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Business is booming for Virgin Trains

Press Release   •   Aug 05, 2013 13:38 BST

Virgin Trains is experiencing a surge in business travel, reflecting the more positive outlook for the UK economy this year and outperforming leisure travel.

In the twelve weeks ended 22 June 2013 revenue from corporate sales - based on Virgin Trains’ largest business and public sector clients - was up by 12% compared with last year, led by a 26% increase in travel in the banking sector, 18% in entertainment/media and 15% in services/consulting. Revenue from public sector travel increased by 18% and from tour operators by 12.5%.

Corporate clients are also becoming more savvy in their buying behaviour. Increased take-up of Off-Peak and Advance fares has led to a drop of 1.2% in the average Peak fare compared with 2012. Following the completion of the Pendolino lengthening project in December 2012, Virgin Trains now offers many more Advance tickets in Standard, with 16% more reservable seats available.

Virgin Trains’ overall passenger journeys showed for the 12 weeks showed an increase of 4.3%, outperforming the average for other long-distance train operators by three percentage points.

Results have been boosted by the ‘Fly Virgin Trains’ advertising campaign. Research has shown that 61% of respondents cite the key campaign messages of speed and efficiency as the ones they take from the press and billboard advertising activity.

Graham Leech, Executive Director, Commercial said: “We have seen substantial increases in leisure travel over the last five years, but it has been tough for UK businesses. The increases we are now seeing in business travel suggest that the UK economy is on the move again. The extra seats that we have on our Pendolino trains mean we can offer even more great value Advance fares.”

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Virgin Trains has revolutionised rail travel by creating a high speed, high frequency service that has cut journey times and made rail journeys more comfortable. It has operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997, serving key UK cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Glasgow.

Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group (VRG), which is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Stagecoach. The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded VRG a franchise contract, which started on 9 December 2012 and will run for up to 23 months. The DfT announced on 26 March 2013 a programme for letting future franchises, with the long-term West Coast franchise expected to start in April 2017.

Virgin Trains has been recognised in numerous awards. In September 2012 Business Traveller magazine readers voted the company the Best UK Domestic Rail Operator for the sixth year running. In 2011 the company was named Best Rail Operator in the Group Leisure Awards (which it also won in 2009 and 2010). In 2011 Virgin Trains won the British Quality Foundation's Achievement Award for Customer Satisfaction.

Customers consistently rate the company the top long-distance rail franchise operator, as measured by the National Passenger Survey (NPS) run by industry watchdog Passenger Focus. In the most recent NPS (Spring 2013) overall satisfaction was 92%, equalling our best ever score from the previous survey (Autumn 2012).

Virgin Trains first achieved Investors In People accreditation in 2007 and this was renewed in 2010; the IIP Gold award was achieved in 2011. In May 2013 Virgin Trains renewed it accreditation against the criteria of the European Foundation for Quality Management's (EFQM) Excellence Model, which it originally achieved in May 2011 The company’s Learning and Development team won a National Training Awards 2011 West Midlands award for its Coaching Culture programme.

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