Virgin Trains, East Coast (first class)
RATING: Food 3; Atmosphere 3.5; Service 2.5; Drinks 4; Website 4
VIRGIN Trains recently took over the franchise for the East Coast. I’ve had several recent experiences, one poor (dirty seats, no chef so only toast and a banana for breakfast and sporadic wi-fi, frankly, I gave up) and the others about average. My daughter has, incidentally, also suffered a bad experience with dirty, tables, poor food selection and surly staff. However, to business. The on-board menu has changed. The one I sampled allowed travellers to select from two sandwiches, corned beef pickle with cheese on soft white bread (tasteless) or creamy free-range egg and tomato (sundried, tad strong, in my view, for the soft-tasting eggs) on malted bread (v). Both are served with hand-cooked crisps. The hot food – not even mentioned to me as an option by the monosyllabic waiter on my train – was chicken tikka masala with rice or mature Cheddar, spinach and onion rice tart with salad and Branston pickle (v). Pity, the chicken tikka looked OK. Black Forest cake (it was tasty) and a selection of fruit (only an apple when it got to me, and I don’t like apples) was limited. Overall, this is consistently the best way to travel between London and Edinburgh (I flew down EasyJet and it was cramped and uncomfortable and I would only repeat this at a push) but sadly, on any train journey, you are at the mercy of the staff. One woman was bubby and couldn’t do enough. Yes, I’ll be back on board but let’s hope that others have taken a cue from the staff member on the 16.52 from York.