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Virgin Trains Loses CrossCountry Franchise  
User currently offlineConcordeMach2 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2005, 147 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 1962 times:

Pretty crap.
I guess that means saying goodbye to the comfortable tilting Voyagers anywhere south or east of Birmingham. I have heard that Arriva, the successful bidder plans to put HSTs on the routes. Looks like its back to hand operated doors and roll down windows on non tilting 30 year old trains.

Too bad in my opnion, apart from some overcrowding, I didnt mind Virgin.

Matt

31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20640 posts, RR: 62
Reply 1, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 1958 times:

Has the busting up of BritishRail and putting all the routes into private hands really worked? From what I've read, the results seem inconsistent at best.


International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineMhodgson From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2002, 5047 posts, RR: 25
Reply 2, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 1934 times:

So what will happen to the Voyagers if they are not to remain with the franchise? Virgin could use them on the West Coast, but then there isn't much demand for them; they'd only really be useful for the Holyhead services.


No trees were harmed by this message. However, several million electrons were terribly inconvenienced
User currently offlineTrekster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 1902 times:

Its crap, and I hope Virgin get it back. They are looking for a hearing to see why they did not keep it. It should of been their route untill 2015. Arriva are crap, and the services will be the same. From a reliable source (a train spotter who need not be mentioned lol) im told Arriva are only taking some of the voyagers, with the resto going to there West coast op from BHX. I cant belive there going to bring the old roling stock of 125's back though. Its so outdate and going to take the route back 10 years. As well as them saying there going to increase train prices, who will be celebrating them coming onto the route, Not me!!

User currently offlineEWS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 1896 times:

As a rail driver, its pretty shocking to hear this..

Virgin are actually very professional in what they do, and how they do it.. their trains (most of) are top notch.. Arriva are poor, their stock is outdated, and going back to HST's.. well.. frankly, god help the modern day rail passenger..

Bring on the freight!! (No Passengers, No Delays due to leaves on the lines!)

Lew  cheerful 


User currently offlineTrekster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 1888 times:

Quoting EWS (Reply 4):

Could not agree more Lew, Arriva taking over is BAD news for us train users

 Sad


User currently offline777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 1852 times:

The Voyagers are cheap and nasty. Virgin Cross-Country was a terrible franchise that any passenger would be happy to see rid of. Hopefully Arriva taking over will have some positive effects, like it did when they got the 'Northern Spirit' franchise. Now all we need to get rid of is FGW.

User currently offlineGkirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 24936 posts, RR: 56
Reply 7, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 1850 times:

Quoting 777236ER (Reply 6):
The Voyagers are cheap and nasty.

They aren't that bad! Fair enough, they are nowhere near the standard of the Pendolino's but I wouldn't say the Voyagers were cheap and nasty. I would, however, say they were too small, which leads me to another point...Transpennine Express getting the Manchester-Scotland routes...will they be getting decent sized trains for this or use their 185s which are even smaller than the Voyagers currently used?



When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently offlineGkirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 24936 posts, RR: 56
Reply 8, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 1847 times:

Quoting EWS (Reply 4):
Bring on the freight!!

Don't get me started on you lot! EWS and Freightliner are the cause of many a delay on the Glasgow-Carlisle via Dumfries line. Although parts of this line are now being upgraded to double track.



When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently onlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26495 posts, RR: 75
Reply 9, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 1845 times:

Quoting ConcordeMach2 (Thread starter):

I guess that means saying goodbye to the comfortable tilting Voyagers anywhere south or east of Birmingham. I have heard that Arriva, the successful bidder plans to put HSTs on the routes. Looks like its back to hand operated doors and roll down windows on non tilting 30 year old trains.

Hey, HSTs aren't exactly uncomfortable, but I get the point

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 1):
Has the busting up of BritishRail and putting all the routes into private hands really worked? From what I've read, the results seem inconsistent at best.

All it has done is make things more complicated and more expensive for rail travelers and allowed private companies to make profits on direct injections from taxpayers.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offline777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 1832 times:

Quoting Gkirk (Reply 7):

They aren't that bad! Fair enough, they are nowhere near the standard of the Pendolino's but I wouldn't say the Voyagers were cheap and nasty. I would, however, say they were too small, which leads me to another point...Transpennine Express getting the Manchester-Scotland routes...will they be getting decent sized trains for this or use their 185s which are even smaller than the Voyagers currently used?

The Voyagers are crap compared to the Meridian and Pioneers, which is what Bombardier should have done first time around. The Voyagers are too noisy, overcrowded, the toilets smell and the interiors are cheap and plasticy. But at least they have big windows, unlike the Pendolinos.

The 185s are quite nice. The problems with them are the doors should be at the end of the carriages instead of 1/3 and 2/3 of the way along, they're a bit noisy and they're a bit bouncy (ever tried using a laptop on one? I've been close to throwing up). But apart from that the interiors are much nicer than the voyagers, the air con is awesome, the windows are huge and they're quite fast. If there's enough frequency the size shouldn't be a problem.


User currently offlineMyt332 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 9112 posts, RR: 70
Reply 11, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 1808 times:

Quoting Trekster (Reply 3):
From a reliable source (a train spotter who need not be mentioned lol) im told Arriva are only taking some of the voyagers, with the resto going to there West coast op from BHX

I told you, I'm not a bleeding trainspotter! I'm just a commuter in the know.

Quoting 777236ER (Reply 10):
The Voyagers are crap compared to the Meridian and Pioneers, which is what Bombardier should have done first time around. The Voyagers are too noisy, overcrowded, the toilets smell and the interiors are cheap and plasticy

I wouldn't go as far as to say the Voyagers are crap in comparison. Ok, it's a fact they are not as technically up to date but most of the improvements in the later class are behind the scenes, you know, to make sure the toilets don't explode or things catch fire behind the cab. I was on a First Hull Trains Pioneer the other day and I really felt as a passenger that the interior was naff compared to Virgin's! That is just personal preference though.

In a Dft press release it is stated that there will be internal changes on the Voyager trains that go to Arriva that will provide for a 20-25% increase in luggage storage space. This however is to be achieved by taking out one toilet and by removing the onboard shop.

The HST's (125's/Class 43's) will be leased in as 4 sets with approx 9 carriages each for operation on long distance services and will be refurbished to the standard of the existing Voyager Trains. GNER and First Great Western still use HST's so I don't see this greatly as an issue although saying that I was on a GNER HST the other day and I found the ride quality completely inferior to a Voyager! That was in First class as well.

Quoting 777236ER (Reply 10):
The 185s are quite nice. The problems with them are the doors should be at the end of the carriages instead of 1/3 and 2/3 of the way along, they're a bit noisy and they're a bit bouncy (ever tried using a laptop on one? I've been close to throwing up). But apart from that the interiors are much nicer than the voyagers, the air con is awesome, the windows are huge and they're quite fast. If there's enough frequency the size shouldn't be a problem.

I tend to agree that from a passengers point of view the door locations aren't the best (you get cold in winter!) but you have to remember that this was a request from First TransPennine that stemmed from the inability to board and deboard passengers quick enough back when it was First North Western and they had the class 175's.The 175's, which funnily enough are now with Arriva albeit in Wales, were basically badly designed and implemented for the routes they were used on (Manchester Airport - Blackpool/Windemere/Barrow via Preston). Granted from a passengers point of view they were comfortable but with frequent stops along the way, they weren't ideal. FNW weren't the smartest franchise but they haven't been around since the timetable change in December 2004.

The 185's all in all are a great improvement over anything the North West has ever had on commuter routes. The addition on Frist Class on routes via Preston came as somewhat of a shock to the regular punters causing a bit of a stir in places but things seem to have calmed down now and they've accepted they have to pay to stay in there. I'm one of the few who pay the extra for a First Season to get to work but the great thing is I'm always guaranteed a seat at rush hour thanks to the low cost nature of the Northern people. Northern, now there is a franchise that should be put back up for grabs, not Virgin! True bollocks.

