Virgin Trains race to bottom

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  JeffD 28 Aug 2015
at 14:09

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  • Anonymous


    1st class. Pointless as value is poor. Quiet coach – pointless as it’s not quiet.

    As a Gold BAEC flyer with BA I thought I’d use the train for a one night trip to London, not to save money as cost was almost the same, but to have a quieter journey in quiet coach in first class.

    I now ask my self why I booked first class and indeed the so called quiet coach.

    Staff great. “Food” quality atrocious. No hot food. No alcohol.

    I guess the weekend upgrade thing Virgin now running is simply a revenue maker. It’s an insult to first class passengers who pay top whack and seek a 1st class experience. THIS was most certainly NOT first class

    Saturday 09.40 GLASGOW to Euston
    Seat dirty.
    Great train manager – Derek – dealing with outcome of cancellation of 10am train to London. He did a sterling job. Sadly the quiet coach had people who thought it okay to have phones ringing and conduct loud conversations.

    Sunday Euston 18.28 to GLASGOW first class coach
    Again seat unclean.
    1st Class Quiet coach packed with families with small chattering children. Adults ill equipped to entertain children – electronic games played without headphones. One Granny constantly and I mean constantly walking a small preschool chattering child up and down the aisle for 2 hours.

    Informed prior to departure that water cooler cabinets in 1st Class were empty.

    Guy on opposite aisle taking calls and thinking it okay to have a long and loud cross-aisle conversation with lady opposite me.

    Wifi BOTH directions non functional.
    I overheard staff telling another passenger “it’s dodgy”, “rarely works even in 1st a Class”.

    Catering on Sunday ? A small bottle of water, poor quality inedible cheap snack box of cheese with crackers, gooey vegetable paste and a chocolate biscuit with no fruit. ONE single cup of tea served in the two hours between Euston and Preston.

    Catering on Saturday – similar to Sunday but an added tiny cold egg roll.

    I give up. For these prices I would rather fly and get the journey over and done with.

    I’d rather take the risk of being seated beside such disrespectful and selfish passengers for 55 minutes on a flight than be tortured for 275 minutes on an overpriced and poorly serviced Virgin train with such poor standard of catering.

    Last straw was learning that quiet coach in 1st Class is about to be phased out!

    Clearly Virgin planning to go with business model of lowest common denominator; Offering cheap upgrades to make extra revenue and dropping any semblance of real catering.

    Voting with my feet. I’ll take my hard earned money elsewhere. Back to flying BA between Scotland and London!


    A little bit of research and you would have saved yourself a lot of angst and money.

    VT have been offering cheap weekend upgrades for many many years, and catering has also been basic at best which reflects the lower costs and leisurely nature of travelling at weekends. Unless you needed the flexibility to alter your return to a week day, a standard class ticket + the 2 x £15 upgrade would have sufficed.

    The train does have it’s advantages, despite having to put up with the general public as you did. I once had to attend a funeral in Glasgow, however needed to work that day as I had a lot to do at the time. So I took an early morning train up from London, worked all the way, attended the funeral and took an evening train back to London, working all the way again. I got a full days work in and attended the funeral. I couldn’t have done the same if I was flying. Wifi on VT has been patchy for a long time and knowing that I downloaded stuff to work offline when the wifi was working.

    Each to their own I suppose, I know what I am and am not getting depending whether it’s weekend or weekday VT travel and I’m generally happy with my experiences.


    Weekend First has existed for over 15 years on almost all “InterCity” operators. So if travelling at a weekend – buy a standard ticket and upgrade on board. Weekend 1st class provision in terms of catering is poor across almost all operators (which I don’t think is acceptable if on a paid 1st class ticket – not a Weekend First ticket).

    Virgin West Coast is pretty good – use them several times a year in First & Standard. Not always perfect – but then I’ve had enough terrible flights that train is generally best for domestic travel. you can’t control other actions of other people and sadly some people don’t respect those around them – on any form of transport.


    The fact is that the TOCs do not offer a proper or full first class service at weekends and the price they charge does reflect this fact.

    As already noted, at weekends a first class passenger would either buy a cheap first class Advance fare or else pay the standard class fare along with the nominal Weekend First supplement.

    Virgin West Coast’s service during the week can be quite different.

    See the recent train check from PatJordan.


    I’m not so sure I agree that the weekend price reflects the service provided. Yes you can sometimes get a ticket cheaper but you really are better buying a standard ticket and paying the upgrade.

    I was looking at a fare from Edinburgh to Euston for Saturday 6th September and the fares quoted on the website were;

    Anytime £216; Advanced £163 and Standard £81 – you could get a fare to Kings Cross on the East Coast for £105 advanced. These fares don’t reflect the first class service IMO.

    I think given the service provided in first class at the weekend that demands that fares should be cheaper and that the anytime fare should only apply when it’s the full service i.e. during week days.


    At least you are not blaming Virgin Trains for the gutter behaviour of their weekending classes.
    And why don’t you intervene, tell these noisy brats of all ages that a quiet coach is a quiet coach. Otherwise, you should have them turfed off. Fool you.

    Myself, I would blame Virgin’s founder as a co-responsible for bad manners in today’s weekending classes. He is a thoroughly self-centred greedy g*t, of little value once he has been put through the wringer, and he has served as a role model for millions, who now throng what was once your purchased right: a quiet aisle.

