Delayed on East Coast

Arriving at Newcastle station late last night for the 2115 to London, I was met with a departures board displaying an ominous ‘Delayed’. This was strange because the 2115 starts from Newcastle. The arrivals board gave no hint of any incoming service that might form the 2115.

Some ten minutes or so after its booked departure time, the board flicked from ‘Delayed’ to ‘Arrived’ but there was no train. An announcement revealed that my train was held north of Dunbar. It was stuck behind a freight train that had failed around three hours earlier.

With the help of Twitter and Realtime Trains, I discovered that the 2115 would be formed by East Coast’s 1830 Edinburgh-London, which was timetabled to leave Newcastle at 2015 but had been delayed by 227 minutes by the failed freight. It eventually arrived at Newcastle at 2359 to be cancelled and transform itself into the ‘2115’ and leave at 0003. Now running 168 minutes late, it lost more time to be 191 late at one point. London arrival would be 168 late at 0349, having made up most of the extra delay in the final couple of miles from Finsbury Park.

As happens all too often, passenger information was poor. I heard and saw nothing that would help passengers trying to reach London, while others for intermediate stations to York were directed to TPE’s 2156 Newcastle-Manchester.

National Rail Enquiries was little use. Its Twitter feed took three hours to reveal the failed train.

Finally, I wonder what thought Network Rail gave to Single Line Working around the failed train, using crossovers at Drem and Stenton.

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Philip Haigh

Freelance railway writer, former deputy editor at RAIL magazine - news, views and analysis of today's railway.

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