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Author Topic: Day zero - Melksham to somewhere off the Isle of Wight.  (Read 827 times)
grahame
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« on: August 22, 2021, 08:05:48 am »

It's been two long years since ... since so much of what we did yesterday; some things have changed and some are pretty well back to what they were. Lisa and I are on the (new) P&O Cruise Liner Iona headed for ... Iona!

A ride to the station in Melksham for the 08:59 train to Westbury, change there for Southampton.  Our ride from an old (by which I mean long established, not ancient) friend on the forum (huge thank you for what you are doing for us) stopped with us at Melksham Station and waved us off.

Melksham Station was the busiest I have seen it since before Coronavirus hit us. Dozens of people waiting there, all sorts of groups looking like they might have been heading in all sorts of directions.  The delayed 08:39 to Swindon pulled in - about 12 minutes late - and a good interchange of passengers.  And this resulted in a delay to our 08:59 to Westbury. Not really a problem - plenty of conection time. 

The rudimentary information system on the platform showed "on time" for our train even when it was darned obvious (to us) that it would be delayed - waiting for the single line (that needs redoubling) from Thingley Junction.  And, sure, the time started to slip and then went to the panic-inducing word of "delayed" without any indication of for how long.  A check with online systems told those of us in-the-know that our train was waiting just to the east of the Thingley (East) crossovers, and that the word "delayed" was being offered because it had failed to pass a checkpoint in a while and got lost from the timing algorithm as a result. A little re-assurance to some of the people around who were - well, let's just say "concerned"; no such re-assurance from the screen, no staff (either from the Train Operator or Communty Rail Partnership) around to help, no announcements - but then this is still a wayside halt in railway operation terms.  The screen that should tell us more that overlooks the car park is switched off, or broken, or has feed problems again; black or blank - apart from a few days at the beginning of the month it's been that way since the spring.

We predicted the train to be somewhere between five and 10 minutes late, and indeed it called at 09:07.  Passengers changing at Trowbridge for the onward service via Bath re-assured thet the connection would make.  Passengers changing at Westbury for Exeter concerned when we reported that the Paignton train onwards had been cancelled. Passengers changing for the service via Warminster not concerned - that one's not so much a connection as a later train, with a wait of over 30 minutes anyway.

Off on holiday, suitcased, saying "bye" ... no specific passenger count made. But our 2 car 158 dropped off a number of people, and there were clusters around all the doors looking to join.  We piled on and found ourselves a pair of seats in the rear carriage; impressively busy - there *were* seats available - I would recon around two thirds occupied and a quick count of heads from where we were gave me an estimate of 50 passengers. From a glance at the from carriage as the train arrived, it was similarly loaded - so that's around 100 passengers off Melksham on the train, of whom (stick finger in the air) several dozen had joined there. It's a long way forward from the days of a single carriage 153, and indeed a big change even from last autumn, when I helped TransWilts with their station and approach survey to help them build their hub business plan.  Really good to see all these people around, happily using the train.  Queues at the TVM (Ticket Vending Machine); grumbles it didn't take cash (so clearly a newbie); some litter around (but I wasn't equipped or high-viz dressed to do a clean) - but all good signs of a service use that's bursting back.  Greener / more sustainable too - I don't think there was a single car in the main car park when we arrived, and only a handful doing drop offs.

For the later record, weather forecast really not good and indeed there was some rain - not a day for peak seaside trips.

To be continued after breakfast ...
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2021, 12:24:16 pm »

Mask wearing on trains has slipped. Rather as I guessed, wearing has moved from nearly everyone obeying the rules to - under an optional system - everyone following the advice reasonaby well at first. But this has decayed so that by yesterday perhaps less that half of people were wearing masks with, personal observation, a bias towards older rather than younger people wearing them. No joy for me in having predicted this ... and it's putting others off.

Arriving into Westbury, our train from Swindon was to continue to Weymouth, and as the doors opened, crowds were waiting to get on.  A very real fear - from a gent at the front by the door as he got off - to push though - "please stand back" he shouted, but little headed I'm afraid as new passengers were impatient to board.



Onward via Warminster, our 3 car train (Cardiff - Portsmouth hourly) was "full" and standing.  There were a couple of seats free in the middle of blocks of three, but people choosing to stand.  No-one seemed to mind the call as Dilton Marsh; I can't give you any passenger numbers for there, but it would see to be sensible until there's a regular 2nd train every hours south of Westbury for the current regular hourly service to call.

A lot of people off at Warminster - for Bus Running Day to Imber (from the train, saw a Boris Bus, a Routemaster and an open top routemaster in the station front area.  But far from everyone off - train was still well over half full and continued as such to Southampton. Good to see so may people around but I thought one of the points of switching to Turbos was that they could routinely be five carriages?

Arrival into Southampton at very slightly after 11 a.m. - for a 1 p.m. terminal arrival, so a quick slow lunch in Subway before getting a taxi to the Ocean Terminal.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2021, 01:19:43 pm »

3 of 3 for yesterday (and a couple from this morning) - just pictures.

















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PhilWakely
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2021, 01:33:57 pm »

Have a good trip!

Don't really fancy the pool (pic #7). I presume that is a thick glass panel  Shocked
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2021, 06:39:36 pm »

Have a good trip!

Don't really fancy the pool (pic #7). I presume that is a thick glass panel  Shocked

There is no panel - the water is deep up to then ledge, and just below another deck sticks further out so it's only a short(er) drop and the thing is not a exposed as it looks. It's an "infinity pool" - edge of a waterfall seen from above.
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2021, 07:19:15 pm »



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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2021, 07:37:28 pm »

Please keep posting the pictures - even though they are making me envious!

What's the cruise experience like in terms of Covid precautions?  For example, passenger capacity limited to a fraction of normal? mask wearing? are the buffets still open or is all food plated now?
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2021, 07:50:19 pm »

Please keep posting the pictures - even though they are making me envious!

What's the cruise experience like in terms of Covid precautions?  For example, passenger capacity limited to a fraction of normal? mask wearing? are the buffets still open or is all food plated now?

I will post a "cruising with covid" thread some time in a few hours or days ...
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