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National Express East Coast

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26 Reviews

UK's premier intercity train service linking the capital cities of England and Scotland to many other important regional and historic cities.

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    26 Reviews
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      27.05.2011 15:08

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      It is difficult to communicate with some of the information staff. One of them was reading the train times backwards. Prices have increased dramatically during the last year or so. The late evening trains from London to York are often very slow. The early evening trains from London to York are packed. There is no longer any dinner service on the trains.

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      23.11.2010 14:21

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      Apart from the extremely regular delays, National Express trains in East london are also prone to chronic overcrowding during rush hour - so much so that sometimes it's not even possible to board trains.Do National Express have any idea whatsoever about how to run a Train service?

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      11.11.2010 11:38

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      I recently moved to a part of london only services by a rail station, which I thought wouldn't be that bad - only 15 minutes to Liverpool street....It turns out that the journey time has nothing to do with how quickly you can expect to get to Liverpool street, more the absolutely dire management of timetables and interuptions in service - This week they are averaging a delay of just over 30 minutes for every journey I have taken with them, by far the worst train operator I've ever had to use on a frequent basis.So National Express - sort yourselves out or get back to coaches!

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      02.09.2010 15:10

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      Well my experience was fairly poor in that I was just bokking tickets throgh them. The guy at the ticket office booked them weong dates and the company refused to refund the subsequent amount I had to pay for in new train tickets!I prefer the GNER experience which has a 'golden age of rail travel' feel about it.If you have a complaint the CEO's contact details for complaining are here:Directly Operated Railways LtdEast Coast Main Line Company Ltd 4th FloorOne Kemble StreetLondonWC2B 4AN Tel: 020 7904 5043Mob: 07747 485265

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      17.05.2010 10:54
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      A service you cannot rely on.

      National Express East Coast

      As a student yet to take my driving test national rail is one of my main forms of transport and I regularly have to rely on this service to get me from A to B. Although at times the staff and service they have provided has been of the standard I would expect time after time recently they have failed to deliver.

      - Enquiry service-
      My experience of the enquiry services have been very poor as only a hand full of staff are helpful and other try to send you off on your way with your paying the highest available fare and going the longest possible route. The online service is probably the easiest method of enquiring as you can see for yourself the prices and truly find out the best way to go.
      When enquiring over the phone they use an automated service that increasingly frustrating particularly when you just want to know the train times from somewhere and it is telling you an entirely different destination as it is voice recognition.
      When enquiring at the station kiosks this can sometimes be useful and other times not. When I had accidently purchased a ticket for a destination further on that what I intended to travel that day I spoke to the conductor on board who told me I could get a refund for that section at my destination stop. On arrival at my destination I explained my problem at the kiosk who told me that if I wanted to do this it would involve me paying a £10 service charge and the amount I was refunding was £3 (not a lot I know but it all adds up on train fares) so I would end up owing them money. He then informed me that the only way I could get the refund was if I went back to where I purchased the ticket within half an hour (an impossible task as the journey was 30 minutes). Other staff at these services have been very helpful for example at Grantham station many of the staff in the kiosks are very happy to help get the cheapest available tickets for you. However this service is not consistent across the country it seems.

      -My Experiences of the train service-
      As mentioned above I regularly use trains to get around to where I need to go. Every time I travel I make sure to allow plenty of time to purchase my ticket and board the train however sometimes this is not always possible. A number of times I have had to run for a train and depending on who is manning the train will depend on whether the outcome will leave you watching the train doors shut a metre in front of you and having to make alternative arrangements or whether you actually get to board the train. Recently I made a trip to London. I had bought my tickets in advance and picked them up before the day of the intended journey the outgoing journey went as planned and there was no delay in the service. However the return journey left a lot to be desired. We arrived with half an hour to spare before the train left in order to find the platform in London and also to get seated. However on arrival at the station we found all trains were cancelled and delayed due to a broken down train. We appreciated the time lag of information getting to the station but when asking at the kiosks we were given no information regarding the services. We were then forced to wait with over 6 of the larger trains passengers (in excess of 500 people approximately) at this platform. Our original departure time was around 19.30 and our journey time around an hour and a half so we were due to be back for half 9 at the latest. However we did not board the train until around 9 and did not get back until 1 due to a massive diversion that the train had to take. Understanding the difficulties they may have faced the customer service offered was incredibly poor as many other passengers were ignored by the customer services manager on the platform. We were offered nothing for our inconvenience either which I felt was very poor particularly as so many people were involved in the incident and as the service was a main line. They have NO CONTINGENCY PLANS AT ALL!!!
      Had this been an isolated negative incident I had experienced I may be more willing to rate the service positively however it is not. On many occasions I have gone to the station and experienced major delays and as a result have had to change my plans.
      Also as I regularly travel on a line which involves a change I find it very poor how sometimes you can wait for up to 50 minutes in between trains and others only 5 minutes. This is also very annoying if you have only the option to take a long wait particularly in winter when its freezing and there is no heating in the waiting rooms!!!

