It would be an exaggeration to say that this has been a good day. It started in Cardiff when I got to the Central Station and discovered that my train was late. It was only 12 minutes late, in fact, which isn’t at all unsurprising for Late Western. Nevertheless I was a bit annoyed that the 12 minutes turned into 20 minutes and that the Train Manager never once offered an explanation or apology on the entire journey into Paddington.
I did eventually find out the reason for the initial delay via Twitter. Earlier there had been a “person hit by a train”. My irritation turned to deep sadness, at hearing yet again that coded message indicating a death by suicide.
Sitting on the train I remembered seeing fallen cherry blossom in Bute Park. The morning rain had brought it down. That would provide a much more poetic excuse for late running than the usual “leaves on the line”, a poignant reminder of our mortality and all that. I didn’t realize how apt that would turn out to be.
After arriving into Paddington I took the tube to Victoria and had only a short wait for a train to Brighton. All went well until we reached Gatwick Airport at which point we were held at a signal for some time. The train manager then announced that the train would be diverted via Lewes and would therefore be late. The reason? Unbelievably, another “person hit by a train”, this time near Hassocks. Two in one day. Grim.
The train reached Lewes but didn’t stop at a platform but up a branch line some distance from the station. The driver changed ends and we went through Lewes station again without stopping, this time on the branch line to Brighton. We then passed Falmer (my intended destination) without stopping too.
Soon we arrived in Brighton, and I had to get another, stopping, train back to Falmer. I got on the next one, which sat for 20 minutes without moving. Diversion of all the mainline trains onto the Lewes line was causing congestion. As time ticked away I was starting to worry I would miss my 5pm lecture. I decided to give up on the train, left the station and proceeded to take the Number 25 bus to Falmer from the nearest stop.
That turned out not to be a wise move. The bus managed to travel a few hundred yards only before the driver announced that the Lewes Road had been closed by the Police owing to an “incident” at the gyratory system beside Sainsbury’s. We sat on the bus for a while just south of the area that had been cordoned off and then the driver told us the inevitable news that the bus was terminating and we all had to get off.
The main bus garage lies on the Lewes Road just north of the gyratory system, so I thought there was a chance some buses might be operating the other side of the blockage. I went to investigate.
As I skirted round the police cordon I counted at least ten police cars scattered about, along with two large vans. Armed officers were swarming around, and some were on the top of the Sainsbury’s building. There was also a uniformed officer with a loud hailer. Apparently someone, apparently armed, was inside one of the nearby flats. I didn’t hang about to find out more.
There were no buses northbound that I could see, and by now it was pouring with rain. I couldn’t see any possibility of getting to campus with my luggage, so decided to give up and go to my flat. By now my phone battery was nearly flat so all I could so was leave quick messages on Twitter and Facebook, before it croaked, to say
I was cancelling my lecture.
As I write the incident at Lewes road appears to be continuing, but at least nobody seems to have been seriously hurt.
I’m of course very disappointed at having had to miss a lecture, and some other things I wanted to do this afternoon but the three events that impinged on my journey are of far greater consequence for the people affected than my own inconvenience. It’s no doubt been a rougher day than I can possibly imagine for a great many people today.Follow @telescoper