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Britain Trip:

Britain Trip:




            In 2009, the Trolleybus Museum in Sandtoft, UK acquired BBC trolleybus #189 from Edmonton. If you read my Western Canada Trip Report, you’ll know my friend Mark and I rode it in Edmonton in 2007. #189 was the last trolleybus I ever rode in the city as they stopped running trolleybuses a little more than two years after that trip.



Here’s BBC #189 seen in Edmonton on my Western Canada Trip.


            I had thought about seeing it but thought it was highly unlikely. However in September of 2013, I was with a friend and I mentioned #189 going to England and he looked at the museum’s website and saw a photo and gave me the idea of going to see it. After looking online at plane tickets, I began to get interested.


            I’d be riding trains in Europe so I wanted to compare a train ride in North America. My initial plan was flying out of New York, but before I could book, the fight I intended to take was sold out. I came up with a new plan from flying out of Montreal to Paris to ride through the Channel Tunnel as was my mom’s idea.


            Meanwhile, a transit society near Dublin, Ireland acquired a fishbowl from TTC! I was aware of a society expressing interest in acquiring a TTC fishbowl since the fall of 2008. While they didn’t end up acquiring the “infamous” #2855 which led me to my Michigan Trip, the bus they chose; #2290 was one of the buses used on the charter I was attending when I stood up to the driver of it’s slightly older sister #2855. #2855 and #2290 were both running in service on December 16, 2011.



Here’s TTC #2290 on its last day of service. This bus ended up going to Ireland!


            I contacted someone from the society who owns #2290 and arranged to meet up where I would hopefully get to ride it.


            My plan was to ride VIA to Dorval and catch a shuttle to the airport. I would then fly out of Montreal’s Airport to Paris where I would catch a TGV to Lille Europe and transfer to the Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel. I would then take a British train to Doncaster where I would spend a few nights before I headed to London where I’d overnight before catching a flight to Dublin.


            Once in Dublin, I’d spend a day seeing #2290 and other stuff before I flew home to Toronto the day after. This trip unfolded as follows.


June 18, 2014:


            I left home shortly after 10:00 am. My dad gave me a ride to Finch. I arrived at Union a little while later. I had some time, so I wandered around. I made it before 11:00 am. I lined up for VIA train #64. Train #64 was formerly VIA train #60, but was renumbered by VIA coming up with new numbering schemes from their Toronto to Montreal trains. Trains that go through Ottawa are now numbered in the 50 series and trains that take the more direct route through Cornwall are numbered in the 60 series now.


            Boarding began at 11:12 am. I was seated in HEP2 coach #4106; the second last car on the train. The train left on time. As we departed, I filmed the equipment that would be train #44 to Ottawa. Next I filmed train #61 which was led by F40PH-2 #6453; the last F40 to have been rebuilt.


            I tried to log into the Wi-Fi, but it wasn't working at first. It soon started working.


            A westbound VIA train passed, but I was unable to film it. I did film the equipment at Greenwood subway yard. I could make out H-4 #5611 which was still in its passenger configuration but missing its mate which had been converted into a work car.


            The train stopped at Guildwood. We departed at 11:50 am.  As we passed through Whitby, a westbound CN freight passed. We stopped at Oshawa a few minutes later.


            East of Oshawa, our line was running parallel to the CP line.


            The train stopped at Cobourg. I noticed that an additional platform had been built there. We departed Cornwall a little later.


            My ticket was finally taken. I bought lunch. We passed the Memory Junction Railway Museum, but I was unable to film it. The train passed through Trenton Junction. We stopped at Belleville a little while later. VIA train #63 passed, but I was unable to film it.


            The train passed through Napanee. We stopped in Kingston a little while later. VIA train #65 passed, but I was unable to film it. VIA train #47 passed, but I was unable to film it.


            I bought a can of Coke from the VIA attendant as he came by. The train stopped at Brockville. After leaving Brockville, we passed a couple CN freight trains as well as some track vehicles. We stopped at Cornwall a few minutes later.


            The train crossed from Ontario into Quebec. Soon, we were nearing Dorval. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off.


