I felt with all that’s happened on Thursday morning I should give (as best as I can recall) the tale of what happened & some of the interesting anecdotes that occurred.
It was a slightly atypical Thursday morning in the cold early days of February, atypical as I had to go to work (Thursday is generally my day off) it did not seem as cold as previous days had been, there were however some treacherous patches on the paths which made it hard going generally, I wandered off to the metro station with a playlist of 90’s alternative rock on my iPod (stuff of the ilk of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Tad, Mother Love Bone, Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins, Soul Asylum, etc…) looking forward to the weekend and the musical tomfoolery I’d be engaging in then. I reached the Metro station as my usual Metro pulled in (very lucky I thought, as I’d missed it once & been stupidly early another time in the preceding days) .
I sat down & rather than pull out “The Girl Who Played With Fire” & start reading it, I decided (I’m not sure why) to look at my phone’s social networking apps, checking the updates on Facebook I saw nothing new that warranted my interest (sorry folks some mornings the updates are just boring), so I took a look on Twitter, one of the folks I follow (name not used due to lack of permission) was on a train ahead of me which had broken down near Pelaw, we were shortly told the train we were on would be going no further than Brockley Whins & on we went, myself filled with a wariness as to what might happen in the near future, I had the forethought of perhaps informing my work I’d be late but didn’t actually do anything at this time (I was hoping the blockage would be removed so we could pass by the time my train hit Brockley Whins, it didn’t pan out this way).
At Brockley Whins the train emptied & everyone (including myself for a short time) loitered on the platform waiting for news, after a few moments I began to contemplate alternatives… I could walk towards my destination, hopefully pass a cash-point & perhaps find a bus, or perhaps find an alternative method of getting in to Newcastle, I consulted Google maps & decided my next move, Simonside (a Metro station on a different branch) was a short walk from my current location so I reasoned I should head for that station, get a metro from there into Newcastle & be only a short while late, off I went through Boldon (an area with which I am generally unfamiliar), on my way I stopped at occasional sources of shelter to determine my route (as the rain was light but persistent) & walked past a chap in a car who had clearly never been there asking where Brockley Whins Metro station was, I indicated a total unfamiliarity with the area and waved generally behind me saying “I’ve just come from there, but I don’t know the area very well, it’s kind-of that-a-way.” He thanked me and drove off.
I found myself walking along a main road, crossed and passed through an industrial estate finding myself at Bede metro station (I was in luck this was one stop closer than my original target of Simonside & there was a train due in 5 minutes heading for “Newcastle” my joy was to be short-lived however after travelling 2 stops the train terminated at Hebburn.
This time however we were told we could catch “any Go-North-East bus” as I walked away from the station I began a conversation with a lady about whom all I know is that she works in Longbenton & she had come from Sunderland this morning, we attempted to allay our bosses concerns at our respective ETA’s & determined upon noticing the queue at the bus stop outside the station to walk down to the next bus stop we could find before that one, which as it happened was an idea one other lady had thought of we stood relaying our displeasure at the situation, the new lady had come from South Shields at about 8:00 that morning so had been waiting some considerable time. We stood chatting together until we flagged down the first bus to come along (it was not a Go-Ahead bus but we were in no mood to be delayed further & the driver accepted that the Metro service had allowed us to board the bus with our Metro tickets & passes).
At the next stop the bus filled up we were joined by a chap in a suit who had ridden from South-Shields to Hebburn, back to South Shields in time to catch the next Metro which promised to get to Newcastle (it didn’t, the chap had left his car parked in South Shields with his jacket in and was freezing in the cold of this winter morning), we all talked of previous Metro delays and the slow progress the bus we were on was making all the way to Heworth, jumped off & made our way to the platform, we stood in the crowd watching the arrival board which said there was a Metro Due to take us to Newcastle & another a minute later, there was a metro stationary on the opposite platform (ordinarily pointed towards Pelaw, South Hylton & South Shields). I considered the facts and decided the Metro opposite was indeed the one which was “due” a point I mentioned to my fellow commuters a moment before the tannoy announcement, we all ran back up the stairs across the concourse & back down to the platform, during which I lost my companions & acquired a new one, we sat & talked through our prolonged journeys as the Metro finally moved us towards Newcastle, I arrived at work around 11:25 and found the place in disarray due to re-wiring, my boss had only recently arrived himself having been delayed by a crash on the road in to town, ironically near to Pelaw.
I checked my Twitter feed around this time to find out that my friend who was trapped on the train had finally been allowed off after about an hour and a bit, all in all a terrible morning’s transportation.
The very next day I had my pass checked twice by ticket inspectors, I nearly gave them a serious earful for the shenanigans of the preceding morning but decided to simply compose an email requesting compensation for the hassle I experienced & the lack of tangible information or service regulation we all experienced that cold dreary morning.
My thanks to those who spoke to me that day it was good to know that I was not alone in the infuriation & that people when faced with trouble can talk & share problems with strangers in a similar situation to maintain morale.
Incidentally here’s another blog about the same morning’s events: