My Virgin Trains’ Moan

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Starving after a long hard day of meetings in Edinburgh, for which I had left my house at 5am that morning, I got on the train in Edinburgh back to Crewe. I knew it was going to be a long, hard day, so had deliberately booked into first class – that way, I could sit back, relax and enjoy a hot meal and a drink and reflect over the days events in peace. Couldn’t I?
Interestingly enough, and despite Edinburgh’s Fringe starting today, the carriage had only eight people in the 1 first class carriage. I spread out my stuff on a table, and awaited the attendant with the magic pot of tea.
Just as we pulled out of the station, the attendant started at the front of the carriage taking orders for food. The choice I could hear for the first four people was between a bean or chicken risotto and egg or beef sandwiches.The two gentlemen at the front of the carriage went for the risottos. Good choice, I thought. One gentleman ordered nothing. Then, more risotto for the ladies in front of me, who were chatting away happily about the cruise they were returning from. Then the attendant approached the gentleman to my right, and he explained they just had 1 chicken risotto, 1 beef sandwich and 2 egg sandwiches left, I held my breath: DONT TAKE THE RISOTTO, PLEASE I prayed to Richard Branson….. “I will have the egg sandwich please” PHEW. So I ordered the Chicken risotto, and felt a brief pang of remorse for the three people behind me in the carriage…. sure enough, the choice of risotto had left the table. The gentleman at the back of the carriage was expressing his dissatisfaction at the lack of stock. We had all obviously booked in advance, and even if we hadn’t: surly the day before the fringe festival, they would put on a bit extra. It was not as if the train was full – there were just eight of us! I was peturbed by the tartness of the attendees reply “Well, I will have to get the train manager to speak to you”. Not only that, but the attendant returned to my seat and explained that she actually only had three risottos, and so I would have to choose from Egg or beef sandwiches. I have never eaten beef, so it was a good job I was not vegan, however, I felt the need to back up my fellow passenger by saying it was not really what I expected from first class – especially as the carriage was so empty. She walked off down the aisle, ignoring me before I had even finished my sentence.
The gentleman at the back of the train and I shrugged and raised our eyebrows – not really the service either of us were accustomed too – Virgin service in First Class was usually excellent!
Low and behold, the train manager appeared next to “number 8” and re-explained the choice of sandwiches calmly. Despite he calm and debonair explaination, it was the following statement which irked me: “your first class ticket entitles you to a seat, NOT to refreshments”.
Thats odd, I thought…. so when he came to me I expressed the same dissatisfaction, but grudgingly agreed to an egg sandwich… The interesting thing is that on the website and in the brochure it states:

(from 17:00 until 19:00 – Mon-Fri – Pendolino)
Choice of two tasty seasonal hot options (vegetarian option available).
Or a choice of a delicious sandwich or snack.
Sweet dessert like a chilled pudding or slice of cake.
Or cheese and biscuits (selected services only).

The latter two were not even offered on this journey…

Either way, all this planning went to pot, because the train manager started taking orders again from the front of the train, and the gentleman who previously did not order risotto, chose risotto, and the cruise ladies chose sandwiches, so I got my risotto.
Ain’t train travel wonderful!!

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