The 17:53 pulled out of London Marylebone pretty much on time this evening. Unfortunately it became clear straight away that we might be in for an interesting journey home, as the train's engines stopped just as we were crossing the main points between the station and the entrance to St John's Wood Tunnel.
Not a useful place for a train to stall at the height of the evening rush hour.
We eventually laboured our way to Northolt Park (first scheduled station stop) and then stalled again somewhere between West Ruslip and Denham. Having eventually restarted, and as we approached the Tesco Tunnel at Gerrards Cross, the driver came on the PA and said that the service would be terminating at Gerrards Cross- it being the first available place with a siding and with several trains now backed up behind.
The train wasn't due to stop again except for at Beaconsfield and High Wycombe. By the time we arrived at Gerrards Cross, I estimate that we were probably about 15 minutes late.
The thing was (and the purpose of this post) that there then followed a really long station PA announcement by a man with a terribly posh voice, apologising for the problems, thanking us for our understanding and undertaking to get straight onto the telephone to establish what was going on.
The member of Chiltern Railways staff making the announcement was so clearly and completely sincere in his apology and desire to get matters sorted out, that most passengers were smiling.
What happened next was outstanding. Outstanding in that the man then came personally onto the platform and used his natural foghorn voice to advise that the next train to stop would call additionally at Beaconsfield because; "I have in my hand a piece of paper which tells the driver to stop". Priceless.
Nevertheless the next train duly pulled in a few minutes later and the man (the station manager?) walked to the front of the train and handed the driver the magic piece of paper and said "I have an extra stop for you, please stop at Beaconsfield".
Chiltern Railways are generally pretty good, though compared to many train franchises they are a bit of a toy town operation (this is good). Tonights events were really quite amusing and showed that the railway is run by humans. Well done Mr Man for accepting responsibility for sorting the problem out and for having the confidence to face the traveling public eyeball to eyeball.
I could do with a few of those magic sheets of paper, especially for a Friday night.