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.
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.
Comments in the blog section reflect my personal view only and may not reflect the views of Save East Coast Rewards as a whole
It's hard to believe that Save East Coast Rewards actually had a decent relationship with Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) from around mid-2015 but this started to fall apart in 2017.
You may have seen that the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has made an announcement today about the future of Virgin Trains on the east coast.
The Government has been considering two options for the future of the East Coast franchise to ensure continuity until the start of the planned East Coast Partnership from 2020.
I wanted to provide an update on the position regarding our contractual discussions with the Department for Transport (DfT) about the future operation of the East Coast rail franchise.
As you will recall, in recent months the Government has been conducting a detailed appraisal of two options for the future of the East Coast franchise to ensure continuity of service until the start of the planned East Coast Partnership on the route from 2020.
It seems that Virgin Trains East Coast deliberately withold information on Twitter about on-board issues such as issues with toilets, short formations, missing reservatioms and catering failures. Information about these rarely appears on Twitter but sometimes it appears on the VTEC status page. So if I get the information (e.g. from train crew) I will try and tweet the information out.
I've been asked (politely) by Virgin Trains East Coast to remove their business plan document and associated commentary. Ideally we can engage in some constructive discussion in the future rather than being ignored. The reason I posted the business plan was I considered it a historical document, it covers a period of time which has already passed so it was interesting to compare what was planned for 2016-17 and what actually happened, it was also interesting seeing their views on their first year performance.
Virgin Trains East Coast were very happy with their 92% satisfaction rating from the latest Transport Focus passenger survey. They say it's the highest rating of any long distance franchised operator, the key word here is franchised. Hull Trains and Grand Central are two of their biggest rail competitors and they both scored higher, but the key difference is they're not franchised. So to put it another way, VTEC was rated 3rd out of the four operators at King's Cross, doesn't sound as good when you put it like that does it?
We want to let the voices be heard from those who work at VTEC. We will provide an unedited and anonymous platform for VTEC staff to give their views. If you want us to publish something please contact us or send us a message on Twitter (@SaveECRewards). Please tell us that you want your message published, we will only publish content with permission. So if you work for VTEC, whether you agree or disagree with what is said, we want to hear from you.