We all need to become more aware of the need to reduce pollution, don’t we? And we all know that the UK is a crowded little place with far too many cars on the road, so it would be a Good Thing if we all thought about using public transport as an alternative to getting the old jalopy out, would it not?
With this laudable aim in mind (not to mention that I hate driving long distances) I spent some time looking up trains and coaches for a trip to see my mother, who lives about 100 miles away.
First I tried the trains. I went to the National Rail Enquiries site, which is actually pretty good for planning journeys (although it’s a real pain if you want to actually book a ticket online), and I looked up my journey. Now, a trip to London is roughly the same distance for me as the one to Mum’s place, and it takes me less than an hour from my local station to Kings Cross – so, perhaps naively, I thought hopping on the train to see Mum might be more restful than driving.
The list of journey times for the five trains they offered me ranged from two hours and forty-one minutes to four hours and thirteen minutes and I’d have to change trains at least once. No fun for a middle-aged woman with back and neck problems carrying an overnight bag and an enormous Little Red Riding Hood basket of goodies. However, if I didn’t mind delaying my journey until later in the afternoon, I could get a train with no changes at all, and so I thought ‘to hell with it, I’m staying overnight anyway, I’ll go later’. So I rang to see about booking a seat because there’s no way I’m going to stand for over two hours on a train, and that’s the train everyone’s gonna want, right?
And the very nice lady on the other end of the phone said ‘Sorry, we don’t take reservations for that train’.
Next I thought I’d try National Express coaches. Encouraged by the paragraph on the home page which describes National Express as ‘the most comfortable and reliable coach services in the UK and Europe, offering great value for money and much more’, I put in my journey details and waited for my easy and stress-free travel options to appear.
Six hours and thirty minutes. Wait … what??? SIX HOURS AND THIRTY MINUTES?
Why? Because it goes to London first, and there’s a seventy minute stopover, that’s why. Oh, but the coach does have a toilet on board. Well, thank heavens for small mercies!
But when it comes to a choice between just under two hours door to door in my car, and anywhere between three and seven hours using various forms of public transport involving carrying stuff and finding connections … well, sod that for a game of soldiers.
So, it’s the Beemer and a stack of CDs then. And I’ll be able to listen to Johnny Depp singing to me on the Sweeney Todd soundtrack.