It's not uncommon for companies to give special offers to encourage new customers or indeed to win back former customers but there is a major issue with the way Virgin Trains East Coast handles this. The only appear to care about attracting new customers (even if they're just occasional customers on very cheap fares) and neglecting those who travel regularly even if they're spending a lot.
A lot of 2017 was spent covering the failings of Virgin Trains East Coast. It's easy to forget that they did some good things too. Let's look at some of the positives.
Hop on Board
After GNER stopped selling bottled guest ales in 2002 there's not been anything in the way of interesting beer on board. On the west coast Virgin Trains had partnered with a local brewery to make Tilting Ale and so it was nice to see Virgin Trains East Coast come up with Hop on Board brewed by Rudgate Brewery in the Vale of York.
Although Stagecoach were quick to issue a statement after this week's news that their franchise was in trouble, we've not heard anything so far from Virgin. Although Virgin only own 10% of Virgin Trains East Coast they're always happy to take the credit when things are going well and also act as the face of the company when some publicity is needed.
What we'd like to see from a new East Coast
It's time to ensure that going forward the East Coast franchise needs to remember to be more customer focused. Although it's easy to think of the VTEC route as a captive market there's actually a lot of competition.
The future of VTEC
At the moment there's a lot of information going round saying that Stagecoach can't meet their financial obligations with Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) but it's difficult to accurately comment until we get further information.
Cycling on Virgin Trains
This is about Virgin Trains West Coast. I normally write about East Coast but this is the blog section and I can be off topic. My blog post about bikes on Virgin Trains East Coast actually talked about the booking engine (which has sadly been replaced) more than the actual experience of taking the bike on the train. As that was my first trip taking my bike on a train I had nothing else to compare it to.
Whenever the press notice the prices of anytime tickets there follows a bunch of articles where they compare a ticket bought on the day with a cheap holiday flight bought well in advance.
There's two main points -
For the second year in a row Heathrow Airport has cut the fees charged to airlines operating domestic flights. The intention of this is to encourage airlines to start new domestic destinations in the hope to gather more support for airport expansion from these areas. Heathrow is billing the 3rd runway as a project that benefits the whole of the UK so they want to ensure there's services from all areas of the UK to Heathrow to connect to their global network of flights.