21 July 2011

Pictorial: Railrover Day 4

We awoke from our sleeper service the night before with breakfast brought to us by our sleeper host. After polishing that off we pulled into Aberdeen, a couple of minutes ahead of the booked arrival time of 0735.

DB Schenker's 67030 hauled us north from Edinburgh

We had just enough time to take some photos of the station entrance and to make use of ScotRail's First Class Lounge before we had a very particular train to catch: the longest journey in the UK, from Aberdeen to Penzance, covering a distance of 722.21 miles in 13 hours and 22 minutes. The journey is only possible in this direction as the northbound equivalent commences at Plymouth, not Penzance.

CrossCountry's Voyager 220024 was to be our home for the next thirteen hours and twenty-two minutes, seen here before departure from Aberdeen

And so with little else to do other than to muse on the world as it passed by, I planned a mini case study of the route, managing to stay awake throughout to photograph all stations served. Annotation is given, where appropriate.

Aberdeen 0820.
As we departed, the guard made a valliant effort to name all stations we'd call at up to and including Plymouth, thereafter he said "and other stations to Penzance".

Stonehaven 0836-0838

Montrose 0857-0859.
A feature we noted XC guards do is to give an estimation of the time to the next station.

Arbroath 0914-0915

Dundee 0931-0932.
First Class got very busy indeed here. There were only two seats remaining in this section - the busiest we'd seen throughout our journey thus far.

Leuchars 0946-0947

Cupar 0953-0954.
We travelled the furthest distance on the train today in First Class. Second place goes to a father and daughter who travelled from Dundee to Bristol Temple Meads, but alighted at Bristol Parkway.

Ladybank 1000-1001

Markinch 1008-1009

Kirkcaldy 1016-1017.
No sign of Gordon Brown.

Inverkeithing 1031-1032.
Just south of Inverkeithing, we crossed the iconic and very impressive Forth Bridge from 1037-1039:

Haymarket 1052-1054.
We'd been running a few minutes late south of Dundee, but managed to arrive into Haymarket a few minutes early and stood for 5 minutes.

Edinburgh Waverley 1058-1105.
Our first crew change took place here. A driver and guard swap and a Retail Manager and First Class Host boarded (the service had departed Aberdeen with refreshment unavailable).

Dunbar 1124-1125

Berwick-upon-Tweed 1147-1148

Alnmouth 1207-1208

Newcastle 1238-1241.
Here there was another guard change and the First Class Host changed.

Durham 1252-1253

Darlington 1310-1311

York 1341-1344.
A driver change took place here.

Leeds 1407-1411, where a change of guard took place.

Wakefield Westgate 1422-1423

Sheffield 1451-1454

Chesterfield 1505-1506.
Our half-way point was at 1510, between Clay Cross and Ambergate.

Derby 1526-1528

Burton-on-Trent 1539-1540

Birmingham New Street 1604-1612.
There was a major crew change here with all being relieved.

Between Birmingham and Cheltenham is the Lickey incline, one of the steepest mainline gradients, measured at 1-in-37. We started our descent at 1626.

Cheltenahm Spa 1651-1652

Bristol Parkway 1725-1727.
We noticed that XC guards do not open the train doors and rather than close them, signal to the driver to close them. Following this, the guard then signals the driver that the train is ready to depart. Other TOCs give guards more control on door operation.

Bristol Temple Meads 1740-1744.
Plenty of slack is added to the timetable between Bristol Parkway and Temple Meads. While travelling between the two, we passed the first of XC's two HSTs heading north at 1736.

Taunton 1816-1818

Tiverton Parkway 1829-1830.
After leaving here, we passed the second of XC's HST sets heading north at 1840.

Exter St. Davids 1844-1847.
A driver change took place here.

Newton Abbot 1906-1907

Totnes 1919-1920.
HSTs are not allowed to call here in this direction if they are operating with only one power car, owing to the immediate incline to the west of the station.

Plymouth 1945-1949.
We lost our First Class Host and retail manager here. Full marks to our host for politely ordering us to take more free food from her trolley as "it's a long way to Penzance and this is your last chance for food". The guard changed at Plymouth, too.

Liskeard 2011-2012

Bodmin Parkway 2023-2025

Par 2035-2036

St. Austell 2041-2044

Truro 2100-2102.
I know it is psychological, but it was very slow going from Plymouth. The scenery and the very high viaducts made the journey far less monotonous.

Redruth 2115-2116

Cambourne 2122-2123

St. Erth 2133-2134

Penzance 2142.
Daylight was fading fast now, though upon our punctual arrival, I spotted something on Platform 3 and shot to the top of that platform to set my camera to recording mode:

First Great Western's Cornish Riviera loco-hauled sleeper service departs Penzance, bound for London Paddington. If you listen carefully you'll hear my BlackBerry smartphone sound with one of many tweets of the day from our 60-strong Twitter followers who I'd been interracting with all day. Conversations ranged from the salary of a XC First Class Host to their HST diagrams. All very informative!

To end the day, I believe the service was crewed as follows:

1 - Aberdeen-Edinburgh
2 - Edinburgh-York
3 - York-Birmingham
4 - Birmingham-Exeter
5 - Exeter-Penzance

1 - Aberdeen-Edinburgh
2 - Edinburgh-Newcastle
3 - Newcastle-Leeds
4 - Leeds-Birmingham
5 - Birmingham-Plymouth
6 - Plymouth-Penzance

Retail Manager
1 - Edinburgh-Leeds
2 - Leeds-Plymouth

First Class Host
1 - Edinburgh-Newcastle
2 - Newcastle-Birmingham
3 - Birmingham-Plymouth


Andy Elms said...

Regarding your photo caption. As a former resident, I'd like to reassure you that you are certainly not the first to fall into the trap of spelling Camborne.

Hope you're enjoying your journey. I'm up in Aberdeen next weekend - we used to catch the direct Penzance train to there.


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