Category Archives: Northern Rail

So Lonely? Hope so!

Fine, I havent done any sport in a while, so lets do some tonight, of sorts at least.

For those who care about football/soccer (depending which side of the Atlantic you are), the World Cup is on, in Russia. Irony, given its in the country of Trump’s best buddy, the US arent there, so probably a lack of interest over there, maybe? Or maybe all those ‘immigrants’ he so hates, and I dont, are celebrating Mexico’s victory over Germany earlier today?

But yes, tomorrow, at 7 pm my time, just as I  come out of work, England start their campaign, against Tunisia. Yes, I know, I’ll miss it, what a shame, she facetiously says. No, I havent watched a minute of it yet, nor do I plan to. But what this does mean, with luck, is that most of the English male population will ensure they’re home, watching the game! Which hopefully means a few less people on the streets to the bus station, and on the buses tomorrow night. Of course, knowing the awful service provided by First Buses, I am assuming that their bus drivers will still be working, and not watching the games themselves, and therefore the bus doesnt turn up! Thankfully Northern Rail arent on strike again until Tuesday, so I have a back up at least!

But yes, with luck, a quieter journey home than normal, unless I pass a bar showing the game, I guess, then all bets are off!

The video, a Police oldie, one of their lesser hits, but a hopefully apt one.

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I could have walked all day

In case anyone was wondering, its a play on the video title, which pretty much summed up a lot of my day yesterday.

Fine, firstly, it would be remiss of me to not mention an event that happened earlier to day in the 4 UK capitals, which was a march to celebrate the centenary of the first ever date that some women could cast a vote. It was about another 10 years before all women could, but 1918 is remembered for the suffrage, so…

Oh fine, all you really are here for, is the weekend. The train journey to Blackpool was uneventful, other than that Northern Rail provided a train for the journey from Halifax to Preston that wouldnt have looked terribly out of place in the Edwardian Era. Fine, that might be a slight exaggeration, but not by much! I guess the train was nearly as old as me, and that is the truth!

The guest house was lovely, the only snag being that I picked the one room that had separate beds for me, and Eric, and unfortunately, it was at the top of the house. Yes, he made it, but next time (and we’re most definitely going back there again!), they said they will sort something out, so we can be ‘modest’ but sleep on the ground floor, which sounds good to me. Lets just say it was rated 4.7 out of 5, and my only query would be why so low? Lack of a suitable computer table would seriously be my only issue!

We brought back old times on Friday evening, going to an Indian Restaurant, which Eric reckons is the first time we’ve been in an actual one since we left Leytonstone in 2005. Not sure thats correct, but anyway…Yes, very nice meal.

So to Saturday. I left Eric to ride the trams, and I headed for the pier, and spotted a few of the others waiting. Seemingly no one had told the pier people we needed early entry. Unfortunately we attracted the interest of one guy who wanted to help us, and we had to be sharp to get rid of. Friendly, but slightly crazy might be a fair description of him. But then we got in, and yes, headed to the theater, and the chorus girl changing rooms. Yes, probably just like Clara Johnson knew them, with 2, 3 or even 4 of us in a changing room, getting ready. I’d seen my dress in advance

Outfit for tomorrow

And yes, it was as gorgeous as it looked, complete with hat, and gloves. Hampered by the looks of the wearer, but anyway…

Pier Day1

I spent the morning helping out with the craft stand, in the Sun Lounge, and lets just say it got hot, especially dressed like that. Oh, the Punch and Judy man, one of the couple running our guest house! After lunch, I briefly went back there, while covering for the person doing that role for the afternoon was having her lunch. But then I was free to promenade up the pier, like a fine Edwardian lady, accompanied by a ‘companion’, and lets just say we had our photos taken more than a few times! During this time, I was asked if I minded covering the front desk for the last hour or so, as someone had to leave early, so of course I did! The amusing moment here was, that firstly, my companion and I were so busy looking out for people with cameras, and then when on the desk, so busy looking for children to hand out the free ride tickets to, I missed Eric twice! Focused, darlings, focused!

