Yesterday, Chiltern Railway’s usually ghostly quiet West London Parliamentary train had an unexpectedly eventful day thanks to being packed full of visitors and a trespasser on the tracks.

The train was the 11:17am from West Ealing running non-stopping to West Ruislip and was the last time for some while that this particular odd train would run.

As such, it was very busy.

Chiltern Railways train at West Ealing

The service, between the two stations that won’t appear on Chiltern Railway’s travel map, is both a training exercise for Chiltern drivers and a legacy of a curious quirk of railway legislation that makes it quite difficult to close some bits of railway track.

Although GWR runs a regular service from West Ealing, it’s only as far as Greenford, whereas Chiltern Railway goes around Greenford on a little-used railway junction to get up to West Ruislip. And it’s that junction that needs to be kept open.

So, once a week, a Chiltern train departs West Ealing and runs direct to West Ruislip to maintain the legal fiction that a paying passenger service still exists.

But not from next week, as things are changing, so yesterday, a train service that usually carries just a handful of bored people was packed to standing room only full of people carrying cameras and smiling. A lot of smiling.

An unusually busy West Ealing station for 11am.

And the railway staff, who can let’s be honest, at times be a bit irritated by the enthusiasts, and at times, with good reason to be so — also got into the fun a bit.

The train display message on the front and back said Merry Christmas, as did the in-car message, and the driver welcomed people onto the last 11:17am service to West Ruislip.

With a small cheer, the train departed, heading up the railway that’s usually shared with GWR until just after South Greenford, when the train rumbled over onto a little used junction to get around Greenford station. From here on, the railway is an old single-track line with the classic thud-thud sound of the old railway tracks as the train pushed through a narrow gap between the overgrowth.

And then, drama!

Just outside South Ruislip, the train stopped. And waited. For a long time. It turned out that a trespasser was on the railway up at Denham and was having to be removed by the police. Which meant a traffic jam of stuck trains, and yes, even the Parliamentary Train was held up.

At least, as the driver said, it was a nice day to look out of the windows at the view, although somewhat nicer if you were on the left side of the train. A lot of debate about what would happen if the tracks were blocked for too long, and even if the train might have to reverse back to West Ealing.

Eventually, the miscreant apprehended, and the trains got back underway, this time with a much louder cheer than earlier and the Parliamentary Train finally pulled into West Ruislip a full 36 minutes late.

Considering the journey should have taken a mere 17 minutes, and actually took 53 minutes, per mile, that was probably one of the slowest train trips in the UK.

It also means that this could be an even rarer form of Parliamentary Train – one where a delay refund is payable to passengers.

These sorts of things are an oddity and a bit weird, but in an ever more regularised world where eccentricity is expunged in favour of reliable consistency, it’s nice to have an occasional chance to do these damn weird things.

At West Ruislip

Due to works on the line, the rail service is now suspended, and while the trains won’t run, as the service can’t be closed, a replacement bus service will replace the Parliamentary Train.

It’s possible that the train will return in the future when the works are completed on the railway track, but at the moment, Chiltern Railway can’t confirm what their long-term plans are.


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  1. Luca Bertolone says:

    That’s me!!!!!!

  2. Mike Oxlong / longterm gricer says:

    Other existing services

  3. Chris Page says:

    Does that mean that from 14th December it will be possible to get a Parliamentary Bus every Wednesday morning?

  4. PhilD says:

    Yes; see

    Well, it’s not shown for 14th but exists subsequently.

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