Non-London services - should First Class be removed?

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aformeruser

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On London services FC is a lucrative product for most operators. However, away from London services we have overcrowded services where not many people want FC so should FC be removed on services run by operators like XC and TPE to allow extra standard class?

With TPE I'm aware a criticism of removing FC is going to be the standard class seats aren't comfy enough for longer journeys, which is true. However, in addition to removing FC seats I would propose to improve the quality of standard class accommodation.
 
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On London services FC is a lucrative product for most operators. However, away from London services we have overcrowded services where not many people want FC so should FC be removed on services run by operators like XC and TPE to allow extra standard class?

With TPE I'm aware a criticism of removing FC is going to be the standard class seats aren't comfy enough for longer journeys, which is true. However, in addition to removing FC seats I would propose to improve the quality of standard class accommodation.
I don't think that we will ever get a good answer for this.

TPE was standard only when the 158s were introduced, then upon privatisation 1st class was introduced. Never really seen many people use it on the Cleethorpes - Doncaster route. I only do myself when I have an East Coast Advance - but would I care if it wasn't offered - not really others may be. Pre 158 - was 1st class offer on any routes other than Liverpool - Newcastle?

Likewise Scotrail tried again when the 158s were introduced, and quickly had to re-introduce it again following feedback.

I think it is all about the ratio to be honest, Manchester - Scotland people would probably miss 1st Class, Edinburgh - Glasgow not really. But when you consider that you are only losing on a 170 (Scotrail) 10 seats per 3 coach set with 1st class - having it is not really going to help make much difference in the scheme of things. But it does make up a good bit of extra revenue for the loss of those 10 seats. (I will need to look up the transport scotland document where they are having the same debate)

XC and Virgin really have a ratio problem.

I can see both sides of the arguement, if you look at London the "rip off line" (HS1) has no 1st Class when it may have demand but the classic lines do, what are you paying for a greater chance of a seat (the same seat as in standard), is it used off-peak? rarely!
 

Greenback

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BR in 1984 took the decision that the only people who would use First Class on any train were business people and wealthy commuters into London. I think that we are all still taking the same view, whereas in reality there are quite a few comfortably off people who would be quite happy to pay more for a better travelling environment.

I think that quite a fe wof these people do not travel First because of the belief that it will be full of suits, that the fares are ridiculously high, that the environment doesn't warrant the extra cost, and lot sof other factors that are peculiarly British.

We should be expanding the choice for passengers, and we should be charging reasonable fares as in places like Italy. Above all, we should have sufficient stock so that the argument of abolishing first class to create more capacity in standard, is removed!

(I know that none of this is ever likely to happen, but I am in an idealistic mood this morning!)
 

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Would be interested to know how much extra revenue XC are making out of there 1st Class provision on the 170s

I know people now use it that were on the AP tickets from other operators, but I am not sure if people are buying 1st Class Nottingham - Birmingham services for example.

Demand exists as long as the ratio is OK.
 

aformeruser

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TPE was standard only when the 158s were introduced, then upon privatisation 1st class was introduced.
It was only introduced to all TPE services once the 185s were introduced. The 175s on North West services were standard only while some of the Sprinters didn't have First Class and for that reason not all North TPE services were advertised as having First Class.
 

Schnellzug

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Simple answer should surely be if there's enough demand for it. If there is, it's (I would imagine) a nice money earner, and as such it could only be a good thing. If it's insisted upon just through demands from the Government or whoever, then that's probably a different matter.
 

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It was only introduced to all TPE services once the 185s were introduced. The 175s on North West services were standard only while some of the Sprinters didn't have First Class and for that reason not all North TPE services were advertised as having First Class.
Are you sure about that, what was the section in the 158s known as when introduced by Northern Spirit? They modified 1/2 coach on the 3 car sets and about 1/4 on a 2 car set. Looking at timetables pre the 185's they show 1st class on them. This was before TPE was formed remember and it was still in effect regional railways North East.
 
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Schnellzug

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I don't think that we will ever get a good answer for this.

TPE was standard only when the 158s were introduced, then upon privatisation 1st class was introduced. Never really seen many people use it on the Cleethorpes - Doncaster route. I only do myself when I have an East Coast Advance - but would I care if it wasn't offered - not really others may be. Pre 158 - was 1st class offer on any routes other than Liverpool - Newcastle?

