I have always admired Richard Branson. I have read many of his articles and follow him on LinkedIn. I have always found him to be both insightful and classy, but had never been on either his Virgin train service or his Virgin airlines. I was curious to see if in practice his service would live up to what he personally preaches.
While I have been in the UK this trip I have had the pleasure of traveling through the gorgeous countryside on Virgin Train service. I decided to treat myself to the first class cabin as my trip was going to be several hours long from Carlisle to London. I had taken many short train journeys in my time living in the UK, but never one of this length.
First of all, the great service started at Carlisle station. There happens to be a train strike happening in the UK at the moment, so Virgin had extra staff there helping people change trains and avoid as much hassle and stress as possible. I had a member of staff approach me before I even stepped my foot much past the door to help me be organized and find the right train and platform. My train had indeed been cancelled. In five minutes, the staff put me on another train that actually ended up getting to my destination earlier than planned. EARLIER! Pretty darn good if you ask me. Plus, I am entitled to 50% of my ticket back due to the change. Can you imagine if this was an airline? No way.
The girl on the platform made sure she came over to me to ensure I was OK, and assured me I was standing in the right spot and to let me know my train would only be five minutes. When my train came, she lifted my very heavy suitcase onto the train for me and wished me a happy journey. I only wish I had gotten her name so I could write a compliment letter to Richard Branson about her.
The second thing that was delightful is the comfortable, modern cabin and seating. It is very impressive. There was a power point for my laptop and free onboard wireless internet. A great thing for people like me who are trying to get some work done. I am writing this post while on the train.
The next thing that you won’t believe is the quality of food. I ordered Eggs Benedict for breakfast. I was a bit wary of ordering it but the server assured me that it was good. My eggs turned up beautiful and hot, with the eggs cooked perfectly, nice bacon, and a decent hollandaise sauce. A total win even for my picky palate! I was also served fresh orange juice and endless coffee. The servers brought around rounds of toast and croissants. It was really impressive.
The next seats over were served a “Full English Breakfast” (fried eggs, bacon, grilled tomato, black pudding, and sausages) which looked delicious. But the WOW was that they were served in formal SILVER SERVICE style! I had to get pictures; I was so blown away! You don’t even get silver service in the nicest of American restaurants. On a train? Just amazing.
Tea, coffee, juice, water, and whatever you can think of was served throughout the trip. The staff were all polite, efficient, and on point!
As you may have read, The Brit and I have recently traveled to the UK on British Airways Business Class. They really should take lessons on service from the Virgin Trains staff. I feel really spoiled and taken well care of as I make my journey to London.
The Brit comments: I have travelled on the London/Carlisle route on several occasions; although not on a train that departed in time for breakfast. I can verify that the service, the comfort, the food, and the drinks make a first class ticket well worth purchasing.