Robert Hampton

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4th August 2008

Blogs, trains and no automobiles
Posted by at 1.13pm | No responses | Trains

Apologies for not being around recently. You could be forgiven for thinking, after recent posts, that I have given up on the blog. That’s not the case. In fact, I think I’ve finally got my blog redesign to a point where I can put it online. I’ve been working on it for over a year and have not been satisfied, but on Saturday afternoon I made a few changes to the colour scheme and it all clicked. There’s a few other things to sort out, and then I’ll put it up. Are you excited yet? No? Oh.

On Wednesday I debuted my manbag in public. I had to go to York with various items in tow, and it made sense to put everything in a bag rather than try and stuff it all into my sweaty trouser pockets. Unfortunately my paranoia kicked in. I placed said bag on the floor beneath my train seat, but was afraid to let go of it completely for fear that I would forget it when leaving the train. I also felt the need to constantly check it to make sure my mobile phone, railcard and sundry items were all present and correct. How do women manage all the time?

The journey was, regrettably, not hassle-free. Thanks to TransPennine Express’s refusal to call at Liverpool South Parkway, I had to change from Merseyrail onto a local stopping train to Warrington and pick up the express there. I queried TPE about LSP (I love TLAs) a while back and was told in no uncertain terms that they had no plans to “operate to, from or via” this station. Bloody daft, considering the trains have to slow to a crawl through LSP to take the junction towards Hunts Cross and therefore actually stopping would make little difference, but there you go.

I’m always wary about multi-leg journeys: every change of train introduces a degree of uncertainty and increases the chances that something will go wrong. However, I was happy to arrive on platform 1 and see the Sprinter’s headlights approaching in the distance, bang on time. Myself and a few other intending passengers climbed aboard… and waited. For a very long time. Eventually a muffled announcement came over the tannoy. It was almost entirely drowned out by the train’s engines, but I was able to make out the words “signalling problems”. This is a new record for me — normally when making long distance journeys I at least get some distance away from home before disruption ensues, but here I was, 20 minutes late, and not even out of L19. Luckily the Transpennine service was stuck behind us so I made my planned connection, arriving at York only 30 minutes late.

I like York, it’s a proper, big station with trains arriving from three different directions. Just as well I like it really, as, on my return journey, I missed a Liverpool train by 15 minutes and had to wait 45 minutes for the next one. This, I was pleased to discover, was the sole Transpennine service that calls at Hunts Cross, thus enabling me to make an easy connection into my Merseyrail train home.

The journey was a study in demographics. At York I was surrounded by an odd mix of business passengers, students and elderly daytrippers. We reached Leeds at about 4.15 and took on a rag-bag mix of flexitime workers and one strange young man who sat there with his shirt open, exposing his pale torso for all to see. We lost most of these at Huddersfield, then at Manchester Oxford Road we were invaded by a swathe of commuters who crammed aboard. We were standing room only as far as Hunts Cross where, interestingly, a lot of people alighted alongside me, surely proving that there is demand for a fast service between Manchester and south Liverpool and making the lack of provision at LSP even more ludicrous. But that’s an argument for another time (or about three paragraphs above).

So what did I actually do in York? Hm.. not important. After all, getting there is half the fun. 🙂

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