Then, eventually, back to the theater to change back to modern life, but only after a group photo, of most of the remaining volunteers had been taken. We all said out goodbyes, until the next time, then went back to the ‘real world’. Going in, Edwardian, out, looking modern, and back along the pier lol. I did wonder if some people who saw me after I’d changed back recognized me as the Edwardian lady in purple, or not?

There is one wonderful lady, among a lot of wonderful ladies, and men, that I just want to show you her outfit, and you can blame her for tonights video. The outfit was gorgeous, and she went up on the stage, and sang wearing it. Yes, it could be the song in the video. Sorry, you will  have to put up with Audrey Hepburn singing it though

Pier Day4

And thats it, until the next time at least. Beyond the Film Festival early next year, currently I have no idea when that will be, but as Arnie said, when it does, I will be back! How I will be dressed then, who knows, but pretty sure it will be fun!

Oh, that song that ‘A’ sung, from My Fair Lady, well…if you hadnt guessed…

On a wing and a prayer?

A few months ago, it was announced, with big, bold headlines that the railways over here in the UK would be running a much improved timetable, and service, from 20th May this year. Me, who has suffered the whims, and incompetencies of Trans Pennine Express, and Northern Rail for far too many years, just laughed at this fact, and said on my blogs at the time that it would never happen.

Well, in theory, 2 weeks ago, it did. I managed to miss what was seemingly the first week of total chaos, as I was away in Seattle at the time. However, my first glance back at a UK rail service last Monday, told me the truth about what was happening. I thought maybe it was the fact that rail staff, despite it being in their contract to do so, didnt fancy working on a Bank Holiday, which led to numerous cancellations due to lack of train crew.

However, as the week went on, it became obvious that wasnt the case, it was an everyday event to have lots of train cancellations due to lack of train crews. And it wasnt down to sickness, holidays, or other absences, it was, as I forecast months ago, none of the train companies had the staff to run the new service, and yes, chaos ruled! Guess what, the train I would have caught in the old days, on Saturday, before they changed the time, and ruined it as an option for me, was cancelled!

So therefore, it was no surprise to me to get home last night, and read that 3 of the train companies in this country, have now admitted they cannot run the new timetables, and therefore have introduced temporary timetables in numerous areas to get around the issue. Thing is, some lines arent just going back to service levels before the new service was introduced, its far worse than that!

Given Northern Rail is one of those 3, its easiest to pick on their biggest failure, in the Lake District. The one line going into the Lakes used to be about 1 an hour in each direction, which they tried to improve on, for the summer at least. So, as of tomorrow, how many trains will be running on that line each day? Would you believe, a big round zero! Yes, a replacement bus service all day is as good as it will get. And given its a major holiday area, and summer is coming, the chances of those buses getting caught in traffic jams, and missing connections must be high!

Still, give one piece of kudos to Northern Rail, and the other 2, they’re admitting they’ve got it badly wrong. Trans Pennine Express are making a total mess of things too, but just not prepared to admit it! Cancellations by the dozen, long delays, you name it, they’re doing it!

Do you know the funniest thing about all this, a Japanese Rail Company recently apologized for their train leaving 25 seconds early! As to what they would make of our train service, I dread to think!

Right, video time. To have heard this song before, you either were a huge Gerry Rafferty fan, or just struck lucky, as this is from long after his Baker Street days. But the title sums up what the train companies would like us to do, but have little chance of us doing so. Oh, the blog title? Its the album title!

 

Its only make believe?

Let me say that I’m currently on a bit of a subject drought for these, now I’m doing 3 a week, instead of 2, so if anyone has any suitable ideas for subjects they’d like me to discuss (excluding anything UK politics related), feel free to either post in comments here, or send them to stephmajor8@hotmail.com , and if they appeal, I might just go with them!

