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CrossCountry Trains

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14 Reviews

Railway lines stretch from Aberdeen to Penzance, and from Stansted to Cardiff. One of the UK's most extensive railway network.

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    14 Reviews
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      25.07.2012 20:42
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      My local train from the North to the South West.

      I was trying to think of a train related song before I started writing this, sat on the train as i am at this moment. Perhaps you can. Light bulb moment 'the runaway train came down the track and she blew, she blew', actually that's probably not really something you want to sing or think about as you are hurtling along at God knows how many miles per hour. I don't anyway, just give me the quiet zone, let me be and drive!

      I travel quite often from Manchester to Bristol and after weighing all the options up it's always the train that does it if I'm on a my own. It does help that I have a disabled rail card which gives me 1/3rd of journeys and that National Express takes an unbelievable 5hrs 50mins to get down here. It doesn't do that many stops either, so the train it always is.
      The only train from Manchester to Bristol direct is the Cross Country service, it runs twice hourly and there is a change every other journey in Birmingham, it does carry on down the deep South West towards Penzance. It usually takes around 3hr 11mins to do the journey,although we're currently 10 minutes behind due to a slow moving train in front of us, looking out the window though I think that's a lie and we're a bit further behind than that!

      Booking is quite easy with Cross Country, but then booking every train journey is easy these days, all the train companies book every body elses trains! I say easy, the actual finding a way to book is easy, however there is still the pain of finding a journey that is relatively cheaper finding a cheap one and it not taking 7 hours and with a 4 hour wait in The Outer Hebrides! You know the tricks, breaking up your journey on the way, Mancs to Brum, Brum to Bristol and back again. I've not seen that work so far so I tend to go straight for the in, out trip. It's quite strange the website, especially when checking the times and prices. What I did like though was the way it was grouped. So you could look for journeys that cost between certain prices which then gave you an indications of what times you could travel. The prices are decent but no more than you pay on any other websites. The website does give you other interesting info about the places that the train takes you to which can be useful. You book the ticket then you can either print it straight off or have it sent to your e-mail, you then pick up the actual tickets at the station.

      I've never had a problem getting the train itself, the current delay is the only one I've ever known and they always leave promptly, even if it is a little behind it usually makes up the time. The actual trains themselves are of course the most important thing. There's usually about 6 or 7 carriages, one of which is the First Class and another the Quiet carriage. I must admit that I usually end up in the Quiet carriage in order to try and avoid as many children as possible!
      The carriages themselves are usually neat and tidy and the journey from Manchester to Bristol usually consists of 2 clean ups by the staff. I cant say the same for the toilets though, that although they are usually well stocked with toilet paper a full clean seems to be out of the question and is often the case as soon as you get on the train. I would recommend taking some hand gel with you!

      There's plenty of space to stow your stuff unless you are intending to get on with several suitcases at which case other grumbles from fellow passengers at taking up all the space! There's also space above the seats and underneath the seats. Which really annoys me when people insist on putting their suitcases next to their seat and blocking the aisle!
      The seats are OK, enough for me at 5' 6" but I'd hate to be over 6 foot, I always used to sit at the tables but soon realised if you had a leg stretcher in front of you there's no leg space at all. Now the priority is to get a window seat so I can plug in my tablet. The seats are quite narrow as well, so I can get squashed in. The carriages aren't overly new so it is that scratchy material covering the seats which can irritate bare skin. Of course First Class is entirely different. Nice big seats and tables with a lovely steward offering drinks and snacks.
      There isn't actually a Buffet car just the old fashioned chap and chappesses pulling along a trolley with a limited amount of things on it. No fridge either so there's no chance of a cold drink, and make sure you get a sandwich before you get on the train as you wont get one there either!

      I would say my main gripe is the sanctity of the so called Quiet Zone. This basically means no mobile phones, mp3 players, games consoles, etc, and it's amazing how many people jut ignore this as well. Nor should I have to ask a guard to ask someone to keep it quiet. When I can hear someone I-Pod 4 seats away I'm damn sure that the guard to hear them when they walk past. It's enforced quite strongly on the likes of Virgin so I'm can only assume these guards consider it too much bother or are just too nervous to do so. Perhaps people reading this will now take notice when they do it!

