Actually, we’ll start before Day 1. We’ll start the night before with an evening train from Manchester down to London for a night in a hotel before jumping on the first Eurostar to Paris.
Everything was going smoothly. I caught a slightly earlier bus (because I’m a pessimist) to allow for slower/busier traffic than usual, which turned out to be a wise decision and I was on board the 19.15 train with fifteen minutes to spare.
Thirteen minutes later there came an announcement: “Because of the ongoing situation in Milton Keynes, this train is now the 1955 train to London and the train at Platform 6 is the 1915. Passengers are advises to transfer.”
I waited until I had crossed the platform and found a seat before I wondered:
1. Why did the ongoing situation justify making the 1915 train become the 1955? Couldn’t the train at platform 6 have done that job?
2. What was the ongoing incident at Milton Keynes?
The next announcement came:
“Because of the ongoing incident at Milton Keynes which is like to continue until eight o’clock (2000), passengers are advised that their tickets are now accepted on other services.”
This didn’t sound good. I hauled my rucksack from the overhead shelf and went onto the platform to find someone who could explain what was actually happening. I had an 8am Eurostar to catch.
Someone had been killed on the line between Milton Keynes and London. The trains would be running but they would be running more slowly past the incident. Their advice: “Get back on the train. You will be arriving late but we will get you there tonight.”
My train was scheduled to arrive into Euston at 2124. As we moved out of the station less than fifteen minutes later than scheduled, another announcement: “We’ll be arriving into London at 2142.” I’ve been on trains that were later for reasons far less serious than someone’s death.
By the time we reached Stoke, this had shifted up to 2152… hardly a big deal in the scheme of things. And let’s face it, still a massive improvement on the four hour train ride from London Euston to Manchester when I came back from Paris. (Oh, I don’t think I blogged about that but my god it was tedious).
Shortly before nine o’clock, the train slowed almost to a complete halt in Rugby, moving so slowly that the passengers on the platform were convinced it was stopping for them and they started ambling towards the doors, at which point, the train picked up speed. There were a few expressions of disbelief as we chugged past them.