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National Express better on coaches than on trains
Member Name: anonbg
Advantages: Safely transported, comfortable seats
Disadvantages: Expensive, weekend works chaos
This review applies to my experience of National Express Trains particularly on the East Anglia line (mostly from Colchester / Ipswich) and some journeys I have made using buses to and from London.
Price - All train services in the UK are overpriced to a greater or lesser degree in my opinion, the same is true of National Express Trains East Anglia. However, some savings can be made booking in advance or by booking specific trains in advance over the internet and then picking them up from station machines with credit / debit card.
Trains - Without exception all the trains on this line that I have used have been relatively new / acceptible rolling stock and are comfortable. Much of the time the trains are kept tidy, although travelling over the weekend in the evenings cars can have litter strewn over the place. As far as availability is concerned it is worth booking a seat in advance because at busier times you might find you have to stand or to sit in the corridor, but most of the time this isn't an issue.
Trains are mosly punctual, although my line is notorious for works over the weekend meaning that trains depart from Stratford or worse still Shenfield. Bus services are laid on by National Express (not a premium National Express coach, more like a bus really).
I had a nightmare experience a couple of months ago when trains when one of the last trains on a Sunday was cancelled. We were at Stratford, wanted to get to Ipswich but were told by NE staff they could not be certain there would be another train that evening to Ipswich so we were forced to catch a train to Colchester. The staff we spoke to said that the only man who would have access to correct information was directing the trains and could not be disturbed which was why they could not tell us what was going on. This was the worst experience I've had with NE and thankfully I haven't had another one like it, but it is worth considering very carefully if you are planning on using the East Anglia service late on Sunday evening.
My recent experiences on National Express coaches have been positive. Booking online is trouble free. The buses are usually punctual, seats are comfortable and the cabin was clean. Happily, there is no chance of being forced to stand either!
Coaches are cheaper, but barely cheaper that rail tickets from Ipswich these days. Perhaps NE are better on routes when they are competing against other companies - it doesn't make much sense to have one company monoplising both rail and coach services in one area.
There has been a talk of NE losing their licence to operate the East Anglia route. My opinion is that this might be a good thing. However, the truth of the matter is that prices will stay high and that problems will remain. It will stay this way as long as there is too little (public or private) investment in the railway sector.
Summary: Monopolist in East Anglia needs to reduce its prices
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