my holiday was a disaster.on my way to sunny beach this is what happened...took virgin train from york to derby,o.k.then from derby to lutton airport with midland mainline,train broke down.rerouted to bedford got to airport 40 min. late.and lost my flight.had to stay 14 hours at airport to catch a bus back home. If the train arrived on time(21:07)I would of had 35 min.to check in.my travel ins. will not cover costs, I feel someone should be liable for all my losses shoud I seek legal advice?....Phil
Since my boyfriend started Loughborough University nearly 2 years ago, I have become well travelled in terms of trains! I have experienced the highs and the lows (which there are a lot of), and travelled with a fair few different companies.
My journey starts from wakefield westgate, where in fact some midland mainline trains do stop, but as there are very few that run from leeds, or run at the time I get the train, my journey usually starts with a ride on virgin. This is often a very uncomfortable ride, with me standing next to the toilet with another 50 people, feeling very crushed. Thankfully this journey ends at Sheffield, so I only spend 30mins usually on the train (although due to delays etc this can be longer)
Anyway down to the real meat of this review! My journey with midland mainline begins at Sheffield station. The trains are extremely reliable and from what I can recall, have never been late, arriving in the station 15minutes early to allow people to make themselves comfortable, and grab a seat, especially on a Friday night when it is very busy! One thing about midland mainline is that on the way down to Loughborough and back, I have always got a seat, even though I travel at 630pm on a Friday and then during the afternoon/ late evening on a Sunday. Compared with virgin trains, this is fantastic as the chances of getting a seat on one of those is probably the same as pigs flying through the sky!
There are two types of midland mainline trains, both of which I have travelled on; the high speed trains and the turbo star trains/ meridian (which are going to be replaced in the foreseeable future). One problem I find with the older trains is getting off the train. As Loughborough and Sheffield are quite popular stops (well when I get off loads of other people do too!), it isn't that much of a problem, however if I'm the only one getting off the train my problem begins. I'm only 5ft 1 therefore as you can imagine, I don't have overly long arms, so when it comes to leaning out of the window to open the door, I have extreme difficulties! The last time I did it, I practically had to lean out of the window to push the handle completely down, and ended up hurting myself because of it! Thankfully, these trains are getting replaced by the much preferred 'button' doors!
One thing I like about the new meridian trains is that some of the carriages are combined first class and standard class, which means that for us poor students, we can live it up like the business people, and also are more likely to get a seat! Standard in the high speed trains is still good quality though, and a lot higher than some other companies!
Comfort wise, midland mainline are one of the best, the seats are very comfortable. The only slight dig would be the amount of leg room! Being a little person like myself I don't find this a problem, however the less vertically challenged people amongst us may have a problem with it, especially on long journeys.
In terms of prices, tickets vary depending on whether you want to travel in style, and when you want to travel back (if indeed you do!). For me, a saver return with a rail card from Wakefield Westgate to Loughborough is £16.25, which has increased by nearly £1 over the last 2years. Compared to some of the ticket prices, mine is reasonable. For a standard open return on the same journey, the price is £28 and if you want to travel in luxury, it will cost you a whopping £84 for the exact journey! That's one thing you have to be careful of if you have a rail card, or if you want to get a cheap day return etc (basically not a standard return, single or open return). You cannot buy discounted tickets on the trains, no matter how hard you try to convince them, they won't let you do it! To me this seems rather silly, as if you're in a rush and about to miss the train your instinct is to just jump on. However, if you do this your journey will end up costing you a lot more money. Tickets can be bought from the station or even off the internet as well as on the train, but remember if you want a cheaper ticket don't wait until you get on the train!
On the train, there is a bar selling a variety of refreshments, however I wouldn't be able to comment on prices as being a poor student, I often take my own supplies! I do know however that prices on board are in some cases extreme, but then they are on all trains that sell refreshments!
Overall, I would highly recommend midland mainline as a train company to travel with, as in my opinion, they are the most reliable company around. There are a few niggles, but compared with other companies these are minute, and definitely worth ignoring!
