Archive for the ‘Scotland 2017’ Category

Regular readers may remember the posts I did about my visit to Inverness eighteen months ago, and the very enjoyable train journey I had to get there. Val and I decided to repeat the experience together, so yesterday (26 April) we set off.

The main part of the train journey – the ride to Inverness on a Virgin East Coast HST, in 1st class with all the benefits – wasn’t due to start until 13:55 at York (the nearest point we could connect with that service). Just getting ourselves to York started at 10:45 with a taxi to Sheffield station, then (after a wait at Sheffield because we were early) a Cross Country train to York which got us there at 12:40, so more waiting ensued. (Why did we do all this so early? Well, our ticket from York was an Advance ticket and was therefore only valid for that one train, and the taxi and early train to York were to ensure that we didn’t miss it.)

Finally the Highland Chieftain pulled into York, on time. We boarded, found our seats, sat in them and were quickly served with wine and water and had our lunch order taken. About 20 minutes or so into the journey I became aware that the train seemed to be gradually slowing and not making much noise, but we were still moving so I gave it no thought. I think I had just been served with my lunch when the train manager made an announcement – “the train driver has just told me that he’s lost power to both locomotives, but he is trying to restart them! I’ll keep you informed”. I then noticed that the train had continued to slow, and shortly afterwards drifted to a standstill. On the East Coast main line….

Time passed, with various announcements to the effect that (on the advice of a remote technical team he was in contact with) the driver was trying this, that, and the other, but apparently without success. Eventually we received a very depressing message – the driver had been able to get the rear locomotive running but unfortunately the train could only be driven from there and not from the front loco – so we would have to head southwards, back to York.

We arrived back at York at around 3:45, and at that point some confusion ensued while the Virgin East Coast staff worked out what to do. Passengers for stations as far as Edinburgh were advised to transfer to other Virgin East a Coast services. The problem lay with those passengers who, like us, had been going north of Edinburgh – that train was the only Virgin service that went up that line. But eventually they found a spare HST that they could press into service – actually, I think it was a service from Kings X terminating at York that should have headed back, but they cancelled that journey and sent it on to Inverness. We set off from York again at 4:45, nearly three hours behind schedule.

Thereafter the journey proceeded quite well. We were kept well supplied with food and drinks, and standard class passengers were getting free tea, coffee and snacks. But we must have lost more time and it was 11:35 when we reached Inverness. It was nearly midnight when we reached the hotel, just over thirteen hours after leaving home. We were shattered.

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