Three classes return to West Coast Main Line

A ‘MIDDLE CLASS’ is being introduced by Avanti West Coast.

Standard Premium was launched this morning on all AWC Pendolino services, and initially will be offered as an upgrade on Standard fares, such as an extra £15 from London to Birmingham and £30 to Glasgow.

Avanti said Standard Premium, which uses a former First Class vehicle, offers ‘roomier seats, greater space and a guaranteed table’.

Standard Premium was developed following trials, and the resulting figures showed 96 per cent of passengers were ’highly likely’ or ‘likely’ to upgrade, saying that extra space would be important. 

Although three classes mostly faded away between the world wars, British Railways continued to provide them on boat trains until 1956, when Second was finally abolished. Third on all other trains was renamed Second at the same time, becoming Standard in the 1980s.

Avant is not the first operator in recent times to expand the number of classes. British Rail InterCity did so in the 1980s when it created ‘Silver Standard’, while following privatisation Midland Mainline offered First Premier, which included a full breakfast, as Avanti First Class does now. Currently, both Eurostar and Caledonian Sleeper offer three classes.

Avant said it will be improving its catering and service in First Class later this year, while Alstom is due to start work next month on refurbishing Avanti’s 56 Pendolino trains as part of a £117 million contract.

New seats with leather headrests will be installed in Standard Premium and First, and Standard seats will be also be replaced. In addition, one vehicle on the 11-car Pendolinos (Coach G), will be converted from First to Standard.