Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Getting across the country by train

It's a lot easier to get up and down Britain than it is to get across from one side to the other - by public transport, anyway.
However, the fact remains that Hereford is in the far west of England, and Lincoln is far to the east, and I was determined to get to Lincoln (and back again, obviously).
I was not looking forward to the journey. I was looking forward even less to the return journey, which would (for various complicated reasons) not only be across the country, but across the country on a Sunday! It didn't help my anxieties that the staff of Hereford railway station seemed to be as baffled about how to do the journey as I was myself. At least the fare seemed to be quite reasonable - £55 for an off-peak return, which is only a little bit more than a taxi fare from Hereford to Hay!

It wasn't as bad as I'd feared.

The journey out started with the college bus from Hay at around ten past seven in the morning, which left me plenty of time to wait for the Birmingham New Street train. I always pop into the local newsagents to get a magazine, so I had something to keep me occupied (and chocolate - I thought I'd need chocolate).
The change at Birmingham, to the Derby train, went smoothly. The chap pushing the refreshments trolley was very jolly - and so was the train guard, who looked at the way I had been told to go and said: "We can do better for you than that!"
So instead of going up to Derby, then changing for Beeston, then changing for Lincoln, he sent me straight up to Nottingham to change for Lincoln. Nottingham station is going through a big re-development - it's going to be very smart when it's finished, but it's like a building site at the moment. It was quite easy to find where I needed to be, though.
The final leg of my journey stopped at every little station on the line to Lincoln, and I got there at about half past two in the afternoon. My Young Man had got there earlier (he was travelling up and down the country) and he took me straight for a beer!

On the way back, we left the B&B at ten o'clock, and got a taxi round to the station rather than trundle all that luggage up the High Street. The station didn't actually open until half past ten, and quite a little crowd had gathered by the time the doors were opened.
I had several options to get back home - but I had to wait until three o'clock in the afternoon for two of them, so I decided to go for the one that put me on the quarter past eleven train. That way, I could go to the first changeover in the company of the Young Man, before he carried on south to London.
He got off all right, but my connection was delayed by engineering works - he told me later that his train was delayed at the same works, and he'd been very impressed with the speed that the engineers were working to get the track back up and running.
Meanwhile, I was hanging around on the platform at Newark, and beginning to realise that there was no way I would catch the connection that I was aiming for. So I went to the nice man in the Customer Services office. "Why have they sent you this way?" he asked. "We can do better than that for you."
So he put me on the next train to Peterborough.
About a minute after I arrived in Peterborough and trundled my case across to the next platform, the train to Birmingham New Street came in.
At Birmingham, the train to Hereford was waiting at the platform.
And outside the station in Hereford, I climbed straight into a taxi.
So I did the journey in about six hours rather than the eight that I thought it would take!

Thank goodness for friendly and helpful railway staff!

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