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Author Topic: State of play - travel experiences to and from Avoncliff yesterday  (Read 1883 times)
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« on: July 25, 2021, 10:16:47 am »

From Warminster, Dilton Marsh, Patchway, Filton Abbey Wood, Trowbridge and Melksham they came by train yesterday to Avoncliff for the walking tour described at . The train manager on my train from Melksham described my journey as "brave", and I'm sure that comment related to the forecast awful weather; I reassured him that the group could shelter on the road under the aquaduct if it got really bad.

My outbound journey was more or less as it should have been - 13:00 from home, walk to station for 13:30 train (which left at 13:34), change at Trowbridge (onto 13:47, left at 13:49) to Avoncliff (arrival at 13:57). Only concern was if the train from Melksham was going to miss the connection at Trowbridge.    Others less fortunate - from Warminster, attendees an hour late because the connecting train was so late into Westbury that the stopper left ahead of it.   From Dilton Marsh, our knowledgable member reaslised the problem, and left home early to walk to Westbury. From Patchway, a member travelled an hour early noting there were problems, and doubled back at Bradford-on-Avon off a train that had not stopped at Avoncliff, and from Filton Abbey Wood, a member arrived quarter of an hour late.  We knew her train was late, and the start of the walking tour was duly delayed.

Return journey .. my schedule was 16:15 from AVF to TRO» (Trowbridge - next trains) (16:25 to 16:43 change) to MKM» (Melksham (Station code) - next trains) at 16:52. But the train left AVF at 16:44, arriving TRO at 16:53. Two wrongs make a right, of course. The 16:43 from Trowbridge didn't leave until 17:14, arriving Melksham 17:22.  I was actually very lucky, noting two successive cancellations at Trowbridge to Cardiff which would have left a gap for the Filton and Patchway folks, and those who stopped around at Avoncliff for the next train southbound would have found it cancelled too.

Passenger loadings?  Good numbers off and on both trains at Melksham; around 30 people on the train between Trowbridge in both directions. Much busier on the train between Trowbridge and Avoncliff - probably because the hourly local is the only direct train into Temple Meads at the moment, with the Portsmouth to Cardiff services (when they are not cancelled!) skipping from Keynsham to Filton Abbey Wood.  Trains were all 2 or 3 carriages on the main line - from what I saw, they should have been 5 carriages in all cases to offer comfort and space to those of us who still prefer to socially distance.

Mask wearing?  Patchy.  Of course, it has been OK for you not to wear a mask during eating or drinking, and there was an element drinking beer or cider all the way. And there's an element - typically but not totally the younger metric - who are now living their freedom to choose.  One such pair of young ladies joined the Swindon train at Trowbridge on the return to Melksham and went straight into the loo together, emerging shortly before Melksham.  The train manager had passed checking tickets by the time they came out, but passed back through once they has sat down across the aisle from me and stopped to "ask".  Perhaps I should not have watched what was going on, as they suggested that they would "smash my face in" should I continue to do so.  Train manager suggested I move up the train; I gave him my details as I left the train, and he advised me (good advise) to let the charmers leave the area before I left the station. Wise advice which I followed.

I often have multiple purposes in a journey, and in this trip I was also doing a final review of what (if anything) we should do for promoting train travel this summer.  I am duly warned off recommending just about anything that requires a change of trains along the way, and in favour of including a "what to do if your return train is cancelled / delayed / connection misses" advice. I am, sadly, not confident enough in GWR (Great Western Railway) running trains and looking after people properly when that fails to promote anything much more that trips to Swindon and Chippenham, and to Trowbridge and Westbury.

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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2021, 07:06:01 am »

I am duly warned off recommending just about anything that requires a change of trains along the way
Very good advice. From my point of view I get the impression, even before the current Covid staffing situation, that the TOCs (Train Operating Company)/DfT» (Department for Transport - about) are doing what they can to make rail travel less attractive this summer.

Looking at my usual routes. The revised (i.e. hourly) Saturday service RDG(resolve)-BSK (Brake Standard Corridor (carriage)) seems to leave me with a 50 minute wait at BSK for trains to Southampton, Fareham, Bournemouth etc. If I am lucky I can get one of the two-hourly CC services which reduces the pain, but probably get caught on the way back.

The RDG-WAT route seems to have been bustitution for the last few weekends, and this Saturday again. Even with a Brompton, sitting on a bus to SNS is unlikely to get me in a good frame of mind for the Thames Path into London.

I know there are other routes, but the cycling options for me seem limited. Bedwyn to Swindon via Marlborough is possible, allowing for ticketing hassle, but once a year is probably enough. Similar for Andover to Romsey.

Possibly a bit far off topic so split if necessary.
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