      -Reliability of the train service-
      As mentioned above the reliability of these trains is very poor if you are going to catch a train I recommend you have the website on favourites if you have phone internet browsing. Or the service number on speed dial but as that works on voice recognition the train will have long left by the time you have input the correct destination on that thing.

      -The Fares-
      As a rule of thumb train prices are extortionate which prices rising every time you use the trains. I can only assume that the money we pay goes on making "necessary improvements" which causes all of the delays in the services! I would highly recommend that if you have to regularly make journeys using the national rail purchase a railcard as the cost of this is often paid off in a single fare. It is also highly advisable that you book your tickets in advance when possible as this can reduce the price hugely!

      -Overall-
      National Rail should really only be used if you really cannot get from A to B via any other means. It is a service that we should be able to rely on but unfortunately 9 out of 10 times you cannot. The best means of enquiring about anything to do with national rail would be online as on here they are consistent across the site what the rules are for their services.

      Hope this review was helpful! Thanks for reading!

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        19.03.2010 03:13
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        Very decent train company

        I usually use the Edinburgh - London line of the East Coast services, so my review refers mainly to this route and the website.

        The trains are reasonably spacious - certainly better leg room than Virgin Cross Country Trains! They are usually very clean and do not smell funny (some Virgin trains smell awful). However, my favourite feature of the East Coast trains is the free WIFI on board. This allows me to make use of my time on the journey, catching up with emails or work. Again, East Coast beats Virgin as they provide free internet, whereas Virgin charge a disproprotionately large sum for the service.

        There are rarely many delays and the fact that you can travel direct from central London to Edinburgh in a few hours without changing, lugging bags or hassle is brilliant. Why on earth would you fly and subject yourself to waiting, lugging bags, airport transfers and hassle?

        The East Coast website is good because the ticket prices always seem lower than other train operator websites and sometimes they have special cheap fares on certain trains or have occasional 10% off codes. They offer free first class delivery and you can purchase food/drink vouchers to save money if you will buy refreshments on board the train. You can also request email reminders to book your tickets in advance to save you money.

        The problem with the website is that it only allows you to buy one ticket at a time, so it takes more time than necessary to buy several train tickets, which can be rather frustrating.

        Overall, I am satisfied with the service. It certainly beats flying or using Virgin trains.

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        08.03.2010 22:13
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        Great company to travel with, but let down by their staff

        I have had some very good and also some very bad experiences with National Express East Coast. It will probably be easier for me to break it down into sections, so here goes..

        PRICES:
        Being a university student I am often travelling between Leeds and my home town of Stevenage. If i buy a ticket on the day it can cost me as much as £70 so I tend to book them in advance at eastcoast.com. If i book more than a few days in advance I can get a single for £6.95 with a Young Persons Railcard which is almost a tenth of the price! Obviousy the earlier you book the better the deal but I really feel they offer some great prices through online booking.

        ON BOARD:
        All of the National Express trains I have been on (a lot) have been very modern and comfortable. The seats are set out in a 2-2 formation and each carriage has around 8 tables with seats in blocks of 4. The seat pitch on board isn't amazing but it's comfortable enough. However, it can sometimes become a little cramped if there's 4 to a table for a long journey, meaning you can't really stretch your legs out.

        There's a lot of overhead storage on the trains for people carrying hand luggage and shopping. The only thing I would criticise is the lack of storage for suitcases and larger articles of luggage. I often find myself having to leave my suitcase by the doors or toilets which is not ideal.

        They also offer a free wi-fi service on board all their trains which is fantastic considering most train companies don't even offer it as a pay service. It's very easy to connect, you just have to give your email address, from which I've only had the odd email about the latest offers and prices etc. The connection can sometimes be a bit slow but this often resolves itself very quickly.

