Robert Hampton

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23rd March 2013

Train of thought

Virgin Train at Liverpool South ParkwayOddly enough, despite being obsessed with railways, I don’t really mention trains much for the first year or so of the blog. I suspect I may have been trying to project an image of coolness, and I imagined railways would not fit in with that. One of the earliest train posts, in fact, is a fairly grim one – a brief mention of the Ufton Nervet derailment.

Railway safety (or the alleged lack thereof) is a common complaint in the media. Actually Britain’s railway is one of the safest in the world, but that tends to make the fatal accidents, such as the Greyrigg derailment, more newsworthy.

Subsequently, however, I’ve got over any lingering problems with coolness and I now blog about trains to the point of being boring. One development that excited me near the start of the blog’s life was the Liverpool South Parkway interchange, which was developed just a few stations down the line from where I live. I wrote about it in September 2005, when it was nearing completion, then a few months later in June 2006, when it opened. As was my habit at the time, the write-up of the day appeared on a separate page, rather than the blog itself. At first, the station’s usefulness was limited by the refusal of the regional operators to stop their trains there, but over the years more and more destinations have been served. The station is now a useful facility, and has been the starting point for many of my recent rail adventures.

lsp-certificateThe fractured nature of Britain’s passenger railway, with its multitude of franchises, means that every few years a new company will take over from the old. In practice this generally means that the trains are painted a different colour, staff get new uniforms and little actually changes on the ground. Such was the case with the Merseyrail network, when Arriva Trains handed over to the Serco/NedRailways consortium. Quite a few people were happy to see the end of Arriva, although subsequent events – including a damaging strike on Grand National Day in 2005 and a mysterious problem with the wheel lathe which led to days of disruption in 2007 – have dented the Dutch operator’s reputation somewhat in my eyes.

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1st February 2009

To the people in front of me at South Parkway ticket office
Posted by at 2.55pm | Trains | No responses

It’s nice that you’re availing yourself of Merseyrail’s shiny new ticket office computer system which can easily book tickets and reserve seats for any journey on the National Rail network.

But really, I needed an Off-Peak Return to Widnes and my train was due in 5 minutes. Why did you have to hold up the queue by enquiring about Advance tickets to Gunnersbury(!) at that specific time on Sunday morning?

4th August 2008

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

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.

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