Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our trip in the train with a pram

Yesterday we were meeting friends for lunch in the next town - just one stop away on the train. Parking at our destination is always tricky, with most places giving you just 2 hours - not long enough for a lunch with 5 mums and 5 babies I can assure you!

So, to ease the parking worries, to give me a little lard burning activity walking to and from the station, because I have a belief that we should all try and use public transport if it is available, and so to check out the ease of using public transport with a pram for future reference, we thought we's give the train a try.

As there is a limit to the amount of time that BB will stay in the pram without being fed, and also because we had to call in to the post office to collect a parcel, I made the decision to take the car to the station at this end. Unfortunately all the free parking near the station was full. Parking was £2.30, but the machine didn't give change, so for us it was £2.50.

The ticket office is on the opposite side of the tracks to the platform we needed. There is no underpass or access to the other side for wheelchairs or prams. You have to exit the station, walk out through the car parks to the road, go over the level crossing and then back in through the car parks on the other side. So we got our ticket first (£8.10), and headed out for our hike around to the other side.

We made it, but not in time for the train. I had anticipated that this could happen - there was another in half an hour that would still get us there on time. I needed the loo! Guess where? Yes, you are right, on the opposite platform! I didn't bother going on the hike again (we may have missed the next train if we did) but opted for some pelvic floor practice instead. Also - I don't think there is a large loo or one with disabled access anyway, and I was not prepared to leave BB outside on the platform!

Our train came and some nice young women allowed us to get on first. BB slept for most of the way and didn't make a murmer. After just 15 mins our destination was in sight. But we were at a standstill - waiting for a platform apparently.

After 25 mins, our 18 minute journey was complete - we had arrived. Through the underpass and out to the other side where there is a disabled loo. Locked. You need a special key. Which I don't have.

So, we head to a nearby supermarket. Relief at last. I also notice that their car park offers free parking for 3 hours! 


We then walk up the hill into town and have a fabulous lunch with the mummies and babies - none of whom were crazy enough to arrive by train. Within 3 hours we are back in the loo at the afore mentioned supermarket. I buy some crumpets and a newspaper to show my gratitude for their facilities and check the car parking terms once more before we head back to the station.

BB cries inconsolably for half of the journey but eventually he stops and enjoys the ride, gazing with awe out of the window as the world moves by. We reach our destination and as we are leaving the train we are offered help for the first time - by an old man with a walking stick!!! I guess he knows how it is.

So in summary:

To go in the car 
Cost £6.00 approx in fuel, free parking, wear and tear on car not accounted for, time taken for journey, approx 30 mins each way on average.

To go by train
Cost £8.10 for the fare, £2.50 for parking (could be reduced to £2.30 if I had the right change or nothing if we were able to walk from this end too - maybe when BB is a bit older that could work, or in summer when it's not too cold to feed al fresco). Average time taken for journey, including delays, 1 hour and ten minutes (would increase by half an hour if we walked from this end).

Conclusion
The car is the easiest, the cheapest, and the most convenient. BB's cries don't affect the general public - in reality he would have slept in the car. The train is great, but sadly for novelty and not convenience. We'll do it again, but not in a hurry. On a plus, I do know of a 3 hour car park...

P.S. I tried to find an image of a pram and a train to accompany this post... I could only find 2, both Australian, somehow it didn't seem right to use them!
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