We are officially ‘Railway Neighbours’ even though the Great Western Main Line is a good 200 yards away. However, the sound of the railway carries quite a distance, and so Network Rail sends us fairly frequent letters advising us when to expect noise. The latest was on 15th November:
I know I’m old-fashioned because I still measure distances in yards – but Network Rail uses ‘chains’, which would have been familiar to my great-great grandfather Daniel Bacon who spent his career as a Carter on several farms. He would have known that one chain is 22 yards, and that there are 10 chains to a furlong and 80 chains to a mile.
We only get notification if the noise will be disruptive. There’s been quite a bit of overnight activity recently even if it wasn’t really disruptive, and last week a contractor helpfully dropped a list of installation tasks onto the pedestrian crossing just east of the 82-mile marker (as measured from Paddington):
Even though it will be a year before the wires will be energised for our electric trains, we’re already seeing an increasing number of them, albeit Diesel-powered. Last Monday, an extra train was added to the daily roster between London and South Wales, and another between London and Bristol Temple Meads. Here’s the latter, passing westwards this morning in the murky daylight just before 8:
As it happened, I took my first trip on one of the new trains last Monday. On its first day in service, it pulled in to Bristol Parkway on its way to Swindon smelling very new indeed. I joined the rear 5 coaches and was impressed by the size of the Standard-Class seat and folding table, capable of holding a large laptop. I was also impressed by the indicators above every seat showing whether they were reserved or available; however, I wasn’t so keen on the intrusive hum from the air-con units, nor with the hardness of the seats.
Just outside Swindon, the train was delayed by a signal fault, and the on-board staff had no idea where we’d reached because there are no opening windows. Having been monitoring the trip on my smartphone, I could say that we’d reached Rushey Platt, near to where the former Midland and South-West Junction Railway met the GWR line. I was rewarded by a guided tour of the First-Class compartment, but I’m afraid to say that even these seats are too hard for my liking.
In the poor light this morning, from the footpath I was able to see the green and red lights glowing above the seats of the Bristol-bound train. If I were still commuting to Paddington from Reading, I’d find this feature very worthwhile in the scrum to grab a spare seat.