IT seemed a simple enough task for Jenny: catch the 6.04pm service from Slaithwaite arriving into Huddersfield eight minutes later, giving her 28 minutes to meet me at the station before boarding the train to Wakefield.
From there it would be onward to a weekend in London.
But with Northern Rail things are rarely straightforward.
By ten past six the train had not shown up in Slaithwaite. Perhaps it had been delayed.
In these situations a working station tannoy is rather handy, as it allows passengers to make informed decisions. But no announcement came from the ancient, crackly speaker.
Not knowing if the train was cancelled or merely delayed, Jenny decided it was best to go home, get in her car and drive into town.
She made it to Huddersfield Station at exactly 6.39pm, allowing us the pleasure of a dash to Platform 6, where we were literally the last people to get on the Wakefield train.
Had Jenny waited another minute at Slawit before giving up on the train, we would have missed our connection. Which would have made the tickets to London I bought two weeks earlier invalid. Which would have meant paying on the train down from Wakefield – an extremely painful financial experience.
As it was we just made it, meaning I haven’t spent the last three days making a voodoo doll of the Northern Rail chairman.
But it was a close run thing, and not an especially stress-free way to start the weekend.
Of course, trains are delayed and sometimes even cancelled – at least in this country. So we shouldn’t crucify Northern Rail for one wee mistake. But last Friday’s no-show was far from an isolated incident.
During Marsden Jazz Festival a few weekends ago, a Northern Rail train arrived at the wrong platform at the village station and then pulled away before the 30 would-be passengers could make it to the train.
The root of the problem – as at Slawit last Friday – was the lack of a working tannoy which could have warned the passengers in good time that they needed to move to a different platform.
Both of the Colne Valley stations are dirty, unwelcoming, dated places. They sit there in the middle of two wonderful villages, bringing down the tone of the neighbourhood.
With their graffiti and peeling paint, they reek of neglect. They are disregarded by Northern Rail to such an extent that, as I noted in a column last year, excrement can lie in the station shelter at Slaithwaite for days on end before someone comes to clean it up.
When a train finally does arrive, it doesn’t so much glide as limp into the station.
Geographically speaking, the train comes from Manchester. But in design terms, it comes straight from the 1970s.
Once on board there’s usually no problem finding a seat, such is the popularity of the service. But finding a seat without rubbish strewn around it is much more difficult.
Then there’s the price of tickets. If you’re happy enough staying within the parish boundaries then the fares aren’t so bad – it’s £1.80 return from Slawit into town.
But God forbid you should ever want to cross the border into Lancashire. I couldn’t believe the cost of a return ticket when I travelled from Slaithwaite to Greenfield last year – nearly £6 for a two-stop journey.
I felt like telling the guard that he must have misunderstood the nature of the proposed transaction: I merely wanted to travel on the train for a short period of time – not buy the thing.
But the worst thing about the Colne Valley line is not that Northern Rail offers a shoddy service week in, week out.
It’s that we, the paying public, just put up with it. We don’t bother complaining, we don’t demand that the stations are improved or the rolling stock brought into the 1980s.
We just sit there among the damp newspapers and make do.
It’s our fault the service is as bad as it is, because we let Northern Rail treat us like this.