West Yorkshire 17 September

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evil_hippo

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I refer to my trip with my brother Péter, known to some forum members as squeaky, into deepest, darkest, and above all windiest, Yorkshire.

We set out on the 0834 156 from Appleby to Leeds, which predictably was 10 minutes, late, due to Northern's inability to run a railway. I enjoyed a marvellous view of the Pennines covered in hard frost (no snow, sadly). Over this time the train caught up sufficient time to leave Skipton in front of the Bradford slow. We pulled into Leeds with a few minutes of the scheduled 1037 and looked for the next train to Halifax, which turned out to be the 1107, giving me time to devour a WHSmith BLT sandwich (I am ever thankful to Joy54 for showing me this range of sandwiches) and buy a copy of the new statesman, which I was disgusted to find cost all of £3.95 as it covered 2 issues so their staff didn’t have to produce an issue at Christmas. Over £6 down 10 minutes in. ne pas bien.

We were about to go to the platform 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time of our Halifax train when Péter noticed that the train 30 minutes previous was 20 minutes late, hence it had not departed yet. More excitingly, the departure boards said, contrary to the schedule (all stops) that this train was not going to stop until Sowerby Bridge, presumably to make up time. We dashed to platform 10 where the 155 was ambling in on the previous duty from Manchester Victoria. The guard made two announcements warning passengers that the train would not make a stop until Sowerby bridge, and instructing passengers for intermediate stations to wait ten minutes for the Next Vicky train, and within a very impressive 5 minutes we were off again.

As we were discussing whether there was a line avoiding Bradford Interchange or whether we would have to reverse without stopping, I the unmistakeable council houses of Cottingley, a brown colour with roves sloping in a single direction. Cottingley station then flashed by, just in case I wasn’t quite sure. This was it; we would be travelling from Mirfield to Sowerby Bridge on the rare lien operated by 1-2 trains in ach direction at peak times only. I was immediately very excited by this, as this line was new to me, though not Péter. We shot under Morley and Over Batley, and entered rare cord number one as the Huddersfield line dipped under us, and the extra mileage on my coverage map started to stack up. We passed through Brighouse and shortly after entered rare cord number 2 as we travelled along the southern of the two lines that sandwich Salterhebble, in the southern suburbs of Halifax, the elevation of our line allowing a view of the Victorian urban landscape of a factory, terraces and a canal in between the two railway lines. We joined the Caldervale line and a few minutes later the train arrived at Sowerby bridge station, one of the greatest shadow-of-former-glory stations; a major junction in the days when Manchester trains took precisely the route that our 155 just had, which passengers wishing to reach either Manchester or Sheffield (via the Penistone line, you see) from Bradford or Halifax changing here. The fact our train had just made up 15 minutes was illustrative of the virtue of this routing as opposed to the circuitous routing via Bradford.

This trip was entirely in the hands of Péter, and I had no idea what lay before me. However, had I been in charge I would not have taken the risk that I discovered was being taken in order to cover the rare lines. We had just 5 minutes before the train back towards Halifax, which is rather dodgy when there is no set time from Leeds-Sowerby bridge non-stop and the train was completely off its schedule anyway. Furthermore, on catching this train rested our 12-minute connection with our bus to Outlane. But, I wasn’t to complain, since that matter was not that it might not have turned out right, but that id did turn out all right.

Our North-western 150/2 pulled in exactly on time, a first for the day. To my excitement, the 1107, another 155 pulled into Halifax 30 seconds after us. I expect were this a meet there would be tremendous excitement at this race, with half the participants sent on the 1107. We then proceeded up Halifax town centre to the imposing, some would say hideous, Halifax headquarters, then tuned onto Commercial Street and waited in front of the far more beautiful; Halifax main branch, a Victorian brick frontage above the marble frontage of the ground floor. On our way we saw modern ford transits among the older ones running around courtesy of independent TJ Walsh. It makes one feel quite nostalgic; TJ Walsh are a bit of the minibus era straight after deregulation that still exists today, on the exact same formula, offering competitively priced, high frequency minibuses taking advantage of their ability to penetrate suburbs better than a full-sized bus. They remain loyal to the transit even today, despite the heretical existence of a Mercedes 709 in their fleet.

