New VTWC (Virgin Trains West Coast) first class weekend upgrade prices from June 2016

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voyagerdude220

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Hi all,

I don't know if this has been publicised elsewhere, but I couldn't find anything on VWC's website. I've just noticed that it appears that Virgin Trains West Coast are increasing the cost of upgrading to First Class at weekends, from the current £5 child/£15 adult fares to £10 child/£20 adult.

It also looks to me that London to Birmingham is going from £10 to £15 for adults, although Tamworth/Lichfield are staying at the current fare of £15. London to Stafford seems to be £20.

Whilst typing I've also realised that London Euston to Glasgow Central is going up from £15 to £25, quite an increase.

Whilst it has been £15 for a while, I can't help but think that the reduction of First Class capacity on 9-car Pendolinos must have influenced the price increase, although I also suspect VT may have done this to try to mirror the cost of upgrading on East Coast?
 
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Starmill

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Of! £25 for Glasgow to London, for 2 cold cups of tea in 4 and a half hours? Their weekend service is absolutely terrible. Sounds very risky to me.
 

Bletchleyite

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I'm less bothered by £50 return add on on an off peak return ticket over £100 (which does follow the "should be about 1.5x Standard" line) than by £40 return on something like MKC-Manchester which is *far* in excess of that multiplier, to be honest.

I still think it should be abolished in favour of First Off Peak tickets at 1.5-1.6x Standard on all routes, which would become my default purchase much of the time. (They do exist in places but are way too expensive)
 

Tetchytyke

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Their weekend service is absolutely terrible. Sounds very risky to me.

IME on the London-Glasgow trains Weekend First is extremely popular, to the point of being over-subscribed. Obviously Virgin feel there is more price elasticity. They're probably right. £25 for that journey to have a bigger seat and more comfort is probably still worth it.

They do need to sort out the weekend offer though, VTEC's is noticeably better. Although my gut instinct is that VTEC's service will be enhanced downwards, rather than VTWC's service being enhanced upwards.
 

Hadders

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Sign of the times. VTEC (and EC before) charge £25 for Kings Cross to Edinburgh and have done for some time.

GWR is £25 for their longer journeys.

SWT recently increased their weekend first price from £5 to £15 for longer journeys.
 

voyagerdude220

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I've heard that apparently VWC are looking to change the First Class offer, but I haven't had any details as to what specifically would be changing and whether the changes were just to change the weekend offer, hence the upgrade price increases, or the service on weekdays changing as well as weekends.
 

ScotTrains

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In my opinion it should really be a 7 day service. I.e. First class offer should be the same if I travel on a sat or a weekday. In fact I think people are probably more likely to want a cooked breakfast on a weekend than on a weekday. People are just as likely to want a cooked meal with alcohol at the weekend. Yes it would cost Virgin more (food, staff, etc) but there is certainly demand and I'm sure people would pay a little more for such a service.
 

Bletchleyite

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In my opinion it should really be a 7 day service. I.e. First class offer should be the same if I travel on a sat or a weekday. In fact I think people are probably more likely to want a cooked breakfast on a weekend than on a weekday. People are just as likely to want a cooked meal with alcohol at the weekend. Yes it would cost Virgin more (food, staff, etc) but there is certainly demand and I'm sure people would pay a little more for such a service.

I'm not sure. On business trains, it's a sneaky way of getting meals paid for on expenses when were they not included they would sometimes not be paid on expenses (most companies won't pay for an evening meal unless you are staying away from home on that night, indeed I'm almost certain that it would be a taxable benefit if they did). On leisure trains, I don't want to pay for a meal I don't want to have.

There have, OTOH, been a good number of occasions when I would happily pay well over the odds for a traditional restaurant car meal (or even a DB style microwaved sausages bistro meal) on a leisure journey, particularly on a Sunday when such a thing is least likely to be offered.
 
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All Line Rover

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The first class weekend upgrade page on the VTWC website has been updated to say that weekend upgrades are priced "from £15" and "upgrade prices are valid until 22 May 2016".

I am not against changes to the weekend upgrade prices as they have remained the same for years and, going by how busy first class is on some weekend trains (especially southbound on a Saturday morning, which I avoid like the plague), Virgin could easily afford to increase weekend upgrade prices for certain journeys while still attracting a good number of upgrades overall.

