First Great Western, Flrst Class
THE TRAIN: I travelled on a West Country route mid-afternoon between London Paddington and Tiverton, in Devon, served by a high-speed train with a top speed of 125mph, as they all are on this route.
THE LOUNGE: The first class lounge is a cavernous place close to Platform 1 at Paddington Station, with plenty of seating, ample space to store luggage, complimentary hot and cold refreshments and snacks, quiet corners with desks to work at and plenty of newspapers and magazines to help pass the time.
THE SEAT: The first class carriage had very comfortable leather seats throughout, each with a good size table in front and tablelevel power sockets for ease of working. There was ample storage space for luggage at the end of the carriage, plus overhead space for smaller items.
THE SERVICE: There were several passes of teas, coffees and biscuits – all complimentary – for the 2 hour 15 minute journey to Tiverton. Rubbish was cleared away frequently too. On leaving the train we were bade goodbye by the same cheery member of staff that had served us. It’s worth noting that on weekend journeys there is no at-table service.
THE VERDICT: This was a really comfortable journey with minimum fuss and non-intrusive service, making it the perfect backdrop to working. The lounge at London Paddington completes the premium offering. Make the most of this service as the train company is contemplating swapping the 50 or so first class seats for 80 standard class seating as that’s where the demand is.
THE DETAILS: Services on this route depart hourly and take either 1hr 55minutes or 2hrs 15 minutes. Prices vary dramatically, ranging from anytime fully flexible return fares of £373 to an off-peak return of £101 or a super off-peak return of just £80.50. Book on to a specific train time in advance and an even cheaper advance purchase ticket is triggered but these are limited in number. See www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk.
Reviewed by Gillian Upton (2014)