Sunday, July 15, 2012

Manchester and Ely

Wednesday, 4th July 2012: I forgot to mention when I bought my ticket on the Monday for my epic rail journey the I asked for a return ticket coming back on the 8:39am train (or some similar sort of time). She looked up the price and said “oh no that’s far too much, come back on a later train”. Well strictly speaking I was not paying for the  journey and had to get back early afternoon for an appointment. But it turned out that I could catch a train after 9am and that would qualify as non-peak, so I did and saved an unspecified amount of money!

I suppose the alternative would have been to travel before the rush hour, I didn’t think of that until just now, I probably wouldn’t have bothered though as there is invariably a dinner and “discussions in the bar” after the day of meetings. Although by that time I had switched to soft drinks – I must be getting old.

Catching the later train meant a leisurely stroll back down Charles Street to the Oxford Road Railway station in Manchester. Those who know Manchester might well realise that I could just as easily have caught the same train from the central Piccadilly Station, slightly later at the same ticket price. The place I was staying was equidistant and I prefer the smaller station.

So it was back down Charles Street where I took a picture of the River Medlock (more pictures) looking south (ish). The water looks brown –  so I guess it has a fair bit of silt in it as a result of the recent rains.

River Medlock seen from Charles Street, Manchester

Charles Street was still closed to through traffic, here is a closer view of the building that was on fire on the previous Sunday.

Scene of Sunday’s Fire – Charles Street Manchester

And in the railway arches on New Wakefield Street is some graffiti and a pleas to sign a petition to keep the art work by Hotchpotch.

Graffiti under the railway arches by the Thirsty Scholar, Manchester

From this direction there is a shortcut to the station along Wakefleld Street (as opposed to New Wakefield Street.  It isn’t the most picturesque of routes – but a shortcut is a shortcut. If I had been on my bike I would have taken the road way, (Station Approach) and avoided the steps.

An entrance to Oxford Road Railway Station, Manchester

As you can see quite a few steps.

An entrance to Oxford Road Railway Station, Manchester


One of the convenient things about this station is that the platform I needed (4) was right next to the entrance. Despite my leisurely stroll I had some time to spare (even after buying a newspaper and breakfast).

As you can see the cycle parking in inside the station – between platforms 4 and 5. According the the National Rail enquiries it has 4 hoops on platform 4/5 – I think they are under-selling it.

Cycle Storage Oxford Road Railway Station Manchester

Across the way a “Student Castle” is in the final stages of construction. due for completion in 2012 it will have 33 storeys and provide 520 beds. Other places in the empire cost  £125 - £179 per week (and require a 51-week let) so I don’t suppose it will be cheap.

Student castle Accommodation near Oxford Road Railway Station, Manchester

I did have time on my hands, although I ought to be fair – the train was on time. I can see why after 9am is no longer peak travel time.

Looking down Platform 4: Oxford Road Railway Station, Manchester

And this is looking the other way. The train starts at Liverpool Lime Street and comes in from this direction.

Looking up Platform 4: Oxford Road Railway Station, Manchester

A minor complication of this train is that it consists of more carriages than will get to Ely (and beyond to Norwich). A further complication is that the front of the train changes ends at Sheffield. So I had no idea whether I would stay in the same seat or not for the journey – I did. One other benefit is that for the first half of the journey there is also a buffet trolley. I remember when the Cambridge to London Kings Cross train used to have a buffet trolley.

I would assume that as the Cambridge to London (King’s X) train got so busy with people cramming the aisles during peak hours the buffet trolley was impossible to push through the train.

One of the challenges of taking pictures from buses, trains, planes and automobiles is that the windows are often not very clean. My window wasn’t too bad and as we went through and stopped at Peterborough I took this picture of the cycle parking. I thought at first it was March (the station not the month and a station which has friends),  but the subsequent pictures mean that I must be wrong.

Cycle Parking – Peterborough Railway Station (on the platform)

As you approach Whittlesey (where the station is called Whittlesea) there are wind turbines in what used to be brick works. (I think these are associated with the McCains chip factory.)

Whittlesey Wind Turbine

Two wind turbines on one picture – just!

Whittlesey Wind Turbines

“Next door” to the turbines are two chimneys also part of the brickworks – the blurry bricks in the foreground give it away along with the Water Tower.

Brick Works near Whittlesey

As the next stop, after Peterborough is Ely the train then speeds up which is why the next few pictures are somewhat blurred – alright, a lot blurred.

Linseed (blue) growing in the Fens

As you can see the more distant buildings look better (sharper) than the field in the foreground.

Linseed (white) growing in the Fens

I took quite a few Linseed pictures – they were mostly complete rubbish, rather than just rubbish. After passing March and Manea were the Washes.  This is pretty washy country and the roads can get flooded so there is a call for a new causeway for Welney. (Whittlesey is to get some extra flood defence to the tune of £21 million but not 1,086 solar panels).

The train arrived on time at Ely, which has a tunnel under the platforms which makes it much, much easier for people with bikes or pushchairs or wheelchairs or suitcases with wheels.

Apparently it could do with better routes to the station though – Ely Cycling Campaign.  It is great to see people getting involved and with support from the Greater Anglia rail company.

Ely Cycling campaign Post – Ely Railway Station

I will leave you with some spectacular pictures of Mars and an electric car with a claimed 500-mile range – although it seems to use bio-methanol to boost the battery life. I still feel we need to get more people per motor vehicle to reduce congestion and pollution and cost of transport. Let’s not waste money on the roads (such as the A14 upgrade) without taking a long-term view. Here is the Do the Math perspective on Peak Oil (a website suggested by MikeC).

The conclusion we (collectively) don’t seem to have a plan – we should be worried.


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