A quick check on the VTWC website for travel from June 2016 shows the following weekend upgrade prices:

GLASGOW TO LONDON:
Glasgow to London: £25 (up from £15)
Carlisle to London: £25 (up from £15)
Lancaster to London: £20 (up from £15)
Warrington to London: £20 (up from £15)

MANCHESTER/LIVERPOOL/HOLYHEAD TO LONDON:
Manchester to London: £20 (up from £15)
Liverpool to London: £20 (up from £15)
Holyhead to London: £20 (up from £15)
Stafford to London: £20 (slightly pricey!)
Lichfield to London: £15 (no change)

WOLVERHAMPTON TO LONDON:
Wolverhampton to London: £15 (up from £10)
Birmingham to London: £15 (up from £10)
Coventry to London: £15 (up from £10)
Rugby to London: £10 (no change)
Milton Keynes to London: £10 (no change)

GLASGOW TO BIRMINGHAM:
Glasgow to Birmingham: £20 (up from £15)
Carlisle to Birmingham: £15 (no change)
Lancaster to Birmingham: £10 (down from £15)

Prices to Milton Keynes sometimes vary compared to prices to London, but not always:

Crewe to Milton Keynes is £20 (Crewe to London is £20)
Coventry to Milton Keynes is £15 (for a 29 minute journey!)
Stoke to Milton Keynes is £15 (Stoke to London is £20)
 
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Kite159

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Looks like no more weekend first upgrades for me when I use virgin to travel to/from Glasgow. For what you get the extra money isn't worth it
 

Hadders

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I always felt VTWC Weekend First at £15 was decent value, especially if doing London-Glasgow.

The increase brings them into line with VTEC and GWR.
 

crehld

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Looks like no more weekend first upgrades for me when I use virgin to travel to/from Glasgow. For what you get the extra money isn't worth it

Agreed. £15 from Crewe to London was worth the money for a more spacious seat, a cup of coffee and a couple of Danish pastries / snack box, but only just.

I'm not against them increasing the price either, but such an increase would have to be reflected in an improved level of service (e.g. enhanced provision of on board food). As it appears this is not on the cards I don't see how I can justify to continue investing in this service.
 

snail

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I'm not against them increasing the price either, but such an increase would have to be reflected in an improved level of service (e.g. enhanced provision of on board food). As it appears this is not on the cards I don't see how I can justify to continue investing in this service.
if you are travelling through Preston north or southbound you currently get 2 snack packs but pay the same £15 as those joining at Preston or beyond. I'm not saying it's worth £10 for the snack but you do get the benefit of the improved accommodation as well. With fewer First class carriages on the 9 car trains weekend First is getting very popular so some price variation is not a surprise.
 

6Gman

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Agreed. £15 from Crewe to London was worth the money for a more spacious seat, a cup of coffee and a couple of Danish pastries / snack box, but only just.

I'm not against them increasing the price either, but such an increase would have to be reflected in an improved level of service (e.g. enhanced provision of on board food). As it appears this is not on the cards I don't see how I can justify to continue investing in this service.

In my opinion the main plus point of 1st is the better view!

(And I don't mean fellow passengers! :D )
 

Bletchleyite

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Judging by my European style view that First Class should be roughly 1.6 times the Standard fare:-

London-Glasgow off peak return £135.10, First Class both ways £50, multiplier 1.37. More than reasonable.

London-Manchester off peak return £82.40, First Class both ways £40, multiplier 1.49. Very reasonable.

London-Brum off peak return 52.20, First Class both ways £30, multiplier 1.57. Still roughly OK.

But go from MKC where the fares are lower and they become a bit steep.

I still call for a First Off Peak at 1.6x the Standard fare for all flows, then you could abolish Weekend First completely.
 

crehld

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In my opinion the main plus point of 1st is the better view!

(And I don't mean fellow passengers! :D )

I'd tend to agree. But as I can now use Virgin's website to reserve a seat with a guaranteed good view in standard, paying for a weekend first upgrade to have this same perk seems redundant.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Judging by my European style view that First Class should be roughly 1.6 times the Standard fare:-

London-Glasgow off peak return £135.10, First Class both ways £50, multiplier 1.37. More than reasonable.

London-Manchester off peak return £82.40, First Class both ways £40, multiplier 1.49. Very reasonable.

London-Brum off peak return 52.20, First Class both ways £30, multiplier 1.57. Still roughly OK.

But go from MKC where the fares are lower and they become a bit steep.

I still call for a First Off Peak at 1.6x the Standard fare for all flows, then you could abolish Weekend First completely.

All well and good, except not everyone travelling does so on a walk up off peak ticket. In fact most if not the vast majority) are travelling on advances.
 