      It's not too bad a journey except in rush hour and we stop at Birmingham which means a lot more commuters getting on. Hence the reason I go for the no change train so I can just plonk myself in a seat and stay there all the way to Manchester! It's still preferable to National Express which can be a horrendous journey on the old coaches, I just think its time for Cross Country to start updating their carriages!

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        02.07.2012 17:33

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        returned from traveling to york ,the seating area was filthy ,no staff to complain to ,e mailed cross country and they showed no interest in my complaint ,plenty of other train compnys ,my advice use them

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        25.05.2012 21:06

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        Try to use an alternative provider where you can!

        Would never use cross country trains again!

        What an absolute farce travelling back from Newcastle!

        I had noticed the train times on the board were 5 mins out from the time on my ticket so asked a member of train staff about it. My regret here is not only using this joke of a company but I stupidly never got his name! He told me this was in fact my train and they do not always run to time-fair enough I thought. He then pointed me in the direction of platform 2 to wait.

        Train came, I got on, only to be told after the first stop I was on the wrong train and would have to pay the fee of £95!!! The ticket attendant was rather patronising by saying you should've known by the ticket time which only enraged me further since I HAD noticed the difference but was assured otherwise!

        So thanks to the wrong advice of poorly informed train staff, a train journey which had originally cost £78 further cost me an additional £95!!!

        I've sent a complaint in however due to my encounter with 2 members of cross country staff I can only assume the ineptitude of customer service skills will probably see that my complaint will never see the time

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        22.07.2011 22:41

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        Save money with my tips and this train company is better than those similar to it.

        Okay so pretty bad ratings for cross country trains and i have to say i am not completely sure why!? I have used this train company so many times i have lost count and not just for short journeys but for journeys from newcastle to basingstoke and that is around 6 hours on the train and have been doing this for about 3 year. I have to say i think as far as trains go cross country leads the way, and below i will tell you how to get the best out of this train company (also known as HOW TO SAVE MONEY!).

        I have had delays with this train but you get that with all trains. They DO over crowd there trains which are both big faults but every train company has this problem so you kind of have to focus of the positives. When me and my fiance were delayed at christmas for over an hour i complained and they gave me a full refund (as per their own policy but it was very quickly resolved) so no real issue there, i got a free journey! The staff are mostly very good and we mix up travelling first class (read below on how i do this) and standard class, and either way the staff are 90% good. So i will review both standard and first class (and remember to read below on how to save money when buying tickets).

        Standard class -
        Okay so i mostly travel with standard class and the seat room is like any other train company, not amazing but not too bad. The luggage racks are quite small considering the amount of people in the carriage and it can be very annoying but the key is if you cant get your bag on the rack wait till everyone is stood up to get off there stop and hope that someone moves a bag! There is little staff involved in standard class but the trolley service is a good little feature and the staff are very polite and always up for a laugh. The air conditioning is not amazing but again its no better or worse than any other train company.

        First class -
        So in first class you get the obvious .. A member of staff asking every 10 minutes if you are all right and you also get complimentary hot and cold drinks and also food. The hot food really is not that good but not much complimentary food is. The biscuits and crisps are good quality and the hot drinks are starbucks, so its not all bad. The leg room is very good and the luggage space is the same as standard but the majority of people in first class do not have big luggage bags. Okay so ... lets see how to save money.


        Saving money with cross country trains.

        Okay so cross country trains may not be perfect and i think i would agree more with the other reviews if i was paying the same amount of money as them, however using such a simple trick i pay a huge amount less.
        If you know where you are travelling well in advance, then simply book as soon as possible, you can book 3 months in advance. Also always look at 2 single tickets before looking at a return ticket, it is often cheaper and in my experience i have found it is always cheaper. For an example, i used to travel from newcastle to basingstoke with a return ticket and i bought it a few days before i travelled and it cost me £116.00.
        When i now buy me and my fiance a ticket here is what i do ...
        I buy between 1 and 3 month before i travel (because i know the exact dates i am travelling), i book 2 singles to basingstoke from newcastle and 2 singles from basingstoke to newcastle with my dates. Some times first class tickets are available IF you book literally 3 month ahead and you can buy a first class ticket for £32.00 (basingstoke to newcastle), so its worth trying the way i do it.
        If you travel more than 3 times a year and spend more than £200 on travel then it is also work looking at getting some form of rail card, there is different ones available but most save you 1/3 on train fare.

