Saturday, 4 August 2018

It's a time-of-life thing

Crossing London by train

We seem to go to a lot of celebrations these days. We are well past the friends' weddings and baptism of their children, and fairly well past the weddings of our own children, but still going to baptisms of theirs ... but we're mostly going to significant birthdays and to celebrations of other "milestones". Recently we went to an old friend's 60th birthday celebration in Croydon, taking a weekend away to stay overnight at the Croydon Park Hotel after the party. It happened to be the day of the World Cup quarter final and we checked into our hotel just in time to sit in our room and watch the match before taking the tram to the party!

Although there are now through Thameslink trains to East Croydon from our local East Coast Main Line station at Peterborough, this was in the early days when cancellations were rife and the service very unreliable; further, it is still quicker to get a LNER train to London Kings Cross then cross the road to St Pancras International and take the next train to East Croydon - and a far more comfortable ride, too. When we arrived at St Pancras there was only one train per hour going through to East Croydon, and it had not come from Peterborough! I think they are running properly now but it is probably still quicker to take a fast train and change.

We have Oyster cards so we never have to book beyond London now, using our Oysters for onward travel to Croydon or elsewhere. Transport for London now accepts contacts credit or debit card payments on its trains, trams and buses and if you use the same card all day the daily cap will be applied just as if you are using an Oyster, so on the face of it a visitor is just as well off using an ordinary credit card as going to the trouble of acquiring an Oyster, but for us as Senior Railcard holders, the big advantage is that we can link our railcards to our Oyster cards and receive the railcard discount (one third) off our London travel.

We travelled from our hotel to the party and back using the excellent Croydon tram service, and again for church and lunch with our friends on the Sunday, then travelled back into central London to get our train to Peterborough and home to Stamford.

After several recent trips on which something has not been quite right with our trains on the East Coast Main Line, everything was fine this weekend: trains on time, fully staffed with all the advertised First Class refreshments, clean and fully-functioning toilets. This should not be a remarkable situation, but it had deteriorated so much under Virgin Trains (despite their "awesome" advertising) that is remarkable when things are as they should be.

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