July 30, 2006
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Take the afternoon off work, I thought. Get home at a leisurely pace, I thought. Pop in to the solicitors and sign some paperwork, I thought. So I booked myself on the 1.05pm train on Friday, settled into my lovely first class seat with my free paper (OK, Evening Standard, I know it’s not really a paper). As we were pulling into Peterborough we slowed down, there was an annoucement that there were problems on the line near Grantham and we’d be held at Peterborough for a while. And we were. And then we were all told to get off because the line ahead was screwed and the train was turning round and heading back to London.
Two trees had fallen across the line just south of Grantham and taken the power lines with them, across a section of track that only has one north and one south line, so there was no way around. If trains left Kings Cross they were being held at Peterborough. After an hour and a half of standing on the platform with about two train loads of other passengers and no information, I’d finished reading my flat lease (fascinating stuff, I’m telling you) and went to get a proper paper. On the concourse – in one of the most bizarre coincidences that may ever have happened to me – I bumped into my friend Ed, who actually lives in Germany and had just arrived in from Stansted five minutes before! His sister was stuck on a train waiting for a platform at Peterborough and they were attempting to go to Newcastle. So we did what any self-respecting people stuck in Peterborough with no imminent chance of escape would do on a sunny Friday afternoon. We went to the pub.
A couple of hours later we headed back to the station and crammed ourselves onto a train heading North, stood in a vestibule next to a broken toilet that, it turned out, was leaking – what we hoped was – water and had soaked the carpet underfoot (and was seeping into our bags, ugh). No air con in the vestibule, and the train was rapidly running out of water. It took two hours to do the half hour journey to Grantham. I had to change at Doncaster and got into Leeds at 10.30 – seven hours late. Ed and Stephanie got to Newcastle at, I believe, after 11pm. Marvellous. Hardly GNER‘s fault that the trees fell over; but a lack of information, bugger all refreshment and a leaking toilet certainly was. Though if it hadn’t been for bumping into them I would have been in the vilest mood all day. I actually ended up quite cheery!
And then to add insult to injury: coming back, the train I was meant to get on broke down at the platform so we were all directed to another one, where we were then informed that an earlier train had broken down five minutes out of Leeds so we had to wait while they towed that one back into the station and all the passengers moved across to our train! An hour delay. At least I had a seat this time. Hopefully, if my parents’ house sale goes through, I won’t have to do that journey again for a very long time.