Important note: posts in the blog section on Save East Coast Rewards reflect the views of the individual poster and don't necessarily reflect the views of others involved in the campaign. ^DH
It's not often I write things critical of East Coast, after all they did have the best loyalty scheme in the UK and did a generally decent job of keeping the East Coast mainline ticking along after National Express East Coast messed up so badly. Although I think, loyalty schemes aside, Virgin Trains East Coast are mostly doing a decent job I don't think many of us would have complained if East Coast had remained running the line.
As the East Coast Mainline has become more popular services have increased in frequency and popularity. The original private operator, GNER, used the availability of excess mk 3 carriages from other operators to extend their HSTs from 8 to 9 carriages so that they were the same length as their mk 4 electric fleet. GNER ensured that these new carriages were refurbished into GNER style and blended seamlessly in with the rest of their HST carriages.
East Coast was not quite as image conscious, they received some HSTs from East Midlands Trains and although they added power sockets they kept the same seats. However, in order to keep the same seating layout as the rest of their HSTs they had to remove the centre luggage racks and put in more seats. As these seats are no longer made the seats were taken from the coach at the end (labelled B on East Coast) to fill up the spaces. This meant that coach B was left with many missing seats, also the seats that were missing a tray table (as they used to be part of back to back table seats) ended up here. To fill the gap East Coast got some seats that were surplus to requirements from First Great Western and so now coach B is a mixture of FGW seats and old British Rail seats, some without tables.
Note since this picture was taken the First Great Western seat covers have been replaced with East Midlands Trains red seat covers but they're still the same seats. Also notice the seats on the right have no pull down tray tables.
So coach B on here is in a terrible state. A mixture of seat types and you're not even guaranteed a seat back table. East Coast had these carriages since 2011 and so had no excuse not to refurbish them to East Coast standard as these trains were to be a permanent part of the East Coast fleet (until the new trains arrive in 2018), they weren't just on loan. I can be sure that if GNER had allowed a train to go out in that state it would only be temporary and would have been brought up to standard quickly.
Since taking over in March 2015 Virgin Trains East Coast are also borrowing an additional set from East Midlands Trains which means the chances of encountering these less than comfortable seats is currently higher, although the true East Midlands set does not have the bodge job of seats in the end coach as the train is still in its East Midlands configuration. If your train has sockets in standard class it means it's one East Coast received in 2011, if there's no sockets in standard then it's the set that that they're borrowing.
Virgin Trains East Coast are including these sets in the refurbishment programme so hopefully the days of these awful seats are numbered.