Newest Review: ... 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, howe... more
QUIIIEEEEETT!! Yes, that is what it flipping says!
Member Name: Emma1973
Advantages: Always on time. Polite staff
Disadvantages: The Quiet Zone is rarely that.
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!
Summary: My local train from the North to the South West.