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Sideshoots - associated subjects => The Lighter Side => Topic started by: rogerw on October 04, 2018, 08:45:03 am



Title: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 04, 2018, 08:45:03 am
It has been my habit in recent years to do a 1st class all line rover for a week. This year my focus is on long distance services including, hopefully, the Kings Cross to Inverness services.
Day 1 was yesterday and started with the 0710 Trowbridge to Swindon, joined by Grahame at Melksham at the start of his trek to Glasgow. Next was the 0800 non stop to Paddington.  Smart running as far as Slough but then caught up in the delays caused by the obstruction at Acton. Arrival in PAD was 16 late.
The circle line was on it's worst behaviour with signal problems at Aldgate but Kings Cross was reached in time.
Next was the 1000 Aberdeen service to York. This left 9  minutes late and was well loaded with only a few spare seats in 1st. A full breakfast was enjoyed heading north with arrival at York still 9 late.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 04, 2018, 09:16:00 am
The journey south from York on a Cross Country voyager was much as expected. A few minutes were lost to Chesterfield but on time at Derby. The diversion via Alfreton added interest and it was nice to see the new layout at the south end of Derby.  With the various diversions there were lengthy waits at both Derby and Birmingham. Arrival at Newport was punctual.
The day ended with the 1731 Holyhead service "Gerald of Wales" as far as Colwyn Bay with an excellent 3 course dinner end route ( crab cake, rack of lamb & rhubarb crumble).  However Gerald does not seem to be able to keep up with the youngsters as time was lost consistently throughout the journey with an 11 late arrival despite cutting the Chester stop from 8 to 2 minutes.
An interesting point arose on this service. It is advertised as "reservations recommended" but no reservations were shown on board and when I boarded my "reserved" seat was occupied. There were only 2 empty seats available and the person was happy to move. However I do wonder what would have happened if there had been no spare seats.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: grahame on October 04, 2018, 11:22:02 am
The journey south from York on a Cross Country voyager was much as expected. A few minutes were lost to Chesterfield but on time at Derby. The diversion via Alfreton added interest and it was nice to see the new layout at the south end of Derby.  With the various diversions there were lengthy waits at both Derby and Birmingham. Arrival at Newport was punctual.
The day ended with the 1731 Holyhead service "Gerald of Wales" as far as Colwyn Bay with an excellent 3 course dinner end route ( crab cake, rack of lamb & rhubarb crumble).  However Gerald does not seem to be able to keep up with the youngsters as time was lost consistently throughout the journey with an 11 late arrival despite cutting the Chester stop from 8 to 2 minutes.
An interesting point arose on this service. It is advertised as "reservations recommended" but no reservations were shown on board and when I boarded my "reserved" seat was occupied. There were only 2 empty seats available and the person was happy to move. However I do wonder what would have happened if there had been no spare seats.

Roger,   so interesting to see all those passengeresque observations and comments - hugely informative and a picture of how the system goes together in parts of the country new to me and other readers.    For example, noting that Arriva Trains Wales' reservation system has its problems too ... kinda leads to a view that no-one really has sorted a good system ...


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 05, 2018, 08:24:25 am
Day 2 started with a trip down to Euston. A good run slightly delayed by late running preceeding trains but only by a few minutes. However, despite the printed menu, Virgin's voyager breakfast is now eggless but still very tasty with a superb pork & leek sausage.
A short bus ride to King's Cross (well it's free at my age) ready for a snap return trip to Cambridge. This confirmed that the 1st class accommodation on the 387s is identical to the standard except for the occasional antimacasser scattered around. A total rip off and I don't know how Great Northern get away with it on what must be a prime tourist route.
Returning to King's Cross the day then fell apart with the  cancellation of the Hull Trains 1348 service. I had intended to catch this to Selby and thence a local service to York which used a section of line I have not travelled on for over 30 years. However a quick look at the timetables  confirmed that I could catch the 1330 Edinburgh service to Darlington and board my intended southbound train there. So far so good.
The northbound train lost a few minutes due to station congestion at Doncaster with a tasty ham and cheese sandwich h washed down with two whisky & ginger ales (blended not single malt). The southbound service was 13 minutes and running behind a trans pennine service which further delayed it to York. Spirited running then followed restoring hope that I might still catch my proposed 1930 from Paddington.
But fate had other ideas. At St Neots we came to a halt and did not move for over 30 minutes. Signal failure! Eventually we got moving and arrived at King's Cross 61 minutes late. I travelled home on the 2103 Plymouth service to Westbury  which was running 10 late from Newbury. Thanks go to the train manager who arranged for the Bristol train to be held if necessary although in the end that was not needed.
Home for a few hours sleep😌


