Virgin v East Coast

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SkinnyDave

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I usually travel on WCML on Pendolino services from Glasgow but I recently had a trip on an East Coast 225 down to Doncaster from Edinburgh which was a good overall experience and different.

What do other people like/dis like about both franchises and what things would you see carried over from one to other? ( I know the Pendolino v MKiv is a heated debate)

Cheers:D
 
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philjo

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I find standard class on a pendolino too claustrophic & from many seats you cannot see the window never mind see out of it.
I much prefer the larger windows of the MK4s.

So if using Virgin I prefer to use 1st if possible so that I get a whole window but it it easier to get cheaper 1st advance fares with EC normally !
 

aylesbury

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I prefer a Pendo they are by and large reliable and comfortable,also first class is excellent.Went to York on EC and felt closed in by the seating and the dull interior typical squeeze everyone in regardless of comfort.Still think ideal IC train is loco and mk3,s.
 

calc7

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So if using Virgin I prefer to use 1st if possible so that I get a whole window but it it easier to get cheaper 1st advance fares with EC normally !
Really? The cynic in me says it is because of their frequent First Class sales. These happen as a result of a downward trend in passengers buying First Class tickets due to their "First Class" service which they market as "spoiling" the customer being in fact extremely stingy and very unreliable.

That aside, I find it almost impossible to get decent priced Advance 1sts on EC even a couple of weeks beforehand, especially on the Kings Cross - York - Newcastle - Edinburgh route. On Virgin I've bagged some of their lowest ones for evening meal services just the day beforehand (we're talking about £25-40 YP discount here). Also on Virgin you have the choice of a web-like network up north meaning journeys that are £80 from Manchester can be reduced to £30 merely by selecting "via Warrington" and spending 20 extra minutes travelling and changing trains there.
 

Welshman

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Swings and roundabouts really.

I personally find the standard Mallard all-in-one seats on EC very uncomfortable on the small of my back after a while, as I can't sit upright in them.

I find the two-piece seats on a Pendolino more comfortable, but then the low windows[if I'm lucky enough to have a seat adjacent one] means I'm stooping to see out of them {I'm 6' 2" and like to sit-up straight}.

So could I please have a pendo seat in a Mk4 bodyshell?

My ideal train would be an electrically-powered 175, capable of 125 m.p.h.

I wish.
 

sprinterguy

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My ideal train would be an electrically-powered 175, capable of 125 m.p.h.

I wish.
So that would be an electric Adelante then? Rumours abound that Alstom have such an idea up their sleeves (Pendolino traction package, Adelante type bodyshell) for electrified Intercity routes that don't require tilting trains. I don't know how accurate those rumours are, but I for one would be over the moon with such a combination. It sounds like a winning package: Pendolino reliability and performance, Adelante comfort.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I prefer a Pendo they are by and large reliable and comfortable,also first class is excellent.Went to York on EC and felt closed in by the seating and the dull interior typical squeeze everyone in regardless of comfort.Still think ideal IC train is loco and mk3,s.
You feel that East Coast trains are cramped, dull and squeezing passengers in, and yet you like Pendolinos? :shock: Usually, I'm content to put such matters of on-train comfort down to the vagaries of personal taste, but this time, I'm just plain confused ;)

The standard class interiors of Pendolinos are as clautrophobic as UK trains get IMO, and I can't stand those skinny, poorly padded seats that are fitted to them. The ambience in first class is very nice though, but then again, it is on East Coast as well.

The only thing that I'd really want to see transferred over to East Coast from Virgin is the standard of first class service: The quality of the meals and drinks, etc. Other than that, I think that East Coast are superior to Virgin, primarily because of the advantages of the rolling stock that is used: BR managed to build tilt profile rolling stock (Admittedly, the mark 4s were only intended to allow tilt up to 6 degrees compared to the Pendolinos 9) that feels light, airy and spacious, and of course the mark 3s are second to none, particularly after the "Mallard" refurb, as I feel that the Primarius seats fitted to East Coasts HSTs and 225s (and XCs HSTs) are the best seating out there for an Intercity operation.
 
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dk1

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Yet when you speak to members of the public it's often a different story. A lady i recently purchased some tickets for travelled from Ipswich to Warrington via London. She is a regular user of MKIII stock to Liverpool Street & on her return asked me why is it we cant we have trains like Mr Branson has got, they're fantastic!
 

Schnellzug

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Yet when you speak to members of the public it's often a different story. A lady i recently purchased some tickets for travelled from Ipswich to Warrington via London. She is a regular user of MKIII stock to Liverpool Street & on her return asked me why is it we cant we have trains like Mr Branson has got, they're fantastic!
That just shows how easily people are seduced by advertising and glamorous much loved national figures. NX (and now Abellio) isn't glamorous, and don't have a much loved national figure as a figurehead. It's probably nothing to do with the comparative merits of the rolling stock (although, but I couldn't possibly comment, perhaps Virgin's are better kept than EA was).
 

Failed Unit

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On a pure price point of view from Scotland I always find east coast cheaper. Maybe just luck but where I live there is little to chose in price. I personally prefer the East coast stock to virgins, I don't personally know anyone who likes the Pendo's more, but I am sure they exist. (likewise i don't know anyone that refuses to travel on them)
 

pitdiver

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As a former regular user of Pendolinos between Mk Central and Birmingham. I think they are uncomfortable and claustrophobic and not being able to see a window. Might not be in FC but bean counters won't pay first class prices. Eventually I got so fed up with the above issues I decided to travel by NX Coach. MK- Birmingham.
 

DarloRich

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There is no competition.

East Coast are streets ahead of Virgin in everything except shiny new trains, that aren’t a patch on the older EC trains, clever adverts and a PR hungry, media savvy, glorious leader that Virgin have in The Lord Branson.

As a regular standard class traveller on both Virgin and East Coast I couldn’t care less about what freebies you do or don’t get in FC. The standard class ambiance and comfort on EC is so much nicer than the cramped, dark, uncomfortable offering from Virgin. Plus East Coast don’t inflict the “super” Voyager on their customers. Then there is that special Virgin trains smell of cooking faeces to consider....................
 

Wath Yard

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Yet when you speak to members of the public it's often a different story. A lady i recently purchased some tickets for travelled from Ipswich to Warrington via London. She is a regular user of MKIII stock to Liverpool Street & on her return asked me why is it we cant we have trains like Mr Branson has got, they're fantastic!
That means one person likes the Pendolinos. However, when Passenger Focus did some research on InterCity style trains, including 180s, HSTs, 444s, Voyagers, Meridians and Pendolinos the Pendolino came bottom by a long way, with passengers disliking just about everything.
 

DarloRich

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That means one person likes the Pendolinos. However, when Passenger Focus did some research on InterCity style trains, including 180s, HSTs, 444s, Voyagers, Meridians and Pendolinos the Pendolino came bottom by a long way, with passengers disliking just about everything.
do you have a link by any chance? That would make sweet reading!
 

All Line Rover

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That aside, I find it almost impossible to get decent priced Advance 1sts on EC even a couple of weeks beforehand, especially on the Kings Cross - York - Newcastle - Edinburgh route. On Virgin I've bagged some of their lowest ones for evening meal services just the day beforehand (we're talking about £25-40 YP discount here). Also on Virgin you have the choice of a web-like network up north meaning journeys that are £80 from Manchester can be reduced to £30 merely by selecting "via Warrington" and spending 20 extra minutes travelling and changing trains there.
You're right there. I can still pick up the cheapest £36.50 London to Manchester First AP's for travel tomorrow (during the day), whereas with East Coast the cheapest is £102.50 for London to York.

Having said that, you would expect Virgin to have plenty of cheap AP's considering they are hurtling around 12 First Class carriages an hour on the London to Manchester route alone.
 

sprinterguy

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Yet when you speak to members of the public it's often a different story. A lady i recently purchased some tickets for travelled from Ipswich to Warrington via London. She is a regular user of MKIII stock to Liverpool Street & on her return asked me why is it we cant we have trains like Mr Branson has got, they're fantastic!
The level of cleanliness no doubt has something to do with that: I understand that the interior condition of the Anglian mark 3s leave something to be desired. Additionally, I'm under the impression that the interiors of the Greater Anglia mark 3s are little changed from Virgin West Coast days, and they weren't much changed from the second BR Intercity style in the late eighties. So I can understand why Anglian passengers could be envious of the new trains on the West Coast!

