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More GWR misery

I’ve got a meeting in London on Friday morning, and I really can’t cope with getting the stupid o’clock in the morning train, so I decided to come down the day before and stay overnight within easy striking distance of the meeting location. My aim was to get the 13:10 train from Malvern, change at Worcester, getting in to Paddington at 16:24, then a short tube ride to my hotel and relax there until dinner time.

I had reckoned without the downpour leading to massive localised flooding. The route between Hereford and Oxford was flooded in multiple locations, but I managed to get the 12:51 train from Malvern heading to Weymouth, and was told by the guard to change at Bristol for the fast train to Paddington.

That’s actually an entirely reasonable route and on a good day can be faster than going via Oxford. But today wasn’t a good day. The train got just beyond Worcester, then ground to a halt. After an agonising wait, I saw the driver walk past me to the cab at the rear end of the train, and we then reversed back to Worcester. Apparently, the line was flooded and impassable.

At that point I did consider abandoning my journey and trying to make my way back to Malvern. Except there were no trains running in that direction either. Instead, we all piled onto a rail-replacement coach for a very sodden journey over the Cotswolds. There was a huge amount of flooding, and we went through several “road closed” signs and through some really deep flood water. I don’t think a car would have made it; it felt as if the coach only just did!

We were told there would be a train to Oxford from Moreton in Marsh, so we all got off the coach there and waited. And waited. The train was apparently just out of sight round a bend, but was stuck at a signal where the points had got seized. We saw two men in overalls stroll down the track to try to free the points, but the train never appeared. So after nearly an hour standing on the station in the cold, we got back on the coach which then took us to Oxford.

I caught a London train there by about 10 seconds – I sprinted through the barriers and the train doors closed behind me as I got on. If I’d been at the back of the coach or slow getting off it, I would not have got there in time. I finally arrived into Paddington at 19:40, over three hours late and absolutely exhausted. I grabbed a bite to eat at Paddington station, and finally made it to my hotel at 20:50. I do hope tomorrow’s meeting is worth all the effort of getting to it!

{ 1 } Comments

  1. SallyB | 15 November 2019 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I hope the rest of your meeting personnel arrive!! I once had a horrid journey back from Paddington. The train got to Oxford OK, but something had broken down on the next bit of line, plus it was weather like we’ve been having. They eventually put coaches on to bring us to Malvern (not enough room for everyone), but when we got to Worcester the driver was out of his hours, so we had to find our own way home.