East Coast London – York 1st Class

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  • NTarrant

    There is an element of increased passengers that would have happened whether franchising had occurred or not I would agree. But the marketing that new operators brought to the railways coupled with increased frequencies had a key effect on increasing passengers at a time when fuel prices were increasing and congestion rising.

    If BR had the sums of money spent on it, it is debatable whether it would have made much difference.


    I disagree.
    We are being fleeced by a system that is not fit for purpose.

    TOCs put shareholders first. No debate, and why shouldn’t they?

    Millions spent every year on ascertaining blame for delays because no one organization is in charge. At a cost.

    First Group walk away from their four extension to the Great Western franchise JUST as it moves from a subsidized service to one that must pay a premium. And then are offered it by the government to run anyway – with subsidies. More cost.

    Virgin Trains blocking Southern from operating from Milton Keynes to Croydon, because their revenue (on a privatized system) would be negatively impacted. Even though Virgin didn’t operate from Milton Keynes to Croydon when Southern wanted to start the service. So a legal battle ensues, and Southern get their service. More cost.

    Wrexham and Shropshire Railway decide to start a service from Wrexham to London direct, because there are no existing direct services. Virgin (on a privitised railway) immediately starts a Wrexham to London service. Great! Proper competition in action at last. Except not really, as Virgin invoke a clause which prevents Wrexham and Shropshire from providing a service from any station already served by Virgin.

    And what of the cost of this franchising bids? The four companies bidding for West Coast estimate it cost them £40m.

    And we all love GNER and their restaurant car, and what East Coast have done since then to repair the damage caused by National Express, yet, British Rail managed to run more restaurants cars in their day than we have now. And they did it with less subsidy.

    So in a way I agree with you – the private operators have brought their marketing skills to the railway. And that’s about it.
    They have allowed us to travel to Glasgow for £29 on the 10.40am from Euston, (Don’t dare miss it or you’ll find out what else the marketing has done – diverted attention from the incredible increases to ‘buy on the day’ fares, well in excess of the RPI.)


    I agree that the areas you mention are wrong and do nothing to help customers. The system is not right and there is too much interfering by the DfT etc.

    The trouble with BR was there was too much management and inefficent. Frankly they should have split BR into five regional companies and sold them off including track or sold BR so it became BR Plc.

    But if you purchased a Big City Saver in 1980 to Glasgow and didn’t catch the 1040 you would also have to buy an ordinary single


    Having lived through the BR era I can confirm it was a gloomy time. It was a time of ‘managed decline’ on the UK railways.

    The thought of travelling in the UK by train was so depressing that for 20 years I gave up travelling long distance by rail in favour of flying and driving myself.

    The trouble with having a state-owned BR was that it was dependent on the Treasury for money. So when times were tough, the government restricted funding.

    There was also a lack of imagination from BR managers. No lines could compete with one another. We had a situation where both the ECML and WCML charged identical fares and offered an identical product.

    In BR days, management decreed that London-Birmingham could only be served via the WCML from Birmingham. It was left to privatised Chiltern to open up a new and successful route from Marylebone with far more attractive fares.

    NIRscot is correct in that the privatised system does have its faults but one cannot deny that the UK system is the only railway network in the whole of Europe which is showing such healthy growth.


    I’ve been doing quite a bit of rail travel the last couple of weeks and will do a review of my experiences when I have a chance….

    I had the pleasure of sharing a 1st class table with a gent (co-incidentally turned out to be a colleague) who was a bit of a train geek …..

    He advised me that on the ECML the old 125’s could travel faster (140mph) but the drivers refuse to exceed 125,

    Because they did not trust the tracks and the maintenance…

    Although his strange app did display our speed at up to 130….

    As a beside, my travels to Bedford, London and Leeds have just reinforced my opinion that flying is best…..


    I agree with most of your observations. We can see the pro’s and cons on this issue.

    But, I rarely stood in the 1980/90’s on trains, when there were up to 12 carriages, up and down from London northwards. At least i could spontaneously decide to go away for the weekend and simply get on a train, without having to pay a fortune, as now.
    Of course BR was as it was, and not glorious, but you had freedom of choice to travel on the spur, which we do not have now.

    Leisure travellers, compared to business travellers where the cost is picked up by others, really do suffer.

    I am partly in Amsterdam these days. There is such a great sense of freedom in paying for a ticket, travelling whatever the time day, the same price, a single is half the return. The trains as we all know are modern, reliable, and certainly crowded at peak times or on peak lines, but the cost is very low.