        So to sum up on how to save money with cross country...

        If you know your dates of travel then book one to three months in advance.
        Look at 2 singles as well as a return to see what is cheaper.
        If your timing is flexible look at different times in the day as off peak is always cheaper.

        Follow these tips and your savings could be huge. Where i used to pay £116.00 for just myself from newcastle to basingstoke, following the above steps i now book tickets for me and my fiance and with at least first class one way (sometimes both ways) the total is £135.00, so obviously i now pay £67.50 instead of £116.00.

        So yes this train company like all of them do charge far too much for travel, so follow my above steps and save yourself some money and i am sure you will agree that for the price you are then paying you get a good service and you do not pay extortionate prices!

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        29.06.2011 15:15

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        Ryanair on rails

        On Monday 27th June 2011 I,along with my son purchased tickets to travel from Birmingham Intl to Birmingham New St. We used adjacent machines in the booking hall,proceeded to platform two in order to board the next train.Boarding was nigh on impossible,each doorway being packed tight with standing passengers,however we squeezed on.Shouldnt have complained to the train guard.His sole response was to check our tickets.For whatever reason my sons ticket specified Virgin Trains only,whereas mine was unspecific.The train guard demanded that we buy a new ticket.We stated that we have just bought a ticket,it was one stop and that a genuine mistake had been made.The response was to pay up,or have the police meet the train and be arrested for fraud with a possible fine of £2000 and a prison sentence.
        The conditions on this Cross Country train can only be described as a living hell.No air conditionig,toilets stinking out the immediate camping area,bought about by no seats.This Company,along with the Thug of an employee needs to be avoided at all costs.

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        30.05.2011 21:25
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        Not a bad operator but could improove

        Cross Country Trains are part of the Arriva Group of companies but runs completely separate from the Arriva brand. They cover the majority of England and Southern Scotland with trains linking most major towns & cities outside London. The franchise is most of the old Virgin Cross Country network plus some of the old Central Trains franchise. It began operating under the name Cross County Trains on 11th November 2011.

        The routes run to most major towns & cities across England and also up into the Southern parts of Scotland (Edinburgh/Glasgow). I think the network is very large it offers great choice and trains run all day, everyday across the entire network from as far south as Bournemouth/Exeter to as far as Edinburgh & Scotland running over the length of the country. This means that availability is very good, I don't remember ever having problems getting trains with Cross Country at the times I wanted them.

        The trains are very easy to spot, they are black at the very front & end (where the drivers cabs are at each end) and then Silver on the outside for the rest of the carriages with pink/red coloured doors and a cross painted from top to bottom on the drivers cab. Inside the trains resemble the same as Virgin Trains West Coast fleet, this is because Virgin used the same trains on the Cross County franchise as they do on the West Coast route and the trains were handed over to Arriva when they won the franchise off Virgin. So you can expect them to be very modern & stylish. I think they are definitely the best designed interior on the National Rail network, the seats are a mix of red & blue, they face both directions so you can sit back to travel or facing travel. Most seats are comfortable and look clean & tidy but the coloring of the seats have faded in some places where they have been heavily used, this could do with being sorted as it makes it look a bit cheap. The seat reservations are done using an electronic scoller above the seats; I think this makes it look more clean & tidy unlike some other operators who stick bits of card in the seats to show the seat reservation.

        There is no longer an onboard shop on Cross Country Trains, this was removed to create more seating & luggage storage space, it received a lot of criticism from passengers but they still offer an at-seat buffet drinks trolley during the main core of the day on most of the network. As with other operators the prices are hiked up, Cross Country isn't too bad but I always try get stuff to take with me from Tesco or ASDA or get something from the station with my BITE discount card before I board, it saves money but if it's a long journey sometimes I do indulge in a nice cup of tea (they also do Starbucks on Cross Country Trains now which is brilliant). If you do want to purchase food or drink onboard they do have a nice selection of snacks, sandwiches and hot & cold drinks, including alcohol.

