Which TOC offers the best First Class?

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anti-pacer

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Apologies first of all if this has been covered previously. However, presuming it hasn't, in your opinion who offers the best First Class?

After doing my week's All Line 1st Class Rover I found VTEC to be by fair the best, followed by Arriva Trains Wales on their Premier Service or whatever it's called. Unfortunately I didn't get the joy of an EMT breakfast as the one day I used it there was no power in the kitchen. VTWC were OK but I found GA and GWR pretty poor, although I do like the seating in the latter.

The South East operators may as well not bother with First Class, and travelling on a Southern service from Gatwick to Portsmouth Harbour I clocked no difference at all.

What's your views?
 
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broadgage

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Well for a start it depends on the definition of "best".
Best if compared to the first class offering of other TOCs ?
Or the best improvement over steerage on the same TOC ?

For myself, I am in general not too keen on most newer trains and would consider first in a pendolino or voyager to be generally inferior to first in an HST.
Pendolino or voyager first class is of course a considerable improvement over steerage on the same train, but IMO is inferior to first in a Wessex electric, or an HST, or loco hauled stock.

And as for the freebies offered by Virgin, these are reflected in the high First class fares. Complimentary alcoholic drink sounds nice, but I find the offering rather mean at times. I would in many circumstances prefer to purchase perhaps three gin and tonics, rather than be rationed to a single free one.
(it sounds greedy to ask for additional "free" drink, but no one would object to me purchasing several, provided of course that I did not become troublesome)

On balance I prefer GWR, the Pullman restaurants are excellent, and the table service in first generally good.
I particularly like the fact that the trolley dispensing the first class freebies also usually has a small selection of alcoholic drink for sale, thereby considerably speeding service when these items are much in demand.

A drawback is the much reduced first class seating, downgraded from two and a half coaches to one and a half.
 

infobleep

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I don't think much of First class on modern rolling stock.

On South West Trains 450s you do get a plug socket, which is not in standard class but on the 444s, one standard class carriage has a plug socket.

If one is only after trying first class on a 450, just travel on the Guildford to Ascot line on a Saturday as that line doesn't have first class services at the moment but most or all rolling stock on a Saturday has some which is declassified.

On some newer GTR stock, they have plug sockets for at least every two seats in all classes!

The food was OK on East Coast when it was East Coast running it. Not tried first class elsewhere, except London Midland who were similar to South West Trains in that only plug socket in first. At the time I traveled I got a good advance price for first.

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Of course looking at the interiors of the first class carriages in the distant past they look much better. Whether they were I don't know.

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk
 
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leightonbd

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Best in absolute ('Pullman') service terms or best VFM?

In the former I think the WAG express, though I haven't been on it, would be a contender.

The long runs that I do experience (WC, EC, GWR to Wales occasionally) don't seem that spectacular. Is there better?
 

anti-pacer

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Best in absolute ('Pullman') service terms or best VFM?

In the former I think the WAG express, though I haven't been on it, would be a contender.

The long runs that I do experience (WC, EC, GWR to Wales occasionally) don't seem that spectacular. Is there better?

You should try the WAG Express. Has anyone seen the blonde girl who is one of the hosts on there. She is so friendly and a lovely person.
 

SaveECRewards

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If you're willing to pay for your catering the GWR Pullman would be hard to beat. For quality it's even better than the GNER restaurants I used to love so much. Although GNER's prices were more reasonable.

For all inclusive first class it has to be VTEC. Although VT(WC) and EMT currently beat EC on breakfast that'll change with the new menus on Monday and for the rest of the day the VTEC catering is better.

The WAG express or whatever the Arriva Trains Wales business service is called sounds amazing but it's not a frequent service so is less use.
 

anti-pacer

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If you're willing to pay for your catering the GWR Pullman would be hard to beat. For quality it's even better than the GNER restaurants I used to love so much. Although GNER's prices were more reasonable.

For all inclusive first class it has to be VTEC. Although VT(WC) and EMT currently beat EC on breakfast that'll change with the new menus on Monday and for the rest of the day the VTEC catering is better.

The WAG express or whatever the Arriva Trains Wales business service is called sounds amazing but it's not a frequent service so is less use.

I did it specially and it was one of the most relaxing train journeys I've ever had. I would love to do it in summer.
 

ld0595

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I've only done first on VTEC, VTWC and Scotrail. Without a doubt VTEC was the best out of all three where I did Newcastle to Edinburgh (and onwards to Dundee) on a cheap first class advance. The first class offering by Scotrail afterwards was an absolute waste.
 

