Afternoon all, Finally going to get on with writing up this and Saturday's trip report, having managed to secure my booked day off from work. Without any further delay then: 11th November 2011 Finally, this trip's here, been looking forward to this one all week, as it promises to be quite hellfire! 0600 sees the alarms silenced and a breakfast is soon had in the form of Weetos and a coffee, before leaving at 0633 for the 0645 bus, which was the usual Optare Tempo YJ05 WCW, and we left 6 minutes late. My highest mileage bus by some way out of all the journeys on it I've logged since mid-March 2011, something in the region of 2,150 miles in that time hock: I still remember this when it was new... We arrive at the end of the route at 0746, 1 late I think, and collecting my Advance tickets was the first order of the day. A trip to the neighbouring Morrisons to get a big bottle of Tango Cherry for £1 was next, as well as getting some credit for my mobile. Pumpkin gets a visit vice Morrisons cafe for coffee and a bacon roll for supplements to breakfast. A large coffee from here really is large, 675ml! 66079+66143 are photted on the RHTT at Hereford, then 175105 rolls in with the delayed 0813 to Cardiff Central, and we leave 12 minutes late. Disruption is noted on a poster at Abergavenny, it being caused by cable theft in the Little Mill area. During this early part of the trip, I can't help but reflect on trips made over the last few years with my Y-P railcard. [For those reading this and unaware, my Y-P was to expire for the last time the following day. Officially an old git now!] No-one can argue justifibly that I've not made the most of this Y-P, I've used it so much! So many memories, and after tomorrow I'll have to get used to paying full fare. I've considered getting a Network Railcard for trips within that area to/from/in the South East, but I don't see it being worth having since you can't use it at all before 1000. Doesn't reach Birmingham either so no good for doing Chiltern 67s. My Mum has suggested it's time to have kids now to get a Family Railcard, to which my reply was not polite! Plans for 2012 are being made, including an All Wales Flexipass, Cheshire Day Ranger, Freedom of the North West, Southern Daysave and of course an ALR. Still don't know whether to do a 7-day First Class ALR or a 14-day Standard Class one yet, as they're both the same price (£650 at this time). I'll decide in the spring I conclude, as I probably won't be able to book holiday time until then anyway. We finally reach Newport on my first trip on a 175 in some time at 0920, 20-odd minutes late. And as a particular saying goes "The best laid plans of mice and men do often go astray". The 0939 to London Paddington is 4 minutes late, precisely the amount of time I had between one planned train and the next at Paddington. It would be fine if the train I had planned to get wasn't once a day! Oh well, I guess I'll have to include that 1136 Chiltern service off Paddington in another plan. The reason why I wanted to do it especially today will become clear when I eventually get the trip report from Tuesday up, but basically it's my last bit of the Chiltern network to do and it's annoying me! The HST jumps up to 10 late, then 14 late and finally leaves 17 minutes late at 0956, with 43189+43169 providing the power. During the wait, another phrase comes to mind "every cloud has a silver lining", in this case that was 60049 rushing through on Murco tanks for Westerleigh. Been ages, since August on my ALR, since I last saw a 60 working, much longer since I last saw the Robeston to Westerleigh working. Nothing particularly of note at Stoke Gifford, bar 46225 on route 318. That surprised me, as First Hereford have got rid of their step-entrance Darts! Our delay is apparently due to "a slight delay at Swansea, and passenger loadings at Bridgend and Cardiff". At Swindon, 66111 is seen shunting BYAs amongst other covered steel wagons. We finally leave 20 minutes late, at this rate we'll be lucky to reach Paddington before 12 noon! 73913 is noted on Swindon Yard, and I suddenly remember all those Swansea to Paddington and vice-versa journies I made years ago, and how long they were. Nowhere near as much fun as it used to be now on such journeys. Still, the best bit's coming! Our delay excuse changes to "a late start from Swansea - long pause - this was caused by problems in the Llanelli area". So nothing to do with passenger numbers in South Wales now, interesting, I wonder what it'll be at Didcot... 1100 is soon upon us, as it's the 11th of November, a 2 minute silence is observed. Not by everyone in coach A mind, which was disappointing. 