Monday 28 December 2015

The Best of Times : The Worst of Times

More "Worst" If You're Going to Paddington
The "vanished" blog originally
planned for Boxing Day 
West rail 'bedlam' as Paddington 
to shut for four days at Christmas
 24th  Great Western Railway (aka First Great Western) winds down their service early on Christmas Eve.

 25th  No Trains

 26th  No Trains

 27th  Paddington Station is closed (engineering work)

 28th  Paddington Station is closed (engineering work)

fbb's Bristol correspondent sent him a copy of the booklet describing the arrangements in detail. This useful (?) publication also included maps showing alternative routes in use on 27th and 28th. Having read the booklet assiduously, fbb is saddened to report that the leaflet sort of evaporated somewhere between Seaton and Abergynolwyn. So all of what follows is dredged kicking from the interwebnet.

But here goes; what's happening, line by line.

 Hereford and Oxford 

Trains from Hereford join an hourly fast train from Oxford which travels north to Banbury, reverses and runs on Chiltern metals into Marylebone. Click to enlarge the diagram.
Trains from Cheltenham etc, terminate the Swindon where connections are available with anything that happens to be passing. The journeys will take much longer than usual.
Stopping trains from Oxford follow their normal route via Didcot and Reading and terminate at Slough. What happens next is a real thrill (NOT!) which we will examine later.

 Wales & Bristol Parkway 

These trains will run as normal to Didcot West Curve where they will bear left to Oxford, Banbury (reverse) and Marylebone. The journeys will take much longer than usual. 

 West Country and (hourly) Bristol Temple Meads 

These run as normal to Reading, then fork left and trundle gently into Waterloo. Click to enlarge the diagram.
Reading is the dot at the top right. Guess what; these journeys will take longer than usual! Trains on the half hour (see below) will terminate at Reading and passengers will be able to continue to Slough or take anything into Waterloo.

The big problem is that no-one is telling you how long the journey takes. Here, for example, is what it says about Bristol.

Sunday 27 – from Bristol Temple Meads
before 09.30, trains to London Waterloo will leave at 06.40, 07.30 and 09.15
from 09.30 to 19.00 trains to London Waterloo will leave Bristol Temple Meads on the hour, except 14.00

Hang on a sec. Every hour from 0930 to 1900

trains terminating at Reading will leave at 30 minutes past every hour, except 11.30, 12.30 and 14.30

Does that include the 0930?

after 19.00, the last direct train to London Waterloo will leave at 22.10

Does that mean that there are trains at 2000 and 2100 or not?

And nothing is said about intermediate stops, so tough HSTs if you want a train from Swindon or Chippenham. Not very good, is it?

 Now -  Wow! How about Slough? 

It's all very simple. You catch a bus to Hillingdon Underground station where there is a choice of Metropolitan or Piccadilly line into London.
Did fbb read Metropolitan or Piccadilly?

From Hillingdon ...
... to Paddington?
Clearly, Transport for London have built a new tube railway specially for 27th and 28th December. fbb awaits a full report.

It is VERY poor, isn't it.

 And Local "London" Lines? 
Henley on Thames
Train to Twyford (as normal although at abnormal times), train WEST to Reading, the do a "U" turn and catch a train EAST to Waterloo.
Enjoy your four-leg two hour and twelve minute nip to Waterloo! VIA BASINGSTOKE!

Or, says the diruptions web site, to can travel from High Wycombe; but it tells not how to get there.

There are buses from here to High Wycombe and locally from intermediate stations.

Easy-peasy; normal service to Slough. The very much not easy-peay. Even not-so-Great Western suggest you go to Waterloo via South West Trains and Windsor's Riverside station.

No Heathrow Express. No Heathrow Connect (the brown line on the map above). Use the Piccadilly Line. It will take much longer.

Catch a bus. And we won't tell you which one.

As if all the above wasn't bad enough, the site goes on to tell you, "from 29th December to 3rd January we will be running a revised service." And that's it. Thanks a bunch Great Western Railway.

Is this really the best you can offer? Surely the least you could supply is line by line timetables? Presumably the company is running to a timetable and not making it up as they go along? "Hey, Burt, take this HST to Reading, will you. We haven't been there for an hour or so."

And why are there no maps on line but there are maps on the leaflet?

Of course it is (mostly) on the Journey Planner (unless you want the Greenford Branch), but surely passengers need more than this. they need the confidence, for example, that there is a later train if they get held up. They need timetables to help them make decisions. If it really takes over two hours to get from Henley to London, maybe start from somewhere else or not go at all.

There is, of course, another alternative. Close down completely for FOUR days and not two and run pre-booked coach services for those needing to make essential journeys. While you are at it, you could run some on Boxing Day as well.

At lot cheaper for the company and, for many passengers, a lot quicker!
beyond the
As well as Simeon, Mark and Joseph were also approached by Anna.

There was a very old prophet, a widow named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for only seven years and was now eighty-four years old.

She never left the Temple; day and night she worshiped God, fasting and praying. That very same hour she arrived and gave thanks to God ...

... and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free.

If Mary and Joseph needed any confirmation, Simeon and Anna's response to Emmanuel confirmed everything that the angelic vision had brought to Mary. The child was very special indeed.

But there was still more.
The most mis-understood, misplaced and mistaken story in the Nativity sequence. How wrong can we be?
    Next new station blog : Tuesday 29th December 


  1. I suggest that the Piccadilly option is for those who wish to travel into Central London rather than go to Paddington via Harrow on the Hill using the Met and then change for the Bakerloo. That sounds like common sense thinking to me.

  2. Of course, if the good people of North Oxford hadn't kicked off to the extent they did, they might have had through Chiltern trains from Oxford station. They might even have let the occasionalmHST down there.

  3. I'm surprised they are having to run up to Banbury to come back down the Chiltern line given the Bicester branch has already opened and was designed for a higher capacity than currently required so if/when the East-West Rail line is opened in the future. I didn't think they cut the connection at Oxford (there are still through Binliners & the like I think) and this would save reversing and a significant chunk of time. If they are running up to Banbury it just sums up the daftness of the current rail system, I assume it is a lack of route trained drivers for the new variation of the line caused by linking it to the Chiltern that is the cause.

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