    Their Chip Card system gives you (as like the Oyster system) nationwide travel, on ALL trains, trams, buses and metros. It is loaded from your Dutch Bank account and topped up automatically but use for the whole country.

    Schiphol – Amsterdam C = E3.80 (compare that to Paddington to LHR)
    AMS- Den Haag E 10.30.

    It is the freedom which i enjoy, and miss when i get back to the UK.
    I think it is very sad that this has been taken away, especially for those that could not afford these “get on” fares in the UK.

    It is bad enough having to plan to get on and off this island, let alone get around it by train, planning weeks ahead for a decent fare.
    Some fares, I could fly to The Far East and back for the same cost!


    Hello Marcus

    But it must be remembered that Holland is a compact country so our equivalent to Dutch Railways would be our former Network Southeast system (now divided amongst several different TOCs) where, of course, no reservations can be made anyway, ie it’s all walk-up fares.

    Now I can understand why there was so much opposition in Holland to the ill-fated Fyra trains because these made a reservation mandatory. I believe this was for safety reasons owing to the speed at which these trains were designed to travel.


    Hi Alex.

    I just checked say Groningen to Maastrict which is about 220 miles to drive, and the train with 1/2 connections takes over 4 hrs.
    But this distance is taking you by comparison, from London to Preston, 220 miles, about the same. This makes it a little more than Network South East.
    However, they do have the two floor trains, and many direct IC trains are very fast, always a reasonable walk on fare. Trains are also new with cctv, free wi fi, and screens with info on the journey stations ahead etc in each carriage. they had bright designs, wooden flooring, and really very quiet and comfortable.

    A price comparison today to travel in Holland or UK 17hrs:
    Groningen to Maastricht €24 one way (any train)
    London Euston to Preston £159!
    That is approx 1/8th of the cost!

    We are grossly overcharged as we all know. We have lost the freedom to travel spontaneously long distances!


    Peak fares in the UK have always been more expensive for a long as I have been alive – this isn’t a new thing. It is understandable why train companies do this – although it does mean some of the trains go nearly empty – if this happens then one can rightly question this peak policy.

    What I don’t think is acceptable is how train companies have expanded the peak times. They used to be 4pm to 7pm on most intercity routes (leaving London). Many companies have made the evening peak ealier – in some cases close to 3pm. Another trick is re-timing trains by 1 minute (in the case odf the Brighton to Bristol train) it used to leave at 09:00 (off peak). It is now timed as 08:59 so that in theory anyone getting on at Brighton now has to buy peak fares for this train.


    Peak fares were always higher, but what we have now have what is basically price gouging.

    Walk-on LON – MAN walk-on fares have increased 208%, LONDON – EXETER up 205%, LONDON to GLASGOW up 160% since privitisation, while inflation has been around 60%.

    Billions have been spent on the West Coast Mainline, with Virgin offering three trains an hour to Manchester, yet the bulk of the marketing is all designed to restrict passengers to one train.

    What’s the point of 3 trains an hour if your £50 ticket only lets you on one?!

    I pick on Virgin a lot as I see the number of empty carriages they have at peak times while the services after the ‘peak’ are crammed full.

    Something isn’t working.


    NIRScot – where did you get those percentage figures from?


    In an article by Barry Doe, who has a column in Rail, where he regularly highlights anomalies in fares combined with the general lack of knowledge of UK rail staff when it comes to buying tickets.


    More East Coast overcrowding today …

    A combination of Scottish football fans heading home and tourists attending the Festival means that London-Edinburgh trains are once again overcrowded.

    Look at how many passengers, taking an earlier train today, are having to stand or sit on the floor:


    Maybe it’s time that compulsory reservations were introduced for busy trains at certain times of the year.


    Thanks NIRscot I know Barry well. There are some dodgy figures about but Barry is spot on. Don’t always agree with his views though!


    I would love to find the posted one way GBP 45 first class rate as I travel regularly between Harrogate and London (via York or Leeds). I have never been able to find a rate below GBP 70 one way, and skywards to well over GBP 100. I am usually flexible with departure and arrival times, but do make my reservations online from the US (where I live).

    The food I have been served was usually a pre-packaged sandwich. Yes, the free tea or soda is nice (cookie included) as is the free WiFi. But in general I find the train in the UK an overpriced mediocre quality option (don’t get me started on the ticket cost of the Trans Pennine Express MAN – Leeds vv or the quick but ludicrously overprized Heathrow Express).

    I have resorted to flying BA LBA – LHR recently which has served me well (and at lower rates than I have been able to score with the train).

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