Monday, 22 February 2010

Platform 0

It is slightly Harry Potter-esque that Stockport railway station has a Platform 0. It also has a Hat Museum, which I will investigate one day, but the peculiar platform numbering has always intrigued us. The children were delighted when they discovered their train was leaving from it.

Of course, it is not significantly different from platforms 1-4. Presumably it was a later addition and they chose to number it 0 rather than re-number all the platforms. They renumbered the platforms at York railway station many years ago, but mentally all my trains to London go from platform 8, not 3, so perhaps Stockport's approach was right.

The journey down to Peterborough was unpleasant. The first train, to Doncaster, was packed to the rafters. Indeed: we had to climb over suitcases just to get into the carriage. There were no such thing as booked seats, to my dismay. A kind old gentleman let me sit down, with my daughter sat on his wife's lap. She told me the story of their weekend travels, which revolved around a cancelled plane and really were far worse than my predicament. My son sat on the floor at the end of the carriage, hidden by a pile of suitcases but too engrossed with his DS to notice.

Thank goodness my children are that stage older. Had I been travelling with them three, four, even worse five years ago, this would have been unbearable. I still believe the service was appalling. As I had booked seats I expected a reasonably comfortable journey... well, at least for the first leg.

The second leg (Doncaster to Peterborough) I was dreading. For reasons that Trainline have yet to elucidate they felt that booking seats for that section was 'not required'. Not required? 45 minutes on the train with two young children? At lunchtime? I think, Mr Automated Computer, that you have no idea what you are doing.

Fortunately, I found two seats together for the children and I sat in front of them, next to a poor guy who was desperately trying to appear cool to the four student girls on the table opposite. They were quite entertaining. I tried to decide which of the four I was, when a student. Certainly not the girl who thought the can of coke she bought from the trolley buffet would be unhygienic and so poured the contents into her previous can in order to drink it. Possibly I'd have been the girl next to her, whose mother was a nurse and therefore had an antiseptic wipe in her bag (which girl no 1 didn't use on the can) but I was never that pretty nor that made-up. The other two girls were quieter, and I suspect I was like the plain one near the window: I certainly didn't (and don't) have the figure of the closest girl.

The journey back was a lot less entertaining, but with no children and no luggage I was free to simply engross myself in my book. Three hours of peace and uninterrupted time to myself: honestly, it was worth enduring the first half of the day for that alone.

picture copyright david99b


腰痠 said...

人類最大的悲劇不是死亡,而是沒有掌握有意義的人生 ..................................................

The Dotterel said...

You were in Pterborough? Next time, we'll have to have a blogging meet-up.

But I remember those East-West-East cross-country journeys, and not affectionately. They're never easy, whether by train or car. Thankfully, my visits west of the Pennines are less frequent these days.

Working Mum said...

I'm just in awe of you. You managed to book train tickets. I don't think I'll ever travel by train again after our experience last year. Even going to Stockport Station to speak to a person to find out how to get tickets to London didn't work - he didn't know either!

Interesting fact - Stockport Council would only allow the building of the railway through Stockport (and that magnificent viaduct) if all trains to and from London stop at Stockport. Did wonders for the town financially and, as the agreement still stands today, very handy for my husband as he can get on and off there instead of going into Manchester!

Catharine Withenay said...

Dotterel - yes, we should meet up. I meet the in-laws in Peterborough, but they travel on to Norwich. Maybe one day I'll give myself enough time to see something other than the cafe on Peterborough station as I pass through!

WM - what fascinating info about Stockport/London trains. Very useful: we haven't had to do many trips to the Big Smoke yet, but no doubt that will change ... particularly if my son gets his way and he goes to see just about everything at the Olympics!

cheshire wife said...

I haven't forgotten how awful Sunday train travel is/was from my days at university and would only travel on a Sunday if I really had to.

Muddling Along Mummy said...

I'm impressed at you even trying it - gosh train travel can be so hard

I love that you had a nicer journey on the way back - I'd adore three hours on my own with a book

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