For some time we've been used to the combination of train and coach on Sundays while the ongoing schedule of work on the lines to East Anglia is taking place. However, it looks as though a slightly different scheme will be in operation for some (most?) Saturdays in the coming months, when services start at Stratford rather than London Liverpool Street. (These closures of the line from Liverpool Street to Stratford affect more than just the East Anglia services, of course). I thought I would give an account of my journey last Saturday to help explain how it works. Many, many passengers were confused.
I'd bought a pre-booked ticket for my journey back to Ipswich on Saturday and although it only gave me a reserved seat for the bit from Startford onwards I assumed that there would be some way of getting passengers who arrived at Liverpool Street to Stratford. In fact they were simply telling people to take the Tube (Central Line) to Stratford, and they were allowing people who had through tickets to use them on the Tube. However, you had to ask the nice man at the entrance to the Tube to let you through, as you could not use them in the machines at the barrier. Unfortunately the District Line and a couple of others were also closed for maintenance that day, so the Central Line was very very crowded as District Line passengers were also being told to use it and pick up replacement buses at Stratford.
Once at Stratford we had to wait for our scheduled trains. Platforms 9 and 10 seem to be the ones being used for the East Anglia services (though I suppose that could change). The trains on this occasion were not the usual ones, but local commuter-type trains, so the reserved seat on my ticket did not apply. I was lucky as it happened, as the train terminated at Ipswich, my stop, and people going onward had to take replacement buses. Of course, work on that part of the line is unrelated to the Liverpool Street-Stratford part, so this may not apply in future journeys.
I know that this work has to take place, but I think advance information when tickets were purchased could have been better. It was not so bad for me but people who do not often use the trains and foreign visitors would have been totally confused, and the poor lady on the information desk at Liverpool Street was, of course, totally inundated. At least on Sundays, with the replacement buses for part of the journey, passengers are shepherded from train to bus and back on the train again, but on Saturday, with the Liverpool St-Stratford section of the line closed, people were largely left to work it out themselves.Edited: 31 January 2011, 14:29