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

Onboard Hospitality - - Contents -

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.

flex­i­ble Lo­gis­tics

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.

in­creased staff

“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.

com­pli­men­tary ser­vice

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.

pull­man din­ing

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.

stan­dard class

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

the fu­ture

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

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