Category Archives: Railways

The holiday experience

Before I leave Blackpool off the blogs for a little while…Some thoughts from the weekend.

When I was young, pretty much everyone, excluding the wealthy, used to holiday at home in the UK. For the wonderfully obvious reason that in those pre-package holiday days, most people had little choice to do anything else. So places like Blackpool, Scarborough, Southend (the 3 I now know best, now, and in the past), and numerous other seaside resorts thrived with visitors every year, in the summer. Its hard to believe that until the early 60’s, on a Saturday, the trains would run hundreds of ‘holiday trains’ to the seaside, filled with people going away for their week of leisure. To be fair, they had their day before then, with mass ownership of cars creeping in, but even then, there were enough people to make it worth while.

Then at some point  in the 1970’s, a travel company came up with the idea of package flights, to beaches abroad, and the entry into the Common Market, and the demise slowly began. Lets face it, why, when you have a week of freedom, would you risk the UK weather, when you could have almost guaranteed sun, for little more money. I never got involved in that initial rush, as part of a single parent family, holidays had to be basic, and stay that way. Even when I could buy my own, I tended to stay in the UK (or Jersey) of choice, apart from ‘family’ related trips to Ireland.  Apart from that, and a school day trip to France, I never went abroad until I was in my late twenties!

Since then, I havent often holidayed at home! There was the trip to Jersey a few years ago, and I noticed that numbers were less there, not surprisingly, but that really was about it. But UK seaside resorts otherwise, not at all.

Lets just say that I dont remember Blackpool at all from my few brief visits 30-40 years ago, so I cant compare it to then. And as I said at the time, March was such a flying visit, I didnt get to see much. Of course, this time I did. I’m not going to say Blackpool is a depressed area, it isnt, but at the same time, its seen better days! Yes, its heyday is gone, for sure. But thats progress, I guess? The pier was busy on Saturday, and was quite crowded at times, and that was nice to see. Where the big clues lay for me, was Friday evening, when we walked inland, into town, to get something to eat. I know most retail areas are struggling today, due to online shopping, and stuff, but the town center didnt inspire me to do more than have a meal, and get back to the guest house.

To be fair, the number of guest houses, and small hotels in the town, business must still be decent, but I suspect way down from the heydays, up to the 1970’s? I’ll give Blackpool its due, its trying, Saturday showed that. I’ve heard other places may not be trying so hard, but the times have changed against these famous UK seaside resorts. Who knows, it may swing back again after Brexit, who can tell? I have my doubts, but fingers crossed…

Right, video time. One of those ‘foreign’ songs that were all the rage back in the 1970’s. Most were re-recorded in English, as this song was, several times. But this quirky video, from the 1970’s, of the original version of the song, truly is quite, err, something!

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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!

 

Something so logical?

I dont know how many of my US readers (and there are seemingly plenty) who will get the lack of logical stuff in this blog, seeing their National Rail System, where beyond a few lucky areas, most places still on the Amtrak network get 1 train a day, or less! East coast (especially North East), fine, same with West coast, but in between, well…? Rolls eyes! Of course, distance, and the fact that everyone has to live modern life at a rapid speed means the gap in between is generally done by plane, but anyway…

It would be reasonable to assume that train fares would be cheapest, especially between reasonable sized towns, and cities would be best served by one fare covering all, right? If only it was that easy! I’ve been looking at the fare between Huddersfield, and Inverness, for September, and the standard return for the journey, with senior railcard, comes in at just under £100 according to the National Rail Website. So, some might say fair enough, thats the price you have to pay, and leave it at that, and buy your ticket, yes?

What if I said, that if I used the perfectly legal method known as split ticketing, I can do it for just over £72! And yes, if times suited, and they dont for 2 ‘less than young’ folk (hence the senior railcards), I could actually do it for about £66! Fine, it means having to carry 6 rail tickets each, instead of 2 (one each way), but the difference in cost…wow! All because, strictly there are no advance tickets between here, and Inverness, but because beyond Edinburgh, and Inverness sections, you can buy them for each portion, and the cost drops dramatically! Even more so, when you think those reduced fares include an admin charge for the online company providing the details!

