The rebirth of the Great Western Railway: Natasha Heard reviews the Plymouth to London service
We always like to talk about the destination – where we went, how much fun we had, what we did, ate, etc, and often we treat the journey as a means to an end. Thanks to my mum, I’ve always enjoyed the travelling part, I mean, there were the travel sweets, quizzes, puzzles and endless games of I Spy to keep my sisters and I entertained on our family trips away, who couldn’t enjoy that! The journey there is always full of so much excitement and hope and the journey home is one of reflection and for me, the excitement of returning back to my haven.
If you are fortunate to live in the South West or to visit there you may very well be used to the picturesque train route that leads you to or from the luscious green countryside. I’ve always found Great Western Railway (formerly First Great Western) to be a very reliable service with quick trains and regular journey times, yes there are the occasional delays and it may not be the cheapest method of travel but if you want to sit back and ease the pressure of driving long distances or halve your journey time by not spending a chunk of your precious weekend on a coach, then it’s certainly the preferred option. And you pay for what you get. Who doesn’t enjoy relaxing and taking in the stunning view while passing through the tunnels around Dawlish and on the water’s edge? Train travel is the perfect way to sit back, relax and enjoy the sights.
The company has started an overhaul in the last few months in a bid to improve their services and in it’s own words, ‘to return the railway to its former glory.’ The South West’s leading train company offers ‘fantastic food, with ingredients sourced directly from the West Country with Pullman Dining, our luxury 3-course, silver service on board restaurant.’
I enjoyed a trip from South Devon to London recently in First Class and was thoroughly impressed with the cleanliness of the coaches, excellent service and comfortable seating.
The train door was held open for me as I boarded the train and, after settling in my seat, was soon offer complimentary refreshments in the form of tea, coffee, water, soft drinks, fruit, nuts, crisps and shortbread biscuits. The seat was spacious, comfortable and reclined without affecting the person sat behind me – guilt free reclining! I sat at a table and there was plenty of room to spread my laptop and snacks without encroaching on other passengers’ space.
There was also plenty of leg room and free Wi-Fi to make use of. Refreshments were offered to me at least 4 times in my 3 hour journey, which I felt was just the right amount to not feel kept on with or forgotten about. Staff on the train were polite and helpful and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back and building up the anticipation of my weekend away to the capital.
My return journey was much the same and because I travelled on a Sunday evening, the only difference was the table service – when I wanted a drink I had to visit the buffet car – not a problem, it’s right next to first class!
I had arrived at Paddington station about an hour before my train was to depart so I took myself off to the First Class Lounge where I helped myself to a cup of camomile tea, a bottle of water and a snack in preparation of my relaxing journey home and waited in a stress free environment.
All in all, I don’t think you can go wrong with train travel, there are refreshments on tap, comfortable seating, friendly service and the opportunity to work, relax or build excitement about or reflect on a great trip had. And GWR knows how to pull out all the stops!