Getting to London, part deux

Ten minutes after writing the above post, the train to St Pancras was delayed, ultimately by about an hour. When the train (an HST)1 finally arrived, we proceeded to Derby, which is currently a huge construction site, and also full of interesting bits of railway-related gear, where we switched direction and (to make up time) the routing was converted to an express (dropping six stops to leave only Leicester and Luton) since the original thirty-minutes-behind service could pick those up while we gathered the London traffic. This ultimately turned out to be a brilliant decision – we left Sheffield an hour late, and arrived into St Pancras four minutes late. Whoever came up with this plan and executed it, thank you.

The thing that’s struck me most is the huge amount of money that is being spent upgrading the network – the original routing was due to the Rugby upgrade, the delay at Sheffield was related to the Chesterfield re-doubling of track, and the direction switch at Derby to a major rebuild. Waverly has been a building site for a couple of years now, and St Pancras opened last year, finally. Of course Rugby and Derby are huge junctions on the network, and extra trunk lines are badly needed – but I wonder who in the tangle of PFIs and subsidies is paying for all this.

After being in the bus-bodied Pacer, Mark 3 stock feels reassuringly solid and comfortable. I wish someone could compute the number of lives its saved since being introduced, and give the designers an OBE or something2. On a related note, I’ve realised why the bogies on the Voyagers look so shiny and uncluttered – there’s no outside frame, and the disc brakes act directly on the wheels, keeping a broad band inside the rim polished. Credit to whoever at Bombardier came up with that design.

  1. note for those used to GNER, or even First Great Western: East Midlands HST stock has been overhauled, with white LED reading lights and so on, but not fitted with power sockets. Ack. []
  2. And full credit to whoever designed the Pendolino stock too – only one fatality from this is amazing – not ‘miraculous’ or ‘lucky’, it’s highly-skilled people doing good work []
Posted Monday, May 5th, 2008 under Uncategorized.


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