Lets just say I’m not an internet genius, but thankfully I know enough for websites like this, and can save a fortune for the trip. And before anyone says that it only works for long distance trips, sadly not true. I put in the details for our day trip to Kyle of Lochalsh, to see Skye, assuming that all there would be for a shorter trip, was the standard day return, about £18 at our reduced rates. No, unadvertised advance fares reduce it to £15, even with handling charge! No, the other trip, to Aviemore, to go on a steam train, shorter, so no bargain there. Ah well, but…

Yes, seriously, is it any wonder that you only ever hear complaints about rail fares when you see things like this? If only the masses knew, and could book in advance…?

Right, video time. There is a clue in the blog title, no shock there, I guess?

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

The issue of trusting Google maps

I know, running a bit late with these this week, due to being away, and stuff. I’ll make up for it with one tomorrow anyway, so you wont lose out on numbers this week.

The journey to Newcastle was fairly straightforward, arriving almost on time, which is quite a pleasant surprise with Trans Pennine Express. Oh fine, they only done it because of planned lengthy layovers at Leeds, York, and Darlington, of far more time than needed to put down, and pick up passengers! Without that, who knows?

In truth, the only way I was able to find the hotel from the station was thanks to my Google map directions, which I’d printed off before leaving work on Monday, a blessing of modern life, I guess, but more on that later. The hotel was very nice, both food, and room, and I had good company for a few hours, of a writer friend, who I can now put a face to the words of! The one piece of depressing news is that I’ve discovered just how much the body is wearing out, as carrying the bag, complete with laptop about 500 yards is a far harder challenge than it used to be! I know, there’s wheeled cases nowadays, but seriously for 1 night away, ah well…? And whether thats more effort, and space than you’re allowed on some airlines as hand luggage nowadays?

So, Wednesday morning, I set out for Longbenton, and the office I was aiming for, again with my Google map directions in hand. Its fine, apart from the fact about 20 minutes later, I discover that said directions send me to the back entrance, not the one I need to be at. So, 15 minutes later (Yes, I was pretty much out of fuel by then, with the weight of bag), I stagger up to the right entrance, and meeting takes place.

Yes, a very good, and interesting discussion takes place, for a couple of hours or so. Then someone else offers to show me the ‘best way’ between the office, and the station. Yes, took about 10 minutes! I’m told that no one knows why Google Maps does what it does, mainly because most people dont understand how Google Maps work, lets face it! After that, the journey home was fairly straightforward in truth, arriving back in Huddersfield on time, not too hard when you have a 7 minute layover in York, and a further 6 in Leeds scheduled. No, wouldnt have been on time without those!

Ah, I hear you think, she’ll know where to go next time, right? Actually, wrong, because we’re going to rotate it around locations in the next couple of times. But hopefully, when we next meet at Longbenton, I remember not to trust Google Maps at all!

Anyway, despite the efforts of Google, I (eventually) found my way there. Closest video I could find, with a degree of aptness. I know, its just Anderson, and obviously without the lack of keyboards, does sound difference. So if you’re concerned about that, just go find one of them miming on Top of The Pops lol!

That was the day, my friends

Well, hopefully a few of you at least have been eagerly waiting for the report from Friday night. If you werent, you’re getting it anyway! 😛

Beyond a few moments of, err, entertainment on the last section of the journey, from Preston, to Blackpool, in truth the journey was relatively unexciting. The ‘entertainment’, some very loud children, and the fact that we had 2 wheelchair passengers, as opposed to the train designed 1, caused some fun. But in truth, we arrived pretty much on time.

The hotel was pretty much standard budget hotel, with thin walls which we noticed overnight (people talking outside the room), and though in theory we had a second bed, it was so designed that neither of us, in perfect health conditions would have been able to get out, and besides, we had no bedding for it anyway! Survey comments done, lol! But fine, thats not what you want to hear about, is it? So after a meal together, Eric went back to the Trams, I went off to the Winter Garden, and through the time travel portal. Fine, not literally, but you get the drift? After an early false start, the staff worked out where we needed to go, and lo and behold, I was soon in a lovely, and short pink flapper dress. Fine, I wasnt going to care about length for one night, but more on that shortly. Thing is, flappers werent designed to have boobs, or big shoulders, and the zip wouldnt do up properly at the back. Anyway, as you will see shortly, I was quickly changed into another dress which was longer, with no zip issues, perfection! Well, I was flashing someleg, but…

Oh fine, like this!

Me in Blackpool

There is a better one of me, but it has someone else in the picture, and I’m loathe to use that without her permission. I suspect she wouldnt care, but to be on the safe side… If she grants it in hindsight, I will add it to the posting. So if you come here in 6 months time, see 2 photos, and are confused, you know why!

