What a journey

I see that the radio programme ‘Any Questions’ was cancelled last night because the panellists could not get to Durham for the programme.  I think I know why.

I was speaking yesterday, on the Big Society and universities, at a conference at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and decided to travel back to Hull in the evening.  The 8.30 p.m. Hull Trains service was cancelled, so I caught the 8.33 East Coast service.  I should have got back to Hull by 11.30 p.m.  There were major problems with signals just outside Retford.  The train came to a halt just beyond Newark and stayed there for hours.  We were in a queue of several trains, with little or no information being relayed to the train.  I got back to Hull just after 4.00 a.m. 

I should add that I was quite hungry when I boarded the train: I had not eaten since having a salad lunch at the conference.  It was only after the train had pulled out of King’s Cross that it was announced that, because of earlier problems, there were no catering facilities on board! 

Still, I managed to mark the undergraduate dissertations I had with me.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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13 Responses to What a journey

  1. Peta says:

    Goodness me, what a journey! A salad lunch and not home until after 4am – it sounds as if you were out clubbing 😉 May I suggest keeping emergency rations about you at all times in future. I hope you have a relaxing weekend recovering.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Peta: I got the impression that no one was in a partying mood – though I gather some passengers were keen to get into the buffet to see if there was any food! I often do have some spare rations with me. Unfortunately, this was not one of those occasions…

  2. tory boy says:

    Well at least you will get a refund to your ticket!

    • Lord Norton says:

      tory boy: There is that, though when you are stuck in the Nottinghamshire countryside in the early hours (1.00 a.m, 2.00 a.m…..) – thinking ‘I wish I had stayed in London’ – that is not foremost in one’s mind.

  3. ladytizzy says:

    Kettling for the working class?

  4. Carl.H says:

    The M1 appears no better and today was a big sport day with people trying to go both North & South.

    A couple of centuries earlier and you may have thought the 7 1/2 hours an amazingly fast time, however it doesn’t always pay to arrive at the station too early. 😉

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl.H: Indeed, I was going to mention that if I was driving it would not be much better, given the closure of the M1 from Junctions 1 to 4. At least centuries ago, one would at least be moving for most of the journey.

      I have not had such a bad experience since the wake of the Hatfield crash, when the rail companies went to pieces, and journeys were tortuously slow. Railtrack and rail companies still don’t have much idea of what to do in a crisis, whether great or minor.

  5. franksummers3ba says:

    Lord Norton,

    As you must remember I share your affection for trains. However a very few times in my lifetime I have run into similar horrible delays. These are outnumbered by delays on other modalities however. I do feel badly you were deprived of catering. My longest delay was when I was a very early adolescent traveling with my family and we and a dozen or so others alone refused an offered free bus pass out of hundreds of passengers. Most of us were from cabin class seats but they moved us all to the glass domed observation lounge and first class dining. It was really rather nice. But then we arrived at a huge cavernous train station at the wee hours and were surprised to find why the locals had taken the passes — almost literaly nothing was open, staffed or operating in the two or more square block building. It turned into an ordeal after all. I trust you will recuperate well enough. My sincere sympathy.

    • Lord Norton says:

      franksummers3ba: One of my longest delays was actually on an Amtrack train decades ago, when I was travelling from Washington DC to New York. It was an evening train and should have pulled into New York about, as I recall, 10.00 p.m. It broke down on the way. A train sent to pull it also broke down! We eventually pulled into New York about 5.00 or 6.00 a.m.

      As the train was stopped in or close to Delaware, a Senator who was on the train apparently decided to get off – someone called Joe Biden.

      • franksummers3ba says:

        Lord Norton,

        As it turned out you did at least end up with a story worth telling. Apparently, yesterday has not yet manifest such compensations.

  6. franksummers3ba says:

    Lord Norton,
    Not that I mind the story here. I simply mean that it may not offer so much to remember in the future…

    • Lord Norton says:

      franksummers3ba: Well, the one comment element is that both trains had a member of the legislature on board!

      • Frank W. Summers III says:

        Lord Norton,
        However, I would imagine that you are present at a very high percentage of the events in your own life. I would even venture to say you may grow accustomed to the honor of your own presence. I am always delighted to seee myself but I think that is unusual.

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