Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Jeez man

Posted in Customer service, Great Britain by Chairman Pip on 26 July 2010

The question of the railways making money is often a sore point to the ordinary rail passenger. The difference between the average fare in Great Britain and in some of the other major railway nations in Europe is often brought up, with a focus on the huge expense of travelling by train in the UK. Indeed, the infamous “thousand pound fare affair” last year was a source of significant embarrassment. That being said, if you book in advance and find the right deal, then doing an intercity rail journey needn’t cause such an enormous chunk to be taken out of your wallet. That being said, there are other aspects of paying on the railways which can be said to take the giddy limit. Two examples from my experience. A colleague of mine has recently told me that, while he was travelling up to Manchester on a Virgin Trains service, he felt like having a beer. What did he find? Virgin charges £5.00 for a can of beer. Tesco charges £4.00 for a four pack (of Budweiser). While obviously in this instance Virgin can charge what it likes, and promoting alcohol consumption is not on the agenda at all, even the most ardent member of a temperance movement would agree that £5.00 is excessive. Actually, that probably isn’t true. Nevertheless, it is a significant amount to pay for a beer. The second comes from my own personal adventures. Last week I went to Nottingham. My journey started from King’s Cross on an East Coast train, upon which they were offering upgrades to 1st Class upon payment of a fee of £25.00. My journey home a week later was a train direct from Nottingham to St Pancras, on a service run by East Midlands Trains, who were also offering a 1st Class upgrade upon payment of a fee of £9.00. Now I realise that travelling on in 1st Class on an Intercity 225 Mallard may well be a more comfortable experience than travelling 1st Class on a Class 222 Meridian, but is it really £16.00 more comfortable? I don’t think so, and I’m sure even those people that detest the Class 222 would agree. Actually, that probably isn’t true either. But I have no doubt that Joe T. Public, who probably wouldn’t know a Class 91 from a Class A4 (again, a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift), would much care if Mallard was a better travelling experience than Meridian. All he’d see would be the £16.00 price difference. And that’s why people don’t like the train operators. People like consistency.


Beer - is it really worth £5.00 a time?


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