Friday 29 April 2022

Lincoln is Becoming a Habit!

To Lincoln by train again

Before I retired I often travelled to Lincoln on one sort of church business or another and tried to travel by rail whenever it was convenient. Then I could work on the way there and back, it was generally cheaper than car mileage (even when I needed a taxi to get to the meeting from the station) and, of course, was much better environmentally. In those days, though, trains were fewer and less frequent and were often inadequate and overcrowded, and about half the time I had to give in and travel by car.

Now it is much better and I can almost always use the train. LNER provide five direct, fast services via Newark between Peterborough and Lincoln as well as some needing a change at Newark, and East Midlands Railway now provides a roughly hourly service of direct trains throughout the whole day between Peterborough and Lincoln via Sleaford and Spalding. The only fly in the ointment at present is that the Cross Country service between Stamford and Peterborough still has a temporary Covid timetable with fewer trains operating to give me the connections into and out of the much better Lincoln services at Peterborough. 

On Monday I went to Lincoln for the day, arriving on time at 09:50 and taking a taxi for an 10:00 start at Edward King House, by the cathedral; this was by the direct East Midlands Railway service from Peterborough into which I made a neat connection from Stamford before the service gap began. That bit worked like a dream. My day finished on time at 15:00 and I was at the station in good time to board the 15:27 fast LNER train to Peterborough which would allow me to catch a connection to Stamford ... which is missing from the current timetable. The following East Midlands train would give me a 55 minute wait for the next connection, or I could take this LNER train and have an even longer wait for the same connection ... what to do? I took the LNER train ("a bird in the hand," and all that) and on arrival at Peterborough telephoned my wife who happened to be in the city with our car, and she was able to adjust her schedule and pick me up from the station. This involved some waiting about (which I'd have had to do anyway for the train), a slower ride than the train and me going along with what she was doing on the way home. I still got home earlier than I would have by waiting for the next train, but nowhere near as early as I should have done if the full timetable had been running.

There is no doubt that the train, if running, would have been the best option, but it wasn't. The railways are doing a lot to promote travel at present: advertising to remind us that travel is a goof thing to do and that the train is a good way to do it, half fares, even, to encourage us to try it, but we cannot travel on trains that don't run: give us our trains and we'll use them. No amount of posters or even cheap fares will work if we find "connections" of over an hour when we try to get home! All the trains I did use were on time, clean and comfortable and apart from the timetable gap I had a great trip. I look forward to it all being more normal, hopefully from mid-May when the next timetable revision takes place.

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