Operator: LNER Headcode: 1S04 Route: PBO – YRK Class: First Seat:
L31 M11 Date: Friday 9th August 2019
After a week of changeable weather, we were unfortunately greeted with grey skies and heavy rain for our trip to York. When planning the trip, I had wanted to ensure we got a full day in this fabulous city, however this did mean a very early alarm to ensure we made LNER’s 0708 departure to Edinburgh. Having managed to get our tickets for just £20 each one way, first class, I was more than happy to put up with the early start!
Unfortunately, LNER doesn’t have a lounge at Peterborough, although on this occasion that was inconsequential as we wouldn’t have had time to enjoy it, having arrived at the station just 5 minutes before our booked train. Although LNER’s new Azuma trains have now started operating to York and beyond, our train today was one of their ‘classic’ fleet, a Class 91 loco hauling a set of mark IV coaches.
Our reservation was for coach L, however upon boarding I was disappointed to find that my reserved seat was broken and more like a rocking chair than a first-class seat. Fortunately, although this train is heavily reserved, there were plenty of seats booked for journeys starting beyond York and so we moved to coach M and my commandeered seat of M11. LNER’s first class coaches are laid out in a 1-2 configuration meaning the individual seats on one side have both a window view and aisle access.
Within 10 minutes of departing Peterborough a member of the on-board crew came through offering a range of both hot and cold beverages. The option of a hot chocolate rather than a tea or coffee was quickly chosen by Beth whilst I took the opportunity to have a caffeine fix given the early hour. Shortly after our breakfast orders were taken, with us having the choice of a Full LNER, Avocado on a Toast, a Bacon Roll, Porridge or a Light Breakfast with both of us choosing the obvious option of a Full LNER!
Our train was the first train to York and onwards to Edinburgh of the morning from London and this meant it was scheduled to call at all of the stations on the East Coast Mainline (ECML) on its journey north. Less than 20 minutes after leaving Peterborough we were stopping at Grantham, the Lincolnshire town famous (or in-famous) for being the birthplace of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs (here & here!), Grantham is also a railway junction with connections from here towards both Nottingham and Skegness, although given the weather a trip to the latter wasn’t particularly appealing!
Shortly after departure from Grantham and only 15-20 minutes after ordering our breakfast was brought to us from the on-board kitchen and train food has never looked so appetising! LNER are proud to source their on-board offering from suppliers along their routes and the Taste Tradition rare breed sausage and Yorkshire bacon were extremely delicious. Accompanied by a fried egg, slice of toast, hash brown, mushroom and the option of baked beans, the Full LNER definitely filled a hole and helped wake us up.
The next stops on our journey north were Newark and Retford. Newark was a key Royalist location in the English Civil War and was besieged three times by Parliamentarian forces prior to it’s surrender in 1946 at the orders of the King. Retford is a small market town in Nottinghamshire and is one of England’s oldest boroughs, having been granted borough status by Henry I in 1105. The town certainly existed even prior to that as it is mentioned in the Doomsday Book under the name of Redeforde.
Doncaster, the penultimate stop on our journey, is still very much a railway town. Home to Wabtec, a locomotive and rolling stock overhaul company, a new Hitachi depot, as well as a number of rail freight yards, a large proportion of the town work in the railway industry and the railway itself makes up no small part of the area’s geography. In one of the northern bay platforms was one of Northern Rail’s new class 331 trains which are a game changer on local services in the North of England.
Gradually replacing 1980s class 142 and 144 ‘Pacers’, these trains are more comfortable and reliable as well as meeting the Passenger Rail Mobility (PRM) legislation by providing accessible toilets and level access between the train and platforms. Despite negative comments from politicians and the popular press, Britain’s railways are currently undergoing a revolution with thousands of new trains and carriages being introduced across the country!
Just north of Doncaster we pass Marshgate Junction where the Leeds branch of the ECML and the South Humberside Mainline split from the ECML itself. Continuing north, we cross a number of waterways include the Goole and Knottingley canal, the River Aire and the River Wharf before the Cross-country route merges with the ECML at Colton Junction. Between Newark and here the on-board crew had made another two runs through the carriage with the drinks trolley, ensuring that my caffeine levels were kept up and I was starting to recover from the early start.
York is another town that has a large area of its geography dedicated to the railway. Along with the impressive curved station building which serves trains from as far afield as Aberdeen, Inverness and Penzance, there is also a large freight yard and ‘avoiding lines’ and of course the National Railway Museum (NRM). Although we were initially heading to explore the city itself, no trip to York would be complete with a visit to the NRM and so we had agreed to spend the afternoon exploring it’s exhibits (of course they’ll be a blog about this in the near future!)
In conclusion our journey to York with LNER was extremely comfortable and the food absolutely delicious. Whilst usually it would be disappointing that there is no lounge at Peterborough, given the early start this didn’t really affect us. Other than my initial broken seat I couldn’t find any fault with the on-board experience which was made that much nicer by the friendly and helpful crew. From Peterborough I don’t have any choice of operator unless I head into London first, however LNER do experience competition on the ECML from Grand Central and Hull Trains, and although I haven’t tried the competition, LNER’s service keeps me loyal to them!
Lounge 0* Seat/Facilities 3* Food 5* Service 5* Punctuality 5*
Overall Rating 18/25 (read about my rating system here!)