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 The reason I posted the business plan was I considered it a historical document, it covers a period of time which has already passed so it was interesting to compare what was planned for 2016-17 and what actually happened, it was also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.
What is 'TOC Wars'
It's a campaign by Virgin Trains East Coast to target customers of rival operators Grand Central and Hull Trains. The main part of the campaign is to hand out discount vouchers to passengers waiting for a Hull Trains or Grand Central service at VTEC managed stations such as Grantham and Doncaster where these rivals also operate. The discount is 30% but railcard discounts are not valid so it means railcard holders get no benefit from the promotion.
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.
The first submision is from a train guard who wants to explain why there's frequent air conditioning failures.
Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) used to hold regular feedback sessions that they branded Airtime it was the chance to meet a veriety of managers either at stations but sometimes on board the train. It was similar to the meet the manager events almost all other train operating companies arrange.
I've been told by some of the on-board crew on Virgin Trains East Coast that if the credit card machines are not working and there's no alternative method to take payment (e.g. there might be a spare handheld machine that can be used) that staff can offer items from the Foodbar complimentary.
Although I'm worried that the roll-out of electronic reservations on Virgin Trains East Coast may not go according to plan if they do roll it out successfully it will offer many benefits for passengers, but to realise the full potential it requires the DICE team (who are responsible for the app, the website and the ticket machines) to develop an app that can really exploit the benefits of this system.
Time to go VTEC
Until recently I've had a fairly open mind about the future of Virgin Trains East Coast and whether it was a management contract for Stagecoach, renationalisation or awarding the contract to another operator the only thing I particularly cared about is that a quality service was maintained for passengers and staff morale could improve. Unfortunately Virgin Trains East Coast now seems to be in full denial of their problems and won't listen to any criticism. Once known for being very open David Horne is now blocking even the mildest of criticism.