ScotRail HST catering

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hexagon789

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One of the Hospitality staff was saying their buffet training is starting soon. So glad the buffet is staying, but think the plan is still to have 1 member of staff working a buffet & a trolley ....!
I guess it's better than nothing, but I think that will soon prove unworkable.
 

hexagon789

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I understood that there would be two members of catering staff on the refurbished trains, one for the buffet and one for the trolley service.
That was the original plan, but it's not the case at the moment. Hopefully ScotRail will change that policy at some point.
 

hexagon789

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That’s a good point, couple of decent orders and that will have paid that persons hourly salary. Bit of a no brainer.
Exactly, whereas if you have one person jumping between the two, you lose out on buffet orders when the person is manning the trolley and at-seat orders when the person is manning the buffet. Also, how do people know when each service is available as well?
 

Highland37

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That’s a good point, couple of decent orders and that will have paid that persons hourly salary. Bit of a no brainer.
? What about pension, training. uniform, cost of sales and so on? I am not saying there should not be a second person, there should, but your idea is naive. Railways lose money in most circumstances but they are a public service like Calmac, education, the NHS etc.
 

John Bishop

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? What about pension, training. uniform, cost of sales and so on? I am not saying there should not be a second person, there should, but your idea is naive. Railways lose money in most circumstances but they are a public service like Calmac, education, the NHS etc.
Those financial amounts aren’t eye watering by any stretch of the imagination.

Put into perspective of customer satisfaction of the complete on train service, repeat custom and referral business to friends and family services etc. Uniform and pension all pale into insignificance.
 

InOban

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AIUI, train catering always loses money. It's a loss leader to persuade people to use the services. People like to know it's there.
 

jingsmonty

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That’s a good point, couple of decent orders and that will have paid that persons hourly salary. Bit of a no brainer.
Exactly, whereas if you have one person jumping between the two, you lose out on buffet orders when the person is manning the trolley and at-seat orders when the person is manning the buffet. Also, how do people know when each service is available as well?
100% agree with you both
 

jingsmonty

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? What about pension, training. uniform, cost of sales and so on? I am not saying there should not be a second person, there should, but your idea is naive. Railways lose money in most circumstances but they are a public service like Calmac, education, the NHS etc.
You can't put an actual cost value on everything. Yes, you have a valid point, but the perception that the Scotrail 'Inter7City' service provides an actual higher standard of service, rather than just being a brand name, is important too. A couple of bad experiences with onboard catering may just discourage business travellers (probably on high value 1st class tickets) & persuade them to stick with LNER to travel back & fore to the Central Belt. I'm not sure about Aberdeen, but there's certainly plenty of these type of passengers on the HML, who tend to use the Highland Chieftain just now


Get the catering/service provision right & there's a good source of revenue to be won here (even if It doesn't mean vastly increased catering takings, it would, potentially, mean a good uptake of 1st class - where the catering is complimentary anyway, I'd think).
 

gordonjahn

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Exactly, whereas if you have one person jumping between the two, you lose out on buffet orders when the person is manning the trolley and at-seat orders when the person is manning the buffet. Also, how do people know when each service is available as well?
The existing trolleys are sort of like buffets after a run of the train - people can walk to them but they have to find it.

I don’t mind the idea of, at the start of the journey, the trolley starts farthest from buffet, then works it’s way down train and when at buffet, make an announcement to say they’re now in the buffet.

On longer journeys, do a second run announcing the plan over the PA (e.g “refreshments will be served from the Buffet until Gleneagles - after Perth, a trolley will pass through standard class again”).

Doesn’t seem massively different to buffets opening 15-20 mins after departure for some services, and often having to close for 30 mins en route for staff changeover.

If they plan for this and then on busy services can provide more staff to do both, it’s then a bonus.
 

hexagon789

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The existing trolleys are sort of like buffets after a run of the train - people can walk to them but they have to find it.

I don’t mind the idea of, at the start of the journey, the trolley starts farthest from buffet, then works it’s way down train and when at buffet, make an announcement to say they’re now in the buffet.

On longer journeys, do a second run announcing the plan over the PA (e.g “refreshments will be served from the Buffet until Gleneagles - after Perth, a trolley will pass through standard class again”).

Doesn’t seem massively different to buffets opening 15-20 mins after departure for some services, and often having to close for 30 mins en route for staff changeover.

If they plan for this and then on busy services can provide more staff to do both, it’s then a bonus.
Something like that would probably be best with the current single staff member situation, though I believe they currently do a run with the trolley out and back and then open the buffet (perhaps someone can confirm).
 

