On Friday 9th December Bristol Amblers invited FoSBR members on a walk to celebrate Julie Boston who passed away in October. Julie was an enthusiastic ambler, and a founder member of FoSBR.
The trip was scheduled to combine a train ride to Severn Beach, with a walk around Severn Beach. These elements happened, but with a bonus bus ride thrown in!
It was apparent from earlier trains that something was amiss on the Severn Beach Line, as the 09:12 from Avonmouth was running 65 minutes late in to Temple Meads.
Our 10:46 departure from Bristol Temple Meads showed on departure boards as “on time”, which it roughly was, give or take 5 minutes. However, the news from the on-board train staff was not good. There was a kink in the tracks somewhere north of Avonmouth, and the train might turn around at Avonmouth.
Various people joined along the line, so that by Avonmouth over 40 walkers were on board the train. The train driver was of the opinion that we would be proceeding to Severn Beach, so we stayed on board at Avonmouth whilst the track was inspected ahead.
Rail replacement bus
20 minutes later, GWR staff told us that our train would after all terminate, and we all had to disembark at Avonmouth. There was some uncertainty about whether/when a replacement bus service would be provided. The group decided to walk south towards Shirehampton instead.
We waited at the level crossing whilst our train crossed north to points to return south again. A rail replacement bus appeared, so we turned on our heels and pretty much filled the bus to Severn Beach.
Amusingly, we were immediately overtaken by the next train running all the way through to Severn Beach. Clearly the track passed its inspection, just a little too late for our train.
So most of us made it to Severn Beach, and lunched – Shirleys for some, Downs Bakery for others. We then took a short walk along the promenade to look at the lovely winter light on the estuary.
There was some disruption on the line in the afternoon, but many of us caught the 14:01 return from Severn Beach which ran to schedule.
The experience was an interesting example of GWR and Network Rail having to make short-notice operational decisions at times of disruption, and the difficulty of keeping customers and indeed staff informed. Thanks to the on-board train staff for giving us what information they had with a smile.
Thank you also to John of Bristol Amblers for the invitation. Contact details and programme for Amblers walks can be found here (scroll to bottom).
Our group had the luxury of not being in a particular hurry. Julie would have enjoyed the topsy-turvy day, whilst being cross about the inconvenience to those people struggling to get to work and other appointments.
PS: the recenttraintimes description of the kinky track problem was:
“Track defects (other than rail defects i.e. fish plates, wet beds etc) (Infrastructure causes)”