        Toilets can be found throughout the train, depending on the train type and they are usually very clean & in full working order. They have a HUGE disabled toilet with electronic door on trains aswell, this provides a lot of room for people who need space and passengers in wheelchairs so they are well catered for too.

        Staff are generally very friendly and helpful, never had any problems with Cross County staff, trains or services and will definitely continue to use them subject to fares not being ridiculously expensive, try get Cross Country Advance fares to save money and use a railcard if you're entitled to one.

        Although I generally have had no problems with ontime trains with CrossCountry there has been a very occasions where there was delays and trains have been over crowded (both during delays and when things are running smoothely) so this is why I haven't rated them a 5.

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        15.03.2011 16:46
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        There are worse ways to travel!

        I've decided to ignore the cost argument of rail travel in my review, because all up front train tickets on long distance routes are expensive, regardless of the operator, and all operators have a decent choice of cheap advance tickets, including first class, so to single out Cross Country for being expensive in this way would be unfair.

        Cross country use three types of trains, the Voyagers (which form the majority of their services), a small number of the old Intercity 125's and the turbostars. Despite the fact that you might think 'a train is a train', the passenger environments in these three types couldn't be more different, and thus it can be like travelling on three separate train companies, rather than just the one!

        The voyagers themselves are by far the worst of the three types of train. These trains aren't suitable for some of the routes they are on, with only 4 or 5 coaches, despite going the length of the country. The standard class seating is very uncomfortable for long distance travel, with hard upright seat backs and little legroom. Whereas this layout may be preferable for short distance commuter trips, where the aim should be to maximise passenger numbers, on a long distance train it is fairly intolerable. A short history lesson reveals that the voyagers were ordered by the franchise predecessor Virgin, who wanted to double the frequency of the cross country network, with the plan to shorten train lengths, but increase the number of services. A nice idea on paper, but for whatever reason, this seems to mean that half the services aren't very busy at all, where as the other half can be horrifically rammed (usually the ones going on the longer distance trips such as Bournemouth to Manchester, or Dundee to Penzance). I cannot say I can recommend a long distance journey on these voyagers at all, though for short hops within the core network served - i.e. Reading to Oxford, the service frequency increase is ideal.

        The second type of train used is the Intercity 125, the old BR high speed trains, still used by Great Western and East Coast. The passenger environment on these couldn't be anymore different to the voyagers, with plenty of tables, comfortable standard class seating you can fall asleep in, and plenty of leg room. Because they are 7 coaches long, there are usually plenty of seats, even when they are busy. This is much more like long distance train travel should be, and well done to Cross Country for bringing these trains back. The only problem is they don't operate that many services, so it is the luck of the draw if you get one of these.

        Finally we have the smaller turbostar trains, which are used on the secondary routes such as Nottingham Cardiff and Leicester to Stansted Airport. These trains can get very busy in the peak - being only 3 coaches long, however off peak they provide a not too dissimilar environment to the Intercity 125's with very comfortable standard class seating, and a variety of airline and table seats. Obviously slightly more of a local train, but still pleasant to travel by.

        All catering now is provided by trolley services. The trolley services on the voyager and 125 trains are in house, but the ones on the turbostars are provided by agency staff. This means that the cost of a cup of tea (and other items) is different depending on what service you use! In general the service provided in house is better, with smarter, more professional and keen staff, which is not surprising as I would imagine they are paid a better wage, and get better benefits. The other staff you will encounter is the Guard , often called the Train Manager or Conductor, most are only too happy to help, but you can get a couple who are very keen on enforcing the ticket regulations by the book, so make sure you are on the correct train and have all your documents up to date and correct!

        Finally the main upside and indeed downside of train travel involves who else you are sharing a carriage. You can meet interesting people or have a decent quiet relaxing journey, but equally you could have to put up with annoying personal stereo noise leaking out and constant chatter on mobile phones. But this is true of all companies.

