After a couple of months absence, I’m back on my quest to visit all 76 stations in the East Midlands Ranger Area. Since I went to Bingham and Aslockton back in July, I have only been on a train once since then. In August, I took a ride up to Willington and then walked back to Burton on Trent on a balmy summer’s evening.
Also since I last wrote in this blog, Burton station is undergoing renovations to the car park/bus stop area outside, which makes it trickier to get into the station on foot, and impossible by car, because the road is closed. In addition to that, the train operating company East Midlands Trains is no more, and East Midlands Railway has replaced them.
It may be Friday 13th, but as a great philosopher once said, “I made a conscious decision, because of Stevie Wonder, to not be superstitious”. I wasn’t taking any chances, though, as I made my way to Burton on Trent station while rubbing my lucky rabbit’s foot and with my pockets stuffed full of lucky white heather. While the outside of Burton station is being spruced up, the station itself remains untouched, despite the news reported in the local paper earlier this year that a big refurbishment was happening this summer.
I caught the train to Derby. It was a fine and sunny late summer/early autumn day. I had around half an hour to spend at Derby station, which I spent just walking up and down platform 6 while I waited for my first opportunity to travel by East Midlands Railway. The train soon arrived, on time, so that’s a good start for EMR. It was one of their big Class something-or-other trains (I have no idea what train is what, and no inclination to start learning).
I was originally bound for Loughborough, but while looking at the National Rail App on my phone (with free Wi-Fi, courtesy of my new best friends at East Midlands Railway), I found I could catch my train for Barrow-upon-Soar at East Midlands Parkway station instead of Loughborough. This was an opportunity to tick off another station on the list, so I went for it.
What can I say about East Midlands Parkway station? Not a lot, as I was only there for five minutes.
The station was opened in 2009 and is located near the village of Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire. It was designed as a park and ride station, enabling passengers to get buses and taxis to East Midlands Airport, four miles away. It is next to the imposing cooling towers of Ratcliffe Power Station. As I said, I was only there for a few minutes, and my train to Barrow-upon-Soar soon arrived. It was one of those Class Thingy, small rickety old trains. In fact, it made a strange creaking sound all the way to Barrow. Hopefully some of the £600 million that EMR are investing in the railways will be spent on some industrial strength WD-40.
The train creaked its way through the beautiful Leicestershire countryside, through Loughborough and on towards Barrow-upon-Soar. Upon exiting the station, I had a walk around some residential streets and down the main High Street. I made the now-traditional stop at a Co-op shop to buy a sandwich for lunch, and then made my way towards the River Soar. I stopped at a small park to eat my sandwich (cheese ploughman’s, in case you were interested).
I then walked down a pathway next to the river. There were people out enjoying the sunshine, walking dogs and enjoying the peace and quiet. I soon found myself back in the streets of Barrow, and then I headed back to the station.
I was either a few minutes late or almost an hour early for my train (you decide for yourself), so I had quite a lot of time to spend alone at the station. Barrow-upon-Soar railway station was first opened in 1840 as “Barrow”. It was renamed in 1871, and closed almost 100 years later in 1968. The original station buildings were demolished in the same year. In 1994, it was rebuilt and re-opened as part of the Ivanhoe Line project.
Looks-wise, it’s very similar to a lot of the stations on the Ivanhoe Line. It’s almost as if the people that built them just bought a load of off-the-shelf flat pack railway stations and put them up. It has no step-free access from the road to the platforms, just a footbridge spanning the two platforms. There is a small waiting shelter on platform 1, but no seats or shelter on platform 2. The station also has help points on each platform, a Permit to Travel machine and a mysterious strange blue box which made a constant beeping sound.
At first, I stayed on platform 2, but there were high-speed trains flying past on the other side of the platform every so often, which was quite unsettling, so I crossed back over the footbridge to the relative safety of platform 1. Luckily it was a fine and sunny day, so I just sat and worked on my suntan until my train to Nottingham arrived a while later, when I crossed back over to platform 2.
My train to Nottingham was a couple of minutes late, but it arrived in Nottingham on time. I disembarked and took in the beautiful architectural splendour of the station as I walked up the stairs, along the footbridge and back down to platform 6. My train home was waiting on the platform, so I boarded it and travelled the miles back to Burton station, and then on to home.
That’s 24 stations out of 76 ticked off the list, so I’m almost a third of the way through. I’m not sure where or when my next train trip will be, but thanks for reading this, and hopefully I will be back for another one soon.