October 23, 2011 by Jools Stone
The Good News: It’s finally possible to travel overnight from Glasgow to London for a quid. Yes, that’s right, one whole, shiny new pound!
The Less Good News: It’s on a bus, not a train. Boo!
Sorry my train nerd brethren, but it’s another wallet-pleasing blow against UK rail travel in the long run. Who else could possibly be behind the initiative than Megabus, the Stagecoach-owned Ryanair of the long distance bus market?
This week they launched the maiden service from Weedgieland to Big Old Smokeytown (as only the true Londoners call it) on a trial basis. It travels non-stop between the two cities, leaving Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station at 11pm arriving at London Victoria around 7am.
OK, so these £1 fares are likely to be as rare as hen’s dentures, but even at the more common price points of £15 (found on a midweek night for late November) and £12 (found on a Friday night a few days later) one way, it’s still pretty smack-around-the-chops astounding value, especially when you consider what they’re offering.
Compare this to Scotrail’s prices on the Caledonian Sleeper on the same nights:
Wednesday 23 November: £75.80 for a standard single berth, shared with one other
Friday 25 November: £94 for a standard single berth, shared with one other
So what do you get for your pocket change?
You get a curtained off bunk with duvet, bedding, complimentary washpack and reading light, on-board refreshments AND they even toss in an additional free seat, for night owls and those roused from a sweet slumber by the sleeping policemen of the M8.
Or, being a tad more cynical about it, maybe this is just a built-in fallback position to placate customers who might grumble about a sleepless night on board the Saturday Night VengaParty Bus from Hell?
Will it be comfortable? I’ve yet to test it myself, but it’s hard to imagine it will be superior to a berth on a sleeper train, and there’ll be less privacy, plus fewer facilities in general, I’d guess…
But holy Arbroath Smokies Batman, it’s potentially cheaper than a single Oyster Card journey for crying out loud, so who could possibly complain??
Now I am a fan of the Caledonian Sleeper myself but could I really argue that the average price difference of £70-odd is worth the outlay?
So come on Scotrail, let’s see what you’ve got. Might your prices come down a few notches in response? Here’s hoping…
What do you think? Would you sacrifice a bit of comfort for a cheap bunk up on the Megabus? Have you tried out similar night bus services in other parts of the world.
How did they compare with sleeper trains in the same countries? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – let’s be having them!