I suppose it was inevitable really. For the past five days I’ve suffered from no delays of greater than ten minutes and I’ve only had to stand up once. That’s all been made up for now.
If you’re on a normal train, and it’s delayed, you’re pretty aware if what’s going on. On a sleeper, at 2am in the morning, you’re only vaguely subconsciously aware that something isn’t right. In between dreams I’d clocked that we hadn’t been moving for quite some time. I’d also clocked that there appeared to be a lot of shunting going on and I’d vaguely heard the person in the cabin next to me (who has an early flight from Heathrow) getting quite annoyed.
At 5:30am my alarm went off. At this point we should have been heading through the suburbs of London. We obviously weren’t and were also going quite fast (for a sleeper). Looking at he national rail enquiries app it stated that we’d arrived at Taunton on-time but had departed there almost three-hours late.
My host turned up with breakfast looking quite sheepish and slightly frazzled. Apparently one of the locomotives hauling us had thrown its toys out of the pram somewhere round about Exeter. Luckily First Great Western had thought of this eventuality and always have two locomotives on the front of the sleeper service. Unfortunately the second one, upset at being so rudely awakened from its snooze and asked to do work, decided it had also had enough at Taunton and promptly followed its companion in breaking-down. So we were stuck.
Luckily the staff at First Great Western, used to all kinds of hardship, rapidly came up with a plan c. You see there was another Night Riviera sleeper, heading in the other direction, which was also hauled by two locomotives. They waited until it arrived at Taunton and then detached one of the locomotives from the front of that service to go on the front of ours. This is now speeding us into London at quite a gallop.
I suppose my only concern is that, out of the four locomotives of this class being operated by First Great Western tonight, 50% have already failed. That makes me wonder if the one currently pulling us, or indeed the one on the sleeper going the other way, is going to join its compatriots in breaking-up early for Christmas.
Time will tell…