I had the opportunity to check out the performance of Virgin’s new Pendolino train last night on the way from London Euston to Liverpool. From the inside it doesn’t look like anything special – it’s perhaps slightly more spacious than their usual Voyager train, and slightly more high tech. On the move, though, it feels noticeably faster, especially when tilting around corners. The tilting wasn’t unpleasant or nauseous, so thankfully I don’t think the Pendolino is about to go the way of the vomit-inducing APT. This is a good thing because I managed to get from Euston to Liverpool in about two and a half hours; quicker, in fact, than it takes to get from Cambridge to Oxford. So, well done to Virgin!
One of the passengers sitting nearby had one of those portable DVD players with her for the journey. It wasn’t a svelte model by any measure – the screen was about the size of one you might find on an economy class airplane seatback, and the unit itself was probably the same volume as my iBook – in other words, incredibly chunky. Since I was sitting behind her, there was really no need to get involved in any kind of laptop ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ competition but I did take a peek at what she was watching. It was hard to make out, but when I glanced over I had the impression I could see John Cusack. An hour later and my suspicions were confirmed – not only was it John Cusack, but the movie was that pile of excreble mediocrity, Serendipity. I slumped back in my seat, disappointed in humanity in general, and then cheered up after listening to the third Hitchhiker’s episode on my iPod.