Advantages Routes, Cost, Times
Disadvantages See full review
|Frequency of trains|
|Reliability of trains|
|Speed of trains|
|Safety of trains|
|How extensive is their Rail Network?|
|How well does it cater for disabled people?|
The chances are you have been on one of these trains or at least seen one.Now I know that Ciao call the trains Scot rail but they have since changed names and are now known as First Scot Rail.
**About First Scot Rail**As I have said that they are previously known as Scot rail until the 17th of October 2004 when they became First Scot Rail. Since they merged back on the 17th of October First Scot Rail have promised that they will improve services, stations and much more. They have a huge budget to spend on the services that will hopefully see more people using the services. First Rail aim to be the best low cost service in Scotland within the next 5yrs.
**The trains**This varies so much depending on where you get the train really depends on the condition of the train. As I live in Edinburgh I often use the service to and from Motherwell and any time I have been on that particular service the trains have been very clean and tidy. I feel that if your lucky enough to get the train at the beginning of a route then you will be delighted how clean the train is. Unless there is something special going n you are normally guaranteed a seat onboard these trains. The seats are fairly comfortable for a short distance but I would pity anyone that has to sit on them for hours. Luggage can be taken onboard all of the first Scot rail fleet however there is limited room available for storage and often people will sit there cases on seats which really annoys me.
**Smokers**Within the trains you will normally have a carriage that will permit smoking, I would advise all non smokers to ensure that they are well away from this carriage of the train as the smell is terrible. Often on busy trains you cant see in to the smoking carriage purely because of the amount of smoke. If your going to have a cigarette whilst on the train please remember and check that your in the smoking carriage.
**Catering onboard**You will have to be desperate to want to pay the prices that they want for there products. Most services will have a trolley dolly walk up and down the aisle selling a wide selection of biscuits, crisps, hot and cold drinks and sandwiches. Prices vary anything from 95p for a small box of crisps up to £3.50 for a poor quality sandwich. There hot drinks consist of very weak tea and coffee I would really suggest that you take a flask with you. Paying for your snacks is nice and straight forward they accept cash, credit cards and debit cards. Something to keep in mind is that the staff don't often carry that much change so try and take plenty of change with you.
All trains within there fleet have a toilet that you are able to use whilst onboard at no charge. I would seriously advise you to empty your bladder before getting on the train as most of the time the toilet is not very clean and there is usually terrible smell within there toilets. If you find your self needing to use the toilet you will need to hold on very tightly as when the train is in motion your likely to getting thrown about in the toilet. There toilets have a very difficult door system to operate you need to press buttons to open the door and close it then you need to select another button to lock the door. The sink within the toilet is very small just like the overall size of the toilet.
**Luggage**First Scot Rail have to be the best rail company when it comes to luggage that they allow there customers to take onboard.
*Animals are permitted to a maximum of 2 dogs, cats, small animals etc.* You can have 3 pieces of luggage of this 3 you are allowed 2 larger cases and one piece of hand luggage.
*Prams are permitted folded or unfolded.* Each passenger can carry one item that is no longer than 1 meter.
If you go over your allowance you will be subject to charges which is half the fare to a maximum of £5 single and £10 return. I think that's really fair so if you want to move house from Edinburgh to anywhere that is covered by Scot rail you are better jumping the train.
Most trains have the space for one or two bikes to be stored in. Now on short journeys you are permitted just to arrive at the station and hope there is a place available for you to put your bike in. Now if there is not you will not be able to travel as they are not allowed to depart any station until the bikes are in placed in the designated area. Alternatively you can call the booking line and advise them you will be taking your bike with you, doing this will guarantee you a place for your bike. Please note there no charge for you taking your bike on these trains. ***Note make sure you secure your bike as thieves operate on trains*****Reserving a seat**
Yes you can now reserve seats onboard any First Scot rail service. To reserve a seat you must book your ticket the day before prior to 18.00hrs (6pm) Doing this will allow you to book any seat that you want and that way you are guaranteed to get the seat you want. There is no extra charge for reserving a seat.**Disabled access**
Wheelchair user will be given help at any manned train station by staff that are specially employed to board any traveller that requires help. Often when I am in Edinburgh Waverly I will see rail staff getting yellow ramp out which will allow wheel chair bound travellers to board the train. I think its great that they have staff that will help people on board but a few things that really annoy me is that disabled customers are left sitting on the platform until the entire train has be boarded and help is not always available at every station. I believe that all customers should be given the same treatment and what I mean by that is that every station should have staff that can help disabled customers aboard.**Staff**
Staff at most of the stations are very helpful and knowledgeable, most of the staff are more than happy to answer any questions that you may have or even point you in the right direction. Staff aboard the train are not as chatty as I would like them to be they tend just to make sure that all is well on the train and walk up and down. I guess they are still helpful should you need to ask them any questions. One thing I like about the staff that are onboard the train is that they know exactly what time they expect to stop at all train stations and they are very knowledgeable about there route.
Now this is the part that has changed so much over the past few years as technology allow them to offer different ways to but tickets.*In person~ At any manned railway station you can but tickets in advance or on the day from the counter. They are happy to accept cash, debit and credit cards. Oh and they still accept cheques
*Online has to be the easiest way to buy tickets, you are able to book and buy them online as far in advance as 8 wks. Online you can pat using any debit or credit card. Once you have paid for them you can either have them delivered to your home address or you can collect them at a station of your choice.*By telephone is a another good way to book your tickets as you can ask any questions that you have before paying for them. My moan about this way is that often you can be placed on hold for a while you wait to be transfer to an operator. Via the telephone you can pat using and debit or credit card.
