Posted in Railways on Sunday 17th September 2006 at 7:23pm
Today should have been a fairly simple proposition. Up a little later, feet still throbbing from yesterdays walking. Breakfast and check-out of the Waverley Hotel - it's been a pleasant and comfortable base. A little more expensive than usual but my old haunt was becoming less secure and more dangerous by the visit. In fairness, it seems some changes are taking place there so perhaps I'll be back? My train west is booked for a little after midday, so time to write up some notes over coffee before a leisurely walk to Kings Cross St. Pancras underground. Lets face it, my feet couldn't cope with much more than a leisurely pace today.
Arrived at the station, descended through the clean and spacious new booking hall and was about to step onto a train when everything started to go very wrong. The train was terminated and the Circle Line suspended due to signalling problems at Baker Street. Crossed to the other platform and hopped on an eastbound train. Soon heard that this too would terminate short. Knowing there was a fairly large bus terminus at Liverpool Street, hopped off there. Faced a nail-biting wait for a No.23 bus heading west. Once onboard, it was actually a fairly pleasant morning for a ride overground. Through the City, along the Strand and into the West End. Diversions around Piccadilly caused some difficult moments, but soon we were circling Marble Arch and heading onto Edgware Road. Sauntered into Paddington station roughly fifteen minutes before my train, feeling rather pleased with myself for swiftly calculating an alternative route.
I soon noticed however that the 1157 to Paignton was cancelled. As my eye followed the departure screens along, I noticed that my 1207 train to Bristol was also cancelled. In fact, everything going further than Hayes or Heathrow was cancelled. After a confusing couple of minutes, it was announced that due to a fire at a plastics factory near Langley the service west was suspended until further notice. Milled around for a while wondering what plans were likely to be put in place, and how long the service would be out of action. Eventually, it was announced that passengers should head for Waterloo via the Bakerloo Line. Tickets would be accepted on Sout West Trains and the Underground. Decided against the Bakerloo, given the huge crowds streaming into the Underground station. Noted the taxi rank was also overwhelmed. Decided to head for the buses once again, repeating a route I travelled a year or so ago. A short wait for a 436 heading for Vauxhall. Vauxhall with its new bus terminus, well-served mainline station and Underground links is now a fairly useful hub, and only a minute or so after I arrived, a Reading bound pair of Desiros crept into the platform. Squeezed myself on, much to the dismay of the passengers who were already packed tight. Resigned myself to a fairly uncomfortable ride home!
The suburban service to Reading is never fast, but this seemed to take forever. Once off the train, decanted through various crowd-control channels onto the concourse. Noted a late-running Bristol service which I was unlikely to get to in time. Brought some refreshments and returned to find the Bristol train still on the screen. Decided to head for the platform, if only to see what was happening. Found the train sitting with doors open and little sign of activity. Boarded and found a quiet seat in first class. I'd expected the train to be jammed solid, but everything seemed calm. Soon after we set off, via the Berks & Hants and Hawkeridge Junction, for Bristol. The only problem resulting from the delays seemed to be that the buffet staff were stranded at Paddington and the Train Manager was required to operate a makeshift complimentary beverage service.
Overall, I arrived home about two hours late. Given that I spent over an hour on a train from Waterloo to Reading, squeezed in a couple of bus journeys through the West End, and needed a lift from Weston-super-Mare given the terrible Sunday service Highbridge receives, I don't consider this bad at all. I won't be complaining about this one either - there is in all fairness, nothing much First Great Western could have done today!
I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.
I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.