Operator: East Midlands Railway
Date: Friday 7th May 2021
During my 90 minutes in Nottingham I hadn’t actually left the station and had managed to get some decent photos of both of East Midlands Railway’s (EMR) High Speed Trains (HSTs) in all their glory. Seemingly some enthusiasts were following the same schedule of me, as I noticed several of the same faces waiting to board the southbound service.
The HST set for our journey back to London was the less photographed of EMR’s pair, with both power cars wearing a hybrid LNER/EMR colour scheme as opposed to the special liveries worn by the ‘celebrity set’. 43272 and 43309 were the locomotives operating the service, with neither having had a particularly interesting history, with the exception that the latter is depicted as one of Hornby’s 00 Gauge model power cars.
With the ‘fast’ services to and from Nottingham having over a 30-minute stand, there was plenty of time to take photos whilst the train was cleaned and then settle in onboard before departure. As with the journey north, I opted for one of the single seats on one side of the isle to ensure I didn’t get company, although I needn’t have worried as the service was much quieter than the earlier one.
Departing Nottingham on time, we initially travelled through the East Midlands, calling at East Midlands Parkway and Leicester, before continuing south along the Midland Mainline (MML). Shortly after departure one of the onboard crew came through checking our tickets and taking individual drinks orders which were delivered, along with the ‘snack bags’ soon afterwards.
Unfortunately, on this service we were only offered the one drink, with the onboard staff disappearing after Leicester and the guard only appearing for their duties at Market Harborough and Kettering. As we departed the latter station, I was able to catch a glimpse of the new sidings filled with class 360s ready to start their duties on EMR ‘Connect’ services from the May timetable change.
This timetable change is providing a massive improvement in service to residents of Corby who will now receive a half-hourly service to London throughout the day compared to the hourly service now which at times only runs to Kettering. These services will also be the first electric ‘inter-city’ services to run on the MML with the overhead wires having been extended from Bedford.
Unfortunately, despite plans for electrification to be extended across the full length of the MML, delays and cost overruns to the Great Western electrification led to both that project and the MML project being cut back. This has meant the further cascade of diesel class 180s from Hull Trains to fill the gap in EMR’s fleet until the delivery of their new bi-mode class 810 ‘Auroras’.
As we approached St Pancras, I was pleasantly surprised we were running eight or so minutes early, causing a slight pause whilst we waited for a vacant platform. As we pulled into the station and my final journey on a traditional HST drew to a close, the lady nearest the door asked me if I’d mind opening it as she wasn’t confident leaning out of the window. Happily taking on the task for the final time, the doors were unlocked as we ended our journey four minutes ahead of schedule.
Overall Rating 15/25 (read about my rating system here!)