For the past 9 years I have been working as Freelance computer programmer. In all of this time I have wherever possible tried to use Rail Travel to and from my home town of Burton on Trent. Burton on Trent is served by 3 train companies. These being Central Trains, Midland Mainline(both of which are owned by the National Express group) and Virgin Trains. In my experience the service provided by all of these operators to Burton is very poor indeed. The station itself is very shabby and dirty offering virtually no facilities. Often the waiting rooms, toilets and booking office are closed due to "Staff Shortages". Many of the staff are very unhelpful especially when it comes to dealing with passengers wishing to use Virgin Trains. Information and help from the station staff is minimalistic to say the least. I think much of the problem may lie with the fact that the station is actually managed from Nottingham train station, rather than being managed on sight. Through much of the time I have been using the trains from Burton I have been travelling to either Nottingham or London. For the majority of the time these journeys require connections to be made, especially on a morning. Unfortunately when using these services I have found that the Central Train I need to use is very often late if they turn up at all. Although this may only be a 10 or 15 minute delay as far as Central Trains are concerned it can have a big impact to anyone wishing to travel much further afield than Birmigham or Derby. A missed connection can put a lot of time on your working day. Journeys returning to Burton at all times of the day also suffer a similar fate. Due to the alarming regularity of all 3 train operators trains and the ridiculous way in which Burton almost seems to be discounted when timetables are produced it is all to common to end up missing a connection and having to wait a substantial amount of time for the next train. Towns su
rrounding Burton such as Tamworth, Lichfield, Derby Leicester all have early morning services to other principal towns in the area as well as London. Most passengers from these towns for instance can quite comfortably reach London before 8:00 am. It is virtually impossible to arrive in London much before 9:00 am using the train service from Burton. The train service in Burton is so poor that many commuters drive to Lichfield, Tamworth, Derby or even Birmingham before actually starting their journey by Rail. Obviously this puts more people on the road and also the poor commuters are forced to pay out extra on car expenses as well as overpriced parking to Rail Companies. The FA have recently started work on building their new "Centre of Excellence" on the outskirts of Burton. I only hope the young players travelling to town for training are able to travel by car, as if not they will find it a very frustrating experience trying to travel to Burton. My advice to anyone attempting to get to Burton by rail, is come along, you'll should have a good time in a great place. However allow yourself plenty of time to get there and be prepared to spend a great deal of this time(due to poor timetabling and missed connections) at either Derby, Tamworth or Birmingham Train stations. Perhaps one day Central Trains, Virgin Trains and Midland Mainline will actually sit down with each other and the people and representatives of Burton on Trent and see how the rail travel to and from Burton can be improved. At the moment they all seem to take the attitude that it is not their responsiblity, or improving services to Burton would be to expensive. Given the fact that they are given huge grants to operate through Burton and also that more people would actually use the trains to and from Burton were the service reliable enough I would beg to differ with them.
Midland Mainline operate a range of services from Sheffield to London St Pancras, service times seem to average the 2hour 30 minute mark. Sheffield is for me not the easiest train station in the world to get to, it might be only 25 miles away but the direct service is one of those that stops at every little sheep shack on route taking some 90 minutes as it meanders merrily along finally getting into Sheffield just as you've become chair shaped. The indirect train means changing at Leeds sprinting across the nightmare that is Leeds railway station with all the building works and more then likely missing the connection and this again takes well over 90 minutes. So you can imagine Sheffield wouldn't be my first choice of station to depart from. Last May Assethound and I along with Chaz decided that we'd really like to meet the motley bunch who inhabit the op.com chatroom, a date was set and all we had to do was sort out some transportation. National Slug was ruled out - the thought of spending 7 hours on a coach really didn't appeal. Given that our nearest main station was Leeds ,GNER services to London were investigated these take on average 3 hours 20 minutes, thetrainline.com came up with some rather staggering ticket prices (aka second mortgage time) - the cheapest we were going to get to London was for about £64. London looked like one of those nice ideas but way to expensive - a nosey around GNER web site came up with a saver ticket GNER's Fab Four - for the princely sum of £50. Further investigations came up with the train times unfortunately at that time you were unable to buy on line with GNER's website. These tickets along with many other saver time tickets are also not available to purchase using the trainline.com. After several calls to the GNER hot line to purchase tickets - time consumming to say the least but a lovely tune if I recall. It turned out they had a very weird policy for actually booking these tickets
