There's a new page that's appeared on the East Coast website that is outlining their plans for Virgin Trains East Coast.
I appreciate Virgin making this information available and East Coast for hosting it, often at the end of a franchise the outgoing operator does not share the plans of the new operator.
So far the only bad news appears to be the abolition of the loyalty scheme.
Some key positive points from that page:
- The plan is to keep buffet cars, including on the new InterCity Express trains when they're delivered. I was concerned about this because although Virgin West Coast has 'The Shop' the other Stagecoach franchises are less keen on buffet cars. David Horne, the new MD of Virgin Trains East Coast, used to run East Midlands Trains which removed most of the buffet cars when they took over from the National Express operated Midland Mainline.
- There's a promise not to close ticket offices or reduce opening hours.
- The Headquarters will remain in York which will hopefully minimise redundancies or staff relocation.
- It looks like they're keeping the same booking engine (just rebranding it) and not using the awful West Coast booking engine that's based on thetrainline.com. East Coast have been working on providing mobile ticketing so I expect that to be one of the enhancements they're rolling out.
Of course, they also confirm that tickets purchased on eastcoast.co.uk will continue to be valid. This applies with any train operator when a franchise is changing so you can continue to book on eastcoast.co.uk with confidence.
I will say that my initial thoughts on what's proposed sounds positive. We'll see how it works out in practice but apart from the plan to abolish the loyalty scheme they seem to be heading in the right direction.