TRAVEL BARGAINS don’t come much more generous than the German Government’s decision to get people back on public transport over the summer by pumping €2.5 billion into the state’s rail and bus services and offering a €9 ticket that gives an entire month’s travel across the country.
Ever on the look-out for cheap travel opportunities I decided to buy a €9 ticket for the month of August and, in the first of two planned trips over that month, spend a few days re-visiting the remarkable Harz (HSB) narrow gauge system, on which the €9 ticket is valid for all services except those up the Brocken mountain.
Returning to one of the last two outposts of semaphores on the South Wales Main Line, my aim on Friday, 5 August 2022 had been to photograph new TfW Class 231 “FLIRT” trains passing the doomed semaphores at Pembrey & Burry Port while on test runs between Swansea and Carmarthen.
But despite seeing a handful of the new Stadler units on Cardiff Canton depot as I passed by on my way to Pembrey, and regular Swansea-Carmarthen paths being shown on Realtime Trains, none of the new units was in action and passing services remained the usual diet of Class 153 and 175 units.
A day after travelling Manchester’s entire Metrolink system in a single day it was time to finally take a trip on a fabled rail service that does not have quite the same frequency as the tram network and sample the once-a-week Northern service from Stalybridge to Stockport and back.
Among Parliamentary trains that are run simply to avoid the costly closure process, this route is up with the best of them, with what for many years had been a single journey from Stockport on a Friday now a Saturday morning round trip from Stalybridge, offering passengers a full half-hour to appreciate the delights of Stockport station, before returning to Stalybridge.
Inspired by my success at travelling the whole of the Merseyrail network in a single day (feature: 7 April 2022), this time my challenge on a trip to Manchester (29 July 2022) was to ride the entire Metrolink tram network in one day, with a four-zone £4.90 off-peak day ticket.
As described below, it is a challenge I managed to complete in exactly nine hours, although that did involve saving time by taking a bus between two Metrolink termini and also ending up at the place I was spending the night (Ashton-under-Lyne) and not back at Piccadilly where I had begun.