    – Paul


    goalie11 –

    Not sure which website you were checking, but with for Sunday (you mentioned Saturday) September 06 there are several trains throughout the day with o/w first class Advance at £105 and standard Advance at £69.

    In fact. there is one afternoon trains (14.51hrs ex-Edinburgh) where first class Advance is priced at £78 whereas standard Advance is actually cheaper at £81 !

    However, note that I’m checking these fares at 19.52hrs and therefore the prices may change in the hours and days ahead.

    All fares shown apply to Edinburgh-Euston via the West Coast.


    It does seem a rather harsh to blame the OP for the genuine complaints he has raised from his experience. British Airways carry plenty of leisure travellers over the weekend and one can easily get a decent priced Club Europe ticket – However, one wouldn’t expect BA to lower their service just because it is the weekend.

    So fat the OP has been told to:

    :: Download all necessary files before his journey – because he shouldn’t have expected the WiFi to work
    :: Police and moderate other passengers behaviour
    :: Expect a lower standard of catering because of the day he chose to travel
    :: Have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Virgin Trains fare structure

    The OP booked a premium ticket at a premium price. It is therefore only right that he would expect to receive the premium service that Virgin Trains advertise.

    But in all of this at least we have a true understanding of the Virgin Trains First Class experience and how it may not live up to (understandable) expectations.



    My typo, was looking at Sunday on the 1051 on the Virgin trains website. The fare on Saturday is the same for anytime, however for advance in first is only £55.

    My point is that on a weekend, when the service is reduced, there should be no anytime fares, they should be be at least off-peak, but that will start another debate as off-peak can also be dearer than advance fares at certain times.


    Sadly, Virgin have been cutting back for several years in First. they abolished the chefs on all but busy early morning services, and the fresh foods became bought in tasteless sandwiches and packaged everything else!
    I also agree with “The Quiet coach”, how often i have said or others for someone to leave if they do not stop talking so loudly on the phone that everyone is supposed to hear! these tend to be full of themselves but not actually very successful people!
    I laughed once to hear one man giving orders on the phone, only to have his phone “actually work” and a call came through ringing the phone, so his elevated view of himself, was through a false call!

    I think like some Airlines, Economy or Standard, at times cannot be far off a Business / First fare. I think Alex recalled some time ago, that a pre night travel First fare was often a great deal and cheaper than Standard to book but only the eve before travel. I am sure we all realise by the eve before if we have to quickly go somewhere.

    Railcards are also changing with even the disabled Cards being restricted now to Off peak only, where they always quite rightly discounted to enable people who were impaired, to travel at peak times if needed.
    As a Senir Health Care Professional, I can confirm that being Disable does cost more to function to everyday activities, and those of us who do not carry these burdens.

    I can understand other railcards being restricted, but i do not agree with Disabled cardholders, when life is more expensive for them.The completion of daily tasks a struggle, and needing much admirable courage, than those of us who never tink twice about how it is to get around with a disability. We should also note, before judgement, that not all disabled people are in a wheelchair or carry a stick!

    There are many with very serious medical or life threatening conditions, who outwardly may not appear to be disabled, but are indeed sometimes more so, and in a more life threatening way, than those who may appear obviously so.

    However, yes, the decline in Virgin’s First class, has been continuous since a few years ago, and one wonders what they are or will do with The East Coast franchise now.

    That in itself, had been generating a generous income for the Taxpayer and Government when NOT privatised!


    Virgin are already making their presence felt on the East Coast. Standards in First have declined sharply and the staff are on reduced terms and conditions while fares have risen.

    I used to look forward to traveling on the train, it’s quickly becoming something to endure and I find I’m driving more.

    Going back to the original point of this thread, I can’t remember who was operating the East Coast service at the time but it was relatively early in the days of private operators but at weekends one of the F coaches used to be reserved for full fare ticket holders where service was not quite at weekday levels but it was certainly not at weekend first standards which is what operated in the other coaches. Guards were very stringent about policing who sat in coach M in those days.

    That would of course be of no interest to Virgin who now have a monopoly on services from London to Scotland and all we can expect as a result of that is them racing ever faster to the bottom.


    On the quiet coach comments, I’m based in the States and regularly commute between Boston and NYC with Amtrak, in my experience the quiet coaches are just that, the train conductor will on receiving any complaints about inconsiderate cell phone use or loud talking will remind the “offenders” which coach they are in and will take further action if they ignore him/her.

    Also I have noticed over here that the conductor is always active around the train and not only seen when its time to collect tickets.


    As a 17 year old 24 years ago I travelled from Glasgow Central to Kings Cross on British Rail InterCity (East Coast) on a Sunday for an interview with Ford in Dagenham the following day.

    I booked a standard ticket, sat myself in 1st & paid the weekend upgrade fee of either £5 or £10, can’t quite recall which. The scheme had been running a while already at that point. There was no enhanced at seat service on a weekend way back then, so I’m not quite sure where the OP’s expectations have come from, but they’re wildly unrealistic – based on both historic experience & just a quite browse of the relevant company’s website.

    @WillieWelsh I doubt it’s Virgin’s influence making the changes, much more likely Stagecoach is making the push for change given they’re the 90% JV partner.


    Virgin East Coast has committed to pay the government £3.3bn in premiums over the next 10 years so I’m sure every no stone will be left unturned in the hunt for cost cuts and savings.

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