One thing that any number of the rail companies over here are hyping, is the supposedly spectacular new service we will be getting from next month! Yes, from experience, I laughed a lot, but after a couple of hours…

The one that has amused me the most, is the obvious local firm that couldnt arrange a booze up in a brewery, let alone a decent train service, Trans Pennine Express. Earlier this week they put out a promotion mentioning more trains between Leeds, and Manchester (6 instead of 5), which run through Huddersfield. They also mentioned that they would be speeding up services on the route between those 2 places, and Liverpool.

So being curious to see how they were coping with their current service, let alone this new spectacular promised one, I took a look at their live runnings through Huddersfield to Manchester at that time. Yes, I did check, and there were no delays that would have been beyond their hands at the time. And…

Of the next 5 trains (the following hour) through Huddersfield to Manchester, 3 were 26, 19, and 17 minutes late respectively. Another had been cancelled due to ‘staff shortages’. So get this right, they havent enough staff to run 5 trains an hour on that route, so they’re going to try and run 6! Going towards Leeds was slightly better, but 4 of those trains were promoted as being between 5, and 10 minutes late at the station! And I suspect most of those were 3 carriages long, despite their promise, when they got the franchise again 2 years ago that all trains would be lengthened, it hasnt happened!

To be fair, I’m sure all the other train companies are making similarly wildly optimistic claims about their new services too! Northern (the other local company around here) made all sorts of claims about replacing all their very elderly stock with newer trains by the end of this year, yet nothing seems to have changed with them. With the rare exception, the trains I catch on a Saturday morning to work are the same elderly carriages they were before!

So yes, next month, I have no great expectations on improvement. I hope I’m wrong, but when I wrote to TPE, via their site, asking them how they were going to provide all these improvements, given their current level of service, I got no reply! Probably cancelled the Customer Services ‘train’ too, lol!

So yes, I suspect most of these so called inprovements will no more come to light than the last lot, and will prove simply to be make believe. Hope I’m wrong, but…?

Which leads me to the video. No, not Bucks Fizz, though I was tempted. Instead a group, that had I actually been a young lady in the late 70’s, I’d have swooned over, as so many probably did. They didnt last that long, as their timing wasnt great, coming to fame just as punk rock hit town, and temporary put a lull on boy bands

Not A Modern Girl

Assuming that plans arent weather affected, or a rail strike gets cancelled (Northern Rail are due another one day one, next Saturday, my only normal train travel day), the next time I travel by train, I will look more dressed for the 1920’s, than the 2020’s, which are fast creeping up on us. I guess I might take the dress in with me, and change at work for the evening do, but if you asked me to put money on it, I’d say a flapper would be working the whole day, in truth! Hopefully I can use more modern equipment than a 1920’s telephonist would have had, all the same. Though fine, that might be fun, but…

I was tempted to suggest to Northern Rail that on the morning of the 10th March, on the 7.50 train to Bradford, that they might need to provide me with a steam train to get me there, but I didnt, as I was certain they wouldnt get the comment. But yes, it would be fun, given that Halifax station at least, apart from the modern lift to, and from the platform, probably wouldnt look too out of place back then, especially with the surrounding buildings as well. But fine, the diesel multiple unit train does rather ruin that image lol!

In truth, I do wonder how weird life would be for a modern person, if truly whisked back into the late 1920’s? Ignoring the fact that even a weeks wages would go a very long way back then! For example, my wage per week now, is roughly equivalent to the same wage per year back then! But yes, even ignoring the loss of things like internet (and Transatlantic flights). its fair to say that even things like the language used would be different back then. Not literally, we’d all still speak English, but taking one obvious word as example, the word gay meant a whole different thing back then, to the way its generally used today!

But is all this modern life for better, or for worse? I know, in so many ways its better, but I’ve got the golf on from the US (TV in 1929, lol), and the commentators were saying that the people at the course were watching the golf, not through their eyes, but by watching it on their phones. Yes, seriously? Fine, I suspect some were recording it, to put it up on You Tube, or the like, but even so…?

The other thing, going back to our original subject of railways, was when earlier I was checking for engineering works on the railways. At Easter weekend, some lines will be closed for work on the 2nd High Speed Train Line in this country. Yes, thats right, a line that wont even start to open until 2026 (if not delayed), and will finally reach Yorkshire in 2035! By which time, with any luck I wont be around to care! I know, I’d only be 77, but the pain I’ve got already, I dont want to get that old!

