Sunday, February 18, 2007

Caledonian Sleeper Train

The internet fare of £29 for overnight train journey from
London Euston to Inverness, Scotland must be one of the best value
train fares in the whole of the UK, especially as the fare includes
a good bunk bed each, in a twin bedded sleeping compartment; coffee and
croissants for breakfast; travel toothbrush etc; as well as ample supplies of bottled Scottish spring water;
on top of course, of 600 odd miles train travel.

The somewhat ancient EWS diesel at Euston's platform 15, on St Valentines'
night, with its sombre looking sleeping cars and lounge carriage,
contrasted sharpely with the sleek commuter and express
trains on the other platforms. Nonetheless our sleeping
compartment was comfortably old fashioned. The catering though was
thankfully not reminiscent of the old British Rail days and indeed
the wines on offer were inexpensive and very drinkable.
For more solid refreshment,
Scottish snacks like a kind of haggis and potato casserole, were the order of the day
and cheap too at £4 and after a couple of half bottles
of flavoursome wine to wash it all down with, sleeping overnight
until a stewardesse's wake up call at 8am the next day, was far easier than
I was anticipating. The sight of snow on the meadows around the
train tracks at 8am was quite unexpected as the temperature in London
when we left at 9:15pm the night before had been about 8C.

Speaking of Easy, the Easyjet flight back from Inverness to Gatwick
a couple of days later (£38 fare still good value
but pricier than the train) reminded me of how
unromantic plane travel is these days. Gone were the stainless steel
knives and forks and china plates at supper time that added to the
atmosphere of the train travel. Instead, there was
the tedious routine of airport
security, followed by a dull plane interior and plastic tea.

Of course the flight is far quicker. I should add that
the attendants on both train and plane were all first class.

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