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Monday, 6 June 2016

Take the Last Train to Clarksville


I can recommend the 13:30 from King's Cross to Edinburgh. If you're in a hurry it's sub optimum, but if, like me, life stretches out as the receding sea on an infinite beach, it's ideal.

The 13:30 from King's Cross to Edinburgh is slow. It takes almost 6 hours to travel just over 300 miles. The reason why Virgin's high speed train takes so long is because on this journey it stops everywhere. Frankly, anyone can flag the train down...as it speeds its way to the Athens of the North.

We had only just got up steam and were travelling at a respectable 100mph when the driver had to slam on the anchors so we could coast into Peterborough. I reckon two people joined the train and we were off...to stop at well frankly I don't remember, but it was a lot of stations.

The thing was I travelled First Class, you do at my age and going by the people on my carriage so do most over 60's. If you can use the Internet, book well in advance, and have a Senior Card it's worth travelling anywhere en Premier.

There I was in my First Class seat, with my First Class wifi - which didn't work, my First Class complementary copy of The Times. I was just getting relaxed when some official barks over the intercom the restrictions and exclusions to travelling on the train. About 50 of us got out our tickets and scrutinised the details. Just in time, 'cause the  ticket collector was onto us.

After that ..the cold drinks arrived including G&Ts, wine and beer. All free (well included in the ticket price). Then the meal trolley - Curry, Risotto, Sausage Roll Special, Smoked Salmon and Banana and Toffee Muffin - all prepared by one of those celebrity chefs on TV. Then hot drinks, tea (all shades of Grey), coffee and chocolate.

The thing was that after every stop these  three trolleys appeared. Well you'd have thought we'd all celebrated the Queen's 90th birthday. Frankly it was embarrassing. You could excuse our parents getting pie eyed on a trip to Benidorm in the 70's. They suffered the privations of World War II, rationing and Barry Bucknell. A bottle of Sangria at 2/6 a litre meant freedom and it was no surprise that return trips to Gatwick were, to say the least, "interesting".

Anyway, we stopped six times and six times the G&Ts were offered, along with New Zealand Sauvignan Blanc and Australian Shiraz, Scottish Beers and soft drinks ( untouched). Disembarking at Waverley in the city of John Knox the First Class passengers, first  stepped gingerly onto the platform, paused for a moment to get their bearings and meandered inebriately  across the platform aiming haphazardly for some distant point that might have been a Taxi Rank.

I travelled back on the 10:30 from Edinburgh on Sunday. First Class. The train stopped at Berwick on Tweed (why) , Durham, Newcastle and Doncaster. That was it. Not once did an alcoholic drink trolley pass me by. Clearly Virgin Trains had learnt their lesson. Travel with the over 60's and your profit margins are shredded.

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