Train Review: CrossCountry (First Class)

CrossCountry is one of the biggest train operators in the United Kingdom. CrossCountry operates on several routes in the United Kingdom from the South to the North. However, the company doesn’t have any trains to or from London, but pretty much everywhere else. In this review, I’ll explain what you can expect of the CrossCountry First Class.

I’ve already reviewed the Great Western Railway Second Class here on traveluxblog and will have more reviews including the GWR First Class and CrossCountry Second Class coming up. Yet, today it’s all about the CrossCountry First Class, which I enjoyed quite a lot. Especially compared to the ICE First Class, which I’m used from Germany, the CrossCountry First Class is a huge upgrade.

Seating in the CrossCountry First Class

The First Class in CrossCountry trains is in individual coaches, which are usually located at the front or the back of the train. These coaches come with fewer seats and a 1-2 configuration (Second Class comes with a 2-2 configuration and less seat pitch).

CrossCountry First Class Seats

CrossCountry First Class Coach

The interior of the coaches looks fine, but not luxurious by any stretch. The seats have a burgundy color and a decent padding. As you’d expect, there are different seating arrangements in the CrossCountry First Class, from tables for four people to tables for two people, individual seats and seats right next to each other. All seats have a great seat pitch, making it comfortable to stretch out.

I also liked how the seats on the right and left side were slightly staggered for added privacy. All in all, I’d say that the CrossCountry First Class is quite nice, especially due to the added space and the fewer people taking trains in First Class.

Catering in the CrossCountry First Class

The catering concept of the CrossCountry First Class is slightly confusing. There is some complimentary food alongside complimentary drinks in First Class. However, the offerings differ between weekdays and weekends (including bank holidays) as well as the time of the day.

On weekdays, CrossCountry offers a complimentary selection of breakfast items and an afternoon tea with a sweet and a savoury option. At all other times and on weekends, only small snacks including whole fruits, crisps, cookies and such are available for free in the CrossCountry First Class. Water and soft drinks are generally complimentary as well.

CrossCountry First Class Snacks

Complimentary Snack & Drink

In addition to these offerings, you can purchase additional items right at your seats. I must admit that I was especially amazed by the great service in the Cross Country First Class. The server was not only very kind, but also asked for me snacks and drinks several times. Just great!

Entertainment in the CrossCountry First Class

If you are travelling in the CrossCountry First Class, you can make use of the complimentary Wi-Fi for First Class passengers.

CrossCountry First Class Wi-Fi

Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in First Class

I was surprised that the speed was actually quite good on my ride from Bristol to Exeter. Usually, the Wi-Fi in Second Class isn’t especially amazing on this route, so First Class seems to be a substantial upgrade in this regard. However, you should be aware that streaming services, file sharing etc. are no allowed on board CrossCountry trains.

CrossCountry First Class Plug

There’s a plug for two seats each

There is also a plug for each two seats, which allows you to keep your devices charged.

Overall impression of the CrossCountry First Class

It’s sort-of funny: I’d highly prefer the ICE Second Class over any English train Second Class, while I loved the First Class and would take it over the German version any day. CrossCountry offers a nice cabin with comfortable seats, good Wi-Fi and a puzzling, but nice catering menu. This combined with a very good service made up for an amazing ride. I’d book the CrossCountry First Class again in a heartbeat.

Find more train reviews in our “Specials” section!


22 Comments on “Train Review: CrossCountry (First Class)”

  1. Pingback: Looking Back | travelux

  2. Appears this person is either paid by Cross Country or has at “Best” travelled on one occasion
    I have the unfortunate need to travel Cross Country from Birmingham to York First Class on
    a regular basis – both weekend and mid week
    Catering can at best be described as a joke
    Weekends – NEVER have I had more than 1 cup of coffee and a pathetic small biscuit
    Midweek – frequently have to “Push” for any food – reluctantly given but often “They did not put any on at Birmingham”….
    Last experience (one return journey):
    Out 0730 Saturday 28 Oct. 2017: First class outer door not operational….unable to use in an emergency….and that was first time train had been in service that day ! Safety ?
    Toilet awash with fluid….unusable Health ?
    No heating
    One cup of coffee in first 5 mins then nothing for over 2 hrs !

    Return 1135 Mon 30 Oct 2017
    First Class busy….ONE female with dog occupying 4 seats around a table
    Large dog sat on the seats….no other passenger could use the seats
    Dog bowl on table….spilling water all over
    Dog barking and trying to eat food from nearby passengers
    THEN dog food actually placed on table where dog proceeded to eat it ! Health & Safety ?
    Elderly couple joined service but unable to sit together as dog + 1 person occupied 4 seats + table !
    Finally train broke down at Birmingham New Street – passengers had to tarbnsfer to other service if wanted to continue

    AVOID CROSS COUNTRY and its extortionate prices / terrible service at all costs
    Think where their profits end up – certainly not in improving the service !

