Saturday 20 January 2018

Speed is not everything

Time is a strange concept, and consequently so is speed. When travelling there is more to be considered than the time the journey takes - so, for example, when I make the short trip to Oakham to record an item for Rutland Radio I go by train and write my talk while I am on the way: if I were to drive it would take about the same time, with parking in Oakham taking the same time as my walk to the station from my home, but I'd have to write the material before I leave.

Before Christmas I attended an official lunch in Grantham. In previous years we'd had it further away and in a country restaurant difficult to access by public transport and I'd always driven there and consequently kept clear of the wine. Now it was in a nearby town so could I have a couple of drinks this time? The direct bus is three times a day and did not fit at all (although I am determined to do it one day for the scenery: it's a nice drive but I am sure it must be better from a bus - I'll wait until I get my free bus pass!), so I looked at the train. The service by rail is hourly, but involves a change of train at Peterborough and takes about three times as long as the short drive straight up the A1, so it looked like the car is the obvious option, and one small glass of wine maximum, especially as the train times also meant a little hanging about in Grantham before the lunch and the vague finish time meant I could not be sure which train I'd catch home.

But I had plenty of work I could do while travelling: reading and writing - which I do in plenty - are
just as easily done on a train or in a waiting room or café as on my own desk, and there were some things I needed to buy and something to post, just as easily done in the shops and Post Office in Grantham as in Stamford and could be fitted in before the lunch.

East Midlands service from Liverpool to Norwich at platform
5 at Peterborough
So by train it was: short trip to Peterborough from Stamford by Cross Country and then East Midlands Norwich-Liverpool service up the East Coast Main Line to Grantham. There is some pleasant countryside on this stretch along the Rutland-Lincolnshire border but I did not see much of it on this trip.

Returning, the connection to Stamford at Peterborough could be made either by the East Midlands train in the opposite direction from Grantham, or by a Virgin Trains East Coast service which was scheduled to leave a couple of minutes earlier and run faster - and which also avoided the need to cross the footbridge to the far platform. I opted for the earlier Virgin service from the near platform and then began to wonder if I'd done the right thing as the departure screen began to show a slight delay, and then a slightly longer one, but in the event it was only a few minutes, although during that time the (supposedly later) East Midlands train came in and left on time. We must have overtaken it somewhere on the quadruple-tracked section of the line as we arrived in Peterborough before it and I made my connection easily.