“It’s Better by Train”…

A first for me.  A blog from a train.  Thank God for broadband modems at reasonable monthly prices which I don’t have to pay.

I have always been convinced there was something wrong with Britain.  Possibly because my memory begins right after the dignified and unnecessary resignation of Margaret Thatcher.  But this train journey I am making highlights it somewhat.

Yesterday I decided I had to go to London today.  I had known for a while I would be making a trip to see friends and that it would be on fairly short notice.  So I instantly checked National Express, Megabus and then, cue dramatic music, nationrail.co.uk.  National Express wanted to rob me blind for a journey of horrific length.  I can fly to Toronto and get through customs by the time their bus reaches London.  Megabus had stupid times and their website kept crashing.  So I checked the train.  I wanted to leave Carlisle before lunch so I checked the fares before then, a large box appeared up top saying “Cheapest fare: Fifty pounds fifteen pence.”  But I couldn’t see it on the table below.  Very perturbing.  All the prices there were sixty pounds and up.  So I clicked on this cheap fare and it turns out that it’s first class.

So if you want to travel to London before bloody lunchtime it’s cheaper to travel First Class than Standard.  Beardy Branson, who is running your company?!

And so, I write this in the First Class carriage (one of many) on the 1050 train to London – only two stops so it will only take three and a quarter hours.  It takes me nearly that long to get from Carlisle to Leeds!  And First Class is marvellous, there’s no doubt about it.  The decor leaves alot to be desired (I went in first class fifteen years ago on the old intercity trains – I thought them stuffy then but I appreciate their stuffed seats now!), but the service is excellent.  Two hours into the journey I have had an English breakfast (exquisite!), a chicken sandwich, two coffees, pretzels and – most importantly – a gin & tonic (my first in months).  And all for free.  And there’s probably some poor doofus in the rear of the train suffering with his horribly expensive W.H. Smith sandwich and Virgin cola drink.  Very sad.

However, I still can’t appreciate the polar difference between the two classes, and the fact that my ticket is cheaper.  Ah well, the gin will make the indignation go away.  Stewardess!


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