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: grahame on October 05, 2018, 04:50:57 pm
However, despite the printed menu, Virgin's voyager breakfast is now eggless ...

Ah - the nightmare of keeping printed material up to date in an ever-faster moving world.

My hotel in Glasgow last night advertised breakfast from 06:30 in the room ... but when I went down at 06:40 I was told that wa a "mistake" and as I had to leave at 7 O'clock to get to my day's work, I missed out.  Check out person who I reported the problem to said that they keep telling "them" that the information is out of date ...

Quote
A short bus ride to King's Cross (well it's free at my age) ready for a snap return trip to Cambridge. This confirmed that the 1st class accommodation on the 387s is identical to the standard except for the occasional antimacasser scattered around. A total rip off and I don't know how Great Northern get away with it on what must be a prime tourist route.

Returning to King's Cross the day then fell apart with the  cancellation of the Hull Trains 1348 service. I had intended to catch this to Selby and thence a local service to York which used a section of line I have not travelled on for over 30 years. However a quick look at the timetables  confirmed that I could catch the 1330 Edinburgh service to Darlington and board my intended southbound train there.

I haven't done an all line for many years - really must some time; a certain maverick enjoyment in being able to swap around like that


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 05, 2018, 08:00:52 pm
Day 3 and time for an update as I head north for the night. The start was on the 0702 to Bath as the 0715 was on strike. The 0743 to Paddington produced the  bonus of an HST as the IET had failed so a comfortable ride and an on time arrival. Took the 205 to Euston for the 1007 to Liverpool which arrived a few minutes late but still allowed me to make a 6 minute connection into the trans pennine service to Darlington. I think I must have a jinx as my southbound service left 22 late and, having lost it's path got stuck behind a slow service south of Doncaster. Arrival in Kings Cross was eventually 44 minutes late. Luckilly because of the general disruption my northbound service was also late. Am now tu king into Chipotle chicken supreme accompanied by a Bells whisky and ginger ale (other brands are available but not on LNER). Heading up to Scotland tomorrow with an early start as because of the Northern RMT strike the only train to get me to York by 0900 leaves Bradford at 0630 although I could get a bus at 0700


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: grahame on October 07, 2018, 10:45:26 am
Heading up to Scotland tomorrow with an early start as because of the Northern RMT strike the only train to get me to York by 0900 leaves Bradford at 0630 although I could get a bus at 0700

Did you get through that, Rogerw?   Any other plans hit by the Northern woes?

One of our key GWR contacts until perhaps 18 months ago (time passes quickly) moved to Northern Rail ... bumped into her in Glasgow and understand she's now with London North Western ... Northern must be a really difficult work environment at present where it's your role to generate and maintain positive community feelings.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 07, 2018, 12:35:39 pm
Day 4 saw me departing before dawn on the only departure from Bradford to Leeds before 0800, the 0630 LNER service from Forster Square. Thanks Northern & RMT. A quick change at Leeds saw me heading north on the service to Edinburgh via Newcastle and Carlisle, the diversion being due to engineering work. Arrival in Edinburgh was a few minutes late but still in time for the 1200 to Glasgow Queen Street. Unfortunately neither that service nor the 1215 were worked by a 385 so that I have to await that pleasure. Instead I travelled on a "happy train". Comparing this to the 387 on the Cambridge run I can see why the locals mourned theirh  loss. Still 2+2 seating but far more  comfort and a feeling of spaciousness.
After a straightforward run I made my usual mess of crossing Glasgow. I always seem to take a longer route than necessary.
Because of the early start I was now 1 hour ahead of programme but decided to head straight home, heading south to Euston. An uneventful run got into Euston on time,  then the 205 bus to Paddington to catch the 1900 Taunton service to Bath( another HST) and thence home for an earlier night. Northern avoided completely and the day going as planned, albeit earlier.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 07, 2018, 12:40:06 pm
Now into Day 5 and heading north to Inverness on the Highland Chieftain. The 0834 service to Swindon ran and Grahame will be pleased to hear that 11 people joined at Melksham. The run up to Paddington was again an HST, arriving 5 minutes late.
Further update to follow


