23/8 8:62pm. Our Sprinter departs. We're stopping all stations - they must leave the inner tier off on Sundays.
9:32pm. They still haven't welded that section just on the up side of Whaley Bridge!
9:50pm. We're between Dove Holes and Buxton, travelling at about 25km/h - presumably there's a freight ahead of us.
10:05pm. Home again. Midga's legs must be out of condition, he hasn't done that many kilometers but he's lying flat on the floor with his eyes shut - discussing Java MIDI libraries on Android.
2am. Emails, RSS and quite a bit of BOFH later, Midga decides to turn in. Newcastle tomorrow!
24/8 7:47am. The door alarm on these Sprinters is almost Comeng-like. Hey, we're running express today! The route to Newcastle at this hour of the morning is via York, we can say hi to those preserved locos again.
8:25am. We've just passed Hazel Grove and we're riding the yellows at 40km/h. This is what it means to run express on two tracks in the middle of morning peak. It must be one of those psychological expresses, no faster than a stopper.
8:30am. We run express through Stockport! There's a 323 on the stopping track, probably the one we were stuck behind. It flashes by us just after Heaton Chapel (it can accelerate out of speed restricted junctions better than we do) but after it has to stop at Levenshulme just as we hit a decent speed we don't see it again.
8:37am. Piccadilly - here we are once more etc etc. Where's the York train? All we know is that it's an 8:55. Middlesborough, that could be it, platform 4. A Class 323 showing Crewe on its desto? Don't like this...
8:51am. Phew, a Class 185 comes in on top of the spark. All is explained. Ah, the 185! First we've had since 2007! They're still as nice inside as ever.
8:55am. Four minutes to turn around and depart on time. RTBU take note.
9:08am. Staleybridge - we pass 66605 with a block container train. The wagons are all screw coupled with buffers! They have high speed freight trains here, but they still haven't gone auto...
9:17am. Another Mactard in the seat opposite. Not only can this one not type with more than two fingers (resulting in a typing speed of about 25wpm) but his ability with the touchpad is similarly slow. A mac with a single button mouse should be a no-brainer for thumb on the button and finger on the touchpad. But I guess no brain is exactly what it takes to operate a mac.
9:22am. I'd forgotten how quiet the 185s are! It's not hot out and with a long run without the doors opening the air con can switch off. It's like a Tait or Doggie sitting at a station - dead silent! I thought it might have been just this car taken offline, but it would be more logical to do that with the first class jobbie at the back. Besides, when we go through a tunnel the engine noise comes in. It's just Siemens soundproofing.
9:57am. Through Leeds, with a padded timetable. There's a Class 91 and Mk.4 set there, and it looks like GNER have lost the franchise for the east coast run to National Express. Or rebranded themselves or something.
10:29am. York. As we wait for a Newcastle train 66601 cones through with a bulk freight. Right through the platform road. The pax hardly even bother to step back.
10:46am. A chance comment from Midga to a north countryman elicits the reply "I can't work out your American accent sorry, you'll have to learn to speak English like the rest of us"! He doesn't bother to go there. The track or bogies are in poor condition by UK standards - ride quality is approximately like RFR or Laburnum. Traction motor sonud is not really present - we get a bit of Cummins beat, a helping of aerodynamic sound and a lot of bogie jolt. I don't remember that from 2007 - since Virgin became Cross Country things must have gone downhill. Poor old Voyagers. Still, it's an ill wind... nah that would never work. Even Cross Country to Countrylink is a drastic step down. Pity, they'd be great as an XPT replacement...