Free to go… home? With Transport for Wales
Escape From The Village
In this journey
- I want time off. I will not be stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!
- Escaping Birmingham, Transport for Wales Birmingham New Street to Porthmadog
- Travelodge Porthmadog
- Exploring Porthmadog
- Welcome to your Village – Portmeirion
- Free to go… home? Back to Birmingham with Transport for Wales
- Aftermath: Free to Go, or Free to Stay?
With 5 pm coming, I would make my own exit from the Village. I did not need a rocket set off to escape the village, or escape in a truck … rather I walked out of the place.
Exiting The Village, you pass Castle Deudraeth on the way. Or as The Prisoner fans know it – The Hospital.
And no, no white weather balloon got in my way as I made my way down the access road.
Now, there was a minor little problem Remember that mile and bit walk to the village? Well now, I would have to do that in reverse – along with a bit more to reach Minnifford station.
The words I was using at this point were not kind ones.
Let me get to the end of the road first…
Some wonderful views on the walk.
However, I powered on with the walk down the access road, which at this point felt more than a mile.
Eventually, I made it onto the public highway and road… and remembering that I had another half mile to walk to Minnifford station.
Minffordd station is down there…. somewhere.
Station this time, Not Portmeirion…
My legs started filing a complaint at this point, as I slowly made my way to the station. With more than 30 minutes to spare.
The “Heritage” railway station
The “Mainline” station is underneath.
Minnifford Station is a little odd in some respects – as it is shared both by the Ffestiniog Railway and National Rail.
And I’ll let you guess which is the larger one.
Correct, the heritage railway. This has two long platforms, compared to the National Rail station that can just about fit a two-car Express Sprinter.
Minnifford “Main Line” Railway station.
Nonetheless, it was the preferred place to spend 30 minutes to allow my legs to recover, and my feet to dry out a little after the dip in the pools on the beach.
And watch a little train steam by.
Ffestinininong Railway service cuffing through.
And I was pretty much the only person on the platform. I was contemplating heading back up to Porthmadog to get a coffee… but seeing the next train was my train to Machynlleth… I decided against it.
It’s a long way home (middle left to middle right practically).
On-time. Allegedly. With lots of vegetation growth on the mainline.
Eventually, the Class 158 sprinter turned up for the first part of the journey home.
Minnifford – Machynlleth
Transport for Wales, Class 158 Express Sprinter
We’re back in Express Sprinter land again, with two cars operating this service between Phiwelli and Machynlleth. I confirmed that this train would operate to just Machynlleth – or if the train would be connecting to the Aberystwyth service to make a four-car service.
The train again had the unrefurbished Arriva Trains Wales interior – meaning if you wanted power for a laptop, you would need to sit at a table seat.
The train took the slow, but scenic route along the Cambrian Coast Line, as it slowly edged back into an area where land fully flanked it
Wi-Fi was available again on this train – however, it did give out after 50Mb, forcing me back on to 4G/3G for this segment of the journey – enough to get out more than an article on the blog, whilst lining up a second one.
There’s no escape from any Village.
Pulling into Dovey Junction, it was time to get my bits together, as we would be arriving at Machynlleth soon enough.
We were informed that the train would not be going forward to Birmingham, so all passengers were asked to leave at Machynlleth to change trains.
Off you go to bed for the night.
Thankfully it was dry with a bit of sun at Machynlleth. Passengers eventually emptied and the train shunted off to the depot for the evening.
Within 5 minutes another train turned up – a two-car portion from Aberystwyth, which would form the onward service to Birmingham New Street.
Another wild Express Sprinter Appeared!
Machynlleth – Birmingham via Shrewsbury
Transport for Wales, Class 158 Express Sprinter
Thankfully, the train was pretty empty – allowing me to grab a table seat for the next part of the journey.
Different moquette (Transport for Wales vs the previous Arriva Trains).
However, it seems that I had lucked out on this Express Sprinter – with the train having a minor refurbishment inside akin to their Class 175 refit. This meant new seat covers that haven’t been through five different wars.
In addition to Wifi (capped again at 50Mb), there were USB sockets at every seat. Table seats as well as having two USB sockets also had a mains outlet. The perfect place to get another article written up, whilst doing a little research on the changes Her Majesty’s government plan on making on the 19th of July.
The previous train I was on, resting for the evening, as it is prepared for the next day of service.
From here, the train made its way towards Shrewsbury, going through Mid-Wales, clearing Carswes, through Newport and Welshpool, and finally taking its time coming into Shrewsbury, the coastline replaced with the green countryside.
And with good reason – as our train connected to another two-car unit to make a four-car unit for the trip into Birmingham New Street
Coming into Shrewsbury, with a pair of Class 153 trains resting.
As the sun set over an enjoyable day, it was a typical journey I’ve done many times before, passing through Wellington, stopping at Telford Central (reminding me of my 8 pm train from Telford as the timetable was crap), stopping at Wolverhampton (home for five years).
The train paused at Smethwick Galton Bridge. I was tempted to bail here, but 1) the steps didn’t look too friendly) and 2) Smethwick Galton Bridge is a bit further away than New Street from the flat.
Though it was a good warning to pack up my trash at that point. And no, I don’t remove luggage tags.
Eventually, the train entered the tunnel under the National Indoor Area, popping out the other side at New Street Station.
Ah. Birmingham dirty air, filled with red diesel fresh from trains. Lovely.
A lot of people were waiting for this train, as its next run would be up to Holyhead, to connect with the boat service. I might have written something about that in the past…
Exiting the train, it was a short walk to the escalator up to concourse level, and finally, to the taxi rank for the short ride home.
Whilst I could have taken a bus for the final part home, I was not in the mood for a 20-minute wait for one.
Another 20 minutes and I was outside the flat – another adventure done and dusted.
Finally: Free to Go, or Free to Stay?
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