Newest Review: ... bold and stands out well and isn't too cluttered. It's very easy to navigate with a simple text menu at the top, by clicking these links ... more
Member Name: hunnybabyuk
Advantages: Clean modern fresh looking trains that are regular & cheap with advance tickets
Disadvantages: Mega-ridiculous fares if not booked in advance
Virgin, owned by Sir Richard Branson, is one of the UK's most recognised brands and they have a variety of different companies including an airline, telecoms operator and of course Virgin Trains.
Virgin Trains started operating back in January 1997 when it commenced train services on the Cross Country route which was run for just over 10 years until November 2007 when Arriva CrossCountry took over the franchise. The West Coast franchise (inter-city west coast franchise) which is known today as the Virgin Trains network started in March 1997 and was to finish in December 2012 but a u-turn on the government has mean't Virgin will continue to run the network for a little while longer whilst investigations take place into how franchises are bid for.
The Virgin Trains website is very easy on the eye, its bold and stands out well and isn't too cluttered. It's very easy to navigate with a simple text menu at the top, by clicking these links it takes you to a page for that part of the website i.e. 'Travel Updates' and then a second menu will appear underneath with relative info, this makes it so easy to use and not so hard to look at it and find what your after. I have booked tickets via this site before and thats very easy. The main homepage has a search box on the left, very easy to use just follow the promts and type in what it asks. The booking process is fast and uses HTTPS a secure system to encrypt card payments so its extremely safe.
FARES & TICKETS
As with all operators they give great value advance fares, I always try to get these as their walk-up fares (standard fares you buy on the day or can use on practically any service) are expensive. I don't mind sticking to a specific train and having less or no flexibility as I like the massive savings this can bring. For example I got a Manchester to London ticket for £19 but a normal standard ticket was over £100 for the exact same train.
Their are 6 routes (timetables A - F) stretching from Scotland in the North to London Euston where all lines end up or start off (except timetable F). Trains run upto every 20mins along the core route of Scotland/Manchester to London so if you miss one, you usually have just a 20 minute wait for the next.
They are very easy to spot in their current livery (design) with a silver, red & yellow scheme on the outside I think they look great, very modern and eye catching. They operate a new type of train called a Pendalino which tilts and is very sleek & modern, along with Voyager trains. Inside they are always so clean & tidy, and even after having them for a few years they are still looking as fresh & new as when they first came out. They are spacious too, the seat pitch isn't always so great but if you get a table seat these are fantastic, theres loads of luggage space too and the onboard shop offers a great selection of drinks & snacks although as with all train operators prices are dearer than normal shops so pop to the supermarket or local shop before going onboard as it works out cheaper.
The train crew are always polite & friendly, the staff at Manchester Picadilly not so much so, but the ones at London Euston are friendly & polite. Sadly I have just had a minor ticket issue and wanted to give them more money but their lack of empowerment at their Customer Service Centre has mean't I can not. Apart from that their customer service is great.
Summary: Highly recommended