Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Now I lay me down to sleep....

I actually carried out something of an experiment in the course of getting to the conference. First Great Western, a company I'm not particularly fond of for various reasons, still run a sleeper service between Plymouth and Paddington. I'd always thought that this was a bit pointless, and probably expensive.

How wrong I was.

A single berth cost £45. Contrast this with £100ish for a room in a hotel in London, or £55-70 on the outskirts. The service was excellent, with a friendly host greating me when I got on and showing me to the cabin, and demonstrating how everything worked, as well as taking my breakkie order ("bacon roll and a pint of coffee please" - I got a bacon roll) and wake up call. I left Plymouth just shy of midnight, had a  cup of cocoa from the buffet (free) and was asleep by 12.30.

The cabin was compact, but comfortable, with a good few pillows and blankets, as well as a fair amount of space to store luggage. A sink was concealed under a lifting shelf, and there was a tv (although this only showed a handful of pre-recorded programmes). Still, sleep came easily, althoiugh there was a slightly disconcerting moment when I woke up to find my head lower than my feet due to the camber of the track!

We pulled into Paddington at about 5.30am, and I had my wakeup and breakfast at 6.20. You have to be off the train by 7am, but you get access to the 1st class lounge (free drinks and croissants, and comfy chairs) as well as the showers.

All in all, a good journey, getting me into the heart of the capital in time to have a nice breakfast, a shave, shower and then make my way across to Euston. There is a train that leaves plymouth at about 5.30am, and gets in for 8.30/9ish, but it would probably not cost much less and I'd have to rush.

I can heartily reccomend the sleeper to any union  hacks (or indeed anyone) travelling up from the westcountry, and will certainly be using it again in the future!

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