Having travelled on a fair few overnight train journeys overseas, I thought it about time I did one in the UK. With little interest in Paddington – Penzance, it was the opportunity to do London to Edinburgh that won my vote.
So what did I think?
Platform 3 London Euston
I paid £185 for a first-class cabin to myself and eagerly boarded just after 10pm for the 11.50 departure. The compartment was very similar to those I have frequented in Eastern Europe. Functional. Comfortable. Faded.
First Class Sleeping Zone
After dropping off my stuff & ordering my breakfast for next morning, I decided to pay the restaurant car a visit. Followers of my blog will know that a train restaurant car is one of my top travel pleasures, so as I sat in the comfy chair my anticipation rose a notch.
Disappointingly the beer was warm and the room temperature stifling. With sweat running down my neck I bolted the beer and returned to the air con comfort of my compact bedroom.
I slept really well, not stirring until just before alarm clock time at 6 through the need to visit the carriage loo – one each for ladies & gents.
I quickly washed in the tiny basin and dressed for breakfast. I had preordered home made granola with fresh yoghurt, orange juice and coffee. Expectations were high for a lovely start to the day, so I was somewhat disappointed to be served granola with yoghurt in a plastic pot like the ones you buy in Tesco, orange juice in a plastic bottle and finally hot water in a service station style metal coffeepot with a sachet of instant coffee. Hmmm.
Apparently new luxury trains arrive in October and clearly little or no investment has been made to the old rolling stock, which has been left to deteriorate into shabbiness in places.
As I ate the travellers fare, we stopped in Carstairs to allow the train to split with the Glasgow section heading north west as we continued north east. I looked outside at the rain falling on the purple heather. An atmospheric scene to drink in with my rather weak coffee as I chastised myself for only packing t-shirts for my 3-day Fringe visit.
We arrived dead on time at 7.25 and I stepped onto the platform after nostalgically (awkwardly!) pulling down the window to open the slam door from the outside (remember those?) by twisting the handle.
Arrived Edinburgh Waverley
I had been underwhelmed by the ‘first-class’ experience, but glad all the same that I had undertaken a UK overnight train journey. This one was more akin to the €25 Skopje to Belgrade overnighter undertaken last September than the luxury of TGV or AVE couchettes.
I shall definitely do it again when the new trains are running so I can contrast & compare.
Moving on, the Edinburgh Fringe as ever definitely did not fail to deliver…….
Thanks for the tips! Always nice knowing whilst traveling in sleepers.
Thanks for the review. I’ll be on the Caledonian Sleeper near the end of September – right before the projected upgrade. Also in first class (I’m hoping for a shower in the lounge at Edinburgh before going on to Dundee). I’ll try to remember to board with extra coffee!
I didn’t write it but the crew were not overly friendly either.