There is, however, a world of difference between the condition of the Anglian HSTs and the excellent refurb that has been applied to the East Coast and XC HSTs. Or for that matter, the Wrexham & Shropshire refurb that now appears on the Chiltern loco hauled sets.
 
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Failed Unit

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However from Scotland. (Stirling) - London.

Cheapest via East Coast = £73.45
Cheapest via West Coast = £76.50

Not much in it, but there is a greater choice of trains on east coast. Next fares are £98 on east or £132 on west.
 

All Line Rover

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However from Scotland. (Stirling) - London.

Cheapest via East Coast = £73.45
Cheapest via West Coast = £76.50

Not much in it, but there is a greater choice of trains on east coast. Next fares are £98 on east or £132 on west.
Yes, it's true that on the North Wales and Scotland West Coast routes, there is a definite lack of First Class capacity.
 

philjo

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Really? The cynic in me says it is because of their frequent First Class sales. These happen as a result of a downward trend in passengers buying First Class tickets due to their "First Class" service which they market as "spoiling" the customer being in fact extremely stingy and very unreliable.

That aside, I find it almost impossible to get decent priced Advance 1sts on EC even a couple of weeks beforehand, especially on the Kings Cross - York - Newcastle - Edinburgh route. On Virgin I've bagged some of their lowest ones for evening meal services just the day beforehand (we're talking about £25-40 YP discount here). Also on Virgin you have the choice of a web-like network up north meaning journeys that are £80 from Manchester can be reduced to £30 merely by selecting "via Warrington" and spending 20 extra minutes travelling and changing trains there.
Probably partially as if I am travelling with East coast my booking is from Stevenage.
If using Virgin the booking usually starts where possible from Potters Bar (the southern limit of my Season ticket). if wanting to use 1st advance I usually have to split & book to London separately meaning having to pay extra to use FCC in the morning peak to get to London adding to the cost.

EC generally have far more EC & connections 1st advance fares available than the equivalent on Virgin. I usually have to get a Virgin only ticket from Euston & split at both ends.
e.g. if going to Church Stretton I usually can normally only get a 1st advance for the Euston-Shrewsbury section. Last couple of time it was weekends anyway so used std class tickets with weekend 1st supplement -a much cheaper.
I can easily book 1st advance with EC for say Stevenage to southport via Doncaster & change again at Manchester pic) but find it hard to find any through tickets via Euston -also tried splitting at Wigan.

I booked Potters Bar-Telford std advance for £18 recently for a Saturday morning. (using the Wolves train from Euston & change there) 1st advance for the same train was £108 !! (weekend 1st is £10)
 

Marton

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Just done Darlington/KX then Euston/Birmingham/York on MkIV, Pendolino, Voyager, EMT HST, Voyager.

No question that the MkIV is a more pleasant carriage o be in. Pendos smell of loo, feel claustrophobic and the seats are uncomfortable. Voyagers eve worse with the engine under foot.

A friend regularly visits elderly parents in Manchester from London; he is over 6ft and says sitting in a window standard seat is impossible without a crick in the neck.

The only better bit about WCML is that the food and drinks are more generous in first.
 

SkinnyDave

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Interesting posts so far.

I must admit I prefer Virgin first class in the Pendolino but standard class in East Coast is far superior.

They are both different experiences and I wouldn't want Virgin to get both franchises as I like the differences.
That's assuming Virgin get WC which looks like it will be close
 

S19

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I've done a lot of journeys from Leeds to Peterborough on those older carriages.

