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I try out BEAM, the Virgin Trains West Coast on-board entertainment system

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I promised to write about the new Virgin Trains (West Coast) entertainment system a couple of weeks ago but it slipped back.  I will correct that today.

When I was in Manchester in the Virgin Trains lounge, reviewed here, I saw a big poster suggesting that I download the Virgin Trains BEAM app to my iPhone so that I could check out the on-board entertainment.

BEAM is Virgin Trains’ complimentary on board entertainment service that you can access from your phone or tablet.  It has its own website here.

Usually I’m not the sort of person to download random apps.  However, as the wi-fi connection on-board Virgin Trains West Coast isn’t always great and I was never able to stream Netflix or YouTube, I decided to try BEAM.

IMG_0445

Unless you want to use your phone’s 4G data allowance, you should download the app at home (or in the Virgin lounge) as the on-board wifi won’t let you download any apps.

The key thing to note is that, whilst it is transmitted using the on-train wi-fi aerials, the BEAM signal is not dependent on the quality of the external wi-fi connection.  The app was working when the wi-fi connection on my laptop was bad.

Once on board you need to connect to the Virgin Trains wi-fi and register your device with your email address.

Then you’re set up to watch box sets, documentaries, movies, play games or read magazines.

BEAM app enter contact details

Here is a screenshot of what a part of the selection looked like when I was using BEAM:

IMG_0473

You can only use BEAM whilst onboard a Virgin train.  If your journey ends, the app remembers where you got to and next time you board a Virgin train you can finish your movie!

I also enjoyed the games selection:

BEAM app game

and had a look at the latest Cosmopolitan – no judging please:

BEAM app selection magazines cosmopolitan

BEAM is NOT exclusive to First class. It also works when you connect your device to the wi-fi in Standard Class.

I was quite impressed by the selection of movies/TV shows, games and magazines and it was a pleasant way to pass the time on the way back to London.

You can find out more about BEAM on this page of the Virgin website.

If you need a movie recommendation, I suggest watching Ex Machina – in my opinion one of the best films of 2015.


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(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (34)

  • David says:

    “the BEAM signal is not dependent on the wi-fi signal on the train and is broadcast separately”

    To clarify – although BEAM content is accessed and delivered to your device via the Virgin Trains onboard wifi, access to the BEAM content is not dependent upon the onward connectivity from the train. It is delivered locally from systems places on board the train so it will work even when internet access is lost.

    Also it will not count as part of any wifi internet access time/date purchased – as it is not accessing the internet, but the onboard systems.

    • Nick says:

      I think rob said that in a very simplistic way

      • NickS says:

        Agreed, Rob’s explanation sums it up perfectly in far less words.

        • Quark999 says:

          It’s not accurate though. If your WIFI signal on the train is bad, you will have a problem. It’s just not reliant on INTERNET connectivity, which is a different thing…

        • David says:

          As pointed out by Quark999, the original wording does not sum it up ‘perfectly’. It sums it up in a highly misleading and somewhat erroneous fashion.
          No separate signal is being broadcast to your device, you do connect to the same Wifi network.
          As a result, I think it is worth clarifying for people that – even though it uses the same wifi network, it is not dependent upon connectivity beyond the train.
          And further, that using it does not count against or require any paid internet access via the wifi network.

      • tom H says:

        or Anika!

        • Rob says:

          We have, in the past, quietly signalled Anika’s stuff with phrases like ‘Rob suggested I visit …’, ‘Whilst Rob was sunning himself in Italy …..’ etc. We’re not doing that any longer! You need to check the name at the top.

  • zsalya says:

    Did the magazine have any articles on shirts? 🙂

  • harry says:

    can you use it on laptop as well?

    • David says:

      They are working on a browser based version, currently it is app only (iOS or Android).

  • Ed says:

    I assume there is a cost to accessing content?

  • Mark says:

    OT – when virgin trains had the offer of 500 virgin miles when you book online
    as anyone had them posted? still waiting on my?

  • Mark says:

    Thanks for the reply’s

  • Andrew H says:

    Nothing for me yet either

  • Andy says:

    The content is streamed from an onboard server on the train using the trains on board wifi routers.

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