Newest Review: ... carriages might add to the enjoyment. The "special deals" on wine and beer in the so-called buffet just about sums it up - drunks... more
New Name, Same Bad Service
Member Name: mynameisrui
Advantages: Its quick and convenient
Disadvantages: Expensive, wi-fi is rubbish
The East Coast is the name for the company running the route that connects London Kings Cross and Edinburgh with various stops in between. It was formally know as Great North Eastern Railways (GNER) but that went under and was taken over by National Express which also subsequently went under leaving us with East Coast.
Despite all the various owners, that's about the only thing that has changed. The service has remained pretty bad throughout and delays are a common occurrence
So first things first, fares. As with most operators, the later you leave it to buy your fare, the more expensive it is. It is also more expensive if you buy it at the ticket office at the station as opposed to online. Saying that, when I say online, I mean from a third party website like the train line as they are much cheaper. As an example, I recently went to Newcastle for the weekend (up on Friday and back down on Sunday) and looked at the East Coast website for trains. I was travelling about 2 months later so was hoping to get good tickets. Looking at the East Coast website I was looking at paying around £120 for 2 single's as this was the cheapest method available. I then had a look on the Train Line and exactly the same tickets were available for less than £50. Needless to say I got my tickets from there. It is worth noting that these tickets I got are very strict and only allow you to get on one train and there is no flexibility or refunds.
Once I got to the station I was greeted by the usual delays that are experienced more often than not although this one was only 10 minutes so it could have been worse. Once I boarded the train I made my way to my seat reservation which, when I booked my ticket, I had asked for a table and a power socket nearby and this was indeed the case.
In terms of the actual look of the trains, the best word to describe it is dated. The trains aren't spotlessly clean but they are to an acceptable standard but the seats look worn and the general feeling you get when you sit on the trains is that it needs a bit of looking after.
Once the journey started I was happily sat there with my computer plugged in ready to do a bit of internet browsing in order to kill some time. However, East Coast have now put a cap on free internet usage to 15 minutes which is one of the most frustrating things I have seen. If you wish to use it for longer you have to pay £5 for an hour or £10 for 24 hours. However, if you are in first class then wi-fi is completely free.
So, as the train moved across the country everything else was pretty much ok. You get the usual snack cart coming through the train selling various items as well as a buffet card. Both of which charge more than you'd like to pay for what they are selling but it could be worse.
To be fair, the trip upto Newcastle wasn't too bad. It could have been better but could also have been a lot worse.
However, it was the journey back down on the Sunday which was most frustrating. When I got to the train station I found that the train was on time (great!). However, upon entering the train I was greeted with an announcement from the conductor that due to a mix of a lack of crew, earlier trains being delayed and engineering works, this particular train had no seat reservations, no wi-fi at all, and you could not buy any food on board until we got to our first stop about 30 minutes away. Unfortunately this is not too uncommon on a Sunday. I used to make monthly trips to Leeds and come back on a Sunday and always used to face the same problem. That means that this problem has been going on for years and still they do nothing about it!
So before we even set off the journey home was already going to be painful and this was not helped but the engineering works affecting our journey which meant we arrived in London 30 minutes late.
Despite all the annoyances, the only good thing that has been consistent on the train line is the staff. While you do get a few power hungry ticket inspectors, the majority of people are very helpful and polite. The problem is that there is often nothing they can do!
My biggest problem with the trains and this has been consistent throughout the various owners, is that the tickets are a fortune and the quality of the trains and the overall service provided doesn't justify the massive price tag.
So overall, what can I say? In my opinion East Coast aren't very good at all but then again the only real alternative is to drive so I guess it's a case of like it or lump it!
Summary: Shame there isn't an alternative
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