Sunday 9 March 2014

Those Were The Days

First, an apology.
Continuing his exploration of his new phone thing, fbb has been experimenting with accessing the interwebnet "on the go"' including the blogging stuff. Being a bit finger and thumbey, it would appear that he prodded the wrong bit of a touch screen and unset, upset or reset yesterday's blog. So if you missed it (and you wouldn't want to do that, would you?) you can click (here)
Back to today's offering.

Looking at London Midland's current timetable, it is clear things have moved on a bit over the years.
There are now three trains a hour to Northampton, two of them taking less than an 60 minutes. These timings would have been unimaginable when a teenage fbb took his first solo run tto the Big Smoke, possibly behind a Jubilee or, more likely, a Black 5.
Then came the era off the D200s (later class 40) ...
... although these impressive beasts tended to work on the main line, leaving sad looking steam locos chuffing up and down to Northampton.

Then came he electrics in the form of Class AM10 (later class 310). fbb remembers the excitement when it was announced that fast trains would get to London in 1 hour and 16 minutes. And such high speed trains ran every hour. Oxygen and resuscitation would be needed on arrival at Euston.
The British Rail (BR) Class 310 is a slam-door, alternating current (AC) electric multiple unit (EMU) introduced in 1963 as part of the West Coast Main Line electrification project. They were initially classified as Class AM10 units before the introduction of the TOPS classification system. Constructed at BR's Derby Carriage and Wagon Works. They consisted of four carriages - a second class driving trailer, a second class trailer, a second class motor car (with guard's/luggage compartment above which the Stone Faiveley AMBR pantograph was mounted) and a composite (1st and 2nd class) driving trailer. The maximum speed was 75 miles per hour.

The other bonus of these shiny new trains is that there were windows between passenger section and the driver's cab and, by kneeling on the rear facing front bench seat, one could get a driver's view of the whole journey. Of course, the electrics changed the face of travel to Northampton, making it into a commuter town.

In the days of steam the best trains were the London, Birmingham and Wolverhampton expresses (?) which took 1 hour and 26 minutes; (Three hours and 18 minutes to Wolverhampton!).
There weren't many of those. fbb's scanner is out of use at the moment so a picture of a steam-days sparse timetable page is the best that fbb can offer. But the fares were cheaper, then, surely?

In the early 60s [fbb dodgy memory warning!] a day return Northampton to London was 20/6 (£1.2½p). Today's fare is £26.30 which is well above the inflation calculation of £18.88. But one of the privileges of being old is the ability to reduce that by 34%. fbb paid £17.35.

The main fleet of Class 310 units was replaced on the Euston commuter routes with Class 317/1 units which began to enter service on the route in late 1987 ...
... however the Class 317 units were then superseded by the new build of Class 321/4 within about 2 years.
And somewhere along the line (?) we get privatised, first as the oddly-named "Silverlink" (a National Express Company), and later re-franchised as London Midland (GoAhead).

Incidentally, when GoAhead won the franchise, the then Chief Executive Keith Ludeman ...
... promised us a "return to the traditional standards and traditional maroon of the LMS." And what did we get?
Three greens, two greys and an orange line. But we also got yet another breed of train. So it was that fbb travelled on a class 350 "Desiro" on his state visit to Northampton yesterday.
Despite the call of nostalgia, the misplaced belief that it was all much better in the glory days of steam, there is no doubt that Northamptonians have a service today that outshines anything in the past.

Went the day well?

0630 Axminster (SouthWest Trains)
0917 Waterloo

 fbb decided to shell out £4.70 on a Zone 1 Boris "rip-off to make you devour an oyster" price, so had to shovel specie into an unreceptive machine. Why do they always reject some of the coins, but accept them at second attempt?

0928 Waterloo (Northern Line)
0938 Euston

With much wheezing and glowing with rude health (i.e. sweating profusely) fbb made it in good time for the 0949 fast to Northampton. Only there wasn't one. And there wasn't an explanation, either. So ...

0954 Euston (London Midland)
1105 Northampton

 Investigate new bus station etc.  Partake of a sumptuous gourmet meal in an attractive and intimate ambiance. Not exactly; a Whoppa "meal" (interesting interpretation of the word "meal") c/o Burger King.

1325 Northampton (London Midland)
1341 Milton Keynes

 Investigate electric bus etc.   Partake of a pot of tea and a lemon tart c/o CostaLot.

1548 Milton Keynes (Virgin)
1620 Euston (6 mins EARLY!)

1630 Euston (Bus 59)
1653 Waterloo

1720 Waterloo (SouthWest Trains)
2003 Axminster

 A bloggy good day, as we shall see!

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 10th March 


  1. Well, Boris does offer some concessions, you know. A Travelcard bought with a Senior Railcard is not much more than the zone 1 single:

  2. Tried to buy one out of the machine at Axminster but it seemed only to want to sell me weekly ones! On balance, and pushed for time, £4.70 was the easy option.