1:55pm. Midga shifts the position of his posterior. Half an hour or so on these seats is about the limit for comfort. Just after Benton is another junction - I wonder what's there.
2:03pm. Monkseaton is obviously an ex-BR station, built big. Also has what looks like an old freight yard. Tynemouth is the same, but a bit run down.
2:11pm. North Shields has a dock platform. It's wired and the stick is lit, but it looks like it hasn't been used for a long time.
2:16pm. Howden station has the first level crossing we've seen! No booms, no pedestrian gates, just flashing lights and an audible alarm. The train gives a reasonable length toot which sounds like one of ours (no two-tone). Straight after the crossing is a bridge with no ballast. The houses underneath must love the noise...
2:23pm. Driver gets on the PA and says "Unfortunately for the young man with the bicycle, bicycles are not allowed on the Metro system". Whose idea was that and have they been sacked for it yet???
2:28pm. Last leg into Newcastle is over a huge concrete bridge. From the train it looks horrible, but from ground level it's slightly plain but certainly not ugly. Have we made this point yet?
2:30pm. Monument again - Platform 4 this time. It really must be at right angles like the map shows. Perfectly dark tunnel again.
2:40pm. Inside St James' Park!!! It's a fairly typical 2-platform terminating station, just underground. It's a split layout instead of island, which is ridiculous. At the down end the tunnel continues we know not where. Stabling for special events maybe? As we're waiting for the next train Midga gets another question from a local. We've been here three hours but still we can answer the question. Hooray for maps! And the ability to understand and remember them.
2:53pm. Monument PL03/04 are above PL01/02! No doubt it made sense to somebody at some point.
2:59pm. Dammit these Metro vehicles are photogenic! There's so many in special liveries that even a pair of vanilla vehicles is worth a photo.
3:08pm. Fawdon - another level crossing. Same setup plus a 15km/h speed limit for no other reason we could find evidence of. The horn on this train sounds like a car horn! Kingston Park has another crossing the same. As the driver cuts off power to stay under 15 we hear the motors flash over. It is 1500V DC after all!
3:13pm. Bank Foot, same again making three in a row. We're out in the country now, nearly at the airport. A pedestrian crossing has no protection at all and doesn't even merit a toot. Do I need to say Casterton Parkway has a crossing too?
3:18pm. Airport is an island station with a full length shelter but otherwise unremarkable. There's a covered walkway to the airport itself. It seems to be mainly used by airline passengers, they all have luggage. I guess it would be different at shift change time. 20min from Central to the airport would be OK for Melbourne but probably not Newcastle unless the roads are really terrible.
3:38pm. I do believe the crossing alarm and consequent green stick are triggered by the driver closing the doors!!! Top notch, someone had their brain switched on.
3:43pm. South Gosforth, as well as being the northern junction of the two lines, has the main stabling and train maintenance yard.