Yesterday I talked about how good the first cyber security cluster leads meeting with UKC3 was. What I didn’t mention was how far it is to Cheltenham from where I live. The meeting was due to start at 10 and, as I didn’t fancy an overnight stay, I ended up on the first suitable train out of Newcastle at 5:26. Perhaps I could have got a plane though I try not to these days and the timings wouldn’t have worked either.
The journey down was uneventful. The new Azuma trains are amazing on the East Coast mainline but I had to change at York, taking the train as far as Cheltenham Spa (a class 220 Voyager diesel-electric high-speed multiple-unit if you are interested).
Everything was on time though the train was packed from Leeds to Birmingham which was good yet left me with an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia, so much so I had to go and stand in the vestibule for a while.
The journey back was a different story. I was due to catch the 16:15 direct to Newvcastle and had hoped to pick something up to eat and drink at the station yet the buffet was closed. Undaunted, I thought I would get something on the train. When I got to my reserved seat there was someone else sitting there who happened to be going in completely the wrong direction. She had enough to worry about and so I sat somewhere else until Birmingham when many people got off.
Unfortunately a lot more people got on. Even though Cross Country coupled another rake to the front, most people got into the one I was sitting in, meaning once again it was packed and as hot as hades. By this time I was hungry and thirsty only to realise that there was no buffet or trolley at all and wouldn’t be throughout the journey.
Perhaps I had planned the trip badly yet it seems unreasonable to me to make a journey of over four hours without the prospect of refreshments. It was especially galling when I paid just under £250 for the pleasure, including a 30% railcard reduction!
I also found out that a flight from Edinburgh cost £79. How are people expected to make more use of the rail services when they are so expensive and facilities so poor?
The return journey certainly put the cross in Cross Country!