Sunday, 3 May 2015

Another Bank Holiday Weekend

Another Stay at Home Weekend?
...or something more adventurous? While fbb Eurostars off to Paris, Alan, our Northampton correspondent, considers one or two possibilities for a Bank Holiday excursion.

There's the Llandudno Transport and Victorian Weekend.
Or the Friends of King Alfred (the bus company, not the monarch) running day in Winchester.
Enjoy approx 7 minutes of old buses filmed in 2013 when the event was traditionally held on new year's day. 2015 marks the earth shattering move to the May-Day weekend!

A not very quick check on the National Rail web site ...
... reveals a list of 42 sites where engineering work will be taking place over this weekend. Two refer to London Bridge and the Oxford to Bicester Line which are long term.

Amended service between Wolverhampton and Stoke-on-Trent/Runcorn/Warrington Bank Quay from Saturday 2 to Monday 4 May

But it looks a bit worrying for Northampton to Llandudno.

CrossCountry to and from Manchester Piccadilly. London Midland between London Euston and Crewe, Birmingham New Street and Crewe. Virgin Trains between London Euston and Glasgow Central / Holyhead / Liverpool Lime Street / Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New

Birmingham New? And there's more:-

London Midland until 13:00, Saturday and all day Monday, Birmingham New Street to Liverpool Lime Street service will run between Crewe and Liverpool Lime Street, buses will run (Saturday) between Wolverhampton and Crewe, (Sunday) between Birmingham New Street and Crewe.

From 13:00, Saturday, buses replace trains between Wolverhampton and Liverpool South Parkway, passengers should use alternative services to / from Birmingham New Street / Liverpool South Parkway to complete their journey.

After approximately 13:00 Saturday and all day Sunday an amended service will run between London Euston and Crewe not calling at Stafford and Stone, buses will run between Stafford and Rugeley Trent Valley / Stoke-on-Trent.

On Sunday, trains between Birmingham New Street and Crewe / Liverpool Lime Street will not run. Buses will run between Wolverhampton and Liverpool South Parkway, passengers should use alternative services to / from Liverpool South Parkway to complete their journey.

On Monday, Birmingham New Street to Liverpool Lime Street service will run between Crewe and Liverpool Lime Street, buses replace trains between Birmingham New Street and Crewe calling at Wolverhampton..

Indeed, it doesn't look good for Llandudno. But how bad it looks depends entirely on the looker's knowledge of the rail network. What we need is some kind of map. Best look on London Midland's web site.And yippee, there IS a map!
The letters refer to panels below which, by any stretch of the imagination, are gibberish ...
... without "the amended timetabls". This information page is worrying because of the next bit. Some might think it is out of date.

London services over Easter 2015
Major improvement work will take place between Friday 3 and Monday 6 April on the route into London and the connecting Abbey line into Watford Junction. Get the full details and download the leaflet at

Very helpful. Try clicking to see if  "Easter 2015" has overflowed into "May 2015".
And what does the smiling London Midland man have to say. Watford is all clear? Enjoy a trip to sunny Watford? Harry Potter is waiting for your call?

Erm, not quite.
To be fair to London Midand, hidden in the impenetrable bowels of their web site (so well hidden that fbb almost ignored it) is a leaflet.
Network Rail will be carrying out improvement works in the Stafford area to replace timeworn signalling equipment and infrastructure. This is to give passengers faster, more frequent and more reliable services.

As a result, on Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 May trains between London Euston and Crewe will take a diversionary route, meaning journeys will be much longer than normal.

Trains will not be calling at Stafford and Stone on Sat 2 & Sun 3 May. Passengers needing to travel to/from Stafford and Stone can use a rail replacement bus service that will be running between Rugeley Trent Valley and Stoke-on-Trent, calling at Stafford and Stone.

And that's it. No map, no timetables ...

  on-line or in print   

... in fact nothing that might help you plan your journey without being sucked into the morass of tedium that develops when trying to be speculative on the journey planners.

Alan concludes his non-infromative email with the following observation.

The options are:-

1) Leave the country by the fastest possible route.
Hmm; fbb is off to Paris today. There may be trouble ahead?

 Amended service to and from London Waterloo 
 via Wimbledon on Sunday 3 and Monday 4 May  
 Buses replace trains between Surbiton       
 and Effingham Junction via                  
 Cobham & Stoke D'Abernon on Sunday 3 May    
 Buses replace trains between Basingstoke,   
 Winchester and Eastleigh                    
 from Saturday 2 to Monday 4 May             

2) The train operating companies' favoured option.
Stay at home.
You are only a leisure traveller with a railcard.
If it weren't for Paris, fbb's approved option.

3) The serendipitous option.
If not taking luggage, go and surmount
any obstacles the railway system throws at you.
Unwise if you live way out west! Climb every mountain etc. The challenge calls for a song:-

Climb every footbridge,
Search for a train,
Lacking information,
There and back again.

Climb every subway,
Board every bus,
If you do not get there,
Please don't make a fuss.

A trip that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.

Search for some timings,
They don't exist,
Be forever doubtful,
Connections will be missed

A trip that will need
Job's patience you'll lack,
Press on regardless,
And hope you'll get back.

Climb every footbridge,
Board every bus,
If the driver gets lost,
Please don't make a fuss.

Words from "The Sound of Engineering Work", a musical by Notwork Rail starring Mark Carne (chief executive) as Maria...

... and Paul Plummer (finance director) as Baron Von Trapp-Point.

Members of the "orange army" ...
... play the von Trapp-Point children, chorus of nuns etc.

 First Paris-trip blog : Monday 4th May             

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately it is the usual sort of treatment of potential passengers from the railway, and I now generally join the "stay at home" contingent when there's engineering works interrupting long distance journeys.

    Curiously, Southeastern puts nice maps and reasonable timetables up at stations, but never, ever puts the information in this format on the website. On the latter, you get an alphabetical list of stations affected, which does not necessarily distinguish between those with normally-timetabled train, amended train or replacement bus service.

    So it's to trusty Real Time Trains for the true picture. This reveals that today LM's London-Liverpool trains are routed through Northampton (without stopping), Nuneaton, Stoke, Macclesfield, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly and the recently-electrified line via Newton-le-Willows to Liverpool Lime Street.