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.
New lounges at Leeds Bradford Airport
The lounge at Leeds station has for some reason always been the worst of the lounges at the major stations, even GNER didn't give it much love. When Virgin Trains East Coast refurbished all the lounges in March 2016 the Leeds lounge got a bit of a spruce up but it was still fundamentally lacking.
It took me a little by surprise a few weeks ago when one of the guards told me that Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) will be rolling out electronic reservations on their trains over the next few months. I've been told the system is called Densa and will offer features that other trains on the National Rail network currently don't have.
The card gives you points for everything you buy at Heathrow (except in the Post Office and Louis Vuitton) this includes the bars and restaurants as well as the shops so if you expect to spend money in the airport it's worth getting. You can also get points on the Heathrow Express.
With the launch of the new Virgin Atlantic Flying Club credit cards from Virgin Money it may be time for some people to consider whether Flying Club will be worth looking at for your Virgin Trains and Virgin Trains East Coast bookings. There's a good Head for Points article on the subject but it doesn't cover train travellers, so consider this a supplement to that article.
There's some key points to remember:
"Stay away, Stagecoach!" is one of the campaigns currently being run by pro-nationalisation campaign group "We own it", the idea of this particular campaign is to show Stagecoach (90% owners of Virgin Trains East Coast) that they believe it will be bad for their reputation if they continue to be associated with this franchise particularly if they make any more mistakes.
Here's a video promoting their campaign:
From the beginning the Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) Travel Buddy app had issues. This is a remarkable achievement for an app that just stores tickets, the other functionality it supposedly has is made by opening pages on the website.
The fares for Crossrail to Heathrow have been announced today, these fares will come into operation when TfL Rail takes over from the Heathrow Connect on the 20th May. The fares represent good value as they are capped in line with normal zone 1-6 fares so if you travel within London before or after your journey to Heathrow you will be charged a maximum of £12.50 a day if you use Oyster or contactless.
The single fares will be more expensive than the Tube but will be slightly cheaper than the current Heathrow Connect and significantly cheaper than the Heathrow Express.