Nectar - to be or not to be

The VTEC website is going down for one last time tonight (Thursday 21 June) and when it comes back it will be the LNER site. This is highly unusual as the websites usually change overnight on the day of the franchise switchover.

What we don't know for certain is whether Nectar will still be around when the site comes back up. If it returns without Nectar some people will be saying "see you're even worse off now, you've got nothing" while others will be disappointed if Nectar is still there.

Same people, different outcome?

I've heard from a number of people who are concerned that nothing will change. We've mentioned before that there is very little change at the top, the MD will be transferring to LNER as will almost all the existing directors. Understandably many think this will be just like Virgin with a new label slapped on and some say it's still Stagecoach in all but name.

This is a quote from one member of disappointed staff

I had the same optimism until the retention of the VTEC Directors was announced. I have lost all hope of ever seeing the ECML back where it should be.

A new beginning?

Like most blog posts (barring a few by ^EM) this blog is written by ^DH and represents his own views which may differ from the campaign as a whole. We're currently working on an official 'Save East Coast Rewards' statement which may differ from this and also considering what direction the campaign should take going forward (including a possible name change to indicate this is about the InterCity East Coast franchise as a whole, not just about Rewards).

Why we'll give LNER a bit of time

When Virgin Trains East Coast took over the East Coast operation from Directly Operated Railways they inherited:

  • An excellent loyalty scheme
  • A well staffed operation with high staff morale
  • Reliable ticket machines that let you purchase a ticket for today quickly
  • A website that allowed you to modify tickets, book cycles and also extras such as catering vouchers

When LNER takes over from Virgin Trains East Coast they will inherit:

Why Virgin Trains was a weaker brand in the east?

I was asked yesterday why I thought Virgin Trains was a weaker brand on the east coast than it was on the west coast. When Virgin Trains West Coast looked like they were losing their franchise in 2012 (as First had won the bid) a lot of frenzy was whipped up on social media and Virgin were encouraging people to sign the petition to retain their franchise which resulted in 174,578 signatures. 

A parliamentary mention

I don't think East Coast Rewards, never mind Save East Coast Rewards has been mentioned in parliament before. Thanks to freedom of information legislation we've been able to get a picture of how East Coast Rewards helped grow the East Coast business. When asked by the MP for Leeds North West, Alex Sobel whether we had any information on the East Coast Rewards campaign and measures that proved its success, we were happy to help provide the information that we had.


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