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Waterside Echo

Is it just me ?

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Waterside Echo

From the early 50`s up until the mid 60`s I was a keen train spotter, I lived near the Neepsend engine sheds so it was mainly on that stretch of the Great Central Railway from Sheffield Victoria to Manchester that we would wait eagerly for the north bound expresses to pass by.

Every summer along with my brother and parents we would make many enjoyable train journeys until I started working on the buses in 1965. Forty years would then pass before I was make my next train journey. It would be 2005 when I found myself buying a ticket at Sheffield station just to travel to Leeds and I was [for a few minutes at least] very impressed with what I saw, but once on the station platform it was a different story with kids riding around on push bikes, people begging, and litter everywhere.

On the track there were more weeds and rubbish than the parson preached about and not a transport official anywhere in sight. When my train arrived it was being pulled by the filthiest motive power unit you could imagine, both windscreens looked as though they had not been washed for weeks with the drivers visibility limited to the bit that the one working wiper provided, and though it would have taken just a couple of minutes with a brush and bucket to clean them, it was not to be.

After boarding the train it was quite clean inside with comfortable seats so I settled down and looked forward to my journey.The first thing that struck me once under way was the poor state of the railway infrastructure, and the trackside just looking like a junk yard with abandoned buildings and bits of old track just laying about.

Our first stop was Meadowhall and most of the people who got on there alighted at Chapeltown but where was the conductor ? It was not until Wakefield that he made his first appearance after countless passengers must have alighted without paying, and I could not help but think about the time I was reported by an inspector for just one missed fare on my overloaded bus.

On arriving in Leeds I waited until the train was empty and politely asked the conductor the reason for the delay in taking fares, and this was his answer. Company policy states that passenger safety comes first, running to time is second, and fare collecting comes third. He told me that as the train was nearly full when leaving Sheffield he thought it unsafe for himself and passengers to be taking fares.


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