Home » Birmingham » Two and three quarter cheers for public transport

Two and three quarter cheers for public transport

As much as I love my native Yorkshire, I loath the journey getting there. Of the 155 miles, almost 140 are on the rat race of Britain’s clogged, roadwork strewn motorway system.

We’d driven up to visit my mum, through torrential rain and motorway spray on November 11th, our plan was to spend a few days with her, and hopfully she’d be well enough for us to leave Cindy, her Yorkshire Terrier who has been lodging with us for almost twelve months, back with her permanently.

Our optimism was soon dashed, some new medication she’d been prescribed was leaving her feeling quite weak and light headed and certainly not capable of looking after Cindy.

So after spending three days with her, making sure she was improving and promising we’d be back at Christmas, we returned home.

At least the weather was OK for the return journey, and everything was going well until we hit the outskirts of Birmingham. Well know for snarled up traffic, the final normally twenty minute stretch of our journey took almost an hour 👿

We’d only been home a week, when I received a phone call from Harrogate hospital telling me my mum had fallen and broken her hip, and that they would be operating on the Saturday morning.

I knew I had to go and visit her, but the thought of doing that journey again, so close to the previous one and alone this time, was starting to stress me out.

‘Why don’t you go by train’ T said.

Hmm, I don’t know what was a worst thought, driving up, or my memories of the last train journey I made home from Harrogate several years ago, when we were all packed like sardines with folk standing in the aisles.

In the end the train won though, a packed train was more appealing.

With my senior rail pass which I will add is worth every penny 2800 pennies, I can get a third off the cost of the standard fare. So handing over my £39.60 for an almost door to door open return I set off on the Monday morning.

A change of train at Birmingham and another at York, I arrived stress free at my mums house just over four hours after leaving home.

Over the next three days I made numerous visits to the hospital with my free bus pass via Harrogate’s excellent bus service.

I had written down the train times for my return journey.

From Starbeck, my mum’s local station I had a choice of two trains, both at 11.08hrs.

The train to York, which linked up with the Cross Country Newcastle-Southampton train, or one to Leeds which would link up with the Cross Country Newcastle-Penzance, both these called at Birmingham, where I needed to be for the train to Redditch.

IMG_1665So as I walked on Starbeck platform, I did an eeny meeny miny moe, deciding to use the York route, mainly because calling at Doncaster-Sheffield-Derby-Birmingham, there were less stops.

IMG_1666

Typically the train to Leeds arrived first 😀

Hopping onto the train to York, which arrived seconds later from the opposite direction.

IMG_1667

 We pulled into York station at 11.44hrs.

I waked over to the departure board to see which platform the 12.34hrs Southampton via Birmingham was arriving on……..

…….. 12.34hrs to Southampton – CANCELLED

My eeny meeny miny moe had gone a bit pear shaped.

I scanned the departure board to see if anything else was heading via Birmingham, earlier than the next one that I knew of which was at 13.34hrs, but nothing was listed.

IMG_1668

Before heading out of the station to kill some time, I decided to enquired at the information desk.

‘Oh yes’, she announced, ‘the Newcastle-Penzance is due at 12.45hrs, platform 9, just over the bridge’

I checked the departure board again, by which time the 12.45hrs was listed:

York-Leeds-Wakefield-Shefield-Chesterfield-Derby-Tamworth-Birmingham

😕 Ha, I had to laugh, if my eeny meey etc had chosen to travel the Leeds route, I would have caught the Newcastle-Penzance train in Leeds at 12.11hrs, which had left York at 11.45hrs 🙄

By this time I only had half an hour to kill, so I decided to stay in the station and have a wander round.

I think York station is one of the nicest stations in the country, very clean and spacious, with an aura of its past history oozing out of the brickwork.

IMG_1669

Remove these carriages, the digital clock and modern seating, put some old steam engines on the tracks, and an image of the hustle and bustle from the Victorian era immediately springs to mind.

I had visions of the train being packed with all the passengers from the cancelled train, but it was pleasantly uncrowded.

Not having the faintest idea what time I would arrive in Birmingham, nor being able to remember the times of the Birmingham-Redditch service, I tried connecting my phone to the internet for some information…….typical 🙄 …..no signal!

Never mind, I knew the train to Redditch ran every thirty minutes so I wouldn’t have to wait in Birmingham too long, and isn’t that half the fun on travelling.

We arrived at Birmingham’s New Street station at 15.07hrs. (according to the station clock).

Walking slowly through the confusion of the building site that is currently New Street station while it goes through a total re-vamp, I just happened to glance at an information board……. Yikes!!!! departure to Redditch 15.13hrs.

I took off like a scalded cat, looking for platform 11b. Following the arrows pointing to platforms 11a/11b, I ran down the concrete stairs and jumped onto the waiting train just as the doors were closing.

