Posts Tagged ‘trains’

Lincoln Central RMT train strike

July 27, 2022

I thought I would join the RMT picket line outside Lincoln Central train station.

There was no RMT picket line. Lincoln Central was closed, no trains.

I guess if station closed, no trains, no need for a picket line, if can deploy resources elsewhere.

But I would argue there is a need to have a presence, to explain their case and counter government propaganda.

No trains Reading to Gatwick

July 10, 2019

I thought leaving Oxford at 7-30 I would catch the same time train as I did a couple of weeks ago leaving at 6-30. Either I was too late or no CrossCountry train, which I had assumed runs hourly. Wait until 2006 and catch train for Paddington which stops at Reading.

Train ran slow. I just missed a train from Reading.

Next train at 2235, no trains for two hours for what is a service of two trains an hour.

What of trains to Gatwick, planes to catch, what alternative transport has been arranged? Nothing, no information, no announcements.

I was told to find a Duty Manager.

A train to Basingstoke, leaving at 2107. I could go a very long way round. Guard and driver see me not looking very happy. Asked what’s up, I told them. I asked could I catch the Basingstoke train. They said yes.

At Basingstoke just missed a train. Have to cross to a central platform to see display for trains, then cross back again. A girl came in late from Salisbury, next rain to Reading cancelled.

She asked did the train I was waiting for go to Woking. I said yes, then told her she had just missed a Woking train.

On reflection I realised if she wanted Reading, she wanted Wokingham not Woking.

I caught the train to Woking, then bus. Arrived home 2220, 15 minuted before the train would have left Reading had I waited two hours.

Nightmare. Go out anywhere, never know if will get back home. Last week stranded at Alton, no trains, all trains cancelled, no information.

Situation is not helped by stations not manned, or at large stations like Reading, no staff to be, no announcements, no apology. And no one cares, at least the train companies do not care. The staff are almost begging for the trains to be taken into public ownership as they a see on a daily basis how bad the service has become.

Canvas Coffee

September 24, 2018

Stations are places where do not get great coffee, in general it will be undrinkable coffee from one of the corporate coffee chains. There are though exceptions, Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station, FCB kiosk on Guildford Station (though depends very much on who is serving), a kiosk around the side of King’s Cross Station.

Portsmouth Station a strange station, end of the line, and yet a small station with two lines. At least it was, now a parallel elevated line runs past the station onward to Portsmouth Harbour. Portsmouth being a major port, begs the question why the original line did not run to the harbour?

At Portsmouth Station, Canvas Coffee. A quick look, nothing worth eating, I decided to pass and asked of Hideout Coffee, a few minutes walk away.

Not too difficult to find, past the Civic Offices, across a square polluted by a massive TV screen, like something out of Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four, carry on, down the side of Starbucks. A strange battleship grey building only darker.

A sign Hideout and a locked door. On the door

this is not a coffee shop there is no coffee sold at this address

I banged the door. No response. Out of sheer cussedness, rang a doorbell for an office, no response.

Back to Canvas Coffee.

Canvas Coffee gives every impression of a pop up shop, dark and gloomy, unfinished business. When I arrived off the train it was empty, now busy.

A cookie and a cappuccino. A fiver for a sandwich got to be joking.

The coffee was at best mediocre. From The Roasting Party, as used by Coffee Lab in Winchester and a kiosk at foot of Hungerfood Bridge on the London South Bank, it should have been far better than mediocre.

Canvas Coffee is a social enterprise, it lends people a helping hand. The people I talked to were friendly and helpful. I do not wish to be too critical on the coffee as it could be someone being given a helping hand.

On sale coffee from The Roasting Party and from Sunday Coffee Roasters. Not heard of. Their own roast. They only roast on a Sunday. Having tried a coffee, I decided to give the Sunday coffee a miss.

It was then either Hunter Gatherer or Southsea Coffee, both in Southsea, a bus ride away.

Craft Coffee

August 22, 2018

I usually give myself an hour to get across London to catch a train from King’s Cross, if lucky I can do it in half an hour. Today I gave myself an hour and a half. Why? I wished to visit the street food market and a coffee stall located somewhere behind the station.

I was looking for Noble Espresso. All I could find was a wooden counter with Craft Coffee written across it. Was this declaring what they served or the name of the stall?

Craft Coffee is the name of the stall. Nobel Espresso has sold up, moved on, and Craft Coffee had taken over their pitch.

