I recently had occasion to travel by train from Glasgow to Carlisle and back – a reasonably short distance and a journey time of about an hour and 20 minutes, and I have to report a reasonably comfortable train. It may not be right to start a Skelping with such a positive outlook, but credit where credit is due I say.
No, the particular irritant in this journey was found in the booking office of Glasgow Central Station – a magnificent old place standing in memory of a reliable and affordable UK-wide rail network that used once to be as common as the meadow pipit.
Picture this if you will (for we are about to enter The Twilight Zone)…wallet in hand I wait a modest few minutes for a teller to become vacant. On hearing the request to approach window number four, I move on over and ask, politely I thought, for a return ticket to Carlisle. £44.50 replied the teller, without so much as a hello, good afternoon or please.
Thinking this a little on the pricey side, and being slightly deaf as a result of persistent sinusitis brought on by this damp, northern climate, I repeated this figure with a quizzical look, and “really?” appended for good measure. All good natured stuff I thought.
“That’s what I said,” replied the teller.
Taken aback by this response, and caught somewhat off guard, I muttered something about having checked on the web and it was much cheaper. My new chum lightened up a bit at this point and informed me that this was the price of a cheap day return. But then she became positively engaged in my simple request to get to Carlisle and back as cheaply as possible.
“When are you coming back?” she asked me, though still a little haughtily for my liking.
“Tomorrow evening, on the 7.10 from Carlisle,” I said.
“You’d be better off buying two standard singles then, they’re £16 each.”
Now I don’t claim to be a mathematical genius, but it does strike me that you would be better off buying two standard singles regardless of when you were coming back, saving yourself £10 in the process which makes me wonder just how they arrived at the cost of a standard return in the first place.
This is just one example of why the rail network is on its knees in the UK. Another is that if you are travelling from Glasgow to Dundee, then it is cheaper to buy a ticket from Glasgow to Perth and then one from Perth to Dundee, than get a straight through ticket. Add this to the state of the track and rolling stock and you have the UK rail network.
Give me SNCF and even better TGV any day. It’s more reliable, cheaper, and easier to use, and they serve better coffee.
I think any plea to the rail companies falls on deaf ears, go on prove me wrong.
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What is Skelpt Arse?
To use a splendid bit of sadly, now seldom-used Scottish vernacular, whose 'arse' definitely needs 'skelpt'?
Who or what has been letting you down, letting our magnificent country down or who generally needs brought into line. Politicians? Overly politically-correct-mandarins? Jobsworth civil-servants? Service industry specialists who've not been servicing? You tell us!
We've got a sliding scale of 'skelpitness' from a light smack or a pure, red, stinger? You decide!