Feature: Rail catering - Great Western Railways
Great Western Railways in the UK has launched its first new intercity trains for 40 years. Roger Williams asks catering operations manager Sarah Creaser about the new, highquality, at-seat services
Great Western Railways (GWR) has long been at the forefront of UK rail hospitality, with its good-quality onboard service, including the ‘Tripadvisor highly rated’ Pullman restaurants. Now, with new Hitachi 'Intercity Express Trains', and major changes in onboard design, Sarah Creaser and her team are upping their game further, in all classes.
Creaser explains: “Initially we had to understand the new trains' layout and how best to utilise the equipment. Our shiny new galleys are positioned at the end, behind First Class, and as they are packed with new appliances it was an ideal time to adopt a new ‘at-seat' service. This was what our customers told us they wanted.”
The new galleys, designed in Germany, include steam ovens, induction cookers, chilled stowage and high-volume coffee brewers. Hot and cold food can be served to many more customers than before, and all delivered fresh to the table.
Creaser adds: “Superior logistics flexibility is achieved using modular delivery carts, and with speciallydesigned cart bays on the train it is so easy to deliver, load and move stock on and off trains and up and down trains. This also helps with future at-seat offers for Standard passengers, which are planned to include hot snacks and even a breakfast service.
“Our resource planning was adapted to make sure we had enough hosts and we improved scheduling and turnarounds to maintain efficiency. With more hosts available onboard, support for customers has also improved – particularly important for customers with disabilities and special needs.”
products and menus
GWR undertook extensive research before choosing the relevant products for each service and time of day, working with caterer RG to combine customer feedback and the latest F&B trends.
“New menus created for at-seat services in First and Standard, simultaneously embrace the amazing regional diversity and traditional heritage of the Great Western route. Examples include tea from Tregothnan in Cornwall, and breads and pastries freshly baked by Pullins Bakery in Yatton, Somerset among many others,” Creaser says.
Carts instead of a trolley are used for the First refreshment service, for ease and speed. The offer is complimentary, with hot and cold soft drink selections, a light breakfast up to 11.00 or items from the 'Rest of the day' menu after that. Complimentary breakfast choices include porridge, low-fat yoghurt, granola, gluten-free flapjacks, fresh fruit or pain-au-chocolat.
The enhanced galley equipment enables ambitious Pullman services. Chef Paul Elliot, as well as Jenny Greenhalgh and Rageeni Mistry from RG, have developed and tested new menus. Smart chiller units with robust temperature control support the refreshed food offering.
In Standard, many passengers said they would prefer the delivery of food and drinks to seat. Creaser says: “A new trolley, manufactured by Sovereign, allows for this more personal service to approximately 80% of the train, raising the opportunity for much higher retail sales. A lighter urn and dedicated filling and charging points mean hosts can replenish hot water without heavy lifting".
New menus embrace the amazing regional diversity and traditional heritage of the route
Further on-trend initiatives will focus on vegan, protein and gluten-free options, and a new Standard retail range launching in October, along with new meal-deals, will benefit from a new EPOS system.
To improve sustainability, GWR is also looking at a ‘keep-cup' with a discount for refilling any ‘re-use' cup, as well as driving down the use of plastic packaging onboard.
In First, October will see trials of hot breakfast rolls, a new alcohol cart and a real ‘Cornish Cream Tea'.
Pictured: New intercity trains and in-seat dining menus