As we waited a Wright eclipse on the intensely frequent 503, the fastest link from Halifax to Huddersfield since the sad loss of the half-hourlyX36, which took 20-25 minutes to the 40 taken by the 7-10 minute 503. We would travel to Outlane on a far slower bus also bound for Huddersfield. The 503 cleared out the bus shelter leaving us, joined shortly by a girl of what looked like 16 or 17 years, completely decked out in black including a long leather jacket and safety pins attached to various parts of her clothing. When our bus arrived, one of my favourite buses; a Dennis lance refurbished in kingfisher’s “premier” style with deep green seats, she asked, with a voice that belonged to someone at least six years younger than her, whether this bus would take her to Huddersfield as the destination board suggested. Always keen to ensure the public are well informed about their public transport (thanks wholly to that, and not fancying her, honest) I explained that it would arrive in Huddersfield long after the next 503. She added that she realised that the 503 ought to be a double Decker, something which I fervently denied from my experience of the bus route, adding “not to try to prove you wrong of course”. I then climbed on board the Verde, dragging my heart behind me away from that girl (it really doesn’t take much, unfortunately) and onto the raised section of the bus.

Just as the last passenger was boarding the 503 pulled up behind. It was a double Decker.

The turned off whichever main road it started out along (I’m not entirely certain) and started climbing up “over the top”. It would its way through linear villages of just the type one imagines in Yorkshire, stopping at nearly every of the liberally spaced stops, every 300 yards, perhaps, and picking up or setting down a passenger. As it climbed higher settlements became sparser and the view from the road more stunning, until we finally reached Outlane. We alighted as the bus reached the main road through Outlane (where it goes, again I’m not sure) and crossed the road to a bus top with a poster explaining that detailed stop information would be arriving shortly. Though I trusted my loving brother’s assertion that out next stage, the colne valley taxibus, would stop here, just to try it out I texted the number shown on the stop the stop number, also shown on the stop (confused yet) for “your next bus” information. As I waited for the result we walked to the next stop and back just to pass the 10 minutes before the bus arrived. After this there was still no text from Metro.

10 minutes after I sent it, the text was returned telling me what I wanted to know: “908 Tudor Street 12:43, 539 Halifax bus station 13:24, 908 Slaithwate rail station 13:42”. I just wondered how many passengers would not have got on a bus by the time their text arrived.

Sure enough, at its allotted the taxibus we were catching to Slaithwate (where Tudor Street is; the railway station is also served en route) arrived. It had a one step entrance guarded by an entirely glass plug door with a wheelchair lift at the back. To make room for the wheelchair the 7 seats were arranged in a 1+layout except for one, which faced backwards and was next to the driver, in front of the door. The seats were very soft plain grey affairs with bright yellow plastic head restraints. The lack of any handrails reflected the fact that standing was forbidden, apparently as that makes for an easier licensing procedure. Unsurprisingly, we were the only passengers on board for the duration of our journey.

It descended through Wilberlee, which had a period of a month with no buses after worst pulled off the hourly branches off the core purple line from Huddersfield to Slaithwate and Marsden, and through Hill top, which is very curiously named given Wilberlee is higher than it, and within a few minutes were In Slaithwate railway station in good time for the hourly local to Huddersfield. I asked the driver whether he had had many passengers earlier today (quite a few, apparently).

The full effect of the odd situation across Yorkshire, which Mojo will empathise with, where first’s buses are far more expensive than the trains in many parts of West Yorkshire. The pathetic bus shelter platform at Slaithwate was filled with passengers of all ages. I got the sinking feeling that accompanies Phil Sayer’s clear tones saying “We are sorry to announce” but I was put at ease when he continued, “…is delayed by approximately - 3 minutes”. Not too at ease, however, as this was the connection time with the Penistone line. So Hudds-Denby dale-Wakefield was out (admittedly I’ve made this journey many times before). Instead, we decided to catch the very slow Tracky (sorry, stagecoach) Wakefield bus which departed 6 minutes after our expected arrival in Huddersfield (well, actually, I was more told). The North western150/1 pulled in precisely 3 minutes after its time. I was surprised no one was standing though the last seats to be taken on a refurbished 150, the longitudinal seats opposite the toilet, ended up occupied.

