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Member Name: hunnybabyuk
Advantages: Cool looking designer trains
Disadvantages: Rediculous fares. heavy overcrowding on some trains
Cross Country Trains are part of the Arriva Group of companies but runs completely separate from the Arriva brand. They cover the majority of England and Southern Scotland with trains linking most major towns & cities outside London. The franchise is most of the old Virgin Cross Country network plus some of the old Central Trains franchise. It began operating under the name Cross County Trains on 11th November 2011.
The routes run to most major towns & cities across England and also up into the Southern parts of Scotland (Edinburgh/Glasgow). I think the network is very large it offers great choice and trains run all day, everyday across the entire network from as far south as Bournemouth/Exeter to as far as Edinburgh & Scotland running over the length of the country. This means that availability is very good, I don't remember ever having problems getting trains with Cross Country at the times I wanted them.
The trains are very easy to spot, they are black at the very front & end (where the drivers cabs are at each end) and then Silver on the outside for the rest of the carriages with pink/red coloured doors and a cross painted from top to bottom on the drivers cab. Inside the trains resemble the same as Virgin Trains West Coast fleet, this is because Virgin used the same trains on the Cross County franchise as they do on the West Coast route and the trains were handed over to Arriva when they won the franchise off Virgin. So you can expect them to be very modern & stylish. I think they are definitely the best designed interior on the National Rail network, the seats are a mix of red & blue, they face both directions so you can sit back to travel or facing travel. Most seats are comfortable and look clean & tidy but the coloring of the seats have faded in some places where they have been heavily used, this could do with being sorted as it makes it look a bit cheap. The seat reservations are done using an electronic scoller above the seats; I think this makes it look more clean & tidy unlike some other operators who stick bits of card in the seats to show the seat reservation.
There is no longer an onboard shop on Cross Country Trains, this was removed to create more seating & luggage storage space, it received a lot of criticism from passengers but they still offer an at-seat buffet drinks trolley during the main core of the day on most of the network. As with other operators the prices are hiked up, Cross Country isn't too bad but I always try get stuff to take with me from Tesco or ASDA or get something from the station with my BITE discount card before I board, it saves money but if it's a long journey sometimes I do indulge in a nice cup of tea (they also do Starbucks on Cross Country Trains now which is brilliant). If you do want to purchase food or drink onboard they do have a nice selection of snacks, sandwiches and hot & cold drinks, including alcohol.
Toilets can be found throughout the train, depending on the train type and they are usually very clean & in full working order. They have a HUGE disabled toilet with electronic door on trains aswell, this provides a lot of room for people who need space and passengers in wheelchairs so they are well catered for too.
Staff are generally very friendly and helpful, never had any problems with Cross County staff, trains or services and will definitely continue to use them subject to fares not being ridiculously expensive, try get Cross Country Advance fares to save money and use a railcard if you're entitled to one.
Although I generally have had no problems with ontime trains with CrossCountry there has been a very occasions where there was delays and trains have been over crowded (both during delays and when things are running smoothely) so this is why I haven't rated them a 5.
Summary: Not a bad operator but could improove
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