Although my overnight train trip back home to London from Inverness on Friday night was unremarkable and reasonably comfortable, my trip up to Inverness from London only five days earlier did not quite go to plan. As I was necessarily booking to travel at pretty much the last minute there was no advance ticket deal available and so I booked the cheapest ticket possible, which meant sitting up all night (for 12 hours) in a semi-reclining airline-type seat. It’s not the most comfortable way to travel such a long distance, but I’ve done it countless times before, and anyway, needs must…
My trip started badly when I arrived at London’s busy Euston Station to find a concourse ram-packed to bursting point with a multitiude of very disgruntled potential travellers. Apparently there had been over-running engineering works earlier in the day causing initial delays followed by an ‘incident’ somewhere else along the track requiring the attendance of the emergency services and creating a three hour mega-backlog of trains stuck en route waiting for clearance to complete their journeys.
Several inevitable train cancellations, stroppy customers and delayed departures later, my train finally left only an hour late – at 10pm instead of 9pm – with the hope that we would make up the time somewhere along the way as we rattled along from one end of the country to the other.
All went well until 7.20 the following morning, when we stopped at Dalwhinnie on a short section of multiple track along the mainly single track rail line through the Scottish mountains to allow the usual down-train to pass by. Unfortunately the down-train was held up further up the track by over-running weekend engineering works from the day before, so we sat waiting for an hour rather than the usual ten minutes or so before it eventually passed us by.
I took a picture of the early morning sky over the mountains as we waited…
Once the other train had passed safely, after a worrisome few false starts we got going again and carried on up the track towards Inverness. But a few miles further on the train just gave up the ghost and stopped for good, and nothing the driver sould do would get it started again. And of course we had broken down slap-bang in the the middle of nowhere on a remote section of single track rail line. With no electrical power we had no lights, no heating, no internal door function, no flushing loos – and no hot drinks 😦
Here’s the train guard out on the line talking to the driver while we enjoyed the scenery…
The weather wasn’t looking too promising as after another long and frustrating hour sitting fed up and frozen a rescue engine arrived from Inverness to pull us slowly to the next station stop (Kingussie), where thankfully a rail replacement bus awaited – complete with very welcome heating – to take us the rest of the way and we finally arrived in Inverness three hours late, a bit irritated at the hold up but thoroughly relieved to reach our destination without further incident.
As I’d booked my ticket pretty much at the last minute, for the first time in my life I’d requested an immediately-available E-ticket instead of my standard printed paper variety, purchased directly from the train company and which I accessed via my phone. As we were so late in arriving at our destination and the train company run a ‘Delay/ Repay’ service, I knew I could claim a refund on my travel for that particular trip, but I had no idea how that might work with an E-ticket.
So yesterday I logged on to the website with slight trepidation, wondering what else could go wrong, but to my relief found the electronic method of making a Delay/ Repay claim to be super-simple. All I had to do was provide my electronic booking reference and from a drip-down box choose my preferred method of refund if compensation was due – et voila! My claim was done! Let’s hope my refund is as straightforward to process… 🙂