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        08.12.2010 13:59
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        I probably will travel with them again but not for a long time and only if I need to!

        Last weekend, I decided at the last minute to take a trip down to Plymouth to see a friend who is studying down there. I've only done this trip once before but found that the 5 hours journey there and 8 hour journey back weren't too bad.

        **Good Experiences**

        As I have just said, the first time I travelled down to Plymouth was quite comfortable. The train journey there took 5 hours and I managed to grab myself my own table for the whole trip, after my change in Birmingham.

        The journey back was a little more stressful as it took 8 hours and I had 4 changes. However, these changes were all timed perfectly so that I didn't have to wait in any city for too long and got home as quickly as I could.

        This journey cost me around £80, which I am told is very cheap for a Nottingham-Plymouth trip, so based on this experience I would give Cross Country trains 5 stars.

        **And Back Experiences**

        However, my recent trip to Plymouth was nowhere near as easy or comfortable.

        After boarding in Nottingham at 10.35, I had to change trains in Birmingham. My train arrived in Birmingham at 12.00 and my train to Plymouth was due to leave another platform at 12.10. This meant that I had to get off the train, grab my suitcase and run to the next platform!

        But when I got into the main area of Birmingham station, the board for Plymouth stated that the next train had been cancelled. I assumed straight away that this was because of the snow somewhere along the way, so understood that the service could not help this situation. I called my friend to let him know and he informed me that every time one of his trains had been cancelled another had been provided and he did not have to wait for the next one.

        So I popped over to the information desk and asked whether a replacement was being sent and was simply told 'no you will have to wait for the 13.10 train'. And then she turned tot he next person to take their enquiry. I found this quite rude as this was only the second time I had ever travelled alone, I was very nervous and obviously am quite young so someone could have given me a little more information.

        As I was stuck in Birmingham for an hour, I popped over to the Bull Ring to do some shopping and returned to the platform which the 13.10 train was leaving from at 12.50 to give myself a little time to grab a seat.

        When I arrived at the platform, it was mayhem! There were so many people squashed up there that I knew instantly I would not be sitting down on my 4 1/2 hour journey south! The train finally arrived around 13.05, which gave everyone 5 minutes to board the train before it was due to leave.

        Needless to say, the train left late (around 13.20) which added another 10 minutes onto my long journey.

        Also, the train was so busy that people were squashed up against each other outside the toilets on the train. There was even a little girl aged 3-4 sat on the floor out there as the seat her mother had reserved had now been cancelled as the train was twice as full!!

        The whole of the journey down to Plymouth was like this, it was extremely uncomfortable and I spent most of the journey worrying that someone might steal my suitcase as they left the train, as I had had to leave it right by the doors!

        I was happy to arrive in Plymouth and have a care free weekend. When leaving, I decided to catch the 15.25 train back, which would get me home for 20.45......this was not the case!

        Again the train home was late and arrived at the station at 15.50. Once everyone was boarded, the driver announced that he was having problems starting the engine but hopefully we would be leaving soon. Luckily, everyone was listening for his announcement and we heard the speakers on the platform say that our train was now cancelled and another would be leaving in five minutes from a different platform. So everyone on the train ran to jump on the other one which was leaving shortly.

        I was quite happy to find that I had a seat which had not been reserved so would not have to move all the way home, however, the problems with the train meant that this train was now double booked again and we had the same situation as on the way in. Although I was sitting, there were many people standing up, squashed together.

        When I purchsed my tickets this time, I purchased a young person's rail card first. This saved me around £5 off the original fare but I figured I'd be going back to Plymouth again before the card ran out. I do not plan to go back any time soon as I do not want to have to travel like this again!!!


        **Overall**

        It is difficult to be angry with Cross Country as they cannot help the weather so it is not their fault that trains were cancelled and running late.

        However, I do not feel that they did everything that they could to provide their customers with a decent enough service for such a long journey. We were informed on the way there and back that coaches had been taken off the train, so there were twice as many passangers and not enough coaches! If a replacement had been supplied, even if it had turned up later then the 13.10 train, life would have been so much easier and their customers would have been a lot happier.

