We visited the UK in May, 2005. Though we were able to do a fair amount of photography in the North of England (which we'll be posting elsewhere) we did get to take our first extensive Pendolino trip, going from London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street and return. Our overall impression of the trains has not changed. They are sleek, modern, more like an airplane than traditional train and still frought with bugs -- all the toilets on our Lime Street to Euston train shut down around Crewe, which was bad for beer business and more than a few passengers. Both of our trains were crowded. Because I was doing relatively little rail travel I did not purchase a first class railpass. Second class travel was not uncomfortable, but, being tall, I did feel somewhat cramped and would have been very much more so if I had a companion in the adjacent seat.
The first photos were taken at London Euston.
Next, we see a Pendo at Lime Street, has had a roughly $35,000,000 rebuild of its trainshed, and photos of a Pendo coach section, and the on-train shop, which efficiently sells everything from food and drink to magazines and cd's.
Below is a Virgin Pendo crossing the Runcorn bridge, near Liverpool. The photo was taken from my seat.
Run time between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street has been cut dramatically, in part thanks to a reduction in station stops by Pendolinos. There has been a flurry improvements in passenger services at both ends of the lines. Here are a few shots of the new first class lounges for Virgin passengers at Lime Street. I had a hard time getting in (to open a door one needs a ticket with a magnetic stripe; there is virtually no way for a passenger with a pass to open it), but a fellow passenger helped me. Once inside there are comfy places to sit, and lots of coffee, tea, and little cookies and candies. No booze or passenger agents. But, for those accustomed to the once grimy Lime Street station a real improvement.
We end with a shot of an 'almost Virgin look alike', what British correspondent Paul Hutchinson tells me is a Southwest 2 class 458 electric, taken from my Virgin Airways 747 at about 10,000 feet, somewhere near Windsor, in 2005. Oh well, I thought it was a Voyager, but since it's a fun picture I'm including it. Like Virgin Trains, the airline provides friendly service and seems very customer focused (though I'm sure some of my UK friends would question that observation as applied to Virgin Trains!).
We returned to the UK in April, 2009. Our travels on Virgin were limited but we have some new photos, taken in Euston and Lime Street, and on the West Coast Main Line in southern Scotland. Click here to see them.
We'll be posting many more photos from our recent UK travels, so check back often.