Many thanks to everyone who has read, rated, and commented on my reviews, and apologies for neglecting Ciao... I'm only on here a few times every year at the moment....
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Pacey Pendos via Preston, for Plebs& Posh people
Huge amounts of cheap buy - in - advance Virgin Value tickets, On - board entertainment system with 4 pre - recorded channels, and 10 live stations including radio1, 2 etc . . Modern electronic displays . First Class for me .
Luggage space apparantly seems to be lacking in standard class . The Birmingham to London route seems to be bad for tilt .
Frequency of trains
Reliability of trains
Comfort of trains
Speed of trainsVery fast
Safety of trainsDon't know
How extensive is their Rail Network?Very extensive
How well does it cater for disabled people?Very well
Value for MoneyExcellent
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I first apologise for the length of this review, and hope you don't find it to long.
THE TYPE OF TRAIN I'M REVIEWING 9/10
The Virgin Pendolinos are Italian electric trains, which are formed of nine coaches. Five of these are cattle class (i mean standard class), and four of them are First Class. First Class is almost always at the London end, with Standard Class at the country end.
North End ................. South End. ...... Coach...
A B C D F G H J K
The name "Pendolino" is Italian, and is named after electric tilting trains which operated in many other places around the world, apart from the United Kingdom, including Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, and Finland.
THE ROUTES WHICH THESE PENDOLINOS CAN BE FOUND ON: 10/10
The Virgin Pendolinos can be found on almost all (99%) Virgin West Coast services. I say "Virgin West Coast", because they shouldn't be mixed up with Virgin Cross-Country, who operates Virgin's Voyager trains. (See my other review, about Voyagers for details)
Virgin West Coast operates nearly every single service to/from London Euston, and stations through to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and Preston. Please note that Voyagers, and Pendolinos jointly operate the Virgin Trains service between London & Holyhead.
Services operated by Pendolinos are (just on the Holyhead route):
05.32 Holyhead - London Euston 09:00 London Euston - Holyhead 14.14 Holyhead- London Euston 17:21 London Euston - Holyhead
The North Wales Voyager services are:
01:50 Holyhead to Birmingham N St. (I wonder how busy that one is!) 06:45 Holyhead to London Euston 09:50 Holyhead to London Euston 11:28 London Euston to Llandudno 15:08 London Euston to Llandudno 15:49 London Euston to Holyhead 19.38 London Euston - Holyhead On top of this, the 16:51 London Euston to Birmingham New Street Virgin West Coast service is being formed of one of Virgin's older electric trains (definitely not a pendolino!). This is because the Pendolinos are currently (at time of writing) having modifications/checks done, as they complete the hundreds of thousands of miles they do over a few weeks/months. They are also having sanding equipment installed, to help with snow in the winter.
THE COST- ARE FARES FAIR?- Because this is so long, I've pasted this to the end of my review. (?/10)
ARE THE PENDOLINOS FINE AND ON TIME, OR DO THEY BREAK DOWN AND GET DELAYED AS OFTEN AS THE MEDIA SAYS THEY DO? (9/10)
The answer is- the vast majority of trains operated by Virgin West Coast are on time, with delays more than 10-20 minutes not very common. I base this on
when no incidents or track problems have happened, but this doesn't really change the result. Punctuality on all Virgin Trains services has increased greatly. For more details why not visit the VT website- www.virgintrains.co.uk
In the event of you being delayed by 1 hour or more Virgin will give you 1/2 your fare for that one journey back in vouchers.
ONBOARD A CLASS 390 TILTING ELECTRIC PENDOLINO (7/10- will update when i travel in it)
STANDARD SEAT TREATS ("CATTLE CLASS") - ALTHOUGH I'VE NOT TRAVELLED THIS WAY ON A PENDOLINO YET:
In Standard class seats are mainly in "airline" configuration. (e.g seat + flip down table on the back of the seat in front of you.) Seats are in 2+2 formation- 2 on each side of the aisle or whatever you like to call it.
On Pendolinos you have access to plugs, to charge your mobile phone/lap top. As well as this, all customers have access to an onboard entertainment system. Simply plug in a set of headphones, or buy a pair from the shop (far better quality headphones are complimentary in First Class), and relax.
14 radio stations are available- 4 pre-recorded stations, and 10 live stations- including BBC radio 1, 2, 3, and 4. It's great to put radio 1 on, on the train, and consume the refreshments in first class..
THE ONBOARD SHOP- rating included in standard class.
Is located in coach C- in standard class, at the north end of the train when running the normal way round. It sells a range of drinks- Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, chilled drinks and Alcoholic drinks (also complimentary in first class). Hot food includes Bacon Rolls, Cheeseburgers, Vegetarian rolls. Off course it sells sandwiches, but they are far better than they were in British Rails time apparantly.
Electronic sings- Tell you which coach your in, the station calls, time, and sometimes messages about CCTV & things like that.
Toilets- Available in most coaches. There's a mixture of disabled toilets, and ordinary standard toilets available on Pendolinos. If your in an electric disabled one- make sure you don't try to un/lock the door with the massive red emergency button like lots of idiots do. (I've stayed clear of it so far)
LUGGAGE SPACE- 4/10
The luggage problem- When I've nipped down to the shop, In standard class, I've noticed a problem with a lack of luggage space available on Pendolinos. This is not unique to them at all- Virgin Voyagers have them as well- Please refer to my Voyager review for more info.
