No idea what they're like with trains, but their buses aren't great - we have them round here, and they're often late. It's a shame, as Virgin were modernising their fleet quite well, some others are dire (First Great Western have never impressed me, i must say).
My only experience with Arriva is trundling across North Wales to Chester, so it's a somewhat limited experience, and probably with trains that wouldn't be used on longer routes. They're generally on-time but they never seem to have enough carriages - it can get quite nasty at Prestatyn station sometimes, with the scrum to get on. I've definitely seen bikes on their trains before now, but they don't always have carriages with bike parking spaces.
At least their carriages don't smell of sewage, though, unlike Virgin
That has been a persistent problem with Pendelino trains since they were introduced, and I've had to air out my luggage in the past to shift the smell! The company have now acknowledged that the vibrations of the train causes leaks - but I can't believe it's taken them this long to realise that all was not well with their plumbing. Anyone with a nose could have told them that!
Arriva are frickin awful... they lost the Northern Trains franchise because they were so terrible so how come they are now so wonderful that they get Cross Country? And what's the betting that Virgin will now get the East Coast Mainline instead...
One of the biggest lost opportunities of Tony Blair's administration was not, it not renationalising, at least reregulating, the railway system in this country so it made sense. It is utterly ridiculous having a few private companies being moved about the various franchises like a merry-go-round. None of them are any good and none give a toss about the people who actually want to use the trains or their staff.
My experiences of Virgin Cross Country include constant overcrowding (after stowing the bikes we couldn't even get through to our coach, let alone our seats, for the first hour), insufficient coaches (with an apology each time), failed airconditioning, and refusal to take bikes on the only available direct service that day when no prior booking was available (we almost felt that the 'Train Manager' was waiting for a bribe) resulting in a circuitous route and many changes. All in all, a catalogue of grim travelling experiences.
Quite worrying. I've used Virgin cross country a few times from Birmingham to Plymouth and I've had no problem. I've booked well in advance and paid about £20 making it about the same as the coach but without the day of physio afterwards to regain feeling in most of my lower body.
It's also nice when they have the older HSTs rather than the Virgin Voyagers, much quieter and smoother and more room too.
That's progress for you folks. Higher fares and crappier rolling stock. Welcome to Brown's Britain.