One of the things that I hadn’t thought much about was trains/train companies and the way they decided who used which set of tracks. I’m still really not all to sure, so if you understand it all, I would be happy to hear from you. I have noticed, however, that many of the lines in England have a single service provider. I am to sure if that is a result of certain rights peculiar to certain companies (government contracts for example) or if those companies have delegated those right via group bargaining process between all parties involved. Or perhaps, it is simply a factor of demand and the amount of supply the companies can provide while maintaining efficiency. What if I wanted to start a rail company what would be the process and how would I receive access to the lines, would I pay a private entity or would I be responsible only to the government? I like asking questions like these (sometimes much to the exasperation of those around me at the time). And sometimes the answers to what some of my closest friend would deem as “non-important questions” become all too important for people like me in deciding whether to continue with your travel plans as (half-)planned.
You see, I was made aware that there were only a few options available for me to get from London to Brussels, Belgium that didn’t involve feathers and Icarus-like aspirations or scuba gear and waterproof luggage. Planes involve too much hassle and the prices weren’t looking to good either. However, the epoch of the BritRail pass and British trains had ended for me. No, not because a giant body of water separates the British Isles from the Continent, but because that modern marvel of human engineering, the Chunnel, was serviced by Eurostar and not the British national rail. This meant that that journey would require another train purchase beyond the amounts paid for the BritRail and Eurail passes. Luckily, I had some knowledge of this beforehand and had made provisions in my budget. What may please you as much as it did me was the large discount I got simply from having a Eurail pass when purchasing my Eurostar ticket.
As you will learn, I need to justify expenditure to myself through careful examination of alternatives and sufficient understanding of the prices offered for products or services. Going back to musings at the beginning of this post, I researched and saw that the Chunnel had resulted in quite a large cost to the company that had headed its construction and maintenance. The ‘separate jurisdiction’ accorded the Chunnel (i.e., not accepting passes from either of the national territories it operated through) seemed only fair in light of this information and subsequently, I had no regrets in buying the ticket.
I had purchased my ticket about a week before my travel date and had, for the most part, forgotten about my departure. Not smart! The night before I left, I was feverishly packing and searching the internet for tips related to my journey seeing as I wasn’t sure when I would have internet access again. This led to my two-hour bit of shut-eye commencing at 2AM and ending at 4AM. It’s not a good feeling having two hours of sleep for an early morning in which you have to check out of your hostel, walk to a bus top you have never seen, to get to a train station (London Bridge) that did not open until 5:30 (fund this out after I rushed there for 5AM). Through all these worrisome incidents, however, I remained calm and arrived at King’s Cross station just in time to walk across to St. Pancras International Station, which both share practically the same address. Its beautifully ornate red-brick facade was a welcoming sight in the dim dawn light. I was able to quickly find the Eurostar ticket-printing machine and head to the international boarding area. Customs wasn’t too much of a hassle, and I was able to find WiFi a nice seat in the packed waiting lounge…
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