ScotRail HST catering

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by jingsmonty, 4 Jul 2019.

  1. jingsmonty

    jingsmonty Established Member

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    That's not a regular thing, it does happen sometimes to get a trolley/staff back on their working, for example, if they've had a train cancelled, or are unable to board due to overcrowding.

    Their diagrams may be a bit different just now with the A2I blockade too
     
  2. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I believe that's the way single staff members generally do it. An out and back trolley run, then open the buffet.
     
  3. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    It makes sense to open the buffet half way through the journey, as in my experience, on the first Aberdeen-QS service when the refurbs started working them, the only use of the buffet was for my complimentary bacon roll. Only after Dundee when the train was packed, was there a queue at the buffet.

    If anything though, whether you are coming out of Aberdeen or Inverness on an LNER service, the buffet usually has customers throughout the whole journey, so it must be a culture thing specific to customer's experience of the TOC. I imagine once all the refurbs are in service come the next milenium, then the buffet will see more regular use. In the short term, part working seems sensible.
     
  4. jingsmonty

    jingsmonty Established Member

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    Unless you're only travelling part of the way & looking for something hot.
     
  5. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    It seems about the best way of managing it.

    Well that's true, but it's difficult to manage it just right, you either open the buffet, close the buffet and do a trolley run or do the trolley run first and doing a trolley run first is I think the best way of doing it really.
     
  6. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    Doing the trolley run first is also a good way of advertising the existence of the buffet in the first place. Even if no one buys anything off the trolley, the catering member working it will still be able to perhaps hand out menus or offer meal deal oppertunities when someone does decide to purchase something. If I remember rightly, XC used to do a standard class hot food service where you would pay at the trolley and they would then come back 10 minutes later with your meal - perhaps this is a system that could also work to at least raise awareness of the buffet?
     
  7. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Very true, that's a good point. Whereas if you do it the other way round you can't really advertise the buffet and could actually do worse business.

    I certainly remember them introducing it; though I'm not sure if it's still available, something ScotRail could definitely consider though.
     
  8. jingsmonty

    jingsmonty Established Member

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    Might seem like a sensible compromise. I still think a trolley is pointless if you have a buffet & only 1 member of staff. It's not as if Scotrail journeys are that long, compared to XC & other long distance TOCs anyway - a trolley on a busy train will take ages to get down (& back up) the full length of the train (as well as obstructing the Conductor doing a ticket check - this does happen sometimes now).

    What will happen is that the buffets will disappear, as the sales will be poor, due to it being closed! There's NO chance either, as has been suggested, that it will run with 1 member of hospitality, then 2 once we get the full fleet - Scotrail will see that they can run it with one & leave it like that.

    Perhaps some sort of limited 'at seat' service could be looked at (without a trolley)? There will be passengers who may now want to (or be able to) go to the buffet? Might be a compromise.

    The idea of having one member of staff doing a trolley AND a hot buffet is crazy & not very practical. Sales of both will suffer.

    We really DO need 2 members of staff - that's the ideal way of working - even if the trolley didn't travel the whole way. Perhaps a trolley that travelled from Perth to Inverness (on the Highland Mainline), off at Perth & back on the next one? Sonething similar for the East Coast? Just a thought
     
  9. Northhighland

    Northhighland Member

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    Sadly I think you are correct Scotrail will do the easy option and leave one member of staff with neither a good trolly service nor a buffet service. This will be the most likely outcome the worst of both worlds!

    LNER Chieftan buffet car is always well used. As is the trolley. Surely the example of that would be enough to at least try the service for a period of time? But customer service isn't Scotrail management highest priority. It would be a real shame if this opportunity was lost, There is a real chance to increase passenger numbers on the HML if the service is good. Catering is a big part of that opportunity.
     
