|Image from National Railway|
< NRM Blog carries image of pre-LNER East Coast Route poster
A few years ago the timetable was shaken up to match better the needs of the age, and the First Class service was reinvented to provide complimentary refreshments including light but worthwhile hot meals with beer, wine and spirits as well as good tea, coffee and soft drinks and snacks. Also new was a loyalty scheme without rival. Reward points could be spent on a variety of fripperies as with most of these schemes, but for me the only thing to do was to keep saving them until I could afford the package of four First Class single tickets so that a trip to Scotland could be made to enjoy the first-class hospitality of East Coast First Class! By buying all my tickets through the company's website I was able to acquire enough points to make about one free trip per year. All of these have been described in this blog, and I thought it would be good to provide a list of references to posts about these and other significant East Coast postings by way of saying goodbye to what has been a great few years.
Almost all my trips begin and end with Cross Country Trains because they provide most of my local service, but a good proportion include a change at Peterborough into or out of an East Coast train, and the feeling of settling into a first class seat at a reserved table with my coffee mug awaiting me and staff ready to bring me all I need is a feeling hard to beat.
The new company, Virgin Trains East Coast, is taking over from 1st March, a consortium 10% Virgin and 90% Stagecoach. How much of this wonderful service they will continue is hard to gauge. Of course all the publicity says it is an exciting new service, but it will almost certainly continue much the same for quite a while, but with red paint. The one certainty, though, from Day One, is that the Rewards scheme is ending immediately. We have until September to spend the points already accumulated but now can only earn the next-to worthless "Nectar" points: no more free travel. They can be used in part payment for Virgin advance tickets, but will only save the sort of amount that Waitrose give away as coffee every time one visits their stores! If this is a sign of things to come, and now that Stagecoach and Virgin have a monopoly on main line service between London and the north, then I fear that the first class First Class might be ready for a downgrade, too. I know that Virgin currently have a similar offering on the West Coast Main Line already, but do they need to maintain it now that they've bought out the competition? We shall see.
So, the end of a great era. Goodbye, East Coast, and thanks for everything!
Here are the links to my "adventures" on East Coast:
|One for the road?|
- West Highland Adventure
- The Highland Chieftain, the bargain trip of a lifetime!
- More of an adventure than expected
- Stamford to London via Lincoln
- The Far North!
- Will I still get my breakfast?
- The York Adventure
- Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat
- The Blue Eyed Maid
- The North Yorkshire Pullman
- An Evening in the City
- In the Teeth of the Hurricane!
- North Lincolnshire, a different world
- Tyneside Adventure without Gin