But fine, if anyone from Northern Rail should read this, 10th March, 07.50 train from Huddersfield, to Leeds, via Bradford, make it a 1920’s steam train, pretty please. Alternatively, on my birthday, 16th March, 14.07 from Preston, to Blackpool South would be equally fun by steam, though I wont be dressed in flapper mode at that time. Though if you let me know, it could be arranged? 😉

Right, video time. Definitely a more modern girl, though in truth, this performance is from 36 years ago! Yes, I had this record on a 45 single, really showing my age!

Waiting for the train that never comes!

And no, for once, its not Trans Pennine Express! No, this time its the tale of a Northern Rail fail, and other events yesterday.

Saturday is the only morning where I need to get to get the train to get to work. Earlier start, plus public transport is a bit more limited early on a Saturday morning, so…Into Huddersfield station, train supposedly on time, all looking good, you’d think? Even less of a shock, the Trans Pennine Express services looks a mess, but nothing new there!

Thing is, I look out to the platform where the train should be, nothing there! Not a first, this is 10 minutes before its due to leave, assume its just waiting to pull into the platform. No, it wasnt. There were a couple of Northern Rail people stood near the platform, not looking like they knew what was going on, never a good sign. Well, time for the train to leave came, still no sign of it. 5 minutes after its due to leave, still no sign of it. So given my total lack of faith in Northern Rail, I headed off, and got a slightly later bus to Bradford. Only just gets me in the office by 9, but anyway…I got to Bradford Interchange, and apparently it had finally left Huddersfield, but was going to arrive 22 minutes late! Me, I got there 10 minutes before then! Seemingly left about 8.15, 25 minutes late, as a work colleague had the misfortune to wait for the train to arrive.

Funnily enough Northern Rail had a staff strike on Wednesday, trouble is, it might have been hard to tell the difference in service provided! And no, sadly, this isnt a first! But anyway…

There was something else waiting for me at work when I got there, my new chair. Specially designed for an old crock like me, due to my back issues. Yes, its nice, and yes, I noticed the difference at the end of the day too. No, it shows no signs of shocking, or brainwashing me, but hey, a girl cant have everything lol! 😛

Right, video time. In tribute to a rail company that cant provide the service its meant to (and despite that, in 2 months time, they will hoist up fare prices!), a group that were also waiting for a train that never comes!

A new addition to the timetable

The last regular timetable steam train in the UK was actually in 1968, so in theory, I should remember them. In truth though, I dont, as I dont really remember doing much in the way of train journeys when I was young, but I guess I must have? And all the earliest memories I have of train journeys (other than restored lines) are all either electric, or diesel trains. However, the last steam train on a railway timetable, today! Yes, be grateful, it means I can avoid another typical Valentines Day blog at least!

Currently, its not possible to travel the full length of the Settle and Carlisle railway, as just under a year ago, there was a landslip at the very northern end of the line, so currently Armathwaite is as far north as they go. Most people actually change to coach at Appleby, slightly further south, because the road connection to Carlisle is better, but hopefully at some point the full length of the line will be restored.

Normally these trains are run by diesel units from Leeds, but today Northern Rail decided to do something different, and two return journeys from Skipton to Appleby were run by steam trains today. Dont get me wrong, a number of steam trains run over that line, but only as special tours, at inflated prices. Today, these were at the standard rail fare! Yes, I saw them on TV, the trains looked a little busy lol! Not surprising, I guess?

Will it happen again, who knows? I know Northern Rail were saying how well it went, so maybe one day, the regular train from Leeds to Carlisle will run a full route, behind a steam engine, who knows? But yes, that would have made a lovely Valentines day present, if I’d known about it, and had anyone to take me!

But yes, kudos to a train company for doing something a little different like that.

So fine, we need a train song, right? Snag is, I’ve used most of them in the past. And then I found this…oops… at least its brief!