Likewise Scotrail tried again when the 158s were introduced, and quickly had to re-introduce it again following feedback.

I think it is all about the ratio to be honest, Manchester - Scotland people would probably miss 1st Class, Edinburgh - Glasgow not really. But when you consider that you are only losing on a 170 (Scotrail) 10 seats per 3 coach set with 1st class - having it is not really going to help make much difference in the scheme of things. But it does make up a good bit of extra revenue for the loss of those 10 seats. (I will need to look up the transport scotland document where they are having the same debate)

XC and Virgin really have a ratio problem.

I can see both sides of the arguement, if you look at London the "rip off line" (HS1) has no 1st Class when it may have demand but the classic lines do, what are you paying for a greater chance of a seat (the same seat as in standard), is it used off-peak? rarely!
SWT (for instance) have 3/4 first and 1/4 std in the DMCs in the class 444s; would that be something impossibel to do with Voyagers, if there's rarely enough demand for 1st class to fill a whole coach?
 

aformeruser

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Are you sure about that, what was the section in the 158s known as when introduced by Northern Spirit? They modified 1/2 coach on the 3 car sets and about 1/4 on a 2 car set. Looking at timetables pre the 158's they show 1st class on them.
You're not understanding what I'm saying. I'm not saying that TPE didn't have FC but that they didn't have FC on ALL services.

The transpenninexpress branded 158s had a First Class section but there weren't enough to run all TPE branded services, so ATN 156s and MetroTrain 158s were also used on TPE services on a regular basis. Blackpool-Yorkshire services were also branded as TPE, as well as North TPE and South TPE.

When First/Kelios took over they took all the TPE branded 158s but despite not running the Sunderland extensions or the Blackpool-Yorkshire routes they didn't have enough 158s to run all the services so had to initially sublease some from FNW and then later Central Trains. These generally were put on Hull services which weren't advertised as having First Class. The 185s were introduced on to Hull services first which then allowed FC on all services.
 

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You're not understanding what I'm saying. I'm not saying that TPE didn't have FC but that they didn't have FC on ALL services.

The transpenninexpress branded 158s had a First Class section but there weren't enough to run all TPE branded services, so ATN 156s and MetroTrain 158s were also used on TPE services on a regular basis. Blackpool-Yorkshire services were also branded as TPE, as well as North TPE and South TPE.

When First/Kelios took over they took all the TPE branded 158s but despite not running the Sunderland extensions or the Blackpool-Yorkshire routes they didn't have enough 158s to run all the services so had to initially sublease some from FNW and then later Central Trains. These generally were put on Hull services which weren't advertised as having First Class. The 185s were introduced on to Hull services first which then allowed FC on all services.
OK - I understand now.

I guess back to the topic based purely on my experience first class demand on TPE is low for the number of seats offered. Manchester - Scotland has some demand and if the 185 was a 4 car unit the ratio would probably correct to meet this. (That statement probably applies to all routes)

I don't know if anyone would by buy a York - Leeds 1st Class ticket, but I often use it myself when coming off East Coast. Even if they were standard only however I would be happy and wouldn't be moving to XC when travelling from Edinburgh!
 

GadgetMan

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Would be interested to know how much extra revenue XC are making out of there 1st Class provision on the 170s

I know people now use it that were on the AP tickets from other operators, but I am not sure if people are buying 1st Class Nottingham - Birmingham services for example.

Demand exists as long as the ratio is OK.
Whether people buy 1st class tickets or not, it still generates revenue as XC get a cut from 1st passengers carried by other TOCs on shared lines. It's a money making idea, XC don't have to carry any 1st passengers themselves yet it still make some money.
 

aformeruser

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I don't know if anyone would by buy a York - Leeds 1st Class ticket, but I often use it myself when coming off East Coast. Even if they were standard only however I would be happy and wouldn't be moving to XC when travelling from Edinburgh!
I think a difference in the level of First Class accommodation could come in to play here.