However, whilst I do think that TPE and their new units are pretty impressive I just do not think running them up to Glasgow and Edinburgh is a great move. A 3 car Pennine versus a 4 or 5 car Voyager isn't going to work well and like said above, the tendency for the 185's to bounce around a little isn't going to be much of a plus for Rab C (Gkirk) after a few cans heading back home.

One last note is that from December when the new XC franchise starts Arriva will only run the trains as far north as Manchester which leaves Birmingham-Scotland in the capable hands of West Coast Trains Ltd, a member of the Virgin group. This franchise will get (see: keep) a set amount of Voyager's for this operation. I feel it's a shame Virgin lost XC and I sure do not look forward to the interim with Arriva XC and the lack of brand awareness. Can anybody say red and silver voyager with faded Virgin decals overlayed with badly applied lime green and yellow Arriva decals with an interior of red and blue seats with Arriva headrests? You just know it's coming. Hopefully though their refurbished 170's don't somehow find their way to Manchester one day for the 7 hour ride to Cornwall. That really would be taking the biscuit.



One Life, Live it.
User currently offlineCornish From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 8187 posts, RR: 54
Reply 12, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 1806 times:

Quoting 777236ER (Reply 6):
Now all we need to get rid of is FGW.

 checkmark  Currently one good reason for me to always drive or fly home to Cornwall.


I suspect Virgin won't get too upset if they then get awarded the East Coast mainline franchise. They're able to use the monster subsidy they've been awarded at the tax payers expense on the West coast to bid for the East Coast route.



Just when I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, it was some B*****d with a torch bringing me more work
User currently offlineKieron747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 1806 times:

Quoting Myt332 (Reply 11):

A very informative post.  Smile

Quoting Myt332 (Reply 11):
I'm not a bleeding trainspotter! I'm just a commuter in the know.

Yeah riiiight!..  Wink


It's OK for me, I only travel (rarely) from London to Smoke-on-Trent, so it don't bother me!

Kieron747


User currently offlineEXTspotter From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 992 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 1758 times:

I hate the sound of that. I use the route between Newton Abbot and Cheltenham. The voyagers are great on the inside and outside. I would even go to London via Birmingham if I had to because I find the Great western HST (MK3) economy seats really uncomfortable. The lumbar support is horrifying. If Arriva starts using HSTs on the route with their reputation, I am gonna start doing my best to avoid them Newton Abbot - Plymouth - Plymouth Airport - Bristol Airport and get a lift from there to Cheltenham.

Alex @ EXT



AF BE BY FR MV PD SZ U2 VZ DHC6, 8-3/4Q, 732/8, 763ER, A319, A380
User currently offlinePlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11655 posts, RR: 60
Reply 15, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 1750 times:

Quoting EXTspotter (Reply 14):
The lumbar support is horrifying. If Arriva starts using HSTs on the route with their reputation, I am gonna start doing my best to avoid them Newton Abbot - Plymouth - Plymouth Airport - Bristol Airport and get a lift from there to Cheltenham.

That's interesting - exactly what I do to avoid the Voyagers! They might not be cheap and nasty, but they are poorly designed; Bombardier paid a lot of money set up a team of experts to remedy the faults on them during design and early production, found out if was going to cost them a packet, so proceeded to ignore all the recommendations the team made. Aside from that they have abysmal legroom leaving your knees jamming into a hard metal seat, not enough room for luggage which means it overflows into the corridor to trip people over, doors which like to eat people and don't even get me started about the toilets - always going wrong and just WHY do you need an electric door which takes half an hour to open and close. I could understand if it was only installed next to the disabled section.

The FGW HST's are going to get a interior face-lift and, as Arriva will do the same when they take theirs over they will be fresh and not old and tired. So, as long as they keep the frequencies the same (with so few units to start I'm not sure if they will), this would represent a massive increase in capacity which the route badly needs - they are packed at both ends of the day leaving New Street and full the rest of the time, so a HST with 8 coaches every half hour over a Voyager with 4 will be much, much better. Even better the engines will be in the right place - not underneath the floor so ride comfort will be much improved - after 2 hours on a Voyager you really know it.