- don't they always with special offers! When it finally came to the day the tickets went on sale we would be able to book our trip down to London on the Friday but surprisinly the Saturday return tickets weren't on sale just yet! That would be in another weeks time so of course all the seats reserved for Friday travel would be sold out! GNER was quickly kicked into touch. The idea of Sheffield to London was raised, after a look at the prices on The trainline.com they appeared to be having some kind of sale! Sheffield to London return - £29! Nthell luckly crashed as these sale bargains were about to be bought and a quick visit to our local train station came up with an even better offer Midland Mainlines Capital 4 ticket costing £39 for up to 4 people! Given the price of the tickets I did wonder exactly what kind of train was going to be laid on, visions of some antiquated old carriage with ripped seats and a sign saying "yer gets what yer pays for" came to mind. The coaches themselves were clean, the staff were helpful the Buffet was extortionate - as you'd expect from a train buffet but best of all the train actually got to London on time! Something I can't say for the many trips I've done with GNER Having just planned another trip down to London, I'll admit I did look at the GNER services first only due to the ease of getting to Leeds. But again on price Midland Mainline won hands down! This time train times etc were looked up on Trainline.com but knowing they do not have the special offers available I then logged onto Midland Mainline's website. This site is very similar operation wise to TheTrainline.com but as it's the companies own site special offers are not hidden away. The site also allows you to book on line using either a debit or credit card - using a secure server to send you card details. When selecting your train times it then gives you a choice of fares - this is where I
discovered their Capital Ticket allowing travel to London from Sheffield or Barnsley for £19 return - these are not the first thing in the morning trins or the milk train back home late at night! They appear to be available on most trains - they do have a limit of how many are available per train and do need to be booked at least 7 days in advance. No changes can be made to the ticket and no refunds either - all of which is state before you actually purchase the tickets. Tickets can either be sent to your registered address ( you do need to register as you do for thetrainline.com to actually find out the prices of tickets) or to another UK address - these are sent out 1st class to you. Yuo also have the option to actually pick up the tickets at your departing station Given the huge difference in costs I'd definetly recommend if you can get to Sheffield easily going via Sheffield to London if travelling from Yorkshire to London. Also use the thetrainline.com to get an idea of timings but go onto Midland Mainline web site to actually book the tickets - as the range of special offers that are available on there are not available on thetrainline.com
It's amazing that such a big company doesn't seem to care about having their staff adequately trained. It's the only company that the ticket inspector will look at your ticket twice(at the same occasion),try to avoid to give you an answer when you ask a question and ask you to switch off your mobile but won't do anything about the "lads" who sit drank and shout two rows down. I've personally seen an incident where a poor lad couldn't find his railcard, was forced to pay the full fare (and had his ticket taken) and when he found it later (although he literally begged the inspector to wait-the guy just wouldn't listen) the inspector refused to return it to him. However they are punctual and try to keep their trains clean-if that makes it up for the above...
I use Midland Mainline quite alot. Particularly the Sheffield to London St Pancras trains. I have mostly been happy with them and haven't had much bother with them until recently. I usually take a journey which takes two hours by train with a half hour change over at Sheffield. Recently without fail the trains have been anywhere between 10-45mins delayed which either leaves me pushed for time to change at Sheffield or I miss my connection altogether. Yes I know a while back there were speed restrictions etc, but surely they should have taken this into account with their timetables so when it comes to booking trains customers can plan their journeys more accuratley. The booking line is another matter. The last few times I have tried booking I have been on hold for at least half an hour and sometimes longer. Once I kept phoning back every half hour and when I finally though I was through I got an auto message saying that the office was closed. People have said that midland mainline are good in the fact they provide free tea and coffee on their trains....most train companies do now. They do have a good selection of food in their buffet cars...pity your looking to pay almost £3 for a sandwich ( which is usually dry or soggy). At least the trains are clean, reasonably comfortable and get me from A to B (even if it's a few hours later than I planned!)
