Track Renewal System 4 in action on the West Coast main line

ScotRail were the saviours as journey home hit by Network Rail delays

Network Rail logo As long-time readers will know, getting to and onto ferries can be fraught with difficulties. On Monday past, our return from Burnley was no exception. We started off okay: caught a train from Burnley two hours earlier than expected. So far so good. Whilst at the station, I wondered why in Northern Ireland we don’t have information boards showing timetables like they do in England actually on the platforms. So, being me, I did of course tweet at NIRailways.

It seems a pretty simple and clear method of letting passengers know what trains run to their destination, instead of having to read off a full timetable. Perhaps a question can be asked of the Minister. Whilst at Burnley Manchester Road, I also noticed that another organisation had misused the Twitter brand guidelines… so I helpfully pointed that out too…

Development works at Burnley

Manchester Road station is set to get a new ticket office and additional parking thanks to a scheme announced by Nick Clegg in 2012. It really could do with it as it is very bleak at the moment.

Anyway, we boarded the train to Preston, and on arrival made our way to the Upper Crust café where we both had some breakfast. Two hot chocolates and four cinnamon whirls for me and one bottle of Diet Coke and a pain au chocolat for Andrew. Our wait was about two and a half hours, and then our train arrived. We boarded it, and then we had a problem.

Track Renewal System 4 in action on the West Coast main line
Track Renewal System 4 in action on the West Coast main line Photo: NetworkRail

Engineering works overrun

We knew by the time we got to Preston that there were engineering works between Lancaster and Carnforth, and that no trains were expected to head north before ours. Unfortunately, these works were overrunning and we were now eating into our tight schedule, and the hour and a quarter wait we had whilst on the train sitting at the platform in Preston made it look unlikely that we were going to make it to Ayr in time for the rail transfer to Loch Ryan Port.

Eventually the train set off, and then, just before arrival into Lancaster, the signals failed. So we were waiting for about another ten minutes before making it into Lancaster. After that we continued up to Glasgow and got there about five o’clock. After a quick question with station staff we then ran to Platform 11 from Platform 1 to the Ayr train. As the first two passengers through the ticket barrier from the northbound train we were the last two through on Platform 11 for the Ayr train. Quite how we managed to run I do not know but we made it!

This is how one of the new ferries on Stena Line’s Belfast to Cairnryan route would look if it parked up in front of Belfast’s City Hall.

On arrival in Ayr, we spoke to station staff and the supervisor organised a taxi to take us and one other passenger down to Loch Ryan Port to catch the ferry. With just under an hour until check in closed, it was pushing it, but again we made it. Quickly through the StenaLine checkin, the new constables from the newly-merged Police Scotland didn’t want to talk to us, and so we walked briskly up the (very) long air bridge to the superfast ferry. Safely on board we both ate some dinner and Andrew went off to enjoy the Spa.

Thank you ScotRail

We will be writing to ScotRail to thank them for their very kind and courteous assistance on making the journey. Virgin staff were completely invisible both on the train from Preston and at Glasgow Central station. We all know that things can go wrong, but hiding and not even walking through the train to advise passengers of what is happening is really not good enough.

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