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    15 Reviews
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      27.03.2005 21:19
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      • "gets me back to uni"

      where i live at uni, central run the line into new st. since this is not an electric line, i didnt expecy good quality trains. however i was suprised since central trains on this line, are in good condition and they are always clean (arrriva take note), you do get the odd dirty train. but when im at home, i have to get a train from snow hilll to s'bridge. every train on this line will be dirty, smelly and just disgusting. the seats need a good cleaning, all they seem to operate is them stupid centro branded trains.

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      22.03.2004 02:08
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      Central trains has provided me with a essential link to and from college and to see family and friends as i result i travel most days of the week. Central trains operate through major stations in the midlands, further North and also East Anglia. So most people will be able to be able to get a direct link to most destinations around the UK. Quality of transport Central trains quality differs according to what service, but one thing that is the same in all is the amount of leg room. I am 6ft tall and sometimes feel so uncomfortable sat in those seats. And a word of warning, keep your hands away from the seats, i've seen many people look in disgust as they find a old banana skin down the side of their chair or a nice wet bit of chewing gum. but it is presentable but could do with a better cleaning once in a while. Disabled facilities are well catered for, but often both toliets are out of order or in a disgusting state. One more little grumble is the amount of carriages, two on a major route through Manchester will not meet demand and would be simply solved by another carriage. On time??.... Central trains are quite known around these parts for the delays or cancellations at the last moment. Some services are consistently late. Many trains are delayed by at least 30 mins, so if travelling you should keep this in mind just incase you need other connections. This is probably due to the trains travelling for such a long distance across the country Customer service... Very much depends on the staff at the time, some can be very helpful, while some can be not interested in any problems you are facing. Though not a part of the central train company their trolley service is not on many of the services and partically in the summer it suffers from melted chocolate and warm coke which is not what many are expecting, especially at the higher price. One part of central trains is their customer complaints which awards compensation for a journey that has been delayed by half a hour. You only get 25% of the ticket price back but at least it can be used for future purchases and the response to any complaint is made quickly. Central trains also provide a excellent online facility to buy train tickets, especially there central value tickets which gives big discounts to all. Such a example is with a young person railcard and a central value 7 day return ticket i can get from norwich to Manchester for £21, not bad! In summary central trains service is hard to fault as it is doing a hard job reasonably well, though the quality of the trains could be improved in the future and run a more reliable service. But are definetly recommended

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      20.02.2003 22:03
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      • "packed ( even at off peak)"

      Yuk! Well what an excellent service provided to lincoln from peterborough, i start my train journey from Chelmsford, First Great eastern service ( 10 seconds late :D and plenty of seats ) then i go to ipswich. Get there on time, Leave for peterborough, Anglia railways service, on time enough seating although rather packed, arrive at peterborough on time. Im thinking "Great" - no probs! then i find out that the central trains sevice which goes from peterborough to lincoln is cancelled, i can take that, But then this service only runs every hour! so im waiting another hour, along with a number of other people , then, eventually, comes this pitiful 1 carriage central trains service, 5 mins late also, " this surely cant be for us " the croud of people are thinking, i got on and got a very squashed seat. Well at least i will get there! and i did , a bit late and very frustrating people squashing me, but this so called 'train' only went 50 mph at least, Yuk! Ok i understand that central trains has to deal with a lot more than many other companies but they should at least improve train capacity and speed! The whole journey cost about £20 which isnt bad but the different train companies fares dont differ too much, only the service quality does.

