Mystery Traveller

With many new train operators providing services, The RM is reviving a feature it ran many years ago, where one of the team reports on the good and bad aspects of a recent rail journey. Hopefully, this will give a snapshot of how franchisees are performing.

THE combination of an early morning flight from Stansted to Europe coupled with the need to return to an alternative London airport, along with the need to avoid driving on the chaotic A14 road, made the choice of rail an easy one.

By the time the 17.22 from Birmingham New Street had arrived at my boarding point of Hinckley, none of the 3min late start had been recovered, but on departing Leicester, the deficit had been cut to a minute.

Class 170 No. 170102, having arrived at Stansted Airport on September 5, waits to work the 21.27 to Cambridge, where the unit will be serviced overnight.

Punctual calls at Melton Mowbray, Oakham and Stamford, along with recovery time, led to a 3min early arrival at Peterborough, then the remainder of the journey to Stansted was right time or early, with a marginally ahead of schedule arrival at the airport a positive point.

Internally, while looking in a reasonable condition given the heavy use CrossCountry’s (XC) three-car ‘Turbostars’ receive day in, day out, on closer inspection it is noticeable a number of the seat squabs on this set (and indeed 170104, travelled on a few days later by a media colleague) were showing considerable signs of sagging.

It didn’t make for the most comfortable of journeys, either.

Other internal fittings are beginning to look tired too, which is not surprising considering the time span since the last refresh of the units some eight years ago. Armrests were badly scuffed, presumably by the movement of the refreshment trolley down the aisles, and floor areas looked a little grubby in the corners.

Read more in the October issue of The RM – on sale now!

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