The great Virgin Trains Rip-off ?

Should Richard Branson be such a revered figure of British industry? Well, if you consider being able to formulate a business plan that charges more for catching a train from Carlisle to London than flying from Manchester to New York a shrewd business model, yes, I suppose he should. If however, like me, you consider a £282 (standard) or an incredible £415 (first class) return rail fare for Carlisle to Euston a pure-and-simple rip-off, no! I’d rather see Virgin Trains and Richard Branson branded as the thieves they are.

To put this into perspective, here’s an example £348 flight from Manchester to New York…

OK, I know that’s hardly the same journey – comparing apples with pears and all that – so here’s a journey from Manchester to London, just £93 return! In other words, I could fly to London and come back again three times for the price of one standard fare on Virgin Trains!

And to think Virgin Trains have the audacity to attempt to portray themselves as “green” – a better option than driving. Huh! So how much does driving a car cost? Michelin’s site suggests £32.34 each way, maybe that doesn’t account for wear and tear on tyres etc. – so lets double it: the return journey then is just £129.

I wouldn’t mind quite so much if there was a choice – I can’t even vote against the Virgin Trains West Coast monopoly and take my business elsewhere, there is nowhere else. Herein is the problem, allow a private (for profit) company like Virgin to operate without competition and they charge what they like! Simply, there should either be public-sector (not for profit) public-transport services, or more than one competing private-sector operators, not a monopoly (especially on crucial lines like the West Coast mainline).

As a final thought, what about a Virgin Atlantic rip-off flight to New York? That’s just £1425… 😯 That kind of reinforces my point that it’s Richard Branson and Virgin that are ripping us off, i.e. it isn’t just a rail issue.

Hopefully this summary table helps to make my point without the angry words above:

Fly BMI Manchester – Heathrow £93 Cheapest
Car Carlisle – Euston £129  
Train Virgin Trains Carlisle – Euston £282 Most expensive
Train Virgin Trains Carlisle – Euston £415 First class
New York
Fly Delta Manchester – New York JFK £348  
Fly Virgin Atlantic Manchester – New York JFK £1425  

Do I recommend using Richard Branson’s Virgin services? No. Perhaps they’d be better renaming their website virgin.con? Of course the choice is yours to use Virgin Trains … oh wait, no they have a monopoly operating trains to London on the West Coast mainline don’t they!

:angry: :angry: :angry:

Phew, What a Blow!!

Desperate to get out and do something as it was the weekend, we joined Sabiene and Arthur on a round of Wainwrights from Whinlatter. Unfortunately we hadn’t realised it was the Malcolm Wilson Rally, with a stage at Whinlatter, so the road was busier than we had anticipated. But Sabiene got a lot of waves as she powered over the pass in her Subaru; they thought she was a contestant!

Our walk had a steep initial climb up to Graystones, and the higher we got, the windier it became. By the time we’d been across Broom Fell and up to Lord’s Seat it was almost impossible to stand. Once back into the forest we were slightly sheltered, so we hightailed it down to the cars and to the Royal Oak at Braithwaite. Here we met Andy and his mates who were having a “boys” weekend. I think they’d managed to walk to the bar and back. No cakes……… too wet (and the pub didn’t have any).

Arthur  , windswept on Broom Fell
Arthur , windswept on Broom Fell
Anna takes a break
Anna takes a break


Sabiene battles onwards and upwards
Sabiene battles onwards and upwards

A remarkable event preceding a trip to Oxford

Terry and Amy set off in Terry’s Jag for a nice trip to Oxford ( 🙂 ). Only a few miles from home, however, Terry noticed the steering had become very ‘heavy’.

Subsequent inspection showed a remarkable failure and our first thoughts were that thank goodness we weren’t in a 747 !!!!

Numerous aggressive road humps had caused the bushing that sustains the shock absorber to the chasis to break off, allowing the shock absorber rod to move into the engine compartment. Here, as you see, it had perforated the hydraulic reinforced rubber pipe that carries power steering fluid from the reservoir to the system. Is this a first ???

Anyway, we eventually got to Oxford and here you see Terry and Amy at Christchurch. Anybody know the connection between Alice in Wonderland and Christchurch??

Another nice view
Another nice view