When three-carriage trains are insufficientWednesday, September 3rd, 2008
My recent excursion to Edinburgh revealed a huge flaw in DfT thinking: three-carriage trains running on the Manchester-Edinburgh route and the Edinburgh Festival ongoing. The 15:34 departure from Manchester was packed and I was wise to have garnered myself a seat reservation beforehand. Engineering works in the Chorley area only made the situation worse. Nevertheless, the train was very busy all of the way up to Carlisle after which things thankfully eased down a bit.
That was nothing compared to what happened with the 15:52 from Edinburgh. A breakdown meant that only half of the planned six carriages appeared and ticket reservations couldn’t be honoured; this was the last day of the Edinburgh Fringe so it wasn’t at all brilliant. I counted myself lucky to have got a seat, even if my main luggage was in another carriage. From past experience, I know the problems that were experienced on bank holidays when Virgin Crosscountry could only proffer a four carriage train so I had braced myself for the worst; I even considered stumping up the fare for a journey around by York and trying to get a refund from Transpennine Express. As it happened, the train left Edinburgh with people standing and it wouldn’t have been fun trying to get on it at subsequent stations. In fact, staying on the platform and awaiting another service would have been prudent.
Considering the overcrowding, I didn’t get on too badly with both journeys and I did reach my destinations in one piece. Also, I am a regular train user so I know that there’s better than what I encountered. However, an infrequent traveller could be forgiven for being put off the railways by this experience and choose to travel by other means or not at all. I have sent some feedback to Transpennine Express but a reply has yet to appear and may never do so. In any case, it sounds as if they need to sort out longer trains for their Anglo-Scottish workings and on a more permanent basis. It’s a shame that the Manchester-Scotland piece was removed from the Crosscountry franchise and even its addition to the West Coast one would have been better than this.