Our Bat & Ball correspondent, Keith Alderman, has now retired. However he’s now making good use of his Senior Railcard!
This month’s delays: a total 53 minutes for four days travelling, Southeastern 22, Thameslink 31. Delay Repay Claims; total 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017 inclusive = £140.30 (Greater Anglia £10.80, Southeastern £28.80, Thameslink £80.30, Virgin £20.40)
Wednesday 6 December 2017 – A trip to north Hackney today. I started my journey on the 10.40 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks which was on time. At Sevenoaks the 10.49 to London Bridge was running four minutes late, one minute was recovered and at London Bridge arrival there was three minutes late.
I travelled on a 48 bus from London Bridge to Hackney which took about thirty minutes longer than scheduled due to traffic conditions. The return journey was worse. The 48 bus runs every eight to twelve minutes during the day. However, I waited just over thirty minutes for a bus back from Hackney to London Bridge. When a 48 did arrive, it was terminated short at Liverpool Street where a twenty minutes wait for a bus to London Bridge was experienced. All in all, my journey was about two hours rather than the expected forty/forty-five minutes. How about delay repay for bus journeys?
Tuesday 11 December – An early evening journey to London today. I commenced my travels on the 16.40 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks which arrived one minute late. The 16.49 to Charing Cross departed Sevenoaks one minute late but arrived at Charing Cross on time. I walked to the Comedy Museum in Bloomsbury to see a show called “Thinking Drinkers: History of Alcohol” An interesting and amusing show during which the audience is given samples of specially chosen beer, vodka, gin, single malt whisky and rum.On the 20.10 from Charing Cross the onboard information display was displaying “Southeastern service to Ramsgate, for live running information see Southeastern’s Website, Twitter” etc. Not very helpful, no next station information being displayed! On arrival at Sevenoaks I noticed that on the information screens passengers were being advised that the 20.49 to Charing Cross service did not have any working toilets on the train. On the return working at this time of the year that could have been a major problem!
Sunday 17 December – A friend who lives in Otford wanted to travel today and when he enquired about train services on Saturday the station staff did not know what service was being provided, only that there were no trains due to engineering work! A Thameslink replacement bus service was expected but no details had been sent to the station. It turned out that a half hourly train service was replaced by an hourly bus service between Otford and Bromley South in both directions taking just under one hour to complete the journey. If Bat & Ball or Sevenoaks were the required destination changing on to another bus at Otford was required. An hourly bus service is not a suitable alterative to a half hourly train service! Normally, the last service from Blackfriars on a Sunday is at 23.42, arriving Bat & Ball 00.45 and 00.47 at Sevenoaks. According to National Rail Enquiries, the last “rail” service from Blackfriars to Bat & Ball today was as follows: –
|d Blackfriars (train)||21:26|
|d Bromley (1st bus)||22:10|
|d Otford (2nd bus)||23:24|
|a Bat & Ball||23:31|
A journey of over two hours involving one train and two buses. The rail replacement bus services provided today where not adequate in my opinion.
Thursday 21 December – To celebrate the shortest day of the year I met up with some friends in the Crosse Keys in the City for some real ale therapy sampling beers from the Wetherspoon’s Christmas range. I commenced my journey on the 12.10 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks which was on time. Southeastern were running late and the 12.19 to London Charing Cross was expected to be nine minutes late at Sevenoaks. This train departed five minutes late and arrived in London three minutes late. I obtained a set of the new timetables at Charing Cross then walked to Embankment and travelled on the Underground to Cannon Street. I returned from London Bridge on the 14.49 to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. The 15.30 Thameslink service to Bat & Ball arrived at Sevenoaks on its inward journey but for the return journey was eventually cancelled because the driver could not rectify a fault on the train. I travelled to Sevenoaks on the 16.00 service which was on time. Another delay repay claim submitted!
Monday 25 December 2017 – I needed to drive over to Otford this morning to deliver and collect Christmas presents and because I would be passing Bat & Ball station I thought that I would collect some advance single tickets that I bought online yesterday for a trip to Leicester next year. However, the ticket machine was not working!
At Christmas time it is good to see that friends are up to speed with events. One present I received was a book called “The Frustrated Commuter’s Companion”. I have now been retired for over two months after more than forty years commuting! The author of the book had not paid much attention to detail, a “Commuter’s Play List” is given, one song shown is “Going Underground, by The Clash”. Wrong group, it was by The Jam. The most suitable Clash song would be “Train in Vain”. I thought it was surprising that “Station to Station” by David Bowie was missed off the play list.
Thursday 28 December 2017 – The last rail excursion of the year was to Bridgnorth. I caught the 05.33 train from Bat & Ball to Swanley, changing there on to a Victoria service where arrival was six minutes late. I crossed London to Euston then travelled on a Virgin Train to Birmingham New Street, (£8.00 each way). Arrival in Birmingham was twenty-seven minutes late due to following a faulty local train from Coventry. Listening to Black Sabbath on my iPod, (I always think that it is spiritual moment listening to Black Sabbath in Birmingham), I walked across central Birmingham to Snow Hill station for a train to Kidderminster. At Kidderminster I changed on to a steam hauled train on the Severn Valley Railway for the trip to Bridgnorth. I went to the Jewel of the Severn for lunch in Bridgnorth. My return journey to London was on time. I travelled to Sevenoaks on the 21.04 from Victoria which was ten minutes late arriving. The 22.00 to Bat & Ball was on time. Bat & Ball station was very icy at 22.03, in fact the footbridge was dangerous. Other faults noted at Bat & Ball today were two lights not working, one on the footbridge the other on platform two. The ticket machine was not working, and there were problems with some of the information screens. The one on platform two was only displaying “Welcome to Southeastern”, and the one at the station entrance was still displaying information about services that had departed one hour earlier.