        When I am paying £100 to travel somewhere, I expect to atleast be able to sit down, even if I am sitting next to someone that I do not know. I don't expect to have to sit on the floor, outside a dirty toilet which absolutely stinks!

        For the above reasons, I'm going to give Cross Country 3 stars. Their service this time around was not good enough (and my friend has said that he has had to travel like this with them before too) but I have had good experiences with them too.


        Oh.....the train that I caught back got me home for 23.00!

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          19.04.2010 14:07

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          A little better than most other train companies.

          This service is actually a bit better than the other train services. For the money you pay, you actually do go a bit further (especially if you book in advance). However, like all the privatized rail network, this is still a poor service for what it should offer.
          A few years ago, the franchise holders decided to replace a lot of the older stock. Great. Or so you might think. The mainline HST trains went from 8 coach, relatively relaxing and spacious trains with a buffet to a 4-5 coach, cramped service. Train usage was going up, and they cut the number of seat. Now it's telling. You can very rarely find a seat and when you do there is no leg room for anyone over 6 foot. It's genuinely uncomfortable. There is no luggage room either, and you will really struggle if you have a suitcase. On more crowded journeys, they do double the trains up. But you still have the problem over luggage and overcrowding.
          There is a small trolley service that replaced the buffets, and if you're on a long journey you can no longer get hot food. It's just a selection of snacks.
          The toilets are always dirty, and the trains themselves are often dirty.
          All that said though, to the advanced booker they can be one of the better companies. You do get a little more for your money, and Cross Country does serve a large area, meaning if you're on the right train you won't have to change.
          The staff are helpful, and do try to make the best of things.

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          19.07.2009 14:57
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          I simply wouldn't use this company again.

          For some background, I was undertaking my train journey because I had to go to a conference. The journey was Glasgow to Leeds. I travelled alone, and had a laptop and a small case on wheels for luggage.

          I opted for Cross Country trains on my return journey because I wanted to travel from Leeds to Glasgow with no changes. I ordered my tickets online and paid £34.50 for my single ticket.

          The train arrived at the station on time, which was all well and good. The problems started as soon as I got on board.

          Firstly, the luggage rack was hilariously small - especially for a train whose entire route was Penzance to Glasgow Central. I had no option but to lug my case up the central aisle while looking for my reserved seat.

          Sod's Law being what it is, of course, my reserved seat had apparently been taken by another passenger. As is always the case when this happens, the passsenger who has nicked your seat is always distinctly scummy. Not fancying a stabbing, I simply found an unreserved seat and sat there, jamming my case under my feet and reconciling myself to absolutely no leg room for four hours. Generally speaking, the layout of the train was very cramped - real sardine packing.

          About ten minutes into the journey, I realised the train seemed very warm. So did some of the other passengers. On managing to nab one of the conductors as they passed through, it turned out that the air conditioning was broken and was, in fact, blowing hot air at us.

          The heating situation simply got worse and worse throughout the journey. The windows could not be opened, and the temperature in the carriage must easily have been over 30 degrees. Everyone was looking flushed and tired - and, bluntly, my shirt was actually sticking to my back.

          After two hours of this endurance test - a conductress appeared and informed us that carriage B (the unreserved one - where my scummy seat thief should have been) had air con and some spare seats. Some people switched straight away (without waiting for those with toddlers or elderly passengers to go first - nice manners, there) I didn't want to risk losing the seat I had, and couldn't have lugged my case up the aisle anyway, so I had to stay put.

          After another half hour, the conductress appeared with some free water.

          The aircon issue, though, continued all the way to Glasgow.

          On top of this, we were told just before Newcastle that the electronic booking system had managed to erase itself - so there were now no records of any reservations. Seating was now a complete free-for-all! My seat thief could rejoice!

          Overall - incredibly uncomfortable journey. Staff did try to alleviate the problems (pretty late on, though) - but the problems shouldn't have happened in the first place. Also, could someone please explain to me why the train didn't have open-able windows!? What sort of logic is that!!?