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        06.08.2002 05:21
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        • "No space to put changing items"

        This is a very simple piece of advice. Avoid ,at all costs, the baby changing facilities on central trains. In particular the Liverpool-Norwich service. I learnt this ,at my own cost, the other week when I was on my way home to Liverpool from Stockport with my 9 month old daughter Bethanny and it became obvious she was in need of a nappy change. At first I was impressed by the very fact the train HAD baby changeing facilities, as I was pretty certain the other passengers would not be impressed if I had carried out the neccesary task on the table in front of them! So off I trot, innocently I enter the toilet cubicle and pull down the baby changing mat. No correction it turned out to be more of a changing slab. Flat as a fluke, hard as marble and with absolutly no restrains. Any parent knows the absolute nightmare of holding a wiggling toddler still with one hand whilst dealing with soiled nappies, wipes, cream and a new nappy with the other. Add to this the fact I was on a moving train rocking quite alarmingly from side to side and I am sure you understand by now my stress levels were definitely on the up. This is all bad enough but add to it the fact there is nowhere to put your bag of bits (essential to any parent, usually filled with nappies wipes,clothes,food, toys and many other odds and ends) and it really becomes a bind. So I put it in the only place I can see, next to the sink beside me. As I go to reach in and grab an item I catch it with my elbow and it falls into the sink. Not much of a problem you'd think. Well it is when the water sprays out automatically when something is put in the sink. My bag was full of water before I could pull it out again. Luckily I had already fished out the clean nappy or I would have been up the proverbial creek. Ok so I have done it,I have got a clean nappy on my howling child,whilst managing to hold her on a shaking, flat block of shiny, seemingly well polished slab of plastic now all i have to do is get out. Where is the exit button? Right down by my knees. Ok I accept this is obviously a modification for wheelchair users and a good thing; but for a stressed out parent holding a wiggling screaming child plus sodden bag of "stuff" it is lesss than ideal. Maybe, I suggest adding another button higher up. Credit where credit is due I emailed Central trains and the next day I received a reply apologising for any inconvienience, which did make me feel a bit better. I write this artical not so much as a complaint about Central trians but more as a forewarning to all you train using parents out there. As they say in the scouts "be prepared"

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          08.07.2002 08:20
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          • "Birmingham New Street..."

