Stephen's Scottish Travels 06/04/12 to 10/04/12 Part 1

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This trip report - first ever - two parts. Part 1 covers LDS-BHM-GLC-KMK.

I spent Easter at KMK (Kilmarnock). I wanted to get some WCML mileage in (hence the BHM-GLC leg and return). Also, I wanted to travel on a Pendolino. I like them; but I'm aware, from previous comments on these forums, some people do not.

As a passenger with a disability In a wheelchair, rail travel can be daunting. Most TOCS are very good (TPE and Scotrail are excellent in my experience). Some are not so good (VWC at Euston particularly falls into this category).


Tickets were purchased in advance from Virgin "over the phone". It was cheaper, doing it in stages. They were very helpful; and when booking was completed; sent me an email detailing the type of assistance required at each station.

Note: to anyone with a disability who may be reading this. Make sure you keep this document with you, at all times. It should help you, make a stress free journey.

Back to the trains! First off 0811 LDS-BHM 1O84. This the 0644 dep from NCL-PLY. It was terminated at BHM for Good Friday only. It was a Voyager 221 set. Didn't get the lead unit number as I had to make my way down to Coach F (Quiet Coach) at the opposite end of the train. At LDS, Northern Rail staff put you on to the train. They are actually very good here.

It was a nondescript ride, calling at Wakefield, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby; and Burton before an on time arrival at BHM. The only incident of note was the unsmiling woman with the Catering Trolley. I think I got, the impression that, she would have liked GF off?

1O84 arrived at BHM at 1024. Network Rail staff get you on and off trains at BHM . They were very efficient.

Oh my goodness me, New Street is in need of drastic refurbishment. A tatty soulless and very cold place to while away 56 minutes.

Being Good Friday, It was apparent, that lots of people were wanting to board the 11:20 to GLC. The platform soon filled up.

Whilst waiting, an unidentified Class 67 passed behind me with a Tesco container train. I have no idea where it was from or going to? An odd sight on a Good Friday. It was checked at signals North of the station. Judging by the sharp application of brakes, I 'm not sure the driver was expecting this?

1S55 EUS-GLC came into view. It was a Pendolino (390026 since you ask). Network Rail staff put me on the train in coach B (standard Class). It was very comfortable.

Again, for anyone with a wheelchair, worth noting that Network Rail use different size ramps, according to type of train (Pendolino,Voyager etc).

1S55 departed about 4 minutes late at 1124. Time to bag some mileage methinks. Called at WVH-CRE-WBQ-WGN-PRE-LAN-OXN-CAR before arriving at GLC 18 seconds early.

There was some fast running between WVH-CRE and some very fast running between Lancaster and Carlisle. The train visibly tilted. A passenger volunteered to to get a cup of tea from "The Shop". It didn't get spilt!

A couple of gripes here? One, it's a pity that they didn't have a trolley service on this train. Luckily, someone offered to get me something. Secondly, the quality of PA announcements was absolutely shocking. They were virtually inaudible where I was. It seemed like the TM was actually in a box in Euston!

The scenery between LAN and CAR is absolutely stunning. Well worth it on a good day.

Leaving Carlisle, I noticed that there was an office marked "Tile Cleaner". I didn't know Network Rail had such a position!

I have done the LDS-KMK route via CAR before. It's quite a long journey. This time It was straight up the WCML.

Good progress was made until MTH; and we seemed to be, checked for most of the way into GLC.

As I said, arrival into GLC was 18 seconds early (at 125).

Network Rail staff met me at the right time. Transfer was completed to the next connecting service.

Up next at 1542, 1A16 GLC-KMK formed of a 156 unit. I must admit, I really don't like these at all! Noisy and not very smooth running. Needs must and all that.

The train called at BRR-DNL-STT and KLM. That's Barrhead,Dunlop,Stewarton and Kilmaurs, to you and I. All of them are unstaffed.

A right time arrival of 1621 was achieved at KMK.

Second part of my travels to follow!
 
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MidnightFlyer

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Barrhead is staffed ;)

I'm glad to hear you had a good journey, you only ever seem to hear tales of woe from travellers in wheelchairs :(

The PA system on Virgin can be quite bad on some sets, cutting in and out, and it doesn't help when the guard practically whispers into them either. Trolleys do sometimes come out in Standard, thought his has happened on about 2% of my VT journeys, and only ever on weekdays to / from London.

I think the WCML via Shap is very scenic too, though I find far and way the best bit to be Carlisle-Carstairs. You do always seem to be following a few trains from Motherwell, hence it does take a while.
 
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April 7th was to those of us (myself included) a very importat date in the football calendar. It was the day that Celtic were hoping to seal the SPL title.

If I stay in KMK it 's always at the Park Hotel at Rugby Park (home of Kilmarnock FC).

Glasgow (or so it seemed ) decamped to Kilmarnock for the day. The two teams played each other. I decided, it would be a nice idea, to visit Glasgow (by train).

Getting out of the hotel was problematic. Anybody not going to the football had to be out by 11am (Midday kickoff).

Thanks to the Straythclyde Police (for) flagging down a w/chair accessible taxi, I was able to make my way to KMK.

Once at Kilmarnock, a short wait ensued whilst the last of the Celtic supporters got off the incoming train.

Another 156 on the 1127 service 1A21 back up to GLC.

Five hour enjoyable hours in Glasgow sightseeing; and I thought (naively) all would be quiet at GLC. Ahem er no!!! Even if you didn't care about football, you would have known who the champions of the SPL were!! To be fair, they were good natured. A large contingent of BTP officers saw to that.

