The fun of train travel

By | Category: Travel rumblings
in calmer times

in calmer times

On Tuesday I travelled from Carmarthen to Manchester by train. It’s a popular line and the trains get busy. But with all the rain and wind we have had recently, it’s become a bit of lottery. That’s no criticism of the train operator, Arriva Trains Wales, but rather a comment on what happens when Mother Nature decides to vent her spleen. The line was flooded between Newport and Abergavenny so a bus took us to Hereford. But the tight and narrow roads that some smaller stations are in test a bus driver’s skills. All-in-all the journey took four hours longer than planned which included standing on Hereford station for 45 minutes whilst awaiting the next service.

And during it all, only one grumpy gent complained and that was because of having to visit each missed station on our coach tour.

It was a different story last evening. I got to Manchester just after 5pm for the return journey. There is a train virtually every hour. Five hours later, I had waited in vain for five trains. All had been cancelled. The number of people at Manchester Piccadilly was large and Virgin Trains and Northern Rail staff fielded dozens of questions almost simultaneously.  There were just two stroppy people who seemed to think that rail companies had a duty to get them home despite the obvious safety issues. Outside Piccadilly, two hoardings blew down narrowly missing people; the roof over the station leaked and the same roof rattled in the gales.

When I ventured out of the station, it was difficult to stand up straight.  And it was into this wind that those two idiots wanted to get taken home! During those gales I heard that a tree fell on the lines damaging a train, there was a fire at Crewe station after the roof blew off and hit power lines and every train was running at a reduced speed.  So there were no trains to Crewe, none to Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent or Stafford because of overhead power cable problems and none to Preston and points north due to the high winds. And none back to South Wales.

You can see, I hope, that this was a major delay. What has happened in the past is that accusations fly saying that there was no-one to give information. There were plenty at Piccadilly.  Virgin had at least five stationed on the concourse in addition to those selling tickets and Northern Rail had three inside their information kiosk and at least another couple wandering the platforms. As usual in this sort of event, they were dependent on what they were told. In addition, I saw five British Transport police who were also dispensing what knowledge they had abut train journeys. It was plain, listening to the controllers speaking to them, that they often didn’t know where a particular train was. Twelve hours after I had reached Piccadilly,  having spent the night on the concourse, I caught a train to Crewe to meet up with a Carmarthen bound train. It was 5.40 am this morning when I went through Crewe, too dark to see the effects of the gale but the trains were running.

Warned by the guard that the might be problems in West Wales I was expecting the worst and saw none. So at just before 11am, some nineteen and-a half hours after I started I got to my destination. Only to find a parking ticket from NCP since I hadn’t got back by midnight!

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