          We all love to whinge about Britain's railway system, and I'm certainly no exception to that. Anyone who has travelled on our trains as widely and frequently as I have will be well acquainted with the daily litany of excuses employed by the nation's disastrously fragmented rail network - late arrival of the incoming train (that's not a reason - why was said train late in the first place?), waiting for a staff member to arrive (try employing sufficient cover), signal failure (why are they so unreliable?), vandalism (throwing a half-brick at a driver's window should be prosecuted as attempted murder as far as I'm concerned)... you get the idea. Actually, though, things are a little more complicated than that, and the example of Central Trains, my local Train Operating Company (TOC), illustrates this point very well. Central's franchise covers a very wide area indeed, stretching from Cardiff and Liverpool in the west to Cleethorpes and Stansted Airport in the east - indeed, until recently it was even larger, having responsibility for the Aberystwyth services now operated under the new Wales & Borders franchise. Central's operations can be split into two general areas - the long-distance cross-country lines (eg Liverpool to Norwich and Birmingham) and the dense network of urban commuter routes that radiate like spokes from a central Birmingham hub - though some lines do fall into both categories, gradually changing character along their way. The cross-country lines are a mixed bunch. The one I've used most is the Liverpool - Birmingham line, which is generally representative, and the service here has changed quite a bit over the years. Back in the early 1990s, we were still in the era of 30-year-old slam-door electric units which, though undeniably shabby, benefited from properly sprung seats (sorry, but plasticky "airline" seats are not anything like as comfortable), windows that could be opened by the pas senger (I don't *want* artificial air; I want the real thing) and the dying embers of the flame of public service, as evidenced by the care taken over the wooden trim. In the first years after privatisation, Central tended to rely on its then-new Class 323 electric units, which look very smart from outside, and are fine for a 15-minute hop, but are horribly spartan for the two-hour journey between the two cities. Now, we've seemingly gone back in time by reverting to diesels - the new Class 170s, which suffered terribly from unreliable engines in their early days. They're now far better, and actually quite relaxing, although the obsession with the twin evils of air conditioning and plastic fittings still pertains. The type of line that interests me most - as it's the type I use regularly to get to work - is the medium-distance, "semi-commuter" line, such as my local route which runs Hereford - Worcester - Kidderminster - Stourbridge - Birmingham. It's a long way between the two termini - the journey takes as long as the Liverpool trip mentioned above - and yet the workhorse of the line, the Class 150 diesel unit, is by no means a luxurious cross-country express. Actually, it's a constant wonder that they work at all - they're old, cramped, very noisy, rather smelly and often littered with - well, with litter. Only one toilet on a two- or three-carriage train, and that often without running water, doesn't help the ambience much either. At off-peak times - when, perversely, the trains often run with four carriages - they're bearable, and at least you can open the windows, but the 19:01 from New Street on a Friday evening would be condemned by David Blunkett as unnecessarily harsh punishment for serial offenders. (Maybe I shouldn't moan - once that train was *one* carriage long, and the crush inside was truly frightening....) My local station is Kidderminster, operated by Central Trains themselves, and from the point of view of rail travel that has both good and bad points. On the positive side, it's a large enough town, with enough commuters into Birmingham, that the frequency of the service is pretty high; and the station staff are some of the best and most helpful I've encountered anywhere. Unfortunately, the ticket office closes ridiculously early (7pm on weekdays - it was once 11pm), which means that the place can be quite intimidating when groups of young people gather there on a warm summer evening. It's also outside the all-important Centro supported area, which means that I can't take advantage of the season passes, day tickets and the like that the Passenger Transport Executive provide. Kidderminster is really the pivotal point on the Birmingham - Hereford line: to the east, even small stations are well served by frequent local trains throughout the day, but in the more rural areas to the west even sizeable cities suffer badly in their provision of services: for example, the last train back to Hereford from Birmingham in the week leaves New Street just after 7pm. The situation is even worse for the small Hartlebury station - had it the fortune to be situated on the Birmingham side of Kidderminster, it would probably have quite a good service: as it is, trains make precisely *one* stop outside the main rush hours, and that only in one direction. Is providing a train every two hours or so really that onerous a task? The extremely busy city services that provide the bulk of Central's provision are actually not too bad. From Birmingham, you can expect very frequent and reasonably fast services to Wolverhampton, Coventry, Walsall, Sutton Coldfield and the like, mostly operated by the Class 323 electrics mentioned above, which are far more in their element here than on the long hauls. Unfortunately, some genius decided to save money by scrimping on vandal-proof glass for the windows, and the result is a crazed mass of scr awls, patterns and that modern abomination, the "tag". It doesn't really hinder vision, but it looks awful and makes the whole enterprise feel squalid. Why not borrow an idea from the US - peel-off transparent window covers? Innovation is not all that apparent in this part of the network, though there have been two important developments in the last few years. Firstly, there is now - at last! - a hourly service linking Wolverhampton and Walsall. It's not very well advertised, and feels a bit of a shoestring operation, but at least it's there. The other improvement has been the extension of the Birmingham - Hednesford branch through to Rugeley Trent Valley, opening up a second through route to Stafford (and thence the major cities of the North West). Birmingham New Street station, though actually run by Railtrack (delete if applicable!), is vital to Central's services, so it's worth a quick mention here. Anyone who has been