Perfect Start

15 January and 2 trips already this year.

I had 4 nights in Amsterdam starting on 1 January, and maybe I’ll get around to writing something about it later this month – before the memory fades too much.

On 14 January I had a business trip to Newcastle, for a lunchtime meeting. A day trip. 7.20 train in the morning.

dawn, E Lothian, 125mph

dawn, E Lothian, 125mph

Home for 18.30.

Normally it wouldn’t be worth writing about. The reason is I took the train. UK trains.

They were fast (200kph), on time and comfortable. It was even good value for money.

The last part is easily explained. I now qualify for a senior railcard (don’t tell anyone). For £30 a year, I get a 50% reduction. I was able to make the bookings 5 weeks in advance, so the cost came down some more.

It came down so much I travelled in 1st class, and it went back up again. £70 return. Comfort was to be expected. It is a business expense, so allowable against tax. The cost will come down again.



Newcastle is 154 miles (246 km) from here. A 2 hour 53 minute drive, according to my iPhone. 2 hours 18 minutes by train. That explains the “good value”. It would have cost less in petrol, but would have taken longer and would have been more tiring.

Being on time is not to be taken for granted on UK trains. The fast trains share the track with the slow trains. The rolling stock is often quite old – 30 years or more.

1st class lounge, Newcastle

1st class lounge, Newcastle

On top of that, the weather has been horrible for the last week. Wind and rain mostly, but then some snow came along the day before my trip. Snow means a national panic. Panic affects the railway quite badly. However, on this occasion they got it all right. Well done East Coast Trains and Cross Country Trains – yes, I used two different rail companies for one trip. (3 actually – I had to change to a Scotrail train in Edinburgh on the way home. It was on time too!)

Leaving aside the positive travel, the meeting went well, I had a lovely lunch in a Persian restaurant and had time for a wee wander around the city centre on a nice (cold) sunny day!



Amsterdam went well. Newcastle too.

A good year, so far.

© iain taylor 2015

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