Operator: LNER Headcode: 1D09 Route: PBO-LDS Class: First Seat: J03 Date: Wednesday 18th September 2019
Just over a month after my last trip northbound with LNER, I was back at Peterborough for a last minutes trip to Leeds. I won’t go into the reason for my trip, however I did decide to treat myself to first class again, especially following my previous good experiences with LNER (you can find them on my Train Reviews page here!) This service was due to take just 1 hour and 23 minutes from Peterborough to Leeds, with us running fast to Doncaster and then calling at Wakefield Westgate before arriving into Leeds. I booked the ticket just 8 days ahead of travel and was able to get an advance single in first class for just £23.10, which I felt was good value for money for a 110 mile trip.
As with previous trips, due to the fact I booked direct with LNER, I received a text message about 90 minutes before departure advising me of the platform my train would depart from. Given that in normal circumstances there are only two adjacent platforms that northbound LNER trains depart from, this information didn’t save me any time, however I can imagine if being extremely useful for irregular travellers. My train arrived from London at Peterborough’s platform 4 right on time and I was pleased to find that my journey would be on a Class 43 High Speed Train (HST). For various reasons, all four of my previous trips with LNER have been in Mark IV Electric trains and so it was good to have some variety and experience a trip on the iconic HST before they are all retired from the East Coast Mainline (ECML).
After a cheerful welcome from the on-board crew, I quickly found my seat and settled in for the relatively short journey north. Within a minute of the train departing Peterborough, a member of the crew came through the carriage and took my breakfast order from a choice of a ‘Full LNER’, avocado on toast, a bacon roll, porridge or a ‘Light Breakfast’. As always, I chose the Full LNER and was surprised that within five minutes this had been served.
Shortly after breakfast had arrived, the train began to slow, something which concerned me as we were due to have a 50-minute fast run between Peterborough and Doncaster. Fortunately, rather than grinding to a halt, we crossed onto the northbound slow line at Tallington junction and continued our journey at a slightly reduced speed. Just before Stoke tunnel we passed the reason for our diversion, a defective Edinburgh bound train which had fortunately come to a halt prior to the ECML reducing to one line in each direction!
As we sped back up through Stoke tunnel and Grantham, I was pleased to see we had only lost about 8 minutes, some of which we would hopefully be able to make up with quick stops at Doncaster and Wakefield. After finishing the wonderful breakfast, I sat back to relax, do some writing and watch the countryside go by. In the days of Virgin Trains East Coast, passengers were able to access the BEAM entertainment app whilst on-board, however this unfortunately stopped when LNER took over the operation of ECML intercity services. LNER do however provide free Wi-Fi throughout the train, meaning that even with the poor signal in remote areas of the ECML, you can provide your own online entertainment.
Having made up a couple of minutes since our delay, we departed Doncaster 6 minutes late and began to head north-west away from the main branch of the ECML and into West Yorkshire. After the ‘intercity only’ part of the ECML, after Doncaster LNER’s services share the railway again with local Northern services and we passed through a number of local stations on our way to Wakefield Westgate. These sections of railway can have the potential to delay services as one delay can have a knock on effect to numerous services. Luckily everything (except us) was running to schedule and so we didn’t lose any more time on the final stretch of the journey to Leeds.
After Wakefield Westgate, the landscape becomes a tangle of railway lines as services from all over Yorkshire and the North of England arrive into Leeds from the south and west. The Northern Rail network always amazes me with just how wide ranging its services are. From the high intensity Manchester Oxford Road corridor to lines with just a few services each day, the Northern network serves customers and regions with a wide range of needs and manages to provide a mix of local, commuter and intercity services whilst interweaving these with numerous other operators.
Frustratingly, seemingly due to us already running late and a knock on from the service before ours being caught in disruption, we were held just outside Leeds awaiting a platform. After a 7 minute wait, and the London-bound service departing, we finally arrived into Leeds 14 minutes late. Fortunately I had allowed a buffer in my schedule and so this didn’t impact my plans and is just one of those things, however my luck seems to have been quite poor recently when heading north and so I hope this improves in the future! Despite the slight delay, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and arrived into Leeds refreshed and relaxed. The on-board crew were extremely friendly and helpful and the breakfast provided was well cooked and delicious!
Lounge 0* Seat/Facilities 4* Food 5* Service 5* Punctuality 4* Overall Rating 18/25 (read about my rating system here!)