            Train #64 arrived into Dorval on time. I got off and photographed the train.



            I then filmed the train pulling out and took one last photo.



            I then went to the station and waited for the shuttle to the airport. The shuttle came a few minutes later and we departed. It was a short drive to the airport, but we got caught in traffic approaching the terminal. While I was waiting, I photographed an Air Canada plane.



            I then got to the terminal. I photographed the shuttle bus.



            I would be flying Air Transat both ways across the Atlantic.  I went inside the terminal and lined up to check in. The line was very long. While I was in line, I phoned home and left a message saying I was in Montreal.


            When I checked in, I asked if they could ensure my suitcase could come sooner rather than later. They said I could and put a sticker saying “Priority” around it. I then went to clear security.


            The line to clear security was very long, but I had plenty of time. I cleared security with no real problems. I then made my way to my gate. I photographed a few planes.





This Air Canada A319 was painted in the old Trans Canada Airlines livery.



            I saw Air Transat Airbus A330 C-GITS which is nicknamed the Azores Glider. In August of 2001, the plane was flying from Toronto to Portugal when a fuel leak occurred in one of the plane's engines. The pilots ended up making the problem worse by opened a cross feed valve from the other engine which led to the plane running out of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean! Like with Air Canada's Gimli Glider, the pilots were able to glide the plane to a military base in the Azores where the landed successfully.


            An investigation into the incident showed that Air Transat mechanics had used the wrong part on the engine that caused the fuel leak. The airline was found negligent and was seriously fined.


            In the wake of the incident, the CBC comedy show “Royal Canadian Air Farce” made light of the incident in a skit where once of the actors said the following quote, “New promotions from Air Transat and Air Canada: Air Transat offers flights across the Ocean. Air Canada offers flights across the ocean with fuel!”


            Needless to say, I photographed the Azores Glider.


The Azores Glider departs Montreal.


            I have now photographed three “incident planes”: Air Canada’s Gimli Glider, the Jetblue plane that Steven Slater made his infamous exit out of, and now the Azores Glider.


            After finding my gate, I felt hungry. I went had dinner at a restaurant in the airport. After dinner, I bought some maple candy at a “Les Delices de l’Erable” store in the airport. I then returned to my gate just at the plane I would be flying on was arriving.



            I would be flying on an Airbus A310; not as big as an A330. My plane started boarding. I had window seat 12A which was kind of cramped. The plane was a wide body jet with the economy section having three rows of three seats.


            From my plane, I photographed an Air Algerie jet.



            The plane left 25 minutes late. We were held up for a couple minutes because we were blocked by an Air Canada Rouge jet. We had a long taxi out to the runway. My TGV was scheduled to leave at 11:07 am and it was tight already. I did have a plan B if I missed it though.


            When we took off, I filmed the takeoff. I reset all my clocks on me to Paris Time. I pulled down the window shade and tried to nap.


            Flight attendants offered to dinner but since I had eaten before I got on the plane, I declined. Even if I had known what would be served, I would still have eaten at the airport.


            June 19, 2014:


            I tried to sleep on the plane but found it practically impossible. They showed two movies including the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In between movies, they showed the plane's progress. We would be over 30 minutes late into Paris.


            I kept opening the window shade and watched the sun slowly come up.


            Awhile later, breakfast was served on the plane. They showed four TV shows on the plane's in flight movie.


            I was given a survey to fill out. I filled it out since I could win $2000 in travel vouchers with Air Transat. I have plans for how to use it. We were approaching Paris. I filmed the landing. As we were taxiing to the gate, I saw a Concorde on display.


            We got to Terminal 3 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Instead of using a jet way to go into the terminal, they brought stairs up to the plane. I got off and photographed the plane and the Concord on display.




            I had only seen the Concorde twice before; and both times it was a Concorde flown by British Airways. The first time was in 1995 when it flew over my house as I was coming home from school. The second time was in 2003 when I saw it land at Pearson Airport for the last time.


            I boarded a shuttle bus to the terminal. I lined up for customs. I had brought a French-English dictionary with me. However, my passport was just stamped and I was allowed to go to the baggage claim.  Easiest border crossing ever!


