Valera, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of commercial microwaves has come to the aid of Virgin trains’ on-board catering service by providing the solution to a problem which, although very simple, has the potential to cause considerable disruption in the trains’ galley area – momentary power outages caused by electrical cut-off points.

The cut-off points are an inherent part of the track network and present a real headache for the on-board catering team when it comes to the serving of popular items such as pies, pasties and sausage rolls. Every time a power outage occurs the clock on the microwaves resets and the timer returns to zero – similar to what happens to a domestic microwave following a power cut. However, the problem is far more serious on a busy inter-city train – where the emphasis is on speed and efficiency of service – as it leaves the caterer with absolutely no idea how much time is left on the timer and so the only option is to restart the programme from the beginning. The sum total of all of this is frustration for the customer and lost revenue for the train operator, not to mention either the potential health hazards of serving undercooked items or the waste resulting from the disposal of products that have been overcooked.

Happily for Virgin, Valera was able to supply the answer with a modified version of its Sanyo EMCD2900 combi microwave. These special “train friendly” units now come with an inbuilt “brown out” facility which means that instead of the timer resetting every time there is an outage, it is simply paused, and automatically continues from the point at which it stopped once power is restored. What’s more, no further input is required from the caterer leaving him/her free to serve other customers and thereby keep queuing time to a minimum. Indeed, on-board trials have proved so successful that Virgin has already placed an order for 40 of the “train friendly” Sanyo units.

– Caterer and Hotelkeeper Magazine, 21st June page 42