Was their coffee as good? They hoped so.

I was served an espresso. It was excellent. A single origin coffee from Brazil roasted by Notes.

I asked why was their stall tucked behind the station not as would logically expect with the street food market. No gas or electricity which they need to power their stall.

King’s Cross Street Food Market

August 22, 2018

One of the advantages of catching a train from King’s Cross, indeed reason to arrive with more than a few minutes to spare, is the street food market in front of the station.

My favourite stall is the cheese stall, run by Borough Cheese.

Excellent Comte, indeed until today, Comte is the only cheese I have seen on the stall, but today not only Comte, also feta cheese, and a cheese I had not encountered before Tome de Jura.

After a quick tour of the market, I went off in search of a coffee stall, which is not as would logically expect with the street food stalls, but around the back of the station. Craft Coffee, worth going in search of, serves excellent coffee.

On return, cakes, some savouries, and of course cheese.

The guy running the stall was sadly not that knowledgeable on the cheeses, but could tell me made from raw milk, unpasteurised milk.

He was not there at first, gone to get a coffee. Where, the coffee stall? No, Pret a Manger.

Why oh why do these artisan stalls not support each other, why get a crap coffee from Pret, now owned by Vulture Capitalists, when there is a quality coffee stall nearby?

European owned British rail companies

January 4, 2017

Passengers on European railways would like to thank British rail passengers for supporting their railways.

Foreign state railways own most of our rail network.

When we see rail companies making massive profits, and those rail companies are owned by foreign state railways, the profit they make is ploughed back into their own national railways.

Also true of electricity. EDF is a French electricity company.

State-owned railways is ok, so long as it is a foreign state railway does the owning.

We must take our railways back into public ownership.

Not nationalisation.
It has to be some form of open coop, where the rail staff, passengers and the state have a stake.

The beginning of the working week, saw yet another inflation busting hike in rail fares, for a service that is abysmal.


Disgraceful behaviour of guard on 1234 Reading-Gatwick train

October 21, 2016

There is a problem  at North Camp Station, a known problem, barriers drop and passengers cannot cross the line to catch the train.

Today the  barriers dropped five minutes early.

When the 1257 (1255) train to  Guildford pulled in, the barriers did not open immediately.

The guard could see passengers waiting to cross the line, with at least one person waving to indicate they wished to catch the train.

As passengers crossed the line, hurried to catch the train, the guard signalled for the train to leave and waved and smiled at the stranded passengers.

Maybe he thought it a sick joke, to pull away deliberately leaving passengers stranded.

His action cost one passenger at least £20 in taxi fares to get to Guildford. She was starting a new job and could not afford to be late and lose her job.

This guard should be fired.

1334 (1332) train from North Camp, guard never came through the train to collect fares. This necessitated further delay at Guildford queuing to buy a  return ticket. The ticket office at North Camp was closed.

Train companies complain of fare dodging, but make no attempt to actually collect fares from passengers who wish to pay.

The display on the platform was indicating trains running two minutes earlier than shown on the timetable. There was no poster or other information to indicate there was an amended timetable in operation.

Dysfunctional SouthWestTrains to Waterloo

November 22, 2015

overcrowded SouthWestTrains

overcrowded SouthWestTrains

Disgraceful train service by SouthWestTrains to Waterloo.

Midday: Only one man manning the ticket office, long queue, train five minutes late, only five coaches, passengers packed in like sardines, standing room only, by the time train leaves running ten minutes late, arrival at Waterloo over ten minutes late.

Service from Waterloo no better.

Late night: Yet another overcrowded train, again only five coaches. Leaves on time, then runs slower and slower, now ten minutes late.

I had ten minutes to catch a bus. Luckily I caught it, as running late.

Time to re-nationalise the rail network.

Nightmare of weekend rail works

November 8, 2015

railworks inadequate information at stations

railworks inadequate information at stations

Once again nightmare of weekend rail works and dysfunctional privatised rail companies.

Last weekend, rail works on Reading-Guildford section, of Reading-Guildford-Gatwick line.

This Sunday, replacement bus service as far as Reigate.

As last weekend and the weekend before, no information at stations en-route, no amended timetable, simply a poster notifying of rail works.

The coach was awful. Seat that reclined, no means to make the seats upright, very bad for lack of back support.

At Guildford, a man got on the coach and said where it was going.

Long wait at Guildford.

Guildford appeared to be closed. No trains. Cheapskates SouthWestTrains not even laying on coaches, local buses pressed into service.

