Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Remind me not to travel by train on Sundays

Getting back to Bradford from York today was interesting. Sundays are when Network Rail likes to close routes to do engineering work, since fewer season ticket holders travel on Sundays, but this of course means delays, diversions and replacement bus services.

In the past I’ve not had many problems but today we were hit by a triple-whammy of line closures north of York, between Church Fenton and Leeds, and from Bradford to Halifax. Though the second of those was the only to affect us directly, meaning our York – Leeds train was diverted via Castleford (and was standing room only), the latter meant that trains from Leeds to Manchester Victoria were going via Brighouse instead of Bradford. A fact we realised about 30 seconds before the train was due to depart. And the train to Bradford left at the same time from another platform, which we only just managed to catch.

On most other days of the week the trains are good and reliable, but Sundays are often difficult. This was perhaps an extreme example but it could have lead to us getting stuck in Brighouse on a Sunday night and having to pay for a taxi back to Bradford.


  1. It doesn’t seem that extreme an example to me. I’ve arrived into Selby on a Sunday afternoon to find the only trains running were going direct to London – which meant cycling on to Leeds. I’ve been some very random routes from London to Bradford on a Sunday using bus replacements (which don’t carry bikes). And one time I was very confused to find the Leeds-Bradford train absolutely packed and running South Western carriages.

  2. Glad I don’t have to travel on trains too much these days. Used to have to take three trains across London from Kingston to Southbury (? Enfield Middlesex Uni Campus). Would take me 2 hours there and 2 back (1 1/2 if I was lucky). Needless to say I used to cram my lectures into as few days as possible.
    The last time I was on a train was a week last Wednesday. Went from Fleet to Waterloo, no problem, and had a flight on the London Eye. Pictures are on my blog.

  3. I’ve had good luck with trains not running because of engineering works. It turns out that it’s quicker to get a rail replacement bus and then a train than to just get two trains. I don’t know how it works either, maybe it’s the connection times or something.
    But generally, yes, I too hate railway engineering. However it has to be done if we are to have a safe railway (so speaks the voice of reason, no idea where that came from).

  4. The rail netwok in the UK is overly expensive and a terrible service.
    It used to take me over 4.5 hours to get the train home from University, whereas the same journey in the car would take 2 and even cost less. And that would guarantee me a seat too.

  5. This really isn’t an extreme example. I travelled from Harrogate to Hull this very Sunday, a journey which takes about 1hr 20mins by car and usually about two hours on the train.
    This Sunday it took me 5 hours!
    I set off from Harrogate at 5.30pm deciding to go via York to avoid the engineering works between Leeds and Church Fenton. My train broke down between Harrogate and York and we were sat waiting for 2 hrs while they arrange a train to push us back into the nearest station. When I arrived at York it was 8.30pm and I was told to go via Doncaster.
    At Doncaster the monitor said there was a replacement bus at the front of the station. At the front of the station there were no station officials or signs & a guy who was incredibly high decided to pester me!
    The bus was supposed to leave at 9.00pm – at 9.15pm a guard finally arrives and puts us all in taxis back to Hull.
    I eventually arrived in Hull at 10.00pm & home at 10.30pm, after having to pay for another taxi home as there were no buses running that late on a Sunday, 5 hours after I set off!

  6. Kate – you can probably claim the cost of that taxi back from the train company who caused you to miss the last bus. You’re supposed to have asked permission to do it, but you’d probably get away with it. And you can certainly claim for the 2 hours you were sat on a broken down train. It sounds like you have quite a lot of compensation coming – just be aware they may initially try offering you less than you deserve.