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Scotrail Nightmare - trying to go car free

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 ogreville 17:34 Mon

Pretty sure I’ve ranted on here before about Scotrail, so here’s round two.

I was very excited about the travel ban lifting in Scotland and had grand plans for a nice car-free hop up to corrour to take in the Grey Corries and a bit of cycle/camping.

I spent weeks waiting for tickets to be released - monitoring the Scotrail website every hour and calling the booking line every few days. They finally released the tickets on friday gone, (only 3 weeks before the travel date) then they lost my cycle booking, tries to rebook me, then finally get round to telling me there is a strike on that weekend, and now are refusing to refund the £120 unless I post the tickets to them (at my expense - special delivery due to value) and wait 28 days. Rebooking looks very unlikely due to oversubscription by staycationers. 

When are the Scottish (and uk government) going to get their finger out and start property pushing the public transport agenda - Quality service, frequent services, good links and reliability. Don’t even get me started on those of us who travel with a bicycle by train!

Selfishly, I can’t help but be annoyed that I and others like me who have made the most of the Scottish highlands for so many years, instead of flying off to Benidorm for every holiday, are now going to be squeezed out by people who are ‘stranded’ in Scotland for their holiday that year. 
 

I know I’m basically saying “I was here first” and that I have no more right to access these areas than others, but I can’t help but be a little annoyed about it. 
 

rant over- sorry

 OwenM 18:01 Mon
In reply to ogreville:

I have a week off next week, the plan is to take the bike on the train. Stirling to Inverness,  and cycle the Badgers Divide Trail back to Glasgow. Tried to book the train early Saturday morning.  Only it's now a replacement bus service for the next god knows how many weekends. So I can't take the bike on any weekend. I was left with a choice of either a mad dash after work Friday night to get to Inverness at 22.00, with no accommodation booked.  Or, miss two days and go on the following Monday. Very frustrating. 

 Andy Hardy 18:06 Mon
In reply to ogreville:

Does anywhere do 1 way bike hire?

 Eric9Points 18:21 Mon
In reply to ogreville:

In answer to your question the Scottish gov have said they'll nationalise ScotRail next year.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-56432919.amp

Of course, whether or not this will result in an improvement in services is anyone's guess given the debacles over Ferguson Marine which have left the Islands with a lack of ferries ( with over £100 million down the pan) and the Gupta/smelter purchase which may leave the Scottish Government liable for £500 million of his debts. 

On a broader point I find it ridiculous that it is cheaper to fly to Amsterdam than travel to many places in Scotland and the UK by train. How does that work?

In reply to ogreville:

> When are the Scottish (and uk government) going to get their finger out and start property pushing the public transport agenda - Quality service, frequent services, good links and reliability. Don’t even get me started on those of us who travel with a bicycle by train!

They have decided to nationalise ScotRail when its franchise runs out next year.  It looks more like a pragmatic decision due to the franchise processes not working in the Covid situation than a political stand against privatisation.

https://www.globalrailwayreview.com/news/119402/scotrail-scottish-government-ownership-2022

 Dave Hewitt 19:17 Mon
In reply to ogreville:

I'm less than ten weeks away from getting my bus pass - was a bit worried that might be chopped but it's surely happening now (the election probably helped) and I'll be a happy boy when the great day comes. All sorts of plans.

 Eric9Points 20:18 Mon
In reply to Eric9Points:

Just came across this failure by the Scottish government when trying to intervene in a public service.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/scottish-elections-power-firms-failure-costs-taxpayers-10-million-07zc2vspt

£10 million lost in this case.

In reply to Eric9Points:

> On a broader point I find it ridiculous that it is cheaper to fly to Amsterdam than travel to many places in Scotland and the UK by train. How does that work?

Low tax on jet fuel at least in part. It’s bloody annoying that it’s cheaper for me to hire a car and drive to Scotland from Somerset than to take the train. 
 

Ive sworn off internal flights now - I hope the rail network gets back off its knees soon.

In reply to Eric9Points:

> On a broader point I find it ridiculous that it is cheaper to fly to Amsterdam than travel to many places in Scotland and the UK by train. How does that work?

It's the economy stupid!  Or is it the environment? One or the other!

In reply to Eric9Points:

> On a broader point I find it ridiculous that it is cheaper to fly to Amsterdam than travel to many places in Scotland and the UK by train. How does that work?

The pricing model is totally different, in short.  You can only really compare if you have the average price per seat, but you are unlikely to find that.

In reply to Eric9Points:

> Just came across this failure by the Scottish government when trying to intervene in a public service.

Oh look our unbiased newspapers are dredging up an SNP bad story from 2019 and putting it out again a couple of days before an election in 2021.  I wonder why they'd need to go all the way back to 2019 for a story?  Maybe because the SNP have been doing a relatively good job and they can't find enough recent stuff?

> £10 million lost in this case.

That's serious money.  You'd only need 11 times as much and you could fund a PPE contract for one of your mates.  

I see the Tories are now running adverts saying that if the SNP get an overall majority there's guaranteed to be an Indyref.   They seem to have given up on the 's30 will be refused' line altogether.  It would be nice if it was true but I assume they are just lying to try and save some list MSP's seats. 