A train operator you can approve of? Where!? Midland Mainline gets my vote so far - and altho there are plenty of metropolitan/regional operators i've yet to use (Merseyrail, C2C etc) - i've used all of the main cross-country (Virgin, GNER etc.)and Southern operators (Connex, WAGN etc). Right then - enough of the twaddle - why are they good? Well - there are a few points in their favour simply for using St Pancras as their London Terminus. It's a beatiful station on the outside, and airy on the inside. I've been through in rush hour - yes it's heaving like everywhere else in London, but outside of that you'd be forgiven for wondering where all the passengers were! MM (saves typing!) use St Pancras exclusively, i think! and run services up the middle of the country through to Leeds and occasionally York. The twice hourly Inter-City trains usually stop at Leicester, Nottingham, and Sheffield, with the more frequent stopping trains calling at places like Luton, Kettering, Market Harborough, Loughborough, as well as the bigger cities. Ok - so why the fuss? Well it's the Turbostar 170 (i think), that's the attraction for me - very new, plenty of legroom comparable to the old and dated inter-citiy trains, thoughtful wide door spaces for all those commuters and huge disabled friendly toilets, as well as carriages designed for First class passengers and the buffet car (unusual for these Sprinter type trains). I've never been late on a MM service, and even the 7 stop trip to Nottingham only took just over 2hrs - luckily i went off-peak, so the train was very quiet. One gripe - where's my free tea and coffee? Little things tend to make me happy about forking out for a train journey. Clean carriages - even the inter-city's, clear announcements both on train and platform, little coat hooks by the windows above your chair, user-friendly and pleasant St Pancras and Nottingham stations
(i've not stepped off at any others enroute yet!). You get the point. Maybe i'll get a bum service soon, maybe i'll be delayed or a customer service agent will get shirty with anyone except annoying teens being well annoying, but until then it's thumbs up for MM and their great service!
I travel regularly with the various TOCs such as Virign, fGW and GNER. But of all, I highly rate Midland Mainline. Midland Mainline run intercity services between Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and London St Pancras. They use High Speed Trains (HSTs) for the longer distance journeys, and the Class 170 Turbostars that serve mainly intermediate stations between Leicester and London. I have always avoided the Turbostars because of the cramped conditions and awful legroom. Thus, it is very welcoming to see MML's extra investment in the new centre carriages which provide more comfortable First and Standard Class seating. Midland Mainlie provide three tiers of Class on their trains: - Standard Class - First - First Premier I regularly travel on the latter, and am fortuante in being able to receive a 1/3 off with my Railcard. If you travel First on GNER, you can only expect at most free tea or coffee yet you have to pay extar for meals on their restaurant car. MML, however, have an all-inclusive First Premier, which includes upto 48 hrs of free car parking (except at St Pancras), a Zone 1 & 2 underground return ticket, use of the First Class lounge at St Pancras, and light meals, snacks, drinks and their fantastic Great British Breakfast on early morning trains. Their staff are always helpful and dedicated. If you log onto www.midlandmainline.com, you will see that they run various promotional campaigns over the summer. If you can, try and travel First (or First Premier) to sample the delights of this marvellous TOC.
Midland Mainline are probably one of the cleanest, well run and safest train operators in the country. I travel on them at least once and week and usually more and I have to say that the trains are always well looked after and pleasant to ride on. Of course after the numerous rail disasters of the previous year and the imminent speed restrictions, the timetable was severely disrupted and still hasn't got back to normal. Yet, the service and the pleasant staff seem to make up for it (I even think this on a day when I was delayed about an hour because of a MM train). On the front, Midland Mainline seem fairly expensive compared to other operators and it seems hard to justify their continous rise in prices, but with a railcard that are readily availible for students (£18) and families, these costs are cut by a third or more. Midland Mainline run continously back and forth to London St Pancras with 2 highspeed trains going through every hour, with limited stops, followed by 2 Turbostars an hour that stop at just about every stop to Derby or Nottingham or Sheffield or even sometimes Leeds and York. There is a a buffet services on all the trains (unless there is some problem) and most of the time they offer a supply of free tea or coffee which is very nice of them, espcially on a cold winters day. They have just introduced more cars to the Turbostars with an abundance of first class seating and also some extra standard seating so it is easier to get a seat at peak times. Their fares to London also include the tube which makes the price actually works out particularly cheap, at round £21 (£14 with railcard) from Kettering/Leicester. Also, if I am correct in saying they are offering a deal that incorporates a trip on the London eye into your train ticket, although this deal may have expired now. All in all, Midland Mainline are an example to the rest of the train operaters, as they are clean, good looking, invested in and are
manned by pleasant staff, I always have a good journey when the train eventually arrives. :-)
When travelling my main weekly train journey from Burton On Trent in the Midlands to Pontefract in West Yorkshire I have a number of ways to form my journey based on changing trains either twice or 3 times. When I change 3 times I usually use the Midland Mainline service between Derby and Sheffield. The only competitor that I can use on this route is Virgin Trains. I had always tried to stick to Virgin because on this route they offer a good service. However I got on a Midland Mainline one because it was the best time to travel and I have to say I was pretty impressed with it. The train was very clean and the staff were very friendly. The journey seemed to take slightly longer than it takes on a Virgin Train but this was probably just my imagination as it is the same track and same speed limits etc..... If you were to ask me to pick which is best between Midland Mainline and Virgin then i cant really say either way but I still like Virgin as the good service i've had from them has been over a longer period. However if you are faced with a journey on a Midland Mainline then im sure you'll be impressed because they offer a pretty good service.
