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A spot of trouble with a single point of failure

Posted on September 30, 2009

Reading time: 2 minutes.

Last Saturday saw me journey by train to Ilkley. Due to work being done by Network Rail, I ended up going around by Bradford, something that I had never done before. A feature of the way that I went was that I ended up hotfooting it between train stations in Manchester and in Bradford. For the former, I could have used the Metrolink but it’s just as quick and easy to walk (around 20  minutes for me); that comment applies as much when the trams are running as it does at the moment when improvement works are in progress with trams replaced by buses in the centre of Manchester. In Bradford, the transfer took around ten minutes and that was even with my never visiting the place before. Its nearby neighbour Leeds seems to have all of the buzz and bustle but Bradford has its quiet appeal too so another visit seems appropriate.

Even with the walking, connections were being made with ample time and all was well until I tried to get from Bradford to Ilkley. Between Shipley and Guisley, there is a single track chord linking the Airedale and Wharfedale lines and all that’s needed to cause a spot of chaos was for a train to break down and that seems to be what happened. The 10:16 from Bradford was what I had in mind but that was cancelled and I ended up on the Skipton train as far as Shipley to pick up a train from there. In fact, this was to be the train that I would have caught in Bradford if it wasn’t to terminate in Shipley and turn around there. A train did turn up but no passengers were taken on board and that after it being late. When that sort of thing happens, you can imagine the mix of confusion, anger and annoyance among those awaiting the service (contingencies were beginning to enter my mind). It didn’t help that we had to cross from one side of Shipley station, not the shortest of walks, to the other either. Luckily, the 10:53 did arrive on time but the observed confusion, miscommunication and lack of communication did nothing to inspire confidence. It was no fault of the station staff because they did their best but those in the Northern Rail control room could do with learning something from this. Thankfully, things sorted themselves out by the time that I was going home again after a good walk by the Wharfe and that worked out as expected. As with everything, you get extremes of flawless working and total breakages.

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