In no time at all (not only cheaper but taking a fraction of the time the bus takes) we pulled into Huddersfield and proceeded at less that a gallop to the bus station, and to stand G for the Former Tracky bus to Wakefield via West Bretton.

Naturally, when you run for a bus it then doesn’t turn up for 10 minutes. Thus was the case here. Waiting at Huddersfield is a particularly painful experience as the buses lay over right in front of you, at a far greater density than that of the stands, and any of the buses of the appropriate operator could be yours but they invariably turn up in the stand next to yours on a different service. Eventually, our bus arrived and we boarded. The driver took the last fare than promptly started the bus, forgetting it wasn’t in reverse and ramming onto the concrete block protecting the stands from this sort of thing. As the passengers sat in shock he reversed a way, got out to survey the damage then, seemingly unconcerned, he continued through Huddersfield and out once again into the country. With the Emley moor mast scarring the skyline for a considerable amount of the journey, we wound around endless country roads detouring into and looping round various villages until we crossed the canal and entered Horbury, and into civilisation. Here it was announced that if we got to Westgate in time we would catch the 1429 Selby train to connect at Kirkgate with the Pontefract train, from where “a surprise” would follow.

At 1430, the bus stopped at Wakefield Westgate. We got off and abandoned plans of Pontefract, as the bus would be too slow and we wouldn’t reach Kirkgate in 8 minutes. Instead we settled for a train into Leeds and then seeing what we would do from there. In this case, there was a 321, which I dearly hoped was the Silverlink specimen, at 1442 expected 1445 and a 1447 Voyager. Since the 321 was all stops it could be either train that turned out to be the first to arrive. We decided to take the first that came.

Bloody luck. What a day it had been; 2 missed connections and there, arriving, heading towards Doncaster, the Silverlink 321, complete with all the London posters. The wrong way.

We crossed the bridge to the opposite platform and I, being cold, headed for the waiting room. As I entered several chavs in the room shouted “Mosher!” This is the kind of abuse I am quite used to, so I ignored them, sat down, and read the new statesman to make them hate me even more. Before long the 321 pulled in and we sat a carriage away from the chavs. I enjoyed the wonderful sound emitted by the 321. When we arrived In Leeds Péter looked distracted, and hurried me along as he looked towards the northern bays, home to the Airedale line and wharfedale line EMUs. He then abruptly stopped and explained to me he was hoping that the Ilkley train wouldn’t go. He explained he wanted to go to Otley via whatever the W9 is numbered now (the wharfedale minibuses, well-presented solos run by Pegasus.com (formerly Aztecbird who went bankrupt shortly after losing the 757 Leeds-Airport-Otley service, have now been renumbered with un-rememberable 9xx numbers) from Menston Station. So, guess what? Another missed connection. Instead for our goal we were doomed to squeaky ex-London deckers on the X84, the popular fast Otley service that gained not only by being the most direct but also by not accepting traffic within Leeds. We walked down Park Lane to the bus stop for the X84 and waited ten minutes before the rickety Alexander royale arrived. Yup. Not ex London after all. Alas, alas, I’m sure sprinter will feel my loss. The last time I used this service yellow arrows ruled supreme, now taken away so that they can carry Manchester schoolchildren who don’t deserve such a wonderful bus.

As the sun went down we progressed along the Otley road until we arrived in Otley bus station, ten minutes before our minibus to Holt Park where we would change onto the articulated buses on Leeds suburban route 1 to head back into Leeds. Unfortunately for me, no time to find a bog, and my pressing need dominated my journey on the Holt Park minibus as we rode through Pool and Bramhope in the dark, accompanied by on old lady who spent her journey chatting to the driver (something you don’t get with first, previous wharfedale incumbents). We arrived in Holt park at 1620, just as, guess what? A number 1 was pulling out. So another 10 minutes next to the dingiest, most concrete joint Asda/local community facilities building (for want of a better term). Why this seemed bad, I don’t know, because I was able to use their freezing, cramped and concrete lavatory before proceeding on the next artic to Leeds.

