Our Bat & Ball correspondent, Keith Alderman, has now retired. However, when Thameslink allow him, he’s making good use of his Senior Railcard!
Delay Repay Claims: total 1 January 2018 to 30 September 2018 inclusive = £90.69
(Southeastern £33.00, Thameslink £19.60, South West Railway £12.40, Virgin £25.69)
This month’s delays: total 44 minutes, Southeastern 31, Thameslink 13
Incidents and this month’s issues: –
Saturday 1 September – A short journey today from Bat & Ball to West Malling. I departed from Bat & Ball on the 09.25 to Otford where arrival was one minute early. If I had been at the front of the train I might have crossed the footbridge quick enough to board the 09.30 departure, but I was not. Therefore I had to wait twenty-nine minutes for the 09.58.
Wednesday 5 September – My destination is Chappel & Wakes Colne today. I started my journey on the 10.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks which arrived one minute early. The 10.29 to London Bridge arrived there five minutes late. I transferred to Stratford using the Jubilee Line. I travelled on the 12.09 to Marks Tey where I changed trains arriving at Chappel & Wakes Colne on time at 13.07. I returned on the 16.45 service, changing on to the 16.59 to Stratford at Marks Tey. After arriving at Stratford, I used the Jubilee Line to transfer to London Bridge. I travelled to Sevenoaks on the 18.16 departure, and the 18.52 to Bat & Ball, both services were on time. The total mileage today is approximately 141 miles and the fare paid was £24.55. I would have liked to have travelled earlier today but cheap fares on Anglian train services for some reason are not offered as early as other train operating companies do.
Friday 7 September – Another trip to Bridgnorth today. I commenced my journey on the 07.23 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. Whilst waiting for this train the information screen at Bat & Ball was advising passengers of the following; “Train services are subject to “dirsuption” this morning due to signalling problems at Charing Cross”! The 07.32 from Sevenoaks to London Bridge departed one minute late and arrived one minute early in London. I used the Northern Line to transfer to Euston. I travelled to Birmingham New Street on the 08.43 departure. Arrival in Birmingham was two minutes late due to waiting for a platform at New Street. Probably no hurry to platform this service because it waits in the station for about fifteen minutes before continuing to Edinburgh. I walked to Moor Street station intending to catch the 10.29 to Kidderminster. However, the information screens showed this service as being cancelled. I boarded the first train to Snow Hill in case the cancelled train was starting from there. At Snow Hill the information screen showed the 10.29 from Moor Street to Kidderminster as being on time. Surprisingly, when the train arrived it came from the direction of Moor Street with passengers onboard. I later discovered that this train which originates from Dorridge was cancelled between there and Acocks Green due to late arrival of this train at Dorridge. Arrival in Kidderminster was four minutes late. I walked to the Severn Valley Railway station and boarded a train for Bridgnorth. On arrival, refreshment was required so a glass of lunch was taken in the Railwayman’s Arms. The sign on the wall advised that last week their customers downed 2,288 pints of real ale.
I was unable to use Wi-fi on train services between Sevenoaks and London today. But interestingly, when I tried to use the Internet between Bromley South and Bickley my computer briefly found a wi-fi network called “GCHQ Network Monitoring”.
The fare paid today was £37.25, and the distance travelled about 316 miles. Interestingly, an off-peak return ticket with Senior Railcard discount from Birmingham stations to Kidderminster is £5.15 for a journey of nineteen and a half miles each way. The same fare from Sevenoaks to London is £8.40 for a journey of twenty-two miles each way.
Sunday 9 September – A trip to Princes Risborough today to travel on the stream railway to Chinnor. I departed Bat & Ball on the 08.15 to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. The 08.31 to London Bridge was on time. According to National Rail Enquiries after transferring from London Bridge to Marylebone using the Jubilee and Bakerloo lines I should have arrived in time to travel on the 10.13 departure. I arrived early enough to use the 09.43 service which arrived on time. At both ends of the steam railway Red Kites could be seen flying in the sky. After a short walk to the Red Lion in Chinnor for some suitable lunchtime refreshment I returned to Princes Risborough. Here, I had a long wait for a train back to London, so the Bird in Hand was visited for further refreshment. The 14.45 to Marylebone arrived on time. I transferred to Victoria and eventually boarded the 16.43 service to Bat & Ball which was on time. Strangely, the Southeastern staff on the information desk did not appear to know that Thameslink services were diverted to Victoria today. When I enquired about the 16.43 service I was advised to take a train to Bromley South and change there for Bat & Ball! Bat & Ball to Princes Risborough and return is approximately one hundred and two miles, the fare today was £18.35.
