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.
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!