Monday, October 01, 2007

Moo To Virgin Trains

I had a great night in Manchester last night performing at the Laughing Cows Comedy night. So hello to everyone from there.

Trying to arrange travel and accommodation was a little less fun. I may well post later on the horrors of National Express and, I'll wait until they reply (if they do) to my complaints. In the meantime I discovered yet another reason why privatising the rail service was an unforgivable error.

The two most popular flight destinations from London are Manchester and Paris. It should be easy to cut CO2 emissions by converting those flights into train journeys. With airports being out of town and the time required to check in, it is easier to do either of those journeys city centre to city centre by rail in 2hrs (Manchester) and 3hrs (Paris).

Except on a Sunday when the Virgin-run trains to Manchester don't take two hours - they take 4 hours. That's because they send all the trains via Birmingham, not direct, to pick up extra passengers and make them more profitable. Really. So people who want to save the planet have to waste an extra two hours of their lives. And of course the tickets aren't any cheaper for the extra two hours of inconvenience. Isn't it obvious we should tax airline fuel and make it a condition of the rail contract that full-speed trains run every day?


Jennifer Ewing said...

Argh. I remember all too well making a journey from Portsmouth to Aberystwyth on a Sunday once, via Bristol, with a three-hour wait in Birmingham New Street.

Boy do I hate Birmingham New Street. No damn seats. Just three hours sitting on the floor in the middle of your luggage, eating veggie burgers and jelly babies, while they play musical platforms and change all the platforms at the last minute.

Kirsten said...

Gaaaah, trains. Had an evil journey on Sunday because all my trains home from London Bridge were cancelled.

My worst journey was when I decided to travel the morning after Boxing Day - of course the engineering works over ran and there were lots of people travelling with large bags and small children and dogs. I ended up spending two hours in Woking. I hate Woking.

Stan said...

I'm a regular Manchester-London commuter these days, and in contrast I love the train and its 2 and a bit hours to Euston.

There are two issues however

(1) No train to get me in for a 9:00 meeting - I can't believe I'm not the only one.

(2) Over £200 return if I have to book last minute.

So, I more often than not end up jumping into the car, thrashing down to Luton and leaving the car in the park 'n' ride.

Rail will never become a proper part of the transport system until they put on services that people need at prices that would make the M6/M1 option seem insane.

My worst station to get stranded ? Crewe. Where God would put the needle if England ever needed an enema.

Cruella said...

Yeah two and a bit hours to Euston, unless you're foolish enough to want to travel on a Sunday - then it's nearly four hours!

And I agree, without a good value-for-money service it will never take over from air travel. But why should private companies offer a decent value-for-money service? In fact that would be a dereliction of their duty to shareholders which is to offer the minimum service at the maximum price.