Train Driver!

Today I’ve been to the Churnet Valley Railway’s scenic railcar weekend and rode up and down on a class 104 DMU and a Derby Lightweight single car DMU (Iris). It’s quite interesting to actually be able to see out of the front!
It was also nice to travel on older trains which sounded ‘proper’ and had a bit of character.
I always find it interesting when on a preserved railway, how quiet the carriages generally are (DMUs and hordes of screaming kids excepted). The thing is there is no air conditioning or engines under the floor. At least with a first generation DMU the engines chug along and rattle a bit!
Iris
But best of all, I got to finally drive a locomotive!! The owner of 37075 was letting people drive up and down the station yard at Cheddleton. Apparently, I was quite good at it!
37075
Must get myself on a full driving day sometime! Smile

Llangollen

Been a bit lazy recently!

Went to the Llangollen Railway's steam gala weekend a couple of weeks ago with Mum & Dad.

100_1421-large.jpg

The weather behaved and we had a rather good day out! The railway put on a good selection of locomotives and we all took loads of photos! Mum has even asked to borrow my digital camera after using it all that day for when they go to China! Mum and digital photography is an interesting thought!!!

Virgin Lose the Cross Country Francise

Wow! Virgin have lost the Cross Country franchise to Arriva!

One thing that struck me straight away is that they're promising to reintroduce HSTs! That's something Virgin were determined not to do and when they've hired one in they've apologised about the fact!
I'll be fascinated to see if they improve the services and also the number of seats on the trains!

Longport Station 2

Seems like some money is finally being spent on Longport Station see here. 

This is good news. However, it is noticeable that it is not Central Trains who are funding the work, but North Staffordshire Regeneration. Strange really as it was Central Trains who have not spent any money on the stations and made them unstaffed halts since they have had control of them. Having said that, they lose the franchise on 11/11/07, so it will be interesting to see what the new London Midland company and the new East Midlands franchise will do. They can't be worse than Central – can they?

Etruria and Longport

I've just noticed there is a comment on this post I made last year about Etruria station. I never did receive a reply to my letter. I suppose my MP didn't think it was worth bothering with as there is nothing that can be done now.
This still doesn't remove the fact that local public transport in this area is poor (to be polite). As mentioned in a previous post, Longport station is supposed to be having money spent on it to improve its condition. As far as I can tell after visiting it on two separate days last week that amounted to 2 new waiting shelters. One of which had some of the local Chavs in it sipping on their cheap lager! Tell them that people stand on stations for a hobby and they'd take the p**s! It's a great place to hang tho innit?
I digress! I still get the impression that no one in the Government or the Train Operating Companies really care about North Staffordshire. Longport still has a train to Stoke / Derby and Crewe every hour and the 2 trains to Manchester within half an hour of each other in the mornings and one at night from Manchester, but that's it. Hardly intensive is it? The Stoke – Stafford local service is still a bus and will be until 2009 (I think). There is a proposal for a Crewe – London service via North Staffs in 2009, which will stop at Alsager, Kidsgrove & Stone as well as Stoke, but although that will be quite useful, we still need a service for the local stations to Manchester. Well, to be honest we need a decent local service full stop!
Eighteen months ago I wrote to Central Trains about their awful service in this area and they replied that it wasn't their fault, it was the DfT's. This is despite the fact that they operated the services and asked for Etruria to be closed!
As an indicator of the Central Trains' attitude to this area, in a reply I got, I was told of the wonderful new Desiro service from Birmingham to Liverpool. Very good I replied, but as it doesn't come anywhere near North Staffordshire (well it does, but straight through as there are no stations between Stafford and Crewe!), what use was it to me? They didn't reply to that!
Central Trains are to lose their franchise in the next 6 – 12 months! 

Snooze

Just got back from Shrewsbury. I was intending to have lunch with Carol, but Superdrug struck again, and she wasn't able to get out for lunch.
While waiting at Crewe, it occurred to me how boring it now is! The diesel depot is closed and I didn't see one loco moving through the station. All Pendolinos , Voyagers , 175s , 170s , 158s , 153s & 323s . Dull, dull, dull. No wonder there was hardly anyone spotting.
I came across some pictures from 20 years ago, they showed new and refurbished locos coming off the works and loads of variety in locos and units!
 
Pendolino @ Crewe

Vintage Trains

Terrier

  

We went to The Midland Railway, Butterley yesterday. A good day out for the enthusiast, not quite so for the the wife of one! Herself prefers the ones with the longer journey and better scenery!

