Saturday, 23 June 2012

Travelling Chiltern Railways - as good as it gets?

In my last travel blog post I finished by saying that a £25 Super Off-peak return to London going out on a Chiltern Silver set and returning on a Clubman was still my preferred rail experience. However, as I hadn't used this combination recently, I was glad to be able to check that I wasn't being too rosy-eyed by so travelling yesterday.

The 1055 from Moor Street to Marylebone was formed of the adapted Silver Set so there was a long walk down Platform 3 to get to the Business Zone carriage which is now at the London end of the train. Wasn't surprised to find the coach empty as I settled into my seat but it did fill up to seven passengers by the time we reached Leamington.

Alas, two of the points I noted when I first used the Set in service are still annoying. First, the hum in the centre of the carriage is still noticeable, and secondly, the sliding door at the toilet end of the carriage is still locked open (though fortunately without the staff conversation this time). When I asked about the door, I was told that there wasn't sufficient power available for it to be operational....

Nevertheless, once underway, the carriage proved an ideal working environment though the WiFi had to be reset to get it working. Coffee was offered after Solihull - arrived in a coffee pot with real milk - and again after Banbury, and the 'host' was attentive and friendly (though apparently she has to run the Expresso Bar and be the Host on these off-peak journeys). Definitely worth the £10 supplement though I do know that the Standard Class carriages are superb too.

Five minutes late into London Marylebone but overall, niggles apart, a good trip.

Returned from Marylebone on the 1537 Clubman to Birmingham Snow Hill. Not one to rush for as it was departing from the far end of Platform 6 - about as far from the ticket barriers as you can get. No problem getting a table seat. The driver announced that the WiFi had failed but in fact it was working - it would seem that Chiltern control can get the WiFi up and running through remote access by Icomera.

A good run and plenty of opportunity to work once more.

So Chiltern aren't perfect but in terms of value for money for the service and facilities you get off-peak, the company can't be bettered.

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