Virgin Trains East Coast "on brink of collapse" admits Grayling

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  AMcWhirter 27 Apr 2018
at 13:28
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  • Alex McWhirter
    Participant

    Some weeks ago the govt said it would be ending the VTEC (Virgin East Coast) franchise a few years before the contrast was due to end.

    The situation has become more serious with the news that VTEC is now “on the brink of financial collapse” reports the FT.

    https://www.ft.com/content/4b17ee90-0aa2-11e8-8eb7-42f857ea9f09

    The full statement from Rt Hon Chris Grayling.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/update-on-the-east-coast-west-coast-and-east-midlands-rail-franchises


    Flightlevel
    Participant

    VTEC kept raising prices because of their weird business plan and less pax on board.
    I think its called the law of diminishing (returns)trains!


    Ah,Mr.Bond
    Participant

    Im not surprised if their pricing is anything like the west Coast. Standard class, one way from London to north west England in May is currently 120 quid. I can it drive for 30 quid.


    penfold69
    Participant

    Mr Bond, the reason it is so expensive for May, is because there are only fully flexible tickets available. Once you get within 12 weeks, they start to release advanced tickets for a lot less. You can get £30 one way on 02nd May at the moment.

    I wonder if I miscalculated my figures when applying for my mortgage, and 2 years down the line I discover I was wrong and can’t pay it. Would the bank allow me to hand back the property and walk away?


    Flightlevel
    Participant

    If you bank with the Conservative party?


    capetonianm
    Participant

    Standard class, one way from London to north west England in May is currently 120 quid. I can it drive for 30 quid.

    That’s the ‘walkup’ fare. When I travelled between London and Liverpool/Chester/Manchester I regularly used to get First Class Advance returns (usually 2x one way as that was less) for less than £80. Admittedly I have the freedom to choose my travel time, and my old codger’s rail card gives me 1/3rd off.

    Also, saying you can drive it for £30 is not a valid comparison as you are not taking into account wear and tear on your car, and all the other costs of car ownership, parking, the value of your time etc. I think the AA calculates the average cost per mile for an average car at about £0.50. So about 200 miles = £100 ech way, divided if you are more than one passenger.

    What really concerns me is that they are now talking about removing the last bastion of civilisation in rail travel, the First Class quiet coach, on ECML, having already done so on WCML.


    STORMIN’
    Participant

    I travelled First Class on the VTEC service yesterday morning from Edinburgh to London KX and, in light of recent developments with this service, thought it might be of interest to report my experience as to what to expect if my experience was anywhere near typical. First of all, the rolling stock was ancient although in reasonable condition internally. However, we were a group of six and three of us had seats where the recline mechanism was broken and locked in the fully reclined position. Twenty minutes out of Edinburgh, the trolley service started. Of all of the hot food options on the menu, there were only two sausage rolls available, and we were told that these were cold! There was also a shortage of drinks – beers, cider, etc. I believe that this train started its journey in Aberdeen and was, in effect, cleaned out by the time it got to Edinburgh. We were told that the train might be re-catered at Newcastle but not to hold our breath. It seems that this did happen, to an extent, although drinks choice was again quickly limited shortly out of Newcastle. Some hot food was loaded and I believe that we all went for Beef Rendang which looked reasonably appetising. However, this dish comprised two small cubes of meat (this must be measured out as none of us had more than two pieces), and lots of diced potato in a gravy that had added curry powder. It was frankly disgusting – and, according to the menu, James Martin is endorsing this garbage. The staff were initially very surly but after engaging with them, they acknowledged the entire operation was not in a good place, that staff morale was rock bottom and that they hoped that whoever takes over the operation shows some respect to the staff. The last occasion that I used this service was when it was government run after National Express chucked the keys back and I have to say, it was excellent at that time. Whoever takes this operation over clearly has a big job ahead of them to get it back to anything like a business-like service


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Thanks for the rail check, STORMIN’

    You must have chosen one of the HST diesel trains which date back almost 40 years.

    All VTEC services running through from Aberdeen/Inverness are operated by HST diesel trainsets.

    All the VTEC trainsets are life-expired (but the diesel HSTs more than the Mallard electric sets) and, as readers of the Anglo-Scottish rail feature in the December issue will have read, will be replaced by Azuma trainsets.

    The plan is to roster Azuma trainsets for the London-Edinburgh route in 2019. But of course by that time it is unclear who will be operating the ECML franchise.

    Edinburgh to see Virgin Trains East Coast Azuma trainsets in 2019


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    VTEC is still in business.

    In a staff email MD David Horne says that VTEC (Virgin/Stagecoach) remains fully committed to the ECML franchise.

    He confirmed that VETC is in discussions with the DfT (Dept for Transport) over a direct award contract.

    Today the Commons public accounts committee failed because, according to The Scotsman, the passenger growth forecasts were “wildly wrong.”

    https://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/east-coast-rail-line-growth-forecast-was-wildly-wrong-1-4731219

    Rail expert Roger Ford tweeted today “VTEC does seem to be hanging on for a long time. And it is seeking £76 million from Network Rail for Sustained Poor Performance.

    Regular users of the ECML know that disruptions are a regular occurrence.

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