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Minor advantages of having grey hair….

I’ve been back on my travels again recently, visiting more university departments. Last week I had a meeting with one of the professors at Imperial College, London. The meeting was scheduled for 14:30, which meant I could get a very civilised mid-morning train down to London, and still be in plenty of time for my meeting. I turned up at Malvern train station in good time for my train, only to discover that it had been cancelled. A broken down train on the line over the Cotswolds was causing chaos, and the line was closed.

The very helpful man in the ticket office had a solution, which he’d obviously had to trot out multiple times already that morning. I should buy a ticket as normal, but it would be accepted for travel via Birmingham to Euston. The main-line train from Birmingham is a fast one, so even though I’d be leaving Malvern half an hour later, and changing trains at New Street, I would still get to London in time for my meeting. 

Unfortunately, the train to Birmingham was a tiny little commuter service with only three coaches. It had come from Hereford, where it was half-term, so it was absolutely crammed with families going to enjoy the delights of Birmingham. Plus everyone who had wanted to get the cancelled intercity to London was also having to catch that train. I resigned myself to standing for the next hour. I was really pleased though when one of the women travelling as part of a family group turfed her 10 year old son out of his seat and offered it to me – there are clearly some advantages to having grey hair! I remember the first time someone stood up for me on a bus, a few years back, I was absolutely horrified! But now I’ll gratefully accept any seats offered….

I managed to get to my meeting on time, but things were little better on the way home. I got to Paddington half an hour before the time of my train, to find that every single service on the display boards was either delayed or cancelled! This time it was due to a broken down freight train somewhere near Slough, that was affecting every service into and out of Paddington. The incoming service was so late arriving that the staff had no time to sort out any seat reservations, so it was a complete scrum and was standing room again as far as Oxford. I know the ropes by now, so had sprinted to the correct platform as soon as it was announced, so I managed to get a seat. I finally got home less than half an hour late, which was good in the circumstances, but it felt as if the journey was a bit jinxed by broken down trains in both directions. 

Great Western Railways really does seem good at adding extra stress to ones journey. The trains are so unreliable, I routinely now aim for the train before the latest possible, to give me slack to cope with disrupted journeys and missed connections. At least work was paying this time – it’s even worse when it’s my own time and money that’s being wasted!

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Catriona | 21 February 2017 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    I have every sympathy. I frequently do the journey in reverse. I normally go by car as I don’t go back the same day. A few days ago I came from London to Malvern just for the day. On the way out there were signalling problems on the district line and so I missed my train and the next stopped at Worcester. On the way back my train was cancelled. Luckily it wasn’t the last but I got home very late. I think it’s back to the car!