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Monday, April 22, 2013

The quirks of travelling by train

A train journey is not without adventure. When you board a train, you'll never know what might happen.

Like the past weekend. We had planned a (short) trip to Cardiff, Wales, mainly to see a show about which I'll tell in a later blog. We wanted to make the journey by train, because it's easy enough.

It already started on the ride to Brussels, where we needed to board Eurostar. We just sat on the train, when the conductor announced we could not leave because of a problem with the electricity. We began to feel nervous, and looking for alternatives, when at last the train got going and we reached Brussels with time to spare.

The weekend itself was great, but the return journey nearly gave me a heart attack. We left Cardiff on Sunday morning around 10.15. After a hour or so, the train stopped and we were told to leave the train, as it would go no further. Apparently an accident in the London region had caused the disruption of the entire British Rail!

We got onto another train, which stopped again. Then another train, one more... The more trains we had to take to get into London, the more we feared we'd miss our Eurostar. And we had non-refundable tickets (they're the cheapest) so we would have to pay a lot to get a ticket for another train (assuming there would still be availabe seats on it, as the London Marathon was on the same day). Expensive tickets, another night at a hotel, having to phone your headmaster to say you're not able to come to work,.... can you believe how we felt?

At last we got on a train that went the entire way to London Paddington. We arrived there well after 2 pm, with less than 40 minutes left to catch that Eurostar of 3.04 pm. We ran to the Underground (lucky to have Oyster cards) and fortune was with us: a train arrived the moment we got there. A ten-minute ride brought us into St. Pancras, where we made another run to the Eurostar baording zone. Luckily the people there understood our problem, and we were wisked through security and customs, so that we could get on the train. It took half an hour to get my breath back.

I hope we won't have to go through such an experience again, although the concert was well worth it.


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