So, today’s somewhat delayed post will be a nice little rant about the joys or rather the pains of trains around Christmas. I thought I had it all planned out. I bought my train tickets nice and early at a decent price, it was a straight through journey from Plymouth to Tamworth, roughly 4 hours long and I had my own reserved seat, ideal, or so I thought. I had an email come through about a week before my journey was due to take place which stated:
“Unfortunately, the RMT union has called potential strike days for Saturday 23 December, Sunday 24 December, Wednesday 27 December and Sunday 31 December that will significantly affect CrossCountry train services. We plan to operate a reduced service, but using longer trains where possible”
Now, this is definitely not what I wanted to hear, both of my journeys fell on strike days, and I will admit now that obscenities were spoken. Using the new timetables, I then established that NO CrossCountry trains would be running to and from Plymouth but instead Exeter. After a long session analysing options, I found the best train to be the 05:25 GWR train to Taunton, Change at Taunton to Bristol and then do the remainder of the outbound journey on CrossCountry to Tamworth. All was fine and dandy up until Bristol and I am being deadly serious, there were hundreds of people on the Platform waiting for my train. Oh dear (Not exactly what I mumbled). What usually happens on the platform is everyone congregates in the middle where the train would pull up, so I had the wonderful idea to walk down the platform towards where the rear of the train would stop, and less people waited. That made perfect sense to me. That was until about 2 minutes before the train arrived…
“This is a platform alteration. The 08.30 Train will now depart from Platform 4”
Because I had the genius idea of walking to the end of the platform this now meant that I was at the very back of the stampede of people all fighting to get to Platform 4. I was really in a grump by now. After a bit of pushing and shoving, I managed to somehow squeeze into the train and it was like this all the way to Tamworth, packed in like sardines, ‘Cattle Class’ as its referred to according to some people up in Birmingham.
Coming back down to Plymouth was equally disturbing. All but three trains for the day were cancelled going down south. The first was 11:20 and on any day the first train going from Tamworth to Birmingham is annoyingly busy. This was no exception. This was then followed by the train being 1 hour delayed before I even got on. It was not pleasant waiting in the freezing cold on the platform. Once the train pulled in it was obvious to everyone that we were all not getting on, so following my theory from earlier I walked down the platform and tried to get on. I pressed the little button and when the door opened I was greeted with about a dozen people glaring at me.
“Anyone getting off?” I asked.
“No… There’s no space here either!” someone in the group shouted out to me.
“OH, I BET THERE IS!” I grunted as me and my suitcase invaded the vestibule.
It was unbearable for about 15 mins until we got into Birmingham, where, while everyone was shuffling around letting people off, I slid through the crowd and nabbed one of the very few seats made newly available. I got lots of disapproving looks but it’s a cut throat game this one. This is where I remained all the way to Exeter where I changed and joined an equally busy GWR service to finish the remainder of my journey.
I finally dragged myself and my case to my flat where I collapsed in bed and ordered what I believe to be a VERY well-deserved pizza.
Please don’t make me face the trains again… Thanks.
Little note from me: I have purposely decided to take a negative tone in this post, please let me know if you like bad things happening in my posts or whether it should be more positive. It would greatly help my research on the topic analysing whether bad things happening are more interesting than pleasant things.
Photo Credits: ABC Railway Guide, Birmingham Mail