Monday, 24 October 2011

Train chaos

I arrived at Euston station yesterday for my 15.25 train to Lockerbie. I was early, so I took my time, bought a paper and then, acting on a hunch (sharpened by years of doing this particular journey) walked down to the platform 14/15 end of the concourse. Sure as eggs are eggs, an announcement came over the PA system, but with a twist: passengers with a seat reservation were to queue at platform 15; those of us with a ticket but no seat (I had an open return) to queue at platform 14. I was first to arrive and showed my ticket to the inspector. Quite soon, it became clear that this manoeuvre was due to some earlier cock-up. Effectively, two trainloads of people were going to attempt to board one train. Worse, the people with seat reservations had been booked on an earlier train (presumably cancelled some days before, but after many had been issued with tickets and seats for it - there had been no earlier train shown when I went online on Sat). I was directed to coach G. Coach G was full. I attempted to enter coach H, next along and my way was blocked by a train employee because I had no seat reservation. This was at odds with the fact that I and others queuing at platform 14 had been waved through to board the train. It became an ugly free for all. I walked back to coach K and found a single window seat and watched from the comparative safety of this perch as aggrieved travellers who had paid for first class upgrades issued sometimes minutes before found that, far from occupying a peaceful oasis of calm, were lumped in with riff raff such as myself. The train eventually left 20 minutes late. The train manager never appeared; his disembodied voice giving out information that did not apply to me - would I be in time for my connection to Lockerbie at Carlisle? Only after we had left Oxenholme did I learn from the helpful train attendant who had boarded at Preston that I had 6 minutes to sprint across the bridge from platform 4 in Carlisle to the Transpennine service for Lockerbie. Home at 8.30pm for a welcome bowl of soup and the fag end of the Antiques Roadshow followed by BBCR4's Analysis at 9pm, on ?what? I can't even remember. Fell asleep dreaming of the family row reported between Sarkozy and Cameron ('Don't tell us what to do!!!') a familiar, albeit unhelpful reaction, when things turn stressful.

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