Driver told all passengers to use seat belts. First time that has ever happened.

no information on the platform at Reigate

no information on the platform at Reigate

Getting off at Reigate, feeling dreadful.

No one at Reigate to tell passenger where to go. Station not open, so have to walk down the road to gain access to platform.

On platform no information.

Learn from passengers on opposite platform need to be on that platform for Gatwick.

Back out station, further down the road, across level crossing, and back down to gain access to opposite platform.

Two toilets on First Great Western train. One lacks water.

Return journey relieved to find no rail works. Relief short lived.

2008 Reading train shown on time. At 2010, when it fails to show, announced train has been cancelled. How could it have been on time?

Then an announcement to catch first train to Redhill, and pick up Reading train at Redhill. No information which platform first train to Redhill departing from.

Man on platform asked. Foreigner, long black hair in pony tail. He said Platform 1, claimed announcement to that effect. Not true. He said Reading train would wait at Redhill and there would be no delay.

Next train was 2029, running two-three minutes late, slow train stopping at all stations. It was therefore a blatant lie there would be no delay.

I doubted train would be held at Redhill, was tempted to wait at Gatwick for the next train in an hour’s time, but not knowing why the train had not arrived at Gatwick, and thus not knowing if next train would experience same problem, caught the train to Redhill.

At Redhill, as I had suspected, no train, the man had blatantly lied.

Luckily Redhill has train control.

The Gatwick train was running very late. At 2008, it was not even near Redhill. This begs the question why was it being shown on time? First Great Western Control decided to turn the train around at Redhill to make up lost time. They did not tell Southern Control until too late. Had they told them earlier, they could have arranged for passengers to be picked up, dropped off at Redhill, and still catch the train.

Redhill notified Gatwick of the situation, explicitly told Gatwick not to send passengers to Redhill, as there was no train.

Why did the man at Gatwick blatantly lie, say there was a train, when there was no train? Why did he send passengers on to Redhill, knowing there was nowhere for them to go?

Had no lies been told, simply train cancelled, catch the next train, passengers would have remained at the airport in the warm and dry, got something to eat and drink and caught the next train.

Gatwick is wishing to massively expand with a second runway.  The station cannot cope now with the existing passenger numbers.  Weekdays, the station forecourt is backing up into the airport. A problem easily solved if barriers removed and passengers pay on the trains, but Southern are refusing to remove the barriers. At weekends, nightmare of weekend rail works.

Re-nationalisation of railways long overdue.

Nightmare train journey Reading-Gatwick-Brighton

October 25, 2015

rail works

no amended timetable

Sunday, dreaded rail works.  They turn a relatively easy journey into a nightmare.

For the last ten years, there has been rail works on either the Reading-Gatwick Line, or the Redhill-Brighton line, occasionally on both. No trains, replacement bus service.

No compensation.

Last Sunday in October, the worse to date.

At the station, poster referring to rail works, no timetable.

No announcement at station where to change for Gatwick, or on screen.

I had a feeling alight at Reigate, no announcement on the train, train went on to Redhill, I assumed I was wrong.

At Redhill, no one on platform. An announcement, go to Platform 1 for replacement bus. This was wrong, it was the other end of the station.

No bus.

Long wait for a bus.

No bus to Gatwick, had to get a bus to Horley, then train to Gatwick.

Bus meandered through housing estates. It would have been quicker a bus direct to Gatwick.

At Gatwick, train leaving for Brighton from Platform 7. Nigh impossible to get to Platform 7. Possible to get to any platform, bar 7. Very few trains. Why use Platform 7? Trains for Brighton, even on weekdays when busy, do not go from Platform 7.

I miss the train for Brighton. Twenty minutes for next train.

I speak to station staff. I ask why was there no direct bus to Gatwick. He ways there was, from Reigate. He double checks for a later train. Yes, change at Reigate, direct bus to Gatwick.

Direct train to Brighton standing room only. And that was after many alighted at Gatwick.

Train arrives at Brighton, then sits outside the station for several minutes.

Return journey not as bad, but not without mishap.

Alighting at Gatwick. Where the bus?

Have to go through the terminal building, bus about to leave.

Where is the bus? No one to ask. Bus in the distance, in darkness. Yes, it was the bus.

Bus direct to Reigate. Luckily less than ten minutes wait for the Reading train from Redhill.

Time to re-nationalise the rail network.

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