I live in Derby where Midland Mainline have their HQ, I travel to London normally for leisure but I do go about once a month. As they are my local service provider then most of my jornies have been on Midland Mainline although I have used Virgin and Central trains for other journies. The only complaint I have about Midland Mainline is that some of their staff can be quite off hand, especially the ones on the customer service desk at Derby Station. The service is very punctual and I have only had one journey be delayed and that was by 10 minutes due to an "incident" on the line. i.e. someone had jumped from a bridge! They operate two types of trains, the Intercity High Speed type and the new Turbostar trains. The intercity trains are quite dated now but the carriages are normally quite clean and comfortable. The turbostar trains are only a year old however they are much smaller normally just two carriages and they are designed to stop at more of the smaller stations on the way to London, enabling more connections to other services such as Network South East, etc. On both trains you get free tea and coffee. The turbostar has a trolly service. The intercity has a buffet car. You can have as much free tea and coffee as you like but it isn't the best coffee you can get but not bad for free! They also do the normal range of food etc. They also offer a number of excellent ticket rates including an offer to travel from and of their northern or midlands stations to Paris on eurostar for just £79. See their website for more info at www.midlandmainline.com They also have a 4sight ticket where upto 4 adults can get to London and back for just £39 thats just under £10 each. Not bad when it costs you £4 for a return trip on the bus for a 6 mile journy!! I would reccomend Midland Mainline to anyone!
Admittedly I'm basing this review on only two journeys (between Leicester and Bedford) but I do make long rail journeys very frequently, and can compare Midland Mainline to quite a few other train companies. The train I caught was clean and reasonably modern, and was on time. Those are the basics, but what promoted them immediately in my eyes was that every passenger is entitled to a free cup of tea or coffee! Naturally it's a small cup and they won't be using the expensive stuff but I thought it was great way of making you feel that they valued your custom. Other train operators please take note!
When travelling home to visit my family I have to use a variety of train operators, by far the worst is Connex South Central with its unreliable service and old slam door trains. The best however is Midland Mainline. I often use the service between St Pancras and Sheffield, and it has never once been delayed or late, although I don't travel at peak times this does include travelling in the Winter. The trains are clean, comfortable, and you can even hear the in-train announcements clearly. They also offer free tea or coffee - which isn't of course the best tasting, but it's a nice little bonus. Due to their regular customer satisfaction surveys ( I took part in one last week ) they are also trying to improve the service. For example their catering has been revamped due to customer dissatisfaction, they will soon offer food such as: organic soup for £2.25, large cibattas for £3.35, and chinese take away for 2 for £9.95. Still not cheap but its pretty tricky to go elsewhere. As far as I'm aware Mainline don't ban use of particular ticket types like GNER do, but one thing they could do with is a mobile phone free carriage like Virgin trains. In my experience coaches at either end are either 1st class or smoking, coach D is the buffet car or full of reserved seats, and coaches E or F are the empty ones. Recently Mainline have added new services and destinations and they're planning to develop St Pancras station into a international Channel Tunnel link station, although this will take five years. Ticket prices are still high in my opinion, but at least they are improving the service, and taking customer opinions into consideration, and I still prefer it to the motorway. Their website is www.midlandmainline.com which is fairly good and contains information on train times, ticket prices and how to buy your ticket. Plus you can request one of one million of their 'big tickets' a free ticket or upgrade on any of the