Category Archives: Train companies

Oh Mr Grayling, come over here…

For the non Brits here, he is currently the Transport Minister, dealing with our wonderful (not!) railway service, assuming he hasnt resigned over Brexit like so many others, lol?

Its been a while since I had the misfortune to need to travel on Trans Pennine Express, but today was an LGBT committee meeting in Manchester, so I had to take my chances. I did look at the live departures board before leaving, and it looked like they were failing to provide any form of decent service, and so it proved when I got into Huddersfield.

I actually went through the barrier at 9.10, to catch the 9.01 train to Manchester, and I still had to wait more than 5 minutes for that. Oh, and at that point, the 8.52 train still hadnt arrived, and wasnt even due for 10 minutes after the train I caught.

The train crawled its way to near Stalybridge before announcing that it was now so late (about 20 minutes) that it was terminating there, and that we could catch the next train to Manchester Piccadilly, which was right behind us. I dont know who told him that, because soon after we all got off, in the freezing cold, it was announced said train was delayed, and they finally admitted it was actually nearly 30 minutes behind us!

Fortunately, shrewd commuter syndrome hasnt deserted me, there was a stopping train to another station in Manchester, leaving about 10 minutes later, so I struggled across and got on that. I should have got to the meeting venue about 9.50, I actually got there at 10.28 Luckily I allow for TPE being so awful, so I only entered the meeting room 2 minutes late!

Funnily enough, getting home was only slightly better. I arrived at Piccadilly station, after the meeting, at 14.47. Yes, I got the 14.40 train, with ease, which actually left about 14.55! Oh, and what annoys me most, fares are going up by over 3% next month!

Not that the other local train company, Northern Rail are any better. I cant remember the last time they actually ran trains on a Saturday due to a strike caused by their obstinacy over an issue with the union, who have the support of the Transport Department!

Ah well… At least I have a session in the brainwashing pod, sorry, flotation tank to look forward to on Thursday. Or with luck, not remember it, lol!

OK, video time. Same song, twice over. Firstly, the murdered cover version, which I have to post, because it matches up to the TPE rail service

Secondly, a blatantly mimed version of the original version, but more recently ‘performed’. As live as a TPE train service, lol

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Something so logical?

I dont know how many of my US readers (and there are seemingly plenty) who will get the lack of logical stuff in this blog, seeing their National Rail System, where beyond a few lucky areas, most places still on the Amtrak network get 1 train a day, or less! East coast (especially North East), fine, same with West coast, but in between, well…? Rolls eyes! Of course, distance, and the fact that everyone has to live modern life at a rapid speed means the gap in between is generally done by plane, but anyway…

It would be reasonable to assume that train fares would be cheapest, especially between reasonable sized towns, and cities would be best served by one fare covering all, right? If only it was that easy! I’ve been looking at the fare between Huddersfield, and Inverness, for September, and the standard return for the journey, with senior railcard, comes in at just under £100 according to the National Rail Website. So, some might say fair enough, thats the price you have to pay, and leave it at that, and buy your ticket, yes?

What if I said, that if I used the perfectly legal method known as split ticketing, I can do it for just over £72! And yes, if times suited, and they dont for 2 ‘less than young’ folk (hence the senior railcards), I could actually do it for about £66! Fine, it means having to carry 6 rail tickets each, instead of 2 (one each way), but the difference in cost…wow! All because, strictly there are no advance tickets between here, and Inverness, but because beyond Edinburgh, and Inverness sections, you can buy them for each portion, and the cost drops dramatically! Even more so, when you think those reduced fares include an admin charge for the online company providing the details!

Lets just say I’m not an internet genius, but thankfully I know enough for websites like this, and can save a fortune for the trip. And before anyone says that it only works for long distance trips, sadly not true. I put in the details for our day trip to Kyle of Lochalsh, to see Skye, assuming that all there would be for a shorter trip, was the standard day return, about £18 at our reduced rates. No, unadvertised advance fares reduce it to £15, even with handling charge! No, the other trip, to Aviemore, to go on a steam train, shorter, so no bargain there. Ah well, but…

Yes, seriously, is it any wonder that you only ever hear complaints about rail fares when you see things like this? If only the masses knew, and could book in advance…?

