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Saturday services transformed on Virgin Trains’ east coast route

Press Release   •   Dec 16, 2017 00:01 GMT

Virgin Trains is creating a similar frequency of services on Saturdays to those enjoyed during the working week.
  • Biggest increase in Saturday services since electrification of route in 1990
  • 12,574 more seats for customers; with Leeds, York and Newark to benefit from 24 additional services

Customers on Virgin Trains’ east coast route will see the biggest boost to Saturday services in more than 25 years from today (Saturday).

A new timetable, part of a £140m investment in the route by Virgin Trains, will change weekend travel for thousands of customers. More frequent services to and from destinations including Leeds, York and Edinburgh will mean customers will benefit from a similar frequency of services to those enjoyed on weekdays.

In total, 151 services will operate every Saturday from today, only six fewer than on weekdays, making it easier for leisure passengers to secure bargain fares. For example, customers can travel between London to Newark for under £20 and between London and York for under £30.

The new timetable has been launched a week after Virgin Trains also made it easier to buy low-cost tickets on the day of travel, a move that is predicted to save customers on the east coast route up to £11 million per year, with fares being around third lower than normal walk-up fares.

From December 16, there will be a further 24 Saturday services, an increase of 45% compared to when Virgin Trains took over the east coast route in March 2015. This will add 12,574 more seats to Virgin Trains’ existing capacity. The timetable represents the biggest increase in Saturday services since the introduction of Intercity 225 trains in 1990, following electrification of the East Coast Mainline.

York customers wanting to reach the capital for a 7am start on weekdays have already benefitted from a 4.40am service which started on Monday this week, giving them an extra 1hr12m in London than was possible under the previous timetable. This follows calls from the business community for a service that enables them to get to the capital for early-morning meetings.

The new timetable will accelerate journeys from Leeds and Wakefield to London by seven minutes on Saturdays making the trip from Wakefield an average of two hours long. A Sunday evening service from London to Doncaster which leaves at 10.05pm will be extended to York, allowing those wishing to make the most of a weekend in London to catch a later service home.

Edinburgh, which has already gained 46 additional services per week connecting it to London since the start of the Virgin Trains franchise, sees an additional train in each direction between the UK and Scottish capitals on a Saturday.

David Horne, Virgin Trains Managing Director on the east coast route, said he was confident the timetable changes would attract more people to rail: “Our new timetable brings new services that we know our customers want. For six days of the week, customers will be able to enjoy the most frequent service we’ve ever seen on the east coast mainline and we’re not stopping there. Our £140m investment is about reducing journey times, increasing the frequency of services, and giving customers a great experience on-board with refurbished trains and refreshed on-board catering – as well as thousands of additional low-cost fares. We’re confident that these investments will make those looking for weekends or days away realise that there’s never been a better time to leave the car at home,” David said.

Notes to editors:

*Additional Saturday services:

Route Increase in Saturday services
York – King’s Cross +13
Newark – King’s Cross +8
Leeds – King’s Cross +3
Wakefield – King’s Cross +3
Newcastle – King’s Cross +2
Edinburgh – King’s Cross +2

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 over £40m in our existing fleet, including £21m refurbishing the interiors and £16m towards improving the engines of our trains. Customers can now benefit from 42 additional services between Edinburgh and London every week, and an extra 22 Saturday services between Leeds and London – a total of 1.74 million additional seats since May 2016. 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.

Working together, the partnership railway of the public and private sectors has published a long-term plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, to change and improve Britain’s railway. The plan will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits to the country and contains four commitments which will see rail companies: strengthen our economic contribution to the country; improve customers’ satisfaction; boost the communities we serve; and, create more and better jobs in rail. For more information go to Britain Runs on Rail.

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