Blog

The latest Velocity updates. If you want more details about what the committee are working on, head over to committee meetings.

Grand Central Cab Ride

January 27th, 2017

Thanks to a former Chair of Velocity, in partnership with Grand Central Trains, a couple of lucky competition winners were able to ride in the cab of a Class 43 High Speed Train from York to London Kings Cross. Chair Peter Nathanail, who accompanied the group, talks about the experience. After a very early 03:30 start, involving a Megabus coach to Leeds and then a Transdev CityZap bus from Leeds to York, we arrived at York railway station in good time for our 10:27 service to London. We were met by a very hospitable gentleman from Grand Central, who arranged teas and coffees in the buffet car and then took us to meet the driver. There was no doubt that this was a proper train; HSTs formed the backbone of the British Rail InterCity network, and even 30 years later they are still delivering exceptional levels of speed, comfort and reliability.

Upon getting into the cab we were welcomed by the driver, who was curious to know how we had managed to get ourselves such a coveted experience. I took the second-mans seat for the first part of the journey, gaining a drivers-eye view of the southbound East Coast Main Line. As we left York we picked up speed, and as we left the confines of the station we were soon travelling at speeds approaching 125 miles per hour. The driver gave us a run down of the equipment in the cab, demonstrating the dead man’s pedal and the Automatic Warning System that alerts drivers to red and amber signals. Each of these signals must be acknowledged by the driver to avoid the brakes being applied, whilst green signals merely produce an audible "ding" to inform the driver that the road ahead is clear.

I vacated my second mans seat halfway through the journey to allow someone else to rest their legs, but continued to enjoy fantastic views as we sped through stations such as Newark Northgate, Grantham and Peterborough at high speed. The non-stop nature of the trip really added to the experience. All too soon we were arriving into London Kings Cross, but fortunately after a quick lunch break we were able to return northbound in the cab of the 12:53 service.

The return journey was just as spectacular, with a different driver sharing stories of his time in the rail industry. He pointed out various diversionary routes used by Grand Central in the event of planned or emergency line closures, and explained the procedure surrounding this; all drivers must retain knowledge about every section of track that they driver over. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately!) the line was clear for our return journey, so no diversions were necessary, and we arrived right time at 14:47. The opportunity to see the East Coast Main Line from the best seat of the train was simply too good to pass up, and I am very grateful to Grand Central for arranging it for us.

Photo credit: Grand Central

Behind the scenes at East Midlands Airport

January 21st, 2017

On the 11th January, 6 Velocity members travelled to nearby East Midlands Airport for a behind the scenes airport tour, made possible by the EMA Community Relations team. The trip was organised by Flying Secretary Aaron Stein, who writes here. The airport, which handles the most cargo moved on dedicated freighters in the UK, boasts a long single runway, modern terminal facilities and a world-class cargo hub run by DHL - cargo hub tours are planned for later in 2017.

Our tour included a visit to both landside and airside areas of the airport, with a highlight for many being a chance to look around EMA’s Air Traffic Control Tower and radar rooms – where commercial and general aviation traffic is monitored and controlled in the region and beyond. The ATC tower provided a great view from the top, with a 360-degree perspective of not just the airport but local towns and villages, Leicestershire countryside and even Loughborough to the south-east!

The tour of passenger facilities included the terminal and check-in desks, and once we were through security we saw the departure gates where a number of Ryanair 737s were parked on the stand awaiting their next set of holidaymakers. Following this, the airport’s Wildlife and Diversity Officer kindly drove us around the airfield itself, where areas not visible to the public were seen – including the fire practice aircraft and the area earmarked for proposed development of cargo infrastructure, on the opposite side of runway 09/27.

Everybody who came said that they thoroughly enjoyed the visit, and there is potentially scope for a return visit later in the year, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for future updates so you don’t miss out!

Photo credit: David Kelly, Velocity Member

Flying Update - January 2017

January 13th, 2017

Loughborough Students’ Flying Club became a part of Velocity a couple of years ago, and since then our aviation-related activities have gone from strength to strength. Flying Secretary Aaron Stein writes.

Following on from the successful set of trial flights in the opening few weeks of the autumn term, the Velocity flying club has successfully launched the discounted flying scheme with Donair Flying Club at East Midlands Airport.

Members have shown great interest in getting involved, with some taking steps towards beginning their Private Pilots Licence (PPL) course. Sufficient members placed deposits with us, enabling us to secure significantly cheaper flying hours and helping to provide an easier route to experience light aircraft flying at a busy regional airport such as East Midlands Airport (EMA).

Moving forward, we envisage a continuation of the scheme with members flying as much as possible (weather permitting, of course). I hope that when the new Committee takes over in March, another dedicated and committed Flying Secretary can come in and help to support the Club for the next year. Before the handover, we expect to run a Flying Club social, where those who have been active with us over the past months can come together, share experiences and look forward to future endeavours.

If you have always fancied flying a light aircraft, or you just want to experience one as a passenger, head over to our Flying page. If you think that you might be interested in running for the position of Flying Secretary in March 2017, and you have some questions, you can contact Aaron via email or on Facebook.