So today I had to journey up from London to Leicester. A trip I’ve only taken once before, this time it was there and back by lunchtime. A little over an hour each way with East Midlands Trains is pretty convenient for a meeting to be honest, and there are bag fulls of taxis at Leicester station so you can easily get to wherever you need to be (in my case, the Space Centre – a story for another day!).
Being the keen bean that I am, I arrived at the magnificent St Pancras station about 45 minutes early so made my way straight to the first class lounge (obvs). I’ve been in several lounges in my time, and this one was probably around average. A couple of tables, some tea and coffee, juice, and the obligatory bowl of individually-wrapped cookies: “perfect for breakfast” was clearly the feeling of one passenger as they filled their boots, but not for me. I was disappointed to not see any green tea, but I do know that green tea is rather an exotic request these days. Apparently.
There was a very chirpy member of staff checking tickets at the door to the lounge, who was opening the door to everyone and generally being helpful to anyone who spoke to him. I wish I could be that happy at my job every day!
Perhaps because of a lack of passengers, the lounge itself was very small – I’ve been in bigger meeting rooms to be honest – but at least the news was on. It was clean, and there was a plug socket next to me. It met most of my requirements, but seemed sort of half dingy, half clinical. But I wasn’t in there long, so no real complaints.
Just as my stomach was starting to grumble, I saw that my platform had been announced so made my way onto the train, wondering what delights there would be for breakfast.
No delights, it turns out. I opted for the omelette, but instead of an omelette, I got a dry roll with some not-very-well-heated up kind of egg pancake with a couple of scraps of cheese on the top, which was too salty even for my taste buds. The bun was warmer than the filing, which would have been nice had there been a bit of butter on it. So my poor stomach continued rumbling. I was now dangling precariously over “hangry” territory.
Although the train did depart on time – to the exact minute. Well done, East Midlands Trains, well done.
When a member of staff was going past collecting all of the plates etc, he asked me if I was finished, pointing at my barely-touched breakfast. When I gave him my sob story, he very kindly offered to replace it with something else, and apologised to me. Unfortunately I was about ten minutes from Leicester so there wouldn’t have been time to get anything else. Note to self: complain earlier – the staff here do actually want to help.
The seats on these trains are massive. Little me was sliding about all over the place, but that’s not really a complaint seeing as myself and the person next to me had plenty of elbow room to both be typing and not getting in each other’s way. It was a little annoying having the table so far away from my little arms though – some of those half-fold-up tables would have been a treat. I was typing away for the whole journey so by the time I arrived, my back was a little sore and my shoulders a bit strained. But at least it was better than not having a table at all.
The curtain was rather annoying. Some trains have them secured at the bottom as well as the top. I can see why. I had to have it closed so that I wasn’t blinded by the sun coming up, but every time the train bumped along or swayed one way or the other, that annoying curtain swung out.
So we arrived at Leicester and off I trotted to the Space Centre (which was awesome, by the way!). I got back just in time to get my train back to London. I didn’t have time to get any food from the shops, but I wouldn’t anyway because I was looking forward to some kind of sandwich on the way back.
No sandwich arrived. Just a trolley with the same biscuits as breakfast, and some of those teeny packs of pretzels which I still maintain are for dolls houses. 2% of my daily calorie intake – may I have 16 packets please??
So there I was, arms outstretched trying to reach my laptop keys, stomach growling from having consumed just two packs of pretzels and two cookies all day, curtain flailing into my face every few minutes. This wasn’t the greatest train journey I’d ever been on, that’s for sure.
So, to summarise my experience; the staff were great. The train was fine. The food was crap. But definite plus points for departing London and arriving into Leicester on time. Shame it was delayed on the way back though.
My message to you, East Midlands Trains, is please sort your food out. All I want is some cereal in the lounge, some green tea, and a sandwich on my way home. That shouldn’t be too much to ask. Oh, and can you give some tongs to the guy who hands out the breakfast rolls? He was trying to pick them up with a fork and a spoon and looked like he was going to drop every single one. Thanks!