The Anonymous Widower

One Of The Worst Train Journeys I’ve Had In The UK Since The 1960s

I started out with a simple objective, in that I intended to go to Cardiff Central station and then explore the Cardiff Valley Lines to look at the progress of the electrification. I had also arranged to possibly have a drink, with an old acquaintance at Rhymney station.

For the first time, I took the Elizabeth Line from Moorgate to Paddington to catch a long distance train. It is so much easier than taking the Underground.

I bought a Super Off Peak Return ticket to Cardiff Central station for £62.15 with my Senior Railcard.

This was the journey I took today.

  • I left Paddington on the 10:18 train for Cardiff Central.
  • The train arrived at Bristol Parkway at 11:34½.
  • Real Time Trains says this about the rest of the journey. “This service was cancelled between Bristol Parkway and Cardiff Central due to a problem with signalling equipment (J3)”
  • I was advised by a member of staff, that I wouldn’t be going to Cardiff in the near future and he advised taking a CrossCountry train to Bristol Temple Meads and then going back to London using my Return ticket.
  • I left Bristol Parkway at 12:12¼ and arrived in Bristol Temple Meads at 12:20½, after taking the CrossCountry train.
  • At Bristol Temple Meads to salvage something of a wasted day, I took a diversion to Severn Beach for the princely sum of £1.95 with my Senior Railcard, arriving back at Bristol Temple Meads at 14:48½.
  • I then caught the next train to London, which turned out to be the 16:00, as both the 15:00 and 15:30 were cancelled due to an incident at Didcot.
  • The train left Bristol Temple Meads at 16:03 and arrived at London Paddington at 18:00, which was twenty minutes late.


  1. I never got to Cardiff.
  2. If I’d waited at Bristol Parkway and caught the next train, I’d have got to Cardiff at 16:15¼, which would have been four hours later, than if the first train hadn’t been cancelled and had been on time.

I’ve just tried to phone Great Western Railway, but their Contact Us page only gives details of Facebook, Twitter and What’s App. I don’t use any of those!

Conclusion – Added On 5th June 2023

I just received an e-mail saying the cheque will be the post!

May 19, 2023 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,


  1. The latest saying about Network Rail is that it is running a “Don’t Give a Dam Railway”

    Comment by Ben | May 19, 2023 | Reply

    • Around 1990, I worked with British Rail to analyse signal failures. A large proportion were caused by cable theft or cable cutting by thieves, of fibre optic cables to try to force BR to go back to copper, so it could be nicked.

      According to a GWR employee today, who did care, it was a data cable failure that caused the problems in South Wales.

      It looks to me, that the sooner we go to signalling that uses radio, the better.

      Comment by AnonW | May 19, 2023 | Reply

  2. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

    Comment by Jonathan Caswell | May 19, 2023 | Reply

  3. Commiserations. A case of when it starts to go wrong, the problems just keep multiplying!

    Great Western’s failure to provide an adequate means of contacting them absolutely exemplifies the ‘Don’t Give A Damn’ (DGAD) Railway. Many people – myself included – don’t use these forms of social media. It’s not just old fogeys; many younger people, sick of trolling and anti-social media nastinesss, have ditched their FB and other SM accounts. I don’t have a smartphone as I work mainly from home and therefore don’t need mobile communication, having managed perfectly well without it for my whole life, so I deeply resent big corporations who, to suit themselves, make it impossible to contact them by more reliable means – email, phone etc. TOCs by and large are monopolies, so should be required by law (not least under the DDA) to provide alternative means of communication.

    Comment by Stephen Spark | May 19, 2023 | Reply

  4. I agree with you. I shall be going to Paddington tomorrow to find a person who understands the system. At least with Lizzie in place it’s easier to get there.

    The irony is, is that none of the delays had anything to do with GWR.

    As I was married to a lawyer and fathered another, I do know legal ways of winding companies up and have been very successful at it in the past, especially with airlines. At the moment I’m probably £20 down, as I at least got to Bristol and had a good day. I think that a courteous letter to the MD might work. That’s an old trick, that my father taught me.

    Comment by AnonW | May 19, 2023 | Reply

  5. By rights, as you failed to reach your destination you should be refunded the full cost of the ticket. Well, the GWR element, at least.

    Comment by Andrew Bruton | May 20, 2023 | Reply

  6. This comes on top of the issue earlier in the week down there when a poorly secured signalling cable running across a gantry came into contact with the 25kV equipment and vapourised signalling cabinets in the area which needed replacing. The problem with todays railway is that it has both lost the skills to run the railway in degraded mode but also because of the excessive risk aversion that now cultural exists it doesn’t want to do it anyway and believes that just telling people DO NOT TRAVEL is the answer. Until the top reset the can do culture that the industry had in BR and carried into privatisation then im afraid i see this as the norm.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | May 20, 2023 | Reply

    • I suspect that my main problem, was that there were two blockages, one due to signalling in South Wales and the other due to a suicide at Didcot. The latter was compounded because the Police were very slow in reopening the railway.

      Some of us, thought about coming back via Taunton, but there wasn’t anybody to ask.

      On the Central Line recently, I was delayed by another incident at Holborn. But in that case, TfL quickly got a shuttle going on the Ruislip branch. Is there a different attitude?

      Comment by AnonW | May 20, 2023 | Reply

  7. Contacting virtually anybody these days seems to be contingent on you using Facebook, Twitter, What’s App or the companies’ laughable Chatbots. They reckon this is all done in the name of efficiency we’re told. Yes efficiency of their expenditure on their workforce, but deficient in serving us, the customer.
    Incidentally I would use WhatsApp, at least a real human being is likely to read the message.

    Comment by fammorris | May 20, 2023 | Reply

  8. As regards contacting some of these corporate organisations, I have gas and electric from EDF and found hat the most effective way to resolve a problem is to write to EDF Customer Services Director at the FREEPOST address in Plymouth.
    Always works and I don’t waste time phoning to be put on hold or have a time consuming back and forth on their WhatsApp.

    Comment by chilterntrev | May 20, 2023 | Reply

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