The CrossCountry Second Class is one of the most common ways to get around in England if you are not travelling to or via London. In this review, I’ll explain what you can expect of a ride in a CrossCountry train.
There’s been quite some feedback on my CrossCountry First Class review as people think that the supplement is not worth it. I would generally agree on that, especially if the difference is bigger. That’s mainly because the CrossCountry Second Class is alright. Yet, definitely not more than this as I found the ICE Second Class, for example, way more comfortable than any train operated by Cross Country.
I’ve taken quite some CrossCountry trains, but at all times the trains were relatively full, so picture taking proofed difficult. Thus, please excuse the lack of the usual quality pictures. Let’s get to the seating, which is arranged in the typical 2-2 configuration.
The seats are on the rather thin side and come with a cloth padding, which is alright, but doesn’t add that much comfort. I’d say that is a comfortable enough seat for shorter rides, but for the long journeys to Scotland or Cornwall, I’d prefer more comfortable seats.
The seat pitch is alright, but if you are somewhat taller than me, it could get a problem.
What annoys me a bit about the seats is that there is virtually no storage (no seat pocket or anything alike) and just a very small table. Thus, working with a laptop proofs difficult in CrossCountry Second Class.
Catering on CrossCountry trains is limited to what is offered in the bar car, which is usually located in the middle of the train. There’s a small menu for snacks, which are a little too highly priced in my opinion. Various drinks are available, too. However, I’d rather bring my own food as the offerings on CrossCountry trains aren’t particularly great.
The catering options on CrossCountry trains are limited as you’d expect. Even though there are no newspapers, magazines or anything alike, there’s at least WiFi in all trains. In Second Class, you are limited to a certain bandwidth, but I usually end up not using it up completely on two hour rides.
However, you should be aware that the bandwidth won’t be enough for streaming or watching live sports. It’s more suitable for web browsing, e-mails, etc. The log-in is easy, but the speeds tend to be quite bad from time to time.
Compared to what trains in other countries offer, the CrossCountry Second Class is disappointing. Personally, I don’t see much of a difference between CrossCountry and GWR, so I wouldn’t go out of my way to choose any of the two. The upgrade to First Class adds more comfort, better WiFi and some complimentary catering, but I wouldn’t pay more than 40 percent more for that experience either. All in all, the CrossCountry offerings are okay for the price point if you book in advance, but not really satisfying in case you are booking last minute.