Thursday, 27 September 2012

A Big Disappointment

Over the last year I have become very confident in catching the train with Leo, and we have gone on many adventures together using the train as our preferred method of transport. You see although I drive, I don’t feel confident to drive on the motorway or to un-familiar surroundings, so catching the train solves these insecurities.

Yesterday I got a train from Worcestershire all the way to Moses Gate (Bolton) with Leo in his pushchair.

My train journey yesterday consisted of 5 changes to get to Moses Gate and then another 5 on the homebound journey. This is the most ambitious trip I have embarked on to date with Leo and one that took a turn for the worse on the way back.

I got into Birmingham New Street with time to spare, and had a look on the information screen to find out which platform my next connecting train was leaving from. I sourced the platform number and took the lift to get there. Getting down to the platform I could see it was already full of passengers who were to be getting on the same train as me. Leo and I still had about 10 minutes to wait for the 16:19 train to Worcester Shrub Hill so we kept an eye on the information screen and waited.

Suddenly at about 16:18 I heard an announcement, and that announcement is what turned our train experience into a spiralling mess.

With a minute left before the train was expected in to the station they had suddenly changed the platform for my train. Just like that. Meaning that I was now stood on the completely wrong platform with Leo and my pushchair with no way of quickly getting to the correct platform.

So now everyone was running to the new platform to catch the train that I knew there was no hope in hell of Leo and I getting to in time. I was still stood waiting for the lift doors to open at 16:22, 3 minutes after the train was due to have left.

Having a baby in a pushchair restricts me in how quickly I can get from one platform to another. I need the correct information on the screen so I can get there in plenty of time, as does anyone who needs to use the lift instead of the stairs.

When I finally got the lift back up I still had to check what platform I was supposed to get to, and the lady who worked at the station told me that I should now go to platform 12. Giving me false hope that the train had been waiting to give the passengers chance to get there.

She then advised me that there was no lift to platform 12, so I asked how I should get up to that level and she told me in no un-certain terms that I was going to have to find someone to assist me in carrying the pushchair up, not offering any help or assistance herself.

I found this so un-helpful, I was so over whelmed and by now feeling incredibly frustrated and angry.

I was now faced with the fact that I still had another train to catch at Worcester Shrub Hill in order to get home, and I was now going to miss that one too. Leo was getting tired, hungry and not to mention that he had consumed the remainder of his juice about an hour before, so we really were needing to get home so I could get him sorted.

The train station staff did not help me at all even though I asked reputedly for it. I felt that there was a complete lack of communication. The train station would have surely known about this platform change further in advance than the minute’s notice that I and everyone else received.

The only reason I got through this situation was because the kindest member of the public took me under his wing and helped me up to platform 12. We got up there only to find that the train had already gone, so there was no reason for me to have been directed up there anyway.

The man who had assisted me up then helped me back down again, he found out what time the next train was and then assisted me to it. He helped me with Leo on an escalator and joked about how much experience he has of juggling a child and travelling, as he had 2 in close age proximity. This lovely man then made sure I was at the correct platform for my train and just made the whole situation bearable for me.

I cannot thank this man enough for his assistance and all that he did for me yesterday. It is just a shame that a member of the public had to help me and that the lady I asked for help completely turned her back on me.

I caught the 16:59 out of Birmingham New Street and as expected missed my connecting train at Worcester Shrub Hill. My phone had died so I had no way of contacting my family to tell them that I would not be the arranged pick up point at 17:36 and that I was safe.

The next train from Worcester would not get me back home until gone 7pm and I needed to get Leo fed, so I got off at Worcester to get Leo some more juice and something to eat. I then used a pay phone to call the one and only number I know off by heart, my home number. I arranged for Luke to come and pick me up from there so I didn’t have to faff about on yet another train.

I feel completely let down by the station for yesterday’s occurrences and feel that there was a complete lack of communication, assistance and general customer care.

How on earth is a mother with a pushchair or a disabled person meant to adhere to such a short turn around between platforms?

How can staff idly not lift a finger to help someone who is clearly feeling distressed, struggling and in need of assistance?


  1. New Street stations operations are controlled by Network Rail, Train allocations and platform alterations are carried out by signallers who are employed by Network Rail and these can happen at very short notice for operational reasons. As for lack of help from station staff, that really depends on what colour uniform they were wearing. Red -virgin Blue-Network Rail , Grey-London Midland

    1. So what would have happened if a disabled person was put in my position. I hope you can appreciate that with the time frame I was given to change platforms I really could not worry about what colour uniform rail staff were wearing. I had a hungry baby and I needed to get home. I am really disappointed and don't find this comment at all helpful.

  2. Sorry , i totally agree with you. Have been in that situation at New St Station myself. I actually dread seeing Platform 12 on the display boards for my train. As that is the only platform with no easy access to the other platforms if needed. However we can only hope the station / enviroment is improved when the station rebuild is completed. As for the uniform colour comment - i had responses from them basically saying Red blaming Blue Blue blaming Grey etc etc. Typical Railway response

    1. :) I can imagine. Fingers crossed the staff pull their fingers out and the changes actually make a difference. x

  3. That is a disgrace!!! I don't know what I would have done in your situation if I'm honest. I try my very best not to take public transport because Hayden is still so young but when I have to... Will I also be in this situation?! or a similar one...
    So sorry you had to go through that ordeal hun.

    I really hope they can figure out how to make changes in regards to this.

    Lotte x

    1. Thanks lovely, I don't know what I would have done had it not been for the man that came out of nowhere and really helped me. I know for a fact I would have needed scooping up off the floor, I felt like a headless chicken!

      We shall see if they bother replying to my email, which I sent almost a month ago! xx


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