I am approaching the grand old age of 27 so unfortunately will no longer be able to get 1/3 off train fares with my ‘Young Person’s Railcard’. Initially the thought of having to pay the full fare for train tickets made me want to do something dramatic like emigrate or become an investment banker. On reflection, I resolved that no longer getting a discount does not permit a career change. Instead I decided to take advantage of my last, precious days with my railcard to finally travel first class on Virgin trains from London to Liverpool when I recently attended a conference.
I booked in advance and used my beloved railcard so the journey only cost me £36.The same fixed time journey can cost £226 without a discount. Futhermore, if you are super rich and don’t mind wasting money, you can opt for an ‘anytime’ return ticket which costs £470. Ouch.
I felt very smug about not having to walk to the end of the train to get into the ‘standard’ carriages and casually hopped onto first class as though it was something that I did every day.On entering first class I was not impressed.The seats looked like standard red, Virgin train seats but with a flap over the head that said first class.
Just because you write ‘First Class’ on a seat it doesn’t make it first class. I was hoping that for my once in a lifetime, first class trip that they had upgraded the seats and made them into bed- seats or made them out of leather or something, anything a little extra but no the actual seats were standard.
In front of all of the seats however was an actual, real table by the window.
Table seats are lucrative cargo in train land. In standard class, if you don’t have a reserved seat getting a table seat requires you to unashamedly run a half marathon when the platform is announced . Then you have to quickly sit down so your seat is not taken whilst hoping that along your journey you will not be joined by a loud family with children who rule their parents.
The alternative in standard class is those faux tables on the seat in front which you have to pull down.They always screech and I’m pretty sure that most of them have never been cleaned. Although I felt as though I had to do a slight limbo to get into first class seat with a table attached, I was happy to have an a real, clean table. I took all of my things out of my bag and put them on my table just because I could.
I then settled down.There were only two other people in the carriage so it was nice and quiet.
In the days leading up to the trip I had imagined that we would be served hot, gourmet food with actual cutlery and a ceramic plate.Unfortuantely this was not the case. After having a beverage, those in first class were asked if we wanted a ‘snack box’.
Inside the box were cheedar crackers, some chocolate fingers, water, yoghurt raisins and popcorn.
There was also a ‘squash stix’ which is cordial which you add to water to make flavoured drinks.
I have never seen one so it was slightly interesting but the ‘snack box’ really did not live up to my restaurant quality expectations. Imagine if I had paid £470 and I just was given a snack box?!?
I am very happy that I have finally travelled in the first class carriages on a train. I can finally stop dreaming about the amazing first class train trips I would take if I ever win the lottery. Tables by each seat were a nice touch but that was it. Although we had an endless supply of particular beverages, the food was poor. The seats were just normal seats and one seat did not even look like it had been cleaned properly.If first class had cost me £470 or even £235 I would definitely want a refund.
© Cultural Magpie