Brighton to Manchester (Southern and Virgin)

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  • Anonymous


    Writing this on the 15:37 rail service to Manchester.

    Travelled from Brighton on the 13:40 to Victoria. 8 carriage service and overcrowded with people standing by Gatwick – alo lack of luggage facilities. A frequent problem on weekend services is that they run shorter formations and there is a shortage of seats. Could easily run 12 car services – especially when you see Selhurst and Brighton full of sets not undergoing inspection. However train was delayed as they do a driver change at East Croydon – and they were delayed on there service from the crew base to East Croydon. Switched services to the next service (also 8 carriages and couldn’t get on as rammed – footy fans travelling for FA Cup semi final making it very busy so had to get the next service after that).

    All in all a poor experience and not sure of the logic of changing drivers mid route on such a short run – at the weekend when fewer services to pick up the slack. So although normally a defender of Southern, all of this was avoidable and therefore 2/10 for them on this. Chris Burchell (MD of Southern) take note.

    Undergound on Victoria Line to Euston – all straight forward.

    Now on later than intended service to Manchester which will leave little time for quick change into dinner attire – but not Virgin’s fault.

    Upgraded to Weekend First for £15 and have table to myself. Looked at National Rail App at Euston as boards had “Train Being Prepared” up. Told me Platform 5. It was wrong. It was platform 3 so can be a good trick to beat the queues – but not this time.

    Train was wrong way round – which suited me as need to jump in a taxi at the Manchester end. So First Class at the front ex-London and a table of 4 on the right hand side heading north. To myself. Seat reservation system not working but don’t appear to have sat in someone elses seat. Staff checked ticket and took payment for W/E First without any fuss. Polite and efficient. Carriage only 50-60% full.

    Refreshments served after 40 minutes. Being the weekend only basic drinks and snackbox which is a bit pathetic really. I can’t see why they can’t offer a fuller service with sandwiches and alcoholic beverages. Doesn’t need to be full dining but they really let themselves down on this bit – especially If I had paid a full fare.

    Overall 7/10 for VT. Would be higher if refreshments a higher standard. But I’d always take the train on a run to Manchester from the South. A much nicer experience than flying.


    I use Southern as a commuter and can assure you Chris Burchell doesn’t give a wotsit. They cut down on the number of coaches as their track access charges from Network Fail are based on this and more coaches = more charges. Better to have people standing up as it is more profitable.

    If you try to take this up you will just get into a blame game where the franchise says it’s not in the agreement and blames the DfT, speak to the DfT and they say it’s up to the franchise and blame Southern.

    I recently had reason to contact Chris Burchell about the way in which they tried to force out long standing, popular and locally run cafes at Three Bridges and Lewes stations as part of Project Greed (ie make more money). Naturally some faceless underling replied on his behalf.

    Unfortunately though the last time I looked no less than 12 franchises were to get extensions as a result of the great railway cock up by the DfT.


    I think you are being a bit unkind on VT. You paid £15 for a first class seat. The fact that you also got a free alcoholic drinks and snacks is just amazing value. VT do not offer a first class service at weekends – their first class serving staff only work Mon-Fri – maybe they need to be more clear in their adverts. I use them regularly and both services (weekday and weekends) work well. I am not sure you can pay a first class fare at weekends but if so this should be stopped and maybe call it by a different name.


    Hello Tim

    Thanks for two interesting train checks.

    Re Virgin’s first class service at weekends …

    It’s a similar scenario on East Coast. Full meals and drinks provided in first class from Monday to Friday but at weekends there’s just sandwiches and bags of crisps. And neither are the alcoholic drinks free at weekends.

    But Virgin’s £15 one-way weekend first upgrade is great value when combined with its £77.30 London-Manchester off-peak return.


    Presumably the trains at Brighton were also busier today due to the Brighton Marathon earlier today possibly being a factor?


    Do you find the Pendolinos make you unwell?


    It is a shame that the windows on the Pendolinos are smaller than HST or the like. A colleague feels it bit unwell on them and puts it down to the enclosed feeling.


    Hi Alex

    I think the First Class Upgrade for £15 is good value. What has frustrated me in the past is that I have got First Advance fares for travel midweek and back at the weekend for the same amount but a very different level of service. In one sense the £15 Upgrade maybe shouldn’t be entitled to an enhanced service offering (not sure how you would police that). And you don’t get free alcoholic beverages at the weekend. But all in all it is good. Be good if the standard class seats would match up with the windows which train interior designers seem to have forgotten about in the last few years.

    VK’s question – No Pendolino’s don’t make me feel unwell! If you are referring to the old APT issues of the 80’s, well the press/media destroyed what should have been a British engineering triumph. Instead we scrapped something we would have lead the world in and now have to import the expertise. The mistake made was that the train tilted but internally the seat stayed the same (level) thus giving a disconnect between brain and eyes. Now when a train tilts, internal compensation for the tilt is 60-70% so the brain gets the message you are tilting and your eyes confirm this – but you aren’t actually tilting as much as the train is. (Hopefully that makes sense).

    Not sure if the half marathon had a big impact on usage at Brighton station but difficult to say.

    With regards Southern – I grew up in Lewes. Were they trying to close the cafe on platform 2.

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