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Rail Replacement Bus

I’ve had a load of off site meetings this week – Woking on Monday, Chelmsford on Tuesday, then Oxford on Wednesday. Chelmsford in particular is much further than I’m prepared to drive, so trains it was. What could possibly go wrong?

A colleague gave me a lift to the meeting at Woking on Monday. But when we got there, we found that half the people we had wanted to meet hadn’t made it in to the office. Overnight engineering work on the Woking-Waterloo railway line had over-run, all the lines were closed, and there were no trains at all, either into or out of London. That was not a good start to the week.

Network Rail finally managed to clear the engineering work and the lines reopened, but of course all the trains and drivers were in the wrong place, so chaos reigned for the rest of the day. The train I managed to catch in the afternoon was running about half an hour late, but I counted myself lucky it was running at all!

On Tuesday, I needed to get from Chelmsford in north-east Greater London, across to Paddington and out to Oxford. I specifically asked the man in the ticket office in Chelmsford to sell me the most flexible ticket,  as I wanted to have maximum choice of trains during the rush hour. And, since work was paying, I wasn’t overly concerned about spending an extra couple of pounds if necessary – my time costs more than that. But he said that there was only one type of ticket available, and sold me an off-peak day single.

Once I got to Paddington however, it became apparent that off-peak tickets were simply not valid on the direct rush hour trains to Oxford. I  had missed the last off-peak train by just two minutes, and my best option was to take a stopping train to Reading and change there for a service to Oxford. That added 45 minutes to my journey and I was not happy!

Wednesday was worse however. I had a very good meeting at the Physics dept with some academics I am working with, and then shared a taxi to the station. At which point I found out that there was yet more engineering work, and the Cotswold Line was closed all week between Moreton-in-Marsh and Worcester. Which meant an hour and a half’s journey in a Rail Replacement Bus over the Cotswolds. My stomach sank at the thought, and rightly so. The coach was very bouncy and I felt horribly travel sick. By the time I finally got home after a three hour journey (which should normally take well under two hours) all I could do was crash in bed and wait for the room to stop spinning!

So that was two lots of engineering works and one incompetent ticket clerk, together adding up to three days of unnecessarily long and tedious rail journeys. And, worryingly, I still have ongoing projects with the people in all three locations, so I expect I’m going to have to repeat the journeys again soon……



{ 1 } Comments

  1. paulD | 25 November 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    … and they wonder why peopple want to drive cars !. but then i geuss you have the racoon (Major of London) with his anti-car, anti-diesel stance, so maybe they dont want anyone travelling anywhere.