My business (okay, it was a friend's birthday) took me to Paddington last night for a bite to eat and a few drinks.
It seemed ridiculous for me to take South West Trains to Waterloo instead of First Great Western to Paddington, so I bit the bullet and got onto the dreaded Slough train. The journey there was fine, apart from being crowded and dirty, but so far so normal, it came on time so that was the main thing. On the journey home, I took advantage of my free off-peak first class upgrade (see previous post for how you can receive yours) and got into the first class section of the 2214 Paddington to Reading train.
Now, I realise that these small stopping services don't have swish carriages, but honestly, there was very little to differentiate this section of the train from any other. It was covered in rubbish, the seats were torn, and various annoying loud people came and sat in it even though they didn't have first class tickets ("Come on, it's fine, they don't check at this time of night").
To be honest, there's no point in having a first class section on these small chuggy trains, because to call them 'first class' is a bit embarrassing. They're just a very slightly cleaner, very slightly quieter area where there's a door protecting you from the full horror of what's going on in the rest of the train. And, the worst thing of all - there's no free cake and tea!
I realise that there's usually no train manager working on these trains, but, as I've said before, there should be, because travelling in the evenings on FGW is a horrible horrible experience, and those people who pay for a real first class ticket must be horrified when they see what their extra millions have bought them.
Note to self - arrange to go out in Waterloo next time.