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 2019 to 30 April 2019 inclusive = £22.90 (Southeastern £20.90, Southern £2.00, Thameslink £0). One claim outstanding.
This month’s delays: total 85 minutes, Southeastern 83, Thameslink 2
Thursday 4 April – I needed to go to a camera equipment shop in Aldgate today. Southeastern and Network Rail did not take appropriate action to deal with the ice that formed overnight and there many problems being reported on the travel reports in the media. The 10.29 from Sevenoaks to London Bridge was cancelled along with many other trains today. I travelled to London on the late running 10.19 service. As this train approached Sevenoaks an announcement over the station PA system advised that the train was formed of only three carriages. Fortunately, this proved to be wrong and an eight-coach train arrived. Unfortunately, the train was already very overcrowded with no seats for those boarding at Sevenoaks. This service departed twenty-one minutes late and arrived at London Bridge twenty-three minutes late where it was terminated.
Monday 8 April – As mentioned last month Virgin Trains are offering very cheap fares after 11.00 hours between London and Birmingham on Mondays, £10 each way, less with a railcard. Today my ultimate destination was Kidderminster. I commenced my travels on the 09.21 service from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks and then the 09.29 to London Bridge arriving there two minutes late. The 11.03 to Birmingham New Street arrived there one minute early. I walked to Birmingham Snow Hill and bought a ticket to Kidderminster and boarded the 12.43 service which arrived one minute late at my destination. I spent a few hours taking in the sights of Kidderminster and undertaking some consumer research. Before commencing my return journey, I had a meal of cod and chips in the very good fish and chip shop that is close to the station. A quick pint was consumed in the King and Castle, the Severn Valley Railway’s pub in their station at Kidderminster, before boarding the West Midlands 17.25 train back to Birmingham Snow Hill. Unfortunately the train to Euston arrived five minutes late and so I missed the 20.49 from London Bridge. The next departure for Sevenoaks at 20.54 was late, just in time to see the 21.22 to Bat & Ball depart. The next train at 21.52 departed one minute early and was also one minute early arriving at Bat & Ball. Another Delay Replay claim submitted. Two lights on the footbridge at Bat & Ball station where not working this evening. Birmingham to Kidderminster and return is thirty-seven miles, the fare for this journey is £5.35. Sevenoaks to Charing Cross and return is forty-four miles and the fare is £8.65: are we being ripped-off?
Wednesday 10 April – another day trip to London. Armed with an Off-Peak One Day Travelcard I departed Bat & Ball on the 10.51 to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. Since the “new” Thameslink timetable was introduced, and the journey time from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks was increased by one minute to four minutes, it is not surprising that Thameslink arrivals at Sevenoaks are frequently one minute early. The 10.55 from Sevenoaks departed one minute early and arrived at London Bridge five minutes late. I wandered around London by bus and underground topping up my ISA and seeking a glass or two of lunch. Visiting Tower Hill, Liverpool Street, Monument, Holborn, Whitehall and finally arriving at Charing Cross.
Thursday 18 April – My destination is Egham today. I commenced my journey on the 09.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks which was on time. The 09.29 to Waterloo East arrived three minutes late. The 10.20 to Egham from Waterloo departed one minute early and arrived on time.
Friday 19 April – I am heading for Margate today, but not the beach! I travelled on the 08.55 from Bat & Ball to Bromley South which arrived one minute late. I changed on to the 09.27 service to Rochester, this train departed five minutes late and was seven minutes late arriving at Rochester. The next train I travelled on was the 10.02 to Margate, this departed Rochester two minutes late and was five minutes late arriving at Margate.
Wednesday 24 April – My destination is Bridgnorth today. I departed Bat & Ball at 06.51 arriving at Sevenoaks on time at 06.55. I was in time to board the 07.03 train to London Bridge, but my ticket restricted me to travelling on the 07.12 service. This was unfortunate because the train was full and standing, this service having started its journey at Ramsgate at 05.48. The 07.03 service starts at Tunbridge Wells at 06.39 and had plenty of seats available! Why did Southeastern insist that I travel on the 07.12 rather than the 07.03 when they claim that they restrict Advance ticket holders to lightly used services to manage demand on their busier services! The 07.12 arrived two minutes late at London Bridge. I used the Northern Line to transfer to Euston. As I approached London Bridge Underground station staff were directing passengers for the Northern line away from the usually used station entrance on a circular route through a shopping arcade, adding about four minutes to the journey. There were problems on the Northern Line, to quote the staff “there are extended gaps in the service today”. This resulted in three trains departing with only a few people being able to board them, the station entrance being closed due to overcrowding on the platforms and a greatly extended journey time. I boarded the fourth train to depart and arrived at Euston station at 08.16, just seven minutes before the 08.23 service to Birmingham New Street was due to depart. Virgin were also having problems and the 08.23 did not depart until 08.29. This Pendolino train was called “The Flying Scouseman”. After the train had started away from Euston the Train Manager apologised for the late departure which was due to the train arriving late from its previous journey from Preston. She continued by saying that the train driver was on his last duty heading back home to Birmingham therefore it was in his interest to make up time. However, he is not a miracle worker. Arrival in to Birmingham New Street was three minutes late. I walked across central Birmingham to Snow Hill station and travelled to Kidderminster where the train arrived one minute late. Suitable refreshment in the Severn Valley Railway’s King & Castle was taken before I boarded a steam hauled train to Bridgnorth. After some lunch and consumer research in Bridgnorth I returned to the station and waited in the Railwayman’s Arms before travelling back to Kidderminster. On this occasion the sign above the bar advised that “last week you lot drunk 2,125 pints of real ale”. The fares for today’s travel were Bat & Ball to Kidderminster £35.30, and Kidderminster to Bat & Ball £16.85.
Thursday 25 April – Today was my monthly reunion in London with my former work colleagues. Armed with an Off-Peak One Day Travelcard I undertook some consumer research before meeting up with my friends. I departed Bat & Ball on the 11.55 to Peckham Rye where it arrived on time. Later, I continued to Denmark Hill. My next destination was Clapham High Street. My final journey was on the Northern Line from Clapham North to Bank from where I walked to the Crosse Keys.
Bat & Ball Update: During the refurbishment of Bat & Ball station a public convenience was installed. However, I have never seen this open for use, the gate across the entrance is always locked by a padlock when I pass through the station.