Friday, 3 June 2011

Daddy's progress

I never got as far as an account of my trip to Scotland, did I!

On the shelves in the dining room, there are two identical copies of my favourite new railway atlas. One is for my work, and the other, with many of the lines highlighted, bears an inscription, for it is yours.

I have always marked off bits of railway I have travelled on in one of the old Ian Allan pocket atlases, which predictably I can't find right now. However, I decided that a bigger one would provide a nice snapshot of the railway you used as a child, and enough space in the future to perhaps append notes of trips you made; tickets, keepsakes etc. I spent several hours carefully highlighting every mile of railway you have travelled over in your short life so far.

You've been as far south as Bournemouth, and as far north as Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh; you really are a well-travelled little lad.

My meetings being over for the day, on Wednesday afternoon I went out to try and highlight some more of my own book. The network of suburban lines around Glasgow is the busiest outside London and takes some clearing! Unfortunately, a massive signalling failure at Shields Junction stopped me from heading for the Ayrshire coast, where I need to do the Largs and Ardrossan Harbour lines.

So, armed with an SPT 'Daytripper' and my copy of Adrian Vaughan's latest book of letters by Brunel, I set off to do some of the less picturesque lines south of the river.

First stop was Neilston, where I didn't realise there was a turnback siding. As a result, I ended up having a technically banned ride into the siding and back, as I wanted to go straight back where I'd come from! Cracking out the paper timetables, I worked out a means of completing the South Glasgow routes by the end of the day, and headed back to Mount Florida to fill a 'gap', namely that between Cathcart and Newton.

To my surprise, after an elongated wait due to the ongoing problems at Shields and traincrew all being out of place, one of the new Class 380s turned up to take me to Newton, where the 'back route' to Motherwell via Hamilton briefly runs parallel to, and connects with, the main line via Uddingston. These are quite like the '350s' you have used with us in London, but a bit more comfortable. They also have the odd combination of a raked-back front and a corridor connection.

Having changed onto a more elderly unit at Newton, I carried on down to Larkhall, which hadn't been re-opened yet when I first 'bashed' Lanarkshire a few years back. It was the proud boast of the signalmen at Motherwell who look after this route, last time I visited them, that none of them had ever travelled on it!

The ongoing troubles in town saw to it that rather than having to wait for the late inbound train, the same set was sent back as a Dalmuir service. Arriving back in Glasgow Central (low level), I went straight up the escalator and back onto a Cathcart circle train, (rather like getting off a roller coaster and running round to join the queue again!) leaving me East Kilbride to cross off from the routes available. Since it was getting on and I was hungry, I left 'EK' for another day and headed back to the hotel.

I am left with only a handful of railway in Glasgow which I haven't traversed. Paisley Canal, East Kilbride, Largs, Ardrossan Harbour and Springburn are the only passenger bits remaining, excepting the line east of Airdrie which is now of course a through route to Edinburgh once more and will be crossed off next time I visit my friend in Blackridge. Things like the Chalmerston and Killoch branches, the 'Burma Road' and the Shields - High St Junction line, which never see passenger trains, will be somewhat more difficult to attain, but it's not a competition! It is, however, an interesting learning experience, not least for someone who works in the field I do, and between a good book, a seat and a constantly changing view from the window, it was a pleasant way to kill a few hours. The railways have taught me an awful lot over the years, and were a fundamental thread in my understanding of the world when I was a child. To some extent, they remain so today!

Yesterday I had more meetings to attend, and then I bid Glasgow farewell on the 1340 to Euston (seat 41 had to suffice once more!).

The West Coast Main Line is a lovely bit of railway. We all have our favourite bits; a lot of people choose the Lune  but for me it's got to be the Lower Clyde valley. My favoured seat is on the wrong side for the best views, but I grabbed some shots out of the window nevertheless as I sped south.

Clyde Bridge, looking east

The Clyde valley; imagine this setting before the M74 was built!
The Lune Gorge, the M6 mercifully out of sight...

25 minutes late due to a lineside power failure at Lancaster, I arrived back into London, where I took a few minutes on the tube to get back up to speed and into 'Londoner mode'! Straight to choir practice and home late. On the tube I passed a reminder that I have two more pieces about Ayrton Senna to publish - the film opens tonight...

Well, there you go - a couple of days in the life of your Dad. Nothing spectacular, but none of it without you constantly being on my mind. We can I'm sure go back to Scotland one day and highlight some more of your book - I hope.

Love from Daddy