UK rail trip – 2022
Day 13 – 15th April, 2022
Late tonight, I’ll be catching the Night Riviera once again. I’m off to Penzance to visit Land’s End tomorrow. I checked out of the hostel and walked down to the station. I wasn’t going to catch a direct train to London. Instead, I thought I’d go via Leeds. So, I caught a Northern train to Bradford. The train, a class 195/1, numbered 195 111, was named Key Worker, in honour of essential workers during Covid lockdowns.
I figured I’d change at Bradford for an LNER service to London King’s Cross. However, halfway to Bradford I realised that I’d be arriving at Bradford Interchange – LNER services depart from Bradford Forster Square.
Upon arrival at Bradford Interchange, I pulled out my phone and checked for directions to Brandford Forster Square. Thankfully, not far at all. Only about a ten minute walk, if that. So, I decided I’d take a slow walk. Not easy to turn a ten minute walk into half an hour. I walked through the station barriers and found my train waiting at the platform. A Northern class 333. I had a bit of time to wait, so wandered around the platform.
While Bradford Interchange is non-electrified, Bradford Forster Square is. This also allows electrified services from London King’s Cross to Bradford. On the way to Leeds, I checked Real Time Trains for services from Leeds to London King’s Cross. And, to my delight, I found a locomotive hauled service – originally branded as an InterCity 225. The 225 was supposed to signify running at speeds of up to 225 km/h (140 mph). But this never eventuated. They consisted of a class 91 hauling (or pushing) a rake of Mk. 4 coaches. Though not as comfortable to ride in compared to a Mk. 3 coach, they were still pretty good. And, with no traction motors or underfloor diesel engines, they were rather quiet.
Arriving at Leeds, I could already see my next train in the station, but not quite yet ready for boarding. I still had the opportunity to grab whichever seat I wished. As always, I prefer facing seats with a table. Though, there were a fair few people on the platform.
The last time I caught a train from Leeds to London King’s Cross was way back in 2005, when GNER used to operate leased class 373s from Eurostar on their ‘White Rose‘ service. As my train was an express service, it was only a couple of stops to Doncaster. I was tempted to get off here, as it used to be one of my favourite places to watch trains. I resisted the urge, however, and carried on to London King’s Cross.
My train to Penzance would not be leaving until late tonight. In the meantime, I decided to visit a micropub in the London suburb of Hanwell named The Dodo Micropub. I’d been following the pub on Instagram for a couple of years and always intended of dropping in whenever I’d get back to the UK. After a transfer by London Underground from London King’s Cross to London Paddington, I boarded a train to Hanwell.
The train I was on was one of the new class 345s for the Elizabeth Line (when it finally opens). The all stations service from London Paddington to London Heathrow used to operate under the name Heathrow Connect. In 2018, Transport for London took over the running of the service in preperation for Crossrail. [Note: More on Crossrail later].
I got off at Hanwell station. It was a ten minute walk to The Dodo Micropub. But, as I was dragging along a suitcase, it was closer to 15 minutes. The micropub has a wide range of cask beers. Even though I’m not a fan of non-refrigerated beers, I decided to sample one anyone. It wasn’t too bad, to be honest.
After hanging around for a couple of hours, it was time to head back to London Paddington. I bid farewell, but stopped at a local chippy for some chips before heading back to the station.
Instead of catching the first train back to London Paddington, I decided to sit on the platform and watch trains for a couple of hours. While I was there, someone from London Underground came along and had a chat with me. At first, I think she thought I was a homeless person (I was quite unshaven – I hadn’t shaved since the end of February). But when I explained that I was just watching trains, and had been travelling randomly by train around the country, she bid me farewell after chatting for about five minutes. It wouldn’t be the first time I was mistaken for a hobo. I went to a friend’s wedding, in Philadelphia, back in 1995. A friend and I had entered the church from the street and some of them didn’t know what to make of us at first.
These new class 345s weren’t too bad. A miss of transverse and longitudinal seating. The seats were a little hard, though. But as they were built for relatively short distances, it wasn’t too bad.
On arrival back at London Paddington, I found a band playing. They were near the end of their performance and they sounded quite good!
It was still another couple of hours until boarding, but I decided to stick around the station. It took me a while before I could find a power point to charge my phone. I’d been using it fairly heavily today. I didn’t know that there would be any power points on the train.
I finally boarded my train. Thankfully, there were power points. I settled in and it didn’t take me long to fall asleep.