Made the journey from Plymouth to Peterborough by train, in a spirit of enquiry. Not tremendously impressed.
The Plymouth to London Paddington train was absolutely choked with students. The train was, apparently, an 8-car set instead of a 10-car set. It had been fitted with newer seats and the ad-hoc looking conversion to power sockets at the tables that you see on Great Central trains, but otherwise looked its age. Quite good free WiFi, though, evidenced by much bleeping and trilling of smartphones and numerous, quite loud conversations all about. Seat reservations were apparently disrupted by the train set (although I found mine) and generally, not much fun. There were announcements about a trolley service but I didn’t see one. Dozed fitfully amid the general brouhaha.
There was something of a general change between Exeter and Taunton. Interestingly enough, Exeter students seem to be a generally more prosperous and up-market crew than the scruffbums from Plymouth (the whole town centre takes on the general appearance of a Big Issue seller’s convention in the evenings) - interesting, given comments on another thread about declining numbers at Plymouth.
16 mins late at Plymouth, 25 mins late at Paddington and a distinctly tardy amble along the District Line meant I had missed my connection at KX, but plenty of trains and no reservations at that time of night. Just as well, because the 2033 to Leeds was about 20 mins late when it finally arrived, the ensuing scrum meant that no seat reservations were distributed, the buffet wasn’t cashed up and the train wasn’t even cleaned. I didn’t even bother to look for a seat. The WiFi couldn’t be made to work - there was an intrusive screen proclaiming “free WiFi equal to the delay” but I couldn’t get logged on at all, and simply gave up.
No ticket inspection on either train.
So... 6/10 for GWR and the same for LNER, with a “contextual assessment” (apparently a current educational buzzword euphemising admission of those who shouldn’t really be considered) for LNER.
Peterborough to Plymouth via Birmingham on Sunday..