first bad rail experience…

Considering how much “training” I did in the UK in 2008 and the stories I’d heard about rail travel problems, I actually hadn’t experienced any problems until my travel between St. Ives and Torquay on Sunday. (My UK colleagues have since advised me not to travel on Sundays whenever possible!)

There was already scheduled maintenance on the rail lines so I knew I would be on a bus between St. Erth and St. Austell. Hey, someone other than me doing the driving – this is not a problem! Before I describe what ensued, let me first just tell you about the trains into St. Ives. Wow. Spectacular views as the train skirts the coastline.

I had to catch the 12:11 train from St. Ives, so I took my time after enjoying Howie’s delicious full Cornish breakfast, and then wandered out with suitcase in tow to the little park that overlooks the train station and the magnificient bay. Took a lot more pictures. The sun was out and haze had lifted so I was able to get some great shots of Godrevy Lighthouse.

Then the train-bus-train-taxi-train adventure to Torquay began. The train/bus skirts wind farms, old abandoned mining buildings, plowed fields, and lots of sheep and their new babies. We passed many towns whose names I was familiar with from my FLICKR pics feed and the Cornwall Cam that I’ve been watching for the last year: Hayle, Truro, Redruth, Portreath, Bodmin, Lelant.

The bus arrives on time in St. Austell and I get a very curious response to “is this the train I get on to Newton Abbot?” Right train, just might not make it to Newton Abbot today. Gantry down on the line. Might be fixed by 3:30ish. Then again, it might not. We made it to Plymouth. Sat about 15 minutes when they announced that the train wouldn’t be going anywhere until Monday morning.

Of course, I had no maps with me and my geographic knowledge of southwest England isn’t the greatest. I had no idea how far Plymouth was from Newton Abbot. I did know that Newton Abbot to Torquay was just a very short 12-15 minute rail ride. There was mass chaos in the train station. Folks on my train were trying to get to London because they were flying home on Monday. Waiting until Monday wasn’t an option. The station folks said all the coaches were booked, there weren’t enough of them, and that taxis were booked. They suggested we find hotel rooms in Plymouth for the night. I wondered about renting a car (not that I wanted to subject the English people to my driving again) when the station staff mentioned taxis to Newton Abbot. How many people going there – 12 – okay – 2 separate taxis appeared and I was on my way again having learned that it’s about a 40 minute drive between the 2 towns.

Caught the train from Newton Abbot to Torquay and arrived about 1.5 hours later than originally planned. Whew!

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