Though I work mostly from home and customer sites, yesterday was a day when I had to go to the office in Reading yesterday. I have previously driven when required. It takes between 3.40 and 5 hours. Now the office is less than 2 miles along the Thames from Reading station I was keen to see if I could drive a bit less of the way.
The Arriva train from Aberystwyth is a non-starter unless you go down the night before. The 1st train leaving Aberystwyth at 5.14 would get you to Reading for 10.30am 2 changes later [Shrewsbury and Newport!], add the 30 minute walk to the office and half the day has gone. Adds to my assertion that Arriva is a service unsuitable for business at this time.
I had been looking for other viable options and last week found that the 1st Great Western service from Hereford leaves at about 5.40. Gets into Reading at about 8.30 with no changes and cost 36 quid return.
Now getting to Hereford from Aberystwyth for 5.40 is non-trivial and a little anti-social to say the least, more so if you want to read to your kids the night before.
However, I managed to sleep for an hour on the train down and read half of the Economist. Coming back I wrote a 30 minute ZFS Solaris 11 features presentation for next week and read the rest of the Economist, so quite productive, a lot better than driving the whole way.
I had been looking for something to replace the Wrexham and Shropshire service since it shut back in January. Arriva from Aberystwyth is well, Arriva from Aberystwyth is not viable for business travel.
The drive to Hereford takes about 1 hour 45 and parking is easy enough. The food on the train which not quite up to W & S standards, but was fine. The train only started to fill up around Oxford and was quite empty most of the journey.
No doubt something will happen to this service in the next few month, it will be withdrawn or the price will treble, but it does look quite a viable option at the moment. I think I have also found viable and cheap accommodation within striking difference of Hereford to avoid the very, very early start.
The best part of the day was the walk along the Thames which was very pleasant. So Reading now has 2 things going for it, the other being this.