Open Jaw: Highland Sleeper train; Southend
Where readers write back
Saturday 26 November 2011
Goodnight to the Highland Sleeper train?
I travel frequently between London and Inverness and much prefer the train to the plane. However, the cost of train travel has made it a rare luxury. I've just checked and the cheapest single cabin for my next planned trip would cost £350 – double that of the airfare.
There's no reason why the Highland Sleeper couldn't adopt a simplified pricing structure, clean itself up and advertise properly. Look at the Trainhotel in Europe – some cabins have showers, it's got a proper restaurant car and it's packed.
An utter disgrace – the sheer beauty of Scotland will be lost.
They should make people pay more. It's pretty amazing that it only costs £19 (little more than a cheap day return from Waterloo to Virginia Water). I'm sure people would be prepared to pay a bit more and have the line survive.
It's romanticism rather than practicality. Waking up on a train and enjoying a coffee from the buffet car while a new day breaks across a misty moorland, soon snaps into the reality that it takes a really long time to reach the final destination. As a resident of the West Highlands, I'd shed a tear for the Sleeper's demise, but this wouldn't be the end of tourism as we know it. The majority of visitors drive cars.
I've always wanted to travel on this line so sounds like I'd better pull my finger out. It would be a big shame to lose the connection. I've done plenty of overnight train journeys overseas and would recommend the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route. I took the very affordable First Class service and it was truly amazing. Our carriage was at the back and there was an outdoor area. The food and service were excellent and it was immaculately clean.
I travelled on the Indian Pacific in Australia, between Sydney and Adelaide (although the train ultimately goes on to Perth). It was a wonderful way to see the country away from the coastal cities.
A few years back I travelled on an overnight sleeper between Venice and Paris: a delight! Admittedly I took a first-class cabin for myself, but the journey was smooth, comfortable and enjoyable and I arrived in central Paris rather more refreshed than if I had taken the 6am flight. I would be sad to see the Highland Sleeper go.
"Southend, the arse end of nowhere"
Having read this comment from Michael O'Leary of Ryanair, I very much doubt whether he has been anywhere near Southend recently, or indeed if he has ever visited the town.
Southend is a very vibrant place with a world famous pier, mile after mile of award-winning golden beaches and parks, superb sporting facilities, the Palace Theatre and the Cliffs Pavilion.
We have excellent shopping centres, fast links to London on two different railway networks, Europe's biggest free air show and a cultural calendar that is second to none.
Could it be that Mr O'Leary's ill-conceived and foolish comments are motivated by sour grapes at missing out on the fantastic new opportunities the airport expansion has provided for easyJet and the residents of Southend?
Councillor Nigel Holdcroft, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Leader
It's a bit rich – and offensive – to describe Southend in that way. It's a lot quicker to London than from many cities "served" by Ryanair (Paris would be a good example). And for many in South-east England, the only way is Essex.
Paul Moore, Director of Communications, easyJet
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