The bus made slow progress down Headingly lane, at first though leafy suburbs down a wide road with trees in the middle and large middle class houses on either side, then into the long strips of shops on the southern part of the road, and of course the 79’s monstrosity of Headingly Arndale centre, stopping at every stop and in a textbook manner becoming gradually more full so we progressed from 3 passengers at Holt Park to about sixty as we crossed over the motorway, past the university and to Morrison’s and the merrion centre at the top end of Leeds city centre, more brutal and Stalinist than all the concrete edifices we had come upon today.

It was five o’clock and our final goal before our train home was the German market in Millennium Square. We descended a street lined with metal boards masking some kind of building site and into the square, past some gaudy children’s rides and into the German market. Turning down the sign urging me to enter the “giant beer tent” (my brother doing so because he thinks alcohol is evil, strange child). He suggested we go straight to the stall selling garlic bread in various forms, and we both ate, and thoroughly enjoyed, garlic bread with garlic sauce, cheese and salami, baked in a pizza oven. Then, while Péter spent time gazing at the many German sweets I explored, and before my eyes was a vast selection of chocolate coated fruits, flaky biscuits again covered in chocolate, gingerbread, huge varieties of salami ranging from vivid orange to dark brown in colour, stalls dispensing German alcohol in ornately painted mugs and, of course, endless varieties of Stollen cake, which I abstained from as you can get shed loads of Stollen in the supermarket, and by the packaging, precisely the same kind. I thought a great idea would be to buy a little bag containing little pieces of all these different varieties of salami, but when quoted the price- £5.50- I decided against it. Hell, I can get a plate of swordfish in Highbury for that. So instead I settled for huge amounts of chocolate covered pieces of some soft, sticky, sweet substance (I’m not entirely sure what) as they were 50p each, and a pack of small squares of gingerbread, marzipan and orange jelly, covered in-you guessed it- chocolate.

We left at about 5:20, for the station, arriving with 20 minutes to spare before our 1749 train. Within a few minutes we had exhausted the delights of Leeds city station concourse and headed through the ticket barriers for our train’s allotted platform, number 6, as always. It is indeed a wonderful thing that you always know which platform any train leaving Leeds via Wortley departs from. Admittedly, the 1749 actually goes against this since despite being a train to Carlisle or Morecambe it doesn’t use platform 4. Another problem saw a very circuitous route home via Preston and Penrith for my fraternal companion. The Wakefield line local Sheffield train at 1746 is formed of the 156 that strengthens the 1400 from Carlisle to Leeds (formerly 1426). On this occasion, unlike the aforementioned one, the 156 was actually detached before being opened, hence losing the root of the confusion that this was actually a 4-car 156 formation on the 1749 to Appleby. This time they were pre-detached and both had passengers queuing outside of the locked trains. The Sheffield train was very strangely formed; with (this may make some of you, not Gareth or HoW I wouldn’t think. Very shocked) there was a 142 at the front which was soon opened, and a 156 at the rear that was left locked away, meaning everyone had to catch the 142.

At about departure time a driver boarded our 156 and shut the door again leaving us outside thoroughly cheesed off. He revved the engine and whatever else the safety checks consist of before leaving again. Another five minutes passed and the conductor, a full figured woman with tick blonde hair tied back opened the doors, finally allowing us on the train. We were to wait another five minutes before she explained to us that the train arriving was late and the crew by law had to take a break before leaving again. I wondered whether the crew would be legally allowed to carry on without a break selflessly, something which I have not yet an answer to. But never mind; the point was that 10 minutes late we were leaving Yorkshire in the darkness, back to Appleby and the end of a satisfying day out in the wilds of West Yorkshire.

And only £12 all in for the two of us. Not bad.
 
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Techniquest

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LONG! I gave up reading it about 1/3 through.

Someone loves comprehension more than me! :shock: And there are people who thought my reports are long!
 
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