Lumo’s East Coast Main Line train service whooshed into the spotlight recently with super-cheap fares between London and Edinburgh (for those quick to click).
But significant changes are also afoot on Britain’s other high-speed England-Scotland railway artery, the West Coast Main Line, with Pendolino operator Avanti introducing a premium economy section on its tilting 125mph trains with more legroom, as we reported in May, and now an enhanced first-class offering – including (drum roll, please)… at weekends.
This carriage is a top-tier option. I was able to travel in it on a weekend trip and can report that it does not signal a new golden age for rail travel.
Avanti, a Pendolino operator has introduced a first-class enhanced offering
Pictured is Avanti’s tilting train at 125mph powering through Litchfield Trent Valley station
There’s an impressive array of dishes and drinks available, proper stainless steel cutlery and a menu that even details where in the UK the food suppliers come from and the stories behind their businesses.
It feels VIP – but crucially right from the off.
One of the members of the onboard team welcomed my family and me at coach K’s door on a Saturday morning Euston-Manchester Piccadilly. It was a warm smile and a genuine greeting. Her fellow onboard passenger was equally friendly.
We were served water, juices, and coffee just minutes after the train left. The former arrived in glassware, while the latter arrived in elegant cups on little white trays.
It was good coffee, too, courtesy of ‘Change Please’ in London, which trains people affected by homelessness as baristas and supports them with accommodation.
The West Coast Main Line runs along the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, and offers stunning views of the North Pennines. Above is the Docker Viaduct in Cumbria that crosses the Glasgow-London Pendolino.
Below is Ted’s picture of him in full English, shortly after he left London Euston. Right is the Jammie Dodger loaf cake that he enjoyed on the return journey.
Avanti fares from London to Manchester
First Class – £108.80
Standard premium – £60.90
Standard – £35.90
First class – £217.60
Standard Premium – £121.80
Standard – £71.80
It takes approximately two hours and eight mins to travel between London and Manchester. Avanti West Coast currently operates 2 trains per hour between London & Manchester. This will increase to three trains an hour by mid-December (tickets are available now). Click here.
The Midland Manchester offers rooms from £189. The French is one of the most popular restaurants in the country.
The food order was next.
The menu options include a ‘classic bacon sandwich’, a vegan breakfast containing a ‘lightly spiced corn fritter served with smashed avocado, roasted tomato and portobello mushroom’, a superfood breakfast bowl, smoked Scottish salmon and scrambled eggs, and a fresh fruit plate.
I went for the ‘Great British Breakfast’, with smoked bacon and black pudding by Althams Butchers in Morecambe, parsley sausage, portobello mushroom and scrambled eggs.
We had toast, too, with moreish ‘chuckleberry jam’ by the London Borough of Jam company.
With pleasing regularity, additional juices and coffees were offered.
The standards were maintained on the Sunday return 15.55pm service.
Alcoholic drinks were an option – including Manchester Gin and vodka and rhubarb by the East London Liquor Company – but we were back on the coffees.
Food-wise, by time the train arrived at Crewe, I was enjoying thumbs-up-worthy potato and wild garlic cream gnocchi with pea puree.
After, I enjoyed a Jammie Dodger-shaped loaf cake with buttercream frosting and topped it with a mini Jammie Dodger. It was from The Pudding Compartment, Flint, North Wales.
The (extra) frosting on the cake? Five minutes before the train arrived at London,