Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Travelling First Class

I had never travelled First Class in my life before last Saturday, when I went up to Crewe for the day.  Now that I have a Senior Railcard, the Weekend First option was not impossibly expensive, and I thought I would treat myself.

The outward journey was via London Midland, a train company I had not used before and, frankly, I don't think I mind if I never use them again!  I would have regretted paying for a First Class ticket had the train not been so full as to be standing-room only between London and Stoke-on-Trent.  The seats were no bigger or more comfortable than in standard class, and the compartment was not at one end of the train so there were a constant stream of people walking through trying to find either a seat or a lavatory that was working (in vain!).  And it was COLD!  The heating seemed to have been turned off in favour of the air-conditioning!  At least in First Class I had a seat and nobody sat next to me so I could spread out a bit.  Plus I could plug in my phone while listening to Saturday morning radio (via Internet, which ate my data rather, but I couldn't get a signal on the FM bands).   Nobody checked my ticket at all - good thing I'm honest - although the guard did say there was an inspector on the train and First Class Tickets Would Be Checked.  They weren't.  On the whole I was not very impressed.

I was, however, very impressed with the facilities at Crewe station, which were both clean and free to use, not a common combination.

My time in Crewe was lovely, apart from being severely hailed on just before I arrived - I had gone to attend a friend's husband's induction to the Pastorate of a Baptist church, and there were other friends there, too, which was great.  After a lovely tea, some kind people let me share their taxi to the station - it had stopped raining and I would happily have walked, but it was nice not to have to.

Then the First Class really kicked in.  I was able to go to the First Class lounge which was very comfortable and had free Wifi and was warm and clean.  I made myself a cup of Earl Grey to drink while I waited.  I was going home with Virgin Trains, and as the train was non-stop the waitress suggested I sat where I pleased, so I had a lovely four-seat bay all to myself.  I didn't want any tea or coffee, but did have an orange juice, although I passed on the snack box, having had a huge tea.  Really, I should have had one and eaten it another time....

Virgin trains were blissfully comfortable and had free WiFi, and plugs, so I turned on my phone's maps and had great fun watching the train careering through the countryside.  Well, while I was awake, that is.  I did sleep between Stafford and Milton Keynes!  The only blight on the journey was that the train was rather late, the earlier storms had caused some damage to the overhead lines.  But when you are sitting snug and warm and it is dark outside, this doesn't really matter!

Virgin Trains did cost about twice as much as London Midland, and you can quite see why.  I am not sure whether I would travel First Class again - certainly not on Southern or South-Eastern, it really isn't worth it.  If I could get a decent bargain on Virgin, though... well, their First Class is worth it!

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