Friday 5 February 2010

Want to be taken for a ride?

My first train ride for many years on our once great railway was more than I bargained for.

My wife had taken the car to Leicester in the afternoon and rather than ask her to come back to the office during the rush hour to collect me, I decided to catch the train from Bedford to our home in Wellingborough.

The timetable said that the 22 mile journey only took about 14 minutes so I arranged to be met at the station around 5.15pm

The smart new train arrived at Bedford on time and I was immediately impressed by its cleanliness and modern appearance. It gathered pace after leaving Bedford and shortly must have been travelling at 100mph.

Sadly - within a few minuites it ground to a halt.

After 10 minutes we were advised over the trains intercom that we were in a queue caused by signal failures.

Another 20 minutes went past and I thought that being marooned on the Orient Express or the Blue Train is one thing but being cut off from the world on the 5.07 from Bedford to Nottingham is quite different.

I decided to explore - and wonder of wonders - in the rear carriage - there was a bar.

Two pints of Guiness later I was past caring as to what time I would arrive home - my only fear was that John the bartender would run out of Guiness before we were rescued.

An hour after we stopped - the Tannoy crackled into life again and we were told that we were now moving onto the slow freight line.

The downside of doing this was that the platform at Wellingborough was only of sufficient length to accommodate the front of the train and therefore passengers - like moi - would be further imprisoned until the train reached Kettering - some 10 miles further north.

I learnt that the obvious maneuver at Wellingborough of disembarking the front passengers and then nudging the train forward a few yards thus allowing the rear passengers to get off was more than the train driver had authority for.

Such a risky operation need the written permission of the Fat Controller and the Fat Controller does not like to be disturbed after 5.00pm.

My very irate wife was then obliged to fight her way through the traffic to Kettering - by which time I had imbibed two more of Johns pints of Guiness.

I arrived home at 8.00pm - having taken 4 hours to travel 24 miles from my office.

I look forward very much to my next train journey - possibly in fifteen years time.!

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