Trains, Trains and Automobiles

This is never going to work, I thought to myself as I had a closer look at the schedule National Rail had helpfully given me. I had just spent two days in Nottingham catching up with an old friend and was attempting to get home and, while the UK train network is very good (I mean, adjusted for being the UK train network) at getting people into the Great Wen and back out again, it’s not really designed for getting people swiftly and easily from one non-Great Wen bit of the country to another. So here I was, about to take a bus followed by four trains (run by four different train operating companies, natch) each with no more than a 9 minute interchange between them. How could that possibly work?

Would you believe me if I said ‘like clockwork’? No, really. And this despite one leg of the journey being on one of those one-car chuffers that meandered to Crewe via such places as Blythe Bridge, Longport and possibly even Royston Vasey. The only hiccup came at the end when the other half was late picking me up because he’d been stuck behind a tractor, but that’s the sort of delay I can handle. And now I’m home, shattered (I’d blame the trains but I think some alcohol may have been involved at some point) and plotting how not to go anywhere anytime ever again.

And thanking my lucky stars I wasn’t trying to fly…

5 Responses to Trains, Trains and Automobiles

  1. Dom says:

    To be fair the one car jobs tend to be pretty reliable. They’re old rolling stock which means that there’s no newfangled technology to go wrong. They just go up and down the same bit of track which doesn’t have any other trains on it so there’s nothing to get stuck behind and the track doesn’t undergo massive wear and tear.

    It’s when you’re trying to get into the uber busy stations (London Bridge, I’m looking at you!) that you get congestion, inevitable delays, stress, the desire the murder people and the resultant rail related blog.

  2. Andy in Germany says:

    I’ve had a similar experience travelling in the UK by rail and bus to some very obscure places: most of the time it was fairly stress free. My only problem was a lack of space for a children’s buggs (we have roll-on buggy spaces here) and why oh why don’t you have through ticketing on busses, or even returns?
    Too used to Germany I guess.
    Hopefully the UK transport network won’t mess up this summer…

  3. The PaperBoy says:

    9 minutes??!! None of those changes could be at Carlisle – never mattered which direction I ever arrived in Carlisle by train, the one I was due to catch was leaving from another platform as I arrived. Standard connection time in Carlisle is something like 58 minutes I think.

    There was once I arrived in Carlisle along the Tyne Valley line and spotted a train with “Preston” on the destination and since that was the way I wanted to go, I jumped on… it was only when we were headed out of Carlisle past such edifying destinations as Dalston, Wigton & Aspatria that I realised the error… instead of about an hour via the mainline, it was a 3 day trek via the Cumbrian Coast…

  4. disgruntled says:

    Dom – I don’t know, Virgin trains seems to have perfected the art of being just late enough to miss your connection, but close enough to keep you guessing
    Andy – no buggy room, but there was space for bikes on some of them…
    Paperboy – last time I had to make a tight connection in Carlisle and missed it (by 2 minutes) they put us all into a taxi to Bigtown – it’s cheaper than delaying the train, apparently

  5. The Paperboy says:

    Luxury – back in the day they just laughed at you trying to make the connection and mentioned that there was another train in 58 minutes time. Never mattered which direction you approached Carlisle from or were planning on leaving… always missed the connection by a whistle, even when the connecting train was running late. It was an amazing feat of timetabling.

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