Bletchleyite

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But while you can upgrade Advances on VT, they can handle that by simply offering reasonably priced First Advances on quiet trains.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

Starmill

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My experience of Glasgow <> London trains on Sunday, or Saturday morning to London and Saturday evening from London is that weekend First is so popular because Standard is so full. In the case of the afternoon fast Glasgow to London trains on Sunday, I've joined at Preston and had to stand to London, with 5 or 6 to a vestibule. First was also totally full. I've sat in a First Class vestibule for Watford Junction to Coventry too because there was hardly any space in the Standard ones - happily no Weekend First was charged.
 
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Blindtraveler

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I would agree with this, I bashed the 04:26x Glasgow last November and the 9 car was about a quarter full on departure and by WGN where I left it was touching full. The 12:40x Glasgow on a Sat however is quiet, always good std advances on it
 

All Line Rover

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I think it would be helpful to provide a little context on how much some passengers are paying to travel at certain times of the weekend with VTWC (Saturday mornings and mid-mornings - southbound - in particular).

Today is Monday. First class 'Advance' fares for Saturday from Manchester Piccadilly (MAN) to London Euston (EUS) are as follows:

MAN 06:10 to EUS 08:28 - £42
MAN 06:35 to EUS 08:46 - £42
MAN 06:55 to EUS 09:05 - £53
MAN 07:15 to EUS 09:24 - £73
MAN 07:35 to EUS 09:43 - £73
MAN 07:55 to EUS 10:11 - £120
MAN 08:15 to EUS 10:24 - £120
MAN 08:35 to EUS 10:43 - £120
MAN 08:55 to EUS 11:08 - £175
MAN 09:15 to EUS 11:24 - £205
MAN 09:35 to EUS 11:43 - £175
MAN 09:55 to EUS 12:05 - £175
MAN 10:15 to EUS 12:24 - £120
MAN 10:35 to EUS 12:43 - £120
MAN 10:55 to EUS 13:05 - £73

Then £73 on all trains until 14:55 (£42 thereafter).

These are the sort of fares you would expect to see on weekdays, not on Saturdays.

In fact, for Friday, many of these trains are cheaper: e.g. £175 for the 09:15, £120 for the 09:35, £120 for the 09:55, and £95 for the 10:35.

The majority of trains I have listed above (starting with the 07:15) are full, or close to full, in both first and standard class. Every Saturday.

Question, therefore, why, if booking sufficiently far in advance, every train has £21 STD and £42 1ST 'Advance' fares available. Is this not terrible demand management? The 07:15 should (perhaps) start at £42, but not the 09:15.

When Virgin has passengers paying as much as £205 single to travel on a Saturday morning (compared to £41 single for a flexible standard class ticket), is it not reasonable to expect that the usual weekday breakfast should be served?
 

Starmill

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I don't get it. Starting those trains at £42 - quite a lot when you consider you don't really get any value from the catering - is clearly quite lucrative. Anyone paying £205 for a First Advance out of of their own pocket is a mug, even on a weekday.
 

All Line Rover

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I don't get it. Starting those trains at £42 - quite a lot when you consider you don't really get any value from the catering - is clearly quite lucrative. Anyone paying £205 for a First Advance out of of their own pocket is a mug, even on a weekday.

£42 is roughly the same as a £21 STD AP (Advance) + £20 1ST upgrade (plus it grants easy access to the first class lounges), and for Railcard holders is cheaper than an off-peak return + 2 x £20 1ST upgrades (£56 vs £95), so can't really be said to be unreasonable.

On the other hand, some passengers are paying £120+ single (it is not a case of passengers purchasing a standard class off-peak ticket + weekend upgrade reservation and pushing up the 1ST AP price in the process, because weekend upgrades are not available to purchase in advance on the VTWC website once the 1ST AP price reaches £120), and for such passengers the current offering is abysmal.

If the minimum 1ST AP fare was set at £73 on e.g. the 09:15 departure from Manchester, then along with VTWC charging £20 for any passengers upgrading to 1ST on the day, one would hope that a full breakfast would be offered (see this thread for indications that VTWC is moving in this direction).

East Midlands Trains already offers a full complimentary breakfast on selected Saturday morning services (see here), even from stations as close to London as Market Harborough, despite charging substantially less than VTWC. As of today (Monday), 1ST APs on the three Saturday breakfast Sheffield to St Pancras services cost £50 (07:29), £45 (07:37), and £50 (08:29).
 

postye

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I think it would be helpful to provide a little context on how much some passengers are paying to travel at certain times of the weekend with VTWC (Saturday mornings and mid-mornings - southbound - in particular).

