I tend to favour driving if a journey is a couple of hours from London because it gives me the flexibility to leave when I want, not have to worry about how much stuff I am taking and if there are two of use travelling it is invariably cheaper. It is also often quicker depending on where you are going, and trains home on a Sunday evening are usually pretty irregular.
Sometimes, however, there are benefits to taking the train, like being able to have a drink at lunchtime with a Sunday Roast, or being able to use the time to read or work, so this weekend we decided to take the train for a trip up to Wakefield in West Yorkshire.
We had several options when booking, and the ticket was the first one that we were able to show our Two Together Railcard. This helped to bring the cost down. I like to travel in First Class on the longer distance trains as there is more leg room and it means that I can get some work done on a laptop (like this review) – I find that I cannot get the screen open wide enough in a standard seat without a table. The cheapest ticket for two in First Class on Virgin Trains East Cost was over £120, so I took the plunge and booked a Grand Central train for the first time for £89 return for both of us with our railcard.
I arrived at King’s Cross about 20 minutes prior to departure to collect the tickets. It is always a pleasure to enjoy the space in the new ticket hall with its beautiful architecture.
The train was waiting on the platform and it was announced about 10 minutes prior to departure.
As with all the other trains on the long distance routes, first class is laid out in a 1-2 format, most with tables facing each other but some airline style. I favour booking the single seats when I am on my own, or the 1 on 1 seats when travelling with my wife. The best is being able to spread out on a big table with just the two of us which is what we were able to do on the way up.
The complementary catering in First Class on Grand Central is not as extensive as it is on Virgin Trains East Coast (I will be reviewing that next weekend) but it is decent enough for a couple of hours.
The menu is on the table
I really like the branded coffee cups.
The trolley service passed by three times in the 2 hour journey.
The carriages were nicely upholstered in a chic grey leather and were bright and clean. I really liked the plugs at each seat which contained a normal three-prong plug and two USB sockets – perfect for charging multiple devices. The only downside was that one plug was located right under the table and was very difficult to access
The wifi was free and easy to use. Whilst limited to 50MB, it was enough for me to surf, check emails and blog throughout.
On the return journey the train was understaffed meaning that there was no at seat trolley service. Announcements were made to advise passengers that the complementary refreshments were available on presentation of tickets at the buffet.
All in all it was a very pleasant journey. Yes, it was twice the price of driving, but it was relaxing, quick and gave us both some working time. It does have a niche market as it is aimed at stations in Yorkshire connecting to London, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again on a trip up to Wakefield.