Northhighland

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You can't put an actual cost value on everything. Yes, you have a valid point, but the perception that the Scotrail 'Inter7City' service provides an actual higher standard of service, rather than just being a brand name, is important too. A couple of bad experiences with onboard catering may just discourage business travellers (probably on high value 1st class tickets) & persuade them to stick with LNER to travel back & fore to the Central Belt. I'm not sure about Aberdeen, but there's certainly plenty of these type of passengers on the HML, who tend to use the Highland Chieftain just now


Get the catering/service provision right & there's a good source of revenue to be won here (even if It doesn't mean vastly increased catering takings, it would, potentially, mean a good uptake of 1st class - where the catering is complimentary anyway, I'd think).
Absolutely spot on post as usual

Catering is important. When I travel to central belt I pack my day and usually struggle to get time to eat before getting train back. Good catering would be a real incentive

Loads of people only use LNER mai my due to overcrowding bud catering is also a significant issue.

Get catering right numbers will go up.
 

jingsmonty

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The existing trolleys are sort of like buffets after a run of the train - people can walk to them but they have to find it.

I don’t mind the idea of, at the start of the journey, the trolley starts farthest from buffet, then works it’s way down train and when at buffet, make an announcement to say they’re now in the buffet.

On longer journeys, do a second run announcing the plan over the PA (e.g “refreshments will be served from the Buffet until Gleneagles - after Perth, a trolley will pass through standard class again”).

Doesn’t seem massively different to buffets opening 15-20 mins after departure for some services, and often having to close for 30 mins en route for staff changeover.

If they plan for this and then on busy services can provide more staff to do both, it’s then a bonus.
On a busy train, it'll mean the buffet barely being open. Don't forget, there's a 1st class complimentary to do as well. All very well on a lightly loaded train, but hardly practical on a busy one. The buffet factilities will most likely be lost due to lack of usage - as it'll barely be open!!
 

jingsmonty

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Absolutely spot on post as usual

Catering is important. When I travel to central belt I pack my day and usually struggle to get time to eat before getting train back. Good catering would be a real incentive

Loads of people only use LNER mai my due to overcrowding bud catering is also a significant issue.

Get catering right numbers will go up.
Cheers for that. I'm just going by a consultants report a good few years ago that said 1st class passengers travelling for business tended to use the Chieftain, rather than Scotrail, due to the vastly superior onboard offering. Our HSTs are a chance to win back that custom, if Scotrail don't blow it with poorly resourced catering
 

Killingworth

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On a busy train, it'll mean the buffet barely being open. Don't forget, there's a 1st class complimentary to do as well. All very well on a lightly loaded train, but hardly practical on a busy one. The buffet factilities will most likely be lost due to lack of usage - as it'll barely be open!!
Sadly the scenario described is what happens on many services.

St Pancras - Sheffield on East Midlands can be excellent but has all the problems of covering trolley, first class service and any buffet.
XC Newcastle - Sheffield, trolley may not come round until after Doncaster - might as well wait to get home. 1st class may fare slightly better.
XC Sheffield - Newcastle, trolley comes as soon as I sit down on the train after breakfast. Doesn't call again until 2 hours later crossing the Tyne.
East Midlands Sheffield - Norwich trolley leaves at Peterborough just when ready for a drink on a long journey. Was good on Sheffield - Manchester leg last time I used that service having been unable to get aboard the preceding TPE - the trolley was struggling to get on.
TPE Sheffield-Manchester either direction, trolley usually seems to be marooned in 1st class unable to move even in there (assuming there was one) and leaves/joins at Doncaster.

My best memory of train catering was from Fort William having a 3 course meal across Rannoch Moor in 1958, my father and I possibly the only diners that day. I had sole as my main course.

If the train is quiet trolley or buffet sells little. If the train is rammed it's likely to be a similar economic result. It's only when the train is always modestly loaded for the greater part of the journey, and catering is guaranteed to be there, will passengers rely on it and consistently buy.

That said catering staff vary in their approaches. On my most recent encounter the operator sauntered down the train looking totally bored and flatly reciting a list of things he had without looking at anyone or slowing his sedate progress at any point. Didn't expect to sell anything, and didn't.

My first HST experience was about 1976/7 from Paddington. The young lady there was brilliant. Smiling all the way, stopped at every seat, eye contact, "would you prefer tea or coffee sir?" Train 75% full, everyone bought. Expected to sell, and did.

Very difficult to manage staff in such variable conditions and losses almost inevitable on most trains.
 

hexagon789

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Sounds about right. Although to be fair, I've found the Scotrail Hospitality staff to be excellent - I'm sure they'll make the best of whatever method they end up having to work with on the HSTs.
They are generally pretty good, it just seems a shame to give them all that extra work for little gain.
 

route101

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On the 0741 to Aberdeen From Glasgow. The trolley made a return trip through the train before Perth . After Perth there was an announcement that the buffet was open.
 

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