Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Useful oddities

Occasionally we get some odd train times in our timetable, such as the two early morning trains direct to Norwich from  Nottingham via our local station in Stamford, Lincs. Any other time you'd have to change at Ely or Peterborough from Stamford, and there is no equivalent direct service in the other direction. It is primarily there for the convenience of East Midlands Trains, getting their train sets in the right place for the day's service, and presumably there is some reason why these cannot take their normal route via Grantham. For Oakham and Stamford it provides a slightly beefed-up service to Peterborough just when we need it in the morning to take onward connections to London and elsewhere.

Train to Nottingham stands at Spalding station, last of the day
The oddity in the other direction which does provide, if ever you should need it, a direct train to Nottingham, is an extension of the last service from Spalding to Peterborough, again probably for the convenience of the train company in getting its train set back to base after the day's work, but again providing a useful extra connection at Peterborough. For me, who just now and again need to go to Spalding in an evening, it also provides a through train home, avoiding the dreary wait for a connection at Peterborough after all the coffee bars have closed!

Take, for instance, a school governors' training session in Spalding last year. The simple option is just to get in the car, as we are in the habit of doing in Lincolnshire, and driving the 20 miles or so. Easy Takes about half an hour plus parking time, and as this was at a hotel there was a car park provided. The option I prefer is to take the train to Peterborough, change for Spalding and walk to the meeting from the station. Takes a bit longer but not much, costs quite a bit less for those of us using a Senior Railcard (and about the same for anyone not using one) and is much more relaxing, allowing me to read or do other things on the way, which I did.

At the end of the meeting I walked back to the station and caught the through train to Stamford: this does take about the same time as driving, although, of course, there is the walk at either end, but then I do not spend any of my week at a gym "working out," I just "walk out" instead! I am sure I spend no more time walking to and from stations than those who drive spend at gyms trying to make up for not walking anywhere!

I'd be the first to agree that we do not have enough train services, especially at night. Spalding's timetable is especially poor, particularly in the Lincoln direction, and Stamford's is only a little better. It works, but only just (see my post on spending an evening in London) and we do need more frequent trains and a longer operating day. But it is better than a lot of people think, and it is perfectly feasible and even preferable at times to leave the car at home and take the train: maybe if more of us did this the train companies might be inclined to make more of the service.

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