Fore­sight and ef­fort will pre­vent missed con­nec­tions

Rail (UK) - - Open Access - Robert H Fos­ter, Skip­ton

Dou­glas Clark’s sorry tale of his jour­ney from Lon­don to El­gin, miss­ing two con­nec­tions and so ar­riv­ing at his des­ti­na­tion 112 min­utes late, struck a chord ( Open

Ac­cess, RAIL 866). But poor reg­u­la­tion hap­pens all the time. Of many in­stances, I give this ap­palling ex­am­ple. Trav­el­ling on a late-run­ning TransPen­nine Ex­press train from Carlisle to Ed­in­burgh, sev­eral pas­sen­gers were wor­ried about their 12-minute con­nec­tion into the last (1945) train from Hay­mar­ket to In­ver­ness.

The guard in his cab ap­peared to take no in­ter­est, think­ing that only two or three pas­sen­gers wanted the con­nec­tion. In fact, there were 18 in my sec­tion of the train, seven go­ing be­yond Perth, as well as a se­cond unit in the for­ma­tion which pre­sum­ably would have some more.

Rapid driv­ing meant that there should be about a minute at Hay­mar­ket in which to change - only to the op­po­site face of the same plat­form. The re­fresh­ment trol­ley woman then took charge and after speak­ing with con­trol, it was an­nounced that the In­ver­ness train would be held for up to five min­utes. Sighs of re­lief all round.

But… the train was then held at Hay­mar­ket East Junc­tion for ten min­utes while var­i­ous ScotRail trains were given pri­or­ity across the junc­tion, and the con­nec­tion was missed after all.

There was a Perth-only train an hour later, from where those bound for the next 118 miles for In­ver­ness were taken in sev­eral taxis at huge ex­pense (to the op­er­a­tor) and en­tirely un­nec­es­sary cost, more­over in con­sid­er­able dis­com­fort.

This re­minds me of a jour­ney some years ago from Manch­ester to Fal­mouth. Leav­ing Pic­cadilly late, a stop­per was al­lowed right in front at Stock­port, and the same hap­pened at both Birm­ing­ham and Bris­tol.

Fi­nally, given a clear run after the We­ston (Worle) junc­tion, the de­ter­mined driver made up 12 min­utes to Ply­mouth, ar­riv­ing just four min­utes after the Corn­wall train was sched­uled to depart.

Yet it had been al­lowed away on time, not­with­stand­ing that it had a sched­uled seven-minute wait at Par. Truro pas­sen­gers were told to wait for the 1903 (FO) from Padding­ton, but the eight pas­sen­gers for Fal­mouth were con­veyed in taxis.

A very re­cent ex­am­ple of dread­ful reg­u­la­tion oc­curred on the 1225 Ply­mouth-Ed­in­burgh. A stop­per was al­lowed di­rectly in front at Kings Nor­ton, thus caus­ing an eight-minute late ar­rival at Birm­ing­ham New Street. By Sh­effield (reached via To­ton owing to the Derby block­ade), the train was on time but then held on the viaduct ap­proach­ing Wake­field West­gate for ten min­utes, while a sin­gle unit am­bled up from Kirk­gate and (car­ry­ing at most 20 pas­sen­gers) over­took wrong line my train. Ar­rival at Leeds (where I de­trained) was eight min­utes late.

Train reg­u­la­tion needs ur­gently to be ad­dressed by some­one - in­deed a group - who have the rail­way sys­tem, the tim­ings, knowl­edge of con­nec­tional re­quire­ments and the likely in­ter-train flow, at their fin­ger­tips.


Robert Fos­ter writes about pas­sen­gers miss­ing their con­nec­tion at Hay­mar­ket when a train was held at Hay­mar­ket East Junc­tion re­cently. In Septem­ber 2018, ScotRail 365513 stands at the Ed­in­burgh sta­tion.

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