18 Jan Jason’s 2017 Mystery Tour – Days 9-10

Rapido UK Blog / January 17-18, 2017

Jason’s 2017 Mystery Tour

By Jason Shron

Follow Jason’s Magical Mystery Tour from start to finish:

1 – Roll up for the Mystery Tour!
2 – Reading to New Street to the wilds of Cambridgeshire
3 – In Stockton and Darlington country
4 – Yorkshire to Birmingham via the Wythall Transport Museum
5 – Driving and being run over by buses in Manchester
6 – Crewe-Sheffield-London-Leamington Spa… in one day!
7 – Adventures in Birmingham (via Peterborough)


I’m writing this from the plane home. If you are reading it, it means I arrived in one piece. I will never get used to flying. I flew to China three times last year so you’d think I would have gotten over my fear of leaving the ground. But if I have to leave the ground, I’d rather it was on a train on a bridge.

Speaking of which…

The last working day started in Leamington Spa, where I was lucky enough to catch one of them new-fangled modern things leading a goods train.

Little did I know that while I was photographing the Class 70, some strange person was photographing me!

The thing about Leamington Spa, as I’ve discovered, is it’s very small. Everyone seems to know everyone. Apparently this also applies to VISITORS, as I was only in Leamington Spa a few hours and I was spotted by Phil Parker. That wasn’t actually planned. I had planned to meet Phil about eight hours later and several miles away! (That’s a Phil Parker photo above in case you didn’t see it earlier.)

When I heard the announcement that our train was going to be a long one, I headed to the end of the platform to catch a photo of what I hoped to be a Class 68 and Mk III coaches. Instead I got the usual “DMU of radically varying typefaces.”

Chiltern is a well-run railway, but their completely random application of DMU number typefaces reminds me of CN’s GMD-1. Gotta love these photos of *in service* GMD-1 locomotives:

Thanks to John Sutherland for that. Oh, this one is even classier:

I haven’t taken a Chiltern train since 2004, and on this trip I rode on three of them. And not just because Doctor Who was filmed at Marylebone in late 1969. I won’t start that again…

Though the Birmingham Selfridges was open by 2004, I don’t recall ever seeing it from the vantage point of the Great Western main line.

I hadn’t quite realised how much our Selfridges resembles something from 1960s or 1970s Doctor Who. So I decided to go looking through some old episodes.

It could be a Gelguard from inside a black hole…

Maybe it was constructed by the Zygons in their secret lair underneath Loch Ness…

Or maybe it was built by the Mechonoids on the planet Mechanus…

Or maybe it was part of the Master’s TARDIS…

Or maybe it’s a long-lost relative of the Jaggaroth…

I had trouble settling on just five examples, as there are about a hundred other Doctor Who episodes it would fit into so easily. Therefore, I have concluded that the Brummie Selfridges is the coolest building ever.

Moor Street Station isn’t too shabby either…

Birmingham city centre is chock full of buses, including these pretty black ones:

I must be making the bus nuts cringe. “A pretty black one? A PRETTY BLACK ONE? That, you insect, is a Volvo Alexander Scania Wright Dennis Enviro4000000. How dare you just call it a PRETTY BLACK ONE???”

Right. It’s black and it’s pretty.

Birmingham New Street station is a great place to photograph trains, but you can’t actually see what you’re photographing as the wall is too bl**dy tall.

In this photo there is, erm, a CrossCountry Class 170 off to the left. Really.

Here’s a Mummy Bus and a Baby Bus:

I took an entirely different CrossCountry Class 170 to Peterborough (again!) to meet first with the sales manager and the editor of… Buses Magazine!

Sam Clark and Alan Millar were mightily impressed with our new 1:87 New Look bus, and I’m glad I got the chance to show it to them. Immediately after that photo was taken I put the bus down and heard a “clop” as it flew off the table and landed on the floor. There is now a 1:87 windscreen wiper and mirror somewhere on the floor at Waitrose in Peterborough.

My next meeting was supposed to be with Ben Jones at BRM. I sent him an email before I came and wondered why he hadn’t responded. I only later discovered he had left! So I met with sales manager Bev Machin and publisher Steve Cole. I got a nice photo of the three of us.

The fourth person in the photo is actually my luggage, as I bought that new suitcase for my Doctor Who books. How could you mistake an RDC for a person?

Yet another CrossCountry Class 170 (my fourth this trip) took me back to the Midlands, where I was met by the famous Phil Parker and the equally famous Andy York. We thought we’d be clever and drive into town from Coleshill Parkway to avoid the traffic. Unfortunately it seems there was a mass exodus of people from the east end of Birmingham to Spark Hill, as we were stuck in a slow-moving clump of traffic for three days.

We finally arrived at one of my favourite vegetarian curry places – Deepali’s on Alfred Road. The chilli chips were out of this world. We were the only customers. I’m not sure what sugar daddy is keeping that restaurant open, but I’ll enjoy it while it’s there.

There are no more “people posing in chairs” photos. I promise.

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

Today I said goodbye to Leamington Spa as I boarded ANOTHER CrossCountry Voyager, this time for Reading.

You know you’ve travelled on a lot of CrossCountry Voyagers when it’s the third time you’ve had the same first class coach attendant. It was that really tall, really nice, really thin lady. If you’ve met her, you will instantly know whom I am talking about.

(By the way, does anyone actually travel first class who hasn’t got a cheap BritRail pass or an employee/retiree pass? Not that I saw…)

On the Great Western HST to Paddington I also had the same lady I’ve had once before. She’s rather portly and old and she waddles down the coach like a penguin. She’s very nice. For a penguin. If my feminist wife sees this she’s going to kill me…

I guess I had better get used to travelling up and down the UK. Rapido and the British model railway market are now inextricably linked, and that’s the way we like it. It means I’ll be back soon for some more punishment. I really have to stop scheduling multiple meetings in multiple cities in one day.

I hope to see more of you in the summer. I’m driving a trolleybus at Sandtoft! I mean, I’m flying in for many more important meetings…..

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