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Author Topic: The National Rail web site and routing: valid on one, valid on all?  (Read 771 times)
Mark A
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« on: March 14, 2023, 09:17:40 »

The journey is Bath Spa to Runcorn East via Hereford - on an anytime return ticket.

The National Rail routing guide lists various connections:

* The straightforward Bath - Newport - Chester - Runcorn East

* Also Bath - Newport - Crewe - Chester - Runcorn East.

* Also the frankly devious Bath - Newport - Crewe - Warrington - Runcorn East.

I''m thinking that while the National Rail site automatically returns the a to b to c to d journey that takes the least time, all of these routes are valid on any series of connections so that the passenger can make a free choice as to which one they choose.

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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2023, 18:04:19 »

Oops, this thread has become a trip report.

Back south now. In the event I didn't need to invoke Warrington.

Out via Newport and Chester on the 7:30 from Bath, and at Newport, an unprecedented 'Situation' on the 166 - in fishing my rucksack from the overhead rack, the waistband fastener pinged itself behind the steelwork of the light fitting, which was of a perfect design to trap it. So, rucksack attached to train.

It was a full train, and the people travelling to work had a good five minutes of entertainment from me as I attempted to work the fastener from the clutches of the train roof. (Being a commuter train in the south west, the audience response was to get even more sullen - which was a bit ungenerous as I'd already discounted the idea of the equivalent of pulling the comms cord so there was no cost to this entertainment).

Cardiff, the final call, the train emptied, and I headed from the rear of the five carriage train to the driver's compartment. The driver, train manager, two members of platform staff, another train manager and a cleaner were promptly very helpful and after about five minutes they managed to free the offending fastener and attached rucksack.

"Has this ever happened before?" I asked.

"No, and please leave our train before anything else happens." (Said kindly and with humour I hasten to add, they'd been really helpful and cheerfully sorted it.)

There was then time to board the train I'd originally planned as contingency, leaving Cardiff at 9.23, to Chester.

While waiting, the 9 o'clock arrival from Holyhead appeared - at one time, the “Y Gerallt Gymro” - running as a pair of somewhat empty 153s in place of the loco & coaches.

At 9:23, no sign of the train to Chester, but a platform change announcement. Then another one, and then a third, back to the original platform. (Fortunately, all three platforms were on the same island). In came the train (2 carriages, a 153) people boarded and out we went. In the past this has been somewhat full at Newport but this one wasn't particularly busy.

We left around 15 minutes down, and there was the impression that the driver was doing the best they could to make up the time, without much success - the stock being just about able to keep to the schedule - but towards Shrewsbury he'd clawed back about half of it and the booked ten minute stop at Shrewsbury sorted the rest, so, right time into Chester, and one of TfW's new 197s off the North Wales coast for last leg to Runcorn East, accompanied by my rucksack, which had had quite enough of attaching itself to the roofs of trains.

Someone somewhere had remarked that these have a catering store aboard that's styled like something that you might find on a submarine, and they're not wrong - one of the carriages contains a large stainless steel cabinet that looks to be the size of two sets of bays of four tables. Its exterior surface has various doors to internal spaces and the whole thing looks as though it could have been restyled firstly to be more suitable for the passenger space, and secondly, you wonder if it could have been configured as a mini buffet with a counter.

For the return, the course of the day took meant that it suited progress if I was dropped off in Didsbury, Manchester, so, a ride on a tram to Piccadilly (very cityscape-scenic through the city centre).

At Piccadilly, a single to Crewe, but sold as a TfW-only day return, to get me back on route for my return ticket. Plenty of people about but Manchester Piccadilly for a late Friday afternoon didn't feel particularly busy.

The 16:30 TfW service from Manchester to Swansea is in the timetable as a loco and coaches, but there seem to be few of those running for the time being: an internally clean but very overheated, and externally filthy 158 two carriage train turned up in its place - and after something happened at Stockport, left ten minutes late, time that it made up between Crewe and Shrewsbury.

The train was perhaps 80% full, so, demand scaling to the capacity. The external dirt's effect on the quality of the journey wasn't trivial: with bright low sun cutting through lineside growth we had an hour of bright light, intense flicker and little external visibility. When he passed through checking tickets, the train manager wondered why I was in a trance. The evening sky had clouded over and a buffet trolley person came aboard at Shrewsbury, both of which which improved things.

South to Newport, the borders rivers being still very full and a lot of flooded fields south of Dinmore, darkness fell and rain hopefully washed the train exterior down a bit.

Off at Newport (with a security presence on the station for some reason, and also, much hoarding for the ongoing building works dominating platforms 2 & 3) and a ten minute connection on to a train through to Bath Spa, rucksack carefully stashed and not on an overhead luggage rack this time.

*     *     *     

Overall, this was a very useful piece of enabling travel, albeit several of the trains didn't match the nature of the journey and marketing the travel experience at this time will be difficult.

Then there's ticketing. For on-the-day travel, is lt just TfW that seems to have moved to a flat fare model - no peak / off peak split, just an 'Anytime' price?

The person who sold me the ticket was surprised I wanted to travel via Hereford - she checked the price of an anytime ticket (with a railcard) via Birmingham - £135.35 compared to £59.55.

Hopefully TfW will weather their current shortage of trains and their fares model won't evaporate.


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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2023, 15:00:18 »

Having 6 people to help sort out said RUCK sack .......I might be tempted to change the first letter of the offending receptacle.  Huh
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