Monday, 27 January 2014

Trains, Busses and Event City

Don't you hate it when a lovely day out turns into a nightmare thanks to public transport .... you know the same public transport that we are always being encouraged to use.

Readers may have seen some of my Tweets on Saturday - for you to get the bigger picture I will start from the beginning......

Saturday we had arranged to pick up our Merlin Passes from Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester.  Following this we were going to the Sealife Centre next door.  We debated staying overnight but the train fare would have doubled and there were no bargain hotel rooms so, as we only live an hour away by train from Manchester a day trip it was.

We go up, got the boys ready (it was a surprise right up until they got to the desk at Legoland) and packed a picnic/ provisions to fuel the day.

We boarded the PACKED East Midlands train to Manchester at 9.45 am, taking our place on the floor / pull down seats (it was hard to decide which was comfiest) outside the drivers cab.

 I don't know why they don't put on larger trains, I have never seen these trains with plenty of seating.  The reallly annoying thing about this is the train actually had lots of seats.  Unfortunately guards either don't care or don't want to risk getting abuse (I know which I'm banking on) as anyone with common sense could have asked the one-seaters if they would mind picking up their bag off the seat next to them and sitting next to another one-seater (also with their bag on the space next to them).   I know I'll probably get some flack for saying this and YES I would have asked someone to move their bag if it was just me.  Unfortunately I cannot split my young boys up and put the 4 of us on completely separate seats across the carriage when simply asking 2 people to share would make 2 pairs of seats.   £20+ to sit on the floor did not get the day off to a good start!!!

We got to Manchester Piccadilly and found our way to the bus station quite easily boarding the Stagecoach X50 immediately.  The boys made their way to the top deck, their favourite spot, and the bus set off.  The trip virtually to the Trafford Centre was pain free..... then we hit a roundabout (well not literally) somewhere between the Hovis factory and the Trafford Centre.  and that's where we stopped.  for almost 20 minutes the traffic didn't go anywhere.  By quarter to 12 people were ringing their respective work places to apologise that they would be late.
Eventually the bus made it round the corner where it pulled into the first bus stop it came to.  We joined the mass of people departing the bus and walked the 10 minutes to The Legoland entrance of The Trafford Centre.

The only apology was that the event at Event City was causing a lot of traffic and Trafford Centre security were helping to move it..... but 12pm was too late for this.... perhaps someone should have been organising the show attendees from 9am and not caused chaos in the first place!!!

Legoland and the Sealife Centre were great (see separate post to follow).  Unfortunately it was soon time to go home.    we expected lots of people and lots of traffic at 5pm ..... what we did not expect was to only JUST get on the bus (double decker) due to the amount of people waiting.  The delays during the day meant were not running to time.   The Trafford Centre/ Event City staff had clearly given up by this point as it took 45 minutes in non-moving traffic to get from the Trafford Centre bus station to the Legoland end!!!  It was a good job the boys had books and chocolate on them as the DVD battery didn't even last that long and with it being soo busy they didn't have a lot of room (they didn't even have their own seats)!!!  The rain teaming down the windows prevented any games of 'look at that' or 'i spy'.  Once past event city we had a free run.   The trip on the bus should take half an hour ...... we left the Trafford Centre at 5pm .... we got to Manchester City Centre at about 6.15!!!!!   I had to feel very very sorry for the poor driver tho who admitted as people left the bus that he should have finished work at 3pm!!!

We made it to Piccadilly train station for 6.43 and had the choice of 2 trains... the local service leaving at 6.45 or the 'fast' train at 7.18..... we went for the local train.  Mistake number 4!!
The local train was a shed on wheels run by Northern Rail.... in its defence it did have a toilet, which is am improvement to some of the sheds I've been on ... tho I didn't fancy touching the bar of hand soap (i didn't think it was still hygienic to have these .... this bar had definitely seen better days).  And the door was rather tempermental.... and some cleaning wouldn't have gone amiss.....
It did have plenty of seats so again that wasn't an issue.  Sadly it was also full of very noisy dunk men!  Who were still drinking (why is this still accepted on Trains???), shouting and (worse with 2 small children) swearing!!!!  We could have moved carriages but with it only being 2 long it would have made no difference.   Ben took great delight in repeating the men's chants of "there's already someone having a pi$$" every time anyone went to use the toilet as well as a few other choice phases he picked up.
The guard practically ran though the train twice at Edale (the only time we saw him in the hour we were on the train) ignoring these 'men', in fact not really concerned whether anyone had a ticket or not - he certainly didn't ask to check ours.  The 'men' asked if he wanted to check theirs and he ignored them.  He then retreated back into the empty back drivers cab.
And cold... the train was FREEZING! I'm not sure there was any heat coming from the heaters at all.
  At one point the delightful smell of alcohol was mixed with the equally lovely smell of cannabis, I'm 100% certain no one was smoking it but even so the smell was bad enough.

Fortunately after half the journey, and lots of coaxing, Noah managed to drown out the noise and fall asleep.

So well done East Midland Trains, Northern Rail and Event City.  Our day would have been perfect had your own staff any common sense, organisational skills, or decency about them. We have friends in Manchester and with our new Annual Merlin Cards we were hoping to make plenty of trips to Manchester in the next 12 months on Public transport.... I'm dreading it now, especially as I may not always have my husband in tow to help keep me sane and help occupy the boys. .... I'm just glad we chose to leave the buggy at home or I think i really may have ended up in tears.


  1. This sounds dreadful!! The furthest I go on the train is meadowhall..I rely on my OH to drive me any further! Xx

    1. twas a nightmare. neither of us drive so have to rely on public transport for everything :(