Avanti West Coast is introducing a new class, that sits halfway between standard tickets and first-class, although you can’t book the tickets in advance.
The Standard Premium class will offer roomier seats, more space and a guaranteed table. Passengers can also have food and drink delivered directly to the table via the company’s app. New seats, with leather headrests, are being installed in Standard Premium and First as part of a refurbishment.
The trains operate between London Euston, the West Midlands, Shropshire, North Wales, Liverpool, Manchester, Carlisle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The ticket upgrade ranges from £15 for Birmingham to London to £30 for Glasgow to London.
Booking is initially only available as an on-the-day upgrade to an existing standard class ticket, and at the moment, cannot be booked in advance.
The train operator is doubtless hoping to tap into the return of business travel where companies only cover the cost of standard class tickets, but the employee might be minded to pay a top-up on the day from their own pocket to have a more pleasant journey.
In this sense, it’s similar to the weekend upgrades offered by a number of train companies where a standard ticket can be upgraded to first-class on the day for a modest top-up payment, if there are spare seats in first class.
Across the rail network, first-class service at weekends tends to be reduced, so apart from nicer seating and — usually — a much quieter carriage, the fancy extras are not offered. Avanti West Coast is now planning to expand its weekday service, which mainly caters to business customers, to the weekends as well.
The train company is also at the same time though, reducing the amount of first-class seats in its trains. One carriage on all 11 coach Pendolinos (the existing Coach G), will be converted from First to Standard, and with more seats in Standard that will increase each train’s seating capacity by 5%.
The first refurbished train is due to enter service in November 2021.