New train firm Avanti wants to provide customers with premium class.

Avanti replaced Virgin Trains as the WCML (West Coast Mainline) operator last Sunday.

Avanti unveiled as new West Coast rail brand

It would introduce premium economy as a third class to bridge the gap between standard and first class.

Premium economy would make better use of empty first class seating, especially during off-peak times.

It would benefit organisations like the BBC whose staff shuttle between London and Manchester.

Virgin Trains had been criticised for having too much first class accommodation on its Pendolino tilt trains. It meant that, from time to time, the train manager had to de-classify first class when standard class was badly overcrowded.

Quoted by, Avanti MD Phil Whittingham (who previously worked for Virgin Trains) said, “We know there is going to be three classes. It is going to be first, a premium economy and economy.”

Passengers could be entitled to a “bigger seat, better wi-fi and snacks rather than a meal.”

So Avanti’s premium economy seems akin to Eurostar’s Standard Premier which it offers from London to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.

In other words, onboard Eurostar, customers will find first class seating and a lighter meal.

In Italy itself (and remember Avanti is a joint-venture between First and Italy’s Trenitalia) there already are a number of different classes offered both by Trenitalia and rival Italo.

Most media claim it’s the first time UK rail has had three classes.

But it forgets that in the early 1990s British Rail introduced its own version of third class.

At the time BR branded it Silver Standard and it was offered on the WCML only.   Accommodation was standard class and seats were allocated only to passengers paying the full standard class fare. But the venture was later disbanded.

One minus point concerns ticketing. Not such an issue if one is restricted to Avanti.

But what about the passenger using more than one train firm to complete his or her journey?

There are no details yet as to when the product will be rolled out or its pricing.

Business Traveller will bring you further detail as Avanti’s premium economy is developed.