There are times when being able to drive might be handy!

True, but on the other hand, life might be a whole lot duller if I just drove to, and from work each day. So, maybe its for the best?

The advantage of working a 12-8 shift at work during the week, is that you miss all the rush hour passengers, all the rush hour traffic, and everything like that. Yes, due to the fact that at that time of night, there is only 1 bus an hour between Bradford, and Huddersfield, but I can get it, even when it runs on time, means it doesnt matter too much. But yes, I’ve had the line, “Is it safe walking into town at that time of night?” so often, you wouldnt believe. The blunt answer, yes, it is, there is hardly anyone about, and getting across the roads is quite easy too. So, pretty good!

Then you get to Saturday. On a Saturday, we only open between 9, and 4, so thats the shift you do. Yes, it means a pretty short night of sleep on a Friday night, but I survive. Thing is, that means an early start on a Saturday, when the bus timetable is not great, so the best fit for me, is the Northern Rail train to Bradford instead. Well, it would be IF it ran on time! So far, in 4 Saturdays at work, I’ve got to Bradford on time, once!

The first week, I have no idea if it ever turned up, I ended up getting the 8.00 bus instead, as there was no sign of it, flew into work at starting time. Second week, waiting for me, ran on time! Last week, it was a few minutes late, but not enough to matter. Then, yesterday…

I could see a train in the platform when I walked through the station, and thought, great! No, it was the previous train to Wakefield, which wasnt moving, as they couldnt shut one of the doors, it had got frozen open! Anyway, about 20 minutes late, they decide to run our train into another platform, and lo and behold, they fix that door, and the other train leaves! So, finally, about 25 minutes late, we finally left! We actually got to Bradford about 19 minutes late, but yes, it was 9.05 when I burst into the office. Thankfully, someone has a good sense of humour, knows what its like, and told me not to rush, but fine, too late!

No, it gets better yet! On Friday afternoon, we had an email come around, for the 4.00 finishers, to warn them that there was a strange lady out on the main street nearby, waving a cup at cars, begging. Yes, by 8.00, she was long gone! But yes, you guessed it, yesterday I finished at 4, and there she was again! I dashed past her quickly, and headed to the ring road, to get across, and get to the bus. Only to find a woman stood by the road, shouting something at the cars as they went by. Yes, I got across the road as quickly as it was safe to do so. Then on the other side of the road, another woman harassing passers by, ouch!

After that, a relatively sane journey home. Well, apart from on the journey out of Huddersfield, one young woman, with no issues I could see, got on the bus, then got off at the next one, about 100 yards on, seriously!

Yes, if I could drive in a car, I could have nice, safe, sane journeys to and from work, in less time. Be a lot more boring though, lol!

Video time. I saw one of these article things earlier about a bike that you cant tip over, so safe, you dont need a helmet. Yes, me, helmet, please! Did come with some cool visor thing, so that, and a helmet, might appeal to me, so…Yes, a silly song, a blast from the past. No idea who the guy in the video is, but its not Jasper Carrott!

What kind of fool?

Yes, I planned to write this blog last night, but simply ran out of time. As most will have noticed, yesterday was April Fools Day, which brings out all the pranksters, with stories that on any other day, you might think could be true, but on that one day of the year, no chance!

The first one I saw yesterday morning, actually featured a famous local celebrity, and a surprise transfer out of town. Even in these days of social media (and yes, she’s on Facebook), I’m not sure how many know about the famous Huddersfield Station cat, Felix. And yes, despite the name, Felix is a she! I’m yet to see her at the station, because I hardly use it nowadays, and on the rare occasion I have been, nowhere to be seen, probably sleeping!

But the big story, she’d been poached by a larger station in the area, Leeds, and was going to move there. It seemed from comments on her Facebook page, that some people hadnt spotted the date before commenting! Anyway, many of us did realise, and commented accordingly. In the end, a hasty denial that Felix was truly going nowhere, beyond Platform 8, was posted up on her page!

