In April 2017 new rota changes meant a different style of work on board VTEC services. The train guard became the train manager which incorporated responsibilities for on-board catering and customer service as well as the traditional safety critical role of the guard.
Although there was no compulsory redundancies they did offer voluntary redundancy which was over subscribed.
The changes did not go well to begin with but we were told they just needed to make some adjustments so we encouraged people to give their feedback if they had any issues.
The first victim of short staffing on the trains was the standard class trolley. Ever since the GNER days you could expect to have the option of either the buffet (Foodbar) or the trolley in standard class. The trolley is useful for those with limited mobility or a lone traveller who does not want to leave their possessions unattended whereas the Foodbar offers a wider range and is on demand.
In first class it became a lottery as to whether you would get the advertised catering. Although the majority of services still had the expected catering the minority of services without the advertised catering was still significant enough that it meant you couldn't depend on the catering to be provided.
Some trains without the advertised hot catering still had sandwiches available but if you were looking forward to a hot meal then getting a sandwich instead would be a significant disappointment.
VTEC made some changes to the rotas in December 2017 which had appeared to improve the reliability of the catering service and it looked at the time things were starting to improve but keeping an eye on social media shows that further improvements need to be made to ensure a dependable catering service.
At the beginning of 2018 VTEC have launched pre-ordering of food in standard class on selected services. This is instead of the planned ability to order food on demand in the app. The pre-order service only offers an extremely limited selection and is not very attractive in its current form.
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