The evening was great fun, lots of lovely people that I was working with, equally a lot of nice people in the audience, including 1 wonderful gentleman I talked to for a while, who had originally come from Bradford! However, having flirted as an Usher prior to performance, stood on the stairs, we eventually got told that part of our work was done. I decided to give the film, Some Like It Hot a chance, but it didnt grab me much, so after an hour or so, I headed back to the refreshment area, got myself a coffee, and started chatting with a few others, until it was time for part 2, getting those who had paid for it, to the party upstairs.

All went smoothly, then a few of us went up to the Balcony, put on a bit of a show (very tame dancing, by Flapper standards, I suspect) for the guests for a while, then I, and a few others went back and changed into modern life again. One treat I had for a while, was to do something I’d never done before (and no, it wasnt to dance the Charleston), which was to wear a pair of those long gloves that go up to your elbow, and maybe beyond. I’d seen pictures of them, always wanted to wear them, and now I have!

End result, everything, and everyone was so lovely, I’m already planning on going back next year, however crazy, and unpractical that is. Might be a different era, but as long as it doesnt mean wearing something as revealing as what my past life self, the chorus line dancing, Clara Johnson had to wear, all should be fine. But no, I’m not going to suggest 42nd Street, or the like, just in case, lol! But beyond that, I’ll definitely be back. Fine, if it is that, I will probably still go back!

The journey home by ‘modern trains’ was a bit more entertaining. The train from Preston, back to Manchester was very crowded, but ‘Queen Bitch’ soon pushed a way through for me, and Eric, to our reserved seats, and someone was already sat in them! Yes, they got moved, probably not my most diplomatic moment of my life, but hey, its principle, and neither of us could have stood, anyway!

Then we get back to Manchester, running late, so going to be a tight push, or no go for our booked train back to Huddersfield. Only…I looked at the departure board, it had been cancelled! So anyway, the next train was going to be very crowded, (2 sets of passengers, plus loads of football fans), but I lined Eric up roughly where I thought the doors would be, and we grabbed 2 seats very quickly!

After that, out last night, with Ella as well, for the birthday meal. I wore the same dress as last week again, so I stayed in Flapper mode for the weekend. Oh, should I mention, this was all done in lots of snow!

In theory I’m back to work tomorrow, but if it had been today, I’m certain it would have been a ‘snow day’ off, with my physical issues. Tomorrow, who knows? Hopefully its better in the morning, I must say. Not just because I’m due back, but because I need to learn something for the following week, which I will probably relate later in the week, but until then…?

Yes, I hurt, partly because of Friday, partly because of the current weather. When (or strictly at this point, I guess, if) I do this next year, I’ll pace it better, all that travel, on top of everything else, in 1 day, was just too much now. Go down the day before, build to it, and have a day off afterwards to recover, before coming back, far wiser! But hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Video, big clue in title. The frightening thing for me, this song is 50 years old, and I remember it being released!

Snowy Days and Thursdays

Well, maybe I have been talking to myself, and feeling old? Fine, if that, and the blog title dont give you a clue to the video tonight, you’re way too young! Unlike me, but anyway…

I dont ever remember school closing for bad weather, but then again, that was about 50 years ago, so I’ve either forgotten, or it never happened? And given my first year at school included the brutal winter of 1962/63, I might be wrong, but hey, I was only 4, or 5 at the time, so something like that would easily pass me by, I guess? Nowadays, it seems to happen in a lot of winters. Is it just health and safety, is it just people getting softer, or is it quite possibly, the thought that if someone has an accident in said weather, that accident compensation claims will fly like confetti?

Up until yesterday, I’d had one day off work since moving up to Yorkshire, due to the weather, and even then, I walked into Huddersfield through the snow (about 2 miles), and it was only when I got to the railway station, to find that no trains were running, that I gave up on the prospect of getting to work that day. Yes, I then walked back home, there was no public transport whatsoever. But then again, I was healthy back then, so…

As those in the UK know, and maybe others too (at least 1 US friend commented on our winter weather overnight), we’ve had a ‘bit’ of snow this week. And yes, fine, at the time I was due to leave for work, the buses were running, just. Let me add, that about 35 minutes after that scheduled time, both the buses from the estate, and the buses to Bradford got suspended for a while. So whether I would have got to work, who knows?

