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Cross Country Trains - why bother?
Member Name: Gnome
Date: 17/07/09, updated on 30/01/11 (594 review reads)
Advantages: Comfortable seating in first class, direct journey
Disadvantages: Poor staff attitude, late trains
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!
Summary: Awful - will pay the extra for Virgin Trains next time
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