UK rail trip – 2022
Day 36 – 8th May, 2022
Today, my hosts and friends Steve & Christine took me off to the Runway Visitor Park at Manchester Airport. Despite having lived in Manchester for four years, from 2003 to 2007 (at that time, called the Aviation Viewing Park), I never got around to visiting. Today, I was to finally rectify that. The park is located at one of the more extreme ends of the airport, overlooking one of the runways. There is a souvenir shop, a big display for Concorde, not to mention running commentary which is very informative. It’s been a while since I’ve taken photographs of aircfrat – and it shows!
Day 37 – 9th May, 2022
Today, I decided to travel Manchester’s entire tram network. When I left Manchester at the beginning of 2007, there were only three lines: Altrincham, Bury and Eccles. Since then, the tram network has exploded in size. Manchester Metrolink also now reaches Manchester Airport, East Didsbury, Rochdale, Media City UK, Ashton-under-Lyne and The Trafford Centre, Christine kindly dropped me off at Stockport station and I caught a class 769 Northern service to Manchester Piccadilly.
The class 769 is a bi-mode multiple unit (BMU) running on 25 kV AC 50 Hz overhead and diesel engines. They’re converted from class 319 electric multiple units (EMU). Several dozen of the class are to be converted. As the line between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly is electrified, I did not get to experience what it was like under diesel power. Maybe some other day!
After buying the obligatory 1 litre bottle of orange juice from the Sainsbury’s Local on the concourse, I took the escalators down to the Metrolink platforms. I caught the first service to Ashton-under-Lyne – one of the new lines. This line travels past Etihad Stadium, the home ground of Manchester City Football Club.
I spent the entire day roaming the network, catching only one train from start to end – a northern service from Rochdale to Manchester Victoria. And that was only to make up some lost time. Even though the tram network is small compared to a suburban railway network, the operating speeds are also slower.
By this time, it was getting rather late. But I still had one more line to cover – the one to Bury. The last time I caught a tram to Bury was back in October 2006 (a few months before I decided to move back to Australia) to take a trip on the East Lancashire Railway.
It was 21:30 by the time I got back to Manchester Piccadilly. It was time to find something to eat, as I hadn’t really eaten all day – too busy catching trams! I dropped into the local KFC. Love fried chicken! I then caught the 22:10 Northern service back to Stockport.
As the train left Manchester Piccadilly, I texted Christine to advise that I was on the way back so I could be picked up from the station.
Tomorrow is going to be a lazy day, while I decide what to do for the remaining few weeks of my trip: shall I buy another BritRail Pass or go elsewhere (such as France or Germany)? I also have to catch up on the remaining episodes of Star Trek: Picard.
Day 38 – 10th May, 2022
Today, I decided that I was going to buy an additional BritRail Pass. This time, a two-week pass. There were still a number of places I wanted to visit in the UK and I wanted to make another visit to Kyle of Lochalsh – this time, on the West Highland Line to Mallaig and then bus across Skye. As soon as my pay comes in tomorrow, I’ll buy the ticket. I then settled down for the rest of the day and watched the remaining episodes of Star Trek: Picard. It was rather lazy day!