Monday, 18 August 2008

Megabus / Megatrain Runs Off The Rails

Glasgow by Megatrain for £1. But is it standing room only?

Last time I wrote about my Megatrain journey of discovery. I wondered why Virgin Trains was unloading cheap tickets to the consolidator Megatrain for as little as a pound when the trains were full to bursting. Today I took the return leg of my Glasgow to Birmingham bargain fare. There were plenty of Megabus bargain hunters aboard. I saw the train manager's print-out of reference numbers and she even made an announcement especially for us. Apparently today's train (where I'm typing this - thanks at least for the onboard electrical outlet Mr Branson) has no carriage for customers without a seat reservation. 'Please find a seat where you can' announced the Train Manager. Fortunately I'm one of the first aboard and eventually locate one of the precious few unreserved seats. So is Megabus designed to equal 'standing'? Perhaps that's why the seats, sorry aisles, are so cheap.

To compound matters the train is running 51 minutes late. I know this because I've just asked the train manager to validate my fixed price connecting ticket so that I'm not forced to pay again for my non-flexible Birmingham – London Euston leg. After a 60 minute delay passengers can usually reclaim their fare. It's unlikely even I will bother to submit a claim for £1. As it is we arrive in Birmingham just 22 minutes late – but 2 minutes after my connecting train departed. So I reach London 30 minutes late. I don't think I'll be in any hurry to repeat my Megatrain experience – especially when an advance single airfare from BMI Glasgow to London Heathrow starts from as little as £41. The off-peak standard return rail fare is £101.90. Oh the absurdities of Britain's public transport.

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