75407 passes through Didcot Parkway shortly before we leave at 1108, 21 minutes late. 67027 is parked up, clearly off RHTT duties going by how filthy it is! Time for some Ribena, nearly two hours after my last drink before Newport, so naturally the liquid goes down well! Plenty of works going on at Reading, which reminds me as we pass The Reading Mile of the massive yard there which used to stable the ballast cleaning trains (I've forgotten the abbreviation now) and how I'd always look for a required Freightliner 66 for sight in there. Platforms 4 and 9 are receiving a fair bit of work to them too by the looks of it. We leave at 1125, 23 late. A morning arrival into London is just about possible then! It's not been the fast journey across Brunel's Billiard Table I was expecting as such, but we do storm through Slough at speed, something I'm no longer used to. Not seen any freight go past us either, which was always a popular feature of these trips for me hence the bit past Swindon being 'the best bit'. Well, aside from 66107 heading west on empty stone wagons just east of Reading station as we left. The delay is simply down to "a technical fault" now, how many different excuses can one get on one train! Finally, we reach the magnificent Paddington at 1153, 21 minutes late. A Travelcard is bought, and the airbags under the MK3s are sounding more like a siren than anything else today. The crowds walking down platform 3 are huge, it really must have been a packed train! I had taken the sensible option of going via platform 1, and eventually after a Londoner finishes pumping fortunes onto his Oyster for a zone 1 single (no idea where he was actually going!) I get my ticket for £5.30, extremely good value for a Y-P 6-zone Travelcard, and race off for the Hammersmith and City Line. A 12 minute journey that was completely stress and worry free (that's unusual in my book for a trip involving the Circle line!) on 6541 we arrive at Kings Cross St Pancras. A timetable hunt begins for Welwyn Garden City stoppers and for Kings Lynn, and I get a 50% success rate. I join the crowds staring at the boards for the platform I needed, although I didn't see it changing until the crowds starting racing to platform 8 for the 1245 to Kings Lynn. No train in sight yet, but I'm soon relieved to see 365508 traverse the entire station throat and arrive at 1230. I fortunately find a set of 4 seats around a mini-table and set up for the lengthy journey. By 1245, we're quite well loaded and off we go. Before Gas Works Tunnel the RPI starts his rounds, how quick was that! 67026 is noted on Thunderbird duties as we trek across the station throat to the Down Fast, and once fast the speed restriction the 365 made quite a bit of noise and I could hear the motors despite not being in the pantograph car. 321s all over the shop it seems, and I probably saw all of the lot FCC have, but I couldn't ID my last 321/4 on this side of things, 321402. I'll get it next time I conclude, but it's still an annoying gap and one of my last three to get for sight. Still, we enjoy a nice and fast run to Cambridge, really belting it along the ECML. No sign of my last 170 to get for sight, 170270, at Cambridge, something else I've declared will have to wait until my next trip on the Eastern. 379022 and 379016 are noted on Cambridge sidings though, another two ticks in the book. It's been a good 5 years since the last trip I had up the Kings Lynn beyond Ely North, so this will be interesting. 158854 is noted on a Liverpool train at Ely, gosh I remember that being ex-CT with ATW years back! A DBS 66 is noted in the freight terminal loading its train at Ely North, but a number can't be got because another RPI came gripping at just the wrong time! 66062, ex-France-hire-out, is seen on a southbound sand train from Middleton Towers a short while after though, and the rest of the journey to Kings Lynn was rather boring to be honest. We finally arrive at 1422, 2 late, at Kings Lynn and I make a beeline straight to Morrisons nearby to get some food. A chicken breast bites and wedges snack box will do just nicely for £2.20, most enjoyable too. Not much going on at Kings Lynn really, and we leave spot on time at 1456. All that way for 30 seconds or so of required track from Harbour Junction to Kings Lynn station, but at least it is finally done! Took me over 5 years to get back up here for it though hock: The weather, surprisingly for me not already mentioning it, is still foggy in the distance and generally miserable, but not wet. Typical sort of November weather then, and I'm glad I'm on trains for the majority of the day. Not had many tunes on all day, indeed none since Newport, so on with the MP3 player! The journey back to London is pretty uneventful, although I noted 379030+003 waiting to leave for London at Cambridge. 030 being required for sight gets another tick into my NREA. We're now full and standing, and there's just not much room left to have the book out to write stuff down as it happens, which is just as well! We finally reach Kings Cross at 1637, 3 minutes late, into platform 10a. Straight off to the Northern line now, as I was determined to do more than a zone 1 single on my Travelcard. As I needed High Barnet, Morden and Mill Hill East amongst other bits on the LU map, I decided High Barnet will do. On we go then with 52648, but a farce occurs at Finchley Central with the signalling, so our train is cancelled at Archway. Sensing potentially huge delays, I get on a train going south and noticed a potential option at Kentish Town for a FCC 319 bash. No luck here either, as a cable theft had been screwing up the Thameslink route for some time. Good thing I wasn't doing a 319 bash today after all! Back onto the Northern line then to find something else to do in London. I settle on actually trying to get that new bit of the ELL done, having dismissed it earlier for lack of time reasons. I forget that I'm not on a train via Bank, so have to change at Euston for the Victoria line. Mahooosive queues getting out here, resembling a slow exvacuation more than a desire to get moving. What felt like forever between one train and the next on the Victoria line was actually 6 minutes, and I was whizzing my way north on 13083 to Highbury and Islington. 