Monday, October 31, 2011

Too Much Time on Trains

Statistics for the month of October 2011:

Miles Travelled
Chiltern Railways
Great Western
Virgin Trains
Cross Country
Total for Month

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Some weeks later.... The Chiltern Railways timetable

On 5th September 2011, Chiltern Railways introduced their new timetable. It marked the culmination of mega-spend on engineering work (£250m), months of weekend and late night travel disruption and a couple of weeks of blockade in August.

The result is an ambitious little train company, trying to run something approaching a four track railway on two tracks. The new timetable is bedding-in, just about, but whether it is actually fit for purpose is an entirely different matter. Since the company is no longer owned by its management, its ethos on day to day operational matters does seem to be driven a little more by the bean counters than ever used to be the case.

The view of many commuters in to London is that Chiltern Railways has de-prioritised them in favour of the longer distance (commercially lucrative and less captive) West Midlands to London market. Chiltern Railways does still however have some great staff working on the front line, trying to deliver the best possible service, often in difficult circumstances.

My train home

Since the new timetable came in, I now have a new favourite train home. I have caught it on nineteen separate occasions since 5 September. Of those 19 journeys, the train has arrived on time on 9 occasions. If one includes the generally accepted standard of three minutes or less late is 'on time', then the train has been on time on 16 of the 19 journeys.

The remaining three journeys were 14, 12 & 5 minutes late.

Every single journey was quicker than would have been the case before the new timetable was introduced.

I think I've been lucky, but in respect of my homeward journey from Marylebone, I am generally quite content. There are other things I could rant on about, but for now, I shall end on a positive note.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A Day at the Seaside

It's been a long day today (and I still won't be home for another 2 1/2 hours).

Up bright and early for a reasonable time Chiltern Railways train into London Marylebone. Reasonable time because it was 80 minutes later than the train I usually catch during the week.

A leisurely walk along to London Paddington, and then on to a First Great Western train. The train was bound for Plymouth, though I was to get off at Exeter St Davids. Bit of a wibble on the way - a broken down train meant that at Westbury we were diverted via Bath and Bristol, eventually arriving (after a signal failure thrown in) some 50 minutes late.

After a five minute wait, I then boarded a little two car train down the branch line to Exmouth. To say that the train was packed was an understatement. Apparently it has been a little warm today, so all the world and their dog had decided to go to the seaside.Actually there were no dogs on the train, but hopefully you get the picture.

It was then off to the beach. It's really quite a nice beach.

Don't forget that today is the 1st of October. It isn't supposed to be like this.There aren't supposed to be lots of people on the beach. There aren't supposed to be massive queues at the ice cream shop on the sea front. The restaurants are not supposed to be packed. Clearly late Summer warmth is good for trade in Exmouth.

It was then back onto a train for a few minutes up the line for Digby & Sowton, the nearest train station for Sandy Park, the home to the Rugby Union side of Exeter Chiefs.

It's actually the second time I've been to Sandy Park this year. It has a nice atmosphere and the facilities for spectators are good.
Now, I do confess to being a Saracens season ticket holder, so it was quite enjoyable to see my side win by 17 points to 13. It may not have been the most technical game ever played, but it was an enjoyable afternoon and, of course, the right side won!

Due to the number of people who had been enjoying the sun and sea down in Exmouth, the train back up to Exeter was complete carnage. So much so that it was late enough for me to miss my planned 1802 train back to Paddington.

Instead, I am now sat on the 1856 train, still some considerable distance from London, while I had been hoping to be on my last train of the day by now.

Nevertheless, a good day and I've even caught a bit of colour, which is a good thing for October.

Tomorrow it's a 150 mile round trip drive for a joined-up-meat lunch.