A first class smile

A couple of weeks ago, as reported here, I went to Blackpool to watch a goalless football match on the worst playing surface I've ever seen.

Bloomfield Road, Feb. 2013.

In order to get to Blackpool, I used the East Coast website to book my train tickets, as I usually do. For the journey home, I chose to travel with Northern Rail, as they run a direct service between Blackpool and York.  When I looked at the prices offered, an Anytime Day Single was £27.90, but a First Class Anytime Single was only £1.70 more.

This made me curious, as I was pretty sure that the Northern Rail service in question didn't have First Class carriages.  On the basis that price difference was so small, though, I bought the more expensive option and wondered what would happen.

Being a Sunday, there was an inevitable bus replacement service for the first stage of the journey, so I didn't see a train till I got to Preston.  And when I got to the platform, my train was there, and I walked all the way up it and all the way back down it, and it definitely didn't have a first-class carriage.

The interior of a Northern Rail service does not look like this.

Still, it was definitely the right train, so I chose a quiet carriage and sat at an empty table and wondered what would happen.

A short while after the train set off, the conductor came through and she looked at my ticket with a puzzled expression and said, "We don't have a first-class carriage on these trains."

I told her I didn't think they did have, but had bought it anyway.

"We used to have them," she continued, "but they went when the franchise changed. I'm not really sure what I can offer you now!"

She carried on up the carriage, but after a moment, she turned back to me again.

"I can smile at you every time I walk past?"

This is a happy train.

But I'm sorry to say that - once the train filled up - even that promise didn't materialize.  As a consequence, I will be hunting down my £1.70 refund with a furious vengeance.