Quoting Myt332 (Reply 11):
Hopefully though their refurbished 170's don't somehow find their way to Manchester one day for the 7 hour ride to Cornwall. That really would be taking the biscuit.

Isn't that what the 158s and occasionally 150s do already? Taken it a few times and it's a pain in the arse, literally!


Dan Smile



...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
User currently onlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26495 posts, RR: 75
Reply 16, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1727 times:

Quoting Myt332 (Reply 11):

I told you, I'm not a bleeding trainspotter! I'm just a commuter in the know.

Whatever you say, Rentboy.  Silly



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineEWS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1720 times:

Quoting Gkirk (Reply 7):
Transpennine Express getting the Manchester-Scotland routes...will they be getting decent sized trains for this or use their 185s which are even smaller than the Voyagers currently used?

I did hear they are actually taking delivery of 5 car units..

Lew


User currently offlineEXTspotter From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 992 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1717 times:

8 Hours on a 150. That would be bad. I wonder if there are any left with the "Branch Lines of Devon and Cornwall" Liveries they had when they were Wessex Trains.

For Plymspotter:
I am weird in my proportions, i.e. my legs are normal size, but my torso is quite tall, so the small legroom isn't so bad, the Lumbar support is quite high on the 221s? So ideal for me.

P.S. the very very worst train to go long distance on is a 153, they are usually attached to 150s to make 3 car sets for Plymouth/Exeter - Bristol/Cardiff. Exeter - Bristol is horrible on them, the windows are too high, even for me. Its worse when the 150 I usually take from Newton Abbot - Torre (for school) is replaced by 2 153s coupled together. Its usually standing room only because there is about 300 people crammed onto a 2 car set. Yet even though it is well known that more rolling stock is needed for most commutery services, they are cutting back. Some days, it is 300 on a single 153 so they can use the extra one for Bristol services.

Alex @ EXT (Newton Abbot)

P.S. 300 people can fit in a 153 if all the seats are taken and people are standing in every possible nook and cranny within the carriage. If there is a bay of 2 seats, there will be 3 people on the 2 seats and 2 or 3 standing in the legspace. It is schoolchildren, but we all carry bags and most are the size of regular adults.

[Edited 2007-07-13 23:23:35]

[Edited 2007-07-13 23:26:16]


AF BE BY FR MV PD SZ U2 VZ DHC6, 8-3/4Q, 732/8, 763ER, A319, A380
User currently offlineEXTspotter From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 992 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1701 times:

For commuters around here (Mainly):
Small stations on mainline (Ivybridge, Teignmouth, Dawlish...):
150 - FGW
153 - FGW
158 - FGW
Medium stations on mainline (Newton Abbot, Totnes, Tiverton Parkway...):
150 - FGW
153 - FGW
158 - FGW
159 - SWT
Most:
HST - FGW
Voyager - Virgin
Large Stations on mainline (Plymouth, Exeter...):
150 - FGW
153 - FGW
158 - FGW
159 - SWT
All:
HST - FGW
Voyager - Virgin



AF BE BY FR MV PD SZ U2 VZ DHC6, 8-3/4Q, 732/8, 763ER, A319, A380
User currently offlineSQNo1 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 687 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1693 times:

The reason why Virgin lost the cross country franchise was simply because it was not prepared to bring the HST back into service. Arriva plans to make a number of changes to the voyager units, the shop is to be removed, instead there will be at-seat catering for all passengers, one toilet per unit is to be taken out and also the luggage units, which we can all agree with are poor to say the least, well these are to be redesigned.

It does hurt most that by the end of this year, places such as Plymouth, Exeter and Bristol will have no links to stations such as Preston, Lancaster and Edinburgh and direct services to Glasgow Central will all go via the east coast and Edinburgh, significantly impacting on journey times.

This is all courtesy of our wonderful department of transport, who seem to think the best idea for increasing capacity is by reducing the number of seats available on trains, to have slower units operating services and the trains which were intended to be used alongside Virgin's pendolino units as the basis for spending £9bn on the upgrade of the west coast main line will no longer exist.