As you might have gathered already, I have no idea on that, I never left home. Nowadays, there is an allowance called ‘snow days’ for when travel to work, especially for as distant as I am, is tricky, or impossible, you dont go. Normally you’d go to your nearest office (I could have gone to Job Center in town, I’m sure), but it was quickly agreed that I would be going no further than the front door. Lets face it, the last thing you’d want is me trying to get into town, having an incident, and being out of action for months, due to my back, or my knee issues. Not that I’m one of those ‘sue at all cost’ types, but still, if I damaged my back really badly…?

In truth, its no better today, and I doubt it will be much better in the morning, but I will see what its like before making a decision on that. I have this old fashioned feeling called guilt over such matters, even if it is the sensible thing to do. But fine, if its really crazy to try to get to work? I know, if it wasnt for my back, I would probably have tried it yesterday, but age, wisdom, and pain have made me more cautious, I guess? Ah well…?

Oh, and second piece of amusement, I’ve decided to give into modernity, and get a mobile phone. A very basic one, as a birthday present, but in truth, probably a wise call. I’m sure it will only get used in emergencies, or as on my birthday, as a means to call for a taxi (at Blackpool, to get from station to hotel, would be one of those), maybe? But fine, I’m getting old, I’m getting fragile (fine in both cases, should be got, not getting, probably), so having something like that to hand, not a daft idea. But yes, nice and simple, it will make and receive calls, it will be able to send and receive text messages (dont wait for me to do so), but that will be it! Oh fine, if you believe rumors, lots of 20’s and 30’s movie stars had one, care of time travel lol. I mean, there are pictures, there is film on You Tube, and…I’ll stop laughing now! But I wont be advertising the number, for sure!

Oh, and one last thing to show I’m old. This weekend (tomorrow, if I need another snow day), I’ll be ordering a Senior Railcard for myself. Yes, you can still get those at 60 (regardless of gender), and you can place the order online 14 days before your birthday. So… Will definitely get used this month, thats for sure. Blackpool (for myself), and Newcastle (for work) will both be a third cheaper thanks to it. Fine, it costs £30, but when you add in Scotland, in September… way in front!

OK, video time. Big clues at the start. Sadly, one lady who has never had to concern herself with the issue of getting old, she died far too young!

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!

South near the border, down Mexico way

A trip I’m planning for May had me wondering, if I’d been that far south before in my life? The answer, seemingly, is no! I did wonder if my very forgettable holiday to Tunisia (Monastir) was as far south as I had gone, only to discover that Los Angeles is further south than that, so literally, at this moment in time, the furthest south I’ve ever been in my life, is Long Beach! For reference, the furthest north would be on the Hurtigruten, when it sailed around the North Cape of Norway (in both directions), the furthest west would seem to be somewhere in the San Francisco area, probably Daly City, which looks slightly to the west of Seattle/Tacoma area, judging by Google maps, but dont quote me on that! The furthest east, using the same guide, would appear to be Vilnius, in Lithuania.

I’m certainly hoping to top a few of those in time, as Alaska is planned for a retirement trip treat, which will then (at some point in the state) be as far west as I’ve gone. Unless I go to the very top of the state, around Barrow, I’m not going to go more northerly than that Norwegian ferry line, and thats not on my plans. Nome would be my dream westerly, but being realistic, it will probably be Anchorage! East, I’d love one day to reach the far east of Russia, by train, but whether that ever happens now, who knows?

But going further south, you bet, thought not stretching my limits that dramatically, all the same. Yes, planning to head to San Diego, down towards Mexico way. In truth, I knew it was near the border, but didnt realize it was just 20 miles until I looked on Google maps! No, I’m not going just to stretch my limits, I’m going to meet someone that I know from Facebook, for the first time!

I know, maybe its the actress in me, but I’m possibly a bit crazier that way than most! I have to say that I have got to know some lovely people, purely by taking a chance on Social media, and writers forums, so…It also allows me to see some Californian scenery on the train that I would never get to see otherwise too. Much to my delight, and possible surprise, Amtrak’s website is designed for visitors from abroad! Yes, I know, they should be, but after recent experience, I did go and check!

So fine, next month, I might not be going south of the border, before that idiot Trump gets around to considering building the wall there, but I’ll get closer than ever before!

Yes, a few clues to the video in there, has to be said, but finding a film version was more complex, as most versions of this were recorded a long time ago. Thankfully, I found this Willie Nelson version from 1989, live!

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!