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Saturday, 1 May 2010

They Do It Here, Too

It’s a popular myth that, when rail travel is disrupted in the UK as engineering works take precedence, this kind of thing just doesn’t happen over in mainland Europe. But it does, and today I had that message underlined for me.

This morning I checked out of the excellent Residencial Gameiro in Entroncamento – very, very good value – and walked over to the station. There was a queue at the ticket window, so I used the machine, which issued a ticket for the next Regional for Lisbon.

Only when on board that train did the conductor come through the train and tell the punters that part of the journey would be by bus, as there was a weekend blockade around Santarém, involving single line working through the station there, as rebuilding work progressed.

All Intercity trains were passing through the affected area, although subject to delay, but Regionals were not. We were put onto buses at the wayside station of Vale de Figueira, where the adventure began. The buses’ luggage stowage was unavailable, so all of that had to be dragged aboard. After a sight of Santarém station as we lurched across a nearby crossing, we headed for the wayside station of Setil to continue the trip.

Problem is, Setil is a small number of houses clustered around the railway. The road has not seen significant attention for decades. So the bus lurched from one bump to another – slowly – as it became clear that it would have made more sense to send the replacement transport to Azambuja, where access and train service is better.

So that’s one more to put down to that category that says, basically, that what can go wrong in one country can go wrong in any other.

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