Saturday, 11 February 2012

LondonMidland's Great Escape

This weekend comes in the middle of LondonMidland's Great Escape promotion - still plenty of vouchers left for the half-term... Last Tuesday, I took advantage of the promotion to travel to London from Birmingham First Class for £25.

The first train out of New Street Monday-Friday on which the promotion is valid is the 0913 (arrives into Euston at 11.27). First surprise of the morning was to find New Street's Victoria Square entrance / exit fully manned for both ticket sales and ticket checks. These checks were followed up regularly on the train, even past Northampton.

The four car unit waiting on the platform wasn't particularly busy, so a table secured without a problem on which to work. Plenty of time to take advantage of the peaceful environment as the train runs local to Northampton before being semi-fast to Euston. Toilets clean and working... The only downside is the arrival into Euston's Platform 17 which must be one of the most depressing arrival / departure environments. Still, overall, a typically efficient LondonMidland working.

I returned on the 1946 - again a four car unit - which was standing forlornly in Platform 17. No barrier checks of course, none on the train, and none, naturally, at Birmingham New Street. Still, the train was relatively quiet and First Class particularly so, especially after Northampton. One of the peculiarities of the LondonMidland timetable is that it runs relatively fast trains out of London (2hrs 3mins) during the off-peak day but doesn't mid-evening. Thus the 1946 is timetabled to take 2hrs 15mins - almost mind-numbingly slow at that time of night.

So, although LondonMidland score highly on the working environment if travelling First Class, Chiltern still win out overall by charging the same price for a walk-on fare (£25 super off-peak return 0955 out, 1937 back), being quicker, offering Free WiFi, and refreshments in the morning... Sorry LM!

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