We hoof our way up to the train station after our taxi cab fails to show up. We get super wet due to the steady rain. But we arrive in time to get our 10:26am train to Bath.
But not known to us until we look up at the departures screen is the word
What? Cancelled? No crew? What the hell!?
Immediately I get into the line to get some clarification from the railway station ticket sellers. I patiently wait for three people ahead of me — my train is cancelled, so of course I’m patient, there is no train to catch! When I finally get up to the window and explain my situation, the gentleman matter-of-fact informs me that the next scheduled train is not until 12:27pm — a two hour wait! He said that had I arrived a little bit earlier, they could have sent me on a taxi to a neighboring station on a different route to Bath. But that ship had passed — even if I could get on a cab now, I wouldn’t make it in time to get to the other train station. Later I realize that part of the reason why taxis were in short supply is because the train was taking all available vehicles and using it for their passengers. Sadly, Lisa and I were not one of those passengers.
The only thing we could do now was wait. Wait and dry off. Wait and hope that the 12:27pm train will be just fine. You know that’s not going to happen…
Firstly, we had a confirmed seat reservation for our 10:26am train. We were guaranteed seats. The 12:27pm train? Nope, not a chance to reserve seats on that train because the time window had closed.
Secondly, we were not the only passengers that were affected by the cancelled 10:26am train. All others before and after us that did not find alternative means to get to their destination were now waiting, like us, for that later train.
Finally, we find out that the 12:27pm train has only three coaches. Let me repeat that. THREE coaches. Which means that everyone will be fighting to get on the train and try to fit — and there’s a strong chance that some people won’t make it on. Like what happened to us, yesterday when there were only two coaches.
We continued to wait and before long it was 12:20pm. Unfortunately, the 12:27pm train was now delayed to 12:33pm. A six-minute delay, which means we would arrive to the Bath Station at 1:27pm.
12:30pm comes. Passengers get into position. A lot of passengers. With big luggage bags. And strollers. And bicycles. Is that a big instrument I see as well? The anticipation is high. This is “Go Time.”
Lisa and I strategically place ourselves where we think the back of the train would be. And then the train makes its appearance, charging into the station. It will stop where we want it to, and we will get on the train with no problem.
But the train doesn’t slow down in time. It overshoots us and many more passengers. And that means a mad scramble forward to where it finally stops. As it passes by me, I can see that the coaches — the THREE coaches — are full, with some passengers already standing because there are no seats available to sit down in.
After two hours of waiting, cold and still a little wet, we do not want to wait for the train after this one!
Lisa and I are caught in a wave of humanity, a sea of people that want and need to get on this train! The doors open and a trickle of passengers dodge their way out. And then it is a mad rush on board. But it is not fluid, not seamless — stupid backpacks, duffel bags, luggage — this is clunky and unwieldy because people try to get on but there is no room for the bags! People are twisting, squishing, squeezing into any space that they can find onto the steps and into the cab. This is not a graceful scene — Lisa and I are in this mob, desperate and trying-to-be-civilized but kinda thinking “Me First!” — and somehow we manage to get on to secure our “rightful” place, but I look out the window and see that yes, others were not so lucky. They miss the train.
For the next 90 minutes — yep, ninety minutes, we pull into more stations and the scene is repeated. It is ugly. People on the train have missed connections to other train because – you guessed it – this train is now delayed because it is taking so long for people to get off the train and for people to get on. We are piled in, packed like sardines, and one poor lady tells me that she’s been battling this since 4:30am this morning. Yikes!
We finally get into Bath at 2:02pm.
We were supposed to get into Bath at 11:27am.
That’s 2.5 hours of our day shot, and I’m not a happy camper. We get off the train, walk to our hotel to drop off our bags and make the best out of the rest of the day.
Bottom line is that we made it to Bath in one piece. No bags lost. No wallets pick pocketed. No felled trees that we ran over. No medical emergencies. Just a two and a half hour delay. And a good story, with lessons learned (always check the train schedule and look for alternatives in planning for a worst-case scenario; maybe get that rental car next time!).
Our experience was not that bad. On public transportation, there are a number of things we cannot control. Like the weather. And general strikes / work stoppages. Track work and construction. Felled trees. A sick crew / no crew. Two coach cars instead of six or seven. It’s all a matter of perspective. Lisa and I made it to Bath, we had a great time, and we move on. And we will definitely always remember this story!