        REFRESHMENTS:
        National Express East Coast offer a dining cart on board most trains where you can get hot food such as bacon sandwiches and pastries. These are often advertised as meal deals (sandwich and a coffee for £4 etc). The food is nice but I would say it's very overpriced for what it is. There's also a cart which comes round on average once an hour selling everything from crisps to soft and alcoholic drinks, chocolate etc. Expect to pay around £1 for a can of coke and 80p for a bag of crisps which is again is overpriced.

        CUSTOMER SERVICE:
        This is the one thing that really lets the company down. Nine times out of ten, the staff are unhelpful and rude (not so much on board but definately in station lounges and over the phone at their so called "helpline"). Recently I booked a ticket online to travel from Leeds to Stevenage. Unfortunately the card I booked it on was stolen a couple of days later and I was unable to retrieve my tickets from the fast track machines in the station without it. I therefore went into my station lounge (Leeds) with a print out of my booking confirmation and my passport and driving license for I.D, and all I was told was that I would have to pay £70 for a new ticket (despite the one i bought previously only costing £12). Even when I called the helpline they were less than helpful, in fact quite the opposite. My only advice is don't lose your bank card because you will have one hell of a problem trying to get your tickets from these people whether you have your booking reference or not!!

        Overall, they are a great company to travel with and provide everything you should need for a pleasant and comfortable jouney but they are let down by their poor customer service skills and lack of communication. None the less, they are still worth a try!

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        26.01.2010 10:57
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        Try megabus.com instead

        Abandoned in Freezing temperatures by
        Arriva and National Express.

        My son's flight from Krakow to Liverpool on the 7th January, flight number EZY7254, was delayed several hours due to some of the most severe weather conditions experienced across Europe in over a decade. Temperatures were expected to drop to minus 20 in parts of the UK "Colder than the Antarctic" one report had said. Some of the worst hit areas were over the Pennines and drivers were advised not to venture out. He had to travel across the Pennines by National Express coach which he had booked before he left the UK. Although his coach ticket was for 2.45 pm earlier that day I assumed (wrongly) that National Express would have some contingent in place for their travellers affected by air traffic delays due to the severe weather conditions.

        Flight number EZY7254 eventually received clearance for take off from Krakow Airport and landed safely some six hours later than scheduled at Liverpool's John Lennon International Airport.

        It was now 6pm and weather conditions were worsening with temperatures dropping rapidly. I had been watching the departures information on Krakow airports website and also on the Liverpool airport website. I was relieved to see my son's flight had landed safely at Liverpool.

        My son made his way to the Arriva bus stand which is were he was to catch his connection to the National Express coach stand A in Liverpool's London Road.

        My son alighted the Arriva service number 500 outside the terminal building. He showed his pre paid ticket to the driver. The driver refused to let him travel saying the travel time had passed and the ticket was no longer valid. Their were plenty of empty seats and he could have travelled if he paid again. My son advised he had only £1 in cash on him but the driver still refused to let him travel abandoning him in the worst weather conditions we have experienced in over decade.

        Making his way back to the airport terminal and with his last £1 he made a desperate telephone call to his 85 year old grandma in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Grandma made contact with me. At a little past 7pm on the evening of Thursday the 7th January 2010 against all the travel advice I set off driving over the Yorkshire Pennines in blizzard conditions with below freezing temperatures. At over 1,220 feet above sea level on the highest motorway in the UK the journey was fraught and potentially lethal. The journey to Liverpool and back in the most appalling weather conditions was completed by the grace of God.

        My son paid National Express the princely sum of £13.90. It cost me £20 in petrol. We both endured a nightmare journey of over three hours in Antarctic conditions.

        Both National Express and Arriva are no more than faceless corporate profit mongers with no regard for their customers.

        National Express ticket number RQ596987 purchased 14 December 2009.

