Tuesday 4 September 2018

Sent to Coventry

Why drive when you can get the train?

A member of my household recently had to travel to Coventry for a weekend to sing at the cathedral. For various reasons she had missed the opportunity to participate in the car-sharing arrangements that other members of the choir had made, and had also not booked a hotel place. The hotel was simple: most of the others were staying at the Premier Inn and there were still rooms available there so one was booked online and the reservation printed. We had never used a Premier Inn before and this would be useful experience: they are inexpensive and widespread, so would be useful in future adventures if this proved a good place to stay.

Speeding off to the West Midlands
We started discussing the best way to drive there, where to park etc and then it occurred to us, "Can it be done by train?" Coventry is actually pretty easy from our home in Stamford: one simple change at Nuneaton is all that's required, giving a near-enough hourly service most of the time. I happened to know (from Twitter!), however, that there were major weekend engineering closures affecting Coventry at that time, but when I looked at the rail ticket booking websites and discussed the matter with the West Midlands Trains Twitter team I discovered that for our purposes things were fine: critically the line between Nuneaton and Coventry was operating normally for arrival on the Saturday morning and nearly-enough normally for departure on the Sunday: there might have been the need for a bus replacement and a change at Rugby if departure from the Cathedral were delayed a bit, but the journey would definitely work.

Again, a journey where the car is not needed and yet it is all to easy to think of driving as the default. Even though it is too short a trip for Advance ticket savings, it is not an expensive route anyway and with a Senior Railcard the fare was actually cheap. On the way there the connection at Nuneaton was just a few minutes, comfortably long enough to find the way to the right platform and board the train; coming back was not quite so neat but Nuneaton has decent waiting facilities and as always, the trick is to take something to do - which is the big thing about rail travel: you can actually do things!

And the hotel was fine! Premier Inns are excellent for budget hotels with all that you need (well, most) but without the things you never use on a short stay. We'll certainly consider them in future, and indeed have already just stayed in another ...