Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Europe > U.K. and Ireland
Reload this Page >

Weekend First - East Coast v West Coast (Virgin Trains)

Weekend First - East Coast v West Coast (Virgin Trains)

Old Sep 13, 14, 12:49 pm
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mostly UK
Programs: Mucci Extraordinaire, Hilton Diamond, BA Gold (ex BD)
Posts: 10,800
Weekend First - East Coast v West Coast (Virgin Trains)

I'm familiar with the East Coast weekend product in first class and I do find it frustrating that you can't order items from the buffet at seat like you could before they introduced the complimentary offering. However, at least on East Coast the buffet is conveniently located between first and standard class and they offer table service for tea, coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches.

What does Virgin offer on a weekend? Will there be a table service at all on a weekend? Do they sell alcohol at seat (or even complimentary)? Is there any complimentary food offering?

All I know is that their shop is placed in a location very inconvenient for first class (particularly if standard is crowded). So if there's not at seat sales of alcohol or snacks then East Coast has to win!

The trains would be either:
EDB-KGX - East Coast
GLC-EUS - Virgin Trains

Glasgow and Edinburgh would more or less be equally accessible.
layz is online now  
Old Sep 13, 14, 1:27 pm
  #2  
Moderator: UK and Ireland & Europe, and Carbon Conscious Travel
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Biggleswade
Programs: SK*G, Lots of Blue Elsewhere
Posts: 13,513
VWC from experience offer you a fairly paltry snack box (nuts, crisps, raisins and the like) and limited tea/coffee at seat. EC have the sandwiches, which always seem to feature egg. Not seen alcohol on either, but wasn't looking.

I like the seats on both, but EC seems less cramped, and you do get airline seats (you almost always risk sitting opposite someone on Virgin.

Personally, I wouldn't use either without an M&S takeaway...
stut is online now  
Old Sep 13, 14, 1:53 pm
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mostly UK
Programs: Mucci Extraordinaire, Hilton Diamond, BA Gold (ex BD)
Posts: 10,800
Originally Posted by stut View Post
VWC from experience offer you a fairly paltry snack box (nuts, crisps, raisins and the like) and limited tea/coffee at seat. EC have the sandwiches, which always seem to feature egg. Not seen alcohol on either, but wasn't looking.

I like the seats on both, but EC seems less cramped, and you do get airline seats (you almost always risk sitting opposite someone on Virgin.

Personally, I wouldn't use either without an M&S takeaway...
I quite like the EC sandwiches (better than BA Afternoon Tea's dry nano-sandwiches) and at least they have coke as well as the hot drinks on the complimentary offer.

So EC has better seats, better complimentary offer and a closer buffet counter should I want something alcoholic or some hot food.

Those individual seats on EC have a lot going for them. But the first class on Virgin is massive (4 carriages), so getting a seat might be easier.

If I have to share a table I might as well go standard and get an M&S takeout!
layz is online now  
Old Sep 14, 14, 2:52 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: London
Posts: 1,431
Virgin at weekend offers (in theory) a tiny snack and non alcoholic drinks at seat. In practice, I've been on a few trains where this doesn't happen, in which case you're asked to walk to the buffet. On production of your first class ticket, they'll provide the snack.
That said, I prefer the Virgin services. The Pendalino trains are nice, and they have four First carriages so usually quiet at weekends. Beware the shorter Voyager trains, which have Diesel engines under the carriage which are unpleasantly noisy. The last EastCoast service I took, the train felt tired and the suspension banged and clattered the whole way: maybe I was unlucky.
rcspeirs is offline  
Old Sep 15, 14, 3:27 am
  #5  
Moderator: UK and Ireland & Europe, and Carbon Conscious Travel
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Biggleswade
Programs: SK*G, Lots of Blue Elsewhere
Posts: 13,513
That's true actually - thinking back to it, the times I've got Virgin up to Glasgow have been early Saturday morning (on a very cheap FC Advance, rather than a Weekend First upgrade) and the trains have been empty. I do find them cramped, and am disappointed by the window size, but there's no disputing that it's a smooth, lazy journey.

There are some EC trains that need some suspension work (particularly the old 125s) and some of the Mallard seats need some attention. But I find the trains far airier, and prefer the route - but then I can see that line (and the tail end of my local station) from my house, so it's definitely more convenient...
stut is online now  
Old Sep 15, 14, 5:28 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Wirral, UK
Programs: BA-Gld, BD Lifetime Gld, LH Pleb, *Wd GPG, HH-Dmd, Amex: can take their Cent card and <CENSORED>
Posts: 756
OB DISCLAIMER: I've not travelled regularly on VT for around 12 months, and my last trip was a few months ago. I've only done a few EC trips (mostly when line issues caused me to be transferred to EC) and have never travelled with them at the weekend. </DISCLAIMER>

VT:

VT in F on the GLA route can get very busy at the weekend, though this should not be a problem as long as you are boarding at one of the terminii (lots of people take advantage of the onboard weekend first upgrades, a source of some annoyance to those of us who used to pay "real" F fares and travelled one leg at the weekend).

Catering is a "snack box" (IMHO the red breakfast option is a lot better, but YMMV) plus a soft drink, water, or tea/coffee. If you are lucky they may have also stocked the fridges with water, and most weekend upgrade pax do not realise this. There only appears to be one trolley run per crew swap (so, theoretically three, but often less than that), but, again, they are a lot better at looking after pax who board at the GLC or EUS end than those who board in-between. If there is a "crew shortage" then you will be directed to show your F ticket at the shop in C to get your goodies. Coach J/K to coach C is, indeed, a bit of a marathon, (11 car pendo's go ABCDEFOGHJK - I'm sure it is just coincidence that the two coaches they added to go to 11 from 9 happen to spell "FO") and if standard is full then it is more like an assault course. No paid at-seat service at the weekend, so if you want alcohol then (preferably) bring it yourself, or get ready for the long trek.

It's really a bit of a shame, as the in-week service on VT got a lot better when the franchise renewed (better wine, addition of port with desert etc.) but the weekend offering is a bit of a joke - but still a lot better then TPE.

One thing worth noting is that if you are originating from EUS, and "pre-buy" a weekend F upgrade (i.e. buy a ticket that has the surcharge built in and is issued in F) you should be able to access the F lounge in EUS - which is a bit of a zoo at the weekend, but is still as good as it gets as far as UK rail lounges go.

EC:

Trains are more variable, but generally I find the seating in F better, though the "slam-door" carriages are a lit of a blast from the past (and a bit of a faff to open at en-route stations). From the looks of the menu card, the weekend options are slightly better food-wise than VT, but still no alcohol. Galley on EC is between F and Std, so a lot easier to reach, and I'm surprised that paid at-seat service isn't available at weekends, but it's only a maximum of 3 carriages to walk to the shop. The coastal part of the EC route is quite scenic (though so is the run through the Lake district on VT), but I'd agree that the ride can be a lot rougher on EC.

The in-week service, both in terms of food and attentiveness was universally better on EC than VT in my opinion, but VT was catching up when I stopped travelling weekly.....

I'm pretty sure that EC do not allow low-cost F tickets into their lounges, so a restricted (or upgraded) F will not get you into the lounge at EDB. (though, amusingly, an off-peak VT F ticket will )

Overall, I suspect that you may find the weekend experience on VT a bit of a disappointment if you are used to EC, but as long as you set your expectations low, then you may not be disappointed.

Willard the Bear - And you are much less likely to meet a bear on the East Coast route....
KenF is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: