Virgin Trains East Coast First Class service

Discussion in 'Trip Planning & Reports' started by MidnightFlyer, 16 Apr 2011.

  1. MidnightFlyer

    MidnightFlyer Veteran Member

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    Hi all,

    From RAIL 668, pg 20/21:

    Weekdays:
    Before 0930: A hot, full breakfast/vegetarian breakfast including bakery basket, coffee/fruit juice, or toasted bacon bloomer, fruit kebabs or the weekly dish (rotated every four weeks), including Greek yoghurt with fruit compote and granola, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, porridge or scrambled eggs and mushrooms

    Mid morning (0930-1130): A lighter version of breakfast.

    All-day offer (1130-1900): Choice of hot/cold dishes and sandwiches/crisps, salad or hot dish, slice of cake and fresh fruit.

    Afternoon tea (selected services 1500-1600): Sandwiches, fruit scone with jam/cream, cakes or a hot meal (risotto or biryani).

    Evening meal (selected services 1700-1905): Choice of two chef-prepared meals on busier trains, tea/coffee, appetiser, dessert or cheese.

    Evening offer (quieter services): Similar to all-day offer - choice of sandwich platter or hot dish, cake, fresh fruit.

    Weekends:
    Breakfast or all-day light menu: Choice of ham, cheese and tomato croissant or breakfast muffin. All-day menu is a choice of sandwich and crisps or cake bar.

    NB - Complimentary wines, spirits and beers will be served on weekdays after noon. There are no complimentary alcoholic drinks at weekends, although they will be available for purchase.

    NB - For journeys under an hour, a lighter version of the full offer (such as a breakfast muffin) will be available.
     
  2. Anon Mouse

    Anon Mouse Established Member

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    Will holders of WEF be able to get the compo food or is WEF going to be relocated into a single carriage without the service?

    I think its sad that this is to the detriment of the Restaurant Car, one of the few pleasures of train travel and avalible to all. I am sure when they discover they are losing money they will downsize, cut or once again charge 1st class ticket holders for their food.
     
  3. voyagerdude220

    voyagerdude220 Established Member

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    Many thanks for the post MattE2010, I've got my copy of Rail sat waiting to be read. ;)

    The Eureaka East Coast First Class offer appears to be very good to me.

    Particularly if they are actually offering sandwiches at weekends as well- That's my very big bug bear with VT/other IC TOCs- No food at weekends.. On VT I couldn't even get orange juice "because you can get a cheap upgrade".. I felt like showing the CSA my "un-upgraded" ticket, just to make a point.. :|
     
  4. Anon Mouse

    Anon Mouse Established Member

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    Its a very good offer, but only availibe to 1st class passengers to the detriment of standard class catering which is already a bit hit or miss. I feel as well, that with time the same experience you had with VT will happen on EC at weekends, The WEF already seems to be regarded with contempt....
     
  5. MidnightFlyer

    MidnightFlyer Veteran Member

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    Standard still get the Buffet, just no Restaurant. What is the 'WEF'?

    Looks quite good to me...

    Are East Coast's First weekend upgrade still a flat £25?
     
  6. voyagerdude220

    voyagerdude220 Established Member

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    Weekend First Upgrade ;)
     
  7. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    It sounds better than VT to me, particularly their lunchtime and weekend service.

    I agree with Voyagerdude220. No sandwiches at weekends is ridiculous, particularly if you are travelling from London to Glasgow. I don't see why they can't offer orange juice either - it's not as if it's expensive! Admittedly, though, VT charge less for their weekend upgrade than EC.

    Hot dishes at lunchtime on weekdays is also an improvement on VT, who only have a selection of cold "Light Bights."

    I just hope that the cheese platter is kept the same. The current one is excellent! :)
     
  8. Anon Mouse

    Anon Mouse Established Member

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    The fare on offer in the buffet car is garbage compared with the Restaurant, and often the advertised trolley service is non existant and the selection is often very poor. I agree in that the food offered is very good, but its only 1st class passengers who are getting catered for. The Restaurant Car is an integeral part of European rail travel, its even onboard the German ICE, but in the UK it is seen as old fashioned and as something that needs to modernised and abolished. Its a backwards step.

    East Coasts upgrades are similar to Virgins where it varies where you travel. Another bad move of the privatized rail system making even WEF (seen with contempt by many companies) out of the reach of the average passenger.
     
  9. Anvil1984

    Anvil1984 Established Member

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    TGVs (including cross-border services which use TGVs like Lyria, Artesia and Thalys) don't have restaurant cars either and I think they are doing just fine. I dont see the neccessity of carrying a restaurant car when we have overcrowding problems like we do on some services at present, Id rather convert the coach for standard class use to be fair and have at seat orders
     
  10. ajax103

    ajax103 Established Member

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    Just a tad confused, I'm looking at the East Coast website and as I will be using them next week travelling in First Class, I would like to have breakfast onboard.

    Does this mean that coffee and a cereal of my choice will be complimentary with only the Great British at £14.00 being chargeable?
     
  11. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    The weekend offerings are now the best TOC on the network, yet sometimes what is promised and what is actually offered can vary by a large amount!
     
  12. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I suspect it depends on whether the service is at-seat or a full restaurant. The at-seat service coffee is complementary (as it is on any EC service) but I'm not sure if there is cereal. The full cooked breakfast is £12. On a restaurant service again complimentary coffee and this does have cereal whilst the cooked breakfast will be £14.

    Of course the changes outlined in the first post do not come into effect until 22nd May at which point everything will be complimentary to first class passengers.

    I wonder when we get to find out which are the selected services for afternoon tea and an evening meal?
     
  13. ajax103

    ajax103 Established Member

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    The service I'm using is advertised as having both a cafebar and a trolley service, would this help?
     
  14. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Which service exactly is it? But if it is only a cafebar it might not have an on board chef (as they tend to be advertised as having a Hot Buffet) which would mean no cooked breakfast (as far as I'm aware).
     
  15. paul@skegby.org.

    paul@skegby.org. Member

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    Looks good to me, travelling on The Chieftain from London to Inverness how many meals would you expect? is there a limit?
     
  16. ajax103

    ajax103 Established Member

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    06:37 York to Glasgow, so hopefully I can get breakfast.
     
  17. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    According to the timetable here that service does not offer at seat dining so won't have a chef. In which case the food offer will be like this but excluding those items with an asterisk after their description which unfortunately includes the Great British breakfast.
     
  18. Tom B

    Tom B Established Member

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    What happens on a Sunday - no alcohol until 12.30? Or are trains exempt from licensing rules?
     
  19. Anon Mouse

    Anon Mouse Established Member

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    Trains are exempt from licensing laws (as are ships and planes), However complementary alcohol is only going to be given out on weekdays
     
  20. maddeningcrowds

    maddeningcrowds Member

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    Are the annotated timetables available yet? i.e. do we know which trains have which level of service from May?
     
  21. me123

    me123 Established Member

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    That's quite sensible. It would be really impractical on Anglo-Scottish, as the laws now vary completely in England and Scotland.
     
  22. Railjet

    Railjet Member

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    I do believe since time immemorial. Have you never seen The Titfield Thunderbolt? :)
     
  23. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Yes. I act for Licencees when instructed. I reported on this matter only last week http://www.railforums.co.uk/showpost.php?p=635561&postcount=11

    There is some uncertainty in law with regard to vehicles briefly stopping, but railway vehicles (whether in motion or not) are not captured by the 2003 Licensing Act (which applies in England & Wales) nor by the 2005 Licensing Act Scotland 2005
     
  24. silentone

    silentone Member

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    Most of what's here has already been published in the other thread about this subject, and the questions raised so far already answered!

    Anyway, to once again state, this new offer is to get more people travelling First Class not to provide more of the same. Unfortunately the business and the route has changed and one thing the recession brought was First Class passengers downgrading to Standard but still enjoying the perks of the Restaurant (and remaining in there until their Journey end) etc. In a way First Class is no longer First Class with East Coast, and that has been said many times. The offer was picked away at until East Coast brought some more the table. Things are a changing and people are going to have face that fact.

    Unfortunately the good things you all see and will miss are a far cry from what's actually going behind the scenes. Financially controlling the waste on every service is an ongoing battle, this is particularly the case with Restaurants & At-Seat Dining.

    A lot of very robust planning has gone into the new offer and they have planned for a lot of waste in the first 3-6 months. They are planning to completely overload services with food and drink as they expect people will (to a degree) go completely over the top to begin with. Eventually (as the Customer Feedback has indicated) First Class ticket holders will increase and the revenue gain will offset the cost of the complimentary food & drinks.

