Earlier this week I tweeted about the "Enjoy England" advert which suggested an enjoyable way of spending an hour was to take a train journey. My tweet was "Enjoy England are seriously suggesting a train ride as a way to enjoy England...there's a group that's never been on a train...". Friends tried to suggest there are some nice scenic routes out there, and there are, but our train system is in such a shambles I wouldn't call using the service enjoyable.
Until today. I had to go to Glasgow for a meeting. This meant a train journey on Virgin Trains. I don't normally have any problems with Virgin Trains but then I don't use them much. Today my train was delayed. What I normally see with delays is no information, an announcement that it's two minutes late. When it gets to four minutes late another announcement that it'll be six minutes late etc. etc. Today they announced why and an accurate estimate of the delay.
The journey was delayed further later on as we were stuck behind another train. But the conductor announced the problem, advised of any connection problems (including where to get off the train for one particularly tight connection), apologised, and offered a free tea or coffee for those disadvantaged by missing a connection. The on board displays updated us with information about our new estimated times of arrival.
And it had WiFi!
And it had enough carriages!! Plenty of space in fact.
This is a stark contrast to the services I normally use (TransPennine Express and Northern)and the service I avoid using (East Midlands). With East Midlands you get nothing. No apology for overcrowding. No apology for delay. No explanation. No estimation of new times. No conductor (usually because there's no space for the conductor to walk down the train). With TransPennine Express and Northern you usually get apologies, although these can often be pre-recorded apologies.
Of course I drafted this entry on the way back where, sadly, there was no WiFi and the train was a bit shorter (but still able to sit comfortably).
Whilst I would not describe the trip as "enjoyable" I would say it's a marked improvement on my norm. I felt like I was a person, a human being and not just cargo to be shunted about.