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            17.07.2009 10:30
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            Awful - will pay the extra for Virgin Trains next time

            We are not train travellers by nature - almost all of our journeys are by car. Not through conscious choice I might add - simply poor public transport where we live. On this one occasion, we decided to try something different, and risked booking a return train journey from Birmingham to Edinburgh.

            Looking around online, the difference between Virgin and Cross country was financially quick striking. First class advance purchase from Cross country was still less than half the cost of Virgin economy! Treating ourselves, we paid £84 each for return first class travel.

            What a disappointment. We arrived in Birmingham in good time, only to discover the train was running late. We went to the Cross country desk to find out why and we simply dismissed. The train was late, they wouldn't offer any advice or reason - it was pretty much our problem.
            After an hour of waiting, the train arrived - only four minutes in front of the next scheduled train. As a result, it was packed. Luckily, our seats were reserved and first class had plenty of space.

            Unfortunately, the journey didn't improve. The complementary hot food that comes with First class was not available - there was no electricity on board. There was no buffet car - only a trolley service that appeared as little as possible. Sandwiches were offered instead - as long as you liked egg & cress! Tea and coffee ran out somewhere about Sheffield and the soft drinks were only available in the tiny 150ml cans, and even then were limited to coke, diet coke or tonic water! The staff on board couldn't be less interested in their jobs if they tried, and spent very little time talking to the passengers. They spent most of the journey avaoiding the passengers, and when finally found, dismissed every comment with a "its not our fault - you need to complain to the train operator" Unfortunately, they couldn't even offer us a complaint form (they aren't carried on board as standard)

            We eventually arrived in Edinburgh over an hour late and never have I been so glad to get off. No comment was made by cross country about the timings.

            The return journey was pretty much the same, although at least this time the train ran on time. Overcrowded, no food and surly staff, the train even ran out of toilet paper an hour into the five hour journey!

            I have to admit that those five hours were probably the worst journey I have had. It was far more expensive than driving, and in hind sight, far more problematic. It certainly hasn't convinced me to travel by train again!

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            12.10.2008 10:27
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            Cheap rail fares

            if you are a travelling between Leeds and Birmingham the cheapest way to travel between the two cities on Crosscountry before 0930 Monday to Friday if you are returning the same day is NOT to buy an anytime return ticket at a cost of £76 BUT to purchase 3 seperate anytime day return tickets Leeds to Sheffield £10.20 Sheffield to Derby £15.30 and Derby to Birmingham £13.60 which will cost you £49.10 in total saving you £26.90 which is a lot of money.You could save even more money if you was travelling of peak after 0930 but on the return journey from Birmingham off peak tickets to Derby are not valid between 1515 and 1815 ,the grand total of the 3 seperate off peak tickets come to £27 which gives you a massive saving of £49. PLEASE BUY YOUR SEPERATE TICKETS AT THE TRAVEL CENTRES AS YOU CANNOT PURCHASE TICKETS LIKE THIS ON BOARD THE TRAIN
            , If you boarded the train with no ticket and purchased one from the conductor and then stayed on the service then you would be over distanced and charged the operate fare for the journey you are making to the next station and thus not saving any money

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              06.08.2008 00:23
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              Have you thought about walking instead?

              The technical details of the Crosscountry franchise are available elsewhere on the internet and so I'll not reproduce them here.

              For background, I use Crosscountry trains almost every day either commuting in Devon or for leisure between Bristol and Cornwall at weekends.

              I realise that it's fashionable to complain about train companies but there are train companies that have a lot of positives. This just isn't one of them.

              In the mornings, Crosscountry services out of Newton Abbot seem to have three carriages maximum. That's at peak commuting time. What are they thinking? People are standing or sitting everywhere. I pay well into four figures per annum for my season ticket - is it too much to expect a seat?

              And another thing, is there any chance that they might spend a few minutes fixing the toilets? Without fail, each morning, the corridors around the toilet areas have wet carpet and smell strongly of urine. Which cuts down the places you can sit when you can't find a seat!

              On the reliability front, they are generally within a few minutes of being on time - that counts as on time these days! But when they are late, they do it in style - losing over half an hour on a twenty minute journey takes some doing.

