Posted in Railways on Saturday 21st July 2007 at 10:53pm
Out of bed feeling grumpy and apprehensive. Checking the National Rail site last night I spotted that the service was still suspended between Bristol and Gloucester, but that a bus service was planned. This morning the buses had disappeared, but services were still running from Birmingham to the north. The advice was simply not to travel. Other Train Operators were accepting tickets though, so I decided to head for Bristol and see what happened. At worst, I'd be heading directly home. Despite rather grim conditions, a fairly uneventful journey up to Bristol - with little acknowledgement of the problems outside of the area - except that the train wasn't heading beyond Bristol. Stepped out into a fairly chaotic Temple Meads and headed directly for the information desk.
I had a fairly quick and simple question much to the relief of the beleaguered platform staff - would First Great Western honour my Crosscountry only ticket? Once clear they would, headed rather swiftly for the 07:30 to London Paddington. Services were getting through the flooded area at Swindon only hourly and the train was busy. Settled into the comparative quiet of First Class and hoped for the best. Along the way, staff tried valiantly to keep up with the changes in circumstances. Despite a fairly clear morning - especially around Didcot - the evidence of flooding was apparent. First we heard Didcot-Oxford was closed, then there was news of an hourly shuttle service just as we reached Reading. Somewhere along the way the train became incredibly busy, and First Class was declassified. This resulted in me sitting opposite someone who I'm almost certain was cult 90's video gaming show presenter Emily 'Bouff' Booth! The official advice for points north was to head to Kings Cross, and once clear of the extraordinarily busy concourse I made fairly quick time on the Underground despite a weekend closure of the Circle Line.
Surfaced at Kings Cross to find services running fairly smoothly, but a great deal of people. Flagged a couple of trains, and settled on the 11:00 to Glasgow. Firstly, I'd figured out what platform it was on, and also I hoped it would allow some of the crowds to disperse before I travelled. Rechecked my ticket validity with the information booth - a rather exasperated gentleman examined it carefully before saying GNER would honour it today. Time for a coffee, then swiftly onto the train and settled into a pleasant seat in the refurbished coach. Ticket check almost immediately on leaving Copenhagen Tunnel, and the Senior Conductor insisted on calling control to check out the story. Rehearsed the events of the morning in preparation for possible questioning - even managed to recall the name and a fair description of the Information Desk attendant, as if it would have made much difference. However, control agreed that today they'd pass the tickets - and I was left to snooze and spot my way northwards via a very busy Peterborough yard and Doncaster. Surprisingly soon, and only about an hour after I was due to arrive, rolled into York in remarkably pleasant weather. After briefly congratulating myself on my seasoned traveller's ability to get around the most difficult blockade, realised that I had to somehow get back in a couple of days time - and that might not be as simple as it sounded!
Straight to the B&B to check in. It was a reasonable walk from the station, but excellent value compared to the inflated York hotel market - and the welcome was surprisingly pleasant after staying in far too many impersonal hotels and thinking I preferred the anonymity. Spent some time refining my itinerary to replace tomorrow's cancelled railtour before heading back to the station to get a shot of DRS's 66419 which was stabled and switched off in the former parcels siding.
Spent a happy hour or so on the platform end with some friendly locals, and witnessed a couple of interesting workings including the steam hauled Scarborough Flyer tour, which created quite a stir in the station! When things went a little quiet and the light faded, headed for The Bay Horse for a pint before retiring to a nearby Indian restaurant for much needed sustenance. A surprisingly tiring day.
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.