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ORR turns down Shrewsbury and Blackpool services

Press Release   •   Jul 31, 2013 17:24 BST

Virgin Trains has learned that the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has decided not to let us run direct services to Shrewsbury and Blackpool. The reason the ORR has given is a lack of capacity on the line to run these extra services. It also says that such services could cause a further decline in punctuality and performance.

The people of Blackpool and Shrewsbury have been very clear about their desire for these services, both for the economic growth of their towns and the convenience of the people who live and visit there. Virgin Trains was committed to making this happen and is extremely disappointed about the outcome. We will continue to engage with the ORR and Network Rail to establish when these proposed services may be able to run.


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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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