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A RED HOT START – AND MUCH MORE TO COME!

Press Release   •   Sep 01, 2015 16:07 BST

We’re adding the WOW factor to train travel – and thanks to you, this is just the beginning!

Virgin Trains East Coast today (Monday 1st September 2015) publishes its second ‘Red Report’, a twice-yearly round-up of progress and a look ahead to the exciting next steps on its journey to revolutionise customer service between London, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland.

In its first six months since launching on March 1st 2015, Virgin Trains East Coast has:

• CUT THE COST OF TRAVEL – by reducing Standard Anytime fares on long distance journeys to and from London by 10% - and by launching a bargain seat sale with tickets from just £8.50
• PAINTED THE TRAINS RED – with a huge rebrand of its trains in the unmistakable Virgin red
• MADE A CLEAN SWEEP – a £21 million upgrade is underway, bringing a deep clean to every train, with new carpets and seat covers, and a sparkling new look to train toilets – flushed with success!
SWITCHED ON TO AIRTIME – face to face meetings with directors and senior managers under the ‘Airtime’ initiative have begun to gather vital customer feedback – including a live session on-board a peak-time Leeds to London train
• GOT THE MESSAGE – improved the way we communicate with our customers on social media – including real-time train running information via Twitter
• HIT THE VIRGIN WAY – trained more than 1,700 staff on lots of new ways to delightfully surprise customers old and new
• MOVED CLOSER TO YOU – launched a Community Ambassadors scheme to develop closer links between our people and the places we serve.

David Horne, Virgin Trains East Coast Managing Director, said: “It’s been a busy first six months and we’ve put in some serious train miles – more than six million in fact. We’ve also been focusing on how we can improve our customers’ experience of booking and travelling with us.

“When our customers travel with a Virgin company they expect high standards of service – it’s what we’re known for after all. We’ve already brought in many new products and improvements, and there’s much more on the way – and the highlights are in this new Red Report.

“We want to be Britain’s best train operator – and we can only do it with feedback on what we do and how we do it. If any of our customers would like to share thoughts about their journey, I’d genuinely love to hear about it – please email us at customers@virgintrainseastcoast.com or call 03457 225333.”

Virgin Trains East Coast has exciting plans to deliver red hot service to customers – with highlights included in its new Red Report, including:

RELAXING IN STYLE – major facelifts on the way for all First Class Lounges on the route
INFORMATION ACROSS THE NATION – improved Customer Information Points at various stations, and brand-new Customer Information Offices at Durham, Doncaster and Grantham stations
JUST THE TICKET – replacing all 111 ticket machines across its network, and adding 50 more by June 2016 – making buying and picking up tickets a breeze
FULL OF BEANS – a complete revamp of on-board service in Standard and First Class, featuring new bean-to-cup coffee
IT’S IN THE BAG – launching ‘luggage hubs’ to provide secure baggage storage areas on long-distance London to Scotland services
WE’RE IN THE ZONE – new Customer Zones at all stations to make it easier for customers to talk with our staff and buy tickets for their next journey.

Copies of Virgin Trains East Coast’s Red Report can be picked up from stations on its network or downloaded from its website here: https://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/about-us/communicating-openly-with-customers/#TheRedReport

Contact the Virgin Trains East Coast Press Office: 0116 366 3988 during office hours (09.00 - 17.30 Mon-Fri). Outside these times, and for urgent media enquiries only, please call 08700 005151 and ask for the duty Virgin Trains East Coast press officer to be paged.

Virgin Trains East Coast is the brand name of InterCity Railways Ltd (ICR), which is owned by Stagecoach Group (90%) and Virgin Group (10%). Virgin Trains East Coast began operating services on the East Coast Main Line on Sunday 1 March 2015, serving key UK cities including London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness. In November 2014 the Department for  Transport awarded ICR a new franchise until at least 31 March 2023.

Virgin Trains East Coast is committed to delivering a high speed, high quality service with new services, faster and more frequent journeys, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. More than £140m is to be invested in delivering improved service and a more personalised travel experience for customers.

Visit the Virgin Trains East Coast Media Centre at: http://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/media-centre for the latest news and images.

STAGECOACH GROUP

• Stagecoach Group is a leading international public transport group, with extensive operations in the UK, mainland Europe, the United States and Canada. The Group employs around 38,000 people, and operates bus, coach, train, and tram services.

• Stagecoach is one of the UK’s biggest bus and coach operators with around 8,300 buses and coaches. Around 2.8 million passenger journeys are made on Stagecoach's buses every day on a network stretching from south-west England to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The Group’s business includes major city bus operations in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Cambridge. Low-cost coach service, megabus.com, operates a network of inter-city services across the UK and continental Europe.

• Stagecoach is a major UK rail operator, running the South West Trains, Island Line and East Midlands Trains networks. It is also the majority shareholder (90%) in the new Virgin Trains East Coast franchise and has a 49% shareholding in Virgin Rail Group, which operates the West Coast rail franchise.

• Stagecoach also operates the Supertram light rail network in Sheffield.

• In North America, Stagecoach operates around 2,400 buses and coaches in the United States and Canada. Megabus.com links around 130 key locations in North America. Stagecoach is also involved in operating commuter, transit, airport express services, contracted, charter and sightseeing services.