Why we're posting VTEC status updates
You may have wondered why some mornings we're posting status updates for Virgin Trains East Coast. Wouldn't it make sense if VTEC posted these themselves?
The reason we're doing this is because Virgin Trains East Coast normally withholds information from the social media channels which would benefit certain passengers. We originally posted catering information under the #CateringLottery hashtag. The information about catering issues used to be sent out every day to the train guards. Although this information was available to staff it was only in exceptional circumstances it was passed to passengers despite the official VTEC status pages having a catering section, it's rarely used.
We believe it's better that passengers are informed. If they know about catering issues on board they can choose to make alternative arrangements (bring their own food on-board or take a different train if their ticket allows for it). If you're on the train over four hours going to Edinburgh and expecting to receive food it can make for a much worse experience if it's not provided and you weren't able to make alternative arrangements.
VTEC disagreed with us. When we started printing catering updates they just stopped sending this information out to staff meaning they couldn't pass it on to us. These days the only times we get catering updates is if a member of staff on an affected train informs us or there's a more significant issue such as the whole catering coach being removed for maintenance.
So now the info we tweet out is mostly issues with accessible toilets and short formations (e.g. 8 carriages instead of 9). They need to still provide the accessible toilet information to staff and it also needs to appear on the website although rather than listing them all for the day they only appear a couple of hours before departure. They won't give accessibility information over social media despite this being of use for some.
We also send out any other useful information we get our hands on such as ticket offices closing early, set swaps and occasionally list the workings of particular sets that may be of interest to some (e.g. special liveries).
We can't guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. Barring any typos, it is accurate when the info is sent over, but sometimes there's a delay in posting. As the day progresses set swaps may occur particularly during disruption. It's also possible that the info may not be complete particularly if something breaks during the day.
Use this info as a guide, if one of your trains is listed as having limited facilities you may want to check with VTEC what arrangements are available.
We're hoping that posting this information highlights that VTEC deliberately limits the information available. Hopefully LNER will be more open in this regard and we can then stop these posts.