Saturday, November 10, 2007

Virgin Cross Country, RIP

Today was the last day of the Virgin Cross Country Franchise. Ten years of improvements to a service long relegated to the oldest equipment and the least user-friendly timetables have resulted in Virgin losing the franchise to Arriva. All I can say is, Arriva had better prove their worth.

This is not to say that Virgin had their problems. The Voyager toilets are well known for the lingering odor that permeates the corridor outside. Some refer to the Voyager trains as "Vomiters" because of the noise and ride. The noise of the under-slung engines is certainly annoying but the ride is good by comparison with the Adelante trains being bought by First Great Western.

The difficulty of keeping on schedule was a given from the very start but Virgin has really improved its record over the years, enough to justify a continuation of the franchise, I would have thought.

Today was a weekend diversion working, so there were inevitable delays as the "express" played cat and mouse with slower local services. During the week these tend to be less significant, but the basic problem with any timetabled service is that once you lose your place in the queue it is hard to make up. Particularly when a train might start in Penzance and end in Dundee.

So, Virgin Cross Country, adieu. London won't miss you but the rest of the country probably will!