  10. jingsmonty

    jingsmonty Established Member

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    Spot on comment, couldn't agree more. As I said in an earlier post, there's a big opportunity to attract high fare 1st class passengers away from LNER (particularly with the end in sight for the LNER HSTs - who knows what the catering offering will be on an Azuma service?). But it's essential to get the catering 'right' - even if it doesn't make much revenue in it's own right, it may help with higher passenger loadings
     
  11. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    Advantage of buffet is drinks , sandwiches and beer will cold in the fridge unlike the trolley . That put me off on the return on classic set , a warm beer .

    Virgin seem just do the buffet or 'shop ' as they call it , once in a blue moon a trolley gets on at Carlisle
     
  12. Struner

    Struner Member

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    always thought warm beer was an English thing?
     
  13. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I think more people prefer an at-seat service generally, particularly solo travellers.

    A definite worry, and it's all too likely unfortunately.

    Possibly, but when services are delayed that might throw everything up in the air somewhat.
     
  14. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    More British generally I think rather than specifically English. Ice cold beer I always thought was generally more an American/Australian thing?
     
  15. leedstraindude

    leedstraindude Member

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    Exactly what it is now as proven by the ones in service down south.
     
  16. jingsmonty

    jingsmonty Established Member

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    These things could easily happen with a buffet too - staff out of place, etc. All I'm saying is that, if it's a choice of Buffet or Trolley, then it should be Buffet.

    As for 'passengers preferring an at seat service', have you any actual evidence of that? I regularly travelled on the LNER Highland Chieftain when I worked in the Central Belt for a few years, travelling on my own, I had NO issues using a buffet. I used to buy a ticket for the Chieftain (a PRIV ticket, admittedly), as it suited me to grab a bite if I was in a hurry.
     
  17. jingsmonty

    jingsmonty Established Member

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    I don't know about the LNER Azumas, but I know there's a lot of grumbling about the lack of Buffets on the GWR IETs. Scotrail have a big asset with the buffets on our HSTs, lets hope it isn't hampered by poor resourcing
     
  18. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I suppose at least with a buffet you can offer a greater range and stock more - a distinct advantage.

    As for preference for an at-seat service, I forget who did a survey but I distinctly remember that being the result.
     
  19. Cashew

    Cashew Member

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    Did Abilieo not win the franchise because part of their promise was to improve the catering with the introduction of the HST, on the their inter-city services.
     
  20. jingsmonty

    jingsmonty Established Member

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    That's exactly right, they did - or, rather, it was part of the franchise agreement specified a Hot Buffet service. I fear that a Hot Buffet, even if only open occasionally, would meet the criteria in the franchise
     
  21. jingsmonty

    jingsmonty Established Member

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    Well, maybe it was - it all depends what the question asked in the survey was & in what context. I'm just going by the consiltants report commissioned a while ago on the HML, which stated that travellers (particularly 1st class business travellere heading to/from the Central Belt) were using the ECML Highland Chieftain on the HML, in preference to Scotrail due to the far better onboard facilities (of which Catering is a big part).

    I'd have though if this survey was widely known at the time of the franchise award, the fixed location hot buffet wouldn't have been specified in the 1st place...

    People seem to think a proper hot buffet is just a frivilous luxury - a 'nice to have'. It's not. It's vital in improving the standard of service & attracting more passengers - providing a proper 'InterCity' service!
     
  22. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    30 years ago I regularly travelled to London from Hull or Sheffield. After a long journey a 3 course meal in the dining car on the return journey helped relaxation. Yes, it was claimed on expenses. I know it's fashionable to knock British Rail but their onboard catering could be good.

    Today I can't rely on any onboard catering being present. When it is it may have run out of water to make a tea or coffee and there's only one hot bacon bap served 2 minutes before leaving the train. I've previously described dining almost alone in days gone by across Rannoch Moor. That must have been hugely expensive to provide. A

    The challenge of providing catering along the entire route at all times of day for all passengers all year round is enormous. The potential food waste is considerable and staff costs well out of line with likely revenue on almost every route at almost every time of day.

    So, not being able to rely on getting a meal on board I eat before or after the journey. If I'm short of time I'll pick up something to eat on the train to be on the safe side.

    Replicate that many times and the rail catering units have their work cut out to justify continuation. It's a vicious circle.

    Not provided at all and we know to pack our own food and drink. Offered and always provided with friendly service from a well stocked trolley or buffet and we'll buy. Offered some days and not others, from a poorly stocked facility by a bored operator on a train that's often late and we'll vote with our feet against train catering.

    When I use my car for long journeys I select a good restaurant, KFC or a sandwich from M&S when I feel hungry en route. How does train catering economically compete with that flexibility?
     
  23. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    You wouldn't want a warm tenants or lager though ! Or coke
     
  24. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    Higher prices for food and drink usually bought for half elsewhere.

    A chicken tikka pitta bread is a fiver on LNER. With that fiver I can buy a much larger portion of food from a full large meal at KFC, McDonald's, or Burger King, including a drink. When time is a luxury, it's a no brainer. When time is constrained by being on a train, then the buffet becomes the alternative.

    In my younger days when the southbound Invernesss/Aberdeen to KX arrived at Waverley on platform 2 and had 10 minutes, My parents would task me with bolting to Burger King and coming back with 20 quids worth of chips, burgers, and chicken for 4 of us to dig into. Add an extra 3 quid on for sweets 2L drinks bought at Asda before boarding the train an hour or two previous, and we were stuffed for the rest of the day - at £5.75 each. Compare that to the above and anyone can see the dillema. £5.75 for my ration of a heap of chips, burgers, chicken, snacks, and a soft drink. Or a Chicken Curry Pitta and a packet of Polos I can buy for that price now? No brainer.

    For buffets to maximise what they take in, they need to be inovitave with their food options, deals, and advertising. Hence why the likes of LNER and Virgin WC are selling food like Mac n Cheese and Chicken Curry. Not commonly sold hot and prevelant fast food outlets, but can mainly be found ina reheatable state at coffee shops for similar prices - which I imagine is the only real place any buffets can compete with price wise. They are never going to compete for profits anyway, but the least they can do is lower the subsidy to make it justifiable to the TOC.
     
    Last edited: 8 Jul 2019
  25. Meerkat

    Meerkat Member

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    Problem with buffets is having to leave your seat. Maybe first class passengers are less concerned about taking their stuff with them (because they are surrounded by first class passengers.....)
    At seat service also means you don’t have to stumble along the train carrying hot drinks and trying to operate the doors (first class won’t have as far to go)
    Or work out where the buffet, when it is open, and whether it will have anything you want
     
  26. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    It is an improvement in my book, I don't want it abolished certainly but I'm sure there was something which suggested UK-wide (not specific to any one TOC), that there was a general preference for at-seat refreshments.
     
  27. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I don't mind warm coke! :lol:
     
  28. Bassman

    Bassman Member

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    Last year I took a high speed train from Kuala Lumpar to Penang on Malaysian narrow gauge state railways. The Chinese manufactured train had a buffet, with a range of cooked micro wave meals on offer i.e. curries. The hostess went through the train giving a complimentary bag of sandwich and crackers and drink to all passengers.
    Impressive intercity service .

    Last week on a recent service going north, at Perth there was as usual no sandwiches left. Though I did notice later the attendant had a prepackaged sandwich which he had obviously arranged. This is hardly a service made for proper travelling if only sweets and crisps are available.
     
  29. Northhighland

    Northhighland Member

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    Buffet shouldn’t try to compete with macdee’s or BK. That is the lowest common denominator in food terms and most people want something a little healthier and better quality.

    Should be easy enough with a buffet car and a couple of microwaves to offer a reasonable quality of food.
     
  30. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Fully agree; I must admit I've heard about them running out of sandwiches a few times over the years, under First as well, you'd hope they appreciate they sell out and would increase the stock levels.
     

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