Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

When three-carriage trains are insufficient

3rd September 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.


  • Alan Sloman says:

    My own experience of travelling by train is either to London and back from Huntingdon (a commuter line) or coming back from Montroase to Huntingdon after the TGO Challenge.

    If you travel first class on the Montrose to Huntingon run it is perfectly pleasant. If you travel 2nd Class you are likely to be sharing with a load of drunken football hooligans or single mothers with too many young children who wail and vomit for seemingly the entire journey.

    If you are fortunate you get a business person who spends the entire journey shouting down her / his mobile phone.

    Let’s face it: mostly, public transport is absolutely ghastly.

  • Alan Sloman says:


    That all sounds a bit harsh, re-reading it.
    But mostly accurate.

    First Class can be quite reasonable if booked a long time in advance.

  • John says:

    Alan, you must have encountered some pretty miserable stuff. Maybe, I should share pleasant experiences of the beast that is public transport rather than occasional moans…

    I must admit that I have never gone for the first class option but I once saw a first class advance fare that was cheaper than the available standard class equivalent. It wouldn’t have needed booking that far ahead of time either and I really was tempted. Even if you don’t book ahead, the weekend upgrades are too extortionate so they can be an option for the hard of planning. It might have helped on the Monday of the above episode.

    Yes, the activities of passengers do can make a journey wholly unpleasant. I must hold my hands up and plead guilty to using the antisocial technological trickery that is my iPod and its noise-cancelling headphones to screen out any conversations that I’d rather not have been hearing. Otherwise, my experiences haven’t been too bad in the main but I tend not to travel at busier times and am bound for rural locations anyway (if that doesn’t help you lose the masses, what will?). I suppose that’s no bad thing with the overcrowding that I encounter from time to time…

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please be aware that comment moderation is enabled and may delay the appearance of your contribution.