West Midlands Meetup: a write-up

On Easter weekend I went to the UK once again, this time for a meetup with 3 friends I met in a UK railway focused Discord server. This post will detail my journey there and what happened at the meetup itself.

Going to the UK

A Southeastern Class 375
The departure boards at London Bridge
A commemorative plaque at Bromsgrove

Tom left to head home at Birmingham New Street, leaving only 3 of us. I got about 20 minutes of sleep on the way to Bromsgrove – quite needed after waking up at 04:45. At Bromsgrove we walked to a KFC to grab some lunch, but had to take it with us back to the station, as our next train, a was due in 14 minutes. At this point we had a 2 minute connection at Droitwich Spa, assuming our train ran as timetabled. Our next train was to Stourbridge Junction, leaving on the opposite platform from Droitwich Spa. Unfortunately our train, a Class 170 “Turbostar”, was delayed due to trespassers on the railway, and we saw the connecting train, a Class 172 “Turbostar” leave from the station as ours pulled in.

By now it was 16:24, and although we had caught up to our plan since we didn’t go to Longbridge as planned, missing this train ended up completely cancelling all upcoming plans, as the service was very infrequent. We were planning to go from Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town on a Class 139 “Parry People Mover (PPM)” and then go near the Welsh border at Telford. As we were waiting at Droitwich Spa and Andrew was drafting up new plans, we noticed a train heading towards Stourbridge Junction due at 16:56 – this train would be our last chance to take the PPM, and we would make it back to Birmingham in time to head back to London if we skipped Telford.

A passing Turbostar at Droitwich Spa

Speakers at the station announced delays of this train due to trespassers from earlier, and the delays were well over 30 minutes. Eventually our fate was sealed and the train was cancelled. Andrew once again made a new plan, and we decided to go south to Worcester instead, by taking a Class 172 “Turbostar” to Worcester Shrub Hill. As Jack hadn’t bought any food from KFC earlier, he was pleased that we would be leaving the station and going for a walk in the city, so he could grab some water. We got to Worcester Foregate Street station at around 17:30, where Andrew was hoping to go up to Stourbridge Junction still and catch the PPM. However, the next train wasn’t until 17:48, and it was delayed as well due to earlier trespassers. Our train to London left Birmingham Moor Street at 19:15, and the same train Andrew was planning to take would get us there by 19:02 – there was nothing else to do at this point than head home on a Class 172 “Turbostar” – the 6th one today.

Class 165 at Shrub Hill
The train home: A Class 168

Later I headed to my gate, got on the Ryanair plane EI-DCG and fell asleep before we even left the gate – reserving a window seat turned out to be a good idea, as noone would bother me when trying to get in or out. I woke up a few times for a few seconds during the flight, but stayed asleep until landing in Riga. I arrived early again, by about 30 minutes, and after clearing passport control at Riga I decided to go to the city centre for about 7 hours while waiting for my coach to Tartu. I walked around the railway station area, had lunch, rode trams and buses and took some photos of old Soviet trains in the train station. At 18:45 I headed for Tartu on a Lux Express coach and made it home at about 23:10.

A DR1A train in Riga