"Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the train, not a restaurant car was stirring, not even near Diss..."
I have written in the past of the joy of breakfast on the train from Stowmarket to London Liverpool Street, a joy which makes bearable having to catch a train at the uncivilised time of 8.10 in the morning to get to work, especially on a Monday. And now, just when I have settled upon a routine, National Express East Anglia have announced that their award-winning restaurant car service will be withdrawn in the week before Christmas, with the loss of more than fifty jobs.
I am sure that they will have some perfectly plausible reason for their decision, and for many people, there will be no noticeable change, but a little piece of the joy of rail travel will be lost, probably forever.
National Express East Anglia's breakfast service, especially their 'Great British Breakfast' is a thing of beauty. Bacon, sausages and black pudding, nearly all locally sourced, with a fried egg complete with a slice of fried bread, beans, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms plus a hash brown, plus citrus fruit, tea or coffee, and all the toast a hungry bureaucrat can eat does not come cheap, but it is one of the glories of the British railway network, and should be preserved. They even serve proper kippers, good porridge, eggs Benedict and provide a decent vegetarian alternative. All of this to be lost in just a fortnight (sigh).
Frankly, when the franchise comes up for renewal, I will happily support anyone who promises to resume a proper restaurant car service between London and Norwich. Richard Bowker, the head honcho at National Express, should hang his head in shame. For however good he might be at running a railway (and in Jonathan Wallace's eyes, he can't be trusted to run a bath), he clearly has no soul.