Agent_c

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I've only done first on VTEC, VTWC and Scotrail. Without a doubt VTEC was the best out of all three where I did Newcastle to Edinburgh (and onwards to Dundee) on a cheap first class advance. The first class offering by Scotrail afterwards was an absolute waste.

Agreed, Scotrail First is only worthwhile if you absolutely positively must have a power socket. That said, given the vehicles they use, I don't think there's much more they can realistically do, maybe a VTEC-Weekend style sandwich on longer routes?
 

47271

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There's no contest here.

A nice dinner with a few drinks and a chat in the lounge, with the Inverness crew on top form under George or Craig out of Euston on a Friday night on the Highlander Caledonian Sleeper. Then off to bed to get up at 7am in Dalwhinnie or Kingussie on a beautiful May Saturday morning.
 

D1009

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There's no contest here.

A nice dinner with a few drinks and a chat in the lounge, with the Inverness crew on top form under George or Craig out of Euston on a Friday night on the Highlander Caledonian Sleeper. Then off to bed to get up at 7am in Dalwhinnie or Kingussie on a beautiful May Saturday morning.
Good to see a member waxing lyrical about the Caledonian Sleeper given the comments on the thread devoted to it!
 

All Line Rover

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WAG is the best (pity it runs to/from Cardiff), followed by VTEC, then VTWC. Before the recent downgrades to VTWC's offering I would have put VTWC before VTEC, but VTWC remains decent (just nothing special).

GWR has never been anything to shout about, and the removal of the first quiet coach and downgrade to 1.5 first class carriages might be acceptable to Reading commuters, but is not welcome if travelling longer distances, for which 3+ hours is not uncommon on the GWR network.
 

Old Yard Dog

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The worst is probably TransPennineExpress where first class consists of 2+2 seating almost identical to second. All you are paying for is separation from the hoi polloi and a better chance of getting a seat. I have noticed similar so-called first class sections around London. There needs to be another name for first class carriages which are anything but.
 

47271

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TPE First is 2+1 in both the 185s and 350s, is it maybe just their 170s that are 2+2, I've only ever gone Standard in those units?
 

al.currie93

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The worst is probably TransPennineExpress where first class consists of 2+2 seating almost identical to second. All you are paying for is separation from the hoi polloi and a better chance of getting a seat. I have noticed similar so-called first class sections around London. There needs to be another name for first class carriages which are anything but.

I think GTR with Southern and Thameslink win the title for worst first class now. First class is exactly the same as standard apart from a little hanky on the headrest. The 377/6, 377/7 and 387 are particularly bad (see the link below, not my photo). Other thank slightly more chance of a seat, you're not paying for anything more!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewbaxterrailways/15373276613

Same story for the Gatwick Express now that the 387s are coming in place of the 442s.
 

47271

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First in Scotrail 158s would give those a run for their money. Everything identical to Standard apart from the cloth thing on the headrest, a lamp on the table and a power point. Not even a dividing door.
 

bb21

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The worst is probably TransPennineExpress where first class consists of 2+2 seating almost identical to second. All you are paying for is separation from the hoi polloi and a better chance of getting a seat. I have noticed similar so-called first class sections around London. There needs to be another name for first class carriages which are anything but.

What TPE stock is 2+2 in First?
 

GatwickDepress

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To be fair to GTR, Southeastern, and London Midland; the entire point of first class for most passengers is the better chance for a seat in the peaks. Comparing their offerings with an InterCity TOC really is chalk and cheese.
 

johntea

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The only time I'll use First Class is a cheap enough advance fare or if it's a weekend and the train is busy in standard sometimes I'll do a weekend upgrade to my ticket if it's for the sake of anything up to a tenner.

I'll get my 'meal' and drinks in a nearby food place before boarding :lol:

Same as when I fly though, my friends travelled in 'premium economy', I would never travel in anything but economy but may purchase extra leg room or something if at a decent price.

At the end of the day, whatever class you're in you all end up at the same destination eventually ;)
 

387star

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Slightly off topic but the 450s are miles ahead of 377s 3+2 seating as well as generally imo and first class is notably better

Better sound proofing
non squeaky larger flip down tables
Generous luggage racks
Less crampt
Softer seats
Aged well .. less side panelling separation . I like the clean white walls
Did I mention better sound proofing?
 
