Saturday, 13 April 2013

Trains and things.

Today I had arranged to meet my young friend Sarah in Pontevedra. I was to catch a train from Vigo while she caught one from Santiago de Compostela. That almost didn’t happen. I arrived at Vigo Guixar station with a good 15 minutes to spare to buy my ticket for the 12.13 train. Unfortunately the queue for the ticket office was stretching halfway down Arenal. OK, I exaggerate but it was long that by 12.12 I still didn’t have my ticket. But then neither did a whole lot of other people and there were serious rumblings in the line. They speeded things up by giving us all a slip of paper which said “AutorizaciĆ³n para acceso al tren R-595” and told us to pay on the train. What a novel idea, paying on the train. 

 Sarah sent me a text saying she was on the train. I sent one back saying so was I. All seemed to going according to plan again. 

I arrived and Pontevedra with time to have a coffee at the station before Sarah’s train was due in. Then it was delayed; first of all the notices said that instead of arriving at 1.22 it would be there at 1.45. 1.45 came and went but the train didn’t. It was then expected at 2.05. Then we were told it was delayed en route and we should listen for announcements about its expected arrival. The next train was due in at 2.25. We were told that it would arrive at 2.45. Finally somewhere around 3.15 the 1.22 train came into the station. Someone said there had been problems with signals. How long does it take to override signals? 

Hoards of people got off the train and went straight to the booking office to complain. No-one needed to say anything in fact. They just handed in their tickets, had them stamped and were sent to another desk to get their money back. How amazing!!! The last time we had a complaint about a train in the UK we had to wait weeks to get a voucher from the train company concerned. Here in Galicia, the trains may not have run like clockwork today but the refund mechanism certainly did. I was seriously impressed. 

What’s more, the sun was shining. 

Sarah and I walked into town along the riverside path, which was very pleasant. We managed to get some tapas in Plaza de Verdura and began to feel human again. Then we had a nice walkabout in the old town, stopping for refreshments and the chance to chat and set the world to rights. 

Eventually we wandered back to the station and caught our trains in opposing directions, this time with no delays. Hooray!!

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