If you are doing Glasgow-Carlisle

boarding the 07:10 TPE service will get you a drink and snack e.g. shortbread, crisps etc.

boarding the 07:37 Virgin service you get a choice of:
* Warm croissant or fresh toast.
* Fair Trade cup of tea or coffee.
* Chilled orange or grapefruit juice.
* Outdoor-reared Cumberland sausage, sizzling sweetcure back bacon, grilled tomato and potato rosti with a free-range fried egg.
* Vegetarian breakfast - veggie sausage, potato rosti, tomato, spinach and onion mix.
* Scottish smoked salmon and free range scrambled eggs.
* Fresh fruit plate or porridge (depending on season).
* Bacon, sausage or veggie sausage filled rolls.
 

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From the Transport Scotland review of rail services

"10.13 The provision of first class services is currently a commercial matter for the operator of the ScotRail franchise, representing about 5% of revenue but only 0.6% of ticket sales."

I suspect that for the loss of 10 seats on a network that isn't generally overcrowded it will stay in Scotland (I wonder if they will ever expand it to lines such as the highlands where the 158s have better standard class seating in an area and are generally not overcrowded)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I think a difference in the level of First Class accommodation could come in to play here.

If you are doing Glasgow-Carlisle

boarding the 07:10 TPE service will get you a drink and snack e.g. shortbread, crisps etc.

boarding the 07:37 Virgin service you get a choice of:
* Warm croissant or fresh toast.
* Fair Trade cup of tea or coffee.
* Chilled orange or grapefruit juice.
* Outdoor-reared Cumberland sausage, sizzling sweetcure back bacon, grilled tomato and potato rosti with a free-range fried egg.
* Vegetarian breakfast - veggie sausage, potato rosti, tomato, spinach and onion mix.
* Scottish smoked salmon and free range scrambled eggs.
* Fresh fruit plate or porridge (depending on season).
* Bacon, sausage or veggie sausage filled rolls.
Yep that has always being the case.

Back in the days of Virgin (when they had XC) you would select a pendo over a Voyager if you could as you got a meal on the Pendo and nothing on the Voyager.

Same story with East Coast before it went complimentary, I could buy a breakfast on East Coast or get nothing on XC. Now the meal is complimentary on East Coast I would never use XC.

Edinburgh - Manchester I am not sure myself to be honest. Virgin offer the better service, but TPE tends to be much cheaper. My rush hour experience is also that TPE is declassified between Preston and Manchester. (although I suspect that doesn't happen in the off-peak). Before Virgin started offering the full breakfast on the Voyagers I would have gone for TPE and spent the money saved on something at the station.

I digress, I think you point about what is on offer makes a big difference, you can only really get a snack on a trolley so if people can get a seat most of the time would they pay 1st class fares? Does TPE if the 1st Class section is empty as they are getting a share of the open 1st pot from Virgin.
 

142094

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Removing 1st class from some services does seem to be an easy way of increasing capacity, and TPE is a very good example of this, especially on the Leeds - Manchester corridor. However, I'm sure TPE would have already looked at this if they didn't think they were getting enough revenue from 1st class in the first place. I'm not a frequent 1st class traveller, and I only normally travel in 1st when there is a special offer on. But some people would probably prefer to travel by other means if 1st class was not available.
 

All Line Rover

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In answer to the question at the outset, no, not at all.

My experience of TPE First Class on weekdays is that between Manchester and Leeds it is 25% to 50% full during the Off-Peak, and 50% to 75% full during the Peak. Of course, after Leeds and especially York it gets much quieter, but then Standard Class does too so that doesn't say much!

If TPE removed First Class, I'm sure many business travellers would refuse to travel in the cramped and generally unpleasant Standard Class carraiges between Manchester and Leeds, so would travel by car instead. Not good.

I also find that XC First Class can be busy on the main corridors during the peak (Bimingham to Manchester, Bristol, Reading and Leeds) - usually 50% full, even 75% on occasions. However, I do agree that Off-Peak and weekend trains can be absolutely rammed in Standard Class, whilst having only 1 or 2 people in First Class. In my opionion, this has more to do with XC refusing to release cheap First Class Advance tickets (in stark contrast to TPE), and refusing to allow Standard Class Advance ticket holders to purchase Weeend First (again, in contrast to all other TOCs) rather than a lack of demand for First Class travel.

