Just got back from an emergency meeting in Sheffield. I was up there for two days trying to sort out some major DNS issues and decided to take the train rather than drive. And you know what? I was actually pleasantly surprised!
There’s a direct train from Basingstoke to Sheffield that takes 3.5 hours and a return worked out at £68. Now that might sound expensive to start with, but when you think it’s approx. a 3.5 to 4 hour drive and will probably consume the best part of 2 tanks of petrol, when you start adding up the costs to go by car (+ parking in central Sheffield), it actually works out quite a bit cheaper to go by train, and you have the added benefit of not getting stressed in traffic. So on the way up I just did some reading and on the way back I was a typical commuter-nerd with my laptop out doing some work.
So all-in-all I’ve been really happy with the journey. This being a Virgin Voyager service, I think it’s going to get cancelled soon as Virgin have lost the rail franchise to run this service, so I wonder what kind of service Arriva will put on when they take over.
If you ask me, the franchises don’t last long enough – Virgin’s franchise wasn’t supposed to run out until 2012 apparently, but the government had the right to review it early and have cancelled it. So how Virgin are supposed to recoup their investment in new trains I don’t know, and it will just discourage private companies from making these kinds of investments if the franchise terms are too short for them to make any decent profit. It’s the rail traveller that will ultimately suffer with increased fairs and poorer trains, which is a real shame because the Virgin trains are pretty good – they even have power sockets for laptops (although I didn’t need it as my IBM T60 will go for 5 hours on it’s battery – superb!) 🙂