Thursday, October 05, 2006

On the Virgin bullet train between Glasgow and London

Entry for 5 October 2006:

The fast train between Glasgow and London (Euston Station) generally takes 4.5 to 5 hours, travelling up to about 100 mph (still not metric here!). It’s a bit more expensive than the budget airlines, and takes a it more, but is much more comfortable and involves less hassle. I left my house yesterday about noon, and took the train from Anniesland to Glasgow Central station, arriving in plenty of time to buy my ticket and wait around for the 12:49 train. The train was pretty empty, and so it was easy to get a table. It turns out that the tables have electrical outlets in them for laptops! (In addition to the usual standard and first class sections, there is also one car in section that is designated as a “quiet zone”, where mobile phones may not be used. Next time, I plan to make my phone calls before I leave, and sit in the quiet zone.)

It was a lovely day, going in and out of cloud and sun as we sped through southern Scotland. We were across the border to Carlisle in a bit over an hour, and to the midlands in 2 hours. I reviewed the page proofs for my Rasch SCL90 article, which I count as writing time, so it was a productive journey. It was only when we got south of Watford Junction (the traditional boundary between the north and south England, but actually only a half hour north of London) that we stopped to wait, delayed for 20 min because of “congestion”.

Now after a delightful dinner last night catching up with my old friends Chris Barker and Nancy Pistrang and a very productive day in a meeting of the Editorial Board of the journal Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, I’m travelling home on the last Glasgow train of the day, and it’s practically full, but the seats are still much more comfortable and roomy than on an airplane. The mobile phone service is spotty, because we are mostly out in the country and are moving so fast that we move through signal areas before my phone can pick them up and I can dial. I plan to work on my blog for a while, then after I eat the food I picked up at the station, I’ll work on my RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) and try to wade through some of my accumulated email, which I’ve saved on my computer for this occasion. I’m very fond of this way of travelling, even on a full train (as long as I have a place to sit!), and I’ve been looking forward to having the time for work and reflection.

Later: At Preston, in the Midlands, we experience a sudden change from British English to Scots English. Apparently for purposes of this journey, this is the linguistic boundary!

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