View Full Version : Why Virgin WestCoast will never threaten airlines for UK travel

12th Dec 2004, 07:00
I booked Mrs IB on the 12.35 Virgin WestCoast service for today from Watford Junction to Manchester Piccadilly, six weeks ago. I was told it was too early to reserve a seat at the time, but to ring back 10 days before travel. It appeared more convenient than flying from LHR to MAN at the time and the onward travel was better.
On phoning on the appointed day, Mrs IB was told the train did not exist, but a train now ran at 12.22, which was a different train and not the original one retimed to allow for reduced running speeds...even though arrival time at Manchester was the same.
On trying to book a seat for this new train, she was told that all bookable seats for this service had gone and that she couldn't reserve a seat anyway, as I had made the original booking for her and I would have to reserve her seat.
After hitting the roof with a "dear" person at Virgin's Scottish phone centre, who insisted that he was trying to be helpful, but was being anything but that, I was put through to a supervisor, who said she had done me a favour and rebooked Mrs IB on the 14.25 ex Watford and reserved her a non-reservable seat. (???)....which she wasn't supposed to do..but in the circumstances etc.
I then checked on the connection to Stalybridge from Man Picc...a seven minute journey,normally......operated by First Trans Pennine.
Another problem.....due to engineering work the service from Man Picc was not running and had been replaced by a bus operating from Manchester Victoria..the other side of the City centre. Mrs IB would have to catch the Underground between the two stations. I pointed out that Manchester does not have an Underground and did they mean a tram...they didn't know. However, they did know that there was no assistance available for the transfer for people with luggage. You are on your own was basically the comment, unless you are disabled..then you must phone another department..Not Virgin's problem as connection was in the hands of First NorthWestern..end of story.
Journey time increased from seven minute to 58 for this short journey as a result. Time on phone to Virgin's phone centre 50 minutes.
One final point, Virgin's online booking service lets you go all the way to the payment page, before advising you that unless you live in the UK, you can't book online and need to phone!
Never again!:mad: :mad:
Back to BA or bmi and a taxi.

12th Dec 2004, 20:24
Oh the joys of railway Privatisation!

Sorry folks, but it makes one smile after being pilloried for years about being incompetent, inefficient, lazy, and many other similar criticisms.

In BR we were constanttly being told how the Private sector could do better, than we.

To misquote....the public now have the railway they deserve.

IB's Desk
13th Dec 2004, 10:38
Mrs IB actually rang in. Very impressed with tilting train and baggage placed in special baggage hold at front of train, rather than cluttering up passenger area. However, 10 minutes down on arrival at Manchester.
First staff very helpful as well for connection and handled baggage.....despite Virgin giving out misinformation beforehand. No need for do it yourself tram connection to Victoria Station. The bus did start there and then called at Piccadilly to pick up.
It appears Virgin need to get their phone centre staff and their act together...what a way to run a railway!

Shaggy Sheep Driver
13th Dec 2004, 12:23
Travelling on a Sunday is always a gamble, and it was in BR days, too. It seems Mrs IB's journey was actually OK, and it was the pre-booking system that was cr*p.

I use Virgin West Coast frequently to travel from Wilmslow (Cheshire) to Euston. I can get a train at 06:52 and be in Euston at 09:00, having enjoyed a very good Silver Service breakfast on the way (that's first class, but that's a comparative cost to the airlines). Sometimes it's a bit late (not by much), and once in recent memory it was cancelled - but the station announcer had us board a local train to Crewe where we caught a west Coast train from Preston and were in Euston by 09:15. The return journey includes drinks from the trolly, as well as tea/coffee and a snack - nice and relaxing after a hard day in the 'smoke'.

If I go by air I have to get a taxi to Manchester Airport, go through the cattle market of airport 'processing' at both ends, and end up either at Heathrow or LCY, not in London itself. It doesn't come close on door-to-door times. And late running and cancellations are far more common - and if a flight is cancelled you are delayed until the next flight.

It's the train for me every time. ;)