Sunday Diversions

Remind me never again to travel on a Sunday. Needing to get back for some important meetings tomorrow I set out from Cardiff this lunchtime leaving plenty of time for the journey. Just as well.

For a start, First Great Western trains were disrupted by “planned engineering work”. Not very well planned, obviously. The train I got on was to be diverted via Bath Spa, adding about an hour to the usual journey time. But that wasn’t the main cause of vexation.

When it arrived at a crowded platform at Cardiff Central, the 12.53 consisted of just seven coaches, three of which were First Class. To add to the chaos and consternation, Coach B, in which several people standing beside me had reserved seats, did not exist.

Not having a reservation in a real or imaginary coach, rather than stand for 3 hours I went and sat in any empty First Class carriage and when the guard arrived I paid the £15 upgrade to Weekend First, congratulating First Great Western on a cleverly-worked scam. Deliberately running a short train on a busy route to increase revenue this way is cynical and exploitative but that’s what it means to run a train company these days.

Anyway, the weather being quite nice when I arrived in Paddington I walked through Kensington Gardens and along the Serpentine before heading down to Victoria.

Stage two of my journey via Southern Railways turned out to be no better. More “planned engineering works” meant all Victoria to Brighton trains were diverted through Littlehampton. A replacement bus from Three Bridges was offered as an alternative “possibly a little quicker” but having no confidence at all that a bus would actually materialise I stayed on the train as it trundled through rural Sussex.

I got to Brighton Station around 7pm, about 6 hours after leaving Cardiff Central, but at least I got a bus straight away.

I hope the rest of the week isn’t as exasperating as today, but something tells me that it might be..

6 Responses to “Sunday Diversions”

  1. I travelled from Holyhead to London by train this afternoon. The train arrived in Euston 5 minutes early.

    • Bryn, how long does that journey take?

      • Yesterday the scheduled time was 3h 54m. Through trains are scheduled to take about 3h 45m on weekdays.

        The downside is that the trains are ususally grubby, cramped, have too few toilets (one disabled toilet per carriage only, and they tend to break down regularly), and there is very little room for luggage. Then there are few through trains per day, so a change of train is required at Chester. And it costs in excess of £90 for an off-peak return ticket.

      • Actually, that’s shorter than I’d thought….

        There used to be a direct train from Cardiff to Brighton, which was slow but at least had the advantage of cutting out London.

      • The Holyhead-London train journey is quite long, but the big problems do not involve the travel time – dirty trains, crowded trains, few through trains, too little room for luggage, a cramped or claustrophic carriage environment, uncomfortable seats. My experiences of travelling on First Great Western is that the carriages are much more comfortable than Virgin Trains.

        I travelled between Cardiff and Brighton via Bristol many years ago. It seemed a long journey.

        Rail journeys are strangely expensive in Britain. In principle, it should be cheaper to make a journey by rail than by car, even for two people
        who would share the car costs.

      • The Great Western line does have comfortable trains, but the FGW service from Cardiff to Portsmouth and back also has small seats and cramped carriages.

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