Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Another London Midland Day Out


Well looks like summer is now over for another year and a good one we have had compared with last year. The nights are drawing in and time to reflect back on summer holidays and other nice things.

Readers of my blog will know that back in April I spent 15 hours travelling on London Midland trains with one of the compensation tickets that were supplied to season ticket holders. If you need to recall that then the link is http://davecresswell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/15-hours-travelling-with-london-midland.html

Well I decided on my holiday time off from work I would do the same again and this time it was for just over 12 hours. So on Tuesday 20th August I scrubbed off the appropriate date on the ticket and setoff for Walsall station to commence my first journey of the day. I decided that throughout the day I would tweet my progress using the hashtag #lmdayout and of quoting @londonmidland in tweets.




My first train was the 07:30 from Walsall to Liverpool Lime Street via Birmingham New St.



This service is usually busy with computers as it calls all stations to Birmingham and today was no exception. On leaving New Street the automated passenger information system decided we were approaching New Street and didn’t rectify itself until Smethwick Galton Bridge. This was much to the relief of a passenger who thought the train was doing a loop from NS back to itself. I reassured the older lady that it was a technical fault and the train was in fact going to Stafford where she wanted. Just after it had corrected itself the Conductor came through the train and there were a few people who looked a bit sheepish but brought tickets.

As this was one of the Project 110 trains we reached that speed at places between Stafford & Crewe when I did some speed tests. We rolled into Liverpool Lime Street on time at 09:43.

It was a brief physical needs break as they say and time to take a few pictures including this one which looked as though it had come straight out of the washer.


I was back on board the same train for its departure at 10:04. We arrived in Crewe again on time at 10:42

Now it was time to amble over to my next London Midland Chariot, the 11:02 service to London Euston via Stoke-on-Trent, the Trent Valley and onward direct to Milton Keynes.


This train does get crowded after Stafford as I understand it’s the first train that a Super Off-peak ticket can be used on.

There were a group of 7 passengers who joined at Rugby and were discussing what they would do and where they would go when they arrived in London. One of the items that came up in their conversation was buying tickets for the London Underground as the last time they queued for ages. Me being me excused myself to them and suggested when the conductor came round checking tickets they asked him/her to sell them the appropriate zonal ticket for where they wanted to go as they can do that. They wasn’t aware of this and eagerly awaited the conductor to come through. Unfortunately the conductor didn’t come through on this occasion and after Milton Keynes I suggested they go to rear of train and knock on the door to see the conductor. They wasn’t particularly keen on that so didn’t take that opportunity to purchase 7 tickets on the train. Because they were discussing famous places to go in London I gave them a few of the 2 for 1 leaflets I had in my bag and suggested they should be able to pick some up at Euston before going on their way.

This of course passed some of the time and before you knew it I had arrived at London Euston on time at 13:50. Well these London Midland 110mph trains don’t arf get a move on when the infrastructure allows them. Can you see a pattern emerging here regarding being on time but will it last. Read on to find out what happens during the rest of my #lmdayout.

My next departure was the 14:13 from London Euston to Birmingham New Street via Northampton and Coventry. My incoming service to London was 350 121 and now I was returning back towards the Midlands on 350 122 which seemed a co-incidence but I’m sure London Midland control carefully plan what sets are used where. Hence many a headache where there is disruption on the WCML and units and crew are very much out of place.


With a crew change at Northampton scheduled into the timetable we arrived at Birmingham New Street at 16:18. Was we on time, well no as we were a minute early but who is going to haggle over a minute. Again some 110mph running in places which helps to give a much quicker run between the capitals nowadays.

It was time now to move away from the Overhead Wires and Electric power to diesel power and venture out to Hereford via Bromsgrove and back via Kidderminster. It was by now a very warm day indeed and many people were feeling the heat. My train was the commuter 16:49 service which called at University then Bromsgrove and onwards to Hereford. This particular service goes into Worcester Shrub Hill first then reverses around to Foregate Street and onwards.

It was very pleasant travelling through yet another area that I know well, rail travel wise as I lived in Colwall for a while. As we arrived in Colwal I could see the water pump that Network Rail had running there due to several bouts of subsidence due to underground water movement.


We arrived in Hereford at 18:17 on platform one again on time. The unit then shunts over to platform 3 passing Hereford signal box as it does.


I told you it was a warm day as you can one of the rails staff is wearing shorts to keep cool on the job.


The only addition I’ve noticed to Hereford station since I was last there were the electronic ticket barriers which although necessary seemed a bit out of place at this station building. Nevertheless I thought you might like to see what the outside of the building looked like.


We left Hereford at 18:48 and arrived at Worcester Foregate Street where I was departing the service at 19:30. The services was continuing the way it came via Bromsgrove.


My next service at 19:46 was formed from the incoming 19:41 arrival from Stratford-upon-Avon so gave me a brief time to pop downstairs. Worcester Foregate street is undergoing refurbishment at the moment as can be seen by this picture.


No time to stand and stare though as I could hear my train coming around the curve from Worcester Tunnel junction. A swift change ends by the train crew and we were off on time at 19:46.

Now of course this is the very luxury of air conditioned travel in a Diesel units on a summers day the 172’s. I have blogged about 172’s at launch back in August 2011.  http://davecresswell.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/railway-matters-and-london-midlands.html I arrived back in Birmingham Moor st at 20:58 which again was on time.

I now need to dash between Moor Street and New Street if I want to catch my 21:17 train back to Walsall. The connections information says I should allow 18 mins between the two stations which gives me 1 minute spare. However I’m at New Street down on platform 2a via the currently longer route to the platform by 21:10. It does indeed help that I spent a month as Volunteer travel champ (http://davecresswell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/new-street-new-start-three-months-on.html) so I knew in my head exactly which was the quickest way to 2a. Going via the old dispersal bridge route to the A end of platforms for those who don’t know and not through the newer area.

My train goes forward to Tame Bridge & Walsall then all stations to Rugeley Trent Valley. Well I’m pleased to say although we left New Street 3 minutes late we did indeed arrive at Walsall on time. That is exactly twelve hours and 9 mins after leaving Walsall earlier in the day.

So another pleasant London Midland day out using one of the 5 compensation tickets which I had and every journey arriving on time at the destinations I had planned.

The only downer of the day wasn’t anything to do with the railway but my National Express bus which was due to leave Walsall at 22:05 didn’t arrive until 22:20 and no explanation from the driver as to why. All I could gleam out of the driver was its here now and that’s all that matters. Walsall Bus station is not the friendliest of places at night and the customer information system leaves a lot to be desired at times.

My journey plan is shown below for those who like things all collated and in one place.

07:30 Walsall Liverpool LS 09:43 via Bham New St

10:04 Liverpool LS Crewe 10:42

11:02 Crewe London Euston 13:50 via Stoke & Milton Keynes Direct

14:13 London Euston Bham New St 16:18 via Northampton

16:49 Bham New St Hereford 18:17 via Bromsgrove

18:48 Hereford Worcester FS 19:30

19:46 Worcester FS Bham Moor St 20:58 Via Kidderminster

21:17 Bham New St Walsall 21:44

© Dave Cresswell 2013

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