Monday, 6 April 2015

A Day Out by Train : Or Maybe Not?

Benefits of Being Back in Northampton
Lovely London Midland has sent fbb an mail.
And the "Great Escape" deals look good.
But they don't start until Tuesday 7th, so no good for the Easter weekend. fbb, as an innocent observer (oh yeah?) wonders why. And there would appear to be warnings.

Weekdays – travel on any of our trains leaving after 0930, unless your journey is wholly within the pink shaded area on our map, in which case you can travel at any time. In the evening, you’ll need to avoid our busiest time from London Euston; between 1700 and 1900.

"You'll need to avoid" evening peak from London or "the ticket isn't valid"? Probably NOT the latter, but who knows? The "pink" area is the "Greater" West Midlands.

Saturdays - if you’re travelling from these stations: Crewe, Alsager, Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent, Stone, Stafford, Rugeley Trent Valley, Lichfield Trent Valley, Tamworth, Atherstone, Nuneaton, avoid trains scheduled to arrive into London Euston before 1300 (feel free to travel via Birmingham/Coventry though).

"Avoid" again; unclear.

Sundays – travel on any of our trains at any time.

But there are still some special offers outside of the not-quite-so-Great Escape deal. A Grand Day Out for all the family?
Ideal for Easter!
Sounds even better; or even:-
O.K., it's not in London; it's at Watford which is in Herfordshire. A family ticket (2 Adults and 2 Children) costs £101. OUCH! Plus 4 returns on the bus from Watford Junction; that's another £8.

Only most tickets have been sold out for "holiday" dates ...
... and on many of the remaining "available" dates (in maroon), tickets are only on offer for evening tours.

So not the best of "attractions" to draw the traveller to London Midland's services. Hey ho, best look at the two-for-one London offers.

But hang on, isn't there some engineering stuff happening over the Easter weekend which might affect London trips; even Watford trips were Potty Harry avaiable? Yes there is a leaflet ...
... packed with helpful (?) infromation.
Not good news for happy holiday excursionists. But what exactly is happening? These are typical journey times:-
Whaaaat? Three and a half hours from Northampton to London? Surely not? Instead of about one hour?

Surely yes. On Friday, Satuday and today journey time was/is a modest two hours and fortyfive minutes. Because ...
... you would be turfed off your train at Hemel Hempstead (no longer "and Boxmoor") and conveyed by bus to Edgware for  lovely ride on the Undergound's northern line. Oddly in the other direction you were told to catch the Overground from Euston to Watford and coach from there.
But on Sunday, oh the deepest of deep joy, there is no Overground ...
... and buses zoom all the way from Hemel to Euston but, even better (!!!), buses also run from Northampton to Milton Keynes.
And now the journey time has increased to maximum.
No wonder London Midland have published a list of alternative train routes you might like to consider.
The mix of station for Milton Keynes, Bletchley and Leighton Buzzard seems odd; and would anyone really drive from Coventry to Kettering to catch a London train?

Now to be fair to London Midland, their e-mail to fbb was about the Easter (school?) Holidays in general, not specifically the Easter weekend. But perhaps the advert would have been more honest if it said "Stay at Home - Don't Go to London" for the four day period.

But 3½ hours from Northampton to London? fbb cannot remember anything quite as bad as that even in the dark days of West Coat Main Line electrification.
The only bonus of this level of disruption is that it will all be over by very early tomorrow morning.

Won't it?

Additionally, a P.S.

Nowhere, on-line or in print, is the disrupted Joe Public allowed any timetables so that the savvy sort can invent their own alternatives to the proscribed routes and times. Journey planners are all that are available.

  Easter Week : Or Easter, Weak? [1] 
In the UK, "Nature" shares the message of the Bible.  Hence Easter bunnies, fluffy chickens, gamboling lambs and lots and lots of eggs. It is all about NEW LIFE.

For today and until Friday, fbb meditates on the New Life of the Resurrection and the gift of new life in Christ. 

On the road to Emmaus a stranger joined two disconsolate walkers as they trudged home after their hope for the future, Jesus, was crucified.

We had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. Some of the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb, but could not find his body.

The stranger replied.

How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! 26 Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?

At last they recognised that "the stranger" was the risen Jesus.

They said to each other, “Wasn't it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

Yesterday (Easter Sunday) fbb and Mrs ditto visited St Micheal's Church, Shute; just up the road from the site of Seaton Junction Station.
For three days they were holding a spring flowers festival.
New Life by the barrow-ful!
 Next bus blog : Tuesday 7th April 


  1. The big difference this time was the large hole in the tracks at Watford Junction, where a 175 year old bridge that was rusted away was being replaced.
    I'm just in from three days of driving a replacement bus, and I must say that London Midland did a pretty good job of replacing the trains. LOADS of buses (probably too many, to be honest), plenty of well informed and motivated staff, and the passengers seemed to have heeded the advice not to travel via LM, since the loadings were very light on almost all trains.
    In fact, changing at Hemel Hempstead onto a bus to Edgware and thence the Northern Line was adding around 30 minutes to a typical southbound journey. The reason for northbound passengers being routed via Overground was that Edgware had no facilities for buses to wait for passengers, and no shelters for passengers to wait under if the weather was poor (the Bus Station is simply full of buses for most of the day!).
    If the job had to be done, then t'were done well!!

  2. Fascinating greenline727. Thank you for your contribution.