Avanti West Coast rebrand

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Merle Haggard

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Stenning was deeply involved in LM's rather excellent branding setup.

The one odd exception to it was not swapping the seat covers in the 350/1s.
I did find LMs choice of colour for lamp posts and other platform furniture - black - rather odd, and surprised it didn't receive criticism from those with vision impairment. On a wet night and a poorly lit platform I thought that objects down the far end of Northampton platform ('board the front 4 coaches only, the rear 8 terminate here') weren't always easy to spot, and I still have reasonably good vision.

The Avanti station name signs, which are either black on white or off white, or white on very dark grey, are said to be difficult to read, but no complaint seems to be laid against the NR white on silver grey (qv New St) or Virgin (white on light grey).

Perhaps just examples of cognitive dissonance!
 

Agent_Squash

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I found travelling with Virgin an experience. The staff were happy, the trains were clean and (relatively) reliable, and the service was good.

I've done four journeys with Avanti in the last fortnight. Three were delayed (although one was due to the Wembley chaos) - including one resulting in a missed connection. Trying to find the hi-vis staff seems more difficult, and they don't seem to be nearly as happy as they were before. And cleanliness, even in first, seems to have gone down - at a time when surely it should be a priority. Northern(!) was cleaner.

The whole reason the West Coast got better is because Virgin sold it as an 'experience' - Avanti are dull, boring and getting worse.
 

WatcherZero

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I can give you a good reason for that and its probably not Avanti's fault?
Pretty much everyone else bar Transport for Wales, c2c and and SWR is up, Northern in the last quarter under Arriva was up 12.5% partly due to end of weekend strikes, WMT up 8.6% Caledonian up 18.6%, Hull 26.2% from greater rolling stock reliability.

Overall regional was up 6.2%, LSE up up 2.9% and long distance up 1.4%.
 

HowardGWR

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I found travelling with Virgin an experience. The staff were happy, the trains were clean and (relatively) reliable, and the service was good.

I've done four journeys with Avanti in the last fortnight. Three were delayed (although one was due to the Wembley chaos) - including one resulting in a missed connection. Trying to find the hi-vis staff seems more difficult, and they don't seem to be nearly as happy as they were before. And cleanliness, even in first, seems to have gone down - at a time when surely it should be a priority. Northern(!) was cleaner.

The whole reason the West Coast got better is because Virgin sold it as an 'experience' - Avanti are dull, boring and getting worse.
They are the same staff. "Seems"? Your evidence is not very convincing.
 

Domh245

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They are the same staff. "Seems"? Your evidence is not very convincing.
They're the same staff but if conditions have changed, their behaviour is likely to change as well. And all indications seem to be that conditions have changed since Avanti took over
 

Merle Haggard

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They're the same staff but if conditions have changed, their behaviour is likely to change as well. And all indications seem to be that conditions have changed since Avanti took over
I recently spoke to an on-board crew that I knew slightly on that very subject, and they said that conditions will be unchanged for 12 months from takeover. Possible uncertainties at that point, of course.
 

boxy321

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One indication (perhaps): Ticket inspections seem way down recently. I use Avanti twice a day and you could expect one at least once a day in 1st. Can't remember the last now. Tea and coffee is much less likely too.
 

Bletchleyite

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I recently spoke to an on-board crew that I knew slightly on that very subject, and they said that conditions will be unchanged for 12 months from takeover. Possible uncertainties at that point, of course.
That's formal conditions i.e. contracts and is because of TUPE. A change in management attitude however isn't something that can be protected.
 

Domh245

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That's formal conditions i.e. contracts and is because of TUPE. A change in management attitude however isn't something that can be protected.
Yup, that's what I'd meant to say! Formal conditions are one thing, but the attitudes and direction from senior staff will have, and notably have on twitter! It was noted at the time of changeover that staff were quite sad to be seeing the end of virgin, even though nothing will have contractually changed the next time they booked on.
 

SlimJim1694

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Avanti is soulless. Failed to make its mark, no strong corporate identity, no one likes it, no one cares. Completely in the shadow of Virgin
I found travelling with Virgin an experience. The staff were happy, the trains were clean and (relatively) reliable, and the service was good.

............

The whole reason the West Coast got better is because Virgin sold it as an 'experience' - Avanti are dull, boring and getting worse.
I find these opinions quite very interesting. To me, and I always assumed to most people, it's just a train that gets you from A to B. Since the franchise changed you have the same staff and the same units working over the same routes.

The only real difference with Virgin was they fooled a lot of people with their PR spin when the reality was it was nothing special. Starbucks coffee is another example of the same phenomenon. The new units Virgin introduced weren't fit for purpose with a distinct lack of luggage space, miniscule bins far and few between, hardly any windows meaning half the coach can't see out and a lack of natural daylight finding it's way into the coaches giving them a harsh and unwelcoming feel. This is before you take into account the reeking toilets and temperamental reservation system.

I go up to Manchester a lot on these trains and since it's been Avanti I find it to be exactly the same as Virgin except for one very important and refreshing difference - the lack of Virgin's trademark bulls*** PR spin permeating every journey. Personally I welcome that.
 

gazzaa2

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I found travelling with Virgin an experience. The staff were happy, the trains were clean and (relatively) reliable, and the service was good.

