Travel: Travelling in comfort in a heatwave, Avanti West Coast had it sorted

I appear to have developed an affinity with travelling on hot days, and when I say hot, I mean record-breaking scorchers.

By Liam Rudden
Friday, 29th July 2022, 4:45 pm
One of Avanti West Coast's Pendolino trains
One of Avanti West Coast's Pendolino trains

Not that high temperatures bother me. From my first ever trip abroad, when the door of the Boeing that had transported me to the Canaries swung open allowing the dry air of Lanzarote to wrap itself around me, I've loved the sensation of all enveloping warmth.

Some years later, on a trip to London in 2013 to watch an alfresco musical production of Passport To Pimlico, I found myself watch the show unfold in temperatures hit a high of 91F or if you prefer 33C as the audience traversed the streets, civic courtyards and parks of the City of Westminster. It was glorious.

More recently, I disembarked my Lufthansa flight, stepping onto the runway as Frankfurt sweltered, it was 38C or 101F - it always sounds so much more dramatic in Fahrenheit.

All the same, it was with a little trepidation I boarded my Avanti West Coast service to Preston the other Tuesday, yes that Tuesday, the one that saw record-breaking temperatures, not least in Manchester, my final destination of the day.

With talk of tracks buckling and overhead cables sagging in the heat and with services being guaranteed a delay due to reduced speeds on lines, I arrived armed with a two litre bottle of water and a couple of smaller ones, just in case.

I needn't have worried. Finding a seat in First Class, I settled down for the normally two hour and 25 minute journey, any concerns about the carriage being too hot immediately dispelled. With the air conditioning flowing and the blinds lowered, casting a cool shade across the carriage, it could not have been a more pleasant environment to travel in.

Within minutes of the Pendolino leaving the Waverley, water was offered, a constant supply followed throughout the journey along with tea, coffee and an impressive choice of options from the food menu.

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Going down the ham and cheese toastie route proved inspired. Actually, ‘toastie’ doesn’t do what was served justice, it was indeed a ‘Grilled Ham and Cheese Croque Monsieur’; a toasted bloomer sandwich filled with ham, mozzarella and topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. Delicious.

On the return journey, the Afternoon Tea tempted me (it had caught my eye on the way down). Served between 2pm and 5pm, the finger sandwich selection comprised of Coronation Chicken, my favourite, Egg Mayonnaise, a close second, Ham, and Savoury Cheese. The obligatory scone with jam and clotted cream followed.

Other options on the menu were equally impressive and varied, from a Vegetable Noodle Bowl to a simple Summer Salad and a Charcuterie Grazing Plate.And Avanti West Coast don’t overlook those with a sweet tooth, crunchy biscuit with cocoa cookie nuggets smothered in milk chocolate anyone? Or maybe a Mini Loaf Cake or a White Chocolate and Passionfruit Tart​? Divine.​

There’s no doubt about it, the infamous British Rail pork pie is definitely a thing of the past.

Arriving at my destination relaxed, refreshed and refuelled, kudos to Avanti West Coast and their staff for going above and beyond in extraordinary circumstances.