Category Archives: Northern Rail

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!

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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!