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What is the TPE ‘West Coast Kitchen’?

We've sampled the new TPE West Coast Kitchen offering to see what you can expect.
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If you’re planning on travelling with TransPennine Express on their West Coast routes (Manchester Airport to Edinburgh/Glasgow and Liverpool to Glasgow) in First Class, then things have changed recently! They’ve introduced an enhanced offering known as West Coast Kitchen. So, what’s it like? We’ve taken a trip to find out.

What is West Coast Kitchen?

West Coast Kitchen is the name for the new TransPennine Express First Class offering on their West Coast routes. It’s designed to be more substantial and comes with the bonus of hot food. You can expect complimentary alcoholic drinks in the afternoon and evening, too.

You’ll find the West Coast Kitchen offering on every train. No matter when you’re travelling, every train on the West Coast route is scheduled to have a dedicated host to serve you at your seat.

What is West Coast Kitchen like?

So, on a Friday afternoon in June, we set out to answer this question. We travelled from Penrith to Glasgow, which is a 1h40m journey. Here’s what we found.

The service

We weren’t served when we boarded, though it was clear that there were quite a few ‘extra touches’. For example, you could find a placemat and complimentary bottle of water at every seat:

bottles of water at table in tpe first class

When we left Carlisle, around 20 minutes later, the host slowly made his way through the carriage. It was clear that he was doing his best to make every passenger feel welcome and he was making sure that everyone knew what was on offer.

This was fine, but it made for a very slow service. For just one carriage with less than a dozen passengers, a single offering of food and drink in 1h40m is pretty poor. There were actually three hosts on board (two for Standard, one for First), so there was no reason for it to be this way.

Some items were missing from the trolley, too. For example, when we asked for a beer, the host had to go back and find one from the galley. This made sense, as it kept everything cold, but it slowed things down substantially. Still, as we said, the service was friendly and it was clear that West Coast Kitchen was a step up.

The food and drink

This is where West Coast Kitchen shines through. You’ll find a menu that alternates each week. We expected an ‘elevated’ offer compared to other routes, and that’s what we got. For our main meal, we chose the beef stew.

The host also recommended the sausage rolls, which are made in Carlisle. As a general rule, most of the menu is locally sourced. We also chose a beer and some crisps:

west coast kitchen food and drink

The beef stew was tasty and actually felt quite fresh. The meat had a good ‘bite’ to it and it didn’t just feel like a reheated meal. Compared to the previous offering of cold food and snacks, West Coast Kitchen is certainly a step up.

Is West Coast Kitchen worth it?

This is the million-dollar question. If you’re used to the usual First Class service on TransPennine Express, then it’s definitely an improvement. You can expect something resembling a proper meal and enjoy a tipple during a long journey.

If you can get a cheap Advance ticket, then yes, it’s worth it. It’s enough of an upgrade to feel like you’re treating yourself! Not only that, but it’s a welcome addition to the West Coast route after Avanti West Coast introduced Standard Premium and made First Class significantly more expensive as a result.

For example, a First Class Preston to Glasgow ticket on the day is £58.60 if you stick to TPE. If you book in advance, that starts at £36.70 (cheaper with a Railcard). Meanwhile, the cheapest Advance ticket for Avanti West Coast is £70.50 before any Railcard discounts!*

Just remember that you won’t get any lounge access (unless you’ve paid for a top-dollar ‘Any Permitted’ ticket or another one that’s valid on all operators).

Is there anything else I should know?

Ready to sample West Coast Kitchen for yourself? We’d recommend booking with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any refund or exchange fees, so you can enjoy peace of mind. If your ticket is refundable, you’ll get the whole lot back. Need to change when you’re travelling? No problem. You’ll only ever pay the difference in fare.

All fares were issued on this page in good faith and were correct at the time of publication (04/07/24). Railsmartr is not responsible for any loss, inconvenience or otherwise, as a result of the information provided.