16th August 2015 at 20:54 #491734
Anonymous16th August 2015 at 20:54 #491735
Needing to travel from London to Birmingham, I had a look at Virgin Trains’ times & fares. I was booking over a month in advance on a fixed date, and was pleasantly surprised to find availability in First Class for £25 (one way). Travel was restricted to a specific train (the 14.03) but this posed no problem for me. However, it is worth noting that a flexible fare on this route can cost up to £115.
I received an email confirmation immediately after booking, the e-ticket arriving a couple of hours later. A seat was pre-selected, and I printed my ticket.
On the day of travel, I arrived at London Euston at 1pm. The station concourse is huge, undergoing a lot of renovation and not very appealing. I was grateful to escape into the Virgin First Class lounge.
The receptionist checked my ticker, welcomed me to the lounge, and I went in search of a seat. It was a very busy lounge, and I had to share a table with other passengers for a while.
There is a small selection of soft drinks, good coffee and a choice of alcoholic drinks, which to my surprise (my first visit!) have to be paid for. The small selection of snacks were not replenished often enough to cater for the numbers in the lounge. I had to request some crisps.
A limited range of newspapers and magazines is available, with the invitation to keep them.
It was a short walk from the lounge to the platform, and the first class coaches were close to the platform gate.
I was in coach K which is quite small, as it shares space with the galley. I asked if I would change my allocated seat, and was cheerfully invited to sit in any seat without a name attached.
Within minutes of departing, the catering service began. A number of staff serve individual components of the menu: tea/coffee, meal service, and drinks.
I had tea, asian chicken salad, fresh fruit, red wine and crisps.
This was very enjoyable, and served by friendly staff. The quantity of food was perfectly adequate for a journey of just over an hour.
The seats were comfortable with power points for mobile devices.
We arrived in Birmingham on schedule.
This was my first experience of Virgin Trains first class service. I have mixed views about the lounge. It is much more pleasant that the main station, but having to ask for something as basic as crisps to be replenished is unacceptable.
On board service was excellent, and the journey was very comfortable and well worth the £25 fare I paid.
Would this level of service justify the unrestricted fare of £115 is another question entirely: no doubt the flexibility is an important factor, but at considerable additional cost.16th August 2015 at 21:41 #491736
Hello PatJordan –
Thanks for the train check.
As you say, the £115 fare is the maximum first class price. There would be a cheaper rate of £72 at the time you travelled. Both these ticket prices would allow flexibility and are “walk-up” fares.
Most rail companies now display seating plans on their websites. So provided you know the train type on the route you can see where you will be seated.16th August 2015 at 22:45 #491737
I had a poor experience on Virgin trains recently, but understand the West Coast and East Coast are different firms with different offerings.
I too had a ticket First class ticket costing a similar amount (to Lincoln), but at Kings X when outbound, was asked to pay to enter
the lounge…17th August 2015 at 12:02 #491738
Yes they separate franchises.
Virgin West Coast is more “Virgin” than Virgin East Coast. The former is owned 51 per cent by Virgin and 49 per cent by Stagecoach. By contrast, the latter is owned 90 per cent by Stagecoach and just 10 per cent by Virgin …although the average passenger would think Virgin was in charge of the entire company.
The charge for lounge admission (for certain ticket types) goes back some years when Virgin East Coast was in the hands of either National Express or East Coast (the govt-run franchise).
Latest info on the website reveals that first class Advance passengers now gain lounge access …with the exception of Kings Cross.17th August 2015 at 12:07 #491739
National Express only latterly charged for lounge access before they came to an end. I remember being turned away at KX because I had an advance 1st ticket.
When I tried in Leeds on the return journey the lady told me that the discount ticket holders upset the full fare passengers!!17th August 2015 at 12:33 #491740
Best to compare Virgin West coast and Virgin East Coast along the likes of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia. 2 very different railways, rolling stock and businesses.17th August 2015 at 13:09 #491741
On V East Coast I have recently got in EDI and Leeds lounges with an advanced ticket. EDI was well stocked with biscuits and crisps despite being unsupervised. They checked tickets on entry downstairs. Leeds lounge was more disappointing.
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