We are really enjoying the current BBC series of “Around the World in 80 days.” Not least for the bits we travelled ourselves.
Yesterday a story broke about the first UK train fare of over £1000.
The lib dem candidate for my local parliamentary constituency, Nader Fekri has already commented on this. I find myself agreeing with Nader on many things, but I disagree on one point.
It is obvious that ridiculously high fares are encouraging people to abandon the trains in favour of their cars.
I disagree. I think people are abandoning the train and their cars in favour of staying at home and not spending money. The recession has made many people worse off, and many more aware of the limitations of their pockets. This is what is driving people away from the trains.
£1002 is a walk up first class fare. You can fly to the continent for £25, if you book in advance for economy class, and make great savings on the trains if you plan ahead too. Some people say it is ridiculous that you can get such cheap train fares by booking in advance, or by playing the system by split ticketing or other methods. I don’t agree, I think it’s a good thing that organised and savvy people are rewarded by the system. No-one is going to pay £1002 for a train ticket because no-one will journey from Newquay to Kyle of Lochalsh at the drop of a hat on a first class ticket.
People know that there are savings to be made. The ways of getting them are complex, but not unfathomable to the average man in the street.
That’s not to say there isn’t a problem. While I believe it’s fair that walk up fares are higher than those obtained with a little planning, I also think the levels of standard class walk-up fares are ridiculous. Yes it is right that someone can be rewarded for their nous with cheaper fares, but it is wrong that walk up fares are ridiculously high! So while it’s OK for people to make savings, walk up fares should still be reasonable.
Anyway, this story in conjunction with last night’s TV reminded me of when Sarah and I paid over £1000 on a train fare. Not just the news, but the programme before it too! Our train journey was not in the UK, however but a once in a lifetime experience travelling from Moscow to Beijing.
I got back late last night. Visiting Hylands was wonderful, but a combination of dehydration, despair at the lack of appreciation of the event outside Scouting circles, and running in to a particularly unpleasant member of my team from Eurojam, left me feeling down.
A coffee at Liverpool Street picked me up and I walked across the City of London to Kings Cross. It struck me how the tube means people in London don’t walk far overground, or at least only do so if they know where they were going. Street signs pointing to areas more than 100 yards away were few and far between. But it was a pleasant walk.
The train carriage had a bunch of drunken yobs, not abusive just unpleasantly loud. They stayed until Wakefield. But I made my connection (thank goodness) and got home.
This morning I got into work and couldn’t focus. It was probably the after effects of not drinking enough water all week, and I had to come home sick and lie down. I’ll be in tomorrow.
In the meantime, if you have the URL of our joint website, check out the Honeymoon photo albums I integrated in yesterday.
Not a great start. Missed my first train, got confused over connections at Shipley. Meaning my sunrise was at Leeds city station, where the County Commissioner and ACC 2007 were manning a publicity stall. Northern Rail had been kind enough to put up posters all over the station about the event, but failed to say which concourse it was on.
Anyway I caught the number 1 bendy bus, and I caught up with North Leeds’ activities in Far Headingley soon enough which were still happening when I arrived.
It does feels a good day to be in uniform. Lots of people asking questions and even- shock- smiling, when other days I would be scowled at dressed like this and carrying this much luggage.
Currently I’m in Leeds prior to my train to Chelmsford.
So happy birthday to scouting. The world’s most successful peace movement.
We arrived by train today. We arrived at 2pm, but couldn’t find our lift. It turend out they were waiting outside the station but it was a bit frought finding them. Beijing traffic is almost as bad as Moscow, our driver twice drove in cycle lanes, and it seemed ages to drive what looked on the map as a journey of a few blocks.
The room is superb. They hadn’t quite got our booking correct, and maybe because of this, or because we mentioned we were on our honeymoon we were bumped up to a suite. Our fellow travellers’ guide book describes the west wing of the hotel as “tired”- well we’re perfectly happy, it’s more lucurious than anything we’ve stayed in before.
Now off for a walk to explore the area and get some food. The Forbidden City is a short distance away, and beyond that Tianamen Sqaure.
OK so it was either Eddie Izzard immitating a Daily Mail reader or an Ian Flemming quote and I chose Izzard…
One of the things we are planning is a trip on the trans Siberian railway. This raises all sorts of interesting problems with cash flows and bookings and visas, and scheduling a honeymoon around work and other commitments. But it seems to be getting sorted.
So finally IT’S BOOKED!!!
On other fronts, everything that needed to be booked for the wedding way in advance is booked.
I think I’ve got the plot for my novel now. It’s a story of pain and suffering, of a death in a family at war with itself. The working title is “HELLO!! I’M ON THE TRAIN”.
People find other people with mobile phones irritating, but unless they’re loud or obviously showing off it doesn’t bother me: it’s no different to having a conversation with a fellow traveller. No what gets me is how indiscreet people can be; they will discuss intimate details and company secrets in a full compartment, safe in the knowledge that they don’t recognise anyone else in the compartment so no-one will give a stuff. And hey they’ll never see you again anyway.
Except you do. If you use the train every day you begin to recognise the faces. And if it were a pub in Golders Green you’d maybe feel able to strike up a conversation with those familiar, yet unfamiliar people. But you don’t know how they’d react so you don’t.
I find travelling by bus and train everyday preferable to driving. It’s cheaper if you buy the right ticket (and contrary to some surveys finding the right ticket isn’t rocket science), and less tiring. Most busses on the roads are modern and clean, as are trains, so you have to be really unlucky to catch a genuinely unpleasant one. The only downsides are it is a bit less flexible, and does take slightly more time.