Right, video time. There is a clue in the blog title, no shock there, I guess?

Waiting for the train that never comes!

And no, for once, its not Trans Pennine Express! No, this time its the tale of a Northern Rail fail, and other events yesterday.

Saturday is the only morning where I need to get to get the train to get to work. Earlier start, plus public transport is a bit more limited early on a Saturday morning, so…Into Huddersfield station, train supposedly on time, all looking good, you’d think? Even less of a shock, the Trans Pennine Express services looks a mess, but nothing new there!

Thing is, I look out to the platform where the train should be, nothing there! Not a first, this is 10 minutes before its due to leave, assume its just waiting to pull into the platform. No, it wasnt. There were a couple of Northern Rail people stood near the platform, not looking like they knew what was going on, never a good sign. Well, time for the train to leave came, still no sign of it. 5 minutes after its due to leave, still no sign of it. So given my total lack of faith in Northern Rail, I headed off, and got a slightly later bus to Bradford. Only just gets me in the office by 9, but anyway…I got to Bradford Interchange, and apparently it had finally left Huddersfield, but was going to arrive 22 minutes late! Me, I got there 10 minutes before then! Seemingly left about 8.15, 25 minutes late, as a work colleague had the misfortune to wait for the train to arrive.

Funnily enough Northern Rail had a staff strike on Wednesday, trouble is, it might have been hard to tell the difference in service provided! And no, sadly, this isnt a first! But anyway…

There was something else waiting for me at work when I got there, my new chair. Specially designed for an old crock like me, due to my back issues. Yes, its nice, and yes, I noticed the difference at the end of the day too. No, it shows no signs of shocking, or brainwashing me, but hey, a girl cant have everything lol! 😛

Right, video time. In tribute to a rail company that cant provide the service its meant to (and despite that, in 2 months time, they will hoist up fare prices!), a group that were also waiting for a train that never comes!

I’m beginning to remember how bad my local train company is

During the 8 months or so of job hunting, I’ve had a couple of “fun” moments with Trans Pennine Express, but thankfully not very often, and nothing catastrophic. Of course, for part of that time, (nearly a quarter) I havent concerned myself with their incompetences, because I havent been in the country. But then, this weekend, when attempting to get between here, and Leeds, I’ve been reminded how awful they really are.

It might be harsh blaming them for a couple of events this week, but in the end with a bit of diligence, and an effort to make things easier for passengers, they could have done more. But TPE, and doing things efficiently arent terms that go together.

Earlier this week (Thursday), I struck lucky. I managed to get the last train they managed to run through from Manchester for several hours, due to problems with a rail. Yes, it was a few minutes late, but all was fine, I had allowed enough time, got there fine. And the tailback hadnt occurred going the other way when I was coming back (agency registration), so I got back before their whole system collapsed. And it did!

Yesterday morning, I planned to get the 8.21 train to Leeds, for the start of the training session. I actually got the 8.13, which finally turned up at 8.27! So despite getting an earlier train than planned, I was running pretty close to being late! In fact, strictly, I was, because no one had told us how to get into the building, so it was only when someone else came along, that 3 of us got in.

We finished the course for the day about 4.00, and I headed back for the station. Remarkably, the 4.20 arrived more or less on time, and did leave on time. It then crawled slowly to Huddersfield (no other train in way, previous one was over 10 minutes before), arriving about 6 minutes late.

