Never on a Sunday

By | Category: Travel rumblings
my train was full before Bristol

my train was full before Bristol

Why do I do these things? Why am I train travelling on a Sunday when I should have learnt my lesson by now?

Network Rail and possibly the train companies must hate passengers on Sundays. Or maybe I mean loathe and despise. Not content with running engineering works they provide short trains and seem to consider that we are totally unreasonable about wanting to use their services at weekends. But I am starting to repeat myself and since I have already lambasted Network Rail for its engineering works policy at weekends I will merely relate the story of yesterday’s travel.

In was training from west Wales to Gatwick in order to fly out for the travel show in Berlin. I left at 12.47 – or should have done but the train was five minutes late. It doesn’t really matter though because wet Walian trains have so much leeway built into the timetable that you could cut the journey by 20 minutes and still get to most major destinations on its route in time. The train from Swansea to London Paddington left on time but ran into points trouble at well, somewhere. The train conductor said it was outside Newport, another said outside Patchway near Bristol. Wherever it was we ran late.

Because of engineering between Swindon and Reading we were diverted from Swindon back down to Chippenham and Hungerford. We were even later pulling into Reading as our southern England perambulation parked us behind a slow train making us 20 minutes late into Reading and causing us to miss the Gatwick connection. Opting to go into London, we lost another five minutes by following yet another slow train ambling into town. Eventually we got to Paddington just after 8pm or 7hours and 15 minutes after I started. A tube to Victoria to catch the 9pm Gatwick Express was foiled because the train was cancelled.

The next train was the 9.06pm fast train to Brighton but it was only four coaches. I thought that since people were standing in the aisles that it was due to the other train being cancelled but no. When I got off at Gatwick at 9.45pm, the train was still crowded and people were standing for the remainder of the journey to Brighton. It means that Southern Rail probably were aware that the train was going to be crowded because this had the makings of being a regular occurrence.

In all, my journey had taken nearly nine hours. Normally it would take about three hours less. Unlike a weekday journey my Swansea to Paddington train was full before we got to Bristol Parkway so the train companiesmust be aware that Sunday is busy on some routes. Unlike Southern Rail, first class wasn’t re-categorised as being for everyone which would have eased the seating problem.

I contend that trains on some routes are busier than on weekdays yet engineering work takes place at weekends. Engineering work still needs doing but can’t the will of the traveller be taken into consideration as well as the commuter?

If I had taken the cross country service from Reading to Gatwick I would have been turfed onto a bus at Reigate to carry me onto Gatwick making that journey longer. And if I had decided to stop off at Redhill in Surrey which is normally about 30 minutes from London Victoria and 9 minutes from Gatwick I would have had to catch a bus from Purley to Redhill which would add another 40 minutes to the journey and a bus from Redhill to Horley to catch the train for the three minute or so journey from Horley to Gatwick. Except that instead of three minutes it would have taken 25!

Travel is a 24 hour business, engineering works is a 48-60 hour service that seems to only function at weekends. It’s time for a rethink and that might include closing a line for consecutive days so all the work is finished in one go.

I have had my fill or being messed around. No more Sunday train trips for me.

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