There is definitely demand for First Class travel outside of London. ATW should have First Class on their Holyhead/Manchester to Cardiff trains (please don't mention the WAG Express ;)). Unfortunately, as the 175's won't (it seems) ever be extended, this will never happen.
 

185

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The 185 is a local unit and is not fit for purpose as a long distance unit. FC and the attached ridiculous disabled area occupies 25% of the train.

At the outset of the franchise, in 2003 - six weeks before they took the franchise over, at a 'meet the managers' for Arriva staff, Vernon Barker the new Managing Director answered some simple questions.

- Are new trains large enough to cope with passenger numbers? The trains ordered had less seats that our 3-car 158s. When asked if 4-car was a more sensible size,
VB responded oh no, 3 cars will be more than adequate

- the seats aren't very comfortable for passengers doing a 3 hr journey
VB- The standard class seats used are those found in First Class on SWT (!!!!!)

...and this is the guy who heads FirstGroup Rail Division. He was also rumbled as a liar by the BBC... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/3974527.stm
 

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Unfortunately, as the 175's won't (it seems) ever be extended, this will never happen.
I don't understand this comment, first class could be provided in the 175s tomorrow in the same way as the Scotrail 158s, just put a little partition in and say it is first class with about 8 seats behind it. They can be the same seats as the rest of the train!
 

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From a personal point XC First is a must in the weekday. On the weekend though, with so many cheap upgrade fares, First Class stops being a haven. Admitted it's the weekend so not many are forced to travel.


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Greenback

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There is definitely demand for First Class travel outside of London. ATW should have First Class on their Holyhead/Manchester to Cardiff trains (please don't mention the WAG Express ;)). Unfortunately, as the 175's won't (it seems) ever be extended, this will never happen.
Agreed. I know quite a few commuters who would be happy to pay more for their tickets between, Burry Port, Llanelli, Gowerton and Swansea if there was a first class section. No doubt there would also be some between Swansea and Cardiff.
 

aformeruser

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- the seats aren't very comfortable for passengers doing a 3 hr journey
VB- The standard class seats used are those found in First Class on SWT (!!!!!)
And? That's like saying the seating is fine on most trains because it is better than on the Northern 142s.
 

yorksrob

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Personally, I'm all for supporting 1st Class on as many routes as can support it. When done properly it gives the railway an additional product to offer.

TPE strikes me as somewhere where 1st appears to be generally well used when I see it (rather than just the peaks) and offers an enclosed area with better seating/room. Compare this to South Eastern where 1st is identical to standard and not even seperated (oh how that particular product has declined from ten years ago !) where you wonder where they bother.

Also, as others have said, a lot depends on having a sensible ratio. Theres no point in having half the train designated first but empty. I suspect the numbers of business customers willing to pay silly prices for it will also decline, so a product such as TPE's designed to cater not just for business travellers (i.e. not pitched too much higher than standard) may fare better than traditional 1st.
 

All Line Rover

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I don't understand this comment, first class could be provided in the 175s tomorrow in the same way as the Scotrail 158s, just put a little partition in and say it is first class with about 8 seats behind it. They can be the same seats as the rest of the train!
The 2-car 175's are rammed during the peak on the Manchester to Cardiff route, sometimes dangerously so. Only an idiot would reduce Standard Class capacity even further by introducing a First Class section.

The trains would need to be lengthened if First Class was to be introduced, and I doubt this will ever happen.
 

LE Greys

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I can do no more than echo the people who say, "if it's used, keep it".

The 185 is a local unit and is not fit for purpose as a long distance unit. FC and the attached ridiculous disabled area occupies 25% of the train.

At the outset of the franchise, in 2003 - six weeks before they took the franchise over, at a 'meet the managers' for Arriva staff, Vernon Barker the new Managing Director answered some simple questions.

- Are new trains large enough to cope with passenger numbers? The trains ordered had less seats that our 3-car 158s. When asked if 4-car was a more sensible size,
VB responded oh no, 3 cars will be more than adequate

- the seats aren't very comfortable for passengers doing a 3 hr journey
VB- The standard class seats used are those found in First Class on SWT (!!!!!)