FIRST CLASS- THE WAY I HAVE ALWAYS TRAVELLED (9/10)
First class is the way to travel in style. Bigger seats, bigger leg room, bigger everything. Complimentary items include a range of chilled drinks, newspapers, headphones, alcoholic drinks (from 11:00, to people aged over 18- or if you look/feel it, as i found out- i didn't take up the offer though. )
You also get complimentary food- the great British Breakfast is served before 08:30, with a smaller one served 08:30-11:00. From 11:00 you get all-day snacks- deli style.
Examples include Tortilla Wraps, Pasta, Salad- light snacks basically. Last time i travelled on a Pendolino- from Birmingham- a trolley was brought through with a big selection of sandwhiches, drinks, cakes, chocolate, and fruit.
Pendolino Primo services are superb- especially, like myself, if you can get yourself a Virgin Value first single on one. (Instead of the First open single)
They offer an enhanced food menu with bistro-style meals (complimentary) served at-seat. Examples include Chicken with haggis, Beef Bourigion, Duck, and off course many vegetarian options.
THE ACTUAL RIDE QUALITY 8/10
The actually ride quality is good, but if you tilt alot along the journey, you might feel a little sick. I'm not saying much in this section, because each person has their own opinion on this. Mine, is that Virgin Cross Country's Super Voyagrers are far better at being a tilting train than Pendolinos, and the basis of ride quality- I've never felt a little sick on Voyagers, although I have, on a Pendolino.
A USEFUL LINK- 10/10
www.virgintrains.co.uk is a great website displaying all you want to know about Virgin Trains, and both their Voyager, and Pendolino trains.
MY PERSONAL OPINION ON THE PENDOLINOS (Sumary)- 9/10
I really do like the Pendolinos, and think they're a good replacement of the older electric stock Virgin West Coast got them to replace.
They aren't perfect, but all of the positives definately out number the negatives.
The only real negatve points are the ride quality when tilting, and the problems with luggage space- luggage problems mostly in standard class.
They feature brilliant power points, entertainment radios at every seat, and also electronic scroll signs in every carriage, displaying up-to-date information. The reservation system is also done by electronic displays, replacing the old ticket-style system.
Lowest score 4/10- for luggage space, Highest scores 10/10- for the Virgin Trains Website, and the routes Virgin West Coast operate.
THANKYOU Many thanks for reading this long review. Please rate and comment as you please, and any hints and tips are very welcome. The Are Fares Fair? section is at the bottom.
If you find any punctuation mistakes, blame my PC, because i wrote this review in Microsoft word.
(Voyager Dude 220)
THE COST- ARE FARES FAIR? 8/10
The dreaded question- how much does travelling on one of these fabulous trains hurt your pocket, or does it get away more or less free of pain?
As I'm sure anyone who travels by train knows, British Rail's (oops i mean Network Rail (who maintains and looks after the track/signals). and Virgin Trains (Who supplies and runs the train) train fares are a lottery- There's sooo many about for just one journey (especially if its a long one) , and along with the different names, there's different prices, and more importantly- more terms and conditions.
If your able to buy in advance and travel off-peak, on a specified train:- A cheap restricted ticket:
Virgin Value tickets are the best option. They only come in singles, which allows you to mix-and-match the best available fare for your journey (e.g £15 outward leg, £9.50 return leg) This also allows you to go standard class one way, and First Class the other, or a First Class return, for literally a fraction of the un-restricted return. These tickets are available up to 18:00 the evening before travel, but are limited. If you can travel mid-week, there's a bigger amount of them in general.
Super Advance Return's- It's very rare for you to come across one of these, but these are available on a similar basis to Virgin Value tickets, but the overall return is priced in between a Virgin Value return (2 singles) and the Saver Return which is:
Saver Return- The most popular turn-up and go ticket. PLEASE NOTE YOU CAN'T BUY THESE ONBOARD A VIRGIN TRAINS SERVICE.- YOU HAVE TO BUY A TICKET BEFORE YOU BOARD- OR GET CHARGED THE FULL OPEN SINGLE (featured towards the bottom).
These allow you to make a return journey on any off-peak train (on any train company) between your starting station and destination. You can't travel on a train from London Euston between 15:00 & 18:00 (i think), or in the morning peak (06:00 to 09:00 i think) into London. Return can be made up to 30 days after purchase.
The Standard/ First open single/return - Fully unrestricted fare on your journey, available on any train throughout the day. The return journey can be made up to 30 days after purchase. If you board a Virgin Trains service without a ticket, you will be forced to cough-up and buy one of these to your destination.
Finally Virgin Business Return - Same as first open return, but only valid by Virgin Trains services. You do however get a free parking voucher for 24 hours parking at selected stations , and an Underground Zone 1 ticket.
I was going to upload a pic i took (one of many!) of a Virgin Pendolino just north of Blackburn, but Ciao took too long to upload for my likeing.