Wednesday 18 January 2023

An Unofficially Fast Journey!

The connecting train that should not have been!

I went to a meeting in Lincoln this week. It was quite a short meeting, so the travel was a substantial part of the day, although the advantage of travelling by rail was that I could do things on the way, which I did. The journey toward was quite straightforward, with a change at Peterborough to an East Midlands Railway service. This route is now worked by two-coach Class 170 units, much more comfortable than the inadequate units that used to be used: the green interior gives away that they were acquired from the defunct London Midland franchise and only painted on the outside - still the green does fit very well with the Lincolnshire vibe! They have more table seats and better luggage facilities even than the similar units used by Cross Country on the route through Stamford. The schedule to Lincoln is very, well, relaxed, shall we say. That is, it could be a lot faster, but it has to contend with single track through Sleaford as well as connections there, Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster.

In Lincoln I went to the bus station to see if there was a suitable bus up to the Cathedral, intending to use a taxi if not, and as it happened there was a bus just about to leave, so I was in very good time for the meeting with no additional expense.

The way back was not so straightforward (it seldom is), and I went to the station as soon as I left the meeting, where a train for Peterborough was expected, on time, in just a few minutes. It was a similar train to the one on which I had come and went the same way. I looked at the itinerary that LNER had given me when I booked the tickets and spotted that it included a 61-minute wait in Peterborough for the connection to Stamford - and I thought that means it actually arrives one minute before the preceding train to Stamford, but, of course, that one minute is inadequate a margin for an advertised connection, especially as Lincoln trains and Stamford trains normally use platforms on opposite sides of the station. But then the real times section of the LNER app showed my train from Lincoln arriving on time at platform 7 in Peterborough and the unofficial connection home leaving from platform 6, a cross-platform change, easily done if the arrival is on time.

Checking my watch as the rain approached Peterborough I stood by the door with my coat on and briefcase in hand and opened the door as soon as it was released and walked briskly across to where the three-coach Cross Country train was waiting with "Birmingham New Street" on its destination display. The whistle blew just as I was taking my seat and I was home a whole hour earlier than planned, with no hanging around in Peterborough. 

Had I missed that train I would have gone to the bus station instead and caught the bus which leaves just a few minutes later and which would have taken me home before the next train would have done, so I would still have been early but not as early as I was. That may be a record fast time for Lincoln to Stamford, but you certainly cannot count on doing it, and any issue like a heavy suitcase, a pram or a mobility problem would require the Birmingham train to be running late if one were to stand a chance of catching it! A good day on the rails: no cancellations (affecting me, anyway) and nothing running late. All comfortable and all clean. 

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