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Phil’s Travels – Leeds, England (12.23)


Phil’s Travels – Leeds, England (12.23)

I had a comfortable start time and Kings Cross Station was very much Xmas ready, with trees and decorations and singers and a pianist creating a very seasonal mood. My train left on time and this time the wifi was pretty good. I even managed to attend a two-hour conference call with Africa without interruption. Equally fortunately, there were no kids in my coach. However, the train was rammed and my table was full, so I had to speak somewhat quietly. Still, all good and key for me to contribute to this critical call.

After the various snow storms the previous weekend, I had expected lots of winter wonderland scenery up north. In fact, it was just as grey and lacking in sparkle as the lacklustre and grubby south. I had a quick salad-in-a-box lunch in Leeds station and another conference call before grabbing a taxi to my meeting venue. Turned out the venue was barely five minutes away. I could have walked it faster, which we did after our meeting (under drizzle and a pitch-black sky – gets dark very early up there in winter).

In the interest of controlling client costs, I had booked a fixed return ticket and so, because  we finished early and the walk back as so brief, I had a 90-minute wait on a freezing platform. So cold, I had to alternate my hands, one holding my papers and one in a pocket, then switch every few minutes. Heated platforms? Now there is an uneconomic idea for the vertical filing system.

Our train pulled in from somewhere further north and we all boarded on time, only to be told that this vehicle was to be changed in Doncaster due to a fault (to be fixed in the Doncaster yards). We left Leeds and pulled into Doncaster on schedule where it took some 20 minutes for a whole train’s worth of passengers to cross to another platform and walk a good way up that platform in the rain to our replacement train. Why could the replacement not be directly opposite the faulty one? And on a covered platform? And why are Doncaster platforms so darn long? Customer service not so good, especially as they had plenty of time to prepare and make life as easy as possible for both customers and LNER themselves (reducing complicating the timetable issues any further). At least the seat reservations were respected like-for-like and I had a seat again (just as well as the train was packed, again).

Despite the game of musical trains, we pulled into Kings Cross without too much delay and I was home in time for a late supper (dinner in the oven, darling).

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