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        23.07.2009 12:35

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        Ive been a regular user of the east coast mainline for over 2 years. Used to be able to go on line on thurs am and get a range of options for newly released advanced tickets. Now I find it much more difficult. They seem to be drip feeding the tickets onto the web or restricting the numbers of good deals available.Its so frustrating to book a ticket which is not ideal to find a few hours later the ideal ticket becomes available.I'm not a happy customer. Having spent around £10k over the last 2 years I'm now looking for alternatives.Does anyone know whats going on or is it just another case of making tarriffs complex in order to get more money out of customers.I'm glad they have lost the franchise.....good riddance!!Paul

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        24.06.2009 10:25
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        No problems, other than the price

        We used the National Express train service to get down to London a few weeks ago. It was the start of our Honeymoon so for the first time ever, we paid the extra money to go in first class.

        Our first class tickets were £38 each (single), compared to around £25 for standard class. So what does the extra money get you? Well, the seats themselves are bigger and seemingly more comfortable than standard class. Each seat in first class has access to a table and there seemed to be plenty of power points scattered around to enable people to charge laptops and mobile phones.

        Each table had a supply of bottled water and shortbread biscuits and there was a guy going round offering people free tea and coffee every half an hour or so. I can't comment on whether it was any good or not cos I don't drink tea or coffee, so I suppose some orange juice or something would be nice for those of us who aren't hooked on caffeine.

        The carriage itself was clean and tidy and looked well cared-for. I didn't use the on-board toilet, but I could tell from the door that it was one of those futuristic ones with the buttons on the door and the sci-fi "swoosh" noise as you close it.

        We had 2 large suitcases with us (we were going on holiday) and were slightly concerned beforehand about where we could store them on the train, but we need not have worried as there was plenty of storage space at the doors of the train and also inbetween the rows of seats.

        The journey itself passed without incident and we even arrived early into Kings Cross.

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        20.06.2009 09:02
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        Do we need a private company to run our East Coast Mainline service?

        I use NXEC every week - no choice, I work in London, but live in the North East (my choice).
        Unlike MPs I can't claim the cost of travel back, so I have to grab the tickets as soon as they're released - and if you were quick (very, very quick), you could grab cheap tickets.... until about 4 weeks ago. National Express have *almost tripled* the cost of tickets since May - it's not a mistake, believe you me, we watch these prices closely in order to keep costs down. We first thought it was profiteering for the school Summer holidays, but nope, NXEC have kept their prices up in September as well.
        They're also squeezing passengers in other ways - book your ticket to travel from Newcastle say, and board at Durham, 12 minutes closer to London, and they'll deem the ticket invalid. And make you pay again.
        So we *do* need alternative operators.

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          12.06.2009 17:47
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          Great for online UK ticket purchases

          Many people may not be aware that nationalexpresseastcoast.com sell train tickets for any journey in the UK, not just for National Express East Coast services.

          The advantage of nationalexpresseastcost.com is that there is no booking fee, or credit card fee. Both charges are levied by many other online train ticket sites.

          At first, I found the ticket purchase area of the site a little difficult to use. In fact, I used to search for prices on trainline.com, and then make the booking on nationalexpresseast.com. I have got used to it now though. The top half of the booking page displays a number of ticket price options. By selecting an option, you can see which services have those tickets available.

          If the tickets are booked far enough in advance, then there is also no charge for receiving them in the post. Alternatively, you can pick them up at a machine at the train station, again for no charge. Always remember to bring your booking reference, as this is needed along with the credit card to retrieve the tickets.

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          02.06.2009 21:27
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          If you can get cheap tickets this is the way to travel

          From my experience there are two distinct sides to the National Express trains that operate on the East Coast (the same line that GNER used to run on). To briefly sum up these sides mostly everything is very positive except for the cost of tickets.

          Starting with the positives, the trains are always pretty clean and I never find that seating is too cramped. Preferably I sit at tables of four where you get a lot of room but even the airline seats are ok, and the table you get is reasonably sized.

          In my experience the guards are very friendly and courteous which makes longer journeys in particular all the better. To add to this, the trolley service that they operate is very convenient and the buffet sells some nice sandwiches. In particular the cheese and ham toasts taste great- though the price is a bit on the hefty side.

          As for the negative side the prices seem to be pretty random and more often than not extremely expensive. It is nearly always cheaper for me to fly to London from Newcastle than to get the train. I have found that by using third party websites such as thetrainline.com I can get somewhat cheaper tickets.

          Put short, if you can get cheap tickets then this is a great way to travel and it is the most comfortable way to go.

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          20.05.2009 21:39
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          Miles better than GNER!