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: grahame on October 07, 2018, 04:49:15 pm
Now into Day 5 and heading north to Inverness on the Highland Chieftain. The 0834 service to Swindon ran and Grahame will be pleased to hear that 11 people joined at Melksham. The run up to Paddington was again an HST, arriving 5 minutes late.
Further update to follow

Pleased to hear - and double pleased for it to be posted.

The 08:28 Westbury to Swindon - though it has only became all year last winter - has made a big, big difference for people. And that's something to really emphasise to the planner and 'top brass' - a thank you to them for provding it, a rosette to say "it's working well", and a note to keep it or a near equivalent running into the foreseeable future.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: bobm on October 07, 2018, 06:44:55 pm
After a straightforward run I made my usual mess of crossing Glasgow. I always seem to take a longer route than necessary.

Ha!  I always do that - luckily I had a guide to help across the city last Thursday night.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 07, 2018, 09:25:39 pm
Safely arrived at a wet & windy Inverness 10 minutes late after a pretty uneventful journey north. An 8 hour plus marathon which I've always wanted to do. Evidence of a power car having wheel spin at points in Scotland, both through Fife and north of Perth. With this weather I'm not surprised the rails were a bit greasy. Back south tomorrow and hoping to do the new Ordsall curve in Manchester.
On a culinary? note the weekend offering on LNER is much better than Virgin's on the west coast. Also managed to get a porridge on GWR this morning as they were running a self service system on the food as only a mini buffet.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 08, 2018, 09:31:13 pm
Day 6 saw me heading south on the Chieftain, enjoying a nice cooked breakfast.  I alighted at Newcastle to use the TPE service heading to Manchester Airport and using the new curve at Manchester.  I alighted at Piccadilly, heading south to Euston.  Departure from Paddington was on the 1857 Plymouth service formed of 2 x 5 car IETs.  I was told that this was the first trial of a Pullman service to the WoE using these trains.  I just made my connection at Westbury (described elsewhere!)  Other than at the very end an uneventful day, although it was a new experience to travel through Melksham on an IET.  Just 1 day to go.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: Charlie (in Gloucester) on October 08, 2018, 10:04:34 pm
Day 6 saw me heading south on the Chieftain, enjoying a nice cooked breakfast.  I alighted at Newcastle to use the TPE service heading to Manchester Airport and using the new curve at Manchester.  I alighted at Piccadilly, heading south to Euston.  Departure from Paddington was on the 1857 Plymouth service formed of 2 x 5 car IETs.  I was told that this was the first trial of a Pullman service to the WoE using these trains.  I just made my connection at Westbury (described elsewhere!)  Other than at the very end an uneventful day, although it was a new experience to travel through Melksham on an IET.  Just 1 day to go.

I thought Melksham International was considered for HS3  ;)


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: Lee on October 09, 2018, 07:59:48 am
Day 6 saw me heading south on the Chieftain, enjoying a nice cooked breakfast.  I alighted at Newcastle to use the TPE service heading to Manchester Airport and using the new curve at Manchester.  I alighted at Piccadilly, heading south to Euston.  Departure from Paddington was on the 1857 Plymouth service formed of 2 x 5 car IETs.  I was told that this was the first trial of a Pullman service to the WoE using these trains.  I just made my connection at Westbury (described elsewhere!)  Other than at the very end an uneventful day, although it was a new experience to travel through Melksham on an IET.  Just 1 day to go.

