WCML Blocked at Bletchley 3/2/2012: How do I get to…

I see that the @NetworkRail, @LondonMidland and @VirginTrains twitter folks are having a tough day today.This is the train we need to rerail at #Bletchley, with all w... on Twitpic

To use railway speak the “job is stopped” (i.e. no trains can run) through the Bletchley area because of this locomotive coming off the rails in the middle of the night last night. Apparently, the driver had to be taken to hospital.

This has had the effect of meaning no services out of London Euston getting further North than Tring, and services heading from the North to Euston getting beyond Milton Keynes.

If you can avoid travelling today, it’s probably a good idea to put off making your trip. It’s going to take a long time to get the line re-opened. You can see that it’s derailed across two tracks, plus the overhead wires which supply electricity to the trains have reportedly been damaged too.

Services are going to be disrupted all day, and most likely into the weekend as well.

There are a lot of folk asking on social media how they can work around this if they need to make the journey. There’s lots of redundancy in the rail network, but the alternatives aren’t always the most obvious.

Getting the Virgin train in to Milton Keynes if you’re heading for London is probably the worst option, as you’re then looking at road transport from Milton Keynes to somewhere like Luton or Aylesbury to get around the disruption.

A number of train operators will be accepting tickets on alternative routes, including those that would normally only be valid on a Virgin train. Please look at the National Rail page to check for these. Virgin have also released some very clear maps of alternatives.

Here’s a basic rundown of my recommendations for alternatives:

London – Scotland: East Coast from/to London Kings Cross, changing at Edinburgh, is likely your best bet.

London – Carlisle: Probably best on Virgin to Birmingham New Street, and then proceed as for Birmingham, on Chiltern. Going across to Newcastle or over the S&C to Leeds is likely to be slow, but is also an alternative, and one of Virgin’s own recommendations.

London – Preston: Again possibly stick with Virgin to Birmingham, and change for Chiltern to Marylebone, as getting across to Leeds from Preston (via Halifax) while one of Virgin’s recommendations, may be slow.

London – Birmingham: Chiltern Trains – Snow Hill or Moor Street to/from Marylebone, direct train, at least 2 trains per hour, approx 1h45 journey time. Or, First Great Western Paddington-Reading, changing for Cross Country Reading-Birmingham.

London – Coventry: First Great Western Paddington-Reading, and change for Cross Country for Reading-Coventry, or Chiltern to/from Marylebone, change at Leamington Spa.

London – Nuneaton: East Midlands Trains to/from Leicester, changing for connections to Nuneaton. This may also work for Coventry.

London – Stoke-on-Trent/Crewe: East Midlands Trains to/from Derby, changing there for Stoke-on-Trent/Crewe, or Chiltern Marylebone to Leamington Spa, and Cross Country from Leamington Spa to Stoke.

London – Manchester: East Midlands Trains to/from Sheffield, or East Coast to/from Leeds, changing there for Manchester. This is probably a good alternative for Liverpool too, as there are direct trains to Liverpool from Sheffield and Leeds.

London – Liverpool: As for Manchester, or route via Birmingham and Chiltern to/from London.

If you’re travelling Virgin north of Milton Keynes (e.g Birmingham-Scotland or Preston-Scotland), the trains are running, but are subject to delay, short notice cancellation, and may make additional stops. Birmingham-Euston and Manchester-Euston services seem to be down to 2 trains per hour and terminate at Milton Keynes in any case.

London Midland Euston-Milton Keynes-Northampton line north of Tring, my advice is to put off your trip. It’s going to be a slow experience and likely involve road transport/buses.

This advice is being provided with no warranty that your specific ticket will be valid via the alternative route. Just trying some ideas to bail you out of the crap if you still feel the need to travel today. Please ask railway staff on the train(s) on which you intend to travel. I am not an employee of a National Rail operating company or Network Rail.

Remember the alternative trains will be busy and the staff will likely feel more than a touch mithered. Please be nice to your fellow humans today. Dunkirk spirit and all that.

Good luck!

Update: As of about 1600 today, they have got one line in each direction re-opened. This is normally a four track railway, there are two sets of lines in each direction – one carrying faster Virgin expresses, the other carrying the London Midland commuter trains, local stopping trains, and slower freight trains. It’s fair to say that there will still be some disruption over the weekend, simply because the timetabled service can’t really fit over the remaining two tracks and keep to time. Keep your eyes on the information that’s available.