Archive for Belfast

Not to Belfast and Back

Posted in Biographical, Talks and Reviews with tags , , , on January 23, 2019 by telescoper

Well, today I was supposed to give a seminar at the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast.

I was actually quite looking forward to visiting Belfast and to my first go on the Enterprise train service between Dublin Connolly and Belfast.

Unfortunately, although the train left Dublin on schedule at 9.30am (due into Belfast at 11.45), after about half an hour we came to a stop near Balbriggan and remained motionless for over an hour owing to a `mechanical fault’. The train eventually limped into Drogheda station after 2 hours and 15 minutes. Passengers were then obliged to get off at board the following service (departing Connolly at 11.20) which was due to arrive at Belfast station at 13.32. Since my talk was due to start at 1pm and finish at 2pm I asked the organizers what to do and, following their advice, am now on the 12.08 service from Drogheda to Dublin.

The defective train was shunted out of the way, but by the time I left the 11.20 from Connolly due into Drogheda at 11.56 had not arrived, so the onward train would also have been late.

Queen’s University Belfast, which I didn’t visit today.

Mechanical faults do happen, of course, but was reprehensible was the complete lack of communication between the crew and passengers. The decision to terminate the train at Drogheda was announced on Twitter over an hour before the train manager bothered to tell the passengers.

Apologies to everyone at QUB for having to cancel, but I really had no choice. I’ll try to reschedule it, and next time I’ll take the bus.


Cardiff to Dublin via Belfast

Posted in Biographical, Cardiff with tags , , , on April 11, 2018 by telescoper

I thought I write a brief post to arising from today’s travel difficulties, really just to make a record of the episode for posterity.

As last Wednesday I got up early this morning (4.30am) to get the 7am FlyBe flight from Cardiff to Dublin, due into Dublin at 8.05am. Having only hand luggage, as usual, I proceeded straight upstairs to the departure area only to find that the screen said the flight was cancelled, and directed passengers intending to travel on it back downstairs to the `Disruption Desk’ .

A long queue had already formed by the time I got there, but I got to the desk fairly quickly. The assistant explained that the cancellation was due to `staff sickness’ (i.e. they were short of a pilot) and the only option on offer was to fly to Belfast whence a bus would be provided to Dublin. The Belfast flight should have left at 6.15am but was being held for passengers to Dublin. I was also given a £5 refreshments voucher.

I thought a moment and then decided to accept this offer. I didn’t have any morning appointments today, but definitely had to get to Maynooth somehow by tomorrow morning as I have a lecture to deliver.

The plane left Cardiff about 7.15am and arrived in Belfast around 8.10am but when I emerged from the arrivals area there was no bus. In fact it took about 45 minutes to arrive, and we didn’t get going until about 8.55am. Many of the passengers were clearly nervous about missing connecting flights in Dublin, including a group of women planning onward travel to the USA, but the trip was fairly uneventful apart from the fact that the toilet was out of commission necessitating a stop so that people could use the facilities in a service station.

I can confirm that there is no visible border between Northern Ireland and the Republic on the road between Belfast and Dublin, although it does change name from A1 to M1 on the way. The distance between Belfast and Dublin by road is about 100 miles and it took just over two hours. I arrived at Terminal 1 of Dublin Airport at 11.05, almost exactly three hours late. I thought that wasn’t too bad a result given the chaos in Cardiff when I left but it was still a frustrating morning. I had to wait until 11.50 for the bus to Maynooth, where I finally arrived about 12.40.

I will of course be submitting a request for the compensation to which I am entitled for the delay, but above all I hope that those whose arrangements were even more seriously disrupted than mine managed to get to where they needed to go in the end.