Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Decisions, decisions

Posted in Great Britain, Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 15 December 2011

As I journey around the country following the (not quite so at the moment) Happy Hammers, I often have to come to myriad decisions about how precisely I’m going to get to and from whichever stadium is my destination that day. And of course, in order to get the cheapest deal on travel, I have to book that in advance. But it’s there that the decisions come, because invariably the most direct route by rail will often times be the most expensive, precisely because it is the most direct, and most people will use it. An example – West Ham have been drawn away to Sheffield Wednesday in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, and Hillsborough is a ground that I have yet to go to. So, having purchased my match ticket, I’ve then had to get myself up there. The problem is that the online purchasing tools (which all use the National Rail database) either want to take you directly from Sheffield to London St Pancras, or via Doncaster to London Kings Cross. In this case though, the most cost effective solution is to go to London Euston via Birmingham New Street, an option that isn’t given on the database (even if you type in Euston as a destination). So that’s what I’ve done. Similarly, I’ve been looking at what my plan might be to get to Ashton Gate on a Tuesday night in April. Fortunately, I plan to stay in Bristol for the week, so it’s less hassle than it might otherwise be. Parson Street is the nearest station to Bristol City’s ground, but that has a very low service level, so that by the time the game finishes, it’s virtually down to one an hour. Typing in a return journey from Bristol Temple Meads to Parson Street gives one option for the return to go all the way to Weston-Super-Mare, then changing to come all the way back. But rather than doing this, I’ve found that by going one stop further on from Parson Street, to Nailsea & Backwell, I can change for a train coming back within a few minutes and go straight back to Temple Meads. A little more expensive in money terms, but better take 30 minutes than over an hour (by the way, the reason I’m telling you this is to give myself a reminder of my researches, as I’m bound to have forgotten all this when the time comes to actually go there!!). This is often the thing that I think about whenever I go on an away trip – not just “what’s fastest?” or “what’s cheapest?”, but also “what will be most comfortable?” – that’s one of the reasons I jumped on a Waterloo train on my way back from Reading, because I knew the majority of people would be getting trains back to Paddington. While it took longer, as I was in no great rush, I chose the comfort of a relatively empty, quiet train (which also happened to be the first service to London leaving when I got to the railway station). Of course, if the route I’ve chosen is an interesting one that gives me more scope when I write out my journeys to tell you about my road trip (or rail trip as it were), then so much the better. But I’m not going to send myself purposely out of the way just for that. Because that would just be crazy.

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