Travelling Between the Strike Days.

Well I must admit, I actually flew down to Devon for my holiday, because the cheapest ticket offered by CrossCountry for Morpeth – Exeter, on the day the tickets were released for sale, was £185 per person, whereas LoganAir offered £70 including luggage for Newcastle – Exeter. But I resolved to come back by train, choosing the route via London which was significantly cheaper. But then the strikes were announced, and we found ourselves straddled between 2 strike days, better than on a strike day itself, but both companies nevertheless advising “do not travel”. I was worried about the GWR leg from Exeter to London. I have a medical condition which means I would not be able to stand on the train for any length of time. So I phoned GWR for confirmation our seat reservations would be honoured and they would not be abandoning the reservation system as has often happened before on crowded trains. Trying to talk to GWR if you don’t have twitter or messenger is not easy. If you select the options to talk to someone about your journey you are routed through to NRES which is an entirely different company. NRES told me how to manipulate the system to actually get hold of a GWR person, and once through, that person told me there would be no problem with the train being crowded on arrival at Exeter, as it was starting there. This, as I suspected, turned out to be utter baloney, the train started in Penzance as per normal schedule. I’m pleased to say our seat reservations were honoured. The train was, as we were warned to expect, very crowded, but nevertheless a comfortable and pleasant journey for us.

The LNER train however was virtually empty. I’ve long suspected the marketing guys at LNER who have spent the last 2 years pushing out that “do not travel” message on a significant number of occasions are a little too good at their jobs. The message seemed to have got through loud and clear. What was less clear though was why LNER needed to downgrade their first class catering offer due to a strike the next day. We had specifically chosen to travel first class, and specifically chosen the 18:30 from Kings Cross, because of the “dine” menu, but instead all we got was a solitary tuna sandwich. Credit however to LNER operational staff for dealing with an incident earlier in the day in which a lorry crashed on to the line south of Edinburgh, meaning they could not run services north of Newcastle. Though I noted LUMO were turning their services round at Morpeth. Could not LNER have considered running their trains on to Berwick or even dare we say it … Reston, for the benefit of Northumberland and Scottish Borders customers? Our tracks have reversible signalling so these should have been quite easy to sort.

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