The weekend that’s just gone featured a return journey from Scotland that had me a Virgin Super Voyager between Glasgow and Preston. Even after the loss of the CrossCountry franchise, Virgin has retained some of its Voyagers, the ones with tilting capability for 125 MPH running, for use as part of its remaining West Coast franchise. These tend to be used for workings that include Birmingham to Glasgow and Edinburgh together with London to Chester and Holyhead.
They have been talking been talking about refurbishing these train interiors so that the travelling public would know if they were on a Pendolino or a Super Voyager and I seem to have come upon the results of those changes. I may be a reader of Rail magazine but, only for the normal traveller not caring so much for such things, I would not be so sure that they are succeeding that well if what I saw was any guide. The coach in which I was travelling had no airline style seating with at table seating everywhere. Taking a cue form the said Pendolinos, those tables did have retractable table tops but they were sliding rather than flip-up. That made for a two-tier table top that may not be to the taste of everyone but I was unperturbed. You also seem to sit higher too and there are no seats that aren’t next to a window. In fact, any gaps forced by this layout are left there to be used for luggage storage, a very useful way of doing it. That’s not to say that Super Voyagers will become devoid of airline seating because a quick look into other carriages while changing train and platform in Preston revealed one coach with only that style of seating, if my eyes didn’t go and deceive me (we all know what can happen).
My experience of travelling in the refurbished trains left me with no displeasure so I must rather like what they have done. The old interiors were getting rather tired anyway after their seven or so years of use. it remains to be seen what CrossCountry do with their Voyagers but I’m not sure that their actions would be the most positive of developments with their replacement of the shop/buffet with a trolley in combination with increases in seating capacity. Another possibility that comes to mind is the addition of Manchester-Scotland runs to the West Coast franchise to remove the three-carriage sources of discontent that Transpennine Express has inflicted on the travelling public from time to time. All in all, Virgin’s Super Voyager refurbishment is a reminder of a reasonable if imperfect operator that i would like to see continue to ply their various ways on Britain’s railways and maybe even return to haunts as of now unfrequented by their flair.