Long journey north

The diary of a delayed train traveller, aiming to get from Glasgow to Inverness.

5.45am – wake up with my phone alarm. Don’t need to catch local train until half six, so decide to snooze for five minutes.

6.20am – oops. Leap out of bed and into bathroom and out again and into clothes and grab stuff and run out of flat and down to station and on to low level train. Phew.

7.00am – arrive at Queen Street and catch the Inverness train in the nick of time. Stare out of dark window.

8.00am – arrive at Perth, to get replacement bus service due to floods. Head to front of station as instructed.

8.02am – wait at front of station with fellow refugees.

8.05am – ScotRail staff in fluorescent jackets direct those of us for Pitlochry on to bus. Those of us for stations beyond that to Inverness told to wait in the cold until powers that be decide whether we’re getting the same bus or a different one.

8.06am – standing around in the freezing winter morning cold, certain individuals turn into the various stereotypes of travel chaos victims. There’s the angry impatient man who’s obviously a middle manager and declares “this is absolutely unacceptable” to anyone who listens (nobody does). The hessian bag-carrying, shellsuit-wearing family who try to fend off the cold by chain-smoking. The earnest young Japanese tourists who haven’t a clue what’s happening and don’t have enough English to ask. Those too tired to complain and look like they’re trying to sleep standing up.

8.15am – the fluorescent jacket brigade finally announce that we’re taking a separate bus from the Pitlochry passengers, and we are shepherded on board. Pick out a Lewis accent and a Caithness accent in folk behind me. They have long journeys ahead of them.

8.18am – a fluorescent jacket then tells us we’ve got on the wrong bus. Groans all round. Shellsuits don’t look too upset – it means they can fit in another cigarette.

8.25am – we board the bus we are actually meant to be on. Driver checks how many people there are for all the stations – nobody puts their hands up for Dunkeld, Blair Atholl, Dalwhinnie, Newtonmore, Kingussie or Carrbridge. A couple of people are for Aviemore. the driver asks Inverness and there is an ironic cheer from most of us in response. I mean to shout “hope springs eternal” but I am too cold and tired to think that quickly.

8.30am – we finally depart. Moderately pleasant journey through the Perthshire flood plains. Keep seeing good photo opportunities in the beautiful misty morning sunshine, but they pass before I get my camera out of my pocket.

8.30am to 10.30am – driver stops at Dunkeld, Blair Atholl, Dalwhinnie, Newtonmore, Kingussie and Carrbridge anyway. Not a soul gets on. In Kingussie the driver finds himself on the wrong side of a bridge in the village closed due to floods. We take ages driving around to get to the station. Then Carrbridge station has no turning circle so we have to practically reverse from the station back to the A9.

10.30am – arrive at Aviemore, and on returning to the A9 discover there’s a diversion due to an accident. Have to divert to Carrbridge via a back road. Estimated time of arrival revised to some time next week.

11.30am – finally arrive in Inverness. Knackered.

Travel is never boring.

3 thoughts on “Long journey north

  1. Aviemore is before Carrbridge – or did the go back to Aviemore after Carrbridge thinking that there might be some passengers waiting for the next train that was not running?

    In future, get teh MegaBus – then you at least don’t have to pay for the privilege of visiting empty stations…

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