Wednesday, 1 July 2009

First TransPennine Express

Today was eventful. Well, the journey home was anyway!

Since starting in Manchester I’ve not had any real problems with the time keeping, everything has been within three or four minutes if it hasn’t been on time. Today was a little different however. We were due to come back on a Class 170, which is unusual as it’s normally rostered for a Class 185 when I travel back at 1542 – though I much prefer the one seventies. The unit arrived with little time to spare before the advertised departure time. It soon became obvious something was up due to the way so many First TransPennine Staff were on and around the train. It turned out the leading vehicle of the unit had no power; none at all, no engine and no electrics. The give away for this was them explaining they were attaching and ‘emergency headlight’ which is only needed when the vehicles own lights have failed.

We left about twenty minutes late and progress was slow – the trans-Pennine routes are not known for easy gradients, far from it! Even early on in the development of Multiple Units these routes required ‘power twins’ to ensure good progress. We reached Huddersfield about half an hour late. The crew were very helpful and gave constant updates on what was happening. Not long before Huddersfield we were informed that we would be terminating there which was just what I was expecting. It was explained clearly that we’d need to get the following Hull service. Following services were delayed thanks to our poorly 170. Our unit eventually limped off in the direction of Manchester…

FTP’s supervisor on Huddersfield station was excellent! He gave everyone updates every so often as to what was happening. It turned out he was a former driver. So we knew exactly what was happening all the time! Eventually the next service bound for Hull arrived with, surprisingly, our failed unit on the front! The defective coach was locked out of use as it had no air conditioning and was, I guess, like an oven inside! The train staff was very professional and courteous. Progress wasn’t quite as quick as usual as we still had one unpowered vehicle in the formation but we weren’t loosing too much time as a result.

What I really don’t like is how miserable and rude many passengers are – shouting and swearing at railway staff doesn’t make the trains run any quicker! I don’t know how they manage to keep their cool when dealing with the public. I’m just pleased I don’t really have to deal with the public at work! Although we were late, I was very late home, in the grand scheme of things I’m not sure one incident like this really matters. Yes we were late but we will all have got home, will all have gone to bed as the world keeps turning and we wake up and have a brand new day! As I’ve recalled on a previous entry "Don't cultivate your woe, cultivate your happiness!" It was a beautiful evening and the views from the train were superb – God’s Own County at its best!

In the end I was home about two and a half hours after I should have been but I was very impressed with how FTP’s staff behaved and dealt with the situation.

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