Friday 14 September – My destination is Crewe today. I commenced my travels on the 07.21 to Blackfriars where the train arrived two minutes early. I transferred to Euston using the District and Northern Underground lines changing at Embankment. Not my preferred route to Euston but my ticket determined that I travelled to Blackfriars. However, I did have a first-class seat for the journey. The 09.40 departure from Euston left one minute late but was on time at Crewe. The fare for this journey was £28.20 each way using advance purchase singles. I discovered recently that an off-peak return ticket valid on any off-peak service was only five pence more expensive than the two single tickets! The total mileage for today’s journey was about three hundred and sixty-seven.
Friday 21 September – I am heading for Canterbury today. At Bat & Ball station I noticed that the information screen was not working, and was displaying the following: –
How can passengers listen to announcements at an unmanned station! I caught the 09.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute late. The 09.41 to Canterbury West arrived there one minute early. I returned from Canterbury on the 15.42 to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. The 16.52 to Bat & Ball was on time. I noticed on my ticket for today’s journey the following was printed on it: –
“See restrictions nre.co.uk/B3”
How many people will go online to see what restrictions apply to their ticket? What if people do not have access to the Internet, how are they expected to know what restrictions are applicable to their ticket?
Tuesday 25 September – I had booked a ticket to sail on the paddlesteamer Waverley from Gravesend to Clacton-on-Sea, then continue for a cruise on the river Blackwater before returning to Clacton-on-Sea today. With passport and Euros in my pocket I commenced my journey towards darkest Essex on the 06.25 from Bat & Ball to Swanley where it arrived one minute late. On arrival at Otford on train announcements advised passengers that due to a short platform the doors in the last coach would not open. However, they did. Perhaps the train’s GPS was not working properly and it thought that it was at Shoreham. On this train the toilet door would not lock and the water to wash your hands was too hot to use. The 06.45 to Rochester was delayed due to a train fault and departed at 06.53. Arrival in Rochester was also eight minutes late, and arrival at Gravesend was also five minutes late at 07.48.
I had travelled to Gravesend much earlier than I needed to so that I would definitely be there for the 10.00 departure of the Waverley from the Town Pier. I proceeded to the local Wetherspoon, The Robert Pocock, for a breakfast before boarding the ship. Fortunately, the weather was dry and sunny and the water was calm. Accordingly, I sat on deck for the whole journey to Clacton-on-Sea where arrival was on time at 14.00. The “Ross Revenge”, the Radio Caroline ship, is currently moored in the river Backwater, albeit with a much shorter radio mast than it had when it was broadcasting from the North Sea. Arrival back at Clacton was on time at 17.00.
The railway fare from Clacton-on-Sea to Bat & Ball is £22.10. However, if you buy an advance single from Clacton-on-Sea to London Bridge for £8.80, plus a single from London Bridge to Bat & Ball at £8.25 you can save £5.05.
Wednesday 26 September – My destination is St Albans today, a Thameslink class 700 endurance test! However, I did manage to secure a first class seat on the Thameslink trains that I used today. I travelled on the 09.25 from Bat & Ball to Blackfriars where it arrived five minutes late; possibly caused by a delay waiting at Otford junction. I changed on to the 10.39 departure to St Albans which arrived one minute early. This was not the train I intended to travel on because the service was disrupted due to problems between Gatwick Airport and Brighton.
I returned on the 15.13 departure to London Bridge where it arrived one minute early.This route is a quicker journey than changing on to a direct Bat & Ball service at Blackfriars. Interestingly, National Rail Enquiries suggests that it is possible to change at Blackfriars from a service arriving from the north on to one departing to Sevenoaks in three minutes I would expect that this connection is not often achieved. Especially if an attempt to do so is made at the north end of Blackfriars station; if you arrive on an eight coach train this will result in a long distance to be covered to make the connection. If trains are running to time, attempting the connection at the south end of Blackfriars station might be successful because there is less distance to cover between platforms.
Thursday 27 September – A trip to London today for my monthly meeting with my former colleagues for a meal and some real ale therapy in the Crosse Keys in the City. I departed Bat & Ball on the 13.51 to Sevenoaks where it arrived three minutes late and missed the connection with the 13.59 to Charing Cross. Accordingly, I travelled on the 14.13 departure which arrived at Charing Cross three minutes early and waited on Hungerford Bridge for a platform to become available. The built-in excessive recovery time was not required today! The train came to stand in a platform at 14.48 and twelve seconds; twelve seconds late!
Saturday 29 September – A short excursion to Bromley South for some retail therapy this afternoon. I travelled on the 13.25 from Bat & Ball which was on time. I returned on the 15.53 which was seven minutes late arriving at Bromley South but recovered some time and was only one minute late at Bat & Ball.
Heard on BBC TV’s “Mock the Week”, Friday 9 September; “Thomas the Tank Engine was happy, he had joined Thameslink and not had to do anything for a month.” Presumably, no Thameslink driver is passed to drive steam locomotives!