Decided to travel from Lichfield to Hemel Hempstead by train. It was so cheap and I thought less stressful than driving I thought, what could possibly go wrong ?
Everything! First train from Lichfield was thirty minutes late. Ok, not a problem I had plenty of time to catch the connecting train. So when I got to Birmingham New Street, I had to run from platform 12 to platform 1a. This involves going through two sets of barriers, and my ticket on my phone doesn’t activate the barrier, so I had to get an employee to let me through on each occasion.
I got to 1A in plenty of time… Mainly because there wasn’t a train for an hour leaving the whole of the station. The train I was waiting for kept being pushed back and pushed back, and then suddenly it was changed to platform 7A. I ran up the stairs through two barriers again, ran down and jumped on to the train at platform 7A. Then the tannoy on the train said it wasn’t stopping at Hemel Hempstead. So I got off and spoke to the platform manager, who said I’d just missed the train to Hemel, which had been in front of the train I had jumped on.
I went back up to the barrier. I spoke to another worker and he said, go back to 1A. I jumped on the train on that platform, and as it moved off, the driver came on, saying that this was a Virgin train, and if you have a West Midlands ticket you have to get off at the next station. I got off at Birmingham International. I caught the next train, only to find out that this one was not going to stop at Hemel Hempstead. I text Janet, to see if there was another train which was going to Hemel. She found out that there was another train just behind. This train was awful! I was literally hanging out the door. There were people arguing and being racist… I was grateful to get off at Canley. I waited another Half an hour and caught a train that was definitely going to Hemel. So this train gets as far as Northampton, and then waits. The driver comes on and says, this train will not be stopping at Leighton Buzzard, Berkhamsted or Hemel Hempstead, You now have to change at Milton Keynes. I thought Fuck this! So I asked Janet to drive up to Milton Keynes and pick me up, as I was about done with the romance of travelling by train.
So, I alighted from my final train at Milton Keynes and waited for Janet. She picked me up at six, we got back to her flat at 7. So, my journey which was supposed to take me three hours ended up taking six.
It was like going back to the 1970’s, when the trains were nationalised and wildcat strikes could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours. Heady days.