Then, today! I got to the station just before 9.00, the 9.18 train (first of day) was showing on time. Remarkable for a Sunday, and yes, you’re right, they didnt live up to claim. It got later, and later, finally turning up at 9.25. Got on, got a seat, only to hear that we were going to be slightly delayed by a signalling problem. Fine, I had about 10 minutes margin, so with luck…

It never left Huddersfield, well, not in the direction of Leeds, anyway. At 10.00, it was announced that the train had been cancelled, and they would be attempting to arrange some coaches, to get people to Leeds. Thing is, there were about 250-300 people on that train, another one had pulled in with similar numbers, and coaches can hold 40-50 people. Not good maths, and besides, its 50 minutes to Leeds by coach when it does arrive, not the 20 by train. So I gave up, and came home. When I got here, I found out they “hoped” to have replacement coaches running by about 11.30. When they did start running, no idea, as they never made the live running list.

I rang the company when I got home, and explained the situation. Whether they believed me or not, no idea! Got to go in, in the morning, so we will see. I dont know how much, or what training was done today that I’d have to catch up on, but we will see. So I might yet get to be a clinical research guinea pig after all! Fine, I’d prefer that, assuming I’m selected, but, its not the point!

And yes, as I say, indirectly, today’s problems dont really lay at the hands of TPE. As it was the first train of the morning on the line, it may be that it was only when they tried to set them, to let us go, that they found out. But at the same time, they have a reputation for being one of the worst companies for over crowding, for delayed trains, and pricey fares! So all in all…Yes, I’d discreetly forgotten how awful they are, until the last few days.

Hopefully, in the morning, the 7.55 train will have 6 coaches, will run on time, and my evening journey will be smooth too. Oh, and pigs fly!

The video, what I did this morning, about the most incompetent train company I’ve had the misfortune to know.

Too clever for my own good, aka train issues!

Yes, thats right, tomorrow I head down south, to Newbury, for the top up session of the permanent make up look, after which I might look so much like a middle aged version of Jean Harlow, it might be scary! Fine, maybe a very slight exaggeration, but possibly not?

The funniest point about all this, and sheer coincidence in the planning, its all going to happen on what would have been Jean’s 104th birthday. Yes, on March 3rd 1911, somewhere in Kansas City, a new baby was born, to be named Harlean Harlow Carpenter, and the rest was history! So what better day could there be, to complete my new Harlow look?

As far as I know, my mind is not being changed to match the look, but dont quote me on that! 😛

But fine, that has nothing to do with being too clever for my own good, does it? Well, unless someone thinks that ending up thinking I’m Jean Harlow would be a bad thing, anyway.

No, what happened was that because I knew when I was travelling to Newbury well in advance, I bought the train ticket about a month ago. Shrewd move, what could go wrong? Well, in this case, and not in the sexual sense, the earth moved, quite literally. Somewhere between Banbury, and Leamington, at about the same time as I booked my tickets, there was a landslide. And yes, you guessed it, the line is still closed! There is a bus service between the 2 points, but it adds an hour to the journey time, which I really havent got to spare.

So now, I’ve cancelled those tickets, rebooked by a different route, all of which costs me a few extra pounds, but not too many. Which gives me the chance to try out the latest in the long line of privatised train companies. Until Saturday, the East Coast line was ran by the publicly owned company, the eponymous East Coast Railway.

But now, for better, or for worse (and judging by todays reports, its worse), it has been added to the privately owned railways, nominally Virgin East Coast, though I gather Stagecoach actually owns a large share.

Part of the problem for many is a simple one. East Coast ran the line very successfully, the private companies who ran it before them, didnt. Virgin, we shall see…

The video, a tribute, or otherwise, to the train company concerned

The boys (and girls) of summer have gone

Well, hopefully not literally true, but here in the UK at least, its the last Bank holiday before Christmas, so in that sense, we’ve reached that landmark of this summer. And guess what, here in the UK, as is traditional, the weather has been pretty awful today. Irony, they arranged the first one day international for today, and it was wiped out without a ball being bowled. Whereas, had it been any other weekend, it would have been yesterday, when the weather was much better! Ah well…

Fortunately, for me at least, I should still have at least 1 more week of high temperatures, when I hit Kansas City in 3 weeks time. Hey, they are getting heat advisories at present, because its too hot! And fine, I wont object too loudly if its only in the 80’s by then, not high 90’s!