...and this is the guy who heads FirstGroup Rail Division. He was also rumbled as a liar by the BBC... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/3974527.stm
Agreed with the above. The 185 seems to have been designed more for a Leeds/Manchester commuter service than the long-distance inter-urban service it also works. Unfortunately, there's not much than can be done about that except hope that electrification will produce something more effective (hopefully not 365s, perhaps an a.c. version of the 444 provided the seats are more comfortable and there are fans inside the saloons).
 

scarby

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I for one would be VERY disappointed if 1st class was taken away from TPE.

I use 1st class whenever it is realistically affordable to me, both in the UK and Europe. I appreciate that the OP says he would improve the quality of the seating in 2nd class, but to me it is not just about seating (although the seating in TPE 1st is far comfier).

It is also about:

- having a quieter journey experience.

- having much greater privacy: I always go for an individual seat if I am on my own, or a table for 2 if I am with my partner.

In short: a better travel experience, one that I actually enjoy.

I also agree about the public perceptions of 1st class and its costs. Looking at Scarborough to York in just 2 days' time, there are several advance singles where 2nd is £8.50 and 1st £13.50. I am not rolling in money, but to me, a fiver (the cost of a 5 minute taxi ride) is well worth it for even such a short trip for making it pleasurable.
 

LE Greys

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Personally, I'm all for supporting 1st Class on as many routes as can support it. When done properly it gives the railway an additional product to offer.

TPE strikes me as somewhere where 1st appears to be generally well used when I see it (rather than just the peaks) and offers an enclosed area with better seating/room. Compare this to South Eastern where 1st is identical to standard and not even seperated (oh how that particular product has declined from ten years ago !) where you wonder where they bother.

Also, as others have said, a lot depends on having a sensible ratio. Theres no point in having half the train designated first but empty. I suspect the numbers of business customers willing to pay silly prices for it will also decline, so a product such as TPE's designed to cater not just for business travellers (i.e. not pitched too much higher than standard) may fare better than traditional 1st.
Such as on a Pendolino. :roll:
 

142094

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I also agree about the public perceptions of 1st class and its costs. Looking at Scarborough to York in just 2 days' time, there are several advance singles where 2nd is £8.50 and 1st £13.50. I am not rolling in money, but to me, a fiver (the cost of a 5 minute taxi ride) is well worth it for even such a short trip for making it pleasurable.
£5 isn't that much, but I'd still travel in standard on that journey as:

1) The journey time is quite low
2) You only get the extra leg room and a nicer seat.

I'd be more inclined to use 1st if I got a coffee and biscuit between Scarborough and York but the trolley doesn't get on until York.
 

LE Greys

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£5 isn't that much, but I'd still travel in standard on that journey as:

1) The journey time is quite low
2) You only get the extra leg room and a nicer seat.

I'd be more inclined to use 1st if I got a coffee and biscuit between Scarborough and York but the trolley doesn't get on until York.
Useful sometimes that the discounted first tickets sometimes don't sell out, so can be available a few days before you go, whereas discounted seconds always do. I've done Aberdeen-Stevenage first class return for as little as £60 before.
 

Sapphire Blue

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Going back to the point of the OP
It has been my (limited) experience when doing ALR's 1st class, that the further north you get, the busier 1st class gets too.
1st class section, or even carriage, to myself on South East, FGW and NXEA (as was) seemed to be the norm off-peak.
 

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Used to love chucking commuters out of First. Anyway..

First should be retained on XC, TPE, Scotrail etc. But get rid of the cheap first advances and offer an off peak upgrade. Reasonably priced but not so cheap to let all and sundry.

Makes me cringe when someone has paid the Extra to go in first and do a bit of work when across the carriage there's a screaming kid or a couple who only bathe once a year.
 

VTPreston_Tez

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TPE is my main operator, and I've never done FC with them. (I did it once on a VXC Voyager) as such I can cope with the seats fine. FC isn't always declassified between MAN/MIA/MCO and PRE but when it does, it takes place around MCO.
To be honest, the 185s are fine as they are, but a slightly comfier seat material is definitely needed, as is needed on most, if not all Pacers.
Virgin's first class are fine and on commuter services as such FC works, pretty much just as it is now with minor modifications.
 
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