It was the great fear of many of the 200,000 punters who will descend on the Berkshire town of Ascot for the regal race meeting this week.
Strike action from many of South West Railway’s (SWR) workers have led to a scaled-back train schedule being run, with early concerns suggesting that thousands would have to find alternative travel arrangements.
But happily, day one of the Royal Ascot festival has so far gone without a hitch.
Many racegoers have reported smooth journeys from Waterloo Station to Ascot – the main route which also connects with Reading – and that the only delay they have suffered so far is for a stray swan on the line!
Most punters travelling to Ascot by train found that their commute to the track had been painless. Indeed, many travellers reported that the normal routes were quieter than usual, perhaps with commuters deciding to travel another way to avoid the strike action and the increased volume of crowds at the various stations.
Major Ascot Transport Routes On Track
Waterloo Station appeared to be no busier than usual, while punters at Clapham Junction – which remains as Britain’s busiest railway station – noted lower footfall but a satisfactory number of trains to transport them to Ascot and back.
SWR have released their own statement today.
“Overall we’re glad the revised timetables are working and our intention is to keep that up for the next four days.
“We had a swan that was causing some issues at Staines, but we have overcome that particular issue and there was a bit of a problem with people having to queue at Surbiton for a long time as it’s a key station for us. We will work to try and avoid crowding on the platforms.
“Generally things are going well, but we would much rather be running the normal service for all of our passengers.”
Footfall tends to be quieter during the middle few days of the meeting, so no further travel problems are expected, before picking up again on Friday and into Saturday.
And so the only major inconvenience could be avoiding the nuisance ticket touts, of which there were half-a-dozen or more reported to be operating within close proximity to the front gates of Ascot. Indeed, some were buying and selling their wares a matter of yards from serving police officers, but Ascot does not have an injunction against ticket touts.
And then there’s the headache caused by your bets. Accidental Agent, the defending Queen Anne Stakes champion, was well backed in the market but refused to start this year’s renewal – failing to even leave the stalls! Lord Glitters, who was second a year ago, just held off the challenge of 20/1 shot Beat the Bank.