to London's Euston will recognise the setup immediately - a vast expanse of hard floor with no seating, timetable screens (I do miss the old "clackety-clack" departure board) moved to stupid places so as not to get in the way of advertising billboards, a very large booking counter with - at most - three windows open (two in rush hours), and, almost worst of all, that disembodied auto-announcer that reminds one so much of a cheap science-fiction film about a totalitarian state. Until very recently, all the announcements were made by humans, but the "modernisers" thought a computer-controlled Tannoy would be better and clearer, and most of all more accurate. It isn't. Mind you, timetables - electronic or paper - are always to be taken with a couple of oceans' worth of salt, and Central do not have the greatest record on punctuality. They may not be able to touch the sublime heights of Virgin's regular nine-hour delays (another one just the other day, I see), and their appearances in the Evening Mail are generally confined to missives from Disgusted of Acocks Green, but it's probably not a good idea to plan any three-minute connections. Back in the days of Franco's Spain, passengers would stand and applaud if a train arrived on time - so much for fascist dictators, eh? - and I do wonder how long it will be before the same happens in Birmingham. One huge advantage of areas under the supervision of Passenger Transport Executives is the staffing of virtually all stations, even those (such as Stourbridge Town, at the end of Britain's shortest branch line, just three-quarters of a mile) that are little more than a brick hut at the end of a single platform. This not only helps with discouraging ticket dodging (more on this in a minute), but allows sensible communication with a human being about travel plans, the chance to get truthful (as opposed to official) information on late running trains, and - most of all - a certain sense of personal security. The powers that be seem to be transfixed by the charms of CCTV, and everywhere you go there are soothing posters extolling its virtues, but it's a fat lot of good the police knowing who's kicked my head in if I bleed to death on the platform because there's no-one actually on the scene. Now then: ticket-dodging. I know a lot of people consider this to be an "acceptable" offence, rather like parking on a double yellow line because they can't bear to wait ten minutes for their fags and booze. But I'm certainly not one of them, and neither I suspect is anyone who's actually done a bit of research into the figures: even a brief clampdown at New Street only in October last year raised almost £200,000. Considering how desperately short of money the railways are (as opposed to the fat-cat bosses - just today I see that the boss of Jarvis is pocketing £600,000 a year), it's really little better than stealing from your l ocal corner shop. The number of "revenue protection staff" in the West Midlands has recently been significantly increased, and permanent barriers have gone up at New Street for the first time in years, and not before time in my opinion. Don't come crying to me if you get caught without a ticket: you deserve everything you get. Enough moralising. As we're on the subject of tickets, though, it might be a good idea to look at how to get the best value for money on Central Trains. One immediate piece of good news is that, as Central do not operate what used to be known as "InterCity" trains, with sizeable First Class sections (Central are entirely a one-class operation these days) and a largely business clientele, their walk-on prices are vastly more reasonable than the likes of Virgin (not hard, admittedly). That's because, while "Business brains have expense accounts", a great percentage of Central's passengers are travelling for leisure, often for short distances. So fares, while too high (as they are everywhere), are at least affordable, and cheaper tickets are not weighed down by restrictions. (As a guide, a Kidderminster to Birmingham cheap day return is £4.10 - less than the bus!) If you're travelling within the Centro area, there are some useful day rover tickets too, of which probably the most useful is the Daytripper, which will set you back £4.00 and allows travel on all trains, trams and buses after 9:30am. (See my "Transport in Birmingham" op for more detail on rover tickets, including those not aimed at train travellers.) Overall, Central Trains can be considered an average company, providing average levels of service in an averagely efficient way. There isn't really anything about the system that provokes either gasps of admiration or howls of despair. It's not a company most people have particular feelings for in any direction, except for the short-lived thoughts of mur derous rage when it is announced that the 17:43 to Great Malvern will now depart from a platform four flights of steps away in two minutes' time. In short, it's a part of the local landscape, something no more a part of conscious thought than how to breathe. I suppose that's really something of an achievement. ----- All right then: to reward those of you who actually read long ops like this properly, here's a little tip that can save you a lot of money on Central's trains (and on many others) - if you're off on a long journey, then it pays to do a little bit of homework. Yes, the rules for ticket staff say that they have to sell you the cheapest ticket appropriate for your journey, and in general so they do... but that's not the whole story. Their computers give you the best *individual* ticket - on many occasions you can save by splitting up your journey. Imagine you want to travel (off-peak) from Kidderminster to Swansea for the day, a long but by no means impossible jaunt. If you roll up at Kiddy station and ask for a day return, you'll get a Supersaver for £32.70, and the timetable will show you that you need to change at Cardiff Central both ways. BUT... you can do better than this. As you're going to have to change at Cardiff anyway, why not take advantage of the system to save a significant amount of cash? What you do is this: at Kidderminster, ask for a Cheap Day Return from there to Cardiff, *and* for one from Cardiff to Swansea. The cost of both tickets works out at £27.30, a saving of over 16%! It's all entirely above board, and you'll have a fiver (plus change) to spend on something for yourself (or about half a cup of onboard coffee...), but you won't get it unless you ask for it directly and get the details exactly right. I find qjump.co.uk the best place to do my research for this, as it's much faster than Virgin's rather poor thetrainline.com. Better stop now, as I 9;ve written one and a half ops already! :-)