          I have used the East Coast Mainline for several years, mainly for trips down to London, so have experienced Intercity, GNER and National Express, and I have to say that the line has never run more smoothly (from my experience) than it has under National Express.

          Prices:
          The prices on the line vary massively depending on how far in advance you book your tickets. Tickets are released 12 weeks before the date of travel, and if you get in there quick enough, you can secure an advanced purchase ticket. The Leeds to London single is around £11, which I think is fantastic value. The later you leave it, the more expensive it gets, if you are unfortunate enough to have to buy your ticket once on the train, the cost can be astronomical. I once paid approaching £80 for a single ticket between London and Doncaster, if I had purchased in advance I could have got 4 returns for that price!

          Booking:
          I always use the National Express website which is very easy to use and navigate. It also has a matrix where you can easily see the cheapest tickets for your journey making sure you don't have to pay unnecessary high prices. Through the website you can book insurance, buffet vouchers and London travel cards which I find helpful given that the queues to buy travelcards at Kings Cross are always very long.

          Punctuality:
          Most of the trains I have used have always departed on time, and never seem to arrive/depart more than 5 minutes after the advertised time. This is in total contrast to when GNER ran the line and I used to experience much longer delays on a much more frequent basis.

          Reliability:
          I have never been on a National Express train that has had mechanical problems, however, when GNER ran the line, I once spent 3 hours sat just outside Grantham station on a train with no electrics, so no aircon... very unpleasant! Also spent hours at Finsbury Park station after a GNER train we were on developed a fault. It is strange because they are the same fleet of trains that are used, it appears that National Express must just maintain them better to reduce the amount of problems that occur.

          Facilities:
          All of the National Express trains have a buffet cart which serves reasonable priced food along with a trolley service. You can buy vouchers in advance for less than face value so you get a discount (through the national express website when booking). There have been occasions when the trolley service hasn't been around due to staffing problems however these are few and far between.

          Unlike GNER, National Express offer FREE wireless internet, which helps pass those long and boring journeys if you have a laptop/phone on you. I find this a god send, especially seen as the GNER charges were very high for a relatively slow connection. There are plug sockets on most trains by the seats so if you are using a laptop or a phone, you can keep them charged up.

          Trains also have toilets and baby changing facilities. Not a fan of the toilets which have the rounded electronic doors, they don't always lock when they say they do and I have been walked in on whilst sat on the toilet before!! Very embarrassing as you can imagine! I always ensure that I go to one with the manual sliding doors now.

          Comfort:
          I don't find the trains very comfortable, oddly enough, it is the older trains with the brown seats that offer more comfort than the newer trains. Its slightly better if you get a table seat, however, the leg room can be quite restrictive even for short people. The trains have air conditioning and heating systems to keep the temperature regular but on busy trains, it can get quite hot quickly.

          All in all, I think the standard of the service has improved vastly since National Express took over the route, they provide an efficient service to even the most remote places on the East Coast mainline, and I would certainly recommend them to all.

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            20.05.2009 19:25
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            I would reccomend to use another form of transport if you can.

            I use National express when I am travelling to London, Peterburgh, Norwich and other places and if I had a choice I wouldn't.

            Their prices are rising and the service is terrible, the staff look miserable and unpleasant so I try my very best to stay out the way of them. However, on the occassion I do have to ask them for something, they can be rude and most of the time they do not know the answers to questions, for example what time is the train? and they often can't answer.

            For an Adult, it costs from where I am to London around £20 and I only live a fifty minute train ride away, if I could I would drive but I do not have a car.

            The carriages are filthy and people openly drink alcohol on the train and the train staff do not care, I have seen people drinking alcohol and leaving their cans on the train and no train staff have picked it up and there have been children on the train, if their parents may have turned their back, they could have drunk remaining alcohol that could be left in their cans.

            On a positive note, I can say is that the trains are fast and are normally on time or within a few minutes, this is much easier than driving but it is not worth the hassle for people who are not used to train stations and the money you have to pay.

            I do also think that it could be a very good service with a little work. I tend to get a bus if I want to go to Clacton or Frinton, this is easier, a lot cheaper but takes a lot of time to get there.

            Back to the litter, I agree that when you use a train at night, it can not be extremely clean but they should have cleaners as some other services do have.

            I would reccomend if there is any other way to get to somewhere where you might want to use this service, use it as I hardly have a pleasant journey.

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