Approaching Totnes the train manager advised passengers to change at Totnes for Ivybridge, Newton Abbot, Torquay, Paignton, Teignmouth and Dawlish ! Was she being sarcastic? The train stopped outside Totnes for 2 minutes, and the train manager then advised that we would be stopping at the up platform, and that passengers should alight from the right hand side of the train looking forward, due to a problem with “trains at Totnes.” She also advised that we would be reversing out of Totnes Station, and that the total delay would be about 15 minutes.
When we stopped in the up platform we could see that the problem train was an FGW HST in the down platform with 43150 at the rear. This was believed to be the 14.06 Paddington to Penzance service. However while we were stationary the HST got going 24L. All very curious. Why didn’t we just wait outside Totnes for the HST to proceed. Our XC service then reversed out of Totnes Station, past the South Devon Station, for nearly half a mile, before getting going again in the right direction. Shades of Templecombe. The train passed through the down platform non-stop, which again was curious. Why not use the through lime. The XC train was now 13L.
Arriving at Plymouth Station we were put into platform 8, which is normally used for XC services terminating at Plymouth. Alongside at platform 7 was the errant HST, with 43150 at the rear. The train had been terminated at Plymouth, and several hundred passengers were waiting on the platform to pile into our train, which now became uncomfortably full. Worse, the air conditioning was not working in my coach, and it became hotter and hotter with all the body heat, and lack of ventilation. I did not see one person leave the train when invited to join a relief class 150 at platform 5. We left Plymouth 15L.
The air-conditioning was switched on between Par and St. Austell to everyone’s relief. These trains are claustrophobic and uncomfortable, which is why I avoid them. The trains which they replaced were superior in every respect. In particular the seats are just not good enough for journeys of hundreds of miles. The new Stagecoach buses which operate the Exeter Red park and ride route have far superior seats, and the journey distance is just 4 miles.
The XC train arrived at Camborne, where I alighted, 9 minutes late. A creditable performance in the circumstances, of a very busy train.