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            24.05.2002 06:56
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            Central Trains is one of the biggies - serving the whole of the Midlands, from Stansted to Liverpool and Norwich to Shrewsbury. Residing in the Midlands and being a frequent user of both Centro regional services (operated by Central Trains) and long distance services, I find it difficult to fault them. In the vast majority of cases, their trains are extremely reliable (99.4% reliability rate from the SRA) and on time. Urban services are frequent and are a pleasure to use with Central's relatively new Electric trains running across the Centro area as well as the ongoing station refurbishment program. At times the trains can get a bit overcrowded but then, which trains don't. Long haul services are certainly no worse, the new fleet of Turbostar trains makes the journey a dream. The trains are very comfortable, quiet and convenient, with a trolley service on most routes and scrolling displays in the carriages informing you of the approaching stations. However, this excellent service is backed up with high prices. The new 'Central Value' ticket gives £22 between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport, whereas a typical Virgin Value (from Virgin Trains) ticket to London costs just £7. However, a days unlimited travel on Centro services can cost just £5 so it isn't all bad. With a decrease in ticket prices I would rate Central Trains 100% on service, comfort, punctality and reliability.

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              30.04.2002 05:24
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              I reguarly commute to work using either Central Trains or Arriva Trains as the run the express services between Manchester-Liverpool. As anyone who has read my Virgin trains review may have noted I work in the Rail industry although I still have to pay for my travel (a long complicated story) The Trains that Central Trains run along the Liverpool-Manchester (and eventually nottingham/norwich) tend to be quite new trains that interiorly resemble the Virgin Voyager Trains. The seating is comfortable with plenty of room to put baggage and 90% of the time they have a trolley service selling drinks and other refreshments. These trains are relativly punctual although I personally think that having to rely on a train starting 6 hours away from manchester in Norwich to do a 50 minute commuter journey to Liverpool is a little absurd. The train staff for Central Trains are fairly knowledgable and any questions I ask them tend to be answered competently. I have yet to make a long distance journey with Central Trains purely as I have not had a reason to visit any of the stations they serve, but I don't think i would be overly worried if I ever did. Overall punctuallity is above average and pricing is reasonable, and the majority of they're trains are new rolling stock. A decent choice for commuting between Macnester and Liverpool. Also note these trains only have one class so don't waste your money on a 1st class ticket.

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                22.06.2001 18:30

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                I used to get the train from Leicester to Loughborough everyday during term time and I have to say Central trains is one of the more reliable trains. But having said that, it does not mean that it is void of delays by any means. I think in general my train was probably most reliable mid morning-afternoon. They were hectic in the morning, often delayed by 10/20 mins or so (especially when I had to make a 9 o'clock lecture) and subject to minor delays in the evening (when I was tired and wanted to go home). I would have to say I think about 6/10 trains were on time, in general. But for some reason I still find myself praising Central trains. I think it might have something to do with loyalty and gratitude for getting me there in the end. And in general the whole 'train experience' has not been altogether too impressive. So if you are going anywhere via train always remember the saying 'Better late than never' because you are more likely to be late than on time. Oh yeah, one good thing is that my experience has made me most determined to get my licence and buy a car this summer!!