Second Class 156 for the day on the 1A22 1712 GLC-GIR(Girvan). The train was full of empty bottles and cans. Someone will have had a sore head from drinking Cava,Tennents and Kopparberg!

Uneventfiul journey, apart from the fact that all the windows were open! A touch chilly; but I guess, that was to freshen the carriage up a bit (if you get my drift)!

Righttime arrival at KMK was at 1751. A mention here of the fantastic station staff. Nothing was too much trouble for them. Even unplanned rail trips (more later) didn't faze them.

Easter Sunday involved a trip to Stranraer. Although I primarily prefer trains, public bus services, in the UK, for people in wheelcairs are getting better!

Through misreading the timetable, I missed the bus from Kilmarnock, by a few minutes. A local taxi firm dropped me off, at Ayr Bus Station.

The bus from Ayr to Stranraer takes 2hrs 20mins. The Welsh bus driver (yes you read that right - native of Prestatyn) agreed to drop me off at the railway station. It transpired, that the return bus trip was going only as far as Ayr. The connection time with the last bus to Kilmarnock was only 5 minutes! Way too risky.

Easter Sunday, was cold, wet and miserable. Stranraer station is a very forlorn place. I know, it was only in November, that the ferries ceased running but even so!

Mercifully the station was still open! The were two Scotrail employees on duty. They must have been surprised, to see an unexpected wheelchair out of nowhere!

They informed me, that the next train to KMK was the 1945 STR-GLC service.
It's formed, from the 1842 arrival from GLC, which just sits there for over an hour.

Station facilities at STR are basic, to say the least. The "buffet" facilities are actually a vending machine, dispensing chocolate and hot and cold drinks.

The train duly turned up and I was glad of some warmth. At 1945 1K90 left for GLC. It goes without saying it was formed of a 156 unit.

The rain had stopped and the first few miles were actually covered in daylight (and sunshine). Stranraer box is shut on a Sunday . There is token working from Stranraer to Dunragit and from there to Glenwhilly. Very picturesque scenery in that area.

Darkness fell at Girvan. The train stopped at Maybole, Ayr and Kilmarnock. Arrival at KMK was at 2129 (3 minutes late).

Easter Monday involved another unscheduled train journey (2 actually). Note to self: read bus timetables properly! I wanted to go on the ferry to Arran. Took a bus to Ardrossan, without realising it did not stop at the harbour! It stops in the Town Centre. You have to double back to the harbour. A long trek in a wheelchair, past ASDA and over a level crossing!

The ferry terminal staff told me, that the bus only stops at the harbour twice a day, in the morning and late at night.

Unscheduled journey 1, was on the late running 1800 1T86 service ADS-GLC. This was formed of a Class 350 unit. It called at ADN-ASB -SLT- STV -KWN - GLG-HOZ-MIN-JHN-PYG. That's Ardrossan Town,Ardrossan South Beach, Saltcoats'Steventon,Kilwinning,Glengarnock,Howwood,Milliken Park,Johnston and Paisley Gilmour Street.

The train made up some time and i managed to catch (unscheduled journey 2) the 1912 1L63 GLC- CAR service back to KMK.

Scotrail throughout were really helpful.
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I don't want to go over, too much detail of my KMK-LDS journey via GLC and BHM. It has been referred to in the thread Signalling Outage At Glasgow Central.

As previously mentioned, my KMK to GLC leg was undertaken by w/chair accessible taxi. Thanks to Scotrail (again) for laying that on. On arrival at GLC it seemed fairly chaotic. After a quick bite to eat, I was escorted to GLC Low Level to catch the 1138 MLN -MTH 2F40 service.Milngavie to Motherwell, by the way. It was an uncomfortable experience - sardine can comes to mind.

The harassed Scotrail employee who put me on to the train at MTH, I actually felt sorry for. I don't think he knew what had hit him (so to speak). Motherwell Station was very busy. Apparently, all GLC bound XC and VWC trains were being terminated and turned round there!

1M55 formed the 1200 from MTH back to EUS. A stated elsewhere, it left very late. Calling at CAR-LAN-PRE-CRE-WGN-WBQ-WVH and arriving at BHM 28 minutes late. I missed my connection 1S52 SOU-EDI by 4 minutes. Thanks to some explaining by Network Rail staff, I was put on to the following 1S53 PLY-EDI service. As there was a wheelchair, in Standard Class already, I travelled back in First Class instead.

The XC TM was perfectly OK about this.

Arrival in to LDS was only half an hour later than planned.

Forgive me, if this is a bit short on technical detail, It is only my first trip report. Feel free to comment constructively.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Barrhead is staffed ;)

I'm glad to hear you had a good journey, you only ever seem to hear tales of woe from travellers in wheelchairs :(

The PA system on Virgin can be quite bad on some sets, cutting in and out, and it doesn't help when the guard practically whispers into them either. Trolleys do sometimes come out in Standard, thought his has happened on about 2% of my VT journeys, and only ever on weekdays to / from London.

I think the WCML via Shap is very scenic too, though I find far and way the best bit to be Carlisle-Carstairs. You do always seem to be following a few trains from Motherwell, hence it does take a while.
Thanks for that. I didn't realise Barrhead was staffed. I had to share the wheelchair space, on the 1L63 with another wheelchair user - a complete stranger. He was to put it bluntly " a pain in the neck". Very nosey and wanting to know every detail of my life. I ignored him; but asking to disembark at Barrhead etc, seemed tempting at times. I couldn't wait to get off the train at KMK.
 
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