Taking the biscuit

There was a time when a First Class ticket meant absolute luxury, personal service, gourmet dining and immense comfort. Unfortunately that time is not at weekends or Bank Holidays on East Midlands Trains. Take the 0805 from Nottingham to London on a regular weekday and your ticket buys you a cooked breakfast, at seat service and a general feeling of starting the day well. 

On Easter Monday, this is the best they could manage.

I was offered a sausage roll, but for £2.20 extra. It’s not very much, but it’s the principle that matters here. How can it not be possible to give that to me free when, on any regular day, I’d get that, warm, along with bacon, eggs and a croissant?

The train companies, or specifically East Midlands, argue that weekends are less busy and many First Class tickets are discounted, therefore the premium ticket does not attract a premium service. Yet through advance booking, I’ve sometimes travelled First Class during the week for cheaper than I have today. It makes no sense. Could the real answer be that East Midlands Trains calculate that more plebs upgrading to Weekend First would be likely to gobble up a Full English than the Season Ticket holders who do the commute on a daily basis?

The levels of “Downgraded Upgrade” or “First Class Lite” vary depending on which operator you use. Virgin East Coast, for instance, offers a choice of sandwiches, cakes and crisps and weekends – though not alcohol, which is available in seemingly unlimited quantities from 1030 on weekdays. And they manage to open up their First Class lounges at weekends.

All of this said, I’m pleased to be travelling anywhere at all today, as Easter 2016 has brought with it Storm Katie. There is chaos on rail services to many points north and west of Nottingham, with the promise of hurricane force winds to the east later. Thankfully I’m heading south to London and west to Canada via Heathrow.

Economy class, since you ask.

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