An Irish Aviation Enthusiasts day out
Night trains to Holyhead
In this adventure
- Cheap flights? Not at £95 one way…
- Birmingham to Holyhead with London Northwestern Railway and Transport for Wales
- Irish Ferries Holyhead to Dublin Ferryport (Club Class)
- Morning Adventures in Dublin
- Irish Aviation Enthusiasts Day hosted by Dublin Airport
- Back to being a passenger in T2/T1
- Aer Lingus Regional EI3276 Dublin to Birmingham
- 25 hours and 36 minutes later
- Embracing the Community
Off to Holyhead
Getting out of the flat, I had a small, annoying problem – my little Lenovo IdeaPad (the one that is used for text bashing for this blog primarily) decided that updating itself would be a fine thing to do.
Annoying, but security updates are a done thing.
I dragged it out of the flat and into an Uber- and found Windows had decided that existing was no longer a possibility, and this would be the most perfect time to crash, burn and go into a boot loop.
And all of a sudden, all my hopes of getting any typing done on this trip vanished in a cloud of Lenovo shaped dust thanks to Microsoft.
What was doubly annoying – I now had a bricked laptop to cart around with me as well. I don’t need to tell you how annoying that was.
However, I was at the train station, had no USB drives, no second computer to recover this one – I was stuck. I therefore did what I would normally do in this case. Scream and move on.
Arriving into Birmingham New Street, I grabbed my tickets out of the vending machine (as booking SailRail is £5 cheaper as an advance ticket than buying it on the day).
With those ticket portions in hand, I headed downstairs to the platform.
By the time I had been on the platform a few minutes, the train went to being on-time to be being delayed thanks to a late local service. This wasn’t ideal – as I had a very short connection at Crewe I needed to make.
Eventually, the train crawled into the platform. It was time to get going.
Train 1: Birmingham New Street to Holyhead
London Northwestern Railway, Class 350
I headed aboard the train and found a seat near the exits. Not essential on this train – but helpful for Crewe (especially as I had no idea where the train would be going from in Crewe).
In terms of seating, this train has the Express/Medium distance configuration – in that, it is 2 – 2 seating throughout (as opposed to the commuter version of this train which have 2-3 style seating.
Except this train has had multiple pieces of vinyl placed on it… but no interior change from when they were introduced in 2005. As such, the moquette on the seats is more than a little tired
Either way, I was happy I got a seat. It meant I could try and recover this borked laptop.
This is Microsoft for “You do know how to make a Windows Recovery Image, don’t you? (PS. If you don’t, head to https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/download/windows-usb-dvd-download-tool to learn how).
And ladies and gentlemen, would it come back to life?
Of course not.
Not even with the boot recovery options. Thank you, Microsoft once again for your quality products and updates.
Nonetheless, whilst the train was operating a stopping pattern, it was going at a fair pace when it passed Wolverhampton – with it pushing hard as it raced between Stafford and Crewe.
This suited me.
A ticket check was carried out, and soon enough, the train pulled into the nexus of the North West – Crewe.
Crewe is a railway town at its core. Its a major axis point on the West Coast Mainline that has branches on it south to Derby and the Welsh Marches, whilst at its northern points it has connections to Manchester and Holyhead (as well as the main London-Glasgow route that runs through).
I bundled out of the train and quickly worked out where I would be going next – thankfully straight up the platform to a bay platform where the direct train to Holyhead was waiting.
Crewe to Holyhead
Transport for Wales, Class 175/0
Seat 8, Coach A.
I headed aboard – and found the train to be pretty packed – and some rather loud music playing.
This had the makings of a long 2-hour ride on the North Wales Lines – especially as this was a two-car train-set.
The train itself had been through a refurbishment, with Transport for Wales taking on themselves to refurbish the train – so it has mod-cons like power outlets and wall-mounted USB outlets.
At last – someone is getting the message and are installing these outlets. There are four USB outlets in this one, but even the airline seats had two USB sockets.
Wi-Fi was provisioned on train, which is welcome to see.
It’s a small thing, but if you’re not going to be near a wall for a while – it does help.
What was not welcome to see was the data cap – a grand total of 20mb.
I suppose I get it to save someone over-using a link – but 20mb in todays age doesn’t cut it in the least. At least the 4G signal quality was pretty good – or it was good enough to watch a documentary on the train
What documentary I hear you ask?
It’s Blue dah da dee dah dah….
Thankfully, the train driver made good time to Chester – where most of the train emptied out. Except those playing the loud music.
The guard came along, and they obeyed for a while. It wasn’t until a while later where the British Transport police boarded the train did they attempt to turn the music down.
And turn it up after they left.
It took a few attempts to silence them – but they got off at Bangor. Well, at least they wouldn’t be making a bunch of noise at the ferry terminal.
The train made its way through a few local stops – before finally arriving at the Port of Holyhead. With this being one of the last trains of the night, everything had closed down for the evening.
Now, with me at Holyhead, I had choices. I could either stay on the normal decks or upgrade to Club Class to make the ferry journey a little more comfortable.
With a three-hour journey ahead, and minimal rest on the train thanks to my new musical friends, I put up the £16 upgrade fee in the vague hope I would find a sofa to crash out on, on the ferry.
With that done, there’s not a to-do at Holyhead apart from wait.
And it was a waiting game. With the Ferry not due to go till 2:50 in the morning, I had a clear hour to wait on the minimal benches.
It gave me time to watch the Stena Line passengers get on their way. Eventually, with an hour to go before departure, an agent came out to check people in.
People lined up of course. Politely. Then there was one family that pushed in because one of their clan had queued up.
And a few others pushed in too. So, politeness is out of the window here too.
I checked in, with my passport presented. With tickets for both the lounge and the ferry ride issued, I was cleared to proceed with security.
Apart from a couple of very bored people who waived me through – that was the entire security process.
I was in the waiting lounge for departure- where there a lot more seats to wait. I took a seat to wait out the next 20 or so minutes. Again – there’s not a lot to do than wait.
It’s pretty clear that car and truck traffic are the major consumers of traffic here, with barely a busload of passengers would be going as foot passengers to Dublin that night.
We were eventually allowed to board a bus. Again, there was a short delay as the past foot passengers rushed aboard.
With that done, the bus began a long drive from the train station-port building to the ferry.
Another ticket check was carried out when we left the bus. And yet the bus felt familiar.
I turned around. Guess who used to operate it.
I can’t escape them anywhere in the world.
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