I thought Melksham International was considered for HS3  ;)

There's a temporary delay as they decide which one of the potential Westbury bypass routes to put HS3 through.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 09, 2018, 10:41:44 am
A great start to the final day. My train into Paddington arrived 15 late and I missed my proposed 1000 to Edinburgh by 1 minute. Now travelling north on the 1030. My plan was to travel out via the east coast returning via the west coast. Unless I want to be travelling back by the last train of the day (not really  :( ) it looks like east coast both ways


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 10, 2018, 08:58:57 am
A quick check of the timetables showed that a return by the west coast was not an option.  The journey north went well as far as Newcastle. Then  the wind struck! A stop at Belford was followed by the news that a speed restriction was in place as far as Berwick due to high winds. A further stop at Berwick followed by further slow running saw us 16 late through Dunbar.  With a 16 minute connection into my preferred southbound service the spectre of the last train home was looming large.  However a helpful dose of recovery time saw us into Edinburgh only 13 late and a quick dash between platforms 2 & 19 (one long platform) saw me on board with less than a minute to spare.  A straightforward trip south with delays caused by the winds recovered by Kings Cross allowed an easy connection into the 2045 from Paddington and home.
When I have the time I will post a full analysis of the week.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: grahame on October 11, 2018, 06:28:24 am
Roger, huge "Thank you" for the log / descriptions;  so useful to have a comparative picture from across the UK rather that purely in our own region.   What can you tell us about train loading (though I suspect you'll be giving us a first class view)?  How do on-train announcements, and seat reservation systems, work across the companies?


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 11, 2018, 09:20:26 pm
Loadings in 1st class were mixed although generally as expected with peak workings busier than off peak.  I did not visit standard class except when moving down the train to a more advantageous position towards the end of a journey to make tight connections so cannot comment on loadings.  However on more than one occasion there were announcements on trains telling standing passengers where seats were available. Two of my reservations did not appear, but on the whole reservations seemed to be working well although I did not notice any on GWR.  On one TPE service the lack of reservations was apologised for with the explanation that the late running of the inbound service did not give time for the reservations to be put in place unless the departure of our service was delayed by 10 minutes. In my view a sound decision.  On board announcements were generally good although there was the annoying mixture of 24 hour and 12 hours clocks on more than one service.  Some quite jovial announcements on TPE where the usual list of things not to leave on the train was extended to include things like your nearest and dearest.


Title: Re: Ramblings on a rover
Post by: rogerw on October 11, 2018, 09:47:42 pm
Now for the statistics. 
As my intention this year was primarily to sample long distance travel my use was weighted quite heavily in favour of the major operators.  I travelled a distance of 5807 miles with 38 journeys, using 8 TOCs.  One journey was cancelled, operated by Hull Trains who seem to be having reliability problems again with their 180s.  The breakdown was GWR (16), LNER (11), VT (4), GTR & TPE(2), ScR & ATW (1).  Problems during the week resulted in the number of LNER journeys increasing by 3 and those by VT decreasing by 2 and loss of the HT journey and a Northern Trains Journey.  In addition the strike on Northern meant I used 2 less of their trains and another additional LNER train.
Punctuality was generally acceptable with 26 trains arriving on time or up to 5 minutes late (67%), 6 trains 6 - 10 minutes late (15%), 4 trains 10 - 20 minutes late (10%) - 2 GWR, 1 LNER & 1 ATW, and 3 more than 20 minutes late (8%), all LNER.  One of the latter I would have missed had it departed on time as my incoming service was 42 minutes late.  The greatest delay was 62 minutes.  Delay claims have been submitted to LNER (2) and GWR(1) where a 16 minute late arrival at Paddington made me miss my service from Kings Cross and resulted in a 66 minute late arrival in Edinburgh.
Overall, an enjoyable but tiring week with few major issues that could not be worked around.



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