That Friday afternoon service was busy: reservations are really recommended for Business Class. Tony gave us a demo of his cooking in the galley kitchen with the door open wide into the main carriage, whilst the 20 or so diners had their orders shuttled in and out by Juneann, another one of the Arriva Trains Wales crew.
I feel at this point I should give a particular nod of respect to the team for choosing to offer – and their ability to serve without incident – soup as a starter, at 75mph.
Main course (“Menu 2” that week) was a choice of locally-reared rack of lamb and veg, sausage casserole with smashing black pudding potato mash, or a perfectly crafted asparagus and Caerphilly cheese tartlet. Followed by a cheese course or pudding. We were stuffed, and all of the food was included in the Business Class ticket price.
This was a happy train. The Business Class seats filled up, and speeding through Herefordshire and up through Shropshire the entire train essentially became a pub with wheels. The sunlight faded into darkness and I spent some time sitting in Standard Class, where passengers were munching, drinking and chatting.
This train of a couple of hundred exhausted people – all on our ways home to the Midlands, North Wales, or even on to Ireland by ferry from Holyhead, that Friday night – was a joyful place to be.
Now there are other timetabled mainline trains that serve First Class food at your seat, of course, but they’re rarely freshly-cooked fine dining. They’re efficient and they’re effective and they’re just what you need after a long day away from home: East Midland Trains, Virgin Trains, and Virgin Trains East Coast offer hugely enjoyable catering like this.
There are even a few high-speed trains with excellent Pullman fine dining on Great Western Railway (and they’re all bookable on Trainline). But for entrepreneurialism, for character and for food service that you’ll never forget, this member of the Trainline team recommends that you branch out and take a trip on Arriva Trains Wales Business Class.