I was there: In search of cut-price travel

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - The Way We Were -

In 1987, I was liv­ing just a few miles up the A1 from Hunt­ing­don and was a reg­u­lar user of the town’s sta­tion and its car parks, usu­ally the one pic­tured. I’d moved to work at Hunt­ing­don from Lon­don in the spring of 1981. Af­ter a cou­ple of years liv­ing in Cam­bridgeshire’s St Ives, I moved to Sawtry, closer to Peter­bor­ough.

At the time, my daily driver was a Vaux­hall Astra, a com­pany car that had fol­lowed a cou­ple of Re­nault 5s. Un­for­tu­nately I do not have any pho­tos of my cars from this pe­riod.

When it came to rail travel, liv­ing mid-way be­tween Hunt­ing­don and Peter­bor­ough, I could use the main line trains from the lat­ter and the outer-sub­ur­ban ser­vices that started and ter­mi­nated at Hunt­ing­don. Trains from Hunt­ing­don were cheaper than the main line.

Hunt­ing­don was the north­ern­most point served by Net­work South­East (NSE) trains on the East Coast main line run­ning north of Lon­don King’s Cross. NSE was one of the three pas­sen­ger sec­tors that was cre­ated by Bri­tish Rail in 1982 and it con­tin­ued to op­er­ate un­til BR was pri­va­tised in 1994. As the name sug­gests, NSE op­er­ated com­muter and out­er­sub­ur­ban ser­vices in Lon­don and the South­East, but its trains reached Hunt­ing­don and King’s Lynn to the north and also trav­elled as far west as Ex­eter in Devon.

There would oc­ca­sion­ally be spe­cial days when cut-price tick­ets were of­fered, al­low­ing you to ex­plore the en­tire NSE net­work. On one such day, I trav­elled from Hunt­ing­don to Ex­eter and back for just £5!

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