Thursday 28 December 2023

Post-Festive Pot Pourri (2)

Keeping The Trains Running At Axminster (1)

This was Axminster station in the 1930s with the branch train to Lyme Regis waiting patiently in the bay platform; and the same platform in 1965 with only a short while to last before closure.
It is very much changed now.
There is no sign of the branch platform and  huge new footbridge with lifts obscures the view of the station building. That noble edifice is, thankfully, unchanged externally ...
The booking hall cum waiting room is open for acceptably long hours ...
... and there are no nasty ticket barriers to impede progress through the red door and on to the platform.
But for the festive season ...
... there were tricky problems keeping the trains running! 

But not with the trains below - well, not AT Axminster itself!
It was this train ...
... part of the chilly but festive display provided at the station.

The train (battery powered and a tad on the unrealistic side for detail purists), had become derailed. This was because the track (cheap and nasty plastic) has come apart; possibly because it had been accidentally caught by an errant piece of full sized wheeled luggage!

But BOTH ticket clerks (one just going off-duty and one just signing on) were on the job!
Firstly there was the official examination of the damage; followed by a full costing and business plan for repairs. After a whole minute of this and the essential health and safety activity, work commenced in earnest.
Stock was recovered and, with stalwart effort, work began on the track repairs.
Soon the track laying team were hard at it and, in no time at all, the track was rejoined, fully inspected and thoroughly tested; then, tada, pronounced fit for trains to run again.

There was a spattering of applause form waiting passengers as the dedicated staff stepped back to admire their work, based on years of training and experience. Trains (erm, actually just one cheap and ugly train?) were running again at Axminster.

This report was created whilst waiting for No 3 son to arrive by train on Thursday 21st December.

And a happy new year to all South Western Railway passengers.

Keeping The Trains Running At Axminster (2)
Only they aren't tunning in the town centre.

At least TWO people from Church had informed fbb of a "model railway" in a shop in Axminster. The shop was once the domain of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, back in the days when he was a hairy trendy.
His "River Cottage" food emporium is located near Axminster. In the middle of the town was his "Canteen" (called "The Canteen" in an outbreak of stunning originality) caff and deli. The fbbs visited once and once only having decided not to take out an extension om their mortgage for a second visit. An Eccles cake, albeit stuffed full of Eccles, and a cuppa was nearly an unwell gastropod. (Sick squid - GROAN!)
And that was when a fiver was a fiver.
The caff is now closed and the model railwayS are displayed in the window.

So when fbb was taking No 3 son back to his homebound train, he diverted to see the models. It was raining hard and dull (dreich as Mrs fbb might say) so the pictures below are of very poor quality.

But no trains were running, indeed, no active trains were in sight ...
... but lights were on throughout. The two layouts nearest to the window were, even by fbb's bodge standards somewhat basic.
At the back of the window display was something fbb did recognise. It was a model of the Cannington Viaduct on the Lyme Regis branch.
At a distance and through a monsoon, fbb could not evaluate the model - but it was recognisable.
Upon viewing the download extract, there was a train" But it was very, very static.


Talking of Travel to Axminster
No 3 son lives at Haywards Heath and chooses to visit the fbbs by train with a change at Clapham Junction. The connection is not slick but does cope well with anything up to 20 min of late running.

No 3 buys a Saver Return with Network Card discount.


Only it isn't. Here is No 3 son's assessment of the process.
The first oddity is that the "system" expects you to choose a specific train when your ticket is valid by any train! There are, of course, restrictions on outward travel (until after 1000?) but no restrictions for the return journey.

Many occasional users panic if they miss their "booked train", which isn't booked at all, an think they cannot travel!


So the second oddity was the reservation.

The lad was issued with a "coach reservation" for the journey from Axminster to Clapham Junction!?
But South Western Railway (SWR) does not DO reservations. The franchise predecessor, Stagecoach, gave up on reservations very early in its occupancy of the franchise chair.

So why a meaningless "coach reservation" for a journey without reservations?


But it gets worse. A standard Saver is usually valid on ANY return train and certainly is so from Axminster to Haywards Heath.

So why did SWR and National Rail web sites say ...
... "Tickets not available" on most Journeys on 27th December. Because of space constrains only the arrival times at Haywards Heath are shown above.


Of course tickets were available!

No 3 son travelled quite happily on the 1206 from Axminster despite there being no tickets available and despite having "booked" but not booked the 1006. 

How many enquirers will have been discouraged from travel by this daft and utterly meaningless note?

VERY Crackpot!

Why have the technology people made travel so unnecessarily complex and, frankly, off-putting.

Answers, on a postcard only, to Rpshi Sunak, 10 Downing Street, London SW2A 2AA
Answers to the "X" (Cross) Quiz.

Major London Interchange

Former terminus of East London line

Scottish station

Loco with weird boiler

A London terminus

Station east of |Leeds

American road and rail intersection 

Track at newark

Founder of bus company

Scottish village

Govt Transport Policy

Track junction

Finchley Road Underground 

Elizabeth Line line

 Next Pot Pourri blog : Friday 29th December  


  1. The bay platform edge
    Is still there behind the railings at the back of platform 2….

    You may consider the opening hours ok but they have been cut back since I worked there… people would still like to avail themselves of the toilet facilities at the weekend and after 5pm…the ticket office used to be open til 19:40 m-s, and one 08:00-16:10 overtime shift on a Sunday.

  2. SWR and National Rail make the booking of train tickets unnessarily complex because they can't be bothered to ensure their websites work properly and they don't employ enough staff to run their booking offices properly.