Today is Monday. First class 'Advance' fares for Saturday from Manchester Piccadilly (MAN) to London Euston (EUS) are as follows:

MAN 06:10 to EUS 08:28 - £42
MAN 06:35 to EUS 08:46 - £42
MAN 06:55 to EUS 09:05 - £53
MAN 07:15 to EUS 09:24 - £73
MAN 07:35 to EUS 09:43 - £73
MAN 07:55 to EUS 10:11 - £120
MAN 08:15 to EUS 10:24 - £120
MAN 08:35 to EUS 10:43 - £120
MAN 08:55 to EUS 11:08 - £175
MAN 09:15 to EUS 11:24 - £205
MAN 09:35 to EUS 11:43 - £175
MAN 09:55 to EUS 12:05 - £175
MAN 10:15 to EUS 12:24 - £120
MAN 10:35 to EUS 12:43 - £120
MAN 10:55 to EUS 13:05 - £73

Then £73 on all trains until 14:55 (£42 thereafter).

These are the sort of fares you would expect to see on weekdays, not on Saturdays.

In fact, for Friday, many of these trains are cheaper: e.g. £175 for the 09:15, £120 for the 09:35, £120 for the 09:55, and £95 for the 10:35.

The majority of trains I have listed above (starting with the 07:15) are full, or close to full, in both first and standard class. Every Saturday.

Question, therefore, why, if booking sufficiently far in advance, every train has £21 STD and £42 1ST 'Advance' fares available. Is this not terrible demand management? The 07:15 should (perhaps) start at £42, but not the 09:15.

When Virgin has passengers paying as much as £205 single to travel on a Saturday morning (compared to £41 single for a flexible standard class ticket), is it not reasonable to expect that the usual weekday breakfast should be served?

Could the lack of cheaper fares and busy trains be anything to do with Manchester United playing in the cup final at Wembley on Saturday?

I'd expect that many fans will have snapped the cheapest tiers up already
 
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All Line Rover

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MAN 06:10 to EUS 08:28 - £42
MAN 06:35 to EUS 08:46 - £42
MAN 06:55 to EUS 09:05 - £53
MAN 07:15 to EUS 09:24 - £73
MAN 07:35 to EUS 09:43 - £73
MAN 07:55 to EUS 10:11 - £120
MAN 08:15 to EUS 10:24 - £120
MAN 08:35 to EUS 10:43 - £120
MAN 08:55 to EUS 11:08 - £175
MAN 09:15 to EUS 11:24 - £205
MAN 09:35 to EUS 11:43 - £175
MAN 09:55 to EUS 12:05 - £175
MAN 10:15 to EUS 12:24 - £120
MAN 10:35 to EUS 12:43 - £120
MAN 10:55 to EUS 13:05 - £73

Then £73 on all trains until 14:55 (£42 thereafter).

And for the benefit of our Liverpudlian friends:

LIV 07:20 to EUS 09:45 - £42
LIV 07:47 to EUS 09:59 - £53
LIV 08:47 to EUS 10:59 - £93
LIV 09:47 to EUS 11:59 - £93
LIV 10:47 to EUS 12:59 - £73
LIV 11:47 to EUS 13:59 - £53
LIV 12:47 to EUS 14:59 - £42

I can understand why Virgin wouldn't be keen to transfer 1tph from Manchester to Liverpool with those sort of prices.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Could the lack of cheaper fares and busy trains be anything to do with Manchester United playing in the cup final at Wembley on Saturday?

Wait a week and the fares for the following weekend will be comparably expensive.

A football match might have pushed the fares up slightly earlier than usual, but £120+ is typical (note that the kick-off time this Saturday is 17:30).
 
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Terrier

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As some have already said the cheaper tickets have all gone due to the football taking place. And many of these trains will be packed as alot of walk up tickets are usually purchased too.

The catering is going to be improved. Basically similar to the weekday light bites option with sandwich crisps biscuits and reduced selection of soft & hot drinks
 

VauxhallandI

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As some have already said the cheaper tickets have all gone due to the football taking place. And many of these trains will be packed as alot of walk up tickets are usually purchased too.

The catering is going to be improved. Basically similar to the weekday light bites option with sandwich crisps biscuits and reduced selection of soft & hot drinks

The weekday light bites aren't very good either if you compare it to a breakfast or a dinner.
 
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