Tuesday - Retracing My Steps
Today I revisited a trip I made with Delaine Buses in January, which took in the furthest reaches of their operating network. The difference today was that my son was in tow and the weather a little warmer. Operationally, the first trip to Spalding aboard the Tuesday-only journey on Service 302 was a single-decker rather than a double, but it was the newest example, a B8RLE with Wrightbus body. We travelled on the same two single-deckers working the Spalding-Stamford (203) and Stamford-Wittering-Peterborough (205), though snuck in a short trip around Stamford aboard a Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini-bodied Volvo B9TL working Service 201 between the two. This was a very comfortable experience sat in the upper saloon, and one which puts anything new that Alexander Dennis can produce to shame. Passenger wise, the Bourne-Spalding was as busy as previously, as was the Peterborough-Bourne (last leg). The Spalding-Stamford and Stamford-Wittering-Peterborough were both considerably busier, which was pleasing to see. The school holidays undoubtedly played a part. As we headed out of Peterborough Bus Station at 1330 we saw the 205, due out at the same time, still loading with over 30 on board. A Delaine Day Rover costs £5.80 for an adult, which is excellent value, though the child version (5-10) costs a rather excessive £4.50.
Wednesday - Topless in Springfields
I headed out to photograph a special working undertaken by Stagecoach East's preserved Bristol FLF in open-top guise, which was duplicating the 1015 departure from King's Lynn to Spalding on InterConnect 505. Its next working was a 'short' at 1157 from Spalding to Springfields in the town where the bus headed back to Peterborough. The event was something authorised by senior management at Stagecoach East, with a view to repeating it again if it is deemed a success. Locally, the preserved fleets of East Yorkshire and Stagecoach East Midlands have dwindled. East Yorkshire still has a couple of vehicles and Go-Ahead seems to be a firm who, like Stagecoach East, would use them to good effect, but what of the former Lincolnshire Bristol SC in the East Midlands fleet? I can't recall seeing that out and about in years.
Thursday - The National Railway Museum
Accompanied by both kids, I headed out to visit the National Railway Museum in York. Yesterday, while travelling to Norwich to sample one of Greater Anglia's Stadler trains, I noticed that former Great Western Railway HST 43002 Sir Kenneth Grange is now languishing in the sidings north of Ely. This train is in the original Inter-city 125 livery and worked one of the final ever departures from London Paddington in May. I'm sure I read it was to be added to the National Collection in York but now looks to have been dumped in the Cambridgeshire Fens for reasons unknown.
Friday - A North Lincs Jolly
I travelled to Grimsby today in order to meet with the lady organising the Heritage Open Day in the town on 14 September at which myself and two others who own preserved GCT buses will be providing a free shuttle service. Our destination was Grimsby Docks, specifically the Kasbah. There had been some discussion concerning the buses undertaking a three-point turn with passengers on board. I wasn't too keen on this as none of the vehicles have power steering. Fortunately a route on the Kasbah was agreed, which actually takes my Fleetline down a road that I visited back in 2003 and posted the bus specifically for a portrait photo with the Dock Tower in the background.
It was a very productive meeting. Equally enjoyable was my journey to/from Grimsby from home in southern Lincolnshire. I drove to Spalding and caught the 0854 EMR service to Lincoln. This departure is one of just two that use Platform 2. There is no step-free access to this location and so it is only used when both Up and Down trains are booked to pass at Spalding. We were well loaded and arrive in Lincoln punctually. The next train was at 1025 to Grimsby Town and was a little quieter on board. Most alighted at Market Rasen and when we arrived in Grimsby there was a large crowd waiting to board the return working at 1128.
I returned on the 1232 TPE service for Manchester Airport. I'd not travelled aboard on of their Class 185s since they were refurbished has part of their current franchise. They look very nice indeed. I was very impressed with the ambiance and the TV screen showing journey progress and connection times at the next key interchange point. This also removed the need for constant scrolling remarks about keeping an eye on your luggage and the 'Three Ses'. I alighted at Doncaster after what felt a very frustrating journey in terms of line speed. To my amazement I used to work with the driver in a former life and we chatted while congestion cleared to allow the train to cross the ECML to head towards Sheffield. The driver confirmed that there is no point on the South Trans-Pennine route where trains can reach their maximum speed of 100mph.
A LNER Class 91/Mk 4 at 1355 was next. It was booked for the same platform (3) but unannounced it pulled along Platform 1. I easily found a seat and before long we were heading at full pelt southbound. I'm rather indifferent about LNER's Class 91s. They're an 'okay' train; they undertake the job they were built for admirably and do seem a little too young to be replaced. A few have found new homes but the majority not. Three rakes of Mk 4 coaches now languish in sidings at Worksop. I arrived a few minutes after the booked 1446 in Peterborough and headed for the 1511 EMR '153' bound for Lincoln. This was the same train as that which I'd caught at the start of my trip (153379). We left punctually and were well loaded.
I can't help thinking that there really ought to be a more direct method of reaching Grimsby by train. If only someone had the hindsight to perhaps build a line from Spalding to Boston then maybe dissect the Lincolnshire Wolds to, maybe, Louth and then on the flat marshes to Grimsby!