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Branson pledges 10,000,000 extra seats to meet rising demand on Virgin West Coast

Press Release   •   Nov 25, 2006 23:00 GMT

“Virgin Trains will provide ten million extra seats a year to meet rising demand,” said Sir Richard Branson as he travelled West Coast Pendolino from Manchester to London today, Wednesday 22 November.

His pledge follows publication of the National Audit Office report praising Virgin Trains for achieving a 20 percent increase in West Coast passenger journeys during the past year – four percent more than expected.

“During the past ten years, thanks to the fantastic hard work of our people, we have achieved unprecedented and massive levels of growth on our West Coast and CrossCountry franchises and we will meet the sustained and continuing demands of the next decade,” he said.

From the end of 2008 Virgin Trains will be running 32 percent more train services on West Coast, providing ten million extra seats every year. Frequencies will be improved from two to three trains an hour between London, Birmingham and Manchester, and hourly services will run between London and Glasgow.

Also, discussions are under way with the Department for Transport to add two more coaches to each of the 53 nine-coach Pendolino trains, and with Network Rail to increase speeds to 135 mph over sections of the West Coast Main Line now being further improved.

“This is just the beginning,” said Sir Richard. “We are now set to bring in more and faster services and look forward to being able to exploit the capabilities of our Pendolinos in the future.”

West Coast success comes on the back of Virgin CrossCountry’s increase in yearly numbers of passengers from 12 million to 22 million during the past ten years, the highest growth of any train operating company.

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