I had an extraordinary experience last night on my way home from Preston.
Last week I booked a return rail trip, online, for an all day meeting that went very well and was really quite exhilarating. The people I was meeting dropped me off just after 7 for my 7.15 train only for me to discover that it had been delayed by an hour (eventually an hour and a half) because of a fatality on the line near London.
Now, I had made the fortuitous decision to upgrade to first class on the way back. Not because I am a train snob but because the return fares, which ranged from £54 to about £150 on trainline seemed a wee bit steep, however I managed to secure the same trip for £25 on another site (train fair I think) and then spotted that I could get home first class for an extra £6.
So, I indulged.
A good decision; it turned out.
First, I was offered a coffee as I took my seat.
Then, soup and a sandwich. The soup was clearly home made and divine!
Then a drink.
“Would you like a whisky sir?”
”Why not?” I said. (“Is the Pope a German, I thought?”)
“Would you like anything with it sir?”
“Yes please. A lager?” (I think he meant water or ice)
Some time passed before the ticket collector came along, concerned about the late running of the train and asked if I had a connection to make – which I did; at Haymarket. After a brief discussion we concluded that it was not going to be a problem getting there by the connection time, so I settled into the report I was about to write about the day’s activities.
An hour or so later the steward asked if I’d like another drink and I confessed I didn’t much like the lager he had given me and that was virtually untouched. Quick as a flash a London Pride and TWO whiskies were at the table.
Sadly I spilled one of them – only for it to be replaced soon after.
As the journey wore on it became apparent that the ticket collector’s optimistic view of me making my connection to Dalmeny was just that – optimistic – so, he came back and advised me of the more likely outcome (I might make the 11.25 but no chance for the 11.15.
“But if the worst comes to the worst sir, we’ll get you a taxi.”
So, all in all, the £6 premium I’d paid had bought me two lagers (only one consumed) four whiskies, (three consumed) coffee, sandwiches, soup and a £20 taxi home – £52?
Add to that great service, a plug in point for my computer – where I wrote this post – and you have yourself a bargain.
When the rail network gets it right it is a wonder to behold.
When it doesn’t? Well, we won’t go there.
Credit where credit’s due.
Thank you Virgin.