For the first time in decades, three classes of travel could be offered on Britain’s railways. But is it really necessary? Do we even need first class?
Avanti West Coast officially took over the West Coast Mainline from Virgin Trains on Monday, and along with it has come a curious announcement.
For the first time in decades, it looks likely that the new operator will offer three classes of travel; First Class, Premium Economy and the standard Economy fare.
It sounds like the new class of travel could be similar to airline-style Premium Economy offerings.
Avanti’s managing director, Phil Whittingham, told the Press Association that passengers could be entitled to:
“The bigger seat, better wi-fi and snacks rather than a meal”
But do we really need to be returning to the days of three-tier rail travel?
Third class was mostly abolished in Britain as far back as 1956! According to Business Traveller, the only exception was a ‘Silver Standard’ offering by British Rail in the early 90s.
And then there are the feelings people already have towards first class…
As a daily commuter, I’ve written extensively in the past about the problems faced on Britian’s railways – one of them is overcrowding.
At times when the carriages and platforms are full to the brim, people would give anything for a bit more space to move into, which is why it can be frustrating to see near-empty first class carriages.
As a result, it’s no wonder that many would rather see first class abolished completely to help ease the strain, let alone introduce another tier.
Much like with an airline, I’d also be concerned over exactly how much more you get for your money.
On a plane, you can usually expect a few extra millimeters of legroom, but do such small margins really represent a need for separate pricing over much shorter distances?
As you can probably tell, I’m pretty sceptical. Personally I’d rather see an end to different classes of travel, especially on commuter services, but what do you think?
Are you in favour of Premium Economy on the railways? Do you think we need three separate classes? Let me know in the comments.