Tuesday 31 March 2015

Virgin on the Ridiculous?

Uncle Richard's Got a Bigger Train Set
Only he hasn't.

The two leading magazines that focus on current railway topics both have headline articles about Virgin Trains East Coast in their April (current) editions.
Modern Railways has the simple headline "Virgin Takes over East Coast" with a sub header "Middlesbrough Direct Service Planned." Rail Magazine is a little more "red-top" in its choice of tag line.
"Virgin Rules ECML at Third Attempt" is true in part, but hides some clever corporate machinations. The company branded Virgin that runs the west coast lines from Euston is 51% Branson (Virgin) and 49% Souter (Stagecoach). East Coast is a modest 10% Branson and 90% Souter. In fact Sir Brian has paid Sir Richard 10% of the shares in the new company for the privilege of using the Virgin brand.

So the Rail headline should read "Stagecoach Rules ECML at the Nth Attempt!"

fbb has been following the emails from the new company using the former nationalised East Coast Trains database where he is one of the millions.

 20th February 2015 

 Not quite. Nothing will chage/has changed from March 1st apart from the start of yet another livery for InterCity trains from Kings Cross. Ray Stenning strikes again!
"From a Railway Carriage" by Robert Louis Stevenson provides the historic and poetic quote. But there is one other stunning change from 1st March.
Our website 
It will be the same to use, but with more red and less purple. If you're registered with the site, your login and password will stay the same. We're changing the address to virgintrainseastcoast.com on 1 March. Don't forget to bookmark!

But there's more:-
Better trains 
A £21m investment will improve the interiors and reliability of our current trains, before the launch of 65 brand new state-of-the-art Super Express trains from 2018.

More services 
There will be more trains on existing routes and the introduction of some new destinations

New Nectar scheme 
Start collecting Nectar points from 1 March and carry on redeeming your existing Rewards Points up until 30 September

Better value fares 
Standard Anytime fares will go down by 10% for long distance journeys to/from London, from May 2015

Apart from the last of the four "improvements" this is non news and non Virgin/Stagecoach. Whichever coporate monster took over the franchise would have offered the first three. No 4 is interesting. The press headlines trumpetted  10% reduction in all Anytime fares from May; the website limits this to tickets to and from London.


 28th February 2015 
A last hurrah from East Coast. "Feel at Home" but we won't be there!

 8th March 2015 
The journey starts twice?
Hi fbb! We're thrilled to join you on the east coast,
and can't wait to make this already great service
even greater.
Boy do we have some exciting things planned.
Here's what's in store... 

 Hmm - again?

Much the same aspirational stuff with red colour and lots of twiddly graphics. A scrolling confuser screen.
A bright ideas flashing light bulb.
A new InterCity Express train - not getting very far on fbb's browser.
A speedo for speedy trains - eventually.
And an overall thumbs up for what will/might happen.
If the new services are as super jolly exciting as the graphics we are in for a real treat. But they won't be.

 19th March 2015 
More swirly graphis but much the same message. But this one looks interesting. "Meet a First Class Treat on Us"
Sadly the new super-duper web site doesn't work on many browsers; but fbb persevered and clicked on the "big red button", actually a small red panel with blue writing and a tiny white arrow.

Get on board and meet Virgin Trains East Coast first hand, in First Class style.
We're giving away 10 pairs of First Class return tickets to celebrate the launch of Virgin Trains East Coast.
To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is correctly answer the following question:
Which train company now runs trains on the East Coast route?

and the choices are:-
20 Tickets? Is that the best you can do?

fbb gave up the attempt; the question was too difficult!

Hmmm - yet again?

 26th March 2015 
Should that be "Ker-Ching"?
6 First Class tickets? So have 14 already gone? Or is this a lavish EXTRA six?

Hmm - for the last time?

For now!

Perhaps fbb really is getting old; but this hype seems very OTT (over the top) for something that hasn't changed in the slightest. If Sir Brian and Sir Richard are so delirious about a few sheets of red vinyl, what on earth will they come up with when something new actually happens.

In 2019?

P.S. Non-Virgin East Coast boss has announced timetable improvements as follows:-

From December 2015
Some Edinburgh trains extended to Stirling
Some Newcastle trains extended to Sunderland

From December (?) 2016
Four additional trains between Edinburgh and London.
Will these be trains currently terminating at Newcastle?
Don't you just get hot under the collar when someone gets the better of you in argument. Especially if you know they are right!

So they looked for an opportunity. They bribed some men to pretend they were sincere, and they sent them to trap Jesus with questions, so that they could hand him over to the authority and power of the Roman Governor. "Tell us, is it against our Law for us to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor, or not?”

If Jesus said "yes" he would have been in trouble with the Romans; if he said "no" he would be in troible with the Jewish authorities. Between a rock and a hard place.

But Jesus saw through their trick and said to them, “Show me a silver coin. Whose face and name are these on it?”
“The Emperor's,” they answered.

So Jesus said, “Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.”

Great answer; appropriate in the run up to a General Election.  The tension rises yet another notch; but they'll get him in the end.
  Next bus blog : Wednesday 1st April 

1 comment:

  1. Not only is their Nectar points scheme rubbish compared with East Coast points, it's also rubbish compared with other TOCs. Go to any website of the rapidly First family and you can earn Nectar points for ANY train journey. On "Stagecoach East Coast" you only earn points for a VTEC journey.