            When I got to the baggage claim, I saw my suitcase had already come out. I ran around to the far side and got it. This was the first time my suitcase beat me to the baggage claim!


            I made my way to the SNCF station to see about getting on my TGV. By the time I got there, I just missed the train. Maybe if my plane was on time it would have been different.


            However, the SNCF employees I spoke with directed me to the main station building. To get there, I had to ride the shuttle train to Terminal 2. When I got to terminal 2, a woman was asked me to fill out a form for a charity including how much I was donating. I donated nothing since this trip obviously wasn't cheap. I was able to find the main office and was able to get my tickets changed to the next train which was scheduled to leave just before 1:30 pm.


            While waiting, I photographed another TGV at the station and filmed two TGV trains coupled together passing through the station.




            I saw there was a stationary bicycle that was used to generate electricity to charge peoples' cell phones or other electronic devices. However, the bike I used wasn't working, but it was quite an interesting concept! I could imagine something like that at Union Station in Toronto. Near the stationary bicycles was a piano open to anyone who could play. At one point, someone did start playing.


            I found a working AC outlet in the station. Europe runs on different voltage from North America. However, I was prepared by having bought some converters for my laptop and other electronic devices.


            I also bought lunch from a shop in the station. I went back to waiting. Soon, my TGV was approaching. I saw that it was another double TGV and the train I intended to take was further down the platform. I walked down and as the TGV pulled in, I filmed it.





            The train I was taking was a bi-level TGV. I boarded the train in the second class car and sat down. I noticed the coach was a little hot. While I was waiting for the train to depart, I photographed a commuter train that would take people into downtown Paris.



            My train soon departed. I would be on the train for 50 minutes.  During that time, we only made one stop. The conductor never took my ticket. During the ride, we passed a few TGVs and a couple Eurostar trains heading towards Paris. At one point, I saw a work train on a siding.


            The train arrived at Lille Europe. I got off and photographed the train.





            I then went to board the Eurostar.  There was a queue line that led through a border crossing. When people were allowed through, they made non Europeans go through more stringent questioning, but not much worse than when I ride the Maple Leaf across the U.S.-Canada border. I also had to put my luggage through an X-ray machine. However, I was soon allowed to clear the inspection area and went to a waiting room to await the departure of the Eurostar to Britain.


            I was assigned a specific car and seat. A few minutes before the train arrived, we were allowed down onto the platform. The Eurostar trains have 18 coaches and two locomotives. I would be in the 16th car back from the locomotive. I made my way to where the 16th car would stop. When the train pulled in, I filmed it.



            I boarded the train and sat down the train soon departed. I went to one of the two cafe cars on the train. The train entered the channel tunnel. When we emerged into Britain, I filmed the Le Shuttle terminal. The Le Shuttle gives truckers a way to go into and out of Britain.


            The train made one stop before we departed. We arrived into London's St. Pancras station on time. I got off and photographed the train.



            I followed the crowd into the station. There was a secondary customs inspection that called me in. The agent opened my suitcase, but wasn't too anal. I was soon allowed to go.


            I still had to catch a train to Doncaster.  I went across the street to Kings Cross station.  I lined up to see an agent about getting my tickets changed. I was told I had to pay for a new ticket. I could either pay 39 British pounds and take a train leaving in two hours time or 43 pounds for a train leaving in 16 minutes. I chose the sooner train because I was now tired from jet lag and I wanted to get to Doncaster as soon as possible.


            After getting my ticket and finding my platform. I photographed the train I would take before I got on.



            My train was run by East Coast Rail. I found that individual seats were reserved for people and that if I wanted a seat, I had to wait until the train departed to see if a seat was unoccupied which I found absurd, but I felt I had no choice. The train departed on time. I found a free seat right after we left. My ticket was taken.


            I went to the cafe car but there was nothing available that interested me. I decided to wait until we got to Doncaster just over 90 minutes away.


            The train stopped at Peterborough. The person who I was sitting next to was also going to Doncaster. From the train, I saw what looked like a nuclear power plant with many cooling towers.