I suddenly had a panic as the train moved slowly out of the station. Was this train departing from platform 11a or 11b 😮

The driver soon verified I was on the correct train as he announced over the speaker system ‘This is the 15.13hrs to Redditch, calling at ………

I had intended to get a photo from each station, but with my quick exit out of Birmingham it wasn’t possible to get one.

But here at 15.50hrs is the last of my journey, and literally the end of the line, if Mr Beeching had got his way, even this wouldn’t exist.

IMG_1672

The modern building in the distance is the bus station with the Kingfisher Shopping Centre and a cinema above.

I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure to Yorkshire and back, and the next visit I make, if I am travelling alone, will certainly be by public transport.

Perhaps the two and three quarter cheers, should be two and seven eighths…… 😀

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10 thoughts on “Two and three quarter cheers for public transport

    • I also like rail travel, and have used the local ones quite often, but I’d been put off long distance travel after the packed train experience.
      I get quite claustrophobic in enclosed spaces if I can’t see a way out, so being surrounded by folk and luggage was a nightmare.

  1. I wrote a comment on this on my iPad and it just disappeared. I loathe WordPress on mobile 😦

    I like trains in theory but many years of commuting led me to detest them with a passion. However without the pressure of deadlines I suspect I could grow to like them again. Cost would put me off though. My best train journey was a 19hr express from Delhi to Jabalpur. Wonderful.

    I’m sorry your mum isn’t better and I hope she is soon on the mend. Perhaps next time you could try a more adventurous route. Via Aberystwyth maybe?

    • I’m with you there, I’ve also lost comments using the WP app. If I comment now, I usually do it via the website.
      Rail travel is expensive, but with my senior discount, the journey worked out cheaper than the cost of fuel in my motor, and was about the same as T’s car, but without the motorway stress.
      Your Indian rail trip sounds amazing 🙂
      My mum’s not doing too good at the moment. At 84 and frail, a broken hip was the last thing she needed 😦

  2. Stations I have known and loved, well York anyway, not so much New Street. Or Leeds, even though you didn’t go there. Journeys I have done too.

    York is a beautiful station though, except it can be freezing cold when the wind and rain shoot through. Plus depending on which train you are getting you can end up waiting out of the sheltered area too. My other memory of York (and New Street too) is trying to dash for a train with a few minutes to spare – like your Redditch one – from the furthest away platform and fighting against a load of people all going in the other direction as you dash up and down steps and across bridges.

    I’m not sure whether NS or York is worse for that, but I always seem to end up running from one end of the station to the other. I do like the cross country route to Brum though. Much nicer than the boring Yks to Kings X one.

    Good price for an open return though. Last time I got the train in the UK, costs were in the region of budgets for developing countries, or whatever they are called now.

    As for sardines, been there done that like Andrew on the commuting run. You do learn to use your elbows to try and get on the train soon enough to get one of the 5 remaining seats – when there are a couple of hundred people on the platform.

    • I’ve never done a commuter run at York, so can’t comments on rush hour crowds there, though I have seen it far busier than in my photos above.
      New Street on the other hand I did eighteen months of morning/evening rush hour when I worked in Brum in the early 70’s 😮
      I’ve never been to New Street and seen it quiet and I’ve always felt really claustrophobic.
      This snippet from Wikipedia might explain why: New Street is the eighth busiest railway station in the UK and the busiest outside London, with 31.2 million passenger entries and exits between April 2011 and March 2012. It is also the busiest interchange station outside London, with over 5.1 million passengers changing trains at the station annually.
      Hopefully the new re-vamp will brighten it up and make platforms more accessible.
      Leeds station has changed totally since I lived there, my happy childhood memories were dashed when T and I went there last year, which was the other reason my eeny meeny miny moe chose York, the waiting times between trains, York was more appealing.

  3. sorry to hear about your mum. hope she recovers well without complications.
     
    what an adventure! i enjoy travelling by train on your side of the Atlantic. something that hasn’t really caught on in this corner of the planet.

  4. Sorry to hear about your Mum… not a setback she, or any of you needed. Poor Cindy but I’m sure she’s more than happy with you.
    There’s the best of train journeys and the worst… and you never know, even on the daily commute that I make.
    The English stations look impressive, gracious and/or spacious, like a place in a story book or film. If the train wasn’t too crowded or timetable too haphazard it seems like a lovely way to travel, and see the countryside without battling on the roads. Fortunate also you get the discounts. I’m looking forward to both 🙂

    • Oh yes, Cindy has well and truly got her paws under the table.

      Britain does have some lovely stations, a lot are linked with the steam railways, so not on commuter routes.
      York station is very grand in appearance, and is linked to the National Railway museum, which is always worth a look around.
      Nearer to here is Great Malvern station, another dating back to the Victorian era, which is still in regular use.
      There is a photo and a brief description of why Malvern has two stations here
      My mum is on the mend, but it’s a slow process.

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