The curse of Virgin Trains East Coast 19:25 from Edinburgh to Stirling

Earlier this week, circumstance presented me with an opportunity to re-run my abortive attempt to travel on the 19:25 from Edinburgh to Stirling a few weeks ago. Little did I know that I would manage to get caught up in the palaver of a signalling fault between Polmont and Falkirk Grahamston. You can see the full series of updates from the usual suspects – and the ensuing confusion, by following the #polmont hashtag on Twitter. Suffice to say that I had the impression that the issue had been resolved by the time I set out, but this was not to be the case.

2017-08-07 19.01.19

Having learnt from last time, I left the house at 18:50 and missed the 14 I was aiming for by just a whisker. I ended up on the 2 running a few minutes behind, which enjoyed a non-stop run up the hill towards Newington. The 2 doesn’t go to Waverley, and I managed a swift change onto a 3 on South Clerk Street – unusually the stop was deserted, so I really did have to leap off and look eager for the bus behind. In the picture you can see my 2 taken from the ‘driver’s seat’ of the 3. The 3 made good progress, despite the festival crowds, and I was inside Waverley station by 19:10.

It was at this stage that it became apparent that all was not well on the signalling front. The 19:33 Scotrail service to Dunblane was cancelled – and the 19:25 to Stirling was showing as delayed to run in the 19:33 path. Not to worry – a few minutes’ delay is dealable with.

2017-08-07 19.22.45I made my way along to platform 2 and the train arrived on time at 19:20. It obviously took a while to expel the hoards of festival-goers, but I was on fairly promptly and settled down at a table. The cancelled Dunblane service had generated extra passengers, so it was busier than expected, although by no means close to full. The slightly puzzled guard mentioned the signalling issues, and also noted that Scotrail smart cards would be accepted.

We got away at around 19:35 and made very slow progress as far as Ratho/Newbridge, where we pulled into a passing loop and the guard told us the happy news that signalling in Polmont had once again failed, with no prognosis for the length of the delay. As it happened, we were only at a standstill for around ten minutes before we were back on the move – but progress as far as Falkirk was glacial – we didn’t arrive there until around 20:35! The run from Falkirk through to Stirling was as it should be – swift – and with some wonderful August evening skies.

A quick walk had me at my destination a little after nine. A definite improvement on the last time I tried this route – but still over two hours door-to-door.

On the grape vine, I gather that the 19:25 from Edinburgh to Stirling – a recent addition to the timetable to give Stirling an extra King’s Cross train each day in addition to the Highland Chieftain – is particular prone to cancellation from Edinburgh onwards. Presumably, the rake goes straight back to Edinburgh after terminating in Stirling, and when running late it is easier to let Scotrail take the strain?

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