Train Review: CrossCountry (First Class)

CrossCountry First Class Seats

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!


3 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 !

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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).


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