The Best Laid Plans


Newcastle – Newark – Lincoln

24 hours or more. That’s how much notice I’m supposed to give as a passenger needing assistance when I need to travel by train. There are a number of problems with this, not least of which is when you end up travelling unexpectedly in response to a personal crisis.

I’d been planning another day in Newcastle, but an early morning phone call left me planning my route back down south to deal with a family emergency. I don’t know how I ever coped without a smart phone to cope with these unexpected changes in itinerary, though I still don’t trust it as much as a full sized screen. There were a few options and therefore some choices to be made, but after some digging I sorted out the fastest, most convenient train, which wasn’t actually the train that left first. I should have recognised the warning signs at this point, but my mind was elsewhere so they completely escaped me. Whilst I was journey planning I also took the opportunity to arrange taxis at both ends for speed and convenience.

Getting to Newcastle station and onto the concourse was straight forward. The assistance desk were great, pointed me at the right platform and arranged assistance when I got there. It’s at this point things started to fall apart, though I didn’t realise it until it was too late. Rather than getting on the train I was expecting, which was sitting on the platform, the platform staff had a discussion and advised me to get on the train on a neighbouring platform which was filling with people. Given my research earlier I confirmed with them that this train did indeed arrive first, and with their assurance I happily boarded.

Sadly they were wrong.

To make matters worse, the train met with delays, though I never did discover the reason. The end result was that I was over an hour later arriving at Newark than I had expected. Despite efforts to contact and reschedule the taxi as soon as I realised the trip was going pear-shaped I was still stung with a 45 minute waiting charge.

The taxi driver was very understanding and brushed off my profuse apologies as unnecessary as we began the final leg of the journey which passed entirely without incident.

I remain a huge proponent of public transport, but I do wish there was a way for it to be flexible enough to cope with the bumps and potholes that appear on some journeys.


About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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