The train company that tells you to take the coach - the desperate last gasp of National Express

14 November 2009

Tremendous. Absolutely brilliant. What more could you ask of a bitter and twisted rail franchise that has been stripped of the property it craved so much? At midnight, National Express East Coast was officially relieved of its duties running the East Coast Main Line, to be replaced by the Government operated East Coast. And less than three hours before that occurred, an email appeared in the inbox of anyone who had ever booked a ticket with National Express trains (at least I assume so, given I've never booked a coach with them):

Bitterwallet - National Express try to railroad Government takeover

Yes, one last abuse while the mailing list still resided with them. The account was handed over to the new owners at midnight, so there was a window of opportunity to channel consumers away from the trains and promote their coach service. One last jolly at the expense of the Government-ran competition. "Fuck the new owners, book a coach instead!" - the message really couldn't have been more blunt than that. Perhaps if National Express had given customers a fair and honest service in the first place, they wouldn't have lost the franchise.

TOPICS:   Travel

17 comments

  • cookie
    You have to be shitting me. An official statement and they've actually written 'may of heard'? Gahhhhh!
  • Bob
    I may of heard somewhere that National Express coaches are still shitty uncomfortable meatwagons.
  • Inactive
    I got the email and noticed the glaring grammatical cock up. They didn't " lose " the franchise, they handed it back.
  • NobbyB
    > Perhaps if National Express had given customers a fair and honest service in the first place, they wouldn’t have lost the franchise. I always found National Express trains punctual, clean and really quite cheap. I regularly use to pay less than £12 for a single ticket York-Glasgow/Edinburgh and York-London.
  • cin
    "always found National Express trains punctual, clean and really quite cheap. I regularly use to pay less than £12 for a single ticket York-Glasgow/Edinburgh and York-London." Yep, agreed. They do a better job than scotrail... and provided better service.
  • Tom T.
    I'm actually quite sorry to see National Express East Coast lose the franchise. I travelled to London quite a lot with them from Grantham, frequently paying only about a tenner. And you saved 10% through their website. Trains always punctual and clean. And you got free wifi. Far better than Stagecoach East Midlands Trains to Nottingham in my experience. Now the government have got it I bet the discounts will vanish soon, along with the free wifi.
  • Tom T.
    Also, your article is wrong. They gave the franchise back because they were having to pay the government too much for it. It seems the government did not learn from GNER - which also could not keep up the payments. But don't let the facts get in the way of a good story...... (God Bitterwallet is becoming like The Sun....)
  • Mark
    NXEC were able to provide a better service than some other operators because they inherited a reasonably-well-run (though financially unsound) company at the outset. The company should be judged by how well they have performed compared with their predecessor rather than in comparison with other franchisers. On this measure, NXEC have done a subpar job.
  • Mittsy
    As you may "of" heard?
  • Derek
    The east coast line in a fantastic line. NE to London in less than 3 hours. GNER were brilliant at all area's - running the trains as well as delivering a great service on board. NXEC ran the trains to the same standard - but some area's of customer service was not as good. The test now is can these civil servants run the train and return to excellent service. The staff will still be as good but I'm NOT optimistic as I expect corners will be cut - pricing offers will disappear, wifi will be ??, staff numbers??, food standards?? I suspect that we are about to be screwed, and all the obvious things that come from a good commercial imperative will be lost through civil servants who simply have to run the business. Would they lose the franchise if they fail to pay up -
  • cin
    One more thing, although it was seen as a desperate attempt at getting extra income, I wish they would keep the charge for seat reservations, but I see one of East Coasts' plans is to abolish it....WHY?? We would all take the reservations a little more seriously if they had to be paid for.
  • Brian
    Hi, my name is Brian. I managed to buy a National Express coach ticket from the Midlands to London for £1 each way. Bargain!
  • Fai
    Based on my experiences, NXEC did a pretty decent job at running the line - efficient, and on time, with free wifi. As good as GNER previously. The fact of the matter is that the government wanted far too much for the franchise, and by the time NX realised that they completely overpaid to win the franchise (albeit their main flaw was being overly optimistic with their revenue projections), it was rather too late to save themselves. Naturally with the government choosing what gets them the most money rather than on merits and realistic goals, someone's bound to hit a snag sooner or later. Either give people a good service and comfort and price it out of reach, or aim for maximum revenue with minimal customer satisfaction (i.e. First Great Western with their pack-them-in-like-sardines coaches). Or lose money.
  • Financial S.
    Hmmmmm... kinda concerning if they don't know how to spell "traveling" and that's their business?
  • Dave
    Seems suspicious, I used to receive all the NXEC emails but I never received this one. Also this does not appear to be in the style of any of their previous emails. It looks like it was probably written by someone in marketing of their coach division. As all NXEC staff moved over to the new company I doubt any of them would want to piss off their new employer. BTW "Financial Samurai" in English travelling does have 2 L's in it, it's in the US they spell it differently.
  • SomeOneWhoKnows
    TomT, you are wrong and an idiot. Trains clean? wrong. Wifi? doesn't work. It may be better than other TOCs, but that was what NXEC inherited, not what they did off their own backs. Also, the government were not about to let a company bid over the top for a franchise, only to renege on their promises and then go on to keep the franchise anyway. All franchises would then fail if that were the case, so it's not about the government being greedy and not learning lessons, it's about the private companies being greedy and not learning lessons - so nothing new there then.
  • kw
    The Government knows best. (NOT!!!)

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