If there was a compromise, I would have personally suggested reducing the number of voyager services running up to Glasgow Central on the west coast main line from the south west from the current 5 to two or three and day, then providing passengers with connection oppurtunities with Virgin Pendolino servies at Tamworth station, thus avoiding change of trains at the heavily overcrowded Birmingham New Street.

Congrats to Arriva for winning the franchise anyways!

Alex  Smile


User currently onlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26495 posts, RR: 75
Reply 21, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 1674 times:

Quoting SQNo1 (Reply 20):
instead there will be at-seat catering for all passengers

Which probably translates to that crap, ripoff push cart that I saw on the former Trenau Arriva Cymru service out of Waterloo



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineGkirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 24936 posts, RR: 56
Reply 22, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 1668 times:

Quoting SQNo1 (Reply 20):
The reason why Virgin lost the cross country franchise was simply because it was not prepared to bring the HST back into service.

Which many people would have thought a good decision considering the age of the HST.
Now Arriva will bring higher fares, crap old trains and piss poor onboard service.

Well done the UK government



When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently offlineGkirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 24936 posts, RR: 56
Reply 23, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 1668 times:

Quoting EWS (Reply 17):
I did hear they are actually taking delivery of 5 car units..

Should trains that slow be on the WCML anyway?  Wink



When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently offlineBA787 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2006, 2596 posts, RR: 7
Reply 24, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 1630 times:

I think this may be a blessing in disguise.

Although Virgin are pretty good service wise, the Voyagers were never really up to scratch. My family and I used to do the Leeds To Edinburgh/Pitlochry runs quite frequently using either GNER or Virgin or Scotrail. We have only stopped recently due to a death in the family which meant we no longer needed to travel up to my Dad's roots as much. As passengers we always preferred the service and comfort offered by GNER, on (at the time) the knackered 125/225 stock. The seats may have been worn out but they were miles ahead of the Voyager in terms of comfort, the cabin was more aesthetically pleasing and more relaxing to be in and th trains were quiet.
The Voyagers were always noisy and meant that sleep was quite often difficult. DVTs are okay on the regional runs, but on a longer leg they get quite tiring. The food onboard GNER was also miles ahead of the cheapness that Virgin offered. Coupled with the newly refurbished interiors that the 125/225s are getting with GNER, its going to be better. We travelled on the newly refurbished ones the other week and where the old ones failed, the new ones excel, making GNER our top choice when travelling by train. I still think its a great travesty that they lost the franchise on a route which I think they have maintained very well.

So I think as long as Arriva make sure the HSTs are nicely done out inside and they keep the very pleasant Virgin staff, it may actually be better overall. As long as the trains are suitably modernised it should be ok. That said, Arriva aren't that fantastic. When they used to operate the Airedale Line, the service was pretty poor. Northern are not much better. I think it would have been better for First to take it, they have made a real difference to Scotrail, who, in my experience, are very good.

My $0.02 Big grin

BA787


25 ConcordeMach2 : Theyre not that bad! I was on a packed service down to London today and sat in First class with a saver return ticket! UPDATE: Arriva claim that they
26 Post contains images Gkirk : Hopefully the Super Voyagers Regards to the 185s...no way in hell would I want to go in one of those from Carlisle to Manchester. That would be too l
27 Post contains images Gordonsmall : Silence you miserable excuse for a train spotter! Just do what any sensible person does and drive yourself there!
28 N1120A : Has anyone actually done that? Honestly, I think opening your own door on the train is kind of fun and that a well kept HST is still an excellent loo
29 Post contains images PlymSpotter : Yes the 153's are not nice on long journies, nor are the 150's which I've taken up to Exeter a few times. The worst though was on a 142/3, can't reme
30 Petertenthije : If I am not mistaken the Virgin rolling-stock was fairly new. Does the DoT run the risk that train operators will no longer invest in new equipment ou
31 EXTspotter : I once went on a 142/3 from Bristol TM - Taunton. I completely agree with you Plymspotter. However, those are used in the bristol area and of the loca
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