    • Hey there, as usual my reviews are neither paid nor were I in contact with CrossCountry. I’ve travelled with CrossCountry in both, First & Second a couple of times and found First Class quite enjoyable with decent food, very comfortable seats and friendly service. However, I’ve generally travelled on Exeter – Birmingham services, so there might be a difference there. I’m sorry about your experience, but I found the First Class Experience way better than Second and also better than what to expect in other countries (e.g. Germany or France, where there is no food at all in First).

  3. Don’t waste your money on 1st class with this outfit. Basically you pay twice/three times standard fare for a bit more leg room. The seats are hard and uncomfortable, toilet smelled and as for food and drink, forget it. We travelled from Bristol TM to Paignton (over 2 hours) never saw food trolly whole time. The buffet car was right at the back of the train and by the time we realised we were going to have get our own it was too late. RUBBISH service.
    GWR is a much superior service and I recommend you go with them every time .

    • Hey Glenn, thanks for your comment. My experience was way more pleasant, especially as the ticket was less than double what second was on that day / that route. However, I enjoyed my GWR First rides a little more, too.

  4. This reviewer has never used the service. On a 3 hour journey you will be exceptionally lucky to even get one soft drink – have yet to See Amy fulfilment of the ‘menu of snacks’ even when you areon one of the few services that offer them

    • Dear Marion, thank you for your comment. However, as in all my reviews, I’ve obviously used this service and I’m writing my honest opinion. My journey wasn’t even long, but I was offered snacks and drinks twice. It was nothing substantial, but it was okay. Compared to First Class in many other places of the world, the offerings were quite good!

  5. I completely agree with those that have a poor view of CC 1st class. It is a shambles – very good if you want to diet. I am in the very unfortunate position of travelling regularly from Oxford to Manchester, and I prefer to travel via Paddington and Euston, encountering 3 changes rather than suffer one journey on CC. Virgin and GWR 1st class is cheaper when booked in advance and a far better experience. Todays journey has no hot water so no hot drinks.

  6. Quite possibly the worst 1st class rail service I have ever experienced. No food no drink and pretty much no staff for the whole journey. I will make sure to never use th cross country service again! Also to make sure nobody i know use are it what a total farce!

  7. I agree with the other reviewers. Travelled to Bristol and waited ages for any kind of service. Then two takeaway cups of coffee and a few biscuits as they hadnt put any food on at Birmingham. Not great value for money although tbf they did give me my money back when I complained.

    Went on Virgin WCML Crewe to Edinburgh the other day – wow, what a difference. Constant, attentive service from the minute I got on, hot food and alcohol all free. Proper cups and cutlery too.

    I wouldn’t bother with XC 1st Class again, waste of money.

  8. Oh dear. Having read the reviews of Cross-country 1st Class here it looks like my journeys to and from Plymouth York and back in July is going to be the worse. If I remember I check back and let you know how my journey goes

    • Hey Bert, I’m looking forward to hearing about your experience. Personally, I didn’t find the ride too bad, so don’t be afraid 🙂

  9. Moritz,
    Another customer here , just booked Cardiff through to York for September on CC trains, please tell me I will be treated OK, but it doesnt sound too bright. Rob (from Australia)

    • Hey Rob, I’m sure you don’t have to worry. Sure, there are more amazing trains in Europe, but compared to the XPT I took in Australia, I thought CrossCountry 1st Class is definitely the better experience 😉

  10. Travelled Birmingham – Durham CC First and had a great journey very comfortable seats and yes no full meals but more than enough drinks sandwich’s and biscuits, am travelling Southampton – Newcastle in August no problem with CC

    • Nice to hear, I think the CC First Class is totally fine if you are not paying standard prices and come in with the right expectations 🙂

      • Equivalent to £255 for three days in a month(first class) but because of the royal wedding they gave us an extra day so four days anywhere in the UK in a month. We have another one from 4th Aug. We have been from Wick to Penzance and in between. Bargain eh!!!

  11. Perhaps we’ve just been lucky? Advance fares pretty reasonable when booked a long time ahead, for Birmingham-Plymouth and Truro-Birmingham journeys this month. Southbound, no hot food on a service that I think they claim has it, and we had to ask for lunch, but the sandwich that came was good. Plenty of light refreshments and attentive service both ways. The coffee was dreadful though – like a church-hall coffee-morning version. Tea was OK. Now waiting for a 50% refund on the southbound, which was 40 mins late.

  12. I am sad to say I have never had positive experiences on this journey I travel between Sheffield and Reading – this is a 2h45m journey, I am currently 90 minutes in and not so much as a cup of coffee offered. I know there will be no food to speak of and this is an expensive trip. I have done a day return caught a train at 0600 and the return at 1745.. Just entirely disappointing… I agree.. take the LNER or Virgin options with changes, the customer service is far more improved and in actual fact a more economical ticket.. I often forget how poor this service is.

  13. Cross country are probably the worst long distance train company in Britain. The prices are extortionate the cleanliness is poor. The trains are usually late and overcrowded. First class is basically the same as standard class on other companies. I commute from Birmingham to York/Leeds several times per month and the journey is horrible. I wish there was choice of another provider on that route.

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