The railway is better nowadays than it has ever been. Speed has been vastly improved which means things like restaurant cars are much less needed. People moan that other European countries' railways are more efficient and better than ours – I simply dispute this fact since the UK has the busiest rail network in Europe, despite its track size being greatly smaller than that of Italy, or Germany, or even France. It's about time people started realising we have one of the most robust systems in the world. You cannot expect a system to be perfect, especially considering the capacity on the UK's railways.
Railway companies should all send their managers to study how the Italians have succeeded in organising such a superbly efficient, and cheap, rail service. The German service is superb as well; but, alas, expensive. France's TGV is also excellent. If the Europeans can do it, why not in the UK, the country that invented railways? I said that to [record producer and railway enthusiast] Pete Waterman once and he rolled his eyes and said, "let's not even go there".
Whoever told you that the popular name for the cream-and-maroon livery on the 7.08am to Carlisle was "blood and custard" has been watching too many horror films. At least in my memory, it was "plums and custard" and I can't imagine that I made that up. Or was it rhubarb?
While I agree Harwich-Hook's rail connected service is great, is Hull-Rotterdam really so much less foot-passenger friendly? Is a coach connection, bookable as part of your ferry ticket, so much worse than taking a suburban train to the heart of the city? P&O offers direct coach connections from Europoort to Amsterdam, whereas from the Hook of Holland you have to change trains.
In the travel notes accompanying Martin Sixsmith's article, the map shows the wrong Novgorod! The Novgorod mentioned in the piece is Veliky Novgorod (Novgorod the Great); the one on the map in Nizhny Novgorod (known in the Soviet Era as Gorky). The correct site on the map for Veliky Novgorod is due south of St Petersburg at the junction of the Volkhov river and the lake.