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                08.06.2001 01:38
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                • crowded

                I am a daily user of central trains on the Shrewsbury to Telford route. I find the service generally poor, and in truth I haven't seen any improvement over the last two years since I have been using it. The trains are, in theory relatively regular, there is a train around every 15 minutes between 5pm and 6.30pm. There are also frequent trains in the morning. However the big problem is not the frequency, but the reliability. I find that I am often waiting half an hour, most often at night but also in the morning for my train to arrive. Last week the trains were so irregular that I spent longer waiting for late trains than I actually spend on the train. There has been some new carriges added lately which makes the journey more pleasant,however they are few and far between so that the chance of getting one of the new trains is maybe 10% Now, the trains aren't actually dirty in that they aren't cleaned, but some of them are so antiquated that, the stained seats and chewing gum on the seat backs are pretty offputting. Season tickets are available, but the saving is minimal. My journey costs £4.30 per day as opposed to £19.60 per week, a saving ofabout £2. You can't use your young persons railcard or equivalent on a season ticket, so you only really gain if you are likely to do more than the daily work journeys. they have updated the station at Telford recently,now we have one of these Terminals to tell you about the trains.Alas somebody needs to type something for it to give relevant information so often your train doesn't arrive and the information is wiped from the board. The one good thing is that if you write and complain you will get some money back, free postage postcards are available from the office window- if you are persistent you will get quite a bit back. Alas i'd rather just have a train service that I could rely on.

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                14.12.2000 01:06

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                I travelled Central Trains during the heart of the rail crisis and was absolutly amazed by their service. My journey was from Sheffield across the Pennines to Liverpool and I can't really say that I noticed anything wrong. The staff were helpful, quick and efficent. They ran within 2-3 minutes of time and the tickets were cheap (I pre-booked them though). The trains were brand new, clean and tidy One small grip was that I was unable to change my ticket so that I would be able to go home on an earlier train but hey, that was on the conditions of the ticket so I can't complain that much.

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                11.12.2000 22:04
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                I'm studying in Norwich, but "home" is Nottingham, so I make use of the Norwich-Liverpool route quite a bit. In my experience, Central trains are generally okay, but I think this review's main piece of info is a handly little trick which I'll tell you about at the end. * Punctuality I've only ever had problems during the recent speed restrictions. Otherwise, the occasional 10 minutes late is all I've experienced, so thumbs up for that. I've heard of others being stranded for a couple of hours out in the fens, but only once! * Train quality The new trains are very nice. All sleek and shiny, brightly painted... the seats are comfy and there's plenty of luggage room too. The toilets on some of them are *huge*, I guess to accommodate a wheelchair, while others are the usual smaller spaces. There's even a handy little display to tell you the upcoming stations. My only real complaint is the air conditioning is dodgy, and sometimes you freeze. But that's not much in the grand scheme of things, and I would rate these new trains among the best I've travelled on. The older trains... well, they've really just had a lick of paint since the last owners. Some of the seat cushions have not stood up well to the rigours of thousands of bottoms, being loose or having little actual padding, which is not nice for 3 hours. The toilets on these older trains are usually horrible, covered in cigarette burns and with water (or worse) sloshing everywhere. They get you there, but it's not always in style. I would say the newer trains are more common, thankfully, so I would guess these are being phased out. * Train cleanliness This is often not Central's strong point. To be fair, the services I get are long-distance, and 5 hours' worth of passengers can make a fair mess. But why hasn't someone invented a plastic that can resist coffee stains? And why can't the cleaning sta ff scrape off chewing gum? (Or why can't people refrain from sticking it on the tables?) The little airline-style seatback tables are almost always pretty grim. As for the toilets... well, see above and then imagine that they're not cleaned at the end of a trip. Basically, if you get a morning train, you'll fare better. In wet weather, the windows are sometimes so grimy (on the outside) that you can hardly see what station you're pulling into. I accept that these are probably a function of the train's schedule (long trips, short stops), but other companies, such as Anglia, seem to cope. * Catering Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't. There are no buffets, it's always a little trolley, and you know what to expect. Overpriced snacks and drinks, and unrefrigerated overpriced sandwiches. Not that this is limited to Central Trains of course. The coffee's not bad though, and the staff are usually friendly. * Ermintrude's top tip Not earth shattering, but it's nice to be able to get one over on the train companies. This is something I like to think of as the Peterborough Shuffle. If travelling via Peterborough, as I do to go home, then get 2 tickets (e.g. I get Norwich-Peterborough and Peterborough-Nottingham). This usually offers considerable savings - I just saved £7.30 on my Christmas ticket home. I wouldn't be surprised if this worked for other main stations, e.g. Birmingham, although I haven't tried it. Perhaps if you do try it, you could leave a comment. This is totally legal, so don't let them tell you otherwise - the rules just state that you have to have a valid ticket for all portions of your journey, which you will. One ticket counter guy challenged my brother on this, and when asked for a reason as to why it wasn't allowed, could only splutter "well, it's *cheaper* isn't it?". Sums up the current state of the railways, really.