*On the train you will always be given the chance to buy a ticket should you ever find yourself aboard the train without any ticket. The conductor will walk through the train shouting those famous words "Tickets please " Tickets Please" at this stage should you not have a ticket all you need to do is ask the conductor for one and he will charge you the fee. CASH ONLY.**Routes**
As you are possibly aware there are so many different routes that First Scot rail cover, There is no way I could details every possible route so I will detail the main ones and mention the others. There are a total of 40 different routes available to every single one of us, most of the trains will connect with others trains at different stations.*Main route Edinburgh to Glasgow~ Departing every 15 minutes at peak times you can get to Glasgow within 53mins. During the journey you can expect to stop at no more than 9 different location before arriving in Glasgow queen street. During 7am and 8am Monday to Friday expect this train to be very busy as workers commute to work. Trains run from 05.55am to 23.30hrs Monday to Saturday. Last train arrives in to Glasgow at 00.28hrs. On Sundays the service runs from 05.55hrs until 23.30hrs but please ensure that you check that the train is stopping at your required station as most trains on Sunday do not stop at every station.
*Glasgow to Aberdeen~ One of the bigger routes covered by this company is this service which will take you via many lovely places including Dundee, Carnoustie, Arbroath before finally arriving in lovely Aberdeen some 3 hrs later. During the day this route can be very nice as you pass some lovely places in Scotland at high speed. This service runs 7 days a week, Monday to Saturday you can catch this service from 05.55hrs to 21.42hrs. On Sundays this service runs from 05.55hrs until 21.40hrs.*Other routes include~
~ Edinburgh to Aberdeen which will take you 2hrs 5mins. This service will take you over the Forth bridge which alone is well worth the journey.~ Edinburgh to Bathgate a quick service here which runs very frequently and will take approx 30mins which is great considering it can take you 40 minutes by car at peak times.
~ Glasgow to Fort William one of the most amazing routes to take is this one, even though it will take you the best part of 4hrs. I am very sure that the 4hrs will go past so quick as you see the super scenery of Scotland.~ Glasgow to Gourock one of the local routes for people that live in Glasgow. It will take a whole 41 minutes for this journey. This route runs from 05.55hrs until 23.50hrs daily which is super.
This is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the number of routes that they offer, I thought I would share a few with you.**Costs**
First Scot rail offer so many different prices from family rail cards to senior citizen discount.*Travel passes, depending on how much you use the service will depend on how much you pay.
* 10 day flexi pass is another great way to get a good deal, the only problem with this is that it only covers you to travel to and from your selected station. A few prices belowEdinburgh to Glasgow flexi pass~ £73.00 standard class or £112.00 for first class
Edinburgh to North Berwick~ £37.00 for standard classEdinburgh to Musselburgh~ £13.00 for standard class
Glasgow to Falkirk ~ £39.00 standard class or £58.00 first classGlasgow to Stirling~ £39.00 standard class
10 day flexi pass will permit the holder to 10 day travel free of charge during the period and of course on there selected route. You can many of these 10 day passes on line.* A standard ticket from Edinburgh to Glasgow return will cost you £8.20 (adult) and £3.70 for children
*Children under 5 travel free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult*Season tickets are also available from Scot Rail a season ticket from Edinburgh to Glasgow will cost you £2508 per year this will allow you to travel to and from Glasgow as many times as you little heart will allow. Season tickets are getting more popular as more and more workers are using the service to commute to and from work.
* Rail cards are a super way to save money on many journeys through out the year.*Over 60 then all you will pay is £20.00 for the yearly rail card which will give you up to 1/3 off any rail ticket any where in the united kingdom.
*Family rail card is the best thing since sliced bread as you can travel with up to 4 adults and 4 children and the best part is that you do not have to be related. So if your family are going ion a nice day out why not invite your friend too s they can get the discount with your card. So what you get is a 1/3 off for adults and up to 60% off the price of children's tickets. There is a annual fee of £20 which is defiantly worth it.*young persons rail card is once again a £20.00 charge but not only do you get 1/3 off any ticket price you also get discounts in many restaurants in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
*highland railcard cost £7.50 and is only available to local residents as this will give you a massive 50% discount on any Highland, North Highland and Kyle routes*Group discount is also available to any group that has at least 10 passengers, discount varies depending on the route taken.
A super connection between Scotland and England that will deliver you in to England or Scotland in the morning. Departing Scotland at around 23.00hrs and arriving in London at 0.700hrs you can expect to pay in the region of £49.00 (single). The £49.00 charge applies to a twin berth accommodation. On board you can expect hot and cold food to be available in the lounge. Basically they has a carriage that is a restaurant which is open till midnight daily and serves some lovely food. Prices at the restaurant are a little pricey, but the quality of the food is so much better than on the normal services.
**Further information**Caledonian sleeper helpline~ 08457 55 00 33
Disable access questions ~ 0845 605 7021Customer service~ 0845 601 5929
Lost property~ 0141 335 3276Sales~ 08457 55 00 33
87 Union St
**Conclusion**By far I have to say that I am delighted to say that I am able to use such a great service, Ok so they often run a little late or they wont turn up all together but surely we can forgive them once or twice. The prices of these trains are low enough for us all to afford and I am confident that in a few years we will see more people on the railways and less people in cars. Its great that people are allowed to take there bikes on board the trains at no cost at all. This will help Britain get healthier eventually. I would recommend this to any one.
Thanks for reading© Marcellep Ciao Oct 2005
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