Friday, November 30, 2012

November 2012 - I need to get a life!

Another record mileage this month - I cannot see that I am likely to do this much travelling again anytime soon.

Helped out by a day trip up to Windermere in the Lake District, during a week off work. That trip saw a new entrant to the list with the Transpennine Express shuttle between Oxenholme and Windermere.

Again, for the record:

Miles Travelled
Chiltern Railways
East Midland
First Great Western
TransPennine Express
Virgin Trains
Cross Country
Total for Month

Monday, November 05, 2012

A twelve minute delay, and this is what happens.....

Us normal rail travellers often don't realise how much pedalling behind the scenes takes place to attempt to keep an on-time railway running.

This afternoon I caught the Chiltern Railways 1555 Mainline Silver Train from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone.

Once it was past Leamington Spa, it was reported that the Class 67 Locomotive (67012), pushing it from the rear, had dumped a load of oil. This was obviously reported very quickly, because six minutes before we arrived into Banbury Chiltern posted on their website that the train would be held at Banbury, due to a train fault.

Fortunately the driver(s) were unable to find anything wrong, so we left Banbury just 12 minutes late.

Regular Marylebone commuters will know that orchestrating on-time arrivals and departures is an art. The train plan has services darting in from all over the place - The train to form the flagship 1807 departure to Kidderminster is the train that was running late.

Clearly something had to be done to prevent carnage at Marylebone.

What actually happened tonight was:
  • The 1702 departure from Bicester North to Marylebone was held for 6 minutes at Princes Risborough for us to whizz past. It arrived into London bang on the Working Timetable (1813) and three minutes ahead of the published public timetable.
  • The 1648 departure from Bicester North to Marylebone was pulled over onto Platform 2 at High Wycombe, from where it left seven minutes late. It arrived into Marylebone one minute late. Being plonked there caused the 1710 MYB/SAV service to be delayed by six minutes, but that train should easily make up that time. [Edit: The SAV train actual missed it's slot at Aynho, so eventually arrived into Stratford-upon-Avon two minutes behind the public timetable.]
  • The 1723 departure from High Wycombe to Marylebone was pulled over onto the slow line at West Ruislip and held at a red signal for us for about six minutes. That train arrived into London bang on time.
What that means is that due to some nifty footwork, the Silver Train was made to unexpectedly overtake three other trains and itself arrived into Marylebone on Platform 3 at 1758 (officially 9 minutes late). It left for Kidderminster a minute late at 1808. A pretty quick turnround. It is still running about one minute late, but that is neither here nor there.

All in all there were quite a few judgement calls to be made by the control staff. I would say they did a pretty good job tonight.

Without the manual intervention by signallers, it would have been total carnage at Marylebone. Trains would have been in the wrong platforms, hundreds or even a couple of thousand passengers could have been delayed, and there could ultimately have been significant costs to the railway company. All avoided bar some relatively minor inconvenience to a much smaller number of passengers.

Quite a bit of work caused by one late running train, but all's well that ends well!