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c2c Rail, previously known as the LTS or 'Misery Line', is well on track to becoming a quality user-friendly railway that people may actually want to use. At present, they are at last beginning to roll out the new fleet of Electorstar trains. These are very clean, quiet, at kept at just the right temperature thanks to air conditioning. They even have tables on some seats! c2c is exceptionally good value for off-peak travel, especially for days out to Southend or London. Tickets such as the Family Ranger allow adults 1days unlimited travel for £5, and kids at £1 each. Groupsave (4 for 2) and flexitime for the later-rising commuters are also good value. May I recommend the money off vouchers. There is currently one for Southend, with offers like BOGOF on Adventure Island day passes, which makes a great day for kids out even better. On the negative side they need to sort out their RMT grievances which can delay services for days. Also general punctuality of peak services needs improving and less cancellations or short formations. Now they have them they need to keep their new trains clean and free from damage, and stop those wasters from etching into the glass. But security guards at night at stations should aid this. All in all, one of the better rail services in the South East
Seafrance, formed in 1996 when they dropped the Sealink agreement with Stena line, run a fleet of 3 passenger ferries from Dover to Calais, with a crossing time of 90 minutes. They claim to offer a piece of France from the moment you step on board. This is true, as their ships are well fitted with French decor, products and of course staff. Seafrance are good value if you take advantage of one of their many special offers throughout the year, like the early booking discounts in January and the recent Bastille day offer. On board service is good with English speaking staff and the options to pay in Francs/Euros Pounds etc, without a conversion fee (as previously charged when part of sealink). Be warned: if you want to pay by card you need to show them your passport. Their ships are small compared to P&O Stena, but they will soon have a huge new superferry in Autumn. They also run a nice competition when returning to the UK to win a bottle of Seafrance champagne! However, Seafrance are known for their delays, and every time I've used them I've been delayed. Also their services are not as good for daytrippers, as there are long spacings between sailings. A good service in all though
Dixons online- although it is a poorly designed website that takes ages to download you'll be pleased to hear the service is just as bad as instore. I ordered two items from them. Although they guarantee delivery before midday tomorrow the first item did not. After paying a hefty £3.95 delivery cost I found out that although the delivery was later than the guaranteed, it made no difference to the price I paid. When I ordered a printer from them it did not arrive. So I phoned the 'Freephone' number. This is a great service as the freephone number is like a directory service where they tell you what number to call for the department you needed, and quelle horreur- I was told to phone a national rate number. I rang this and after about 5 minutes of no-one answering I hung up and pressed redial. This time it only took 3 minutes for someone to answer, who was clearly in the middle of a personal conversation as she was still talking when she picked up the phone. I said to her "I ordered a printer from your website three days ago and it hasn't arrived". After a heated debate I finally managed to pursued her that I had bought it online, and not via the telephone. So she gave me yet another number. When I finally got through I was told 'Oh, that should have been with you'. - No Apology or reason. Typical. It arrived 3 days later with no apology, reason or refund of the 'guaranteed' postage. I should have known to steer clear when my neighbour bought a TV from them that didn't work. He took it back and they refused to give him a refund as it was a 'sale' item. This is clearly illegal. He only got his money back by picketing the store warning unsuspecting shoppers...
I have travelled with P&O Stena to Calais many times, and have found their service and value for money first class. With a departure every 35mins or so in peak times I have found that you can on many occasions just turn up and go. Every time I have travelled the ferry has departed bang on time. Forget the so-called 'time-saving' of the Tunnel, I have tried it myself. On the ferry you can rest, relax, have your breakfast/lunch/dinner in one go. Unless you are prepared to eat cold sandwiches in your car you are unlikely to save time on the crossing, and you can cross in style rather than cooped up underground with your car. These days with the size of the ferries you can always find your own personal space to relax and enjoy the crossing. What's more is the helpfulness of the P&O Stena Line staff- they are always very friendly helpful, which makes the journey a pleasure. I wouldn't travel to France any other way.