            Soon, we were approaching Doncaster. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off.


            My train arrived into Doncaster two minutes late. I got off and photographed the train.




            I filmed the train pulling out. I photographed some equipment near the station.




            I then went downstairs and found a ticket machine. I used it to print my ticket back to London on Monday. I saw there was a Subway restaurant in the station. However, I didn't feel like Subway. However, there was a mall next to the station with a Burger King in the food court. I went there and bought dinner. I then caught a taxi to my hotel which was a Holiday Inn Express. This was the first time I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express since 2003 when I was at SAIT. I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Edmonton so I could ride the BBC trolleybuses; kind of like I'm doing now!


            I checked in to the hotel. By a stroke of luck, my room was the closest to the lobby. I went to my room and discovered that some of the lights and outlets needed me to put my key card into a slot just inside the door to work! I have never seen anything like this.


            I logged into the Wi-Fi and posted that I was at my hotel in Doncaster. I was very tired, so I decided to sleep, even though it was 7:30 pm


June 20, 2014:


            I woke up at 1:20 am. I went online for about 10 minutes and went back to bed.


            I woke up at 9:52 am. I had slept through the free breakfast. I got dressed and headed out for somewhere I could have breakfast.  I eventually got something at a gas station a block away from my hotel. After breakfast, I returned to my room for a little while. I then headed out. I photographed a bus in service.



            I walked further and found a bus stop. I decided to continue walking. I walked across a bridge over the railway line and photographed some EWS locomotives including a couple painted in parent Wisconsin Central (now owned by CN) livery; a little reminder of home.





            I walked for awhile. I found myself on a road with no bus stop or any sort of transit service. I kept walking until I encountered a roundabout. I saw a bus stop on one side and walked there. The next bus came 8 minutes later. I rode it downtown to a mini terminal outside the mall near the train station. I got off and photographed the bus.



            I saw that the bus was operated by First Group; parent of First Student. If you read some of my previous reports, I noted that York Region Transit contracted their northern division to First Student and some of their drivers were THE WORST when it came to photography. After the strike that crippled 60% of YRT's routes from 2-3 months, First Student was one of the three contractors on strike. In January of 2012, YRT canceled their contract with First Student leaving those drivers unemployed. The other contractors soon settled with YRT. Needless to say, I wasn't sad to see First Student loose the contract as I have no respect for transit employees who hassle me for photography when I know I'm allowed to take pictures.


            I went into the mall and looked around in various stores. I saw an HMV in the mall. I also had a massage in a coin operated massage chair.


            After awhile, I walked over to a McDonald's for lunch. After lunch, I photographed some buses.





            I then went back to the mall. I found out where I would be boarding a bus to the trolleybus museum the next day.  I eventually boarded a route 70 bus back to my hotel. I got off at a stop right in front of my hotel I didn't notice earlier. It would really come in handy the next few days.


            I went to my room and worked on this report for a bit.  I went online and learned the last run of the H-6 subway cars in Toronto went off without a hitch. I have now missed the last runs of the H-4s, H-5s, and H-6s. (I missed the last H-4 run due to it being early and I had work that day. I missed the last H-5 run because I was on the BHA trip in Montreal last year).


            I got my bathing suit and prepared to go out again. I had heard there was a water park in the area. I got directions and boarded a bus. I ended up going back to the transit terminal and transferring to a double decker bus on route 55b. I got to the water park and went inside. I got changed. I noticed there were individual changing stalls instead of a men’s change room and a women’s change room. I went there and went down the three waterslides that were open. I also got to swim through some simulated rapids.



            After awhile, I decided I had enough and got changed and left.  I photographed the building where the water park was which is known as “the dome”.



            I then walked back to the bus stop. I waited for the next bus. When it arrived, I photographed it.



            I got on the bus and paid my fare. The fare isn't a flat rate as I found out and there were no transfers when I got to the bus terminal and boarded my bus back to my hotel after I bought dinner.


            After I returned to my hotel, I set the alarm on my cell phone for 8:30 am and called it a night.


Click here for my visits to the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft:     Britain Trip part 2