Operator: LNER Headcode:
1Y90 1Y82 Route: YRK – PBO Class: First Seat: J05 M41 Date: Friday 9th August 2019 Saturday 10th August 2019
Whilst this post is going to contain the usual review of my journey and the on-board service, it also covers the worst delay I have experienced in my years travelling on the railway. After our northbound journey in the morning and a day in York and visiting the National Railway Museum (you can read about those here and here!), we were due to head home just after six in the evening. Unfortunately at about five large parts of the UK experienced a power cut which caused trains on the southern section of the East Coast Mainline (ECML), as well as various other lines to grind to a halt.
Our booked train, the 1802 York to London King’s Cross boarded as usual, although just before our departure time it was announced that we were going to be held at York for the foreseeable future as nothing was able to go south of Peterborough. I have got to say the on-board crew, led by Train Manager Mel, were absolutely amazing and kept us all updated and started the first-class service/opened the cafe bar whilst in the platform so that everyone was able to access refreshments. Unfortunately at about 20 past six it was announced that our train was cancelled and we should head across to board the 1831 service.
Due to the ongoing issues in the South this train was also held at York and after two hours of sitting on this train without it moving we gave up and headed north to Thirsk to stay with a friend for the night. We were lucky we had this option as one of our seat mates on the train needed to make it back to Stevenage that night as he was leaving again at 2am for his family holiday. The key thing I must say is that both of the train crews (especially Mel on the cancelled 1802) were absolutely brilliant. They continually kept everyone up to date with the information they had and were apologetic that that information was very sparse. The crews also were frequently heading through first class offering drinks and snacks.
So a day later than planned we were back at York to try again and delayed our journey slightly so we could catch the 1004 which started at York rather than the 0930 which had started in Edinburgh and was expected to be extremely busy! The rolling stock for our train was already in the platform at York when we arrived and I was pleased to find that 91132 would be the locomotive on this service. 91132 is one of my favourite LNER locomotives due to it’s decals showing the company’s support for Time to Talk and the Time to Change pledge! After a short wait the doors were released and we were able to board a train and find a pair of unreserved seats about 20 minutes before departure.
Shortly after an on-time departure from York two members of the on-board team came through offering hot and cold beverages, although given that we were now travelling on a weekend service the choice was reduced. In LNER’s weekend first class there is still the standard choice of hot and soft drinks, however alcoholic beverages are not included and have to be purchased separately at the cafe bar. Whilst this would have been frustrating if we were travelling later in the day, given it was just after 10am, I was quite happy to stick to coffee, especially after our ridiculously long day the previous day.
The on-board crew were, as always, very friendly and also extremely efficient. Before we had arrived at the first stop of Doncaster we had been served the ‘rest of the day’ meal option which was a rather tasty ‘Smoked Salmon with Dill Mayo’ roll which came with either a choice of Corkers crisps or a ‘Raspberry and Apple slice’. Whilst the on-board catering on LNER is far and away the best I have had on the UK rail network, especially when it comes to weekend first-class, it was slightly disappointing to have missed out on the weekday ‘rest of the day’ choices which included hot options. Also, although the salmon was fine for me, I found it odd that there was not a vegetarian choice or second option for passengers who don’t, or can’t, eat fish.
As this was one of LNER’s stopping services we were scheduled to stop at all stations en route to Peterborough before we left the train and it continued on to Stevenage and London King’s Cross. Therefore the 25 minutes between York and Doncaster were the longest period without a stop on our journey, however we were lucky that our carriage remained relatively quiet throughout the journey with no-one else joining us apart from a couple more people at Newark North Gate. Between Newark and Grantham another drinks service was offered as well as food for those who has joined the train since Doncaster. On busy services the on-board crews can be back and forth through first class pretty much non-stop so I think our crew were glad to be able to take a breather and we were able to have a chat with a couple of them about the disruption the previous day.
Unlike our journey north to York the seats we chose were fully functioning and very comfortable for our 90 minute journey south. Before long we were passing the busy Network Rail works at Werrington Junction and were on the home straight into Peterborough. Pulling into Platform 3 we alighted at 1136, 28 and a half hours after we had departed north for our day-trip and were very glad we had chosen to pay to park just outside the station on this occasion! Despite the delay, our journey with LNER was, as always, comfortable and quick once we were moving. All of the staff we encountered were a credit to the company and did their very best in what were extremely challenging circumstances and LNER are one of (if not the) best in communicating when there are difficulties.
Lounge 0* Seat/Facilities 4* Food 3* Service 5* Punctuality 0* Overall Rating 12/25 (you can read about my rating system here!)