Monday, March 10, 2008

British transport on Sunday night

Back from Jerusalem...some amazing times there, but a long flight back...stories to tell in the coming days.

However, the trip to London seems more difficult than it should have been, and I think I'm starting to sour on British Airways. An hour and a half late at departure; 45 minutes on the ground at Heathrow waiting for a gate, and this has been the norm, lately. Maybe things will get better with Terminal 5, but then again...

So I am out at 10 pm rather than 8: it's Sunday night, and I need to get 70 miles from Heathrow to Cambridge. A quick rundown of the options include:

  • National Express: 27.50 GBP, but arrives at 2 am
  • Train: Heathrow Express to Paddington, Underground to Kings Cross, train to Cambridge...but not running late on a Sunday night.
  • Taxi: Simple, direct: 220 GBP (!) One Way (!) -- I could fly round-trip to Amsterdam for that (!) Twice (!)
  • Rental Car: EuroCar: 56 GBP, two days, plus gas.
  • Transfer a car: to Stansted Airport and take a bus or train to Cambridge: The rental car agencies weren't buying the offer.
  • Hire Car: None in sight, unless I want to identify myself as someone else.
  • Walk, Bike: Even the Dutch would shudder...
  • Local Hotel: Call it a night, and soldier onward in the morning. Tempting, but the M25 or the Underground at 7 am would be a nightmare.

I hate to do it, but EuroCar is the winner.

I arrive in Cambridge at 11:45, in time for a Guinness and a bit of reading before bed. I wish I hadn't had to drive, but public transport just hasn't reached the point (or it has descended from the point) where it makes sense to take an alternative. Unfortunate...

However, I have to say that the hotel booked for the meetings in Cambridge is stellar...something to write home to TripAdvisor about (a big tub bath next to the bed, no less. If it wasn't 1 am, I'd try it...)

Photo credit Heathrowairport.co.uk

2 comments:

TextualHealing said...

And some people think travel is galmaorous ! - I sympathise with your UK public transport blues. The anarchic and over(no opportunistically) priced public transport system is one of the things I miss least about the UK. We forget sometimes how good we have it here. (Do you know that virtually the entire UK rail network is going to be closed for renovation over Easter?)
But what is the difference between renting a car and hiring one? (Nice try trying to do a car switch for free for the car hire companies :-))

Dave Hampton said...

I really expected that the UK rail system would be world class: the cost and unreliability of schedules is just amazing (same for British Airways, frankly).

My ultimate story: I came down from Sheffield one Sunday night, 70 GBP round trip, and found that the trains simply ended at Nottingham. No note in the ticket, just no onward journey until 6 the next morning. I ended up having to take a flop-house room across the street from the station.

When I said Hire Car, I was thinking of the drivers holding signs outside the customs door. I might stroll up to one, identify myself as Dr. Whoever-is-on-the-label, and say that we had to divert to Cambridge on the way to our destination? :)