Road only where I then evaluated my options as to what to do next. Looking at the boards, the 1139 to Norwich was due, so I joined the service, formed of 158864/158812. I do quite like the interiors of the EMT 158s, not that I had much time to appreciate them on my 2 minute journey . I crossed platforms at Piccadilly to see that the 1146 TPE to Blackpool North was arriving, so I took it to Salford Crescent. The service was formed of a rather quiet double set of 185116/185149. Just as I alighted, the 1200 to Manchester Victoria formed of 150134 was arriving on the opposite platform which I took to Salford Central. This was a pretty busy service, and I couldn't help but notice the gent smoking an e-cig on board. I must say that some of the clientele on board were quite 'interesting' to say the least I decided to go on a slightly longer journey after this, joining the 1206 to Clitheroe which was formed of a scruffy 150271, and I couldn't help but notice the size of the gap and the step up onto the train. The train was pretty dirty in side but my seat felt very comfortable which was a surprise. We called only at Salford Crescent before running non-stop to Bolton, where I left the train and awaited a train back to Salford. I took shelter in the waiting room as it was still very cold and damp, and I observed the crowds awaiting the Preston service. It seems unusually busy for the off peak. Soon enough though, my train, the 1226 to Huddersfield, arrived. It was formed of 150148 and also seemed very busy, but it seemed to be in much better nick than previous 150s that i'd used earlier in the day. It took a mere 9 minutes to cover the 9 miles to Salford Crescent, where I alighted. I originally intended to catch the 1247 service to Manchester Airport, but 142039 appeared on the 1242 to Todmorden so I jumped on that instead. Another busy service which was also my first 142 of the year (of many, i'm expecting!) which I took to Manchester Victoria. I've never liked Victoria as it seemed very dark and dingy, but with the works underway, I hope that the station will be a much more pleasant one to use. The plan was now to catch a Tram to Piccadilly (changing at St Peter's Square), and that required a walk to Shudehill which was a short uphill walk next to the Tram line. I somehow managed to race a double set formed of 3053/3015 bound for Altrincham to Shudehill, so I joined them there. On arriving at St Peter's Square, I noticed that the next service via Piccadilly wasn't for 7 minutes, so I continued to Deansgate-Castlefield. I then crossed platforms onto 3075/3090 on an Ashton service, as far as Piccadilly. I then had three minutes to dash over for the 1318 to Hadfield which was being worked by 323235. This was a peaceful journey until Ashburys, when an older looking chavvy couple boarded. They appeared to be known to the guard and had no real intention of paying, and when the guard went back to do the doors it was no surprise to me that they ran off when we arrived at Guide Bridge. I also alighted here with the intention of changing onto a late running 323 back to Manchester, but changing platforms took forever and I missed it so I was stuck with a 15 minute wait for a service from Rose Hill. The aforementioned couple had returned to the platform and were now having a full on slanging match which didn't really help the image of the area. The 1341 to Manchester Piccadilly soon arrived which was annoyingly formed of a very dud Heaton 142026. The seats are more comfortable then the benches on Newton Heath ones though The train picked up quite a few folk at Fairfield and Gorton before arrival at Piccadilly. I then headed for Platform 13, where there was a late running 1358 to Manchester Airport formed of 185111/185147 waiting. This was another pleasant, quiet journey, and I alighted at Heald Green. This was another station where it took ages to get from one platform to the other, but I thankfully had sufficient time to transfer onto 323234 back to Piccadilly which was working the 1421 to Manchester Piccadilly. It seemed to really get up to speed between stations, making this one of my favourite journeys of the day. That, and it happened to be a 323 The journey was swift, and we were soon back at Piccadilly. Since breakfast at 5am, I hadn't actually ate, so a trip was then made to Boots where a bunch of their sandwiches and wraps were reduced to 50p. Result! I stocked up on food before heading over to 175114 which was working the 1450 to Llandudno, and I took it to Oxford Road, before returning on the 1454 to Manchester Airport, formed of a familiar 185116/185149. The darkness was slowly setting in as I called it a day. It seemed pretty early but I wouldn't be back in Newcastle until 1754, and it was early January, after all. I took a seat on the platform and awaited the 1526 back to York, formed of 185124. A pretty quiet train and a sunset over the Pennines made this a pleasant journey, and we arrived into York 8 minutes late at 1648, allowing me to connect with the 1654 back to Newcastle, formed of 91113. This was a very busy train, but I found a spare window seat in Coach B. I then resisted the urge to fall asleep as I was so tired! We soon passed an illuminated Durham Cathedral and arrival was at 1759. I then made my way down to the Metro for a service back to Haymarket. I then caught the 1810 bus home, and was on the sofa by 1830. A tiring but great day!