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So Many Trains, All Going Nowhere

So Many Trains, All Going Nowhere

Old Sep 11, 16, 9:36 am
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Somewhere over the rainbow.
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Posts: 160
So Many Trains, All Going Nowhere

I'm an American ex-pat who lives in London. I travel back to the US (via Boston on British Airways) a few times a year to see my family. On my most recent trip, things did not go quite as planned on the way back.

I had a flight at 7:20 back to London and because of the timing of the trains, I decided to take a 2:00 train from Lakeville to Boston (just in case something went wrong.) Got to the train in good time and all looked well as it was waiting there at the station for me. Hop on board and we're off!

Well for a few minutes. Then the lights start to flicker and the train slows down and stops. The conductor comes by and says the engine died - they were going to try to restart it and we should be on our way in 10-20 minutes. Time passes and it gets warmer. Thank goodness I decided to bring a bottle of water because it was in the 90s. After about an hour the conductor admits that the engine is dead and they have an awesome new plan - a train will come along and push us back to where we started from. Oh, and by the way, the conductor cannot give you a refund. But at least the engineer opened up the doors on the train so it stopped being oven temperature.

Time passes and no refunds pissed some people off big time given the shouting into phones by other passengers. (Seriously, people, do not shout at the call center person who has the short straw to work on a Sunday. It's not their fault.) It's even less fun when your child sets up a sympathetic scream to your shouting that all the other passengers get to enjoy.

We make a very slow return to the train station and everyone hops off and onto our new best friend, the train that pushed us back. This friendship does not last long as the train is unable to go anywhere. The conductor tells us all to get off and that soon a new and better (meaning mobile) train will come and take us to Boston.

Now I'm starting to worry as it's 4:30 and it's a minimum of an hour and a half to the airport. My flight is at 7:20 and bag check closes an hour before. It's going to be close.

I decide that I'd better try to explore some options so I call my sister-in-law and see if she can come and get me. The train arrives before she does at 4:50 so I get on as the conductor says we'll be leaving immediately. I call her and wave her off as weekend traffic from the Cape is dire on Sundays so train seems a better option if we actually move anywhere. She's almost there so she says she'll wait in the parking lot to make sure we actually go.

We do go! But itís 5:00 by the time we leave and basically there's no chance I'll make the bag check cutoff. There is a annoying stoppage about 10 minutes out of Boston where we need to hold to let a train going in the other direction pass us. I finally make it there just after 6:00 and luck is in because we are at a platform right near the entrance (rather than the usual platform).

I sprint for the T. I get the most maddening of delays when I'm trying to buy a ticket. First, I try a $5, but that exceeds the allowable change (WET?). Transaction cancelled. I dig out ones, but one is rejected. I dig out more, but by then I'd let too much time elapse so my transaction was cancelled. I try again. Finally! I get a ticket and head for the gates. Maybe a cab would have been better.

Wait, wait, wait for the Silver Line. I know it's too late, and I'm just hoping there's room on a later flight (BOS-LHR is always packed, so I'm not hugely hopeful I will go anywhere today.)

Good luck! There's no line when I arrive at 6:45. I tell the agent that I'm supposed to be on the 7:20 to LHR and I assume I'm too late to make the flight. She says, let's check. She gets on a walkie-talkie and asks if they can take another bag. After a few minutes they agree since the following flight is entirely full. She tells me that my bag is quite likely not to make it and will have to catch up to me. I love you check-in lady!

I'm ecstatic - maybe I will make it after all. I take my boarding pass and bag tag and run for security. Luckily, I can use the fast track line so I get my boarding pass scanned right away. Security was reasonably fast, but full of your average summer travelers who have no clue. What? Computer out? Shoes off? Okay, just give me a few minutes..

I'm through. I grab my shoes and my ipad and my bag and run for the gate. As I'm running they make the "Get your ... on the plane now if you want to come with us" announcement. The line is short. I slip my shoes on and join it. First scan of my boarding pass is red and I worry they are going to chuck me for not clearing security soon enough, but the gate agent scans again and bam! I'm through.

Flight was uneventful. Food awful (had planned to eat before the flight but that was scuppered so I was hungry enough to brave plane food.) Arrived early and then did the Heathrow special (circling until 10 minutes after your scheduled arrival.)

Immigration was slow (not unusual for that time of the day) and then I had the expected non-appearance of my bag. I go and make my report. Eventually I get to the Tube. Which travelled all the way from T5 to T3. Then the Piccadilly line got suspended.

I tried to wait it out, but they said the delay would be long and basically chucked everyone out and told them to take the Heathrow Connect. I head for the station. I ignore all the ridiculous lines where people are queuing for tickets. I push my way onto a lift to the platform ignoring the confused.

I get to the platform where the workers are trying to get people to move down the platform rather than clustering at the entrance. I work my way through trying to get away from the crowd. A Heathrow Connect train arrives and they announce that it's a short train and if you want to get on you need to be at the front of the platform.

No one seems to move. I push through. The doors open to the train and people cluster around the rear-most door. I work my way around the crowds and eventually get to a door with no one there. I get on and grab a seat.

Eventually I will get home. I have to keep believing this is true.

A chatty guy sits next to me. Mostly he wants to know which stop it Paddington. The last one. Still the last one. Really, it's the last one. They will announce it. OK, you can use my phone just don- yes, still the last stop.

Finally we arrive (with one last "Is this Paddington? Yes.) and I hop on the H&C line which thankfully has seats available as I am exhausted.

I finally get home at 10:30 AM, a mere three and a bit hours after we landed.

My bag arrived two days later, but that was a small price to pay. Thanks to BA for letting me check in late.
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