Midland Mainline have e-mailed me to ask what I think of their buffet car service.
I do like a chance to have my say.
I do feel that the prices are far too high. A rip off. I only ever eat on the train when I’m running too late to get food elsewhere and am starving, or when your sandwiches are discounted late in the day. Your sandwiches are good, but too expensive. Your cakes — danish-in-a-box tend to be soggy and not very nice. And also too expensive.
Your questions imply that you feel it’s all right to charge too much if it will be companies not individuals paying.
I preferred the complimentary teas when they were still Typhoo rather than Twinings, who do good specialty teas, but bad ‘english breakfast’ style teas.
The point about paying for larger cups is somewhat stupid. If your passengers don’t feel they are getting enough tea in the smaller cups, they will presumably do what I do every time and either make more trips to the buffet car, or ask for two cups on each journey. The buffet staff don’t know whether I’m fetching two cups of tea for myself or one for me and one for another passenger.
I don’t drink instant coffee so have never tried the complimentary coffee. I would much rather you provide a good, fresh, filter coffee than install espresso machines that provide average espresso and poor Italian-style coffees. I don’t imagine for a minute you intend training your staff to use a proper coffee machine and you will use some variety of one-button bean-to-cup machine. Not a good plan, because they don’t provide a very good cup of coffee.
If you are intending to include Italian-style coffees, please speak to the people who do the Amt bars on the platform because their product is very good.
If you are intending to provide filter coffee please bear in mind that once filtered it goes stale quite quickly. Anyone who drinks coffee black will be able to tell you when the coffee is past its best.
I would rather the buffet car didn’t serve alcoholic drinks, because they are only ever bought by people who’ve had too much already and they tend to make travelling less pleasant.