I found them so uncomfortable. Give me a comfortable, modern, impressive Pendolino any day :)
 

route:oxford

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So that would be an electric Adelante then? Rumours abound that Alstom have such an idea up their sleeves (Pendolino traction package, Adelante type bodyshell) for electrified Intercity routes that don't require tilting trains. I don't know how accurate those rumours are, but I for one would be over the moon with such a combination. It sounds like a winning package: Pendolino reliability and performance, Adelante comfort.
That would be almost perfect.

Regularly travelling from Stirling to London, my first choice would always be the Highland Chieftan - simply to avoid the time-wasting connection times.

Otherwise there are so many variables.

Stirling-West Coast has the advantage of the step-free access between Queen Street and Central when carrying (wheeled) luggage.

Stirling-East Coast has a more frequent connection at Edinburgh.

First class West Coast is better in general, however, east coast has an at-seat service at weekends.

Not much difference time-wise.

I'm over 6' tall, can't say I notice much difference between comfort on EC or WC stock.

So, I can't really say either way. My choice of routing for a journey between Stirling & London will depend on time of day, which day of the week and any offers available for the journey.
 

Failed Unit

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The point you mention about lack of step free access is very frustrating. Why network rail insist on putting IC services into 8 & 9 is beyond me. It is very difficult to make connections in 10 minutes with the long queues that form as a result of the inadequate bridge. But never expected someone would prefer crossing Glasgow to avoid it.
 

Andrew Nelson

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So that would be an electric Adelante then? Rumours abound that Alstom have such an idea up their sleeves (Pendolino traction package, Adelante type bodyshell) for electrified Intercity routes that don't require tilting trains. I don't know how accurate those rumours are, but I for one would be over the moon with such a combination. It sounds like a winning package: Pendolino reliability and performance, Adelante comfort.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---

You feel that East Coast trains are cramped, dull and squeezing passengers in, and yet you like Pendolinos? :shock: Usually, I'm content to put such matters of on-train comfort down to the vagaries of personal taste, but this time, I'm just plain confused ;)

The standard class interiors of Pendolinos are as clautrophobic as UK trains get IMO, and I can't stand those skinny, poorly padded seats that are fitted to them. The ambience in first class is very nice though, but then again, it is on East Coast as well.

The only thing that I'd really want to see transferred over to East Coast from Virgin is the standard of first class service: The quality of the meals and drinks, etc. Other than that, I think that East Coast are superior to Virgin, primarily because of the advantages of the rolling stock that is used: BR managed to build tilt profile rolling stock (Admittedly, the mark 4s were only intended to allow tilt up to 6 degrees compared to the Pendolinos 9) that feels light, airy and spacious, and of course the mark 3s are second to none, particularly after the "Mallard" refurb, as I feel that the Primarius seats fitted to East Coasts HSTs and 225s (and XCs HSTs) are the best seating out there for an Intercity operation.
You mean an Electric 180, surely not a 175?
They look like a 158 with a slightly pointed bit at the front.
 

route:oxford

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The point you mention about lack of step free access is very frustrating. Why network rail insist on putting IC services into 8 & 9 is beyond me. It is very difficult to make connections in 10 minutes with the long queues that form as a result of the inadequate bridge. But never expected someone would prefer crossing Glasgow to avoid it.
It's not just the bridge that is inadequate. The staircases to and from the bridge on the south side of the station are exceptionally poor too.

Take my parents for example. They are close to 80.

Travelling from Stirling to Oxford, they'd far rather walk with their trolley cases between the two Glasgow stations or take the (free for all ticketholders) bus between the two than get bummped and shuggled trying to make their up over the bridge to get between platforms at Waverley.


Haymarket, like Platforms 8/9 is also bitterly cold with a biting wind all year round.

To be honest, the limitations of Waverley are a good reason why there should be additional north of Edinburgh WC, EC & XC services.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
You mean an Electric 180, surely not a 175?
They look like a 158 with a slightly pointed bit at the front.
180/175 They are both from the "Coradia" range of Alstom trains.
 

sprinterguy

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You mean an Electric 180, surely not a 175?
Well, yes: A 125mph capable 175 as Welshman originally posted is essentially a 180 in terms of interior layout and bodyshell construction: They're part of the same family of trains.

And a 175 looks naught like a 158, IMO.
 
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