Matthew Nelson was on the maiden voyage of a new coach sleeper service from Glasgow to London - here's what he thought of it:
I'm sure I'm not the only one who harbours romantic notions of sleeper trains and the idea of drifting off to a gentle lullaby of choochoos and humming engines. Think of spending a night on a bus and the mind tends to conjure up far less appealing images. We seem to associate these journeys with cramped seats, aching limbs and the kind of sleeping positions that would make a chiropractor weep. But that could all be about to change.
On Friday's show we are running a story on Scottish coach firm Megabus' new sleeper service between London and Glasgow -a venture that hopes to transfer all of the comforts of the rail carriage onto four wheels. Passengers are each allocated a seat on the bus as well as their own bunk where, alongside their bedding, they will find an overnight pack containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bottle of water, an eye mask and a luggage label.
Megabus have often been described as the Easyjet of the road, and it's easy to see why here - with fares ranging between £1 and £40 their overnight service is being sold as an affordable way to travel. Scotrail's Caledonian Sleeper train makes the same run, but to pick up their cheapest fare of £19 you will have to book well in advance. Easyjet also fly the Glasgow to London route and you can grab a ticket with them for as low as £21.99, but anyone choosing to go that way will also have to stump up for an additional rail or bus connection to get into the city centre. There is always the option of driving the distance yourself - but the petrol costs of covering the 400 odd miles will weigh in at around £60 in an average car.
So, with the chance of a £1 fare, the Megabus does seem like the most affordable way to make the journey. But does the old adage "you get what you pay for" ring true here? While covering this story I got the chance to find out for myself when I boarded the Megabus sleeper's maiden voyage from Glasgow to London.
When it pulled into the bus station, the first thing that I noticed about the sleeper bus was its sheer size. The company have converted articulated bendy buses to complete the run so they are, essentially, two standard coaches joined together. And they need all of the space they can get because each of the 24 passengers on-board is allocated both a seat and a bed. After I'd climbed aboard and gotten myself seated on this tarmac megalodon I was struck by just how excited my fellow passengers were to get to bed - they couldn't wait to ditch their seats and get stretched out in the bunks.
And as soon as we hit the motorway that's exactly what most people did. Getting into bed on a bus isn't as easy as it sounds though. Many of my fellow passengers found that, with the narrowness of the gangway and the bus' intermittent jerking from side to side, climbing into a middle or top bunk required the balance and dexterity of an Olympic gymnast.
Sadly, I'm not an Olympic gymnast. And as I was lumbered with a microphone and recording equipment I found it particularly difficult to turn in. It seemed that the only practical solution to the problem was to enter by lunging in headfirst before wriggling forward on my stomach with my legs, an afterthought, dangling out behind me. Once inside I was impressed though - I'm over 6 feet tall and I was still able to stretch out from head to toe. Still, there wasn't an excess of room. Should any passengers have brought a cat on board they definitely wouldn't have had room to swing it in here.
The next day, after pulling into London, we all filed off the bus and, much to the sleeper's credit, the scene didn't resemble a scene from a zombie movie too closely. While most of us admitted that it wasn't the best night of sleep we've ever had, it seemed like everyone did manage to get at least a few hours of slumber in. And, with tickets starting from as low as £1, a little sleep deprivation seems like a small price to pay.
Matthew Nelson is a freelance reporter for You & Yours