The Bucket List: Virgin Trains London – Manchester

This is gonna be a rather short post, also one of the rarer ones where I share about my train journey rather than a flight experience. I always like to share about my very first experience on a particular train product so that people can get an idea how it is like. Especially since in Europe there are so many different trains, the ICE, Railjet, etc etc. Furthermore this time around, it is my very first time taking a train in the UK. The funny thing about trains in UK is that there is no unified national rail operator like the DB or SNCF in other European Countries. Rather, the National Rail just regulate operating companies, for example in this case, Virgin Trains. Comparing my options, it does seems that taking the train would be the most efficient and cost effective way for me to get to Manchester. Bus is out of the equation since it take such a long time. Virgin Trains also seems rather quirky and fun.

Trains to Manchester depart from London Euston. Similar to the rail operator, in London there is no central station or something, but rather there are alot of different train stations like Euston, Victoria. It is crucial that you pay attention to which one you are leaving from. Most of them are easily accessible and connected to the Tube network, same goes for London Euston. It is a rather modern station with lots of restaurants, eateries and shops. Pretty crowded as well. Before I go straight into the review, I would also like to give a tip for booking. Virgin or other UK trains constantly have cheaper prices if you book together in a group or as a family. It would be cheaper than purchasing as single. So play around with the website and see if there is any family or group prices. For our tickets, we pay about 41SGD each for a second class ticket.

There was a ticket check right before boarding and entering the platform so there was quite a queue. Despite looking intimating, it move rather fast since it is just a matter of scanning QR codes by the staff. In contrast to usual Europeans train with a train number the UK system just show the train by the departing time. I don’t really like this. The platform is also only shown super late, around 10 mins prior to departure. I have to say that the Virgin livery looks rather chic and gorgeous. Very similar to their planes. Mood lighting and everything. Cabin was fresh and new. It was in bright red colors. Seats were in a 2-2 configuration with a mixture of forward and rear facing. There was also just normal seats and some in the group family style of 4. Seats are pre reserved and you are allocated one with your ticket.

I find the luggage storage to be a little lacking, especially the ones where you put your huge suitcases although as per the norm, train travels are much more troublesome when travelling with large suitcase. Seats comes with a legrest, table and a menu as well. I took a screen thru their menu, while the offerings are rather limited, I would say the prices are fair and alright. Power plugs are also available. Seats are on the firm side but still comfortable. However the seats can’t be reclined. 

For the train journey of just 2 hours to Manchester Piccadilly, the seats are alright. Although it would be better if we were not sharing the seats with someone else. I always find the Second Class to be sufficient. First Class is just more of a pampering or if you are feeling rich. I love that wifi is available and the speed while not fast, it is still usable. There is also a small menu onboard and I would say that the prices are not too bad as well.

I got the chance to check out the washroom which is very spacious and very quirk as per the norm on stuff you can find onboard Virgin. They have pretty funny controls as well. All in all, it was a nice journey to get from London to Manchester. Easy and comfortable. Price is fair as well although certainly much more expensive than continental Europe! But I will gladly pay this amount than to stress over driving and navigation.

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