              I have no idea what Virgin Trains did wrong but they were head and shoulders above this shower!

              Awful!

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                31.03.2008 12:02
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                Fingers crossed that CrossCountry improve this difficult franchise.

                CrossCountry is the British train operating company that runs most north-south and some east-west long distance trains that do not serve London. The company is owned by the transport multinational Arriva. Arriva decided to brand CrossCountry separately to distinguish the franchise from Arriva's predominantly rural and provincial services in Wales.

                CrossCountry's services are summarised into numbered routes:

                1. Plymouth to Edinburgh Waverley (via Leeds)
                2. Reading to Newcastle (via Doncaster)
                3. Bristol Temple Meads to Manchester Piccadilly
                4. Bournemouth to Manchester Piccadilly (via Coventry)
                5. Cardiff Central to Nottingham
                6. Birmingham New Street to Leicester and Stansted Airport

                Routes 1 to 4 were previously opeated by the cross-country division of Virgin Trains, while routes 5 and 6 were integrated from the Central Trains franchise, which has now been replaced by CrossCountry and East Midlands Trains.

                Each route has at least train an hour, apart from Birmingham to Leicester and Birmingham to Nottingham which always have two per hour. The combination of routes means that many sections of the network see up to three or four trains per hour.

                The shape and format of the network is largely left over from the previous franchisee Virgin Trains, who operated the cross-country franchise from privitisation until November 2007. Virgin initiated a major fleet replacement programme that replaced high speed trains and locomotive hauled trains with a larger fleet of four and five carriage diesel-electric multiple units called 'Voyagers'. Some 'Voyagers' are designated 'SuperVoyagers' and are capable of tilting to maintain speed and comfort through bends. While the fleet renewal programme brought many more trains into service, they are all of fixed lengths and have, in some cases, resulted in a reduction of capacity. It's not unusual to find some rush-hour trains between key cities packed to standing room only, a situation not helped by the fact that apart from linking two trains together, they cannot be extended to respond to demand. The former Central Trains routes aren't much better, since these trains (called 'Turbostars') are just two or three carriages long. All Voyagers and Turbostars are self-propelled multiple units, so passengers will feel and hear the vibration of the trains' engines beneath their seats - ride comfort and acoustic comfort are significantly worse than on the old locomotive hauled trains.

                In autumn 2008 a number of refurbished high speed trains re-joined the fleet to provide extra capacity. By 2009, five of the Intercity 125 High Speed Trains that used to operate these routes (and which Virgin chose to replace with shorter modern train) will be back in service, providing eight carriages and approximately 550 seats on certain longer distance services.

                In all cases, advance purchase tickets offer the best value, and are normally best purchased online as single tickets. A seat reservation also guarantees you a seat on these often crowded trains. The modern diesel and diesel-electric trains offer poor comfort compared to the older trains they replaced, with hard seats and very limited luggage provision. Passengers traveling with more than two bags will find it difficult to find space for their bags, and even harder to find space that they can observe them during the journey.

                Routes 1-4 feature on-board shops and routes 5-6 feature a trolley catering service. Both offer hot and cold drinks and snacks. A plan by CrossCountry to replace the on-board shops of the Voyager trains with more seats, luggage space and a roving trolley service appear to have been put on ice due to problems re-configuring the leased rolling stock.

                First class service is provided on most trains, although most former Central Trains trains are not equipped with a first class cabin. First class passengers receive a complimentary beverage and snacks at certain times, although apart from a core set of routes this isn't served at your seat - you need to walk the length of the train to the shop to get your refreshments. Weekend upgrades to first class are available and widely promoted, but only provide you with a maginally larger seat.

                Virgin Trains had a tough time operating this franchise, and no doubt CrossCountry will have problems too: the network is a complex mesh of routes across many different lines, serving many important and busy stations. Passenger numbers have increased dramatically, and the decision to use such small trains on so many routes has made overcrowding even worse. For the occasional traveler, cheap advance purchase tickets are great value, but for the commuter or regular traveler, these routes are a depressing part of modern life on Britain's privatised railways.

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