October 3rd, 2008

Christine - I can't escape

Public Transport Woes...

My theory, as I've often said, is that Travel West Midlands is actually the Devil incarnate. By that logic, the black cabs are Mephistopheles, the Tempter; they lie in wait on the coldest nights of the year when your bus hasn't turned up, luring you into their warm interiors with the promise of a speedy return home for ten times the price.

It appears that the various rail companies are in on it as well. By this reasoning, TWM clearly cannot be the Devil, merely one of his more incompetent messengers. Public Transport in general is the Devil, with Richard Branson as his cackling and sadistic sidekick (imagine the South Park movie but with Richard Branson in place of Saddam Hussein...)

Things I have discovered this morning in my hunt for cheap travel to London by train:

  1. Cheap train travel to London doesn't exist. Possibly a given, but anyway...

  2. Virgin, as you may have noticed, are proudly advertising their Amazing Train Service, whereupon you can travel from Birmingham to London Euston in a mere 90 minutes! And it's true: you can. I've been on a Virgin train to London, and it does only take 90 minutes. Unfortunately, it's nigh on impossible to get a seat because half of the train is First Class and half of what remains is taken up with reserved seats. The reason people reserve seats is because it's impossible to get one otherwise; as you can imagine, one can only appreciate this irony when one is not squashed up against the window in that little niche by the door...

  3. Despite this Amazing Train Service to London - which only takes 90 minutes - if you want to come home again (and why on Earth would you want to do that? London is the only place anyone should ever want to be!) it takes twice as long! Which explains why when I came home from Eni's in February I didn't get back until about 9.30, despite leaving Essex at 6.30 (and it's only 45 minutes back into London from there)... Er, a bit of a con, Mr Branson?

  4. Not only this, Virgin will charge you £50 for the privilege of travelling on one of their "comfortable" (cramped, fully-booked and half-empty because of First Class) trains, so you can get to London super-fast! (unless you want to come home, sorry, that'll take longer). Up yours, Virgin.

  5. As a result of which, if I want to leave London at 9.30 in the evening on Saturday, I have one of two options: changing twice in the middle of the night, or not getting home until gone 1.00am. Exactly HOW is this meant to be acceptable when I'm paying over £50 for a ticket?

  6. Oh, but it gets better. Chiltern have a better idea about train times, at least (the 21.40 train gets back at 00.01 with no changes), and they are a lot cheaper for only a slightly longer journey (8.55 departure arrives at 11.06). The rich people can stick with Virgin, ta. However... their Incredibly Useful and Wonderful Off-Peak Open Return used to be a nice friendly £15.00, and the restrictions were actually doable. It has now gone up to £18.00 with a restriction of arriving in London after 1.45pm. The problem? Our matinee show starts at 2.30. It doesn't allow for any kind of delay either on the journey there or with the tubes, so just NO.

  7. Chiltern charge £29.50 for a day return. It's still better than Virgin.

Going by coach or Megabus would be an option but then we're very limited by the travel times and also, it takes three hours to get there and always gets caught in traffic on Baker Street / Oxford Street, without fail. Occasionally they'll let you off at Marble Arch just before it gets to Victoria, but it's rare.

All of this wouldn't be problem if the hotels in London weren't Hellaciously Expensive as well, thus scuppering plans of making a weekend of it. I'm trying to SAVE money, and Public Transport is making that very difficult. Maybe... and in all actuality this may be true... maybe London is the Devil. It would explain a LOT.