I've done four journeys with Avanti in the last fortnight. Three were delayed (although one was due to the Wembley chaos) - including one resulting in a missed connection. Trying to find the hi-vis staff seems more difficult, and they don't seem to be nearly as happy as they were before. And cleanliness, even in first, seems to have gone down - at a time when surely it should be a priority. Northern(!) was cleaner.

The whole reason the West Coast got better is because Virgin sold it as an 'experience' - Avanti are dull, boring and getting worse.
WCML has been creaking over the last year or two though. A lot of disruption over the last year, particularly weather related in all seasons, or line problems with wires, track and signals. Avanti have inherited creaking infrastructure, over capacity lines and trains that are starting to look dated. VT were starting to get it in the neck a lot as a result but Avanti are judged against the service VT were providing a decade ago or whatever.

It takes very little for the Rugby-Euston stretch in particular to cause major disruption.
 

Bletchleyite

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WCML has been creaking over the last year or two though. A lot of disruption over the last year, particularly weather related in all seasons, or line problems. Avanti have inherited creaking infrastructure, over capacity lines and trains that are starting to look dated. It takes very little for the Rugby-Euston stretch in particular to cause major disruption.
I think it says a lot for the original Pendolino design (inside and out) that the things are well over 15 years old before they look dated...though one thing that is interesting is that a lot of people think the Voyagers are the "old trains" (I know they're older but I mean instead of the Mk3s).
 

nlogax

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Avanti are in for a tougher time of things in coming months. Euston, rush hour, right now. 3A47F781-17CF-4CC3-8A90-CCE0AE8B5E22.jpeg

(ok, it's a tiny bit busier now but you get the picture..this is Sunday morning levels)
 

gazzaa2

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I think it says a lot for the original Pendolino design (inside and out) that the things are well over 15 years old before they look dated...though one thing that is interesting is that a lot of people think the Voyagers are the "old trains" (I know they're older but I mean instead of the Mk3s).
Avanti get judged against the good service Virgin provided as a whole over the last 20 years but they got out at the right time. Standards were already slipping and then Avanti inherit that with the same staff, rolling stock and time tables pretty much. It'll take them time to put their own stamp on it, for better or worse.
 

Jamesrob637

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Should Avanti be offering low-priced Advances to those who want to travel but don't want to endure the stress of airports in the next few days and weeks I wonder?
 

Domh245

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The only real difference with Virgin was they fooled a lot of people with their PR spin when the reality was it was nothing special.
PR spin and convincing people that a fairly normal journey can be special is key to increasing passenger numbers, especially for discretionary travel!
 

HowardGWR

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I go up to Manchester a lot on these trains and since it's been Avanti I find it to be exactly the same as Virgin except for one very important and refreshing difference - the lack of Virgin's trademark bulls*** PR spin permeating every journey. Personally I welcome that.
Yes, I think that is the difference. Many people are open to this kind of bs whereas some of us recoil before it. I won't buy anything, when I have a choice, associated with Murdoch or O'Leary . The same goes for Branson, except when I renewed an ISA recently, Virgin Money had the best interest offer, so I don't cut off my nose to spite my face. I don't resent people making money (e.g. "Stelios", I normally fly EasyJet, usual disclaimers). I just hate bs.
The Avanti management hasn't changed and it was claimed at the outset that the entrepreneurial culture would be maintained. Is LNER doing worse than 'Virgin' did on the East Coast? That 10% share on East Coast was even more a branding exercise.
 

The Planner

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WCML has been creaking over the last year or two though. A lot of disruption over the last year, particularly weather related in all seasons, or line problems with wires, track and signals. Avanti have inherited creaking infrastructure, over capacity lines and trains that are starting to look dated. VT were starting to get it in the neck a lot as a result but Avanti are judged against the service VT were providing a decade ago or whatever.

It takes very little for the Rugby-Euston stretch in particular to cause major disruption.
You mean all the things the bidders were aware of and went ahead anyway? Its not as though any of it was a shock to them.
 

mmh

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In years of travelling on Virgin I don't recall any "bs." In fact, compared to many TOCs their branding was low key. Outside the train I'd only see their name on the driving cars, and inside I'd only see it if I went to the toilet, on a not unpleasant mural of a hot air balloon. Otherwise, nothing. Very different to, say, a First train with corporate purple everywhere, branded seats, antimacassars etc.
 

Bletchleyite

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In years of travelling on Virgin I don't recall any "bs." In fact, compared to many TOCs their branding was low key. Outside the train I'd only see their name on the driving cars, and inside I'd only see it if I went to the toilet, on a not unpleasant mural of a hot air balloon. Otherwise, nothing. Very different to, say, a First train with corporate purple everywhere, branded seats, antimacassars etc.
I completely agree. People accused Virgin of overbranding, but it was in fact First(f) that shoved that infernal "F-in-circle" on literally everything.

The Virgin attitude certainly pervaded, but much as quite a few people on here don't like it, the majority of the public does, and so it makes sound business sense.
 

Royston Vasey

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I go up to Manchester a lot on these trains and since it's been Avanti I find it to be exactly the same as Virgin except for one very important and refreshing difference - the lack of Virgin's trademark bulls*** PR spin permeating every journey. Personally I welcome that.
I agree with you. I always got the sense that Virgin were one Friday afternoon brand meeting away from labelling the toilets "The Sh*tter"
 

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