The Secret Racegoer checks out time figures with GWR
It was looking good. The Secret Racegoer got to London Paddington to catch the 12.06 to Newbury Racecourse, a through train that would take just under an hour to get to the races.
What’s more, the train was going to be formed of five coaches, something which not so long ago was unheard of. If (big if) there was a through train, it was at best formed of three coaches and would be standing room only, if not from Paddington, then certainly from Reading. Now GWR (Great Western Railway) have invested in new rolling stock.
But, as the clocked ticked ever closer to midday, there was no sign of the 12.06 departure.
Those used to the unreliability of GWR trains to anywhere, let alone Newbury Racecourse, spotted that the inward service was running at least 10 minutes late.
Eventually, the PA at Paddington informed passengers that the 12.06 was going to be late, due to a fault with the shiny new train. If there was an apology for the delay, the Secret Racegoer must have missed it.
Around 12.15, the platform was announced and passengers awaited the train’s arrival. It pulled in, incoming passengers disembarked, new passengers got on and the train left, some 20 minutes behind schedule.
Now there was an apology coming, as it often does, from the train’s conductor who offered the hope that we might make up a few minutes of the delay before we got to Reading.
But, as the train pulled into Reading the conductor was even more apologetic, telling passengers that, in order to make up time, the train was going to skip the next three stations, including Newbury Racecourse.
Consequently, those going to the races would either have to change at Reading, and wait for a later train, or carry on to Newbury and get a train back one stop to Newbury Racecourse.
The Secret Racegoer chose the latter.
And making up the lost time was certainly the case. The first two stations were missed out so the train, of which about a quarter of its passengers were headed to the races, was clocked going through Newbury Racecourse station just one minute behind schedule.
Maybe this is what is meant by sectional timing.
Arrived on time
The train arrived at Newbury on time, with passengers being told that there was a train back to the racecourse in 30 minutes. Said passengers were now entitled to compensation for the delay.
Had the train stopped at the racecourse station, GWR (now God’s Worst Railway) would not have to spend time processing refund requests.
There was then a moment’s hope when one of GWR’s finest announced at Newbury station that there was a train back to Newbury Racecourse in around 10 minutes.
Upon checking, the 10-minute waiting time was adjusted, and a Newbury Racecourse train would indeed depart in 30 minutes.
For timing, it was pretty much standard for GWR.
The Secret Racegoer shared a taxi to the racecourse and the driver never stopped talking the whole time, complaining they’d only taken £13 since starting at 9.00. One could see why.
After racing there was a wait of 35 minutes before a train was due back to Reading.
In between it rained, the Secret Racegoer made a modest profit, enjoyed a pint or few of Guinness (£5.50, unlike Epsom’s extortionate £6) and had a nice time.
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