Advantages 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.
Disadvantages Luggage space apparantly seems to be lacking in standard class. The Birmingham to London route seems to be bad for tilt.
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I first apologise for the length of this review, and hope you don't find it to long.
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. ......
A B C D F G H J K
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)
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
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)
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.ukIn 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.
STANDARD SEAT TREATS ("CATTLE CLASS") - ALTHOUGH I'VE NOT TRAVELLED THIS WAY ON A PENDOLINO YET:
ONBOARD A CLASS 390 TILTING ELECTRIC PENDOLINO (7/10- will update when i travel in it)
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.
THE ONBOARD SHOP- rating included in standard class.
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- 4/10The 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.
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 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.
THE ACTUAL RIDE QUALITY 8/10
A USEFUL LINK- 10/10www.virgintrains.co.uk is a great website displaying all you want to know about Virgin Trains, and both their Voyager, and Pendolino trains.
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.
MY PERSONAL OPINION ON THE PENDOLINOS (Sumary)- 9/10
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.
(Voyager Dude 220)
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.
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).
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.
TOTAL SCORE-83 /100
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