RAGES preview East Coast’s new First Class on-board service

SIR, - In May, East Coast will introduce radical improvements to the on-board customer service, including complimentary at-seat meals and beverages in First Class.

They invited our chairman to be one of the first to experience their new First Class service on board a special ‘railshow’ preview train between Darlington and Edinburgh on Wednesday, April 27.

Unfortunately, due to work commitments, Tom Thorburn, our chairman, was unable to accept, but Barrie Forrest, our vice-chairman, attended in his place.

Barrie took a train from Berwick to Newcastle to meet the special there. This proved to be the right option as it gave him more time to meet the East Coast personnel.

On arriving at Newcastle he met station manager, Steve Armstrong, who took him to the first class lounge for coffee and met other people who had been invited including Martin Murphy from Railfuture northeast and Dennis Fancett from Senrug.

When the train arrived in Newcastle they were met by Angela McKenzie.

They also talked to Philip Dawson, project manager, and Danny Williams on the train. During the journey they experienced the full English breakfast.

As the train crossed the Border into Scotland, Karen Boswell, East Coast’s managing director, spoke to the three of them. Barrie told her that passengers from Dunbar were not best pleased with the proposed timetable changes and the lack of off-peak fare opportunities from Dunbar.

Being cut off during the winter snow had not endeared them to any of the train operators.

As Barrie and Karen were talking, the train passed Dunbar, which he pointed out to her. He took the opportunity to invite her to Dunbar to meet the RAGES Committee. She indicated her willingness to do so in the near future.

The indications that Barrie got speaking to Karen was that it will be hard to change what they have decided as she said “sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions.”

Barrie also asked about a late Saturday night train, saying that East Coast were able to run late specials for rugby matches and the Edinburgh Festival.

There was no commitment about such a train, but Karen revealed that there would be no festival trains run by East Coast this year as they did not pay last year.

RUSSELL DARLING,

Rail Action Group East of Scotland,

www.rages.org.uk