Strangely enough, given my job, I havent been at work today, having time to write a blog might be a big giveaway on that to some lol! Not that I mind, because the bus service on a Bank Holiday still runs to a Sunday service. Whatever I say about the trains, at least they’ve caught up with modern life, and run a normal service. Well, as normal as Trans Pennine Express will ever achieve anyway! But the bus companies still think that a Sunday service will suffice on a day when its now just a normal working day for so many.

OK, so neither has yet caught up to the fact that Sunday’s are much the same, and sadly its a fact of life thats unlikely to change. But Bank holidays, seriously…? Anyway, I’m not going to change the logic of this, but no harm in trying?

Me, I’ve got 1 more bank holiday before Christmas, but only because I will be in the US for Thanksgiving. That is definitely something I’m looking forward to. But first, now in under 3 weeks, that visit to Jean Harlow’s birthplace. Will her ghost be there to greet me? I doubt it, but you never know! 😉

The video, well maybe the boys, and girls of summer arent gone yet, but the UK bank holidays have

The annual joke

Yes, a subject tonight that very much relates to me, without being a transgender issue, the announcement of the increase in train fares as from January next year. Seriously, I wouldnt mind the rise being slightly above inflation if it meant we were going to get a more punctual, and reliable service, more coaches on the trains (so its less like playing sardines in a can), or anything like that, but it wont. We keep getting told that the above inflation rise over the last 6 years (and for the next 2 at least) is meant to do that, but so far there is absolutely no evidence of it happening, at least with First Transpennine Express, thats for sure.

I’m not saying Northern Rail are perfect (they arent, btw), but they are a lot more reliable than TPE, but thats hardly the greatest challenge under the sun. But given they play second fiddle for me, or should do at least, I’m happy with what I get. To be honest, most of their delays on the Huddersfield line are related to late running TPE trains anyway!

Having said that, TPE dont seem to have the worst record running through Leeds, though thats hard to believe. That unenviable record goes to a company called Cross Country, who barely seem to run any trains on time, to be honest. But still, despite their awfulness, their fares will go up by an average of 4.1% next January, whereas if I’m lucky, I might get a 2% rise!

I’d love to say the government are to blame, and to some degree they are, as Labour politicians are happy to tell us. What they conveniently forget is that this whole above inflation rise issue was bought in by them, and it was they who got us into our current financial mess in the first place. Ah well…

In more cheerful news, I just got my first royalty statement as an author, from Draft2Digital, seems I earned a whole $23.69 from Amazon in July, which I will try not to spend all at once, especially as I wont get paid until October. Sales from August so far have been dreadful, so looks unlikely that I will be giving up the day job at least. Does mean I dont have to find time to write something new though, so may be mixed blessings?

Beyond that, I now have a full set of silver nails (fingers and toes) again after today, and my hair is more of a length that Brooksie would approve of again. Next week will see a much needed massage, my knees are starting to object loudly to all the walking I do, even if the back seems relatively calm at present. Still, 39 days from now, I will be a Virginia Belle, in location at least, if nothing else!

Lastly, can someone explain shoe sizes to me? I have a pair of 9 pumps, that are a tight fit, equally I have a pair of low/medium heels, that are a 7.5, and are a bit loose! Aargh!

Right, video. Back to the original rant. I went looking for Metroland, by OMD, and found this, even more apt. We are the robots…bleep…bleep…bleep

January!

Yes, its arrived at last, the first blog post of the new year. To be honest, today has been a typical January day here in Huddersfield, wet, very windy, quite cold, and no, I havent ventured outdoors, I’ve got more sense than that. I’ve not been at work today, but one race meeting quite literally got blown away. Always the way, get a very quiet day (just one meeting) when I’m off, grumble, lol!

