Tuesday, March 20, 2012


£73 is what a peak ticket from Chippenham to London costs these days. That's roughly
£60 per hour. It's not even really peak - unless you work in Paddington station this one is going to get you to your desk not much before 10am.

So is it really too much to ask that included in one's £73 fare is a seat?

In other news, Digital Doris, the nice lady who tells you how late your train is going to be, has been replaced by High-Def Harriet who has a better bing bong but whose alliteration leaves much to be desired.

Note to self: arrange meetings further in advance to take advantage of cheap first class tickets.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Two things to celebrate today. First, a very temporary return to the Chippenham to Bristol service. And secondly, I appear to have a follower / stalker commenting on a lot of my blog posts but seemingly ignoring the ironic / sarcastic tone and taking it rather too seriously.

I do, of course, recognise that many commuters have it worse than I do. After all, I have a coffee and a seat. Regrettably the seat is in the waiting room as the train has, in the space of 30 seconds, gone from being on time to being 15 minutes late.

It's great to be back.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brakes stuck on

It's probably better that the brakes are stuck on, rather than stuck off. I presume they are designed this way. Nonetheless, it's not getting us to Reading any faster and when we do manage to make it that extra 200 yards into the station no doubt we will be slung off the train. The buffet may be open but whether or not it has any lager left is debatable.

On the plus side, the train manager does sound extremely posh and domineering and not at all phased by the fact that the driver is currently smacking parts of the brakes with a rubber mallet.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Irritating people on trains

Third Rate Western have managed to get me to London on time this morning and, midway through the return journey, they seem in significant danger of getting me home on time too. So to while away the time, I shall direct my simmering annoyance at my fellow passengers. Specifically the one opposite me.

Perhaps the message she is trying to give out is "Look at me, I have an iPhone". Well big deal, love, we don't want to hear the damn thing beep every time you touch its screen. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad, but it looks very much like she is trying to prove that, just like monkeys with typewriters, if you jab an iPhone enough times the entire works of Shakespeare will emerge.

I could move to the quiet coach, I suppose, but since all the table seats were removed, I'm quite keen to retain my legroom. I could vent my spleen, but she looks quite phsychotic to be honest and I'm not sure I want to incur her wrath. She is now doing the crossword and seems very pleased with herself for writing in the word "dog". Into a 6-letter space beginning with R, but at least she's enjoying herself. Ok I might have made up the bit about the dog.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Premature seat selection

A nice dose of chaos today to remind me why I drive to work these days. Already distraught at the thought of the last off-peak train of the week, my mood was not lifted by the prospect of severe delays heading into Didcot (is there a worse place to get delayed?) caused by some kind of signalling malady. So a mad dash to the Swansea train, with a change at Swindon giving the options of picking up another service back home, or calling the wife for a more civilised journey down the M4.

As I jogged past First Class (I'm carrying quite a bit of "Christmas" weight at the moment so to say I was running would be rather dishonest) I considered for a fleeting moment diving into a large leather seat and paying the excess fare, then trying to claim it back from a hopefully understanding boss later. But the moment was fleeting, and so I settled into Coach A along with the other 400 people trying to do the same thing. Imagine, then, my horror when moments into the journey the well-spoken train manager announced that "in the interests of safety, which is his top priority" he was declassifying First Class and we were free to relax in the thickly-padded recliners, draw the curtains and snooze safe in the knowledge that in a mere 3 hours we might make it to Didcot.

Sadly, the small matter of coaches B, C, D, and E stood between me and travel nirvana, as did about a thousand disgruntled commuters so I figured that any attempts to drag myself to the buffet and beyond would be fruitless.

On the plus side, good on the train manager for not only offering up First Class for the proletariat to sample, but also for doing his damndest to make sure that 97-year-old Maureen from Hereford knew exactly where and when to change to get safely home, albeit slightly later than she had planned.

Still, not an experience that would tempt me back into the swing of public transport. Monday brings with it the pleasure once again of Radio 4 and a smooth waft down the M4 in man's greatest triumph, the motor car.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's (not) good to be back

Several months with not a single journey requiring the services of Third Rate Western has been most pleasant. Off to London yesterday, though, and even I am not stupid enough to attempt that journey in the car. There's only so much Radio 4 one can tolerate to be honest.

So, up early and away we go.

Suit - check
Wallet - check
Oyster card - check
Mobile - check
Check the live departure boards - check

And off to the station. I note that knackered old parking ticket machine is still proudly guarding the bottom of the steps to the platform, but there do appear to be a couple of new machines elsewhere in the car park. Whether they work or not is, of course, another matter. Never mind, I pay by text message these days - which is presumably what APCOA wanted to encourage me to do by failing to fix the machines for NEARLY TWO YEARS!

I digress. We're here for a train journey to London, not an investigation into parking facilities. So, although the live departure boards indicated all was well in the world of Third Rate Western it is, as is so often the case, not. Not at all. Bugger all trains is what it is, in fact. Something has happened, somewhere near Swindon. Not sure what, or precisely where, but chaos ensues.

In a rare moment of sympathy for the poor platform staff (even though they do have a nice warm box to skulk in), I take issue with a fellow commuter who seems to think that the staff have deliberately screwed up his journey just for shits and giggles. They clearly enjoy a crowd of irate travellers demanding to know where the train is. As it happens, they have no more idea than I do, and I even tried asking a pigeon.

So off we go to Bath, to get a train that's going to London, via Bradford-on-Avon and Newbury. An opportunity to gaze upon the beauteous vista that is Trowbridge is usually welcomed, as is a fleeting glimpse of the White Horse of Westbury, but this morning is really not the time to enjoy them, as I am late. Very late.

So, no-one, least of all the unfortunate platform staff, knew what was going on. Perhaps we should all be grateful, though, that amongst the chaos, the four revenue protection stalwarts were on guard, ensuring that nobody could get onto a train without a ticket. Not that there were any trains to get on, but if Hitler had taken that kind of view, he'd never have made it to Dusseldorf let alone Dover.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Where are the updates?

My regular readers (both of you, to borrow a phrase from Terry) will no doubt be wondering why I haven't posted anything for, ooh, several months.

Two reasons: firstly, much of my time has been taken up changing nappies and other baby-related activities. Secondly, I haven't commuted with Third Rate Western since April. Instead, I drive to work. In my old, thirsty, polluting banger. At 23mpg, it's still cheaper than taking the train, though. Let's do some sums.

The train taking the strain

Ticket to Bristol: £6.40
Parking: £4.50
Fuel to station: £0.50, perhaps

Total: £11.40

The car's the star

Ticket to Bristol: £0
Parking: £0
Fuel: £6 if I take it steady, £7 if I'm late

Not much of a decision, is it. But of course, I have to put up with spending longer commuting. Actually I don't. If I leave at the same time that I'd normally go to the station, it takes me 35 minutes to get to work, 25 if it's school holiday time. Door to door by train is 55 minutes.

So despite Mr. Brown wanting to tax us all off the roads and onto public transport, the good old car is still the relaxing, cheap, fast option.