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Press Release   •   Aug 26, 2015 14:15 BST

Virgin Trains East Coast is pleased to welcome small businesses to the station as part of a new idea to help support local independent retailers.

The pilot initiative launches at Darlington station on Thursday 27th August 2015 and three other dates over the next week.

A range of local businesses will set-up shop inside the station between the main platforms at the south end of the historic station at Bank Top. The trial aims to support them by offering them exposure, increased interest and footfall and is supported by Business in the Community.

Gary Fox, Head of Membership North at Business in the Community, said: “I am delighted that Virgin Trains East Coast is launching its Pop Up shops in Darlington – home of the first locomotive public railway in the UK.

“Removing barriers to small and medium-sized enterprises, helping them to grow and create jobs, are vital to supporting sustainable local economies and creating vibrant communities. This is a great example of how responsible business can be innovative, local, and authentic to a brand.”

Virgin Trains East Coast is launching the Pop Up shops pilot within the first 200 days of taking over the running of the East Coast Main Line as a way of supporting local businesses and communities.

Caroline Wilson, Corporate Responsibility and Engagement Manager at Virgin Trains East Coast said: “We are absolutely delighted to be supporting local small businesses in Darlington through a Pop Up shop concept.

“Darlington has been selected as the first station on our route to launch this exciting community initiative. We aim to connect our customers with some of the fantastic businesses that exist in this great market town.

“We’re thrilled to be supporting such an exciting project at the station, after all it’s where rail all began!”

The Virgin Trains East Coast Pop Up initiative aims to support local businesses by offering them the chance to gain extra exposure, increased interest and larger footfall.

Jennifer Wheelan, from The Unicorn Tree shop, in Clarks Yard in, Darlington, is one small business owner taking advantage of the Virgin Trains pop-up shops event at the station. The shop owner said: “Pop Up shops are a fantastic way to promote small businesses in Darlington and raise awareness of what a great variety of choice for customers who like to shop with independent retailers. It’s really exciting to be taking part and working with Virgin Trains to hopefully provide some retail therapy to customers at the station.”

Pop Up shops will also be at Darlington Station on Friday 28th August, Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th September 2015 between 08:30 and 16:30.

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: for the latest news and images.


• 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,, 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. links around 130 key locations in North America. Stagecoach is also involved in operating commuter, transit, airport express services, contracted, charter and sightseeing services.