5 minutes later (if only the Northern line was that fast!) I was joining another queue to get out and found a 5 minute connection available for the 1748 to West Croydon out of platform 1. Bonus micro-grice here then with the crossover to the other line, although trying to work out what lines were what here confused the hell out of me without a Quail and knowledge on what had actually changed. 378151, dud, takes charge of my 5 minute journey to Dalston Junction and nothing special of note here. 378234 turns up 2 minutes later on a late-running service to Highbury and Islington, which was required both for sight and haulage, bonus! 5 minutes later, I was back at platform 1 of H+I and racing to the Victoria line, as by now it was 1800 and I wanted to get to Euston fast. A 4 minute journey followed a short wait for a train and 11015 whizzed me back to Euston by 1808. It took quite a few minutes longer than that to get out of the station mind, and eventually I was relaxing in the First Class lounge. I had planned to be here by 1800, so only about 15 minutes later than planned. A coffee and a couple of cans of Pepsi refreshed me somewhat after the huge amount of sweating done on the Underground. By 1827, the platform had been announced for the 1843 to Crewe, so I left after getting a couple of packets of biscuits. I was amazed at how much the First Class lounge had changed since my previous visit in 2008, it looks so much better now. Photo and video time as, against my suspicions, the MK3 set had produced with 90046 heading the train and providing some much-needed required haulage. Shame I'm at the back really, I won't hear anything of 90046. Still, I had the comfort of First Class to make up for it, as it had been cheaper to go First than Standard when I booked my tickets by a good few quid. £20-odd for First, £30 for Standard, the choice was, I think, pretty obvious! I'd wanted to do 1K39 out of Euston for a long time, so this was a pretty much perfect way to do it. A lack of reservations, tut tut Virgin, meant some seat swapping but we all got there in the end. Bring on the complimentary refreshments though, I'm roasting on here! The train leaves at 1845, 2 minutes late, and very well loaded even in First Class. Standard was apparently heaving up to Milton Keynes where most people were getting off, so I'm glad I wasn't up that end after all! No drinks or snacks until after Milton Keynes, so I put up with my non-reclining seat, again tut tut Virgin, and the train really did empty out quite significantly in First, I don't think I'd have wanted to see Standard! All of us at our table of 4 start socialising and I start enjoying their company, something which I'd not really had all day [which probably explains the really long trip report!], especially so when the drinks started flowing. I ended up having 3 bottles of Cusquena lager, which was very nice and not what I had expected, I must check if we stock it at work. The sandwiches were not at all to my taste, and as I discovered later neither was any of the other snacks really. Note to self, next time get food from elsewhere! My table empties out by Birmingham New Street, and I end up talking to the other gentleman nearby to Wolverhampton, one of which works for Virgin Atlantic. Gotta admit, I'm a bit envious. We arrive into Wolverhampton at 2045, a fair few minutes late, but I had seriously enjoyed the company. No sign of heart-of-wessex anywhere, and I eventually give up and join 350104 for required haulage on the 2057 to Birmingham New Street. The journey is epically slow, and we finally arrive at 2125 into platform 2a. Over the road then to Moor Street, and for a change I get a required 168, 168110, to Snow Hill. Tiny mileage, but worth it for the red line in the book. Usually when I get on a 168 it's dud, so I was quite pleased with that. A walk to the Travelodge on Charlotte Street followed, and about 20 minutes later heart-of-wessex arrives. We spent much of the evening now chatting about the day's trip, my recent Chilterns bash and his FoSS rover trip recently. Finally, at 0135, we decide it's time to doss ahead of a 0630 rise! Which pretty much rounds up the trip. My left wrist is killing me from all that typing, which took me forever to do! All that's left is a quick summary: Pretty good day out which covered almost all I expected. Two little annoying gaps in my Baker cleared, and I've finished the LOROL network now. Just Welwyn GC flyover to get to finish the FCC network now too, something I've got pencilled in for December. Got 90046 in the book now too and got a massive amount of miles in the book too. Overall, it was a pretty good day. The Northern line farce and the boring trip on FGW brings the day's rating down to 8/10 though. Finally, a few statistics: Total mileage: 530m50c - a fair bit more than I expected from the day. Highest mileage on one train: 133m30c on 43189+43169. Lowest mileage on one train: 0m50c on 168110. Best move of the day: 90046 Euston to Wolverhampton. Worst move of the day: 350104 Wolverhampton to Birmingham New Street. Random quote: "We're now approaching Hello?!" - heard on 1K39.