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Cross country, in every sense



Today’s venture is Peterborough to Plymouth, by way of Birmingham New St.


First leg, Peterborough to BNS with Cross Country. 3 car DMU, fairly new-looking. Seat backs sprinkled with accumulated reservations, some clearly for journeys in the opposite direction. Occupancy perhaps 20%, so no problems. Strong free WiFi, no charging sockets. Ticket check, no card check. Bought a pastie and coffee on the station, just as well as events turned out.


Unremarkable journey, good time.


Interesting change at BNS, up the escalator to the display board, back down to the adjacent platform. Airline style concourse meant that it wasn’t necessary to pass through any barriers. Cold metal seats!


2012 Cross Country to Plymouth arrived on time. General scrum to disembark and board meant that I didn’t find my reservation, so I just sat in the first available seat with a working charging socket. No reservations posted, in any case. Elderly 8-car HST set, carriage letters not matching position in train. Tired, hard seats in at least two different liveries, several charging sockets not working. WiFi appeared to be pay-as-you-go, so I didn’t use it.


Same students as Friday, presumably this is what the Bash St Kids grow into? Two or three loud, repetitive, witless converstions conducted up and down the carriage for the first half-hour or so.


A few minutes out of BSN the train crew announced that there was no buffet or trolley service - pretty poor for a 3h 30 min journey... passenger numbers progressively reduced at successive stops. Some sort of issue involving passengers from a cancelled service, trying to get to Paddington played out at Bristol, various conflicting advice from train crew and platform announcers at Parkway and Temple Meads... anyhow, they had all left by BTM... huge cycle park on the platform! Must have been 200 bikes chained to those steel loops set into the tarmac.


Tickets AND cards checked, for the only time this weekend.


Train spent 15 mins here. Train crew told passengers they could get off for a stretch, but be back on board in time. I didn’t see anyone do it, and the layover passed in a sort of musical post, with passengers distributing themselves about the newly vacated seats. Various Double Dutch on the PA about tickets which were, or weren’t valid and consequent changes; just the sort of thing tired passenger want to hear, late at night.


Arrived in Plymouth on time.


So... a solid 7/10 for the first leg of the journey, a second-tier stopping service that did what was expected of it. The BNS to Plymouth leg, though... sorry, 6/10 solely for time-keeping. If I’d paid for my ticket I’d be pretty unhappy about the actual travel experience. It DID get me to where I was going on time.


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