‘I went from London to the Cotswolds with Great Western Railways and it was a nightmare’

There’s nothing quite like a relaxing weekend away from the hubbub of London. As much as I love it here, my enjoyment of the capital is always renewed after a trip to another place. I regularly go to Stroud to visit my family and I always travel the same way: by train. More specifically, by the country’s very own Great Western Railway from Paddington Station.

It’s always a relaxing trip – with the added bonus that a dog is waiting for me at the end of my journey – but the actual traveling bit has the potential to ruin my excitement about what should be a lovely weekend. Booking a return journey with a 16-25 railcard on the Trainline app, my ticket cost £26.40. I’ve spent way more on the journey before, so I considered this price a bargain.

READ MORE: ‘I went half-way across London in the middle of the huge London Underground strike and my journey was actually much better’

I arrived half an hour before my scheduled departure

As always, I like to have plenty of time to spare in case of any tube mishaps. Since my train was leaving at 9.28pm, I planned on being there for 9pm to give myself time to buy a drink and grab a good seat on the train. Besides, I hate running, so I never arrive late for a train.

I was staring at this board for one hour

I was excited as always when I arrived at Paddington and was ready for my half hour wait. At this point I was in good spirits and prepared for my direct journey to the Cotswolds. If only I knew that my mood would only plummet. The scheduled departure time came and went and still no platform had been announced.

The growing crowd was growing restless as we’d all been ready to sprint for a seat for the past half hour. The only information we had about our train was a notice about disruption that was due to end at 6.30pm, a whole three hours before our train was scheduled. That, and the determined flashing of ‘preparing’ next to my train on the departure board. The only thing keeping me sane was Caffe Nero, whose staff made me the best chai latte I’ve ever bought.

At 9.45pm, it was finally announced that out train would be delayed. Unsurprisingly, I had already guessed that. And when the platform was finally announced at 9.55pm, it was a race to grab seats. The crowd was not particularly large, but window seats in the direction of travel are a rare commodity on a five coach train and everyone wanted one.

The race along the platform was intense

When I finally settled in – in my window seat in the direction of travel – I thought the worst was behind me. The carriage was blissfully empty and I thought I’d be at my destination in 90 minutes. How wrong I was. The first hurdle came right after reading, when we stopped at a red signal in the middle of nowhere. Then another. And another. It seemed never-ending as we jolted along to a chorus of the driver’s apologies.

As we finally entered the stretch of rail between Kemble and Stroud, I was hopeful that the last ten minutes would be uneventful. But alas, the driver’s now familiar voice sounded again. This time, it was to inform us we’d be driving into Stroud as slowly as possible. And this is what I get for traveling on a Friday night – there was a drunk man wandering the tracks.

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An excruciating 20 minutes later, we finally pulled into Stroud and I tumbled out of the train along with the rest of the relieved crowd. And there he was, in the flesh – the drunk man. Even though he delayed my journey, I got the pleasure of seeing three strangers practically throw him onto the train I’d just left as the police tried and failed to catch up.

Surprisingly, my return journey at 7.30pm on Monday was as uneventful as they come. The train was clean as ever and the conductor joked around as he checked everyone’s railcards. We arrived bang on time back in Paddington and the whole experience made me wonder if I’d imagined my Friday night train trip.

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