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Author Topic: Travelogue observations and summary - to home, 11th October 2019  (Read 2175 times)
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« on: October 12, 2019, 01:24:44 pm »

I am looking forward to a few days at home!

My final trip of six weeks of nearly continuous long distance travel from a course finishing at lunchtime on Thursday in a 'burb of Dublin to the GWR Stakeholder meeting at Paddington on Friday and home (Melksham, Wiltshire) at the end of the day.

Reasonably proud of my green credentials - just five 'legs' as lifts in private cars, totalling perhaps 10 miles out of what I estimate as not far short or 12,000 miles, and not a single airline flight. Buses, coaches, trams, ships, tenders, trains, shank's pony and (just) four taxis for horizontal journeys. Staircases, slopes, escalators and lifts for vertical ones.

I didn't fancy catching the boat after my Dublin course and connecting straight into the train at Holyhead - an arrival at 01:19 into London is simply too late for me these days, bearing in mind my now-limited endurance.

I didn't fancy waiting in Dublin until the late boat, for that would leave me with a three hour wait during the night in Holyhead.

I did fancy catching the afternoon boat, grabbing a hotel in Holyhead or somewhere a bit along the way (Bangor or Llandudno Junction perhaps) and carrying on the next morning, but SailRail does not allow a break of journey, and that break of journey would have tripled the travel price, even before I added the cost of the hotel.   I didn't fancy that extra - and as I'm on fixed expenses from the Dublin course, it would have come out of my own pocket.

Solution?   The Enterprise train from Dublin (Connelly) to Belfast at just under 18 Euros, the Stena ferry overnight from Belfast to Birkenhead for 5, 2 for Hamilton Square to Lime Street, and 47 Lime Street to Euston.  Walked (and it turned out to be a long walk!) Lanyon Place, Belfast to the Stena terminal.  Final bit on the 205 bus to Paddington - Oyster / didn't look at charge.

Took a cabin on the boat (cheaper by far than a hotel would have been) and got a full night's sleep.

The Liverpool to London advance fare was even First Class, and as it was Virgin Trains, breakfast included.

There was discussion in another thread about business people using long distance overnight sleeper trains in Mainland Europe to get between locations of meetings overnight - and when you look at the above, that's really what I was doing with the ferry. Interesting to consider how far "out of my way" I went to catch a conveyance I could get an uninterrupted night on.  And I know I am not unique even amongst members here.

And so, after the conference, home.  The 17:15 (Carmarthen) train is a peak train but seemed to have far from peak loads on it. 2 x 5 cars, catering came through several times. Perhaps it was quiet because it was Friday (POETS day).  Arrived early / station holds at stops along the way; an electric train to diesel timings for another 60 days.

Departure boards at Swindon showing am 18:16 to Frome, with no platform.  New one on me; enquiry at the desk of GWR tells me it's an extra, special, and will be stopping at Melksham.  Hmmm - if a story sound too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.  So back to platform 4 and, yes, the staff member there tells me it will be stopping at Melksham.  However, it flashes up on the departure board as "Westbury and Frome" with no mention of the three intermediate stations and when it arrives (an IET) I check with the train manager who assures me it will NOT be stopping at Melksham.  From his mannerism, I suspect I was classified as "stupid passenger" for even asking!   Back under the subway for the 18:48.

A queue of trains for the single line from Chippenham when we got there.  One train showing on the single track on open train times, one waiting at Thingley, and ourselves in the platform.  By the time everything cleared, 20 minutes late into Melksham - the latest running of any piece of transport I've used right across the last six weeks.  Logging that as a fact and not a grumble; glad to be home, what's the occasional 20 minutes, and so thankful that we are connected to the rail network here.  But reliability does need prime attention; noticing a reduction in car park use as people who have the option move to using stations where cancellations are the exception and not the norm.

Some images of the last phase of the journey for you ...

« Last Edit: October 12, 2019, 01:39:09 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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