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Hellfire

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I use VTWC First Class and I find it pretty good. The breakfast is outstanding with a great choice. The evening meal is not quite at the same level. They tend to keep the same menus for weeks at a time so it gets a bit boring if you are using them every week as I do. The wine is pretty average too.

Where VTWC excels in my view is the staff. In four years of shuttling back and forwards from Preston to Euston, I've never met a staff member who didn't seem totally committed to a high standard of service.
 

WestCoast

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I also find the breakfast service and staff very good on VTWC. I was very impressed on a recent Birmingham - Edinburgh service that I was offered breakfast and brunch by the same crew and got through about 11 cups of tea.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I also find the breakfast service and staff very good on VTWC. I was very impressed on a recent Birmingham - Edinburgh service that I was offered breakfast and brunch by the same crew and got through about 11 cups of tea.

Sometimes the crew change at Preston can work in your favour (2 lots of service) or against (having to wait till the "next crew" gets going. But always cheerful, generous service.
Some nice hot snacks when you don't want/need a full dinner.
Virgin lounge at Glasgow a bit basic though (a cordoned-off section of the Virgin office, with poor seating).
 

WestCoast

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Sometimes the crew change at Preston can work in your favour (2 lots of service) or against (having to wait till the "next crew" gets going. But always cheerful, generous service.
Some nice hot snacks when you don't want/need a full dinner.
Virgin lounge at Glasgow a bit basic though (a cordoned-off section of the Virgin office, with poor seating).

Yes that is true. I was expecting the crew to completely change at Preston but actually some of the Euston staff continued beyond to Edinburgh. It didn't affect the service though as everyone was offered a second service regardless of where they boarded.
 

Urban Gateline

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For me it's always been (Virgin Trains) East Coast, though I don't do as many trips as I used to.

In my opinion East Coast have the best food offering, especially when it comes to hot meals and a good selection of alcohol all complimentary (included in the ticket price, yes I know!) Their staff are also top just like VTWC, but I prefer the HST/Electrics seats when compared to VTWC Pendolinos and Voyagers!

They probably have the best weekend offering as well with Sandwiches during the day unlike most other TOC's who really limit their First Class complimentaries on weekends, partly due to cheap weekend First upgrades which VTEC don't do as cheap as other TOC's!

VTEC also have the advantage of doing the longest Journeys such as Kings Cross to Inverness/Aberdeen, with good value First Class advance tickets so you really get your monies worth! No I don't work for them! :lol:
 

All Line Rover

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To be fair to GTR, Southeastern, and London Midland; the entire point of first class for most passengers is the better chance for a seat in the peaks. Comparing their offerings with an InterCity TOC really is chalk and cheese.

Yes, and this is reflected in the prices at which fares are set.

For example, a flexible ticket from Northampton to London Euston (London Midland) for an off-peak return journey costs £35 STD or £50 1ST.

Whereas a flexible ticket from Stoke-on-Trent to London Euston (Virgin Trains) for an off-peak return journey costs £70 STD or £375 1ST (that's not a typo).
 

ScouserGirl

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The breakfast service is great on VTWC the lunch menu not so good, I've only had an evening meal once and it wasn't the best!

I do rate GWR Pullman service though the food is fantastic and the staff are lovely :)
 

anti-pacer

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For me it's always been (Virgin Trains) East Coast, though I don't do as many trips as I used to.

In my opinion East Coast have the best food offering, especially when it comes to hot meals and a good selection of alcohol all complimentary (included in the ticket price, yes I know!) Their staff are also top just like VTWC, but I prefer the HST/Electrics seats when compared to VTWC Pendolinos and Voyagers!

They probably have the best weekend offering as well with Sandwiches during the day unlike most other TOC's who really limit their First Class complimentaries on weekends, partly due to cheap weekend First upgrades which VTEC don't do as cheap as other TOC's!

VTEC also have the advantage of doing the longest Journeys such as Kings Cross to Inverness/Aberdeen, with good value First Class advance tickets so you really get your monies worth! No I don't work for them! :lol:

Do VTEC provide complimentary food and drink north of Edinburgh?
 

me123

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Yes they do, and it's quite popular! A full service is available and the load factors in First were very healthy when I used it quite regularly. Good standard of service normally North of Edinburgh, and far exceeding the FC offering on Scotrail. I'd wager a lot of people (like myself) went out their way to travel VTEC FC.
 
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