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                  02.12.2000 01:43
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                  "Your new trains have arrived". Says the poster in big, proud letters at Burton On Trent station. And i'll tell you what, they ain't half right!! I had the pleasure to travel on one of the new Central Trains recently on a trip back from Sheffield and boy are these things good. It is difficult to give an account of the speed capabilities of these trains as speed restrictions on the rail network at the moment are hampering this. However what I can comment in is the beautiful setup of the trains inside. The seats are all brand new and incredibly comfortable, in the new Central Trains livery. These seats are just as comfortable as the seats on a Virgin Cross Country train and yet Central Trains are a regional service, with shorter journey times so you don't expect lavish seating. All seats have arm rests and a large number are set with tables. Another new addition is the addition of wheelchair and pushchair areas which will increase the accessibility to the trains and will please a large number of people, including myself, to help out young mothers and those in a wheelchair. These trains also contain an interesting inclusion, that of a toilet. You may be suprised to hear this, but I have never before seen toilets on regional trains, and yet there is one on these Central Trains. This is a great thing, especially when you see them, all incredibly clean and comfortable. All have electronically operating doors too. Unfortuanately Central Trains aren't the most punctual and have had some bad experiences with them, although latest figures show that they are improving this. Their fares aren't too bad although not the cheapest in the country. Overall they are certainly improving and are now well worth a go so go on and give up your car for a day, you'll be glad you did.

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                  01.11.2000 01:34
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                  Where I live is served (if you can call it that) by Central Trains, I travel on them 4 days a week into Lincoln to go to college. Nearly everyday the train is delayed, usually only between 5-10 minutes but occasionally more than 25 minutes late. When the trains do arrive there has never been enough seats for me to sit down, I have not yet sat down going to college since the beginning of September, I would have thought that at a busy time of the day when everyone needs transport to go to work etc that they would add another carriage, there is usually about 20 people standing in all! At the weekend I was coming back from Lincoln and it was again at a very busy time and they just ran one carriage!, there was at least 40 people standing!, it was very cramped and soon became hot!, just imagine if the train was derailed or some other incident occurred, the consequences could be unthinkable with that amount of people onboard!, there would definitely be people killed and injured!, this amount of people on the train isn’t just a one off as a couple of weeks before I came across the same situation. How long before they come to their senses and add another carriage?, maybe when everyone has been Christmas shopping and there are lots more wanting to take the same route back home!, I doubt it very much! I know of other people who have written and complained to them and all they get is discount vouchers to be used on their trains!, I would rather not have any as the last thing I would do is want to go any further on the train! I would like to see all the delays and problems which occur when it is winter and snow on the ground!, just recently there have been troubles with very strong winds!, there excuse for being late could be trees on the line, much more substantial than leaves! Come on Central Trains get yourself sorted!!