It was good, however, to be able to travel in the Victorian Train. We went in a 4 wheel 3rd class coach. It was beautifully restored, but it would have been somewhat uncomfortable on long journeys!

Longport Station

Seems like Stoke City Council is trying to remind people that Longport and Longton stations still exist. There are posters on bus shelters round Hanley etc. to advertise the fact, which is to be commended.

All very well and good except that neither are, of course are, in Newcastle as it's a different Council. Longport is the nearest station to many people in the Borough.

Big Journey

While sorting out my old photographs today, I came across the ones I took 20 years ago today (Sgt Pepper taught the band to play…..!).
It was this day that I caught the following trains

  1. Etruria to Stoke
  2. Stoke to Euston
  3. Kings Cross to Edinburgh
  4. Edinburgh to Glasgow Queens Street
  5. Glasgow Central to Crewe
  6. Crewe to Etruria!

That was a great day’s line bashing. Couldn’t do it now of course, because Etruria is now closed and I don’t get free travel on the railways any more so it’d cost me a fortune!

Great day though!

Name a Train

Looks like one of the train operating companies is to name a locomotive with a Scouting name.
Naming a locomotive with a Scouting related name is not a new idea.

In the 1930's the London Midland and Scottish Railway named one of it's Royal Scot locomotives, number 6169, The Boy Scout. They also named one, number 6168, The Girl Guide.
In the 1950's British Railways named a Britannia class locomotive, number 70045, after the then current Chief Scout, Lord Rowallen.
I'm interested to know which TOC it is. How about 'The Scout'?

Settle & Carlisle

I'm quite surprised that Virgin are replacing trains between Preston and Carlisle by buses and not by diverting the trains by the S & C .
Although it would take a bit longer, it would be better than having to heard people onto a bus. I guess it has something to do with not having enough locos available – privatisation what a good idea!

Magnets

In 1984, for Christmas, I was given a Hornby Dublo Co Bo. Considering it was over twenty years old it was in good condition and cost Mum & Dad a small fortune! The only problem was that it couldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding! I've know that it was the magnet that was duff, but I'd not got round to doing anything about it. Until now. I bought a new one just before Christmas, installed it and now my Co Bo goes!

See here!

Etruria 3

Got a reply from my MP the other day. Enclosed was a letter from Tom Harris, Minister responsible for rail.

The work to upgrade the track in the vicinity of the now closed Etruria station, including removal of the platform, is currently planned by Network Rail to commence in late 2007. This is part of the work to upgrade the West Coast Main Line in time for further improvements to be made to services, with effect from December 2008.

Far from neglecting the provision of train services at Stoke-on-Trent and indeed the wider catchment area, there have been substantial improvements. There are two trains an hour towards Birmingham, a further half hourly service to and from London and four services an hour to and from Manchester. The area now receives an excellent range of inter-city and inter-regional services, providing the scope, for example, to attract further inward investment.

The proposed West Midlands franchise will also contain the provision of a new hourly semi fast service between London and Crewe, via Stoke-on-Trent. This will provide new journey opportunities and further enhance the quality of public transport for the area.

A considerable amount of investigatory work was carried out by the then Strategic Rail Authority and Rail Passengers Committee along with the local authorities, in connection with the closure of Etruria station.

All relevant issues concerning its potential value were considered and given the objective of making best use of the railway, there was no case to retain this lightly used facility.

 What rubbish! So I've written back.

With regards to the letter you received from Mr. Harris, and forwarded to me, it still appears that the DfT have no real interest in, or appreciation of, our area.
The removal of the remains of Etruria station and the realignment of the track will make no real gains to the people of North Staffordshire.
Trains will still have to slow down before they reach Stoke and the extra acceleration gained when travelling North will be negligible.
The proposed new semi fast service between Crewe and London via North Staffordshire is an interesting and exciting one. However, as I understand it, the service would not start until at least 2009 (a long time to wait for a train!). It is proposed that it would stop at Alsager, Kidsgrove and Stoke but not Longport (Longport, is of course, the nearest and most accessible station to a lot of people in the Borough). This is particularly relevant to the service level at Longport which with its present level of dilapidation and lack of promotion, not to mention Travellers camps, is rapidly going the way of Etruria!
As I wrote in my previous letter, it is very difficult to travel Northbound without going to all the extra inconvenience of going to Stoke first.
I hope the Minister can be made aware of these irregularities and that he will be in a position to make public rail services in our area improve.

My MP does seem supportive, so I'll just have to wait and see…………|-)