In reply to Eric9Points:

> On a broader point I find it ridiculous that it is cheaper to fly to Amsterdam than travel to many places in Scotland and the UK by train. How does that work?

Once, I traveled from Newcastle to San Francisco via train Newcastle to London, then flight London to SFO.  Guess which of those two travel options cost twice as much as the other.

In reply to ogreville:

I am in a similar position: been waiting for advance fares from Edinburgh to Inverness to appear, and there's nothing much around for when I want to travel: there seems to be no incentive to provide advance fares on that route by Scotrail (I did find  a Avanti Westcoast £14 advance fare Carlisle-Inverness but unfortunately not at a time of day I could travel).  Because I want a through journey from south of Carlisle to Inverness, and the advance fares on the other two "sectors" are available and I don't want to miss those, I've bitten the bullet and booked the tickets, got advance fares for the first two sectors, and paid the walk up fare EDB-INV (complex story involving split ticketing and through journeys etc).

On the upside (in favour of Scotrail) I did see this: https://twitter.com/ScotRail/status/1186952483941298176

In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> Once, I traveled from Newcastle to San Francisco via train Newcastle to London, then flight London to SFO.  Guess which of those two travel options cost twice as much as the other.

Yes, that's revealing,  Andy,  but can I ask  - are you comparing like with like? Was that the cheapest possible train fare, i.e. Advance? I'm wondering because full-fare unrestricted air tickets are very expensive, compared with the cheapest air tickets. Thanks. Anyway you've mentioned an interesting comparison 

In reply to profitofdoom:

> Yes, that's revealing,  Andy,  but can I ask  - are you comparing like with like? Was that the cheapest possible train fare, i.e. Advance? I'm wondering because full-fare unrestricted air tickets are very expensive, compared with the cheapest air tickets. Thanks. Anyway you've mentioned an interesting comparison 

Both were booked less than a couple of days before the trip (last minute business thingy).  I'm sure you're right about the advance pricing options; it was interesting that shortish notice on the train, at the time I needed to travel, had so much more of an impact than on the flight.  It was quite a few years ago when rail prices seemed to involve a random number generator (maybe they still do). 

As a (climbing related) side note - I almost, but not quite, got to spend the night at Ron Kauk's house during Labour Day weekend on that trip.

Post edited at 10:58
 hang_about 11:06 Tue
In reply to ogreville:

Six of us were travelling from Sheffield to London for a day's meeting (preCovid-  in the days we used to travel). Early start to avoid massive hotel bill from overnight stay. We worked out that it was far cheaper to hire a car and chauffeur than take the train and that even renting a helicopter would be cheaper than the train (this might be a lie borne of frustration) We went by train but.....

In reply to Eric9Points:

Exactly this.

Some years agon now I had a choice of a week ice climbing in Scotland or a week climbing in Spain. Guess which was the cheaper.

Not only cheaper but Spain cost me the grand total of £50 all in (flight, accomodation and shared car hire) while Scotland would have been £244 just for the train

 J1234 12:20 Tue
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

Possibly an issue here is that flying does not reflect the true costs because of taxes on fuel and the like and the environmental cost is externalised, so possibly flying should be more expensive.
Also a train is a bit monopolistic, be it private or nationalised whereas flying to popular destinations is fiercely competitive.

We got the train the other day, amazed at how good it was. Nice clean train, on time, nice staff and a good price. Bought our ticket on the day.

We shall certainly be using the train more in the future.

I like trains.

In reply to Andy Gamisou:

> Both were booked less than a couple of days before the trip (last minute business thingy).  I'm sure you're right about the advance pricing options; it was interesting that shortish notice on the train, at the time I needed to travel, had so much more of an impact than on the flight.  It was quite a few years ago when rail prices seemed to involve a random number generator (maybe they still do). 

> As a (climbing related) side note - I almost, but not quite, got to spend the night at Ron Kauk's house during Labour Day weekend on that trip.

Thanks for your reply. Bad luck missing Ron Kauk!

In reply to J1234:

I love trains too. A very relaxing way to travel (unless full to bursting because they don't put on enough carriages)

and I agree that flight is heavily subsidised

Post edited at 13:49
 martianb 13:56 Tue
In reply to OwenM:

You can take a bike on a MegaBus. I think the only caveat is that it should be wrapped in a plastic bag (mainly to protect other peoples luggage from oily parts i think). 

My mate and i travelled to Inverness ftom Glasgow last october. The trains were being cancelled due to bad weather and we missed our connecting train at perth by 30 minutes. A cycle up to the Broxden services and a quick chat with a Mega Bus driver saw us back enroute on the last bus to Inverness that night. The driver took pity on is and said he usually would only take bikes wrapped in a plastic bag as it's usual policy. In hindsight we should've just got the bus in the first place, it's more reliable and a lot cheaper.

 OwenM 14:03 Tue
In reply to martianb:

That's interesting,  when I booked they just said "sorry no bikes on the bus". I'll have to check out Megabus for next time. Also I can use my bus pass on the Megabus. 


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