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First class VTEC Leeds to Kings Cross with a twist

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thejuggler

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This week I treat myself and my wife to a night in London, first class travel each way from Leeds as the prices were reasonable.

Out service was VTEC on a refurbed 225 and very nice it was too. New leather seats with recline, very comfortable, free bar and snacks. Leeds First Class lounge is a little depressing, but free coffee and biscuits are always welcome.

Due to the lineside fire on Tuesday evening we had to find an alternative route back. Our 20.05 VTEC was cancelled, but as we were in St Pancras having a meal I checked alternatives and there was a EMT service at 19:55 through to Leeds and it was on time. Tweet to Virgin confirmed we could use that service.

My first observation is EMT 125 stock and service is no better than when I was a regular user of the Sheffield-Luton service almost 30 years ago! Stock is very old, minimal refurbishment and I'm sure my seat had no cushioning whatsoever. Free soft drinks, charge for alcohol and any food. The ride was terrible. Despite hardly getting above 100mph the carriage really bounced along to the point of drinks being spilled.

This service was affected by signal problems at Bedford so we arrived in Leeds 50 minutes late, missing our connection, but we were one of about 150 passengers as the EMT and two delayed VTEC services arrived within about 10 minutes of each other.

There was one poor Virgin staff member trying to sort taxis for people wanting to get as far as Harrogate, Selby, Settle and I'm sure someone said Scarborough! We only needed to go a few miles so we avoided the hassle and advised we would pay and claim back the fare, so we'll see how my Delay and Repay claim goes. The system for sorting taxis seemed antiquated. Could the paperwork not be done on board services rather than having to wait for a member of station staff to complete individual forms?

Any insight into when EMT will be improving their offer as IMHO its a disgrace at the moment.
 
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Starmill

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To give East Midlands Trains a little bit of credit: you were comparing their train to one that has literally rolled out of the works from a comprehensive strip-out refurbishment in the last few weeks. EMT do offer some complimentary wine in the evening peak. Alcohol is chargeable on both operators at the weekend. They also offer very good catering at reasonable prices. It isn't free but it's a larger portion than you find on Virgin Trains East Coast. In addition you will find they offer much cheaper First Class fares. Sheffield to London can be as little as £23.50 First Class. The cheapest fare you will find routinely available for Leeds to London in Virgin Trains East Coast First Class is £39.50 - I guess this was the fare you paid? On very rare occasions (such as their January sale) £30 or even £20 First Class singles have been known though.

Taken together I think its a bit silly of you to call EMT a disgrace. Their HST interior is shabby but not terrible - and certainly better than a set that they transferred to Virgin Trains East Coast some years back known as EC64. This is only just being refurbished after being in horrible condition for years. Most of EMT's mainline services are worked by much more modern Meridian trains. Ride quality is shocking I grant you but it is exactly the same on the Virgin Trains East Coast HSTs.
 
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