We're getting there!
Last week was a fun week. I got to experience the wonder that is the UK rail network not once, but twice. Both trips were for job interviews; one was in Hoylake, Wirral (fairly near Liverpool) and the other was in London.
Both times I booked my tickets at TheTrainLine, which is actually a pretty painless process. Collecting the tickets at the station was also simple.
The first trip was going reasonably smoothly. The first train departed Milton Keynes Central on time and having been delayed a bit just past Birmingham New Street arrived at Wolverhampton about 10 minutes late (cutting it a bit fine for the next connection, but that one ended up being 10 minutes late as well...).
Unfortunately this is where it all started going horribly wrong. At Runcorn station (one stop short of Liverpool Lime Street) we were suddenly told that the train would be terminating here due to a track fault and that we would have to wait for the next train (huh?) which meant an extra wait of about 20 minutes. We all boarded the next train, but before long this train stopped. The driver announced that apparently there was a major signalling failure at Liverpool Lime Street and that the wait could be up to 40 minutes.
Eventually we arrived at Liverpool and I went on a hunt for the train to Hoylake. It took a few minutes to find out that I needed to go on the Liverpool Undergound. I found out that the next train was leaving in 3 minutes and so hurried to the platform where the train was just arriving.
At this point it was clear that I was not going to arrive at the interview on time and I found myself somewhat cursing the fact that today of all days I had managed to leave my mobile phone at home. So at this point I would like to express my grateful thanks to the very kind lady who let me use her phone. ☺
The journey back was much simpler since a) I didn't need to change at Wolverhampton and b) I was in no hurry. However as we were passing Rugby station, the engine of our train decided it was going to lose all power. Another 20 minute delay followed, but they did manage to fix the problem.
My second train journey of the week was far more pleasant. Got the express train from Milton Keynes Central to London Euston no problem (in my experience this route is one of the most reliable). The way back I decided for some reason to not take the express train, which turned out to be a mistake as one of the passengers decided to try travelling without a ticket and then got so aggravated at being caught that the police had to be called to take him away. This delayed our train quite a bit (and apparently all the trains behind us as well) so thank you so much to him.
So in conclusion, the UK rail network is not completely useless, but it still seems to completely fall down when even the slightest thing goes wrong. Also, having to drive 20 miles just to get to the station in the first place because all the branch lines have been gone for decades just shows how dedicated our government really is to getting us out of our cars and back on to public transport.