I live in Olton, Solihull and it was my decision to take a job in Oxford. I say decision; the offers weren’t exactly flooding in during this time of austerity, and redundancy induced unemployment meant it was more a requirement.
The real decision: car or train. My non-peer reviewed cost analysis suggested that fuel and daily rail travel would be roughly equal.
- Car: quicker; convenient; door-to-door; must be alert and not use the rumble strips as an alarm clock.
- Train: no rush-hour queues; can read or work; can relax or sleep but must not wake up in Southampton.
I plumped for the train. Buying an annual pass at the end of 2012 maximised savings and avoided the 2013 price rise. The outlay was still breath-taking.
My route: Olton – Solihull; Solihull – Leamington; Leamington – Oxford. I could remove one connection by travelling via Birmingham but it seems ludicrous to add another 30 minutes to the journey and start my commute by travelling in the wrong direction. A 45 minute walk at the other end makes my journey approximately 2.5 hours (the bus isn’t much quicker than walking).
When things go well, the journey isn’t too bad.
6.02 am: I leave the house and I’m slightly delayed – my fault I know. The train is at 6.07 but the station isn’t far; a few minutes jog and I’m there. Generally Olton – Solihull is issue free; after all, it’s a 3 minute journey. However, one morning….
‘We’re sorry to announce…’ the monotone PA started;
‘Pleeeeease…. not the 6.07’, I silently wished;
‘That the 6.07 to Stratford-Upon-Avon…’, the announcement continued;
‘Let it be a delay, let it be a delay’, I continued to hope;
‘Has been cancelled’, the broadcast concluded.
I hazily assessed the meagre options: 45 minutes until the next train on my usual route or go via Birmingham. As I’d end up on the same train anyway, the latter was not so ludicrous given I was now waiting for a train that wasn’t going to come. Joining it at Birmingham; low and behold, the service to Oxford was 20 minutes delayed. I’d have been delayed had I gone via Leamington so I guess today I just couldn’t catch a break.
Barring delays, I get back home at 7.30 pm having left work at 5 o’clock. I eat dinner, relax, prepare lunch for tomorrow and go to bed. 5.15 am: time to get up and do it all over again; hoping for no delays.