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A Punctual, Quiet Train - Where!?
Member Name: Waikie
Date: 21/06/01, updated on 21/06/01 (179 review reads)
Advantages: Frequent service, Newer trains on the way
Disadvantages: Value fares not always available, Never quiet
I used to hate Virgin Trains, old trains, expensive fares, noisy, crowded, late - etc.
Then I had a think - All the other franchises are the same or worse (The joke that is Connex). Also, as Virgin XCountry is the only way for me to get to the Midlands and beyond from where I live, I should learn to love them!
Ok - some facts in their favour - Every week from last month until sometime next year, Virgin are taking delivery of super-duper tilting Voyager and Pendolino trains. It's not all fibs, i've even seen one! Now they look the part, more spacious, faster etc, but without lifting more restrictions on the network what's the point? Well it's hardly their fault is it - Richard Branson (PR guru that he tries to be) even suggested that if Railtrack would let them, Virgin would take responsibility for the maintenance of signals and track on it's own lines. They'd rather take the rap for their own misdeeds, than take it for Railtrack's you see.
All the franchises get flak for late trains - it's not their fault! I agree they need to clean the trains more often, hurry up and replace the old old (diesel) engines and carriages on the central XCountry route (Bournmemouth/Portsmouth - Edinburgh/Glasgow) and try to be more honest with fares.
Ok - negative points - this Virgin Value lark - it's all a sham - Although i've managed to work it out now and so usually get the half price ticket i deserve after all those years of silly high fares.
Euston trains don;t benefit - the route as far as Milton Keynes is maintained by Silverlink - also the Sheffield - Newcastle route is on GNER routes so that doesn't work either. Also weekends sometimes play up - you just have to shout at the ticket seller or the web site til it complies!
I must say that although currently slow, it's a faster service and less cramped than the National Express services, and as long as you steer clear of the utte
r robbery that is the buffet car, you should be ok.
Sense will tell you not to travel on Fridays or Bank holidays - everyone else does though!, i'm lucky enough to usually have time to get mid-morning or afternoon trains on weekdays (it's a bit like picking a quiet flight!).
My last moan is the Quiet coach thing - most franhises have them now - supposed mobile free zones. I have a mobile (don't we all?), but appreciate the chance to sit quietly and read without it for a few hours on a journey - but the signs are flagrantly abused by people, who delight in playing annoying tunes on their phones and talking as loudly as possible. I usually wait til the guard comes round then ask the person what they think they're doing. I get dirty looks but i don't care - What's the rule for if it isn't used?!
Right - rant over - in summary, if that's possible; Virgin are improving, with newer trains, cheap fares at the moment and efforts to improve customer service. They get too much misdirected flak about timeliness, mostly due to Railtrack (maybe they should just renationalise that bit), and mostly offer a better service than the Coach, and certainly more environmentally and socially friendly than the car.
Use the trains before they fall apart - our fares are the only way they can justify borrowing money of banks to improve the service!