    Now I'm sure someone will ask how much are EC losing every-time someone buys say a Chicken Korma, or a Burger etc. To be fair it's not quite as simple as this and below lists a few examples;

    Open Packets returned to Rail Gourmet - Waste.
    No Record of the Chill chain from initial load when returned to Rail Gourmet - All Contents Waste.
    Poor stock rotation onboard discovered when returned to Rail Gourmet - Those Items Wasted.

    The main problem is the chill chain, part of the big refurb of the service vehicles resolves this and I'm sure some on here will have seen the changes.

    Oh and the annotated timetables are not yet available but they are more or less the same trains as they are now. (Edit: The timetable's will not be annotated but are now available via the East Coast website, there will be no annotation as they want to convey a message of consistency between every service and the quality of what you receive onboard will be high regardless of whether there's a Chef onboard or not)

    I'm not sure how these changes are at the detriment of Standard Class catering as nothing in Standard is changing. The Cafe Bar & Trolley have a very extensive range available, yes the trolley cannot carry everything all of the time that's just common sense! You cannot please everyone all of the time.
     
    Last edited: 21 Apr 2011
  25. Greenback

    Greenback Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That is a robust defence of the new offering. It appears that the reason for the changes is simply to prevent people using the restaurant?

    The collpase in First Class revenue has occurred due to the ban on public sector employees using FC tickets, and increasing cost cutting amongst the private sector. Rail companies, and not just EC, need to realise that FC is no longer the cahs cow that it previously was. Yet fares continue to rise and then they are surprised that the market shrinks!

    I have posted before that FC needs more innovation. I am not sure that these changes will do anything to improve take up of the FC product. In fact, it may well have no effect, so that EC decide to cut their losses and withdraw meals completely. We will see!
     
  26. YorkshireRider

    YorkshireRider Established Member

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    Im a little on the fence whether it will work or not but its worth a try, a senior manager who had a chat and took questions from us seems to think EC will continue to run the franchise till early-mid 2013 now, which gives the new offer enough time to prove it can work.
     
  27. Tom B

    Tom B Established Member

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    Certainly for passengers such as myself (who may travel either by first or standard, depending on which tickets are on offer and the comparative price) it's a nudge towards spending the extra tenner in return for a hot lunch.
     
  28. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    agreed this thread is duplication of other one, be good if they were merged.

    As to the new offering itself, i've remained unconvinced for a while but am coming round to the idea. Yes, the restaurant wil be missed but as a traveler for both business and leisure the relaunch does indeed offer something different which will I think attract the floating customers - those who would regularly upgrade at weekends, buy a cheep first advance if available and often use dining services if available when traveling standard.

    For myself, when you add up the cost of say, 2 cups of coffee, 2 beers and a chicken corma from the trolley/buffet, it represents a similar additional cost to that of some first class tikets.

    When making a journey for work, my employers cost cutting measures include not allowing us to claim for all refreshments whilst traveling. Fare enough you say, and so do I but interestingly, although they would only refund the cost of my chicken corma if traveling standard, they have made no comment about the fact that I've just booked fc for some 42 quid extra, railcard included) for the summer.

    Bring it on I say, this is new, this is different and change aint always a bad thing. EC are to be commended for not going down the XC/EMT route of scaling back all together. Wel done and may I at any rate wish the staff etc all the best in its launch.




     
  29. amcluesent

    amcluesent Member

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    >You cannot please everyone all of the time.<

    Certainly not the PBO-KGX commuters who are only worthy to get crumbs from the table as journey time is < 60 mins.

    TBH, I can't see the point in paying a ££ fortune for FC and be fobbed-up this way, back to Standard for me I think!
     
  30. bearteacher

    bearteacher New Member

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    Hi, this is my first post here.

    I use East Coast Train quite often from Doncaster to Edinburgh and sometimes I can get the cheaper Advance First Class ticket. Before the only reason to pay little more is the free wifi (sadly, sometimes it is very slow). Now, it seems the free meal sounds very attarctive to me.

    May I ask some question:
    1. The Advance First Class ticket with Rail card will be ok to get the free meals?

    2. I will have these two bought Flirst Class trips: Doncaster to Edinburgh 11:10-14:18 of 23 May; and Edinburgh to Doncaster 18:30-21:38 of 26 May. What kinds of food I can get for each trip?

    3. How does the service staff decide which type of meal to provide? according to the passenger's train ticket departing time or?

    4. Can I get the wine service after noon during the trip but my trip departing time is earlier?

    Thanks for your reading and hope to get some expert's replies.
     

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