My life as a low-grade train spotter
 

At the end of October 2007, I inadvertently became a train spotter. I read an article in my son Daniel's Hornby Collectors Club magazine about a new train set featuring Class 390 locomotives. It started out as a review of the set, and then turned in a reminiscence about the Advanced Passenger Train, the break-up and sale of various bits of tilting train technology, and the subsequent use of that technology in the Class 390. It concluded with the names and running numbers of the 53 trains commissioned.

Class 390 trains are Virgin Pendolinos, which I had earlier discovered was my favourite train. Travelling down to London the next morning I couldn't help noticing the number and name of the train I was on, and realised I had overnight become a train spotter. A low-level Virgin-Pendolinos-I-have-travelled-on train spotter, but a train spotter nonetheless.

Of the 53 trains built, 52 are in service. The missing one is 390-033 City of Glasgow which was derailed at Grayrigg in February 2007. It was subsequently written off, although parts of it are now used for crew training.

Being an attic-based freelancer, I don't travel that often so I've no idea how long my occasional trips to London will take me to tick off the full list of trains in service, or if indeed such a thing is possible. Only one way to find out, I suppose.

Turns out it is entirely possible. Travelling from Birmingham and London and back again slightly less that once a week, I rode the final train I needed, 390-016 Virgin Champion, on 28 July 2011. My quest is over!

August 2011 Update : The quest begins anew!

September 2011 Update : And ends again!

March 2012 Update : My Train Quest Renewed

April 2012 Update : Quest Success