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There's something special about imbibing while in transit, but trains always seem to get a bad rap when it comes to beverages, perhaps because dining cars aren't always the most appetizing places to pop a tab. Virgin Trains understands, and though passengers on their high-speed lines around England can always enjoy a complimentary gin & tonic in First Class, the company is now offering a special beer called "Tilting Ale."
The brew, a Virgin beer that's not a "virgin" beer, is a partnership between Virgin Trains and Redwillow Brewery in Macclesfield, Cheshire. It's available now, costs only £2.95 a bottle, and comes with an appropriate flavor description:
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Forgive the obvious train headline pun.
You wake up and inevitably roll over to check your phone. Emails, Twitter replies (none), and finally Facebook. Based on what you see there, you're going to have your first instinct on calling it a good day or a bad day.
Well, my friends, today's already one of those bad days as the first bit of news we caught was the end of Britain's Virgin Trains. You can read all the details behind the line's impending closure at BusinessWeek, but essentially Virgin Trains rebid to continue running their services on the privatized west coast lineslines they've been running for 15 years at currently 30 million passengers per yearand LOST.
Virgin will continue running until December, when the switch will take place to see Virgin out and UK rail company FirstGroup in. This means the end of slick, red-painted tilting Virgin Pendolinos on routes including London to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, and Liverpool (our favorite).
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Here's a tip straightaway, before we even discuss the Virgin Trains lounge: always buy your Virgin Trains tickets online, in advance, for the cheapest rates. It was this way (with only two days advance booking) that we scored First Class for 30 GBP less than what regular Economy was asking. Our one-way London to Liverpool cost was 34.50 GBP ($56) and it included free WiFi, food and drinks. Crazy? Maybe for Virgin Trains, but we're not complaining.
So now that you know how we managed to get into the Lounge, let's talk a bit about it. First off, you must traverse the crowded mess that Euston Station sometimes becomes, and head up a grimy stairwell before hitting the sliding glass doors of the lounge. Check in at a desk to prove you're holding a First Class ticket, and you're golden.
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We're only one month away from the start of free WiFi on Amtrak Acela trains in the US, but like usual, the European train system has it beat.
Last month, we sought to take a train down to London from Edinburgh, and desperately wanted a train that offered a WiFi signal, so naturally we turned to book with Virgin Trains, which touts free WiFi in first class and paid access in coach. However, it turns out that their website will book any available train running the route and not just Virgin ones, so we were dismayed to find ourselves stuck with a ticket on an East Coast train, even though a Brit friend assured us that it would be nicer than if we had gone Virgin.
So was it nicer? Find out after the jump!