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                    19.09.2000 06:39
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                    I would class myself as a regular train user and I must say that I cant fault Central trains too badly at all. They have one of the most interesting franchises in that it spiders right the way across the Midlands and into Wales with services as far east as Norwich, south as Shrewsbury, east as the west coast of Wales and north as far as Sheffield and Liverpool. On the whole I have some good experiences of travelling by Central Trains and certainly on the regular journeys that I make, Central are a decent advert for rail privatisation. They currently have good punctuality rates of around 95% and excellent reliability rates of above 99%. Also we have been lucky enough to reap the rewards of the extra investment brought about by privatisation in the Midlands, as Central have refurbished all of there older British Rail rolling stock as well as the purchase of a large amount of new air conditioned Turbostar diesel trains which are an absolute pleasure to travel on. The route that I use the most often is between Burton-On-Trent and Nottingham. I travel on this route everyday as I use it to commute to work in Nottingham. On the whole they are always pretty punctual on this route and defy the current very much anti-rail media stance. I do however have the odd bad point about Central. Firstly is very much route specific on the 21:36 Nottingham to Birmingham train that I regularly travel home on. Unfortunately around 3 or 4 times out of every 10 this train is delayed by around 10 minutes awaiting the guard who comes in on a service which is usually late running. My other complaint is that on the same service it is quite a regular occurance that the guard doesn't bother coming round to check tickets which can be demoralising for passengers particularly women travelling on their own at night who would like to see the guard and also demoralising for fare paying passengers who sometimes see fare dodgers getting away with non-payment. Th e majority of staff that work on Central's services and stations are also helpful on the whole. The platform staff are on the whole helpful and the guards are normally helpful and cheerful with you on the train. Obviously there are exceptions but there'll be very few people who can honestly say that the don't have the occasional off day at work. The good news is is that I believe the train companies when they say that the rail network is getting back to normal based on my own experiences and this is excellent news particularly with the price of petrol going up which is causing people to find other forms of transport. Financially Central are certainly cheap enough to attract people from the car, lets just hope the recent good improvements in Central's performance will continue and we'll see the railways get a better press than at present.

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                      13.08.2000 19:38
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                      I use trains to travel into the centre of Birmingham (where I study at Aston University) from Solihull (where I live). The trains are generally reliable and nearly on time but if you travel in the rush hour, they are dangerously overcrowded, and I do mean dangerously. Until recently, the trains that arrived in Birmingham (Snowhill and Moor St stations, not New Street) between 8:30 and 9:00 had only three carriages. This meant that you had to stand up. I don't mind standing up but I consider it to be dangerous when there is nothing to hold on to. There are times when it is impossible to get on the train at stations further down the line (e.g. Olton, Acocks Green) because there is physically no more room. The trains themselves are less than comfortable and are a little on the filthy side. Solihull station doesn't even have any way of telling you that the train you are waiting for is delayed unless the bloke from the ticket office comes along and tells you. Central trains recently added another carriage to their peak time trains and this will probably alleviate the overcrowding (to a point). I can't say whether it has or not because they added the new carriages when the University's had finished, the school holidays were a couple of weeks away and less people would be travelling into Birmingham during peak times due to holidays and the like. The state of the trains themselves might not be so bad if it weren't for the Chiltern Rail service that runs on this line between London and Birmingham. If I can I catch a Chiltern Rail train. These are spotlessly clean and a lot quieter than the Central trains. Chiltern's service runs into London so they need to be more comfortable for the longer journey but they really show up the state of Central's trains. The only reason I use the train is because it is even worse to drive into the centre of Birmingham even though it takes me the same length of time by car or by train (if there isn't any traffic). The other main gripe with the trains is the cost. I have ten week terms at university, but Central only do one, four or fifty-two week tickets. Quite why I can't buy a ten week ticket in this day of technology is beyond me. When I graduate and I am working, I will go back to using my car because trains are too uncomfortable, expensive and unreliable. I have to leave half an hour earlier than I should need to because if the train is delayed or cancelled then I risk missing lectures. Central is probably no worse than any other regional train service but I object to paying as much as I do for the service they provide.

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