Sunday, 24 June 2018

Sandhurst to Glasgow the long way.

14th June 2018

The best laid plans are often thwarted by the weather in the UK. In this case Storm Hector which swept across northern England and toppled trees onto the west coast main line, taking out the overhead power cables. So just after I settled on the train at London Euston they announced that it probably wouldn't be going any further than Preston and suggested that passengers should wait until tomorrow to travel - not what you want to hear when you're already part way through your journey.

What I should have done at that point was get off, walk down the road to King's Cross and get a train up the east coast which was at that point still running OK. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

But they only said probably, so by the time we get there perhaps it will be OK. Right? Wrong. The further north we went the more definite it became that the west coast line was not going to reopen. Eventually the train manager announced that we should get something to write on as he would shortly be giving us some instructions on how to get to Glasgow. The plan was from Preston go to Bolton, then to Manchester Victoria, then to York where we could pick up an east coast train to Glasgow via Edinburgh. Not a simple plan but a plan nonetheless.
Original route in red, actual journey in blue.

It would also take a bit longer, ETA was now about 20:15 rather than 16:00. 

It almost went to plan. At Manchester Victoria I was able to get a delayed Trans Pennine Express cutting out a wait there. The train manager on that suggested we change at Leeds instead of York to avoid the crush at York as east coast trains were now very crowded with everyone travelling north having to go that way. Alas he was wrong. It was physically impossible to get on the train at Leeds and even if you could it would have meant standing for 4 hours. Bugger that, wait for another train. Next one was to Dunbar, that will get me to Edinburgh. That hindsight thing again, should have stayed on the train at Leeds - it went through to Newcastle anyway! 

Slowly the train went north, with us all fighting over the seats and playing musical chairs as people got on with reserved seats. Got off at Edinburgh, 21:00 ish, nearly there, just need a train to Glasgow Queen Street. Fortunately there were plenty of those and an hour and a quarter later I was on my last train of the day, Queen St. to Charing Cross, and I was very glad to be staying in the hotel directly above the station. I was even more glad that the bar was still open!

Train to Bolton, hooray for the Pacer!

I have had better rail journeys. Thirteen and a half hours and eight different trains in all. I wouldn't want to do it often. However on this occasion the problems weren't the direct fault of the train operating companies or Network Rail, nature will do what it will. And the train staff tried their best to get us round the problem, with some success (apart from the guy who suggested changing at Leeds) and kept us up to date as best they could with the changing situation. I was also glad to have the Train Track app on my phone to get a look at upcoming trains and which platform they departed from, though it would have been even more useful if Three actually had some network coverage anywhere between Leeds and Edinburgh.

Could've been worse. Could've been stuck in a traffic jam on a motorway for hours. At least travelling by train you can find somewhere to take a leak :-)