Friday, 18 January 2013

Compare and contrast part 2 - LondonMidland and Chiltern Railways once more

Courtesy of my wife's journey to London yesterday, I am able to compare the morning services from Birmingham experienced recently, and add something to the saga of the splitting 1915...

My wife travelled on the 0733 +London Midland 4 car Desiro from New Street using a Rail Sale First Class Advance ticket priced at £15. She went prepared with refreshments, a dongle in case she needed WiFi, and loads of work as the journey to Euston is timed for 2 hours 12 mins... The First Class compartment had nine passengers on leaving New Street (from where it starts) of whom six were going to Milton Keynes. Naturally, the curse of the WCML struck so that her train was 19 mins late into Euston due to signalling problems at Wolverton - she had built this eventuality into her journey plans...

Last week, I took the 0751 +Chiltern Railways 3 car Clubman from Snow Hill. This train is a prime commuter service into Birmingham so was crowded upon arrival at Snow Hill. Fortunately, most got off at Snow Hill and then Moor Street so actually getting to a table to work proved not to be the problem I feared. My advance standard class ticket cost £40 for which I got free WiFi and the promise (which didn't materialise) of a refreshment trolley. Timing for the Snow Hill - Marylebone run is 104 mins but as the approach to Marylebone is so congested the actual timing was more like 110 mins. From the resigned look on the faces of regular commuters, this was not unusual.

Of course, we both could have used the 0810 Virgin Trains Pendolino from New Street. However, to do so would have cost £63.50 advance standard fare (plus another £4 for the WiFi) and subjected us to the cramped seating and lack of power points that Virgin seem to feel is appropriate for those who don't travel First. So, if travelling on Advance tickets in the morning peak, +London Midland or +Chiltern Railways it is...

Returning from London, my wife took advantage of the Super Off-Peak £27.50 return from Marylebone to use the 1915 service to Snow Hill. As has been noted, this now consists of two Clubman units making 7 cars in all. Monday to Thursday the Units split at Snow Hill and I had questioned Chiltern's information policy about this element of the journey.

Chris Bates (@chrisbates3)has tweeted a photo of the information poster that he says is at Marylebone. Clearly the poster exists but neither my wife last night nor I last week spotted it.... Interestingly, it claims that the split occurs at Moor Street! However, Chiltern are making efforts on board to repeatedly remind passengers that the split will occur. Note that on Fridays, the 7 cars apparently go through to Kidderminster.

One final point on the 1915. Now that the Bicester North stop has been dropped, this service has gone from being regularly overcrowded upon departure to being almost deserted! Definitely worth using at present.

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