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George Clarke opens Virgin Trains’ amazing community space

Press Release   •   Nov 18, 2016 12:15 GMT

George Clarke with The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on its east coast route, with Beth Stenlake, 11, from Barnard Castle, and Tiger Li, 11, from Bowburn, County Durham

Television presenter and architect George Clarke has opened Virgin Trains’ new “amazing community space” in Durham station today.

George, who is originally from Sunderland, joined the Dean of Durham Cathedral to help Virgin Trains launch its “Cathedral Room” – a room for the local community to use.

Virgin Trains chose the room’s name to reflect their growing partnership with Durham Cathedral, after whom it named a locomotive last year. Children from across County Durham also prepared art work for the cathedral, and copies of some of this work are now on display in the Cathedral Room.

George, who hosts Channel 4’s “Amazing Spaces” programme, said: “It is always a thrill to be back in Durham. A childhood visit to the Cathedral and its splendid architecture is what inspired me to become an architect.

“I am delighted the Cathedral and Virgin Trains are working together to create this opportunity for community groups and small businesses. It’s fantastic to have this community space and because it is at a railway station it will encourage people to use it.

“Amazing spaces is all about taking a relatively small space and making it amazing – and Virgin Trains have done this here.

“The views of Durham Cathedral are spectacular from the train station and this room, and I am sure it will become a well-used community asset. The Cathedral dominates the city’s skyline and I know it will continue to inspire generations to come.”

David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on it east coast route, said: “We’re really pleased to continue to work in partnership with Durham Cathedral, and we’re committed to supporting the communities we serve across the UK.

“We’re delighted to open our first ‘amazing community space’ in Durham station, and huge thanks to George and the Dean, as well as the school children who have created artwork inspired by carvings on the Anglo-Saxon coffin of St Cuthbert.”

George also took time to visit the cathedral, and The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, added: “The support of George, Virgin Trains, and all of our patrons, sponsors and visitors helps to ensure that Durham Cathedral will continue to be enjoyed by future generations, allowing them to experience the building as George first did as a child.”

The opening of the Cathedral Room follows the recent creation of 19 new parking spaces in the long stay car park at the station. And, from next month, cycle provision will be doubled to around 130 spaces with additional security measures and new bike compounds introduced in consultation with cycle groups.

ENDS

About Virgin Trains:

Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.

The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested £21m to completely revamp our existing fleet and customers can now benefit from 42 additional services (22,000 extra seats) per week between Edinburgh and London. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.

The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

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