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Author Topic: Booking SailRail - or rather TRYING to book SailRail  (Read 3196 times)
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« on: April 12, 2015, 07:40:28 pm »

I need to be in the 'burbs of Dublin (halfway down the green line Luas) from nex Monday (20th) at around 08:15 to Tuesday (21st) at around 17:30.  I live in Melksham Wiltshire, and my journey will start from the station there.  I cannot fly on this occasion, and I've taken a budget look and been rather attracted by sail-rail.  I need to arrive fresh on the first morning, and I'm happy to take a stop at a B&B somewhere - indeed I can leave as early as Saturday afternoon from Melksham and don't need to be back until quite late on the Wednseday if that's how it goes.  I hold an old codger's railcard.

SailRail online booking engines either offer nasty journey plans (like 20:45 to 02:30 for a change in Holyhead) or nothing at all. Phoning First Great Western to book by phone, I'm told that Arriva Trains sell these tickets and given a premium rate number.  Calling Arriva Trains Wales, I'm told that as this starts from a station that isn't theres, I need to speak with First Great Western to whom they transfer me ("you probably pressed the who option last time you were there" they told me when I protested.

I'm transferrred to the web team (!) at First Great Western who tell me that they can't sell this ticket telesales, and give me the Arriva Trains number again, but cannot transfer me back to the lady I was speaking to, nor can they get someone who can help to call me back.

During the process, I have been asked to spell Melksham a number of times, and I have been told to go to the station there, where I can purchase the ticket. Is this advise correct?  As the only staff member I see there is the train conductor, should I go down when a train is due and ask him to sell me the ticket?  It was also suggested by the FGW chap that I buy a ticket to Holyhead and pay for the boat when I got there (Holyhead). 

Incredibly silly.  I don't want to spend 4 to 6 hours in Holyhead in th middle of the night each way, nor be at Crewe from the last arrival from the South until the first North Wales coast train on the Sunday.  Nor do I want to pay about twice the fare by splitting at Hoyhead.

Perfect would be Saturday afternoon to somewhere in North Wales (Holyhead would be fine) and a daytime / Sunday crossing.  Back on the 18:38 from Dublin to Rosslare, missines the boat by a few minutes so overnight and hotel and boat the next day.  Thoughts, anyone?   Should it really be this hard?
« Last Edit: April 12, 2015, 07:47:44 pm by grahame » Logged

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2015, 07:54:52 pm »

I think melksham is your problem. I've just had a play round with the sail rail site, and it won't play ball with melksham, but using Swindon or bath spa as start point gives about 4-5 options daily, but all involve morning departures from Swindon or bath on Saturday morning, arriving Dublin ferry port 1945 Saturday evening.

Sunday morning out back Wednesday morning works
Use Dublin port Stena as destination.
Use Dublin port Irish ferries gives longer overnight waits.

All posts are my own personal believes, opinions and understandings!
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2015, 07:56:54 pm »

I think melksham is your problem.

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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2015, 04:31:21 pm »

Here I am, seated on the 15:23 Birmingham New Street to Holyhead. I didn't plan to be on this train,I didn't expect to be headed up this line, but here I am with the joy of riding the Network.   It's been an interesting day, thus far.

I was scheduled on the 12:36 from Melksham, but a quick glance on line an hour or two ahead showed the previous two trains both cancelled, and whilst replacement road transport was running, I would have been lucky if a taxi or bus from Chippehnam, picking up at Melksham, would have made the connection at Trowbridge. A call to National Rail suggested that is I was concerned at the 12:36 (because the train up to Swindon that forms it was cancelled), I should catch an earlier train ... but when I asked what the earlier option was, the chap looked it up and told me there wasn't one;  he told me that "catch an earlier train" is a generic suggestion they make in these circumstances, even if there isn't one!

So ... needs must, and I persuaded Lisa to give me a lift to Chippenham ... stopping by at Well House Manor on the way.  Which was probably a good job because I walked into a staffing issue there which - well - I won't bore you, but left Lisa standing in on shift, and I was very relieved that out "intelligence system"  told me the 12:36 was running - the train had got stuck up there and was in place.    So - a "routemarch" with heavy baggage across the town.

12:36 AOK / quite a good load for middle of the day; changed at Trowbridge into the heaving Bristol Local, running a bit late.  I decided not to wait for the National Rail suggested Portsmouth-Cardiff as that was a 12 minute change at Bristol and felt tight.

Into Bristol and CrossCounty were running late ... so I hopped onto the 13:30, which left at 13:50 (I would never have caught it on time) Dundee train. And that got me into Birmingham - just - in time to catch the Holyhead train.

Plans HAD been that I would miss this train at Birmingham, and just pass through Birminham on the Manchester service - with quick changes at Stafford, Crewe and Chester pcikig it up at thet final change.  Intead, I have the pleasure of Galton Bridge and Wolverhampton. Wellington and Shrewsbury, and Chirk and Ruabon.

I celebrate the network of services, and have enjoyed the challenge of replanning during the day.  Now just to hope that we make Holyhead in time for the boat.

P.S. Ticket bought over the counter at Chippenham; returning via Rosslare with thanks for advise on how to book that as a through journey from one of our members!

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
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