Saturday 29 July 2017

The Best of Times; The Worst of Times

Was It Not a Mr W Shakespeare Who Wrote ...
O Stagecoach, Stagecoach,
When sorrows come, they come not single spies
But in battalions. First, the hist is slain:
Next, your rear car gone; with the most violent author
Of queueing carriages: the people muddled,
Thick and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers,
As delay mounts up on yet greater delay.

Many will remember this speech from Hamlet (Act 4 scene 5) when the deranged Prince of Denmark had just endured a very troubled carriage ride to Elsinore Castle.

Stagecoach likewise did not cover itself in ferroequinoloical glory on Thursday last as fbb travelled from Axminster to Sheffield.

Departure was 1606, late in the day to accommodate departure of grandson, a welcome guest at fbb mansions for the previous few days. The class 159 had a non-working air conditioner - so no surprise there. A chum of the fbbs, who was an air conditioning engineer, explained that the kit on UK trains was cheap and cheerful and inadequate to deal with hot weather. So it fails!

Never mind eh? The guard was able to switch in the standby air conditioning as illustrated here.
If you have the appropriate tool, you CAN open the windows!

A quick nip across London and the old crusty was able to meet up with No 3 son in good time to board the 1955 to Sheffield. This path is nearly always a real treat because it takes a High Speed Train back to Leeds for overnight maintenance. 

East Midland Trains HSTs have not been fitted with high back seats - bliss!
And you can go into the vestibule, lower the window and peer out warily of your personal survival, of course. But again you get real air, not the reconstituted stuff.
At 1955 the train slid effortlessly out of Platform 1 at St Piecrust and fbb and son settled down to a lengthy chat in preparation for Friday's business meeting in the City of Clanging cutlery.

After a sprightly start from the terminus, it became clear that summat was up. The train slowed to a crawl. "We seem to be stuck behind a train that should be on the slow line" opined the chubby one.

South of Luton Airport Parkway, the fbb's fast train was switched over to the slow lines and thereupon through Parkway and Luton Stations. The problem became obvious. There in down fast Platform 5 ...
... stood a very forlorn and very slow speed train.
Research revealed this to be the 1900 departure to Corby which languished, busted, at Luton.
OK, clever reader, you are right. the piccy above is NOT of the failed 1900; it is just any old train at Luton. fbb was, as yet unaware of how things were to pan out, so, at this stage, the delay was not significant.

Even after the train was signalled back on the fast lines, things went in fits and starts. The very nice lady on the speaking spout told us that there were other trains ahead of us that were delayed, and we would be speeding onwards very soon.

What did she know?

Progress was NOT high speed.

Then for unfathomable reasons, more crawling as the delayed and frustrated fbbs approached Kettering and, oddly, the train was again diverted onto the slow lines through the station.

To pass a slower train?

Nope - to pass a completely empty platform!
The reason was not explained; but as the weary travellers regained the fast lines, the guard announced that our train was now in trouble as the rear power car as busted and we would be running at reduced speed.

Now that is odd. Because smart No 3 son logged a similar notice on his smart phone ...
This was recorded somewhere north of Luton, after the first delay.
And so to Derby where the late running train sat motionless in the platform for at least seven minutes. Eventually it was signalled away and it then crawled northwards, by now with no announcements or apologies other than the nominal "we are sorry for any inconvenient."
By Chesterfield fbb was running 50 minutes late with an actual arrival in Sheffield at 2301. 

After a refreshing cuppa, fbb crawled into his hotel bed at 0030. Excellent preparation for a dynamic business meeting on Friday morning, NOT.

Breakfast was taken after the meeting, a first time sampling of the facilities in the relatively new Moor indoor market.
Large Breakfast £4.50!
Two of the slices of toast are for No 3 son, who consumed similar.

Return train (1149 from Sheffield) to St Pancras was somewhat better but, again for no obvious reason, it ran between five and six minutes late all the way. The fbbs were anxious to imbibe from the trolley. But trolley came their none.

The guard explained, "a  trolley should have joined us a Derby - I don't know why it didn't."


As Uncle Will said "When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions." 

Very disappointing.

And a question harking back to Thursday evening. Should passengers have been informed of a possible problem BEFORE they left St Pancras? It was obvious things would not run smoothly.

Thankfully an ever reliable class 159 took fbb back from Waterloo to Axminster on time all the way.

And how did the meeting go?

Very well INDEED!
Third Brand Blog
Due to the exigencies of the situation, this is postponed.
 Next absolutely no idea blog : Sunday 30th July 


  1. Platforming trains at Kettering has long puzzled me. Platform 2 (the Down Slow) is reversible and is used extensively by trains in both directions, while Platform 1 (the Up Slow) is almost never used, despite it being next to the ticket office and entrance from the street. Freight trains sometimes use it to wait for passenger trains to overtake, but they hardly need easy access from the street!

    Anybody know the reason?

  2. The aircon issue is, I believe, caused by the ban on CFCs meaning less effective propellents need to be used. Aircon on third-generation DMUs and EMUs seems to work pretty well.