The funny thing is, I’ve got my first holiday of the year in just 3 weeks time. No, I’m not daft, our holiday year is April to March, and I’m not one for taking a lot of time off during the main part of summer. So got a week off then, a few more days at the very beginning of March, then that will be it until, ooh, April! Even Seattle wont be as wet as Huddersfield today, famous last words I suspect!

Plans for my holiday, none really, though friendly banter on one of the Forums I inhabit has got me looking at a few days in Porto, cheaper than I thought it would be, to be frank. No more than 50/50, but thats often a fatal number with me all the same! Otherwise, just a few day trips from here I suspect. Hopefully the weather will be better than today, thats for sure.

On the other side of things, as usual January has brought up the latest round of rail fare increases, nearly 6% which is ridiculous given the service we get. I wouldnt mind paying more if we had a punctual and reliable service, and a decent chance of getting a seat, but…thats getting into fantasy land, here, with the most expensive rail fares in Europe, and one of the lousiest services!

Alright, rant over, lets get to the music. Something apt, something very 70’s as well. Enjoy,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnQZ5AHUk2U

Arrival

The one thing I do from time to time, is let the music pick the blog subject, and in a sense, tonight was one of those times. Even more so when I found a great cover of a song being performed live by a musical genius. More on that later.

I actually picked out a few songs before this, thinking it fitted a good blog, without having a definite plan on what I would write, and then the You Tube randomiser suggested this, and lo and behold…

Arrival is actually a moot point, though when Benny and Bjorn wrote this, they didnt actually specify a moment of arrival. Possibly because they knew what a certain train franchise’s punctuality record would be like lol!

When I started blogging, I mentioned a certain train company who were the bane of my travelling life, nothing has really changed since then. First Transpennine Express are that recalcitrant train company, though they are more often announced at Huddersfield as Delayed First Trans Pennine Express, so maybe they’ve changed their name? Happened twice today, so just maybe… 😉

I’d love to say good things about them, but on the whole, its hard to do so. Their punctuality record is dreadful, despite setting themselves up decent stopovers at Leeds, York etc, they still are very often late. Despite umpteen promises, trains are badly  overcrowded at nearly all times of the day, its the main cross Pennine route, and also serves Manchester Airport, so draw your own conclusions. If the fares were reasonable, it might all be forgiven, but they’re not, they are one of the more expensive per mile franchises in the country. They do have a few lovely staff, the class 170 trains on certain runs are very cute, but after that, I struggle to say a nice word!

My journey should take just under 20 minutes with them, tonight it was 27! No train in front of us or anything, just a typically slow, annoying journey on an overcrowded train! The train that stops at all stations from Leeds only takes between 34 and 37 minutes!

Hopefully someone there checks categories at places like this to see comments, but I doubt it somehow. Right, rant over, I’d better let you have the music video, which is probably what people come here for by now!

The title gives away what the song is, the mention of the writers should make most realise it was originally an Abba song, but I’ve never found a proper video of them performing it. Tonight, I was lucky enough to find this, a Mike Oldfield cover, live version, and a pretty good one at that. Please enjoy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON_ZIqzbIZs&feature=related

Is it just me reading this?

Oh come on, if anyone else is reading this at all, please let me know!

Well, unless you work for the biggest bane of my life, aka First Trans Pennine Express, and then maybe its better if you dont lol! The only things I see them first for, are overcrowding, unpunctuality and inflated fares btw.

I would admit that perhaps there is one possibly non-girly thing about me, a great love of cricket, especially nowadays, Irish cricket. But hey, no one’s perfect lol!

My main regret in life, that I didnt discover much earlier just what was wrong with me physically, but things pre internet were a lot harder to discover back then. I should have known, I always grew up singing the female parts in songs (Carpenters, Abba, New Seekers, Middle of The Road) , so maybe should have realised then, but… ah well…

What do I do, other than work, and watching cricket? Or as I work in a sports related industry, both at the same time… I like to travel, North America mainly, I like to read, and in the past I used to write as well.

Any reader intrigued yet, or all asleep? Lets wait and find out!