At Bristol Temple Meads I did wonder if I had travelled back in time to 1976, as there was a British Rail blue and yellow engine on the platform. My train yesterday morning included a very different engine, this was a GWR High Speed Train painted in the original colours when the train entered service forty years ago in 2016.
This was painted up specially for an event in May to celebrate forty years of the HST. I thought it was nice that only was it painted up in the original colours, but is currently being used to pull trains. It’s a pity that they couldn’t paint a whole train in the original colours.
What’s the point of the Quiet Zone Carriage?
Twice today I have travelled in the Quiet Zone Carriage, first with First Great Western and secondly with CrossCountry. Both times there were people in there listening to their personal stereos really loudly! Though of course for everyone else in the carriage had to put up with the irritating tinny music.
To be honest I would have been annoyed with it, even if it had been a “normal” carriage. One of the reasons I listen to music or radio on the train is often to drown out the tinny music from others. However with respect to other people I don’t listen when I am in the Quiet Zone Carriage, as I know they don’t like it.
Now I would stand up and ask the person to turn it off, however I have no idea where they are sitting in the carriage and from my seat I can’t actually see who it is. Also the noise I would make asking them to turn it off, potential argument, would annoy people even more I think, well it does when I hear it.
The only reason I am in the Quiet Zone Carriage is that though there was no reservation on the seat I was sitting in, someone did have a reservation. Personally I think they caught the wrong train, but it was easy to move and there were free seats in the Quiet Zone Carriage.
Virgin Trains use to have a weird Quiet Zone policy when they ran the franchise (now run by CrossCountry) you couldn’t even use your laptop in the Quiet Zone Carriage. This was just use it, for reading, writing, not listening to music or watching a film. I remember one woman getting very irate I was using it, even though she made significantly more noise shouting at me then I was using the laptop. She got very hot under the collar, so much so, that the guard made an announcement over the tannoy about not using laptops in the Quiet Zone Carriage.
Talking of announcements I am reminded again of Virgin Trains where the buffet person when we were arriving at Birmingham, where he was getting off, he thanked us for been a lovely audience!
The Quiet Zone Carriage only really works if everyone in it respects the rule that it is the Quiet Zone Carriage. Unlike the First Class Carriage the rules aren’t enforced by the guard or ticket inspector; if you don’t have a first class ticket then you can’t sit in the First Class Carriage. Whereas if you aren’t quiet, you can sit in the Quiet Zone Carriage and be noisy.
I have to admit I don’t really see the point of a Quiet Zone Carriage on a really busy train, mainly as trains are very noisy things anyway, lots of engine noise, and announcements. Those within it, even those been quiet, have conversations, chat, tap away at keyboards, breath, drink noisely, snore and so much more.
The question is, with a small four carriage train, can we really afford to have a Quiet Zone, well one that works as it should?
The main railway line to Plymouth and Penzance from Bristol passes relatively close to my house and as a result we often venture down to the line when interesting trains pass by. I think living by the trainline has cultured my boys’ interest in trains and as a result I often find myself dragged to Bristol Temple Meads for a “train ride” or to the STEAM Museum in Swindon.
Over the last few weeks the mainline has been awash with steam engines thundering down the railway track. It’s quite amazing and nostagic to see these beautiful pieces of engineering move along the railway track at speed. If you have ever been to a heritage railway the trains move relatively slowly (about 30mph) whereas the steam trains I have seen on the mainline are going significantly faster at about 70mph. They certainly make a difference to the regular HST and Voyager trains we usually see on that line.
At the end of July, there were trains on the Saturday and the Sunday, and this week there were two steam trains within 15 minutes on the Sunday.
The first train had two engines, the 71000 Duke of Gloucester and 60163 Tornado.
The Duke was built in 1954 and withdrawn just eight years later in 1962. Just over ten years later and with most of her important parts “missing” she was saved from scrapping and restored to become a regular on the mainline steaming tours. The second engine probably couldn’t be more different, similar in size, Tornado though is just a youngster completed in 2008. A completely new engine though built to a 1940s design (with many modern improvements). They were moving at some speed with steam and smoke billowing from their funnels and pistons.
On the Sunday, it was the turn of 70013 Oliver Cromwell to steam down the line.
This engine was completed in 1951 and retired in 1968.
There is something about these historical engineering marvels and watching them steam down the railway track. I am sure back in the 1950s and before when there was lots of them, they weren’t exactly seen in the same light. I am glad that not only are they still around, but that they still have the fires lit underneath their boilers and allowed to steam at speed through the countryside.