Saturday, February 8, 2014

Virgin Trains - First Class

Here's something a little bit different for the blog. A train report. I did a cruise report last month so why not a train!? This was one I had been wanting to do for quite some time, Virgin Trains in First Class. The route I was travelling was London to Manchester which operates every 20 minutes and takes just over 2 hours leaving from London Euston station.
 
Arriving at Euston

This journey was taken during the Christmas holiday period and as such the weekend/holiday onboard service was provided. It is a snack box service only instead of the full meal and open bar service offered on weekdays during business periods. Never mind, I was still looking forward to it. After arriving at Euston on the tube it was straight upstairs to the Virgin Trains First Class Lounge.


It's worth noting that this lounge is now closed and being refurbished, it will reopen in March this year. Whilst the lounge is closed First Class passengers will be given a voucher for a drink and snack at one of the many food outlets at Euston station.

The lounge is basic and provides complimentary tea, coffeee, soft drinks, water, juice and biscuits. There is also a bar but alcohol comes at a price.

Free snacks

Workstations in the lounge with departures display

Virgin Trains Departures
I arrived somewhat early so I caught up on my Facebook and did some internet surfing on my laptop while I waited for the 4pm departure. The platform number is only revealed a few minutes before departure. With about 20 minutes before my train was due to leave I headed downstairs and stood with the crowds in front of the main departures display.  Everyone there is waiting to find out which platform they should go to for their train.

The 1600 service to Manchester Piccadilly is preparing
Eventually the platform number was displayed and everyone rushed off. I like the look of these 'Pendolino' trains.


Welcome on Board
I had been allocated a single seat on its own quite close to the doors. It's pretty good for solo travellers although the window is somewhat forward of the seat meaning the view isn't brilliant. Not that this really mattered as it's almost dark at 4pm in the middle of a British winter.

My seat

This is how most couples would travel

A look at the 2x1 cabin arrangement with sets of 4 also available. The luggage racks are shown just behind the seats here

This is a QUIET ZONE

Definitely FIRST CLASS
As it turned out my cabin was a designated 'Quite Zone'. So I was looking forward to a peaceful journey to Manchester cruising at approximately 200km/h most of ther way.


All seats have a power supply
I was able to connect my laptop to the power supply on board and I connected to the free onboard wifi. However the wifi service was simply awful and I mostly resorted to using my mobile phone 3G connection instead.

We departed right on schedule and around 20 minutes after leaving Euston the trolley came down the aisle being pushed by a middle aged gentleman. He offered a snack box along with tea or coffee plus still or sparkling water. I took a coffee and a sparkling water.


Inside the snack box were some jelly beans, pretzels, cheese, crackers, cookie and raisins. Not a bad selection and plenty to keep me happy for the 2 hour trip. Next time I will have to plan things better and take the full meal service instead.


Seconds on the water were available and I took another sparkling water as we ended up coming to a stop about 30 minutes out of Manchester due to a person who had been hit by a train. We were stationary for about 30 minutes meaning the arrival was delayed.

Although we are travelling quite fast the train is quite smooth and very quiet. There was very few passengers in my carriage so it was all rather relaxing. It's the perfect opportunity to read a book, watch a movie on your iPad or catch up on some work.

Eventually we pulled into Manchester Piccadilly and I disembarked feeling impressed by the comfort and speed of the service (even with the delay). It's definitely a superb way to get to Manchester from London and would actually work out faster than flying. I look forward to trying them again in the future, perhaps on the London-Edinburgh route.

4 comments:

  1. I'm glad you were reasonable impressed with Virgin. I lived in England for 25 years and found the trains pretty bad most of the time, I hope they are improving.

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  2. It looks really comfortable and such a quick journey! I'd love to see what the main meals are like, hope you get to do it again!

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  3. Have travelled on this service quite a few times, Runcorn to Euston and back. Definitely beats flying or car. The breakfasts (cooked) are great, and dinner is more or less airline quality (economy).

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  4. I feel bad laughing at the part that said 'delayed because someone was hit by a train' I just bursted.

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