We invited different groups of people to try the East Coast train from Edinburgh to London and share their experience. Read about their journeys below, more of which will feature more over the coming weeks.
Rhona Turnbull – Business Traveller
FOR Rhona Turnbull, taking the train to London ticks all the boxes.
Turnbull is the assistant director of Sustainable Energy Finance at RBS and is based in Edinburgh. But her job takes her to London regularly and, travelling East Coast, she can be at King’s Cross in around four and a quarter hours. From there it’s a short tube journey to the RBS offices in Bishopsgate.
She prefers the train to the plane because it allows her to work more effectively and avoids the grind of hanging around airports, going through necessary but tedious security checks and embarking on the hour-plus journey from Gatwick or Heathrow into the centre of London. It’s also greener by train – important for someone whose job is all about sustainability.
“My job is based in Edinburgh and I live in Edinburgh,” she explains. “But the majority of the team are based in London and we have representatives throughout the UK. So I travel quite a lot to London – every two weeks, if not more.
“I tend to get the sleeper down and come back after a few days and work my week around meetings and events to get the best use of time.
“The train is a good option because you can always get work done whereas when you are flying you have no time to sit down and get on with it. You spend time going through security, or just having to be at the airport at a certain time so, in terms of time away from the office it’s probably longer.
“Also, the trains get you right into the city centre. I do like the train, it is a lot less stressful.
“King’s Cross is easy to get to whereas if you’re catching a flight it takes time to get to the airport and go through check-in. Once you’re on the train you can just sit down and get on with what you have to do
“And if you know you’ve got the train journey coming up you can arrange to do some specific research during the journey. A plane’s not great because you can’t use your laptop.”
Rhona travels first class on East Coast which allows her to mix business with a little bit of luxury. With free wi-fi and plug sockets fitted throughout the first class coaches passengers can stay connected with clients and colleagues without having to worry about running out of battery life.
And if you want to relax, first class is unbeatable. With a little extra space and a little extra comfort you have the chance to stretch out and enjoy the scenery.
Complimentary food and drink is served at your seat throughout the journey so, depending on the time of day, you could be tucking into cooked breakfast, hot lunch, afternoon tea or an evening meal.
“It’s really nice because you are served at your seat and you are not having to think about buying stuff before you get on the train. It saves times because when you are travelling to London you want to use every possible moment to work.”
The mood on board is conducive to getting things done and there are designated quiet carriages – a boon, according to Rhona. “It’s quiet, so you can focus on what you want to work on. It’s a nice atmosphere – once you’ve sat down you don’t feel rushed. You can just get on with things.
“There’s also a lot more space than on the plane and you can have your bag and belongings next to you. Also, you can get up and have a wander.”
The proximity of RBS’s London offices is another welcome aspect of travelling by rail.
“When you arrive at King’s Cross it’s 20 minutes door to door to the RBS offices at Bishopsgate. The airport is a lot longer, particularly if you come in to Gatwick or Heathrow. It can take over an hour to get to the office.”
Going by train is also a lot greener than flying or driving. The environmental impact is considerably less as rail is a relatively energy efficient mode of transport. This chimes with RBS’s policies on sustainability.
“We have green targets on travel that are reported annually,” says Rhona whose job involves working with business customers on energy efficiency and renewable projects.
“RBS has an agreement with East Coast and we are encouraged from a low cost option and environmentally to travel by train.”
To borrow an advertising slogan from yesteryear, for Rhona, this truly is the age of the train.