The other related story, that wasnt actually an April Fool, was the transfer of the Rail Franchises around here. Well, on paper, its transfers, in practice, its more of the same. The people who were running Trans Pennine Express, and Northern Rail changed their image, made lots of wild promises about improving journeys, both on punctuality, and quality of train services were provided, but I wont be holding my breath. We were promised a much better service by TPE a few years back, and nothing really happened! Maybe it will this time, but…I suspect it will turn into another April Fool, given the date it happened!

Oh, me, post up an April Fool, of course I wouldnt! Well, maybe…Yes, fine, I did. I claimed I would no longer need to use public transport, because I’d laid my hands on one of these.

CJ and Todd

Nice, isnt it? Yes, I wish, could certainly get to LA a lot quicker in one of those, for sure. And probably fly at a higher altitude than 38,000 feet too! Faster than 500 mph, or so, as well, I should think. But yes, sadly, I only own it in my dreams, ah well…

The video. Well you’d have to be a fool to believe some of the things posted yesterday, so I selected this

In praise of a Tory Politician (aka The saving of a railway)

No, heaven forbid, I’m not praising the current bunch, any of the big parties to be honest, none of them inspire me at present. This gentleman was a member of a cabinet, under a Prime Minister that it seemed you either loved, or hated, Margaret Thatcher. But no, thankfully this isnt about her either! Yes, Michael Portillo, stand up, and take a well deserved bow.

Back in the 1980’s, British Rail (as it then was) was doing its very best to run down the Settle and Carlisle railway. Why? Pretty much because the famous historic landmark of the Ribblehead Viaduct was in need of major overhaul, and repair, due to old age, though as has been discovered since, they exaggerated the sum needed, just to help their cause.

So what had been a decent, regular service had been run down to just 2 trains a day in each direction, stopping at just Appleby and Settle on the famous part of the line. Of course that caused traffic numbers to drop drastically, so in went the closure order. As so often, since the times of the Beeching axe in the early 60’s, a campaign started up to keep the line open, and indeed return it to its former glories. The success rate of these campaigns in the past, pretty awful, to be honest.

But then 2 things happened, a new area manager arrived in Manchester (sorry, cant remember his name), looked at the line, and his suspicions were raised as to the real reason for closure. Incredibly his findings found their way to Mr Portillo, and 25 years ago, on the 11th April, he turned down the closure application for the line. As I say, the costs for repairing the viaduct massively dropped, though nowadays only 1 line runs across the centre, reducing all weight issues for the viaduct.

A few years later, out of train privatisation, a new company took over the line, currently known as Northern Rail. What they did was not only to keep the ‘fast’ trains running on the line, they took the step of reopening many of the little intermediate stations along the route, and running a train in each direction, every 2 hours. Combined with a bit of advertising, travel numbers along the line rocketed, both by walkers in the Dales, and people who just wanted to admire the views! Also, by saving the line, many goods trains heading to Scotland from the North now use this line too.

All because a Minister had the courage to stand up to British Rail, and say no!

Of course, in recent times, said minister has actually had a series on British TV, about various scenic rail journeys, including unsurprisingly, the Settle and Carlisle.

The funny thing…Each winter, West Yorkshire Metro, in conjunction with Northern Rail run an offer of a much reduced return fare to travel this line midweek, and very popular it is too. One year, coming back from Carlisle, our train pulled into Settle station. Nothing unusual there, you might say. Stood on that platform, along with several members of the Settle and Carlisle support group, was, yes, you’ve guessed it, Michael Portillo! Now these trains are second class only, so he wasnt going into a first class carriage. Too right he wasnt! He actually greeted many of the travellers, before just sitting down with the rest of us, and just talking to those who wanted to say a few words.

I’ll be honest, at the time, that was a pleasant surprise, truly a man of the people seemingly. So fine, I may never vote Conservative, or have been a fan of Thatcher, but Michael Portillo, her transport minister, I admire him greatly, and want to say thanks for making a wonderful decision 25 years ago.

The video, just love it, though what the people who werent in on it at the time thought, I’d love to know!