Train travel is a glorious way to get around; you can sit back and relax, enjoy good food, exceptional service, and watch the picturesque English countryside pass by.

At least you can if you travel with East Midlands Trains, so when I was asked to sample the company’s new weekday menu on its First Class service down to St. Pancras International I was genuinely delighted, particularly as they weren’t interested in an ‘advertorial’, instead wanting an honest report of what I thought.

I must admit I’m a fan of East Midlands Trains; I regularly travel with them from Loughborough down to London. And I do have a choice, because I don’t live in Leicestershire, I live in East Staffordshire, which means that I could choose any one of several train operators that offer a ‘similar’ service from Birmingham. So why do I take the time to trek across country to climb aboard East Midlands Trains? The answer is deceptively simple, as I shall explain.


Everyone Deserves a Taste of the Good Life

East Midlands Trains runs fast, frequent trains to London and stations throughout the East Midlands, including Leicester, Derby, Sheffield, Nottingham and Lincoln. On the morning in question I board the 07.42 from Loughborough to St. Pancras with my long-time partner Diane, who, having travelled on some pretty impressive trains, including India’s ‘Palace on Wheels’ and South Africa’s ‘Blue Train’, is not really the sort of person you want as a critic! However, she was suitably impressed with the carriage we found ourselves in, which was both clean and comfortable.

Having been offered a free complimentary newspaper and a welcome cup of coffee, we perused the breakfast menu. Prices, we found, were very reasonable indeed, although we didn’t really care about the cost. No, we hadn’t been left a nice sum of cash by a distant, long-forgotten aunt, we had invested in the East Midlands Trains Business Anytime Plus offer, which, for no more than £20 on top of the cost of a First Class ticket, you get breakfast, Zone 1 and 2 London Underground travel and up to 48 hours car parking at any East Midlands station. When you add all of that up together it is an undeniable bargain.

Now I admit that I can be a bit of an ungracious customer at times; I don’t say anything, but I do mumble under my breath. The reason for this is that I have been a vegetarian for 28 years and have vast experience of the inedible scraps they often dish up on trains and planes. Today, though, I sat back and relaxed, safe in the knowledge that my Vegetarian Grill – poached free-range eggs (you can have fried or scrambled too), tomato, hash browns, mushrooms and toasted muffin – would be absolutely delicious: the food always is with East Midlands Trains.

Of course, the company had launched a new menu, which can sometimes be a worry, but on this occasion I couldn’t have asked for a tastier start to the day. Happily, Diane agreed and, being the type of vegetarian who believes a fish is a vegetable, plumped for Oak Smoked Kippers served with Lemon, Melted Butter and Fresh Brown Beer Bread. Admittedly, it did take her quite a while to decide (the menu is quite extensive, taking in everything from the Great British Breakfast through to Smoked Salmon and onto Bacon Baguettes, Fresh Fruit Salads, Porridge … the list goes on), but her judgement on the quality of the food was summed up succinctly: “That was really nice!” Okay, there was a touch of surprise in her voice; she had eaten on trains before in the UK, but obviously not on East Midlands Trains.


Business Travel Has Its Rewards

Completely sated, we sat back, taking the decision to read for a while. Yes, I could have taken my laptop out and done some work, all trains are now equipped with WiFi, which is complimentary for all First Class customers, but I reached for my Kindle instead. Seconds later I was engrossed in a biography on the Russian composer Tchaikovsky, completely relaxed; in fact, perfectly set up for the possibly long day ahead. I muse that life can’t get any better. Then Graham the steward brings fresh coffee and proves me wrong.

Breakfast with East Midlands Trains is extremely good; although I knew that travelling later in the day also brings its own rewards. The recently upgraded First Class offer, for instance, includes the introduction of a new All Day Menu: a range of dishes freshly prepared on-board (incorporating lots of local produce, such as Melton Mowbray Pork Pies and Red Leicester Cheese) and all priced at £4.95 or less. In addition, customers can also enjoy freshly brewed filter coffee, as well as fresh milk served with all hot drinks. And if all that were not enough, there are complimentary biscuits and individually wrapped bite-sized snacks, plus premium fruit juice, still or sparkling water and, for those who need to wind down after a hard day, a glass of red or white wine and a choice of Dormens finest quality nuts and savoury snacks on trains which depart between 1600 and 1900.

Furthermore, passengers travelling to London St Pancras International on one of the eight enhanced southbound trains with a First Class ticket will receive a complimentary Danish pastry, croissant with butter and jam, or yogurt with granola, alongside the all day First Class complimentary items. This enhanced service is also offered on the 07.55 northbound service from London St Pancras International. Passengers travelling northbound on one of four early evening departures can choose from a cake, a savoury pastry or cheese and biscuits.


Fresh and Relaxed at the Journey’s End

Pulling into St Pancras bang on time (09.10 – the journey has taken just one hour and 28 minutes), I have enjoyed a delicious breakfast, served by incredibly friendly and well trained staff, glanced through a newspaper, had two cups of coffee, read a chapter of my book … and I haven’t left my seat.

Okay, Birmingham might be a closer, or at least quicker, starting point for my train journeys to the capital, but apart from having to arrive at Euston Station, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone, the little extra effort it takes to get to Loughborough is repaid in spades. And arriving at St Pancras, surely the UK’s finest railway station (it even has a Champagne Bar!), I always feel completely refreshed. Let’s not forget that St Pancras is the home of Eurostar too, which reminds me, I’m off to Paris soon; better get onto the East Midlands Trains website ( to order my tickets for the first leg of the journey. Well, you wouldn’t want me to get off to a bad start would you?


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